The Misogynist by Steve Jackowski

Book Info:

George Gray, San Francisco-based reporter for the New York Sentinel, receives two similar emails an hour apart. One offers to expose well-known individuals who have criminally perverted use of the internet to enrich themselves. The other promises to murder women who have ruined the lives of technologists who were changing the world. Could they be the same person? Mike McKenzie, San Francisco homicide detective was frustrated by his last major case. He never caught the serial killer who targeted the clients of prostitutes in the Tenderloin. He’s hoping that this time, he’ll be more successful. Samantha Louis, unmarried psychiatrist who has finally decided to find a life partner, takes on a new patient, a technologist suffering from late-onset schizophrenia who was hospitalized after a psychotic episode. Could he or one of her other patients be the killer? George, Mike, and Sam are about to embark on missions that will disrupt their careers and their lives as they race to identify The Misogynist.

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George Gray receives a tip on a groundbreaking story. Coincidentally, he is also contacted by a serial killer alerting him to his plan to kill his first victim in a week’s time. George hands this information over to the police, and this marks the beginning of a joint effort to catch the killer.

The Misogynist is an exciting, fast-paced crime thriller cast in Silicon Valley. It kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. The storyline is well developed and has no wasted characters. Everyone has a role to play, and they play it well.

My favorite character in the book is Janey, George Gray’s girlfriend. She is witty, funny, and extremely resourceful. The serial killer goes after women, and Janey is the exact opposite of the kind of woman the serial killer preys on. Not only does Janey help catch the killer, but she also brings balance to a narrative that portrays some women as selfish and opportunistic.

Author Steve Jackowski does a good job concealing the identity of the killer until the story reaches its climax. He does provide a few clues here and there, but you will never guess who the true killer is.

From the way he writes, you can tell that Jackowski has worked in technology and is familiar with Silicon Valley. In some ways, this book is an inside look into the lives of tech executives, if you were ever curious about them.

Dr. Louis is another one of my favorite characters. I found her most relatable among all the characters. She, too, has some theories on who the killer might be. Often, I found myself viewing things from her vantage point.

This is one of the best crime thrillers I have read this year. It had mystery and a good dose of suspense. I recommend it to anyone who loves mystery, crime, and thriller genres. The plotline is like no other, and the characters are well-rounded and believable.

If you find explicit language distasteful, you will enjoy this book. It steers clear of explicit language and is minimal in its description of explicit scenes, making it suitable for young adults.

The Misogynist isn’t just another crime thriller. It explores many themes that are relevant to this current cultural moment. Notably, it explores the misuse of the internet by actors who use it to make unfair gains while exploiting others. It also discusses the vast extent of modern-day slavery. You would be wrong to think that only the poor and destitute are vulnerable.

Reviewed By: Esther Wairimu


Author Bio:

Born into a military family, Steve traveled extensively throughout the US and overseas, attending fifteen schools before graduating from High School. After studying mathematics, computer science, comparative literature and French at the University of California, Steve began his career with IBM as a software engineer. He later founded three successful high-tech start-ups.

A former competition hang glider pilot, Steve continues to surf, ski, kayak whitewater, and dance Salsa with his wife Karen whenever possible.

Steve divides his time between Santa Cruz, California and the Basque Region of France.

