Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

Jill Robinson’s booktopia

The eight books she'd take to the ends of the earth with her

January 22, 2009
6 min read

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.

Freedom Moon

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

->www.animalsasia.org]

Her selections can be purchased here.

A portion of the sales from purchases made through Red Pepper/Eclector’s book store contribute money to Red Pepper. Not all titles are available.

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.

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

Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh

With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair

A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook

‘We remembered that convictions can inspire and motivate people’: interview with Lisa Nandy MP
The general election changed the rules, but there are still tricky issues for Labour to face, Lisa Nandy tells Ashish Ghadiali

Everything you know about Ebola is wrong
Vicky Crowcroft reviews Ebola: How a People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, by Paul Richards

Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for an online editor
Closing date for applications: 1 September.

Theresa May’s new porn law is ridiculous – but dangerous
The law is almost impossible to enforce, argues Lily Sheehan, but it could still set a bad precedent

Interview: Queer British Art
James O'Nions talks to author Alex Pilcher about the Tate’s Queer British Art exhibition and her book A Queer Little History of Art

Cable the enabler: new Lib Dem leader shows a party in crisis
Vince Cable's stale politics and collusion with the Conservatives belong in the dustbin of history, writes Adam Peggs

Anti-Corbyn groupthink and the media: how pundits called the election so wrong
Reporting based on the current consensus will always vastly underestimate the possibility of change, argues James Fox

Michael Cashman: Commander of the Blairite Empire
Lord Cashman, a candidate in Labour’s internal elections, claims to stand for Labour’s grassroots members. He is a phony, writes Cathy Cole

Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part

Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper

Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s

Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach

Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.

Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite

Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead

Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee

Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power

The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced