Christmas Book Review Special

We asked Community Care readers, reviewers and contributors which books they hope to receive or intend to give this Christmas.

Sally Anfilogoff
Consultant, findasitter
I’ll be looking forward to reading Have The Men Had Enough? by Margaret Forster (Penguin). Her books are lovely, well crafted peeks into the lives of ordinary people leading extraordinary lives. A family looking after Grandma gradually come to see that love, by itself, may not be enough to sustain them through the strains of caring. The theme may seem a bit too much like work, but I’m sure I will enjoy it.

Sarah Baalham
Customer care manager, Suffolk Council
I’m after Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg (Chatto and Windus). Any book by the author of “Fried Green Tomatoes…” that features characters called Elner Shimfissle and Tot Whooten has got to be worth a read.

Val Brooks
Sector teams manager,Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O’Farrell (Headline Review) is a must for anyone working in mental health. It tells the story of a woman who’s life is stolen when she is locked away in an asylum, following a childhood in a dysfunctional family. She remains there for the whole of her adult life. Her behaviour is medicalised by her family and the system.

Clea Barry
Adoption social worker, Hackney, east London
Time Out Eating and Drinking Guide, 2007
. One of the 1,001 great things about living in London is the food. In Hackney we probably have the best Turkish and Vietnamese food in the country, but I also like to have one really expensive and memorable meal out in central London each year – reading about it and planning it out is half the fun.

Mark Drinkwater
Community worker, Southwark, south London
Jimmy Carr and Lucy Greeves’ The Naked Jape: Uncovering the Hidden World of Jokes (Penguin) is top of my Christmas request list as it’ll form part of my research for a comedy event I’m helping organise at next year’s Southwark Disabilities Festival.

Anthony Douglas
Chief executive, Cafcass
Two recent novels stand out, American in every sense. The Lay of the Land, by Richard Ford and The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. Both show the reach of great storytelling. The complex lives of the central characters beg the grand question of whether the average life today does as much harm as good. Brilliant writing; sober yet liberating literature.

Merle Fletcher
Foster carer and adopter
Robin Hobb’s The Mad Ship (HarperCollins) – book two of the Liveship Traders trilogy – is total fantasy and escapism: what could be better for the Christmas holidays?

John Gatefield
Professional development co-ordinator, Halton Council
For me another healthy eating cookery book for us to stand the bottles of spirits on when we’ve run out of place mats, and Jeremy Clarkson’s And Another Thing (Michael Joseph) to pass to my wife to wrap up for me as a “surprise”. I’m also desperately looking for a book with “How not to be cynical” in the title.

Phil Frampton
Author of The Golly in the Cupboard
The book I would most like to receive is Jean Paul Sartre’s Critique of Proust’s A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu (Verso). The title was used as a great cameo sketch by Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Consequently, I later waded through the 9,000-plus pages of Proust’s opus, so I could enjoy Sartre’s Critique; only to discover that the latter probably doesn’t exist! The other book I hope to read is Iraq, I Came, Iran: A Diary of Failure by George Bush.

Alan Jones
Children’s guardian, Cafcass
I will be reading a biography of Herman Melville – Melville: His World and Work – by Andrew Delbanco (Picador) for a  complete break from the sagas of human misery in the everyday work of practitioners.

Dawn Judd
Senior lecturer in social work, University of Central Lancashire
I’m off to warmer climates to escape the mass commercialism and unbearable hype that Christmas has become. I’ll be taking Camila Batmanghelidjh’s Shattered Lives (Jessica Kingsley) with me. Not only is her work essential for all those who work with children damaged and destroyed by adults and the state, but her ability to enter the world of children is an inspiration for us all. Perhaps not the most joyous read for this time of year but a timely reminder that we must do better for all children, especially those in the care of the state, in 2007. 

Des Kelly
Executive director, National Care Forum
I like the sound of That’s Bollocks by Albert Jack (Penguin). It seems like the sort of book Christmas does best. A whole book on urban myths! Perhaps it will feature something on the world of social care.

Elspeth Loades
Planning and development manager, Bristol Council
A relative’s obsession with penguins recently led me to Why Don’t Penguins’ Feet Freeze? (Profile). So I intend to backtrack this Christmas and buy last year’s bestselling prequel Does Anything Eat Wasps? (Profile). Both are quirky collections of questions published and answered in New Scientist’s Last Word column. Some replies are detailed and earnest, others brief and irreverent. Do you know why superglue doesn’t stick to the inside of its tube? Or what time it is at the North Pole?

David O’Driscoll
Hertfordshire history project worker
I am looking forward to reading Mental Retardation in America: A Historical Reader (NYU Press). Edited by Steven Noll, this is a collection of scholarly essays that hopefully will stimulate and inform some of my own historical research.

Keith Popple
Professor of social work, London South Bank University
Everyone who is concerned about our involvement in Iraq (I suspect that’s most of us!) should consider reading The Curious Incident of the WMD in Iraq by Rohan Candappa (Profile) – a quite outstanding slim volume of satire based partly on Mike Haddon’s delightful The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

Su Rana
Senior drug dependency worker, Bradford City PCT
I will buy Cultivating Inner Peace by Paul R Fleischman (GP Putnam’s Sons), which explores how peace is contemplated, sought and thrives in daily life. “We do not create inner peace. We discover it.”

Colin Standfield
Development officer, Battling Addictions Together
I am fed up with documents that I have to mark like a teacher before I’m comfortable reading them. Fed up with benchmarks (you can have only one, if you are a surveyor), with milestones (especially when they are on a trajectory – a difficult balancing act) and with visions as part of a cornerstone. So I would like to give Eats Shoots and Leaves (Profile Books) by Lynn Truss to everyone who hasn’t already got it; ideally in a box set with a book on avoiding jargon and Fowler’s Modern English Usage.

Jo Tunnard
I’d like to get Monty Don’s Growing Out of Trouble (Hodder & Stoughton) because it combines (1) my aspiration to be a better gardener, (2) my guilt about not doing enough to save the planet, (3) my love of Monty’s way with words and his openness about his experience of depression, and (4) the chance to learn about what works with young offenders and substance misuse.

Mike Waddington
Head of external communications, South Essex Partnership NHS Trust
It may be me and my life, but I feel the times are at a crossroads so we need a broad and deep look at fundamentals. So it’s Michael Frayn’s The Human Touch, Our Part in the Creation of a Universe (Faber) for me.

To add your comments on which Christmas Book you would like to give or receive, go to our Discussion Forum, and post your comments.

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