Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language
As a self-declared “internet linguist”, journalist and podcaster Gretchen McCulloch is well-versed in the ever-changing nuances of digital language. Her interest lies in its everydayness: “Internet writing is unedited, it’s unfiltered, and it’s so beautifully mundane,” she writes in her first book, Because Internet, an engaging analysis of the ways in which we speak online, and why. Functioning as an insightful manual both for the uninitiated and for native digital users, it covers slang, keysmash, emojis and cat memes, and even attempts to locate the moment “lol” was first used.
Riverhead Books, 288pp, £19.99
Homesick: Why I Live in a Shed
Leaving her cramped £400-a-month house-share in Bristol, cello teacher Catrina Davies moves into a mice-riddled shed with no running water in Cornwall. Not for the comfort, or the Instagrammable hippy aesthetic, but because “I seemed to have run out of other options”. Her angry and eloquent book Homesick is a powerful exposure of the cruelty of a housing system where “rent is a monthly trauma” and a spider-infested shed equates to freedom.
Riverrun, 368pp, £16.99
“Attention seeking is one of the best things we do, even when we have the worst ways of doing it.” Adam Phillips has been described as Britain’s foremost psychoanalytic writer; here he writes four slim, nimble essays on the concept of attention, blending psychoanalytic theory with literary criticism in his approach. He argues that our interests (what we pay attention to) and our needs (what we seek attention for) are what shape us – and that by “giving attention the attention it deserves”, we might discover more about ourselves.
Penguin, 144pp, £6.99
This article appears in the 24 Jul 2019 issue of the New Statesman, Shame of the nation