Find more info and his other books at

Karen Wasylowski – Journey to Healing Interview Questions

  1. Which inspired you to write this book?
    After spending the past 30 years treating patients and teaching doctors Applied Kinesiology I realized that it was time for the general public to know that there was a healing specialty that might be the answer to their health problems. Additionally, I became increasing frustrated that people did not a) know that there was an alternative therapy to drugs and surgery and b) to clear up misconceptions about Applied Kinesiology (AK)—mostly from Wikipedia who refused to listen to me when I told them that the person who wrote about AK was biased against it and had no right to be considered an authority. So, I decided it was time to write a book to educate people so they can decide for themselves if the muscle testing and natural therapies used in AK could help them in their personal, “Journey To Healing.”
  2. What’s one (3, 5) thing(s) that you learned while writing your book?
    I learned that writing and doctoring are two different skill. It took me longer to effectively write about the treatment than to perform them on the patient. I worked with a content editor for 4 years and feel like I have earned a college degree in writing.
  3. After this book, are you writing anything new?
    Yes. Journey To Healing is about opening your eyes to a form of healing that is available, makes total sense and gives you hope. I will be working on The Power To Heal which gives you things that you can do.Where are you in the process? Just beginning to create the big bang out of chaos. It is probably another 4 years from completion. In the meantime, it is imperative that you work with a healthcare practitioner first—as pointed out in JTH—before you start “playing doctor” yourself.
  4. Describe your writing routine.
    Get up in the morning, go outside and take a few moments to collect my thoughts. Then I get to work before my wife wakes up.
  5. Do you outline?
    Yes. I like to draw the lines and then color them in later Edit as you go? No. It slows the creative process for me.
  6. What do you do when you’re not writing?
    I am still teaching Applied Kinesiology. I have online and DVD courses for anyone who wants to learn. I recently started a consultation service for doctors who can email me questions.
  7. How do you combat/cure writer’s block?
    I write in short intense bursts. I work better in consistent sprints than a long drawn out marathon. I find playing uplifting music like classical music especially Mozart, Wagner and Verdi; as well as the Beatles and Jimmy Durante songs help clear the cobwebs from my head.
  8. What advice would you give an aspiring writer who doesn’t know where to start?
    Start! Don’t wait. It’s like an exercise program. There is NEVER a perfect time. So, make this the perfect time and do a little and do it consistently.
  9. What was the most challenging thing about writing your book?
    Trying to take a topic—Applied Kinesiology and muscle testing—that most doctors do not understand, and make it an entertaining and educational journey for the general public. I see why it has never been done before.
  10. Are you part of any writer’s groups or guilds? Which one(s)?
  11. Do you have a social media presence?
    Yes, but not much. I am a relatively quiet person, even with social media. I like to communicate by putting my heart into a well constructed book, which I hope comes through when you read Journey To Healing. Where can people find you online? The best way would be to go to and sign up for the newsletter, blog and You tube videos. If someone mentions your blog and shows a receipt that they purchased a copy of Journey To Healing they will get a FREE copy of a very helpful book I wrote— Antidotes For Indiscretions emailed to them in PDF.
  12. How has writing this book affected your career?
    I have basically retired from seeing new patients and have gotten into the world of a writer—like I am doing here with you Karen right now. I talk more about writing than treating and after 35 years I find it incredibly exciting and refreshing.
  13. What is the most satisfying thing about being an author?
    Developing a book, a chapter, a paragraph and a sentence to where you look at it and breathe a sigh of satisfaction that you gave life to something that you hope will benefit someone. It feels very satisfying that you pulled something deeply personal out from inside of you and are now sharing it with the world. It is satisfying and scary.
  14. How do you think your book can help people?
    I believe people will learn about their bodies, their physiology and become empowered to ask questions and take control of their health. What do you hope people will take away/learn from your book? That ignorance is not bliss; ignorance can hurt you a whole lot—take the current opioid epidemic, for example. You must be in the driver’s seat regarding your health otherwise, you can be taken for a ride. You will take away how amazing your body truly is; how it wants to be healthy and when you work with a doctor trained in AK you will be amazed how good and strong you feel!
  15. If your audience more aimed at professionals or the layperson?
    Layperson. However, there is enough research in the back and explanation within the text that a professional can read this and say, “Wow, this makes sense. I have to learn this for my patients.”
  16. Have you been getting good reviews?Yes. Reviewers have really grasped the essence of the book. As one said, “Now that I know about it, I would personally be happy to see an AK practitioner in the future if I have any serious conditions.”
  17. What places have you used to promote your book?
    Right now predominately through the Applied Kinesiologists and their patients throughout the world. Over the past 30 years that I have been treating patients and teaching AK, doctors (including myself) wished that there was a book that explained what we do so that people could get excited about understanding their muscles and bodies better. I am pleased that now there is!

