What we’re reading: Bregman, Downing & McNamara

Our shops have reopened (with safety measures in place) and we’re pleased to be able to once again resume our regular what we’re reading column.

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on, or the music we’re loving.


Mark Rubbo is reading Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman

Rutger Bregman’s Utopia for Realists was a breath of fresh air when it came out four years ago. Now in his new book, Bregman posits that – despite what pessimists like Richard Dawkins and Jared Diamond say – the human inclination is to do good and that it is the strictures and of society that result in self-serving behaviours. Humankind is a controversial, thought-provoking and fascinating read, and as with Bregman’s earlier work, a must-read for anyone interested in how we live.


Bronte Coates is reading He Started It by Samantha Downing

A while back I mentioned to our brilliant crime columnist Fiona Hardy that I was in the mood to read crime fiction and she immediately came by my desk to drop off a swag of reading copies. Read this one first, she said (demanded?) as she placed Samantha Downing’s He Started It in my hands. Naturally, I did exactly as I was told and, of course, it was perfect advice. I devoured this book in one sitting, staying up to nearly midnight to race through the final chapters. The story of a family road trip with dark undertones, this novel is packed with plot twists and reveals. This is the kind of wild crime story that pushes the boundaries of believability, and it is also wonderfully addictive, superbly crafted, and extremely enjoyable. Pick it up with care!


Chris Gordon is reading Burn by Patrick Ness

This is what I know will happen when I pick up a book written by Patrick Ness. I know that I will be transported, I know that something epic will occur, and I know that I will read every single page within 24 hours. Burn did not disappoint. I was taken immediately to the 1950s, where I was dropped in the middle of a race war, a class war, the Cold War, and in a land where dragons reigned supreme. This is the kind of high-stakes adventure where one world vanishes, and another appears. Some readers assume Ness’s books are only for young people – what nonsense! He writes for us all. With Burn, Ness will hold your hand as you venture into the imagination of surely one of the greatest storytellers of our generation.


Lian Hingee is reading I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

I just finished reading Michelle McNamara’s brilliant book about the Golden State Killer (which – let me tell you – was not a particularly wise choice, considering current circumstances). I’m not usually a big True Crime fan, but McNamara’s incredibly engaging writing style elevates I’ll Be Gone in the Dark into a book that balances a knife-edge between intensely thrilling and deeply personal. It’s not just the story of a man who terrorised suburban neighbourhoods for over a decade; it’s also the story of the people who never gave up looking for him.

McNamara tragically died before finishing the book, and segments have been pieced together by crime writer Paul Haynes, investigative journalist Billy Jensen, and McNamara’s husband Patton Oswalt. Ironically, it’s in these sections that McNamara’s obsession with bringing the Golden State Killer to justice is particularly stark: she had a remarkable tenacity, attention to detail, and access to material that even the official investigators hadn’t seen. Two months after I’ll Be Gone in the Dark was released, Joseph James DeAngelo was revealed as the Golden State Killer, and I read the book with dozens of tabs open, cross-referencing the book with what we now know. It made reading McNamara’s epilogue – ‘Letter to an Old Man’ – particularly poignant. In it she tells the killer: ‘Open the door. Show us your face. Walk into the light.’ She never got to see DeAngelo brought to justice, but I’m sure Michelle McNamara’s refusal to let his victims fade into anonymity played a big part in his eventual capture.

Humankind: A Hopeful History

Humankind: A Hopeful History

Rutger Bregman

$32.99Buy now

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