Episode #105  Winter Book Round up with Manda – Best of the Fiction, non-fiction – and podcasts – to share this season

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What are the best, most readable, most inspiring and most give-able books this season? Manda’s solstice list of her favourite Fiction and non-Fiction books read in 2021. Plus a bonus handful of must-listen podcasts.

Episode #105  Winter Book Round up with Manda – Best of the Fiction, non-fiction – and podcasts – to share this season

Here we go, people of the podcast – the books and their links. I’ve linked through Blackwells, because I used to love Heffers (part of the same chain) when I was in Cambridge. Do obviously feel free to support your local bookshop.

 

FICTION

Kim Stanley Robinson: The Ministry for the Future
Cory Doctorow – Walkaway
Victoria Goddard: The Hands of the Emperor
Mick Herron: Slough House – 7th Jackson Lamb thriller
Xiran Jay Zhao: Iron Widow
Lauren Groff: Fates and Furies
 

NON-FICTION

Davids Graeber and Wengrow: The Dawn of Everything : a new history of Humanity
Tamson Osmond: Do/Earth: Healing strategies for humankind
Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katherine K Wilkinson (eds): All We Can Save
Suzanne Simard: Finding the Mother Tree
Grace Maddrell: Tomorrow is too late
Eric Holthaus: The Future Earth
Jamie Wheal: Recapture the Rapture
Mariana Mazzucato:  Mission Economy
 

PODCASTS

The Hive
Upstream
Emerge
Frontiers of Commoning
Outrage and Optimism
What Could Possibly Go Right
Your Undivided Attention
EcoCiv
Farmerama
Farm Gate
The Lodge Cast
Reasons to be Cheerful
Tom and Thelma Look Left

In Conversation

Manda: Hey, people. We’re heading down towards the dark nights of the year. Next week, we’ll have our three way traditional podcast with Della Duncan and Natalie Nahai. And this week, as I am intending to build into a tradition, I’m going to go through the books that I’ve read this year that I think are really worth reading. And also potentially, if you buy things for other people in this festival of over consumerism, you could buy them for friends because reading is a dying art and we need to keep going with it. We need to be able to focus for that long. Also, these books are really good.

 So I’m going to talk about five non-fiction and five fiction, and I will interlace them. So here we go:

 The first on my list is a book that I found very recently; less than a month ago, and it is completely blowing my mind. The Dawn of Everything, A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow, does what it says on the tin? It’s a New York Times best seller. The Sunday Times called it pacey and potentially revolutionary, and the Sunday Times isn’t really into revolution, so that tells you something about it. The Guardian, which isn’t so far behind the Times, says its iconoclastic and irreverent, because the Guardian wouldn’t speak about revolution in open print, sadly.

 So this is a book that started off as a conversation between David Graeber, who is one of my all time superheroes and sadly died three days after this book was finished. He is an anthropologist. He’s an economist. Or at least he’s written a great deal about the economy and how it could be better. He’s author of Debt The First 5000 Years, which, if you’re interested in how money works at all, is a must read. And Bullshit Jobs, which again, if you’re interested in why we do what we do in order to earn the money to pay the debt, is also a must read. And he, in his role as anthropologist, had a 10 year conversation with David Wengrow, the archaeologist. And they started off asking themselves, “How did inequality arise in humanity?” And quite quickly over the bouncing back and forth of emails and the conversations,they realised that this probably wasn’t the right question.

 Because they’ve looked at what we understand at the moment of the arising of humanity, and it’s changing year on year. The more we work, the more we know and the more the date at which modern humanity arose is pushed further back. They’ve also looked at other cultures, other societies, other ways of living around the world. And what we get to quite quickly is that ours is the aberration. That this concept that you could live in a world of hierarchy, dominated by money and not by human interaction, is something that many, many other cultures have really gone out of their way to avoid. So the real question becomes, how did we get stuck? How did we not manage to look at the first people who decided to put on a crown and call themselves king or make a coin with their face on and tell us it was worth 100 times more than a little bit of silver without their face on; and then create hierarchies that have locked us in. To the point where it is easier to imagine the extinction of life on this planet, including the total end of humanity in all its forms than it is for us who are locked in the capitalist hierarchical system to imagine something that could be different and better.

