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Anne of Green Gables
Lucy Maud Montgomery
Puffin. First published 1908
I have always been bookish. I was brought up in a working class home and my father took me to the library every week. He was an avid reader and we would come back weighed down with our spoils. Most of my favourites had as their central character a girl who was strong and feisty and was valued in the end for being smart rather than beautiful! Anne was one of those. The book meant something special because I was given it as a prize and my mother, who had left school at 14 and rarely had time for the indulgence of reading, was thrilled when I brought it home. She wistfully remembered it from when she was at school and she read it again. Sharing it with her meant so much to me and I still love discussing books with other people. It’s like sharing food.
Grapes of Wrath
Penguin. First published 1939
The few books of our own we had at home were either good Catholic stories about the saints and martyrs or leftish books belonging to my father. They lived on a little bookshelf attached to a bureau, which was my mother’s prized piece of furniture. The books were novels by American authors like Jack London, Howard Fast and John Steinbeck, which my father had read when he was young and reflected his own political leanings. I read Grapes of Wrath when I was 13 and I was enraged at the way the bankers and big corporations exploited the farmers, driving them into destitution. We were a Labour family, but it was reading that put flesh on the bones of my socialism.
Letters from Prison
Columbia Univ Press 1994
I think Gramsci is one of the most important political figures of the 20th century. Through him I came to understand how people consent to their own oppression. We only have to look around now to see how his concept of cultural hegemony works so effectively. The values of a particular class become the ‘common-sense’ values of all and ordinary folk identify their own good with that of the rich.
The Women’s Room
Virago. First published 1977
The 1970s produced many great feminist books – novels and political analysis about patriarchy, entrenched inequality and double sexual standards. Marilyn French made it all come alive in the pages of her novel. My courtroom experience was what blew open my own real understanding of the way women suffered multiple disadvantages in a society that was organised from the perspective of men.
ed Neil Astley
I have always loved poetry and read it regularly for pleasure. I like how a few words can be so expressive of profound emotion. This is a wonderful anthology and it includes some work of a friend, Mary Oliver, one of the great contemporary American poets.
Heart of Darkness
Penguin. First published 1899
This is the book to read about colonialism and racist exploitation. It tells the story of Marlow, who is commissioned to go to the Congo to bring back the disappeared Kurtz, a key figure in a European company that is sucking the natural resources out of central Africa. All the justifications for colonial occupation are rehearsed – bringing ‘civilisation’ to the natives. Now we describe it as bringing ‘democracy’. The film Apocalypse Now was a contemporary rendition of the tale. An unforgettable book.
A People’s History of the
Harper Perennial. First published 1980
Howard Zinn was one of the truly great men of America. He died recently, still a socialist and campaigner. His history of the United States is a challenge to the patriotic jingoism that mutes the horror stories of what happened to native Americans and slaves, the nightmare of McCarthyism and Jim Crow laws, the shame of his country’s role in Vietnam and South America. However, this is no ‘self-hating’ American Jew. He tells the wonderful true stories of America’s greatness – the former welcome to the world’s huddled masses fleeing persecution, the struggles by ordinary people for trade union rights and by black people for civil rights. All his books are inspirational but this is the one that everyone should read.
Penguin. First published 1925
Some books have eternal truths and should be revisited at regular intervals. This is one of them. My life as a trial lawyer has made me a firm believer in open processes with a jury of ordinary people hearing the evidence. Over many years I have done a large amount of terrorist work but this is the worst time I have ever known for injustice. Currently, control order cases and hearings to deport people are frequently heard in secret. Neither the detainees nor their lawyers of choice get to hear the evidence against them. Special advocates hear the secret evidence but are not allowed to discuss it with the detainee. Kafka is dead. Long live Kafka.
Helena Kennedy QC is a leading barrister and expert in human rights law and civil liberties
'Docs Not Cops' write that we must resist attempts to make our NHS any less universal
Louis Mendee explains the real human costs of climate change for the global south.
From climate change to automation to demographic shifts, Mathew Lawrence explains the challenges our economy will face in the coming decade.
Fifty years after the Abortion Act, women are still dying from being denied basic services, write activists from Feminist Fightback
We need to tackle the patronising ideology that lets Tory think-tanks sneer at social tenants, writes Emma Dent Coad
Acid Corbynism allows people to imagine a future beyond the paltry offerings of capitalism, writes Keir Milburn
'We wanted to use a shared love of the beautiful game to stand in solidarity with those living under occupation', writes Kate Hadley.