Thank you Karen. I appreciate you having me here.

Karen Wasylowski Questions

Which books/authors inspired your work?
The books in the Vale Investigation series draw a lot from various mythologies. Hostile Takeover features monsters from the Old Norse and Ancient Egypt. Book two draws from the Old Arabian Mythology, while book three features creatures from the Japanese lore.

So I had to get books on each mythology beforehand. It felt like going back to school and having homework to do. But it was a lot of fun too; I love learning about new cultures.

What’s one thing that you learned while writing your book?
One of the first big surprises was discovering just how many different mythologies there are. We’ve all heard about Greek or Egyptian, but there are hundreds of them… and they all have a plethora of monsters and creatures to draw inspiration from. Africa alone has several dozens.

To help spread that knowledge, I decided to try and focus on a new mythology for each book.

After this book, are you writing anything new? Where are you in the process?
Hostile Takeover is the first book in the Vale Investigation series. The second book Evil Embers was published earlier this year. I’m currently editing the third and working on the outline of the fourth.

Describe your writing routine. Do you outline? Edit as you go?
I outline everything ahead in details; it’s an important part of my writing process. For me, it simplifies the writing process. I start editing after the first draft is complete.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
I have a day job that keeps me busy a lot. In my spare time, I enjoy watching TV or listening to music while going on a walk.

How do you combat/cure writer’s block?
Outlining really helps fight that. If you carefully plan out your novel before you start writing, then you don’t really get stuck anymore.

What advice would you give an aspiring writer who doesn’t know where to start?
Step one is defining your characters. Figure out who they are, and where you want to take them. For me, a story is a character’s emotional journey. If your character is identical on page 1 and on page 300 than you’ve failed somewhere. Once you have your characters figures out, you can start plotting. Create a detailed outline (which includes the ending) so you know where you’re going and you can start to check the consistency of pacing and look for plot-holes. And then you can start writing.

Do you have a social media presence? Where can people find you online?
There’s the official website: and I’m also on Twitter (@Cristelle). All of my books are available on Amazon; additional reviews can be found on Goodreads.

Talk about your main character. What are they like and what inspired their personality?
The hero of the story is PI Bellamy Vale. He struck a bargain with Death herself a few years ago and agreed to become her envoy on Earth in exchange of a favor. He’s a tortured man, seeking redemption for past mistakes. He tries to do the right thing and help people, but Death doesn’t really have the same moral values.

How does your main character change throughout the story?
Being Lady McDeath’s foot soldier does have its perks: near immortality and a few boons which Vale has to learn how to use. At the start of the story, he doesn’t know yet what he’s capable of. He’s also making friends and allies along the way.

What made you choose the time/place in which your book was set?
It’s set in the present times, but in a fictitious American town. The first series of books I worked on, The Neve & Egan Cases, was set in London and I spend an incredible amount of times looking up street names and Underground stations, to make sure that I was accurate. So I decided to make things easier on myself this time… everything’s made up.

What type of person do you think would most enjoy your book?
Well these novels are a good mesh of classic detective noir and urban fantasy. So any fans of Jim Butcher, for example should enjoy the hell out of it.

How do you organize your book collection, if at all?
It’s not organized at all. I have a small shelf and a lot of books, so trying to make everything fit is a bit like a game of Tetris.

If you could invite your favorite fictional hero/heroine over to your house for dinner, who would it be and what would you talk about?
I’d like to invite Dr Who… so long as we can squeeze in a few trips between the main course and the dessert.

What’s the best book, other than yours, that no one has ever heard of?
Something under the radar… hum, I guess one would be Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman. It’s a short novel that is partly a biography of Einstein’s life and partly a poetic study of the structure of time—I really love it. Another one would be The Portrait by Iain Pears—a 200+ pages monologue. From a writer’s point-of-view, what he did is quite the tour-de-force. For casual readers, it may be a little hard to get into it, but once you’ve adjusted to the unusual style you’ll find a really gripping story (try the audiobook, if it’s too hard to get into it).

Supermarket cat holds ‘book signing’

Image copyright Book Guild
Image caption Garfield, now 12, has been visiting the supermarket since 2012

A cat that gained 5,000 Facebook followers after making a supermarket his second home has been “signing” copies of a book about his adventures.

Ginger tom Garfield took a liking to Sainsbury’s in Ely, Cambridgeshire, after the store was built on his old stomping ground.

The co-author Cate Caruth said copies of the book – What’s THAT doing There? – sold out in half an hour.

Garfield “signed” his book in Ely Library with a paw-print stamp.

It was modelled on his real paw.

Garfield, now 12, first started visiting the store after it was built in 2012 on a meadow opposite the flat where he lives with owner David Willers.

Image copyright Tali Iserles
Image caption Garfield was “banned” from using the escalator to get to the rest of the supermarket

His favourite spot was a sofa in the Virgin travel shop in Sainsbury’s lobby, and he often tries to get into people’s cars outside the store.

Fans of the cat posted photos of him at the supermarket and at one point his owner had to ask people to stop feeding him as he was becoming fat.

A Facebook page set up with photos of the cat in the supermarket has a following of more than 5,500 fans from places as far away as the United States, Canada, Australia and Russia.

Image copyright Ginny Phillips
Image caption A second print-run had to be done after the book sold out “within hours”, owner David Willers said

A book of his adventures and misadventures has now been written by Mr Willers with Suffolk author Cate Caruth.

The title – What’s THAT Doing There – refers to Garfield’s reaction when a fence was erected across his favourite meadow ahead of the supermarket being built.

Image copyright Ginny Phillips
Image caption Garfield was not happy when a shop was built on his favourite stomping ground
Image copyright Ginny Phillips
Image caption The book fictionalises a number of the cat’s adventures in the store
Image copyright Cate Caruth
Image caption A paw-print stamp was made for the book signing

The book tells how Garfield was once banned from the store for scratching a customer who became a little too familiar – and many of his other adventures.

In the book he is called Garfield Abercrombie Reginald Fergusson, but as that was “far too much like hard work… everyone just called him Garfy”.

“It is a little familiar of people,” Garfy would always think, “but I suppose I can live with it,” he says in the first chapter.

Image copyright Cate Caruth#
Image caption Garfield took the book signing in “his stride” said co-author Cate Caruth
Image copyright Cate Caruth
Image caption Garfield was very relaxed during the book signing and “lapped up” the attention

Speaking after the book signing on Saturday, author Ms Caruth said it was a “big hit.”

“Garfield took it all in his stride, posing for photos with his fans and inspecting the library services with great care.

“It was non-stop for two hours and we sold out of books in half an hour” she said.

Image copyright David Willers
Image caption Garfield’s proud owner has had a tattoo of his cat on his leg

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30 Hilarious Comics With A Clever Twist By Tango Gao (New Pics)

A couple of years ago, we shared a publication with you about a talented Chinese artist Tango Gao (also known as Shanghai Tango) who creates thought-provoking yet still light and fun illustrations without using words. 

If you fancy visual and intellectual humor, you don’t need to look anywhere further because you are up for a treat! Tango, whose real name is Gao Youjun, did not stop creating witty illustrations since the last time we wrote about them here on Bored Panda. No, Tango is back with a sequel to his art which is both simple and minimalistic, yet profound in the message it sends.

Tango began creating these illustrations back in 2010 when prompted by a friend, he decided to develop a habit of drawing daily (that’s an excellent habit to pick up). Now, he delights his 108,000 followers on Instagram with light-hearted and sometimes challenging illustrations on daily basis.

Scroll down the page and see for yourself!


Pets are always there for us, especially when it comes to putting smiles on our faces.


You can become whatever you want in life.


