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Warwickshire’s Also Festival: 9 top reads of 2019

Fancy a new read? Here's the top picks by organisers of Salon London and the Also Festival, Helen Bagnall, Juliet Russell and Diccon Towns, featuring many of their inspirational speakers.

One of the summer’s coolest smaller festivals Also is a three-day nature fix set in a leafy Warwickshire lakeside location near Stratford-upon-Avon where festival-goers can be inspired by ideas, try new activities and take part in immersive dining experiences. This year’s theme was Out Of The Woods. Its organisers also run Salon London, a cultural series of talks by authors and academics in the capital.

Natalie Haynes

  • In 2019 Natalie Haynes reclaimed all of the Trojan Wars for all of the women with A Thousand Ships.  Reclaiming history for new voices has been massive this year.
  • We have to mention the ‘People’s Philosopher’ (as only we refer to him): Julian Baggini with his How the World Thinks – great for a deepening understanding the international world we live in rather than the one party politics thinks we live in.
  • How to Have Feminist Sex: A Fairly Graphic Guide. Funny. Frank. Fearless. Buying Flo Perry’s beautiful illustrated book for someone is a socially acceptable way to get involved in someone else’s sex life.  She’s a freelance illustrator and the daughter of artist Grayson Perry and psychotherapist Philippa Perry.
  • London is a Forest  It really is a forest – as defined by the UN!  By Paul Wood (Geddit? That actually is his name!) will make you fall in love with the capital’s trees and has London walks in all directions. Perfect for someone you love to walk with. Or as a finishing present for someone you want to walk away from forever.

  • Gina Rippon’s fantastic The Gendered Brain – she’s been trolled for the findings of her thirty ears of dedicated research as a leading neuro-imager but there you go.
  • See also award-winning British science journalist Angela Saini for her brilliant book Superior: The Return of Race Science . If I had a pound for everyone who wanted to explain where her research was wrong at our ALSO Festival I would have £4 – which is £4 too much.
  • UCL’s Dr Robert Elliott Smith has 30 years’ experience designing and teaching Artificial Intelligence. His excellent book Rage Against the Machine, heartily recommended by us, explains how all algorithms are racist sexist scum.
  • On to Prof Sir David Spiegelhalter. So, his book The Art of Statistics is two inches thick. But even with this handicap – the fact that so many of us are willing to buy it and even READ it to try to make sense of the way we are being misled and misdirected by numbers and stats shows we are intelligent beings after all. 

And finally…

Philippa Perry

A few of Muddy Warks’ highlights from this year’s Also festival. (L-R clockwise) The Lake Stage, wild swimming, London International Gospel Choir, the Hippy Heights Hotel, Gong Bath for Kids and Afrikan Boy

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