Some new photographs…
Women & Power, a manifesto, updated.
Based on two lectures given a few years ago, this short book uses classical history to discuss the way women are kept from power, and from the wider public world. As a fan of this excellent author, thinker and tv presenter, I was keen to read Beard’s thoughts on the subject. Those thoughts are succinct, accurate and very relevant. Every man should read it, as one of the blurb quotes remarks. I was particularly taken by Beard’s conclusion that, for all that MeToo is a great thing, what we really need is a change in power structures. Merely acquiring more women MPs isn’t enough, especially if, as she observes, power has moved to some other venue. Readable, relevant, important, timely – this book is all these things.
In Merlin Sheldrake’s wonderful and very readable account of the world of fungi, the reader encounters a kingdom of organisms neither plant nor animal (in fact they are slightly more closely related to animals, though the last common ancestor is unimaginably ancient). Entangled Life is a survey of what we know about fungi at the moment; and that, it transpires, is not a lot.
Fungi have been comparatively overlooked until recently. As Sheldrake wryly observes, universities have departments for animal life and plant life, but not fungal life – a kingdom arguably more important than either, at least when it comes to the fantastically complex systems they initiate, control and inhabit. Plants in particular cannot survive without fungi, more than ninety percent of them relying on mycorrhizal networks for basic minerals and other nutrients found in soil. These nutrients fungi provide, in return for sugars created by photosynthesis. It is a commonplace symbiosis.
The books deals with a number of aspects of fungi, all compelling and fascinating. In particular the chapters covering how fungi utilise the food they live in (Sheldrake defines them thus) are marvellous – a true scientist at work, and a man of letters also. Equally interesting are the chapters covering our relationship with fungi – yeasts for instance – and the metaphors we use to describe them. There simply isn’t a dull paragraph in this book. Some personal details are included, but never to the detriment of the book as a whole.
Highly recommended to all interested in the natural world of our incredible planet.
My book launch at Shrewsbury Library was today, and here’s some photos courtesy Joe Shooman. Big thanks to Tracey and Rhys, Joe and Katherine, Lee, and my sister, who unexpectedly appeared!
Lots going on at the moment! Here’s the full list of friends hosting my December blog tour. Big thanks to them all in the blogosphere!
Here’s the formal advertisement from the Infinite Press, publishing my Conjuror Girl trilogy.