 And throughout the book, there are examples of people for whom the world has been different and better. And it’s not that there haven’t been hierarchies. It’s that they looked at them and decided they didn’t want to live like that. And they found extraordinary, resilient, functional, heartfelt social strategies to make sure that this didn’t happen to them. And if we can do it in some places in the world, we can do it here. This was the first of three,and I sincerely hope that the other two are sufficiently advanced that David Wengrove can bring them out, because I genuinely believe that they are going to be world changing.

 The first of the fiction books on my list didn’t actually come out in hardback this year, it came out last year, but I didn’t find it till this year, and the paperback came out on the 21st of October this year. So the Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson was one of Barack Obama’s favourite books of the year last year. And this year, pretty much anyone who is anyone is saying Everybody has To read this, and I am amongst them. And if you caught last week’s Podcast, then you will have some idea of the scope and depth of this book.

 Kim Stanley Robinson is the only author that I have found, and if there are others, please do let me know. Who has really thought about how we get from where we are to where we need to be, and the actual logistical steps taken to get there. The book opens with what they call a Wet Bulb Event in India, the wet bulb event being where humidity is so high that we can’t sweat out the heat and then we basically boil alive in our own skins. And not just us. Everything. In India in the book, billions of people die. I have an inkling and it won’t happen because I don’t have time to write the book where we look at everything else that died as well. But in this fictional universe that is sufficient to cook India to act against climate change and then everybody else plays catch up. The Ministry of the Future is set up in the beginning as a bit of greenwash. It’s there so that the U.N. and everybody else can say they’re doing something jolly useful. But gradually over time, it does begin to generate its own momentum. And because events move on, it has to actually act.

 And the thing that impresses me about this book is that Stan, Kim Stanley Robinso has really worked out how the economy could work. Which you know is the background and the backbone of the way that we live at the moment. We can’t just switch the economy off. We have to help it transit to something better.So he’s looked at how to do that.

 He’s looked at the social implications. He looked at the political implications. He’s looked at what the bankers do. It’s a very straightforward read. It’s quite difficult because it’s presenting a future that we don’t want. But he is showing us the route through. So I really totally and wholly recommend that you read it.

 So next on our non-fiction list is a very much smaller book than the Davids Wengrow and Graeber. This is Do Earth – Healing Strategies for Humankind by Tamsin Ormond. Who stood recently for Co-leadership of the Green Party. This is a small and easily read book, but it really goes to the heart of the strategies that we will need, if we’re going to get through. And as you all know, if you’ve been listening to any of this podcast at all, finding your way through is now the heart of what I think we need to be doing.

 So this is the kind of book that you can read for yourself. You can read to other people, you could easily buy it as a stocking filler if such things still exist. It has a lot of pictures. It’s in magazine format. It’s the kind of thing you can pick up, read a few pages and put down; and it is beautifully written in a very free flowing style. It’s in three sections. Part one is the self. How bad is it, really? I’m just one person. What’s stopping us? Start here – five ways to soften your footprint on the Earth.

 Part two is community. Together we stand. My neighbourhood. What does winning feel like? And how a small group can make a place better.

 And part three is the Earth. The Hollow Tree. How to fall in love with the Earth, quiet the mind and noticed miracles. Totally get this book and give it to everybody that you know, who even slightly gets this. Because this isn’t going to completely tip them over the edge into gluing themselves to roads, but is going to help them understand why there is a very broad spectrum of what needs to be done and what they can do to play their part in it. So go for it.

