Being aware of your “privilege” has become a go-to phrase in modern anti-racist discourse, especially in reference to ignorant white people blundering into discussions they might not be as qualified for as they imagine. But how many of us understand what “white fragility” is? Our bookseller David finds out!
Setting out to show white people what their white fragility actually entails, author Robin DiAngelo skillfully shows that other ethnic groups understand exactly how white fragility works (and the results aren’t pretty). DiAngelo uses examples from her long experience as a consultant on racial issues to show that the way white people usually think of racism is completely wrong and actually bolsters the racism in our societies.
Golden Hare manager Julie and bookseller David were recently asked for their summer read recommendations by The Observer newspaper. While being superstar-level famous types is part of a normal day at Golden Hare, we thought we’d share this one for those looking for some compelling holiday reads!
You can find the Observer article here or, if you want to get a little more detail for each recommendation, continue reading below…
Julie Danskin, manager
When shoppers ask me for holiday reads, they often want something engrossing for a plane journey. I highly recommend the immersive Vivian by Christina Hesselholdt (Fitzcarraldo), about the life of photographer Vivian Maier, or merman romantic comedy The Pisces by Melissa Broder (Bloomsbury). For those who prefer nonfiction, The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells (Allen Lane) is an unflinching look into our climate catastrophe. When you’re by the pool or relaxing on a terrace, I recommend short stories and essays, especially Nicole Flattery’s Show Them a Good Time (Bloomsbury) or Emilie Pine’s vivid Notes to Self (Penguin).
Anthologies make such great holiday reads, as you can discover new authors to seek out on your return to reality: see especially Being Various: New Irish Short Stories, edited by Lucy Caldwell (Faber & Faber); The Penguin Book of the Contemporary British Short Story , edited by Philip Hensher; and either volumeof The Bi-ble, edited by Lauren Nickodemus and Ellen Desmond (Monstrous Regiment) – essays about bisexuality.
If, however, you prefer a doorstop novel, I absolutely loved The Parisian by Isabella Hammad (Jonathan Cape), a sprawling, Middlemarch-ian historical epic of love and resistance between France and Palestine.
David Bloomfield, bookseller
Getting away from it all doesn’t mean avoiding socially conscious books, especially when they’re addictive page-turners like Booker prize-nominated Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (Serpent’s Tail): imagine Jules Verne’s globetrotting style, but told from the perspective of a black slave, chronicling his story from backbreaking field labour to airship adventurer. Hopping from one place to the next, this book marries two unusual elements in a way that I previously wouldn’t have thought possible; the effect is very impressive and has made me want to read everything Edugyan has written up to this point!
For those with a taste for the curiously curated, Edward Carey’s Little (Aardvark Bureau) charts the rise of the small girl who would become the famed Madame Tussaud. Initially penniless, she is taken under the wing of a cripplingly shy doctor who teaches her how to make perfect wax heads for the guillotine-wielding leaders of the French Revolution. The pace is relentless but its a deeply charming book, with the historical backdrop and carnival of famous figures not getting in the way. A constantly intriguing historical fiction curio, especially with Carey’s hand-drawn illustrations gracing many of the pages!
Brilliant, readable nonfiction is out there too: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (Penguin) examines how white people attempt to prevent anti-racism measures, knowingly and unknowingly, and suggests how to challenge such behaviour in ourselves and others. Tracing the origins of racism from slavery to the present day, DiAngelo lucidly points out the way white people still support racist culture, daring to question the culturally safe narrative about racists always being obviously “bad people”, showing how people who consider themselves non-racist can also engage in white fragility. Written in a no-nonsense, concise fashion, this is a must-read if you want to be an ally rather than an enemy.
And for those who want to be in the know, Fabulosa! The Story of Polari, Britain’s Secret Gay Language by Paul Baker (Reaktion) is a compelling history of the linguistic lengths to which gay people had to go to hide in plain sight within an aggressively homophobic culture. With Pride now so visible and celebrated, it can be easy to forget that, for a long period of time, the mainstream attitude in the UK was often quite brutal and oppressive to gay people; Polari is a brilliant, engaging reminder of that truth.
Our bookseller David reviews this interesting non-fiction book about the transformative effects of nature when its largely left to its own devices…
Combining personal insight and experience with a mixture of devastating and uplifting facts, Isabella Tree’s Wildingis an unusual but powerful beast. From a fabulous section on the names for different types of mud (gubber, a thick black mud of rotting matter, is my personal favourite) to beautiful descriptions of the largely lost calls of mating turtle doves, this book has something for everyone who admires nature.
In this episode of Bibliophile, booksellers Julie Danskin, David Bloomfield and Jonathan Taylor catch up with what they’ve each been reading. They pause for a moment to reflect on a recent victory, winning Independent Bookshop of the Year 2019at the British Book Awards, and talk sagely about their experiences running a small bookshop and all it entails. Even answering a few questions! From you!
Apologies for background noise in this episode, our dulcet tones were accompanied by football fans outside the pub beneath our bookshop…
Getting into the occasional reading rut is something that even the most ardent bibliophile can relate to. We’ve all been in one and they can be easy to slip into. Getting out of them? Not always so easy.
In fact, one of the most common reasons for people coming into our Stockbridge store is to ask us how to get out of this slump and what books we’d recommend to ignite their reading passion again.
That’s why Golden Hare have created Post Books, our new service designed to excite and intrigue those who subscribe to it!
Sexy segueways, Freudian complexes and bad times on the canal, we could only be discussing the 2018 Man Booker shortlisted debut novel Everything Under by Daisy Johnson. What is the bonak? Can we ever avoid our fate? What will our booksellers David Bloomfield, Julie Danskin and Jonathan Taylor make of it?
Golden Hare Books are proud to announce that we have won Independent Bookshop of the Year at the British Book Awards 2019!
The Golden Hare team, represented at the Nibbies by manager Julie Danskin, owner Mark Jones and Individual Bookseller of the Year Nominee Jonathan Taylor, was ecstatic to scoop the award on Monday night, in the face of strong competition from the other excellent nominees.