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10 books to read before Antidote 2018

From the polemic to the ­­­­hysterical, here’s your Antidote reading list...

Michael Sun
Sydney Opera House

Law School: Sex and Relationship Advice From Benjamin Law and His Mum Jenny Phang 

Benjamin Law and Jenny Phang

The low-down:
Award-winning writer and broadcaster Benjamin Law isn’t afraid of sex chat with his mum – and why would you be, when your mum is as earnest and funny as Jenny Phang? Law School is a collection of their joint sex and relationship columns in The Lifted Brow, transcending intergenerational awkwardness to deliver advice packed with wisdom and hilarity.

Tracey Spicer, newsreader and journalist, says:
Law School is lascivious and literary, simultaneously. It is incredibly enlightening and chock-full of sexual epiphanies.” 

Stung!: On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean

Lisa Gershwin

The low-down: To some, they’re painful pests, but for Gershwin, jellyfish are a vital insight into the rising toxicity of our oceans. In Stung!, she shares insight into their incredible resilience, and what their population bloom means for the state of underwater ecosystems.

Callum Roberts, author of The Ocean of Life, says:
“Vivid, lively, and enthralling! The world of jellyfish is brought alive as you never imagined it could be by Lisa Gershwin in this engaging, gripping, and often funny book.”

Around the World in 80 Trees 

Jonathan Drori

The low-down:
As we enter an age of increasing environmental panic, science and sustainability educator Jonathan Drori reminds us why we care. In this lushly illustrated love letter to trees, he embarks on an international voyage through canopied rainforests and leafy boulevards to inscribe upon us their significance in our lives.

Richard Deverell, Director of Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens, says:
“Fascinating biographies of extraordinary trees. Wonder at the diversity of the natural world shines through on every page.”

House of Islam: A Global History 

Ed Husain

The low-down:
A former jihadist turned anti-extremist, Husain has spent years identifying and warning against the manipulative techniques used by fundamentalist groups. But House of Islam is Husain at his most compassionate – sharing his deep fascination with Islam’s ethical underpinnings to reveal the fairness, mercy, and peace at the faith’s core.

Justin Marozzi, reviewer at the Sunday Times, says:
“A powerful and impassioned polemic ... a compelling thesis from a British Muslim writer whose relationship with Islam has evolved dramatically over time.” 

Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump 

David Neiwert

The low-down:
In the wake of the election that rocked the world, commentators scrambled for explanations. Some cried economics, others class disillusionment – but here, Neiwert offers an incisive analysis into far-right sentiments that have been gaining ground since the 90s. For Neiwert, the alt-right’s ascent was anything but sudden, and Alt-America is the product of two decades of investigation into an increasingly divided nation.

Jeet Heer, Senior Editor of the New Republic, says:
“This crisply written book tells the whole sordid story with clarity and force. More than anyone else, Neiwert understands that Trumpism has deep roots in American culture and history. In this book, he lays out those roots for all to see.”

The Battle for Home: The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria 

Marwa Al-Sabouni

The low-down:
Rarely are we so privileged to receive such a uniquely personal account of a warzone as this. Here, Al-Sabouni details an architectural history of the Syrian conflict from its initial rumblings through to the eventual devastation of public spaces – and the communities within them.

Frederick Deknatel, reviewer at the Los Angeles Review of Books, says:
The Battle for Home is Sabouni’s elegy to her town, a memoir about survival, and a kind of manifesto, stressing the importance of architecture and urbanism for our understanding of the deeper roots of Syria’s conflict.”

History of the World in 7 Cheap Things 

Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore

The low-down:
Don’t be fooled by the title; this isn’t a penny-pinching guide, but rather a scathing critique of a capitalism system that has worked to cheapen nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives. The economisation of these ‘7 Cheap Things’, argue Patel and Moore, has wreaked havoc on the Earth and in this book, they propose radical solutions to fix it.

Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything, says:
“As we come together to build a better world, this book could well become a defining framework to broaden and deepen our ambitions.”

War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence

Ronan Farrow

The low-down:
A scorching debut by one of the most recognised polemicists of our time, War on Peace offers a rare glimpse behind the White House’s closed doors as Farrow delves into the intricacies of U.S. foreign policy to answer the question: why has American diplomacy failed so spectacularly?

Daniel Kurtz-Phelan, Executive Editor of Foreign Affairs at the New York Times, says:
“Farrow draws on both government experience and fresh reporting to offer a lament for the plight of America’s diplomats—and an argument for why it matters.”

Always Another Country 

Sisonke Msimang

The low-down:
Born into exile and raised between continents, Msimang knows all too well the diasporic anguish of migrants everywhere. In Always Another Country, she reflects on her journey towards self-empowerment: one scored by xenophobia, disillusionment, and the lingering pain of a stateless upbringing.

Elke Power, reviewer at Readings, says:
“Msimang’s explication of what it means to be from – but not of – a place is profoundly moving.”

The Beautiful Struggle

Ta-Nehisi Coates

The low-down:
Ta-Nehisi was always different. Sensitive, awkward, bookish – in dialectical opposition to his Vietnam Vet father, who worked hard by day and plotted with the Black Panthers by night. The Beautiful Struggle documents their relationship: difficult at times, but one that taught him fortitude to survive in a landscape stacked against him.

Ken Foster, reviewer at Time Out, says:
“This is a story of chaos, flaws and tragedy. It’s also a love story, dispatched from the front lines of a family.”

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