Join the Backstory book club!
Each month, we'll be reading a different non-fiction book. A paperback copy of the book will be sent out about a month in advance, giving you plenty of time to read them.
Then we will all join the author on Zoom to discuss the book. It'll be a bit like any other book club, with the added advantage of quizzing the author herself.
We will meet monthly, usually on Tuesday evenings (UK time). More events will be added soon.
DECEMBER (meeting 3) - Lea Ypi, Free: Coming of Age at the End of History
Monday 19 December, 8pm UK time
Now a professor at the London School of Economics, Lea Ypi grew up in one of the most isolated countries on earth, a place where communist ideals had officially replaced religion. Albania, the last Stalinist outpost in Europe, was almost impossible to visit, almost impossible to leave. It was a place of queuing and scarcity, of political executions and secret police. To Lea, it was home. People were equal, neighbours helped each other, and children were expected to build a better world. There was community and hope.
Then, in December 1990, everything changed. The statues of Stalin and Hoxha were toppled. Almost overnight, people could vote freely, wear what they liked and worship as they wished. There was no longer anything to fear from prying ears. But factories shut, jobs disappeared and thousands fled to Italy on crowded ships, only to be sent back. As one generation's aspirations became another's disillusionment, and as her own family's secrets were revealed, Lea found herself questioning what freedom really meant. Free is a memoir of coming of age amid political upheaval.
JANUARY (meeting 4) - Cal Flyn, Islands of Abandonment
Tuesday 24 January, 8pm UK time
This is a book about abandoned places: ghost towns and exclusion zones, no man's lands and fortress islands - and what happens when nature is allowed to reclaim its place. In Chernobyl, following the nuclear disaster, only a handful of people returned to their dangerously irradiated homes. On an uninhabited Scottish island, feral cattle live entirely wild.
This book explores the extraordinary places where humans no longer live - or survive in tiny, precarious numbers - to give us a possible glimpse of what happens when mankind's impact on nature is forced to stop. From Tanzanian mountains to the volcanic Caribbean, the forbidden areas of France to the mining regions of Scotland, Cal Flyn brings together some of the most desolate, eerie, ravaged and polluted areas in the world - and shows how, against all odds, they offer our best opportunities for environmental recovery.
FEBRUARY (meeting 5) - to be announced
Date to be announced
MARCH (meeting 6) - Sathnam Sanghera, Empireland
Tuesday 28 March, 8pm UK time
Empire explains why there are millions of Britons living worldwide. Empire explains Brexit and the feeling that we are exceptional. Empire explains our distrust of cleverness.
Empire explains Britain's particular brand of racism.
Strangely hidden from view, the British Empire remains a subject of both shame and glorification. In his bestselling book, Sathnam Sanghera shows how our imperial past is everywhere: from how we live and think to the foundation of the NHS and even our response to the COVID-19 crisis.
At a time of great division, when we are arguing about what it means to be British, Empireland is a much-needed and enlightening portrait of contemporary British society, shining a light on everything that usually gets left unsaid.
As this is a new club, we might change the format, but for now the plan is for a 60-minute Zoom each month, with roughly:
- 20 minutes discussing the book in small breakout groups, to replicate the feel of a traditional book group
- 20 minutes author interview by Tom or another member of the Backstory team
- 20 minutes Q&A with the author
The book club will regularly be asked to suggest future books to read.
We will also occasionally host additional "in real life" book club socials in our book shop in London, so that local members can get to know one another face to face.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What does the price include?
A paperback copy of the book and attendance at the book club event with the author of the book.
How much is delivery?
Local members can pick up the book for free each month in Balham (at the pop-up at the moment and soon at the shop). Due to a bug, you have to select shipping not "free pickup", but enter the discount code PICKUP at checkout to wipe out the shipping fees.
UK delivery is £2.50 a month, EU delivery is £6.95 a month and rest-of-world delivery is £9.95 a month.
When will I get my book?
Books are normally sent out about four weeks in advance of each meeting. If you subscribe closer to the meeting, your book will be sent out ASAP.
What if I just want to come to one meeting?
You can! Just choose the option for that meeting only, rather than buying a subscription. You can only make one-off purchases for the next meeting, so if you want to come to a future meeting, check back a month beforehand to book.
How long does my subscription last?
You can cancel anytime. Books are sent out a month in advance of the meeting; we cannot cancel a book that is already on its way, but will stop any subsequent books.
What if I've already got the book?
If you wouldn't like a second copy yourself, please feel free to give it to a friend or family member, or donate it to charity. Whatever you choose, you are still welcome to come to the discussion, of course. Unfortunately, it isn't possible to cancel individual copies as the administration would get far too complicated! We hope you understand.
I have another question
Please feel free to email email@example.com