My main role is as co-manager at Housmans, a radical bookshop in King’s Cross that has been running since 1945. Contact us on twitter, @HousmansBooks. Working at the bookshop all these years has led me into getting involved in a number of other projects, most notably convener for the Alliance of Radical Booksellers, trustee for the ARB’s Bread & Roses Award for Radical Publishing, and also organising the annual London Radical Bookfair.
What motivates me above all is trying to broaden the reach and impact that radical publishing has, and it was the potential promise of the Left Book Club to do just that has got me involved with this project.
What I do at LBC
I am currently both director and on the editorial board of the LBC, and I think my experiences of working as a bookseller bring a different perspective to the project. I am keen to keep books as accessible and relevant as possible and to cover as broad a range of voices and traditions as possible. In reflection, this is a lot easier said than done, but I feel confident that the LBC project is moving slowly but surely in the right direction.
Depending on the issue my politics lie somewhere on the anarchist-socialist spectrum, and I tend to gravitate towards more concrete, materialist writing as opposed to abstract theory, so with that in mind, some recent book’s I’ve read that have been particularly useful and inspiring have included:
- ‘The Hammer Blow – how 10 women disarmed a warplane’ by Andrea Needham (Peace News, 2016)
A surprisingly engaging and thought-provoking account of a brave act of nonviolent direct action against the might of the military machine, written with a direct, unpretentious and considered voice. And a genuine page-turner to boot!
- ‘Here We Stand: Women Changing The World’, edited by Helena Earnshaw and Angharad Penrhyn Jones (Left Book Club/Honno Press, 2016)
An inspiring and deeply moving collection of accounts from women challenging the status quo in a variety of ways. At times when change seems impossible it’s important to remember how much is continuously being achieved and struggled for.
- ‘Autonomy, Solidarity, Possibility: The Colin Ward Reader’ by Colin Ward (AK Press, 2011)
Colin Ward’s common-sense and practical approach to anarchism and its practice in our everyday lives is one that resonates a lot with me. Although on its own it feels like it may never be enough to truly change the world, the everyday anarchism he advocates remains essential and foundational.
- ‘The Far Right in Europe’ edited by Fred Leplat (Resistance Books, 2015)
The spectre of the far right has never gone away, and particularly in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008 and the endless wars waged on, and in, the middle east and northern Africa, a deeper awareness and understanding of these dark forces at work is essential. This collection does a great job of shining the spotlight and providing accessible, historical context on the variety of far right formations across Europe.
- ‘Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative’ by Mark Fisher (Zero, 2010)
Perhaps the only book of the last decade that really challenged me to reassess the way I was thinking politically about the world. Mark’s book showed me that the way we seemingly all internalise the logic of capitalism is a trap to be forever watchful of. It held a mirror up to the nature of my own pessimism. Theory of this kind usually does little for me, but this book resonates with the undeniable ring of truth.