Title: Rife – Twenty-One Stories from Britain’s Youth

Author: Nikesh Shukla (ed.)

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Unbound

The Blurb

Young people in this country are facing a chasm of doubt and instability. Mental health problems are widespread, university fees are rising, job opportunities are drying up, and the prospect of ever owning a home is increasingly out of reach. But this generation is noticeably absent from the opinion columns, comment pieces and news reports of the mainstream media.

From the creative minds behind Rife magazine comes this anthology of twenty passionate voices, all under the age of twenty-four, writing across a spectrum of topics that matter to them. It holds a mirror up to the experience of young people in the UK today, with essays on money, mental health, sex, gender, inequality, education, crime and the future.

Bracing, honest and set against what can often seem an apocalyptic backdrop, these stories are nevertheless full of ideas and solidarity to draw on through these uncertain times.

The Review

Rife is a collection of stories about the problems that Britain’s Youth face today. These stories and essays cover mental health, sexual abuse, financial problems among many more. The collection highlights the struggles and shows you how the knock on effect from the previous generation are so impactful today.

I won’t lie, I struggled with this collection. This is for two reasons. The first being that I tried to read it in one gulp and Rife isn’t really the kind of book you can do that in. It needs to act as a palate cleanser. Maybe a commute read. Secondly, I felt that it was a little bit southern-centric. There were a few stories telling how northerners struggle but the majority featured writers living in the south and without trying to create division there is a divide between the north/south experience. However, Rife is a gritty, engaging read and the essays in it shouldn’t be dismissed.

Rife – Twenty-One Stories from Britain’s Youth by Nikesh Shukla is available now.

For more information regarding Nikesh Shukla (@nikeshshukla) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Unbound (@unbounders) please visit www.unbound.com.

Title: Notes to Self

Author: Emily Pine

Pages: 183 Pages

Publisher: Penguin

The Blurb

‘I am afraid of being the disruptive woman. And of not being disruptive enough. I am afraid. But I am doing it anyway.’

In this dazzling debut, Emilie Pine speaks to the business of living as a woman in the 21st century – its extraordinary pain and its extraordinary joy. Courageous, humane and uncompromising, she writes with radical honesty on birth and death, on the grief of infertility, on caring for her alcoholic father, on taboos around female bodies and female pain, on sexual violence and violence against the self. Devastatingly poignant and profoundly wise – and joyful against the odds – Notes to Self offers a portrait not just of its author but of a whole generation.

The Review

Emily Pine’s collection of essays Notes to Self is candid, raw and full of emotions. Within this small collection she talks about many subjects but the ones that stick out are her desperation for a baby and the ones about dealing with her father’s battle with alcoholism.

You cannot help but ache along with Pine and hope that everything works out for her. Whilst the topics are very sad and – at times – heartbreaking there is an overall sense of optimism that you have once you have turned the final page.

Notes to Self is a very good but difficult read.

Notes to Self by Emily Pine is available now.

For more information regarding Penguin (@PenguinUKBooks) please visit www.penguin.co.uk.

Title: The Panic Years

Author: Nell Frizzell

Pages: 288 Pages

Publisher: Random House/Transworld Publishers/Bantam Press

The Blurb

The Panic Years: something between adolescence and menopause, a personal crisis, a transformation.

The panic years can hit at any time but they are most commonly triggered somewhere between the ages of twenty-five and forty. During this time, every decision a woman makes – from postcode to partner, friends to family, work to weekends – will be impacted by the urgency of the one decision with a deadline, the one decision that is impossible to take back: whether or not to have a baby.

But how to stay sane in such a maddening time?
How to understand who you are and what you might want from life?
How to know if you’re making the right decisions?

Raw, hilarious and beguilingly honest, Nell Frizzell’s account of her panic years is both an arm around the shoulder and a campaign to start a conversation. This affects us all – women, men, mothers, children, partners, friends, colleagues – so it’s time we started talking about it with a little more candour.

The Review

I am 36 years old. Well, I will be 37 this year and so this book, The Panic Years by Nell Frizzell should, in theory, speak to me.

