Jilted Generation: How Britain has Bankrupted its Youth by Ed Howker & Shiv Malik.

I realise this book is a little off topic compared to the popular and academic science genres I normally write about, however this book has really caught my eye. This book seeks to address underlying roots of many topical and controversial economic and social being acutely felt by today’s youth. Being a member of the demographic under the spotlight in this book really adds an extra dimension the reading and understanding. The demographic labelled the ‘millennials’ are the focus of this book and recent articles from various outlets have tried, to varying degrees, to explain why it seems this demographic is have a hard time relative to previous generations at a similar stage of life. The authors Ed Howker and Shiv Malik are both co-founders of the Intergenerational Foundation (http://www.if.org.uk/) an organisation trying to bring intergenerational inequality to the forefront of political awareness in order to redress the balance.

Here is the blurb and a couple of brief reviews for a deeper flavour of the book. ‘Why are there so many adult children still living with mum and dad? Why do young people find it so difficult to find work? What are the hidden threats to Britain’s long-term prosperity lurking in the next few decades? How is Britain preparing the next generations? First published in 2010, Ed Howker and Shiv Malik’s Jilted Generation answers fundamental questions about the society you thought you knew, identifying for the first time the perilous position of Britain’s young adults. With a title brandished by everyone from Ed Miliband to student protesters, this book is a controversial but essential part of Britain’s political debate. With significant new material, this edition updates the argument and explains the real effects of austerity policies and the recession. And, crucially, it sets out what must be done to protect a vital and underestimated national asset – Britain’s youngest adults. Jilted Generation is essential reading for anyone concerned about the future of Britain.’ (Howker and Malik, 2013).

‘Howker and Malik knit together a taut and analytically rigorous narrative of 25 years of political myopia and mismanagement, outlining a series of gross policy errors that have disproportionately benefited the old at the expense of the young. These mistakes are likely to loom large over the UK for decades.’ – The Spectator (Howker and Malik, 2013).

‘The run-up to the election saw a string of books on intergenerational unfairness … The best was Jilted Generation by Ed Howker and Shiv Malik. They did not confine themselves to education but looked at how children were having their rites of passage postponed, and how vast numbers were living with their parents into their twenties. They could not afford the exorbitant housing costs, or build a carreer because they work in exploitive internships or insecure temporary jobs, if they worked at all.’ – Nick Cohen, The Observer (Howker and Malik, 2013).

This book has individual chapters covering housing, jobs, inheritance and politics all written with deep insight, understandable narrative and whit. I would recommend this book to anyone who falls into the ‘millennial’ demographic, is struggling with starting a career or getting on the housing ladder and wonders what they did wrong.

Howker, E and Malik, S. (2013) Jilted Generation: How Britain has Bankrupted its Youth. London: Icon.


An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems by Ian Haywood, Sarah Cornelius and Steve Carver. (Guestpost)

This book forms part of my academic collection and I have used it a lot for GIS references. This book centres itself around a relatively new technological tool of GIS and digital cartography. GIS has many applications in many subject areas, myself using having used it in geographical/ environmental spheres, and so will be useful for a wide range of practitioners. This book is about average size in my collection and this is reflected in that it is both comprehensive coupled with sufficient subject depth. Here is the blurb ‘The third edition of this highly regarded and successful text continues to provide a clear and accessible introduction to the world of GIS for students and professionals. With an increased focus on the practical applications of GIS, this edition features a wealth of new multi-disciplinary case studies and examples of GIS in practice, demonstrating how it is used worldwide and within a variety of different industries. Furthermore, the third edition has been substantially revised and updated to include coverage of the latest advances in GIS such as location-based services, time-base GIS, web mapping, data supply and 3D visualisation’ (Heywood, et al., 2006).

I realise there are many versions of GIS software on the market from basic to professional editions, however this book concerns itself with the underlying principles and applications common to all GIS software and so this book maintains compatibility and relevance across all GIS platforms. The first part of the book covers the basics of GIS and covers definitions, spatial data and modelling, database management, data input and editing, data analysis, analytical modelling and dealing with cartographic and spatial output. The second part has a more applied nature, covering the role of computers in GIS, issues from data quality and organisations, the role of GIS in project design and management (a large and applied field that this book deals with very well) and a section on the history and future direction of GIS. This book also has an accompanying website containing online resources, practice data, revision questions and suggested lecture outlines. This online presence is very useful and I think add additional value and weight to this book by offering additional online support to student and professional alike. Overall this text is very well structured and illustrated with GIS output, schematics, examples and theory and case study boxes. At the end of each chapter there are reflection and concluding paragraphs alongside revision questions, activities, further reading and webpage links. This is an invaluable resource for anyone who is involved with using this technology in academic and practical scenarios. There is also a 4th edition (2011) of this book available.

