Josie Long: ‘I want to foster a radical spirit’

Award-winning comedian and writer Josie Long is this week’s Bookshelfie guest. She joins our host Vick Hope to chat about life with ADHD , her guerilla-style Alternate Reality tour and carving space for community and fun. She is publishing her collection of short stories, Because I don’t know what you mean and what you don’t, this month! Plus don’t miss Josie on her current UK stand up tour, Re-Enchantment.

Listen to this hopeful and enlightening episode here, with book recommendations that help us imagine a new world.

Wide Sargasso Sea

‘There is no looking glass here and I don’t know what I am like now… Now they have taken everything…

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This was the first book where it was written by another woman [I read] and when I read it, it didn’t just, it didn’t just affect me, it dragged me into the emotional world of the novel. And then when I’d finished it, I was still there. It to me felt the most powerful book I had ever read.

Hope in the Dark

Hope in the Dark is an exploration of optimism in an era of seeming defeat and cultural pessimism. When the…

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I felt like it was really helpful in not just understanding but also beautifully summarising what is important in terms of trying to be useful to political struggle. She says that hope isn’t like, blind optimism, saying that everything’s fine, hope is an axe to knock down the door to allow you to take action.’

Experiments in Imagining Otherwise

This is a book of failure and mistakes; it begins with what is stolen from us and proposes only an…

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She’s interested in understanding and connecting with radical thinkers and activists, looking back at people on top of it. She wants to go back in time and inhabit those places in this book. So it’s just one of the most interesting, bold, enigmatic, beautiful books I’ve ever read in my life.’

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver

Carefully curated, these 200-plus poems feature Oliver’s work from her very first book of poetry, No Voyage and Other Poems, published…

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‘She’s kind of like a mystic poet really, she likes to think about life and death and nature. And it’s very much about a person listening and in community with nature, it’s not somebody kind of telling you how they know all about it.’

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

A black, motherless loner tries to come to terms with her radically unfamiliar surroundings as a Yale freshman; 14-year-old church…

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‘It’s about people who have been the prize pony of their school or of their high school or whatever. There’s one about someone going to Yale and about, playing all the games right to try so hard to get into these rarefied establishments […] And for me, it’s about how class intersects with race, definitely, and intersects with gender and all kinds of other things. But that was the level that I felt like, oh, I really do understand certain parts of this.’

Tune in here to listen to the full episode with Josie Long.

Want more great inspiring conversations and fantastic book recommendations? With guests from Aisling Bea to Caroline Lucas, our Bookshelfie podcast delivers a range of inspiring episode that you can check out here.

The Women's Prize Podcast

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