15 March 2022
The pandemic has kept us largely confined to our homes so perhaps it should come as no surprise that the books in this selection address both the boundaries and (longed-for) connections between us.
As Milo van Bokkum argues in Border Regions, borders often go hand in hand with conflict – they form the dividing line between Self and Other. But there are solutions, such as the porous borders of the Schengen zone made up of 26 European countries. In No Man’s Land, Adwin de Kluyver travels to the liminal zone that is the South Pole, still subject to a stand-off agreement between 54 nations. Once the realm of lone adventures, heroic huskies and inhospitable nature, the dividing line between scientific exploration and tourism has faded.
We cross the threshold into Chris Keulemans’s home in Welcoming Strangers. As he longs for the return of guests after the isolation of the past two years, Keulemans seeks to define what he hopes is no dying art: offering others an unconditional welcome. Similarly, Teun Toebes’ book Nursing Home looks at how to offer a real home and caring relationships to people suffering from dementia. Delving back into her own past, Francine Oomen explores intergenerational trauma after transgressions committed on the body in How to Survive. Caro Verbeek’s A Little Cultural History of the (Big) Nose counters prejudices against women who don’t conform to today’s beauty ideal, while in Six in a Bed anthropologist Roanne Van Voorst explores love’s fluid landscape and the future of sex.
Taking a more scientific approach, Abram de Swaan’s classic Human Societies explains networks of human interdependence, while Mariska Kret’s Smile or Grimace explains the role of emotions in social bonding between animals. Whorls and Loops by Geertjan De Vugt places fingerprints at the crux of our identity and the overlapping traces we leave on the world.
As I hand the baton back to Mireille Berman after her stint garnering valuable experience in a foreign rights department, we look forward to finally meeting you again in real life again at London Book Fair. A chance to look each other in the eye without the boundary of a screen, and connect over books.
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Borders often go hand in hand with conflict – they form the dividing line between Self and Other