Heywood, I., Cornelius, S. and Carver, S. (2006) An Introduction to Geographical Information Systems 3rd Edn. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.

Coastal Systems by Simon Haslett (guestpost)

This book forms part of my academic collection (about 100 texts altogether) and came to me from a charity shop. This is a relatively small text of about 200 pages compared to others in my collection; however it fights its corner within the subject area. This book also form part of Routledge’s Introduction to the Environment series alongside many other titles so I’d recommend having a look at those if you’re interested. Coastal Systems concerns itself with the coastal zone and serves as a whistle stop tour of this vast and multifaceted theme. This book serves as an introduction best suited to undergraduate students but also serves as a great starting point for more in depth research. This book offers a broad and comprehensive introduction without sacrificing too much depth. I have used this book many times for my own work and it forms a firm foundation to then go on to find more applied and niche texts. Here is the second paragraph of the blurb that sums this book up very well; ‘Coastal Systems offers a concise introduction to the process, landforms, ecosystems and management of this important global environment. New to the second edition is a greater emphasis on the role of high-energy events, such as storms and tsunamis, which have manifested themselves with catastrophic effects in recent years. There is also a new concluding chapter, and updated guides to the ever-growing coastal literature. Each chapter is illustrated and furnished with topical case studies from around the world. Introductory chapters establish the importance of coasts, and explain how they are studied within a systems framework. Subsequent chapters explore the role of waves, tides, rivers and sea-level change in coastal evolution’ (Haslett, 2009).

This book starts out by introducing the driving theme with a chapter on ‘Coastal systems: definitions, energy and classification’ (Haslett, 2009). This book then goes on into more depth by introducing wave, tide and river dominated coastal systems with individual chapters for each. The final chapter covers issues associated with coastal management and how these issues can be remedied. Overall this is a very accessible text with a good structure and thoroughly illustrated with schematics, photographs, example and case studies. At the end of each chapter this book suggests further introductory and advanced reading to supplement knowledge in key areas. A newer 3rd edition (2016) of this book is also available.

Haslett, S. K. (2009) Coastal Systems 2nd Edn. Oxon: Routledge.


The Perils of a Literary Life by Jennifer Weeks

Hello everyone, and welcome to MY FIRST BOOK REVIEW IN FLIPPING AGES!!!

I don’t even have an excuse this time, I’ve just been busy and didn’t really have much time to dedicate to this. And now I have another job which allows reading during quiet periods! So that makes this a whole lot easier for me!

Anyway, here’s my latest review, starting with the blurb:

“An exciting and gripping novel exploring the effects of losing your grip on reality. Profoundly influenced by romantic literature and striving to escape her possessive twin sister, Alice moves to the Yorkshire Dales to teach and live an idyllic dream in a moorland cottage. There she meets William, her elderly neighbour’s nephew and professional actor, and is instantly attracted to him. William and Alice’s friendship blossoms and Alice falls madly in love with William, believing they’re soul mates.

Alice overhears a row between William and his uncle over William’s severe debt from gambling. When William’s uncle dies after falling from the moorland crags above her cottage, Alice suspects William pushed him. Soon after, William’s aunt Annie is taken ill and Alice suspects that William has poisoned Annie as a result of witnessing his uncle’s murder leaving Alice to fear that she will be next.

The Perils of a Literary Life is ultimately a romantic love story set in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales combined with the fast-paced nature and tense climax of a chilling thriller. As Alice, the heroine, becomes unable to distinguish between reality and fiction, this novel shows the fascinating impact of fantasy and literary fiction upon the psyche.”

I’ve never heard of Jennifer Weeks before and I thought I’d see what I could deduce about her “Sherlock Holmes” style before I googled her for some brief research for this review. After reading this book, I guessed that she was very interested in reading (perhaps to the point of obsession! But in a good way of course) who probably did a degree in English and would be very good at the Art and Literature round at a pub quiz. So when I read her profile on the Netgalley website (a tiny profile, but still…INFORMATION!) I found out she’s a secondary school English teacher, so naturally reads a lot. The pub quiz fact still remains. Maybe I should invite her to Bath one day and we can go to my local together and we might win!