Nell Frizzell is looking at things that society deems important to a 30+ year old. Things like marriage, children, and early menopause. And whilst I have thought about those things they aren’t necessarily a massive concern. I can see the reasons why Frizzell wrote about them and I admire her candid approach – at times she comes across as a little cuckoo and obsessed with time running away from her – but I think for me personally I didn’t mirror her concerns. I think The Panic Years would be a perfect book for someone looking for reassurance – in particular about becoming a mum – but it didn’t resonate with me because I don’t necessarily want the same things as her.

The Panic Years is well written and I think more books like this are needed. Women need to have their voices heard on subjects that are generally kept quiet and hidden and it needs bold voices like Nell Frizzell and so I admire her greatly for her writing and her honesty.

The Panic Years by Nell Frizzell is available now.

For more information regarding Nell Frizzell (@NellFrizzell) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House UK (@penguinrandom) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.com.

For more information regarding Bantam Press (@BantamPress) please visit www.bantam.press.

Title: Recollections of My Non-Existence

Author: Rebecca Solnit

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Granta Publications

The Blurb

In 1981, Rebecca Solnit rented a studio apartment in San Francisco that would be her home for the next twenty-five years. There, she began to come to terms with the epidemic of violence against women around her, the street harassment that unsettled her, and the authority figures that routinely disbelieved her. That violence weighed on her as she faced the task of having a voice in a society that preferred women to shut up or go away.

Set in the era of punk, of growing gay pride, of counter culture and West Coast activism, during the latter years of second wave feminism, Recollections of My Non-Existence is the foundational story of an emerging artist struggling against patriarchal violence and scorn. Recalling the experience of living with fear, which Solnit contends is the normal state of women, she considers how oppression impacts on creativity and recounts the struggle to find a voice and have it be heard.

Place and the growing culture of activism liberated her, as did the magical world of literature and books. And over time, the clamour of voices against violence to women coalesced in the current feminist upheaval, a movement in which Solnit was a widely audible participant. Here is an electric account of the pauses and gains of feminism in the past forty years; and an extraordinary portrait of an artist, by a seminal American writer.

The Review

Recollections of My Non-Existence by Rebecca Solnit is a palate cleanser of a book. It is a series of essays that create a memoir. The collection, whilst being specific to Rebecca Solnit’s life equally acts as a record of social change dealing with issues such as sexual assault, gentrification, race, and feminism.

Some essays are more enjoyable than others but it is an interesting collection.

Recollections of My Non-Existence by Rebecca Solnit is available now.

Title: All the Lives I Want – Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen to be Famous Strangers

Author: Alana Massey

Pages: 257 Pages

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

The Blurb

Mixing Didion’s affected cool with moments of giddy celebrity worship, Massey examines the lives of the women who reflect our greatest aspirations and darkest fears back onto us. These essays are personal without being confessional and clever in a way that invites readers into the joke. A cultural critique and a finely wrought fan letter, interwoven with stories that are achingly personal, ALL THE LIVES I WANT is also an exploration of mental illness, the sex industry, and the dangers of loving too hard. But it is, above all, a paean to the celebrities who have shaped a generation of women–from Scarlett Johansson to Amber Rose, Lil’ Kim, Anjelica Huston, Lana Del Rey, Anna Nicole Smith and many more. These reflections aim to reimagine these women’s legacies, and in the process, teach us new ways of forgiving ourselves.

The Review

All the Lives I Want is a collection of essays that celebrates women. It holds a mirror up to society and shows how women are not so subtly pitted against one another or how they are sexualised or how they are forced into submissive roles. It truly is a book to put fire in your belly.

Part memoir/part journalism, Massey’s penned thoughts percolate in the brain giving you food for thought long after you have finished reading.

All the Lives I Want – Essays About My Best Friends Who Happen to be Famous Strangers by Alana Massey is available now.

For more information regarding Alana Massey (@AlanaMassey) please visit www.alanakm.com/books/

For more information regarding Grand Central Publishing (@GrandCentralPub) please visit www.grandcentralpublishing.com.