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Robin Ince's Recommended Books for Sparking Curiosity


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On Tuesday 30th November, comedian, author and broadcaster Robin Ince came to visit the Lighthouse for a mid-day hour of infectious thirst for knowledge and intellectual joy.

Have a wee watch here:

This is Robin's own list of favourite books that spark curiosity, and the reasons why they're so very great. Make sure not to miss Robin's own book The Importance of Being Interested.

Thank you Robin for such a fantastic list!

Begin Again by Eddie Glaude Jr

When Eddie Glaude woke up on the day that Trump became president, he realised that America was making a terrifying regressive step. To combat the existential shock, he immersed himself in the work of the great author and activist James Baldwin. This is a powerful book, beautifully written, about a great man and his continued relevance. One of the Baldwin quotations I return to most frequently is “I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.” A useful though to contemplate even time this lousy government and its supportive lickspittle hacks fan the flames of a culture war so the smoke conceals their incompetence and criminality.

The End of Everything by Katie Mack

Katie is a smart and witty writer dealing with a cosmological idea that is deeply disturbing, the end of the universe. One of my favourite science books of the last few years. It combines complex physics explained deftly and a deep humanity, too.

Your Friend Forever by Zena Barrie

I have not had enough time to read novels lately, and I am so glad I could make space for this one. Maud is the funniest teenager since Adrian Mole and considerably less pompous. It is about the places the young can escape to when surrounded by noise and then we move to the present, when a middle age Maud rekindles those “teenage dreams, so hard to beat”. Moving, funny, sad, hopeful. A great debut.

Our Biggest Experiment by Alice Bell

I do not spend enough time looking into climate change and Alice Bell’s book is a very good place to star. It tells the stories of those who built up our understanding of the problems we now face. An effective way of coming to grips with something that can become overbearing in its complexities - very convenient for governments that hope to keep us distracted by telling us it is all bit too much for us to understand.

Kindred by Rebecca Wragg Sykes

Little more than 15 years ago, it was presumed that there might be a smattering of us that have a little neanderthal DNA, but not many. That has all changed now. A wonderfully evocative picture of our ancestors that rewrites many of our suppositions about Neanderthals.

The Reality Bubble by Ziya Tong

I love pondering on the reality we do not see, the pictures we make of the world without knowing the reality behind it all and that is why I loved this book about it all.

William Blake vs the World by John Higgs

One of my favourite authors tackles the mind and imagination of William Blake. This is far more than a biography of Blake, it is also a book of neuroscience and of understanding ourselves and our own imagination.

Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Goden

This is an utter beauty. Salena’s years as a poet means there is not a single wasted word. The cityscapes around you will change, you will keep finding yourself in a rich pyschogeographcial landscape populated by a multitude of ghosts and memories. This is a novel, but it is also deeply philosophical work and I also think it could help people fearing loss or suffering grief.

Listen by Kathryn Mannix

What a voice Kathryn has, starting with a powerful story of the errors she made as a doctor when she first had to inform someone that their partner had died, Kathryn gently and compellingly guides us through ways for us to listen and be there for people who are suffering.

God: An Anatomy by Francesca Stavrakopoulu

My favourite atheist bible scholar, Francesca takes us through the frequently grotesque and cruel physical acts of a very physical god, the stories that are in the bible, but very rarely in Sunday school.

There are so many more - Pragya Agarawal’s (M)Otherhood, Warren Ellis’s Nina Simone’s Gum, Anil Seth’s Being You and I am hugely looking forward to reading astronaut Nicole Stott’s Back to Earth and Poles Apart by Alison Goldsworthy, Laura Osborne and Alexandra Chesterfield.

Robin Ince's book The Importance of Being Interested explores how scientific wonder isn't just for professionals, and why many wrongly think of science as distant and difficult.

Sign up for our event with Robin on Nov 30th HERE.

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