The reason I guessed all of this was because throughout the whole story there are endless references to classics, because the main character and narrator is an English teacher and is also obsessed with books. Which is nice because I also know a lot of books and I like being able to understand references. However, there may be a few people who get confused because there are SO MANY! Having said that, a lot of the references are explained, at least a little bit, so it doesn’t ruin the narrative. There are also loads of poems throughout, which I believe are written by Weeks herself, which I found rather impressive.

One thing I really liked about this is that it’s an idea I haven’t seen explored in a novel before. The ideas might have been used before, but if they have, I haven’t heard it myself. I like twisty novels and if they’re dark, even better. I’ll try not to ruin it too much, so I’ll be brief (anything I say now should be written in the blurb). The character of Will is a little bit of an enigma, who seems so nice but there could be more to him than meets the eye. Let’s just say, to use a phrase in the book: “It’s not a whodunnit, more of a didhedoit?”. The idea that this lovely, charming, attractive character could possibly be a murderer is an interesting twist. Either he’s innocent and has been misunderstood by Alice – the main character – or he’s a heartless psychopath who murdered his uncle for financial gain. He’s an actor, so playing a “normal person” could be very easy for him. Especially when he supposedly “can’t be trusted” according to some of the characters. I won’t give too much away like I say, I really don’t want to ruin it for everyone! But this novel is a classic example of how fact and fiction can become blurred and how idealistic and dark twisted stories can become exaggerated and a vivid imagination can lead to trouble.


Guest post: Prosperity Without Growth by Tim Jackson

Hello internet, this is my first appearance on a blog page/website thingy so I think introductions are in order. Please also bear with me as this is my debut, so my posts maybe a little incoherent or just badly written at times, I am accustomed to scientific writing so this genre of writing will come to me eventually. I am Rob, 24 and I am currently studying for a masters and lot of my posts will be following a environmental theme. I realise this very much is a niche area, and so may not be of interest to all readers, however it is a topic I have been researching and learning about for some time now and I would like to share my observations, thoughts about this area, in order to broaden public awareness and deepen environmental understanding. The bulk of what I am planning on writing about are environmentally focused book reviews for both popular science and academic audiences, these may be of use primarily to students in areas of biology/geography and environmental science but also for people who may not have a educational background in the area but are interested in this theme. I realise compressing entire books (some academic texts are 600 pages long) into single blog posts may not do full justice to the text under review, so treat these reviews as subjective pointers that I think are the main threads for highlighting.

Prosperity Without Growth, Tim Jackson

So, the first environmentally focused book I would like to review is a book that I think every student of environmental science needs to read and also everyone who is concerned or just interested with environmental issues is Tim Jackson’s Prosperity Without Growth (Jackson, 2011). From the title already you have some idea of what the main thrust is going to be. This book, I think, is a pioneer in the field of addressing the relationship between economics and environmental sustainability. Turning to the back of the book the blurb is also very telling starting with the title of ‘Is it time to rethink economic growth?’ (Jackson, 2011) pointing towards the focus being on economics as the entity that is going to be redressed. Here is the Blurb for more context ‘In this piercing challenge to established economics, Tim Jackson provides a credible vision of how human society could flourish – within the ecological limits of a finite planet. For the advanced economies of the western world, prosperity without growth is no utopian dream. It is a financial and ecological necessity. Fulfilling this vision is simply the most urgent task of our times.’ (Jackson, 2011).

Well, from the blurb, this book very much sets out its position as the state and trend for economics and the environment, namely there is something wrong and it needs addressing. Prosperity Without Growth sets out in a understandable and accessible way that the economics of constant growth is simply not environmentally sustainable on a finite planet, but also this trend is damaging the environment for the sake of continued growth. A small through came to me at this point, with the world population expanding exponentially, surely there needs to be more economic growth to maintain per capita incomes/services etc. However, this relies on the premise that with a continuously expanding population the aim is to maintain or improve per capita economic growth. This draws me to the idea of over-development, the idea of more economically developed countries (MEDCs) and less economically developed countries (LEDCs) has been around for some time now. However, the idea that maybe MEDCs are now overdeveloped is being pointed towards in Prosperity Without Growth and so MEDCs now need to lower their per capita economic growth to help balance the books. Overall this book showcases how the need for constant economic growth, and the alienation of a steady state economy being labelled as stagnant or in a recession alongside consumerism are a problem for environmental sustainability. In the past the idea that we could engineer our way out of environmental problems with advances in technology has been shown up to not be a viable option, or be it not to be taken lightly for example global scale climatological engineering. Instead, Prosperity Without Growth suggests three transformative tasks of ‘establishing the ecological bounds of human activity’, ‘fixing the illiterate economics of relentless growth’ and ‘transforming the damaging social logic of consumerism’ (Jackson, 2011, pp. 204). Overall this is a very well written book with accessible principles and applications and I think it will be looked back on in future as an iconic text for economics and environmental sustainability. This book is widely available online and in shops if you fancy acquiring a copy.