“Excuse me, may I see your baby?”



New Year’s resolution for 2019: let’s ditch the bra.


Possibly, a new idea for a SnapChat filter?


Up Next: The Secret Life Of Toiletries – Behind The Scenes.


A love letter written in hundreds of heartbeats.



Mood rings are so last year. Meet mood mustache. Perfectly edible as well.


That moment when someones tries to insult you, but you have achieved an excellent ability to deflect all things negative.



Despite the friendly smile that this polar bear wears, we would say the illustration definitely falls outside of the light-heartedness spectrum. Time’s ticking, what are your thoughts?





New Year’s resolution #584.


Who knew that music played by accordion could be so tear-jerking?


All that matters is perspective!


No one wants to be the third wheel. Certainly not on Valentine’s day…




This leaf will definitely go places.


“Get a tattoo that means something to you” doesn’t quite have the same ring here…



One cigarette a day keeps the doctor away. Or how does that saying go?



“In the beginning, God created the sky and the land.”



Pareidolia: seeing faces in unusual places.

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What The Left Gets Wrong About Bernie Sanders And Elizabeth Warren

Socialism is having a big moment in America. After a surge in popularity during the financial crisis of 2008, the long-verboten political label at last lost its toxicity after Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential run and the election of democratic socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2018. Among self-identified Democrats, socialism is now more popular than capitalism, reflecting a trend that has been evident among young voters for years.

Bankers and billionaires are, of course, desperate to reverse this political tide. Eyeing the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, the CEO of one giant bank recently told Politico that the party’s nominee “can’t be Warren and it can’t be Sanders.” To plutocrat Michael Bloomberg, Sanders is a “demagogue” preaching “unreason,” while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will transform the United States into a “non-capitalistic” system where “people are starving to death,” like “Venezuela.”

The rhetoric from the 0.01 percent is more than a little overheated. But for most people, Warren and Sanders hail from the same left flank of the Democratic Party ― both are supporters of enacting Medicare for all, breaking up the banks and dramatically increasing taxes on the very wealthy.

And yet in liberal and left-wing political discourse, the idea that Sanders and Warren are philosophical companions has become unfashionable. Jacobin, The New Republic, Splinter, BuzzFeed, The Week and The Guardian have all emphasized the supposedly critical ideological distinction between the two candidates: Sanders is an avowed socialist, while Warren wants to reform capitalism.

“As soon as the next president takes office, they will likely face intense pressure from powerful interests, especially big business,” writes Zaid Jilani. “The choice between Warren and Sanders may very well determine if that president confronts those interests with careful reasoning and principled advocacy or the force of a mass movement.”

“The two senators disagree over the best method to give the working classes a leg up,” according to David Dayen. “You can restructure markets so everyone benefits, or you can break down the market system, either eliminating the profit motive or giving everybody a public option.” For Jacobin founder Bhaskar Sunkara, Warren aims at “seeking to construct better policy but not an alternative politics,” rejecting “the class-struggle, worker-centric approach of Sanders.”

For once, the big-brain intellectuals have it wrong, and the delusional, selfish plutocrats are right. Whatever Warren and Sanders say to establish their political brands, the two senators do in fact represent a very similar way of thinking about politics. That’s why billionaires hate them both.

It’s true: You won’t find any videos of Warren singing “This Land Is Your Land” with a bunch of shirtless Soviets in the 1980s. And Sanders never slogged through troves of household bankruptcy data looking for the most common sources of middle-class financial strain. There are real differences between the two candidates (technically Bernie hasn’t announced yet). But these are differences of temperament, style and strategy. Sanders and Warren, in fact, see the world in very similar ways.

The trouble for leftish intellectuals is a confusion over the terms “socialism” and “capitalism.” Both words are extremely flexible, and their meanings shift with political currents. In an American context, it has never been easy to distinguish between socialism and reformed capitalism ― and committed capitalists have denounced both with vigor. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was condemned as a socialist by congressional Republicans. In the 1940s, American conservatives viewed the social safety net in Britain and the Stalinist Soviet Union with almost equal alarm. By the 1950s, Herbert Hoover had concluded that the words “liberalism” and “socialism” really just meant the same thing.

So, yes, Bernie Sanders has long been a champion of labor movements, protest marches and democratic socialism, while Elizabeth Warren is an academic wonk who talks about restoring competition to markets and making capitalism more accountable. But when it comes to their most detailed policies to date, both support an array of trust-busting, tougher regulation, wealth redistribution, public options and, where appropriate, nationalization.

It depends on the problem they’re trying to solve. In practice, they end up supporting an awful lot of the same solutions. In addition to Medicare for all, breaking up the banks and taxing the rich, both Warren and Sanders are advocates of a federal job guarantee, postal banking and a bill making it easier for workers to unionize.  

All of these proposals transfer money and power from the super-rich to the not-rich. Take postal banking. About 32.6 million households rely on a check-cashing service, payday lender or other expensive, small-dollar financial bottom-feeder at least once a year, according to the FDIC. On average, these households earn about $25,500 a year and spend nearly 10 percent of their income ― $2,412 ― on these sketchy financial products. That’s over $82 billion going from hard-up homes to predators every year. You can deal with payday lenders a lot of different ways: ban them, regulate them or, the preferred tack of Warren and Sanders, have the government make them obsolete. If every household can get a low-fee bank account with the Post Office, they won’t have to turn to legalized loan sharking to get by. That’s bad news for payday loan executives, like ACE Cash Express CEO Jay Shipowitz, who made almost $4.5 million in 2004 alone. Is postal banking socialism or reformed capitalism? Yes.

In America today, the super-rich not only control an outrageous share of the national wealth, they also exercise a degree of political power incompatible with basic democratic principles. The choice for Democrats in 2020 is not really about policy minutia ― it’s about power ― who has it, and who doesn’t. And both Sanders and Warren have proved they are willing to confront the powerful and attack their sources of power. We can call this socialism, New Deal liberalism or Jeffersonian democracy ― whatever the label, it’s a critical ideological test for anyone who wants to be the next president of the United States.

Running for re-election in 1936, FDR noted that the “economic royalists” of “business and financial monopoly, speculation” and “reckless banking” all counted themselves among his political “enemies.”

“Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today,” Roosevelt said. “They are unanimous in their hate for me ― and I welcome their hatred.”

For today’s Democrats, that’s the ticket.

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‘Too few’ poor white university students

Image copyright PA

More than half of England’s universities have fewer than 5% of poor white students on their books, says an analysis of university entry figures.

The report, from the National Education Opportunities Network (Neon), shows white students from deprived areas in low numbers in many top universities.

There are 3% at the University of Oxford, compared with 28% at Teesside.

The study says too few universities have clear targets to recruit white working-class students.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has previously warned of the risk of communities feeling “left behind”.

The study, from an organisation promoting wider access into higher education, calls for a “national initiative” to tackle the educational underachievement of disadvantaged white youngsters across schools, colleges and universities.

The university figures show the problem in recruiting white students from poorer backgrounds – and how many universities have very low proportions of them.

It warns that fewer than a fifth of universities have targets for admitting more poor white students – and that there are only “variable” efforts to improve participation.

Even if a target of 5% of poor white students were to be set across universities, it would mean another 10,000 students going to university, says the research.

Missing out

The study looks at white students from so-called “low-participation neighbourhoods” – areas where few people usually go to university.

In total numbers, white students, of all social backgrounds, are the biggest group going to university, show figures from the Ucas admissions service.

But in terms of a proportion of the population, white youngsters are less likely to go to university than Asian or black teenagers.

The latest application figures, for courses in the autumn, show that applications from white students are declining, while they are increasing for Asian and black youngsters.

Cutting across this is a widening gender divide – with women much more likely than men to apply to university.

When these factors combine, it means that white, working-class men become among the most under-represented groups in university.

