This Month’s Books (July 2014)

The Better Angels of Our Nature

Steven Pinker – The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (2011)The Better Angels of Our Nature

Selected by The New York Times Book Review as a Notable Book of the Year 

The author of The New York Times bestseller The Stuff of Thought offers a controversial history of violence. 

Faced with the ceaseless stream of news about war, crime, and terrorism, one could easily think we live in the most violent age ever seen. Yet as New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows in this startling and engaging new work, just the opposite is true: violence has been diminishing for millennia and we may be living in the most peaceful time in our species’s existence. For most of history, war, slavery, infanticide, child abuse, assassinations, pogroms, gruesome punishments, deadly quarrels, and genocide were ordinary features of life. But today, Pinker shows (with the help of more than a hundred graphs and maps) all these forms of violence have dwindled and are widely condemned. How has this happened?

This groundbreaking book continues Pinker’s exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly nonviolent world. The key, he explains, is to understand our intrinsic motives- the inner demons that incline us toward violence and the better angels that steer us away-and how changing circumstances have allowed our better angels to prevail. Exploding fatalist myths about humankind’s inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious and provocative book is sure to be hotly debated in living rooms and the Pentagon alike, and will challenge and change the way we think about our society.

Verdict: 4/5

LolitoBen Brooks – Lolito (2013)

She’s online.
‘I booked a hotel,’ I say. ‘Near Marble Arch.’
‘That sounds great, hon. I can’t wait to see you.’
‘Yeah. Me too.’
‘I’m vaguely nervous.’
‘Don’t be.’
Do be. I’m a child.

Lolito is a love story about a fifteen year-old boy who meets a middle-aged woman on the internet.

When his long-term girlfriend and first love Alice betrays him at a house party, Etgar goes looking for cyber solace in the arms of Macy, a stunning but bored housewife he meets online. What could possibly go wrong…?

Hilarious, fearless and utterly outrageous, Lolito is a truly twenty-first century love story.

Verdict: 3/5

Patrick Ness – The Crane Wife (2013)The Crane Wife

The extraordinary happens every day…

One night, George Duncan – decent man, a good man – is woken by a noise in his garden. Impossibly, a great white crane has tumbled to earth, shot through its wing by an arrow. Unexpectedly moved, George helps the bird, and from the moment he watches it fly off, his life is transformed.

The next day, a kind but enigmatic woman walks into George’s shop. Suddenly a new world opens up for George, and one night she starts to tell him the most extraordinary story.

Wise, romantic, magical and funny, The Crane Wife is a hymn to the creative imagination and a celebration of the disruptive and redemptive power of love.

Verdict: 3/5

A Street Cat Named BobJames Bowen: A Street Cat Named Bob (2012)

The moving, uplifting true story of an unlikely friendship between a man on the streets and the ginger cat who adopts him and helps him heal his life.

Verdict: 4/5

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Dave Brown

I was born in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England and have always been a bookworm and enjoyed creative writing at school. In 1999 I created the Elencheran Chronicles and have been writing ever since. My first novel, Fezariu's Epiphany, was published in May 2011. When not writing I'm a lover of films, games, books and blogging. I live in Barnsley, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats - Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
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