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Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China
Jung Chang (Simon and Schuster 1991)
Wild Swans tells the story of life in China for
author Jung Chang, her mother and grand-mother, and describes the horrors and poverty suffered by millions of Chinese in the 20th century. Chang lives through the Cultural Revolution and joins the Red Guards, during which time her parents are accused of being traitors and tortured. From a relatively privileged childhood, Chang’s life was to change when she, like thousands of young people, was taken to the countryside to be ‘re-educated’ into peasant life. Her entire family was sent to different regions of China and her father, once a high-ranking official, died after becoming ill and insane. She finally obtained a scholarship to the UK, one of the first Chinese students to study abroad, where she wrote this disturbing and moving story of her life.
Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World\’s Worst Dog
John Grogan (Hodder & Stoughton 2007)
This is a book that people both with and without dogs will love. A simply, but beautifully, written story of newlyweds John and Jenny moving into a house in Palm Beach and deciding that bringing a dog into their family would be a rather nice thing to do. Enter Marley, a 97-pound goof of a yellow Labrador, who crashes into their life and house with all the delicacy of a 10-tonne truck. A complete disgrace to his species, Marley knows no difference between right and wrong, but shows the true meaning of unconditional love and why we are happier and healthier in the company of our four-legged best friends.
The Joy Luck Club
Amy Tan (G P Putnam’s Sons 1989)
This book is a harrowing and heart-warming story of four Chinese immigrant women and their American-born daughters. The name of the club originates during the Japanese invasion of China after one of the mothers, Suyuan Wu, decides to start it to divert attention from the war. The club continues when she moves to the USA and sees lives and cultures of mothers and daughters clashing as they play mah-jong and eat dinner together. The daughters try to adapt to American life while attempting to respect their Chinese roots and culture, while the mothers struggle to leave their pasts behind.
The Emotional Lives of Animals
Marc Bekoff (New World Library 2007)
This book explores the complex emotions of animals – and why they matter. After a lifetime of studying animal behaviour, Bekoff shows that it is time to challenge science and give animals the benefit of the doubt. Animals may not share the same joy or sadness as the human species, but Bekoff offers a convincing argument as to why they have their own versions of these emotions – and why we should embrace common sense and look at all species with hearts and minds that seek to understand them.
The Ten Trusts
Jane Goodall and Marc Bekoff (HarperCollins 2002)
The Ten Trusts compels us to reflect upon our footprints on this earth and consider how they affect the species that share our lives. It teaches us to respect and love nature, to be tenacious and to think intelligently of the things we do in our everyday lives that can be changed to help heal our suffocating earth. From the simplest advice of turning off the tap while we clean our teeth, to the complexity of helping to save whole species from extinction, The Ten Trusts shows that life is in our hands and there is much we can do to preserve it.
Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds
Joy Adamson (Collins and Harvell Press 1960)
Born Free holds special resonance for me as it began my journey into animal welfare. It tells the true story of Elsa, an orphaned lion cub raised and released into the wilds of Kenya by Joy and her husband George. The book and film shows the tenacity of people who refuse to give in to bureaucracy and red tape, and also inspired Virginia and Bill to found the successful and effective Born Free Foundation, which exists and flourishes to this day.
The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and Our World
John Robbins (Conari Press 2001)
This life-changing book was written by the heir to the Baskin-Robbins ice-cream empire who gave it all away. He questions every aspect of the food we eat – where it is produced, how it is produced, how its production affects the environment, who is paid what for the food, how it is transported to our tables and how it affects our health.
Jill Robinson and Angela Leary (eds) (Animals Asia Foundation 2008)
I cannot end this list without self-promoting Animals Asia. Freedom Moon celebrates the freedom of bears caged for decades and cruelly milked for their bile, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine. With over 50 herbal and synthetic alternatives, there is no need for such a practice today. Freedom Moon is a book of hope, which shows bears bouncing joyously around their forested enclosures and putting their tortuous pasts behind them.
Jill Robinson MBE is the founder and CEO of animal welfare charity [Animals Asia Foundation
Her selections can be purchased here.
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The Spanish state is seizing ballot papers and raiding meetings, write Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte – but it is being met with united resistance
The crunch executive meeting ahead of Labour conference agreed some welcome changes, writes Michael Calderbank, but there is still much further to go
Dipesh Pandya speaks to documentary film-maker Sanjay Kak, who for 30 years has been working outside the mainstream to tell a story rooted in the struggles of those excluded by India’s militarism and its narrative of neoliberal growth
Jeremy Gilbert on how radical Labour politics can be inspired by the utopianism of the counterculture
Disasters have unequal impacts – it's the poor and marginalised who suffer most. David Harvey writes on Hurricane Harvey
Survivors of the fire are still relying on thousands of community volunteers, writes Dan Renwick - but the failed council is plotting a comeback
What if it's not us who are sick, asks Rod Tweedy, but a system at odds with who we are as social beings?
The people could reach a democratic and non-violent solution if they were freed from US meddling, argues Boaventura de Sousa Santos
A decade after the start of the crash, economic power is in our hands – we must take it, writes Ann Pettifor
Flooding the cradle of civilisation: A 12,000 year old town in Kurdistan battles for survival
It’s one of the oldest continually inhabited places on earth, but a new dam has put Hasankeyf under threat, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
New model activism: Putting Labour in office and the people in power
Hilary Wainwright examines how the ‘new politics’ needs to be about both winning electoral power and building transformative power
What is ‘free movement plus’?
A new report proposes an approach that can push back against the tide of anti-immigrant sentiment. Luke Cooper explains
The World Transformed: Red Pepper’s pick of the festival
Red Pepper is proud to be part of organising The World Transformed, in Brighton from 23-26 September. Here are our highlights from the programme
Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it
The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going
A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism
Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase
Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields
Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton
Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi
A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain
Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank
Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded
West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson
Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens
Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age
Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today
The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics
Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.
Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making
Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show
The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services
With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas
Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world
A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle
Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune
Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali
To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi
Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun