Recent reads…

An extraordinary book. Chris Hedges is a long-time war correspondent, who learnt the hard way that war is a drug: intoxicating, seductive, addictive and utterly poisonous. War, he makes clear, spiritually and morally poisons everyone and everything it touches, from perpetrators to victims, soldiers, civilians and even whole societies. Written between the American invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and the beginning of the war in Iraq in 2003, this book reads as both an intense, personal confession and a powerful plea to beware the narcotic allure of nationalism and violence. Hedges has emerged from his own journey into hell with a wise prophetic voice none can afford to ignore. There's an interview with him about the book here.

I recently spent a week touring schools with a wonderful group of writers, illustrators and storytellers, as part of the Storylines festival. One of the authors I met was Anna Mackenzie, whose young adult novels I'm now reading my way through and hugely enjoying. The Sea-Wreck Stranger is a haunting novel set in a post-environmental-collapse future. Ness, 16, lives on an island whose inhabitants have turned their backs on the destructiveness of the past and on the poisoned sea and anything it may bring to their shores. But when Ness finds a mysterious piece of sea-wreck washed up on the beach, all that changes. Highly recommended for readers of any age!

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