 Next in our fiction list wasn’t published this year, either. This was published in 2018, and it’s one of those books where I think how could I possibly have missed this? But maybe I read it when I needed to read it. Because it was like taking a very long, wonderful, saturating holiday somewhere beautiful and hot and sandy, with a lot of sea and fantastically coloured birds. It’s such a rich, rich world building this book. It’s called The Hands of the Emperor, and it’s by Victoria Goddard. And it’s fantasy because I read a lot of fantasy. I think it’s by far and away the most exciting edge of anything in our literary world at the moment. And this is a world, a succession of worlds, where magic reigns; the emperor, we gradually come to realise and this is actually pretty much on the back cover, but it becomes deeper, doesn’t really want to be emperor, but is bound by a huge number of laws and taboos and trictures. And nobody can touch him, and no one can look him in the eye and all that kind of thing. And the hands of the emperor, the person that we come to meet at the point when he is on holiday back in his home area called the Wide Seas, which is very like what we call the South Seas in our imperialist northern stance.

 He’s an outsider. He’s indigenous. He’s very rooted in his own community. But he left it for reasons that become apparent, and he became, in time, the chief private secretary to the Emperor. And the book revolves around his decision to invite the emperor to take a holiday back in our guy’s home place. And what transpires from that, which is good in itself. This is an extraordinary book in terms of being about decent untoxic male relationships. And it’s written by a woman, and I would be really interested to know how many men find the men in this book real, because they were wonderful to me. But I’m wondering if they’re a projected ideal of what women would like men to be like. So I’d kind of like to know about that one. But meanwhile, the thing that really drew me to this is that our guy, I’ll call him Kip, because I know how to pronounce that. And pronouncing his name correctly is a key part of the book, and I’m still not sure that I do.

 He introduces universal basic income throughout all of the lands of all of the worlds of this place that seems to be many worlds that have been fractured by a fall that we don’t quite get all the detail of, but we don’t need to. That also is quite clever. And he has to bring this about in the face of a lot of opposition, the kind of standard opposition that we would have in our world. But then we see it working, not just in this book, but some of the sequels. There’s a lot of books based in this world. And if you’ve ever wondered how UBI might actually work, then this is the book for you. It’s not a short book, kind of like the two Davids, the don of everything. This is a big,big book, but it’s such a joy to read it. And honestly, I did feel like I’d been on holiday when I came away from it. The colour and the texture and the sense of not quite otherness. It’s beautifully and brilliantly done. So that’s The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard. Go for it.

 Next on our non-fiction list is All We Can Save. Truth, Courage and Solutions for the Climate Crisis Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katherine K. Wilkinson. I was introduced to this by Eva Bishop of the Beaver Trust, and I resisted it for a while because it’s a very American book, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I was thinking colonisation and imperialism, and do I really want to read something?And yes, actually, I did, because it is astonishing. It’s a series of essays and poetry and letters. Letter from a supermodel to the heads of all the oil companies, and reflections and little bits of art.

 And it’s not all white women by any means. There are a lot of women of colour and indigenous women in here. And all of it is expressing heartfelt views of how we can be different; not just why we need to be because we do know that by now. But how we can talk differently to a group of strangers in Texas without putting all their backs up, but letting them see the ways in to the climate crisis being real. How we can write journalism that touches people. How we can change the way we do the Green New Deal, or the ways we talk to senators.It’s not as geeky as I’m making it sound, really. It’s actually an incredibly beautiful book. And again, like Tamsin’s book, it can be taken in small chunks without losing it. That Probably doesn’t apply to The Dawn of Everything. I think you kind of need to sit and read that in quite large sections, in order for it all to make sense. But this one, the New York Times says: “A powerful read that fills one with, dare I say it. Hope” And Hey, it’s a dark time of the year.We need the hope. So All We Can Save. Go for it.

 Next on the fiction list is a novel by Cory Doctorow, and any of you who’ve listened to me for any length of time will know that I think Cory Doctorow is a genius and basically, we should read everything he’s written at the moment it comes out. But I only came relatively recently to that belief. And so again, Walkaway is another 2018 novel that I missed until 2021. I can’t think what I was doing, but here we are.

 The premise is we’re in a near future where two things have happened. First is that the super rich, the absolutely totally beyond insane rich, which Doctorow calls the Zottarich, which I think is brilliant, have basically taken over the world. But 3-D printing technology has moved on to the point where if you can get the raw materials and break them down, which you can, basically you can build anything from a house to a hat to your lunch to a backpack, to the shoes that you need, to walk away. And because this is set in Canada, where Doctorow lives and Canada’s a big place, the Zottarich really can’t be bothered to police everywhere.I think this might be a hole in the plot because, hey, I’m not sure that’d happen.

 But anyway, so the principle is that the people who don’t really want to live as wage slaves always feeding the man (because it is always a man) have just walked away. And they go beyond the borders of the places that the Zottarich can be bothered to police, and they set up their post capitalist utopian societies. And that is why I read it. Because I wanted to see that concept worked through and how the interaction with the left behinds might go. And the core of the plot, and again, this is not a spoiler because it’s on the back cover; is that the Walkways discover the one thing that the Zottarich don’t have. Which is essentially the secret to eternal life. They discover how to upload somebody’s consciousness to the cloud and then you can download it into a 3D printed body if you want to, but you don’t have to, you still have that consciousness in the cloud. And so they have something that the Zottarich want. And looking at how that plays out, again, is beautifully and brilliantly done.

 So if you got on well with Surface Attack, which is in my must reads list last year, then go for Walk Away by Corey Doctorow. And frankly, even if you didn’t like Surface Attack, go for a Walkaway. It is absolutely brilliant.

 Back to our non-fiction list. I’ve spent quite a lot of time trying to differentiate now, because my first three were essential and the last one is essential, so spot number four was kind of hard. I looked at The Future Earth by Eric Holthaus, which is utterly brilliant and definitely well worth a read. Recapture the Rapture by Jamie Wheal, which is looking at neuroscience and how to become connected with ourselves, each other and the world, with technologies that are scalable and resilient and what they call antifragile. Which is to say, as things get harder, they get easier and better, and it’s brilliant and totally worth a read. Mariana Mazzucato’s Mission Economy is slightly geeky economics, but it’s also how to actually run a government as if it mattered; to have coherence and joined up thinking and adults in the room and the kinds of things that you wish we had and we don’t. So all of those would be good.

 What I’ve got to, though, really as something that everyone needs to read is Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard. Uncovering the wisdom and intelligence of the forest. This is such a beautiful book in all its senses. The cover is beautiful. The content is beautiful. Suzanne Simard is the person who found out about the ‘wood wide web’.The person who really has done more than anyone else to help us understand about the life beneath the soil. About the ways that trees communicate with each other and send each other the minerals and the glucose, and everything that they need for life. Who send to their own daughters or send to their own kin or send to strangers, depending on the circumstances. Who send pheromone signals that the giraffes are around and you need to change the flavour of your leaves. All of those things.

 Her story of how she got there against all of the people going, “No, no, no, you’re all wrong. This is not how our paradigm works and so therefore it cannot be happening”. All of that may feel like an old story, but it’s still a very current story, sadly. But the beauty of how she finds what she finds and the drama of it, it’s so gorgeous and will captivate you. If you have a couple of dark days in the middle of whatever we’re calling this holiday season, just curl up with Finding the Mother Tree and you’ll come uncurled at the end of it, knowing why it matters so much that we find a way through that does not destroy the Living Web on our planet.So go for that one, for sure.

 Fourth spot in our fiction list was also quite a tight fought race. I looked at Yanis Varoufakis’ Another Now, which is almost like The Ministry for the Future in terms of figuring out how we get to where we need to get to. And it’s short and beautiful and very cleverly written.

 Kevin Hearne’s Ink and Sigil. This is a guy from North America who is writing Glasgow in Glaswegian, and it works, and he’s got a thousand year old Druid. Actually, he might be older than that, and he’s got fairies and he’s got all kinds of fantastic and wonderful magic, and it’s beautiful. And I totally recommend it.

 Andrew Taylor of The Royal Secret. Everything Andrew writes is glorious and inspired, and his capacity to write dialogue in historical sense that feels old and yet is comprehensible is absolutely unmatched. Definitely, that’s worth a read.

 And Maggie Stiefvater’s Call Down the Hawk. Maggie Stiefvater is a writer of young adult fiction that definitely ought to be read by adults. If you haven’t read her Scorpio Races. Go out and get it and read it, it’s utterly beautiful. Again, everything she writes, I read as soon as it comes out, and I’ve been following her for a few years, so I do actually get there in time. So Call Down the Hawk is the most recent. Definitely worth a look.

 But for the actual fourth slot in this one, I’ve gone for Mick Herron’s Slough House, the seventh Jackson Lamb thriller. And the first thing to say about this, is if you haven’t read the other six, go back to the beginning of Slow Horses because this is genius. This is the John le Carre for the 21st century. This is spy writing that feels like it is happening now, and the fundamental premise where we started with Slow Horses is that’s where the secret services of the UK kick the people that they don’t dare to sack, because then they would be running loose. So they give them the most mind numbingly tedious jobs in this dreadful place called Slough House under Jackson Lamb, who is the most appalling person you could possibly imagine working under. Except he’s an absolutely brilliant spy, and he looks after his own, though I have to say the population of Slough House does have quite a churn, and that churn is not because people are leaving, which is what the secret services want them to do. They want them to get so bored that they leave of their own accord. And then that’s okay. They are churning because they’re dying. The mortality rate is quite high, but it has to be said Jackson Lamb is doing his best for those under his care, and he is the thorn in the flesh of the people back home in the main building. Diana Tavenner is currently running MI5 the Secret Service First Desk, and she’s quite a piece of work. And the most exciting thing about this in our current state of governance is the guy that Mick Herron calls Peter Judd, who I thought when I first started reading this a decade ago, was a very cleverly,thinly veiled version of the man who is now our prime minister that none of us ever thought would get there. I don’t think even Mick Herron thought he’d get there and. He’s not quite there in the books, but my goodness, it’s very sharp. And I have no doubt very astute. So yeah, if you haven’t started at Slow Horses, don’t start with Slough House. You need to go back to the beginning and read them all and read the short stories and the spin offs.

 But if you have, then Slough House came out in February in hardback and in September in Paperback.Treat yourself. It’s magical.

 And so we’re at number five, and this is not the order in which you need to read them; these five are all in parallel. So fifth, Tomorrow is Too Late; A youth manifesto for climate Justice, edited, brought together, inspired by Grace Madrazo. And this is heartbreaking. You want to buy it and you want to read it, and you want to give it as a present this season to anyone you know who’s under the age of 30. Or actually anyone you know who cares about anything. Grace is a climate activist,and she had the idea of connecting with those in her ecosystem, social media ecosystem, and asking them what they thought about what was going on. So this is not an American book. This is a selection of essays from Brazil to Burundi, from Pakistan to Palestine, as it says on the back cover blurb. And it’s essays from people aged eight to 25, saying what they think, giving heartrending accounts of how hard it is to be the only climate activist you know, in Russia or anywhere else where it’s so hard to speak against the status quo. And we realise that we may have a government that is racing towards totalitarianism, but it is still possible to pick up a poster or a sign and go and stand outside COP26 and not actually spend the rest of your life in jail. It’s utterly heart rending, but beautiful and inspiring. And like I said in some of the others, you need to read this to know what it is that we’re fighting for. And also to know that the younger generation is out there on the streets in their collective action. The Iranian one, where they had to change their name because it was too dangerous because people were being picked up by the authorities.It’s just utterly heart rending and this is why we need to keep going when it feels hard, when we’d like to step back. Those of us who are older and have had a good life when we feel that we’d like to just curl up on the sofa and do something different, this is the book that reminds us why we can’t do that and we have to Keep going.So, Tomorrow is Too Late. Grace Madrell. Get it. Buy it for everybody you know. Share it around.

 So here we are at the end. Final fiction book. Except I’m going to cheat because actually in the end, I couldn’t choose between the two that I’ve been holding at the edge until last. So you’re going to have a spare one at the end. So the one that I’ve had as fifth for most of the time I’ve been doing this is Iron Widow by

 Someone whose name I really don’t know how to pronounce: Xiran Jay Zhao is my closest. A person of second generation Chinese, Canadian. And Iron Widow is the kind of book that I wish I had read when I was younger, because it takes all of the tropes of girls not doing well in a world that completely favours boys. And then girl overturns them all. I gather it’s a modern retelling of an ancient East Asian myth, the rise of Wu Zetian, the only female emperor in Chinese history. Which itself is kind of impressive. But this is technologically extraordinary. This is a world where people, young people – the old ones don’t make it and are generally dead – are able to meld with machines. They meld with the chi, using the five chi’s: Metal, earth, air, water fire. And depending on what your chi is, you meld with different kinds of machines.

 And you go out to battle with the bad guys who, of course, we later learn and I think in future books will learn even more, are not as bad as we think they are. But the heroes are the boys who control these things. And they are given concubines who almost invariably die because they are drained by the boys. And our heroine’s sister was killed by one of these heroic young boy pilots. And she then turns herself over, with her bound feet, which just makes me die inside. And of course, she doesn’t die. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. This is definitely on the back cover. But I loved this book. It was just..for young women…it takes all of the tropes. It’s completely violent. Forget all the non-violent ideas. But the ways that she overcomes everything around her and the ways they try to play her in the ways girls were always played in the fiction of our youth. And it doesn’t work.It’s so cool.So I totally recommend that even if you have to look up on the show notes how to actually spell the name of the author. But Iron Widow and it came out in hardback in October, and I did actually catch this one when it first came out. So yay me! And yay book.

 So our bonus at the end, because I really couldn’t leave this one off, is Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, which again didn’t come out this year and not even last year. This is July 2016. Somebody pointed me to her new book, Matrix,which seems to be a very powerful lesbian, historical-ish, maybe fantasy set in the 12th century about someone who does amazing things. And I’m sure it’s great because actually she is an astonishing writer, but I just can’t handle the 12th century, so I didn’t go there. But instead I looked back at this one, which was the one before Fates and Furies, and it was another of Barack Obama’s picks of the year. And I thought,Ok, let’s give it a go.

 I’m not really into literary novels, Faith and I have this conversation all the time and I say, “Why would you read a book that has no plot?” And she goes,”but, but ideas, beauty, wonderful writing”. And I go, “Yeah, but why?”

 And so this is not a book with a huge plot. And I did spend the first half going, “Why am I reading this? Remind me why I’m reading this” Because it’s a book of two very explicit halves. It’s the story of the perfect couple; Lotto and Matilda. And it’s told first from his perspective,and he’s not a person I would like. Really.By the end of it, male insecurity laid bare, from the inside, from his perspective. And I wanted to throw the book across the room. But.I got on to various reviews and everybody said, “Oh my goodness, the second half”. And so now I’m saying to you, “Oh my goodness, the second half”, because the second half is told from her perspective. And I don’t want to blow it for you any more than that. It’s worth sticking with the first half to read the second half. It really is, and it is utterly beautiful. The language is astounding. I may eventually get around to Matrix, and this time next year, I might be telling you how wonderful it is because I was even able to handle the 12th century. I can’t think why, but it would be the beauty of the writing if I did, because she’s an astonishing writer. So for that alone, it’s worth ploughing through the bit that just made my mouth taste vile and my tongue curl over and everything just want to curl up and die. And you can read through it quite fast because, hey, and then you’ll get to the second half and you’ll slow down and go, Wow! It’s just very clever. And I loved it, and I didn’t want to not tell you that it was there.

