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March book list 2020

All the books to read in March when you might be quarantined

From a neurodiverse guide to love, sex, and relationships, to fiction traversing the ongoing climate crisis – we’re diving into spring with some stellar books

Spring has sprung, but the idea of doing anything other than self-isolating in a time of international health crisis seems startling for some. So for March, here are some good reads for any of our audience in quarantine, self or government-imposed. New fiction out this month sees a young woman navigate sex, identity, and the climate crisis in a stunning debut novel by Madeleine Watts, while Susan Fowler blows the whistle on Uber and shares her fight for justice in a startling tell-all, and an exciting neurodiverse guide to relationships kickstarts this month’s book list. There’s also deep dives into icons from Peter Beard to hypebeast-hailing Supreme, and fascinating photography that captures one of the UK’s last adult entertainment pubs. Enjoy! 

PETER BEARD: AN ARTIST’S LIFE MAGNIFIED BY PETER BEARD 

Peter Beard, now 82, is a hybrid artist – his work blends photography and collage, usually assembled in journal format, alongside his scribbled diary entries. An American aristocrat, he spent a lot of his life in Africa, where he documented the changes he saw over several decades. In his introduction to this Taschen book, he describes a dystopian Kenya ravaged by overpopulation, commercialisation, disease, “architorture”, and mechanised war. Although many of the images in the photobook – which looks more like a scrapbook – were taken in the past, the narratives on environmentalism feel more relevant than ever in the face of a climate crisis. The pairings of images are also eerily uncanny. As an essay in the book observes, expect “models and Masai, politicians and pop icons, brassiere ads and bleached bones, lions and lunatics, crocs and self-mockery, soup cans and severed heads, private heroes and public enemies, rhinos and blood smears, strippers and starvation.” (AA)

Out now, Taschen

EXPLAINING HUMANS BY CAMILLA PANG

As someone who's struggled to come to terms with my own experiences of neurodiversity, Camilla Pang’s Explaining Humans is a joy to read. Rather like an ‘outsider’s guide to the human race’, Pang – who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of eight – uses her own experiences, and her PhD in biochemistry, to dismantle humanity’s bizarre social customs, applying science to themes of human relationships, perfectionism, and more. Whether neurodiverse or neurotypical, Pang’s witty account is a must-read for anyone who wants to broaden their understanding of life beyond what society defines as the ‘norm’. (GY)

March 12, Viking

WHY WOMEN ARE POORER THAN MEN BY ANNABELLE WILLIAMS

It’s a man’s world in journalist Annabelle Williams’ debut book, Why Women Are Poorer Than Men and What We Can Do About It, which explores the socio-economic structures set in place to limit women’s wealth, from tampon tax to boardroom bullying. Described as a “call to arms for women of all ages and from all walks of life”, Williams’ book goes beyond talks of glass ceilings and gender pay gaps to a more nuanced look at the institutional oppression faced by women on a daily basis – for instance, the NHS spends more on viagra than helping single mother families eat healthy, while women entrepreneurs only receive 1p in every £1 of funding given to start-up businesses. Why Women Are Poorer Than Men and What We Can Do About It outlines how we got here and what we can do to fix it. (GY)

March 5, Michael Joseph

WHISTLEBLOWER: MY JOURNEY TO SILICON VALLEY AND FIGHT FOR JUSTICE AT UBER BY SUSAN FOWLER

Susan Fowler is the technology op-ed editor at The New York Times. She is also a former Time magazine “person of the year”, after outing sexual harassment at Uber (she appeared on the cover in December 2017 with Taylor Swift). Fowler worked there as a software engineer until she blew the whistle on toxic sexism in the company. Six million people read her blogpost, “Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber”, in which she discussed her time at what was then the most buzzed company in Silicon Valley. After the post, she says that private investigators followed her, rumours went around that Uber competitor Lyft had paid her to write it and Uber banned her from using the app. Her captivating, relentless new book goes into deeper detail on the lead-up to whistleblowing and the fallout. (AA)

Out now, Viking

FIEBRE TROPICAL: A NOVEL BY JULI DELGADO LOPERA

A story of migration, queerness, and love, Juli Delgado Lopera’s Fiebre Tropical is a queer coming-of-age story about 15-year-old Francisca, who’s uprooted from her comfortable life in Bogotá, Colombia, to an ant-infested Miami townhouse. It’s here that she finds herself in the midst of a rather hellish-sounding evangelical church, complete with Christian salsa, abstinent young dancers, and Carmen, the opinionated and charismatic pastor’s daughter. What follows is a tragic tale punctuated with queer humour and raw emotion. (GY)

March 3, Feminist Press

THE GLASS HALF-EMPTY: DEBUNKING THE MYTH OF PROGRESS IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY BY RODRIGO AGUILERA

In his debut book, The Glass Half-Empty: Debunking the Myth of Progress in the Twenty-First Century, economist Rodrigo Aguilera attempts to debunk the progress narrative perpetuated by intellectuals such as Steven Pinker, Hans Rosling, Johan Norberg, and Matt Ridley, which claims that the world is getting better, despite evidence (the climate crisis, far-right ideology, and so on) that suggests it’s not.

Aguilera’s point is this: without criticising the systems of capitalism, the changes necessary to make a better world won’t be actualised. He argues that capitalism is incapable of dealing effectively with socio-economic problems like climate change, far-right populism, and inequality – the progress narrative must be challenged if we want to build a better world. (GY)

March 10, Watkins Media

LURKING: HOW A PERSON BECAME A USER BY JOANNE MCNEIL

Joanne McNeil’s debut book has been billed as a kind of people’s history of the internet and the first book to truly talk about the internet from a user’s perspective. She draws on her own experience as an internet user to take us from the evolution of AOL chatrooms to Myspace through Friendster, towards an analysis of the platforms we use today, mostly Facebook (“endless ethical quagmires”) and Instagram. Tackling topics like how the internet redefined the idea of loneliness, how it engenders hate and how it profits off us, this is not a book about big tech, but a book about our experiences online and the ways in which they shape who we are, as well as ultimately asking how the internet can do better by its users. (AA)

Out now, MCD

THE FORESTERS ARMS BY SARAH HOLLAMBY

In June 2019, The Foresters Arms in Southend, Essex was forced to close its doors after over a century in business. Swapping drinks and dancers for deluxe apartments and restaurants, one of the UK’s oldest adult entertainment pubs will be replaced by a £50 million seafront development – much to the dismay of loyal locals. Photographer Sarah Hollamby was there to document its final weeks. It looks like it’s been plucked right out of the 1970s. Drenched in red, the pub is decked out with tartan armchairs, leather benches, and stencil silhouettes of dancers on the walls. In Hollamby’s photos, half naked women dance for punters with wispy hair and v-neck shirts, downing pints, and sometimes eating KFC. A fascinating character and culture study. (BD)

Out now, Sarah Hollamby

THE PERFECT WORLD OF MIWAKO SUMIDA BY CLARISSA GOENAWAN

From the acclaimed author of Rainbirds comes a tenderly crafted story of a group of college friends, who must make their way through the devastating fug of losing their friend to suicide. With thoughtful exploration and a dedicated character study, the late Miwako is far from being a ghost, and Goenawan carefully extolls her troubled past as her reeling friends uncover it. Her issues and the unravelling narrative compound a story that reflects how secrets and inner turmoil stewing beneath the surface impact individuals and those around them. Miwako’s friends battle against tough questions over family, gender, sexuality, and identity, and her fervent and troubled spirit is captured in crystalline prose. (AC)

March 18, Soho Press

THE INLAND SEA BY MADELEINE WATTS

Madeleine Watts’ stunning slowburn debut tells the story of a self-sabotaging young woman navigating lust, trauma, and growing up hard, set against the backdrop of a world on fire. But first, 200 years ago: British explorer John Oxley pursues ‘the inland sea’, a rumoured body of water somewhere in central Australia, driving himself near mad in his devoted but futile quest. Now two centuries later, we meet Watts’ heroine, Oxley’s great-great-great-great granddaughter, who battles her own all-consuming issues. It’s a story embedded deeply in Sydney, where the ongoing climate crisis sparks and spits, as she takes harrowing calls in her job at an emergency services dispatch centre, garners illicit vices, has an affair with an ex-lover, and makes moves to get out of Aus forever. Watts’ writing traverses both existential and touching-distance dreads of personal and eco crisis, with a luminous touch. (AC)

Out now, Pushkin Press

DAVID YARROW: AMERICAS AFRICA ANTARTICA ARTIC ASIA EUROPE BY DAVID YARROW

Photographer and conservationist David Yarrow collects 150 of his most iconic works in a gleaming coffee table book – with it, comes ecological beauty, sorrow, crisis, and triumph. Across the years, Yarrow has gone nose-to-nose with dynamic, capricious, and sublime moments of nature – the cover itself is a goosebump-inducing moment with a tiger outside of a cave in Rajasthan, a northern Indian state. Alongside the photographs, Yarrow offers personal insight into some of the most heart-racing moments of a two-decades long career, from pole to pole, desert to glacier. Royalties from book sales will go to worldwide conservation efforts, including WildAid in the United States and Tusk in the UK. (AC)

Out now, Rizzoli

SUPREME BY JAMES JEBBIA

Across 800 images captured by cultural behemoths from Larry Clark to David Sims, this sprawling book traces Supreme’s journey from New York skate shop to world-renowned brand. With a laser-focused look like never before, there’s insight into iconic collabs like that with Nan Goldin and Comme de Garçons, early days lookbooks, a t-shirt index, commentary from Harmony Korine, and behind-the-scenes ephemera for fans, hypebeasts, and anyone intrigued by the brand’s irreverent spirit. (AC)

Out now, Phaidon