Priti Patel's shady deals are business as usual. Enough is enough, writes Eleanor Penny
Boris Johnson is a local disaster and a national embarrassment. He must go, writes James Clouting
The global elite have been stealing from society on an unprecedented scale, writes Tom Walker
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism
Catalan independence is not just ‘nationalism’ – it’s a rebellion against nationalism
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte argue that Catalonia's independence movement is driven by solidarity – and resistance to far-right Spanish nationalists
Tabloids do not represent the working class
The tabloid press claims to be an authentic voice of the working class - but it's run by and for the elites, writes Matt Thompson
As London City Airport turns 30, let’s imagine a world without it
London City Airport has faced resistance for its entire lifetime, writes Ali Tamlit – and some day soon we will win
The first world war sowed the seeds of the Russian revolution
An excerpt from 'October', China Mieville's book revisiting the story of the Russian Revolution
Academies run ‘on the basis of fear’
Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was described in a damning report as an organisation run 'on the basis of fear'. Jon Trickett MP examines an education system in crisis.
‘There is no turning back to a time when there wasn’t migration to Britain’
David Renton reviews the Migration Museum's latest exhibition
#MeToo is necessary – but I’m sick of having to prove my humanity
Women are expected to reveal personal trauma to be taken seriously, writes Eleanor Penny
Meet the digital feminists
We're building new online tools to create a new feminist community and tackle sexism wherever we find it, writes Franziska Grobke
The Marikana women’s fight for justice, five years on
Marienna Pope-Weidemann meets Sikhala Sonke, a grassroots social justice group led by the women of Marikana
Forget ‘Columbus Day’ – this is the Day of Indigenous Resistance
By Leyli Horna, Marcela Terán and Sebastián Ordonez for Wretched of the Earth
Uber and the corporate capture of e-petitions
Steve Andrews looks at a profit-making petition platform's questionable relationship with the cab company
You might be a centrist if…
What does 'centrist' mean? Tom Walker identifies the key markers to help you spot centrism in the wild
Black Journalism Fund Open Editorial Meeting in Leeds
Friday 13th October, 5pm to 7pm, meeting inside the Laidlaw Library, Leeds University
This leadership contest can transform Scottish Labour
Martyn Cook argues that with a new left-wing leader the Scottish Labour Party can make a comeback
Review: No Is Not Enough
Samir Dathi reviews No Is Not Enough: Defeating the New Shock Politics, by Naomi Klein
Building Corbyn’s Labour from the ground up: How ‘the left’ won in Hackney South
Heather Mendick has gone from phone-banker at Corbyn for Leader to Hackney Momentum organiser to secretary of her local party. Here, she shares her top tips on transforming Labour from the bottom up
Five things to know about the independence movement in Catalonia
James O'Nions looks at the underlying dynamics of the Catalan independence movement
‘This building will be a library!’ From referendum to general strike in Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte report from the Catalan general strike, as the movements prepare to build a new republic
Chlorine chickens are just the start: Liam Fox’s Brexit trade free-for-all
A hard-right free marketer is now in charge of our trade policy. We urgently need to develop an alternative vision, writes Nick Dearden
There is no ‘cult of Corbyn’ – this is a movement preparing for power
The pundits still don’t understand that Labour’s new energy is about ‘we’ not ‘me’, writes Hilary Wainwright
Debt relief for the hurricane-hit islands is the least we should do
As the devastation from recent hurricanes in the Caribbean becomes clearer, the calls for debt relief for affected countries grow stronger, writes Tim Jones
‘Your credit score is not sufficient to enter this location’: the risks of the ‘smart city’
Jathan Sadowski explains techno-political trends of exclusion and enforcement in our cities, and how to overcome this new type of digital oppression
Why I’m standing with pregnant women and resisting NHS passport checks
Dr Joanna Dobbin says the government is making migrant women afraid to seek healthcare, increasing their chances of complications or even death
‘Committees in Defence of the Referendum’: update from Catalonia
Ignasi Bernat and David Whyte on developments as the Catalan people resist the Spanish state's crackdown on their independence referendum