 So there we are. That’s it for books this year.And as a final bonus, because we are at the dark time of the year. Maybe you don’t want to sit in front of the fire reading by firelight, maybe you want to listen to things. So I thought a very,very brief roundup of the podcasts that I would recommend to anybody.

 And obviously top of the list would be Natalie and Della. So Natalie’s The Hive podcast and Della Duncan Upstream. Both of those are a definite.

 One of the others that I would always listen to when it’s there is the Emerge podcast with Daniel Thorsen. It’s not as regular as it was, but my goodness it’s well worth listening to, when it is there.

Frontiers of Commoning by David Bollier is becoming one of my definite must listens. David Bollier is really into the Commons and everything about it, and he’s just talking to a sequential list of very interesting deep thinkers who are looking at how we can begin to treat the commons of our world. The air, the water,the Land, ourselves; in ways that are far more equitable. Definitely go for that one.

 Outrage and Optimism with Christiana Figueres. I think it’s probably the biggest of all the podcasts that I listen to. But it’s Christiana Figueres. You have to listen to it. She’s the woman who brought together the Paris climate accord,the COP that actually worked, as opposed to the one in Glasgow that definitely didn’t. And I know it didn’t do enough. But it did something. And again, she’s huge, so she’s able to bring some really very big people to the table and ask them the questions that you and I wished we could answer.

 If you’re interested in where the world is going, then Your Undivided Attention with Tristan Harris, absolutely essential. He’s again one of those very big thinkers, deep thinkers. He’s the one who made…he didn’t make it alone, as you’ll learn if you listen to the episod about the social Dilemma. But he was a lot of the driving force behind how it came out. And I imagine that he is listened to by the people who actually make policy. So the fact that he has some really interesting ideas is well worth it.

 I am really enjoying What Could Possibly Go Right, the podcast of the Post Carbon Institute hosted by Vicki Robbins, which does exactly what it says in the tin. Her question to all of her guests with all that is quite obviously going on around us: What could possibly go right? And they came up with some brilliant ideas.

 The Beaver Trust. That is definitely well worth The Lodge Cast. Well, worth a listen. I love it. It’s fun. It’s one of the more zingy ones. If you’re not into zingy, then that won’t be your thing.

 And what else? The Real Agenda Network. It’s a bit centrist, but they’re trying very hard to find ways of looking at politics differently.

 Farmarama.If you’re into regenerative farming and politics. They did a brilliant one recently, talking to the people on the fringes of Cop26 in Glasgow. Listening to all those lovely Glaswegian accents just lit my little Glaswegian heart. But also it’s just good to hear from the people who are actually thinking about stuff in ways that wasn’t going on in the central stuff at COP. I think that’s probably it. There will be others.

 Oh, Farm Gate podcast, definitely. Farm Gate podcast. If you’re interested at all in how we can make the world feed ourselves, in ways that are regenerative.

 Reasons to be Cheerful with Ed Miliband. Again, kind of a bit centre of the road politically for me, but there are a lot more people centre on the road than I am.

 Thelma and Tom – Look Left. If you’re slightly to the left of centre, that’s utterly fantastic.

 And Braver Angels. Really bravely bringing the left and the right of the U.S to the table, to talk to each other. I find it very hard listening, but I make myself do it. So there we go. Podcasts to listen to as we move into the new year and assuming that you’re always listening to Accidental Gods. That’s it for this week.

 We will be back next week with another conversation, an actual conversation rather than me in monologue. And in the meantime, enormous thanks to Caro C for the music at the head and foot and for the sound production. Thanks to Faith Tilleray for the website and for the long conversations in how we can be the best of ourselves. Thanks also to Anne Thomas for sorting out the transcripts every week and to Gill Coombs, who did it before her. Feels at the end of the year really important to honour everybody who is part of the making of this. And as ever, thanks to you for being there, for listening, for sharing as often and as widely as you do. We absolutely would not be here without you.

 So that’s it for now. See you next week. Thank you and goodbye.

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