Jackson, T. (2011) Prosperity Without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet. Oxon: Earthscan.


Dream a Little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher

Hello everyone!
My internet is back! I’ve spent the last week living in the dark ages 😦 no wifi because the internet broke, no 3G because my phone signal at home is crap and no time to really look at the stuff at work.

BUT on the plus side I had more time to read and my skin looks really clear at the moment!
Anyway, one of the books I’ve been reading recently is, as the title of this blogpost suggests, is Dream a Little Dream by Giovanna Fletcher.

“Sarah is doing just fine. Sure she’s been single for the last five years, and has to spend an uncomfortable amount of time around her ex-boyfriend, his perfect new girlfriend and all their mutual friends. And yes, her job as a PA to one of the most disgusting men in London is mind-numbingly tedious and her career is a constant disappointment to her mother. But it’s really okay. She’s happy (ish).

So it’s not surprising that when Sarah starts dreaming about a handsome stranger, she begins to look forward to falling asleep every night. Reality isn’t nearly as exciting. That is until her dream-stranger makes an unexpected real-life appearance, leaving Sarah questioning everything she thought she wanted.

Because no one ever really finds the person of their dreams… do they?”

I’ve always wanted to read Giovanna Fletcher books. To be honest that may be down to the fact I watch her, her husband (who happens to be Tom Fletcher from McFly/McBusted) and her sister in law Carrie Hpe Fletcher (Eponine in Les Miserables) on YouTube. But I also thought they sounded pretty interesting. They’re romantic with a slight twist of some sort and I really like that. (I’ve always hated romance books when you can guess exactly what’s going to happen from the first page).

This book is full of humour (my kind of humour as well!) and the fact – this is no plot spoiler I promise – the fact they all do a weekly pub quiz in the book really resonates with me as that at the moment is a highlight of my week!

I don’t always like romance stories, sometimes I find them a bit intense and I especially struggle to read them in public as sometimes there will be a very graphic scene and I feel I need to look around and make sue that other people around me can’t tell I’m reading something a bit…well…dirty. But I didn’t feel that with this book (well there was one moment when I snorted into my water on the train and someone looked at me oddly but that was a laugh rather than something uncomfortable.

I hope to read more Giovanna Fletcher books in the future. But if you ever read this Gi (hope it’s ok I call you that?! You say that in your videos, apologies if that’s a bit forward!) good luck with your impending birth and all the best for your family! Even though I don’t know you personally I feel like I do because of your videos. 

And to everyone else, I’ll be back soon! 🙂


What I’m reading: Would I Lie To You?


Happy new year and whatnot.

Today I am going to be talking about a book which I got for Christmas. It’s not so much a review but it’s not the easiest book to review, but I’ll write…a discussion I suppose. A very one sided discussion.

I have been watching Would I Lie to You? since the very early days when Angus Deayton used to present (not as long ago as when he presented Have I Got News For You? but I was still in school in those days, so still quite a long time ago.) It has become a bit of a tradition to watch this programme when I’m home from wherever I am around Christmas time. My parents Sky+ all the episodes and we’ll watching them in our living room.

I love how bonkers the show can be sometimes, especially when such guests as Bob Mortimer and a specific episode featuring Kevin Bridges involving a horse in Bulgaria happen.

But back to the book.

This book features 100 (*ahem, 99) which British people find themselves saying practically every day. Although there is one point where the writer of a specific entry states that they will assume the reader is male, I still feel myself relating quite heavily with the lies throughout and regularly handed the book over to parents and other relations and made them read segments to themselves while they nod enthusiastically or smile lightly to themselves.

This made for an entertaining Christmas, even if I was sat on the sofa reading this book for a lot of the holiday. This is great for people who like observational comedy or who are fans of Would I Lie to You? (There are frequent interjections by Rob Brydon, David Mitchell and Lee Mack throughout)