The study says projects to widen entry into university might need to be “redefined”.

Wide divide

The report shows a starkly divided picture in where poor white students are likely to attend.

They are particularly likely to take higher education courses in local further education colleges.

Among those going to university, 70% go to new universities, with low numbers going to some high-ranking institutions.

Image copyright Getty Images

Cambridge has 2%, Warwick and Bristol 3%, Durham 4%.

At University of Sunderland, 27% of acceptances are from white students from deprived areas and the figure is 22% in Staffordshire University.

The numbers are particularly low in London universities – many of them 1% or 2%.

But these figures might be affected by the high overall levels of young people in London going to university – much higher than elsewhere in England.

‘Left behind’

Because of such high entry rates, even from deprived youngsters, there are relatively few “low-participation neighbourhoods” in London, or young people who would fall into this category.

The high cost of living in London could also deter some poorer students from elsewhere from coming to study in the capital.

Graeme Atherton, report co-author and director of Neon, warned of “big variability” in the chances of different groups to get to university.

“We need to know more about why this variability exists and do more to eliminate it,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Universities UK said that universities were “committed to widening access to higher education and ensuring the success of all their students, regardless of their background”.

The spokeswoman for the universities’ organisation said that “18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged areas in England are more likely to go to university than ever before” – and that this could be further helped if the government restored “maintenance grants for those most in need”.

Mr Hinds has highlighted the importance of supporting education in communities that might feel “left behind”.

In a speech in the autumn, Mr Hinds said: “White British disadvantaged boys are the least likely of any large ethnic group to go to university.

“We need to ask ourselves why that is and challenge government, universities and the wider system to change that.

“It’s vital that we do this to make sure that no part of our country feels as though it has been left behind.”

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Jewish rescue biography wins Costa Prize

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Lien de Jong was nine when she was taken in by Bart van Es’s family

A book about a young Jewish girl who was sheltered by the author’s grandparents during World War Two has won the Costa Book of the Year award.

Oxford professor Bart van Es picked up the £30,000 prize for The Cut Out Girl.

He traces the story of the Dutch girl who was taken in at the age of nine by van Es’s grandparents before her own parents were sent to Auschwitz.

That girl was Lien de Jong, who is now in her mid-80s and attended Tuesday’s ceremony in London.

The judges – chaired by BBC News journalist Sophie Raworth – described the book as “sensational and gripping – the hidden gem of the year”.

De Jong told BBC Radio 4’s Front Row she never realised her story could make such an impact.

“I’m very proud of this result and I never thought it could be a book,” she said.

Van Es said: “There are two ways in which it could be a good book to have in the world.

“There’s a scary way in which anti-Semitism and extreme nationalism and conspiracy theories are around in a way they weren’t 10 years ago. But also another way in which it is quite a healing book.”

The Costa Book of the Year was chosen from the winners from five individual categories. The Cut Out Girl won the biography prize, and the other category winners were:

  • Novel – Sally Rooney, Normal People
Image copyright Jonny I Davies/Faber & Faber

This is the second work of fiction from the 27-year-old Irish author who has taken the literary world by storm.

It follows the on-off relationship between two Irish schoolfriends and won rave reviews when it was published last August. It was named the Waterstone’s book of the year and is now being turned into a BBC drama.

  • First novel – Stuart Turton, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Image copyright Charlotte Graham/Bloomsbury

Travel writer Turton’s debut novel is a sci-fi murder mystery that channels Agatha Christie, Groundhog Day and Quantum Leap.

Its main character relives a single day eight times – each time inhabiting a different person’s body as he tries to work out who has committed murder in a country house. The TV rights were sold even before it was published last February.

  • Poetry – JO Morgan, Assurances
Image copyright Jonathan Cape

The Scottish poet’s sixth book was inspired by his father’s work as part of Bomber Command during the Cold War.

It is a single long-form poem told from the perspectives of various characters, including pilots, planes, villagers and even the bombs.

  • Children’s – Hilary McKay, The Skylarks’ War
Image copyright Pan Macmillan

Clarry and Peter Penrose spend idyllic summers in Cornwall with their charismatic cousin Rupert – until he is sent to fight in World War One.

The story follows Clarry from birth to adulthood and centres on the characters’ quests to escape both the shadow of war and the social constraints of the time.

Last year’s overall winner was the late poet Helen Dunmore for her final collection, Inside the Wave.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email [email protected].

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Fetishizing books is not the same thing as loving reading

Disclosed book on a table. Close-up.
Image: Getty Images

If you follow a lot of people who watch a lot of Netflix, then you’ve probably spent a lot of 2019 so far watching them argue about books. Specifically, about Tidying Up with Marie Kondo‘s approach to books.

“Keep your tidy, spark-joy hands off my book piles, Marie Kondo,” gasped The Washington Post. “Marie Kondo, back off! Why this book hoarder refuses to tidy up,” declared Cnet. On Twitter, some bibliophiles expressed shock and horror, while others reacted to that shock and horror with snark and bemusement

Kondo’s method for books is exactly the same as her method for pretty much anything else you might find in a home, like clothing, sporting goods, or kitchen gadgets. Yet it’s only the books that have provoked this level of disgust, and that’s because a lot of people have no chill when it comes to what other people might be doing with their books. 

Though this particular Kon-troversy is new, it’s really just the latest in a long series of book-related outrages over the years. 

Last year’s was the collective hand-wringing over backwards bookshelves. Before that was the outrage over books getting cut up for crafts. There’s been huffing over shelves curated by color and selfies over piles of open books, and disagreements over whether a large stack of unread books is cause for pride or shame

What all of these scandalous actions have in common is that they don’t actually affect anyone at all but the person making them. Instagram influencers aren’t sneaking into your home to rearrange your shelves, and Kondo isn’t signing legislation to outlaw large book collections. (She actually encourages you to keep your books if the thought of discarding them makes you mad.)

Why, then, do some bibliophiles get ranty at photos of spine-in books, or see red when a Kondo client throws another novel in his discard pile?

For many, it has to do with what books represent. Books don’t exist solely to spark joy! Books are objects of wonder, and souvenirs of our personal journeys! Our collections reflect our tastes and our personalities, and express them to any curious visitors who might come looking. They’re not mere decorative pieces or functional tools, and only a non-reader would treat them as such.

Books may mean a lot to some readers, but they don’t mean the same thing to all readers.

Or maybe they would. 

Books may mean a lot to some readers, but they don’t mean the same thing to all readers. A skimpy shelf could mean someone hates books, or simply that they prefer ebooks and libraries. An overstuffed one might be just as self-consciously curated as a streamlined one. Those spine-in volumes could belong to someone who loves reading and favors a minimalist aesthetic.

There’s a difference between loving reading and fetishizing books. While there’s nothing wrong with the latter, it’s worth acknowledging the difference — if only so we can collectively stop flying into a blind rage whenever some Facebook rando shares a photo of the secret book safe they just DIYed. 

There are exceptions and caveats, of course. Books that are rare or very old should probably be saved and preserved. Newer books could probably be donated or recycled, rather than trashed, for the sake of the environment. It also goes without saying that I’m talking here about personal collections; it’s obviously a much bigger problem if the government starts burning books, or a public library reorders them all by color just for the ‘gram. 

As a general rule, though? Mind your own books, and let other people mind theirs. 

If you can’t wait to KonMari some boring books out of your life, have fun tidying up. If you’d rather die by a billion paper cuts than let go of even one single volume, hold on to them for as long as you’d like. If you’d like to stock up on vintage volumes you won’t read to make yourself look smarter, or if you love judging people by their book collections — honestly, knock yourself out. 

Whatever you decide to do, though, remember that it’s not the bound stacks of printed paper that matter. It’s what they do, what’s inside them, and what they mean to you that does. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to cut everyone else a break for whatever they’re doing with their own piles of paper. 

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