So You Think You Know About Britain?
Kind, reasonable, sane and very much evidence-based, this book is a valuable reminder that the view of the country given out by tabloid newspapers and irresponsible government speeches is false and unhelpful. Danny Dorling’s work has changed my life because he is able to argue reasonably (and more coherently than I ever could) for a kind of society that would be fairer, more functional and more socially responsible. The last chapter ‘The future is another place’ inspired my last stand up show. Plus it’s got loads of funny footnotes, too.
This book was given to me as a Valentine’s gift by my childhood sweetheart. It’s largely about how to improvise onstage but it’s almost a manual for creative thought and behaviour. It taught me all about spontaneity and confidence as well as storytelling. The book’s driving message is about finding and then trusting and keeping your own sense of authenticity in your creative work.
I first read this aged 13 and I found it thrilling and empowering right from the Juan Ramón Jiménez quote at the start: ‘If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.’ That sense of creative defiance set something off in me. Clarisse and her family, who are seen as suspicious and radical because they talk to one another and go on walks together, were my favourite characters. I love how it feels dystopian and realistic all at once, and I think it’s a very poetic book in style but also full of action like a bloody good film.
Slapstick or Lonesome No More
Finding the books of Kurt Vonnegut was like finding a much-needed friend. The tone of his writing connected with me and I think it has inspired me more than anyone else’s. All of his books, even ones that seem deeply sad or dour, are underpinned by a kindness and deep love of other human beings. He taught me about socialism and humanism in a sincere and meaningful way, while staying silly and also keeping his chapters short, which is a big plus point in my opinion. This is my favourite of his.
V for Vendetta
Alan Moore is another very inspiring human being. His integrity and intellect are poured into everything he writes and it’s very helpful to have them around. I love this graphic novel, and my favourite part is this: ‘Everything is connected. You must understand that knowledge is not all your heritage. It includes also courage and belief . . . and romance. Always, always romance.’ It gives me courage and helps me feel more audacious about trying to make the world closer to how I’d like it.
The Easter Parade
A lot of the fiction I love is terse, American and sad, and written around the middle of the 20th century. Richard Yates is the most wonderful example. Everything he has written is good, but there’s something most devastating about The Easter Parade. It’s about two sisters who want to be happy and are not. I really love the way that Yates can pace a novel over a character’s entire life, showing them to have little control over their flaws and their circumstances.
For similar reasons to choosing Richard Yates, I love the work of Raymond Carver. I know it’s a bit of a cheat to choose his collected stories but I don’t know how I’d choose one volume of his over another. I love how sparsely written but affecting his work is, and I’m a sucker for someone writing within a quite tragic universe. I think it’s masterful and unparalleled what he manages to do with short stories.
The Whitsun Weddings
I think this is the most lyrical of Larkin’s volumes of poetry, and it was the first I bought (with a book token I won as a nerdy teen in a creative writing competition). I just think it’s fantastic, and I can read it again and again. It’s very sad, and full of sympathy and not cynicism, which I think he gets wrongly accused of. It’s not in this volume but I’ve been thinking a lot recently of a quote from one of his uncollected poems ‘The Mower’: ‘We should be careful/Of each other, we should be kind/While there is still time.’
Yasmin Gunaratnam reflects on John Berger’s gut solidarity with the stranger
Charlie Clarke and Heather Mendick discuss how to work through the tensions within Momentum
As man-made global warming gets closer to the tipping point, Andrew Simms finds reasons to be positive about averting catastrophic climate change
In this extract from his new book The Candidate, Alex Nunns tells the inside story of how Jeremy Corbyn scraped onto the Labour leadership ballot in 2015
Graham Jones proposes a framework for a diverse movement to flourish
Musician Eliane Correa reflects on the fading revolution
Trump's victory is another sign of the failure of the centre-left's narrative on climate change. A new message is needed, and new politicians to deliver it, writes Alex Randall
Siobhán McGuirk says the question we are too afraid to ask is simple - what kind of society leads to Donald Trump as President?
The battle lines are clear. Democracy is in peril and the left must take itself seriously electorally and politically. Ruth Potts speaks to Gary Younge, who was based in Muncie, Indiana, for the US election, about the implications of Donald Trump’s victory
We need a society built on openness, community and equality to truly defeat everything that trump stands for, writes Nick Dearden.
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving
Utopia: Industrial Workers Taking the Wheel
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry – and its lessons for today
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue
Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK
A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release
Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op
Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU
Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson
Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release
University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.
Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.
Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History
Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.
A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas
Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'
The Fashion Revolution: Turn to the left
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion
The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.
Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.
Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism
What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry