Mark’s Review: Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel

Hi all! It’s the third month of my boyfriend, Mark, being featured on the blog! Today he’s back with another review for a very important recent non-fiction release, Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel.


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How identity politics failed one particular identity.
Jews Don’t Count is a book for people who consider themselves on the right side of history. People fighting the good fight against homophobia, disablism, transphobia and, particularly, racism. People, possibly, like you.
It is the comedian and writer David Baddiel’s contention that one type of racism has been left out of this fight. In his unique combination of close reasoning, polemic, personal experience and jokes, Baddiel argues that those who think of themselves as on the right side of history have often ignored the history of anti-Semitism.
He outlines why and how, in a time of intensely heightened awareness of minorities, Jews don’t count as a real minority: and why they should.

In Jews Don’t Count, David Baddiel offers his lived experience of antisemitism in the UK, and argues how the fight against racism, especially on the political left, has a blind spot.

“Progressives themselves will sometimes respond to anti-Semitism by pointing to the – implied – much worse racism suffered by minorities in, say, opinion columns in the Daily Mail. A fair enough point, but I’m not interested in those columnists, as their racism is active and obvious, and also, to be honest, not mine to talk about.”

Baddiel has been around for much of my life, from being an edgy young comedian to a more established pop culture figure via the song ‘Three Lions’. He has gone on to write novels for both adults and children, none of which I have read I must admit, but he has become one of my favourite modern grumpy old men via his TV appearances and on Twitter.

While it covers many areas that Baddiel has discussed throughout his career, Jews Don’t Count feels most like a companion piece to his documentary Confronting Holocaust Denial. Made with the BBC in 2020, and not on iPlayer at the time of writing, Baddiel directly confronted both current and historical attitudes to antisemitism, something he looks at closer to home further in this book.

“Jews are somehow both sub-human and humanity’s secret masters. And it’s this racist mythology that’s in the air when the left pause before putting Jews into their sacred circle. Because all of the people in the sacred circle are oppressed. And if you believe, even a little bit, that Jews are moneyed, powerful and secretly in control of the world … well, you can’t put them into the sacred circle of the oppressed.”

It’s fair to say I am predisposed to agree with Baddiel, so don’t expect a full critical breakdown of his arguments here. For a while now I have pondered on the nature of outrage and how it isn’t actually meted out in society as equally for some issues as others, so I welcomed the opportunity to read such a singular take on antisemitism. Baddiel covers a lot of ground in a short book, but essentially argues across various levels that racism against Jews, actively or passively, makes them the forgotten section of the anti-racist movement.

With a self deprecating style you might expect from his other work, Baddiel looks at the discrepancies in approach to problematic language and activity in a range of areas including football, entertainment and politics. He touches on Israel and addresses scandals, including his own from Fantasy Football League in the late 1990’s. He looks at the nature of being Jewish and what that means culturally, ethnically and religiously, but crucially also looks at the way current political divisions and identity politics both tacitly support antsemitism and, more often than not, forget racism against Jews. Hence the title, Jews Don’t Count.

“Anti-racists need to listen more to the enemy. Because anti-racists only exists to fight racists, it only has meaning oppositionally. If there were no racists, there would be no anti-racists. And the racists say: Jews are not white.”

I am sad to say in resulting discussions I have around this book, over the ambiguity about where being Jewish fits into racism, I have seen parts of Baddiel’s arguments confirmed with friends and have subsequently had to call them out. Something I have no problem with, but a disappointment I did not expect to be realised so easily. For me, the key might lie in Baddiel’s argument that we should fight less amongst ourselves as progressives and pay more attention to racist and white supremacists definitions, because if we’re truly committed to being anti-racist, we should be fighting their definitions, not arguing about our own.


May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Mark’s Review: In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk

Hello all, a little note before we begin to present you with a second review from Mark – my partner in crime, and sometimes, in reading. We occasionally will read a little together before going to sleep, read a few pages of our favourite books to one another, or even read together on a lovely summertime picnic, like pictured below. We always both have a book (or several!) on the go, and I’m here today to give you Mark’s review of one of the books he’s recently read, In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk.

Lindsey Kelk, In Case You Missed It (2020)

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When Ros comes home after three years away, she’s ready to pick up with life exactly where she left it. But her friends have moved on, her parents have rekindled their romance, and her bedroom is now a garden shed. All of a sudden, she’s swept up in nostalgia for the way things were.
Then her phone begins to ping, with messages from her old life. Including one number she thought she’d erased for good – the man who broke her heart. Is this her second chance at one big love? Sometimes we all want to see what we’ve been missing…

It’s best to start by admitting, at this point, I am unashamedly a fan of Lindsey Kelk. So feel free to call this a review, but definitely a biased one. Though know that I hope to convey a sample of my enjoyment in the hope you might find something similar in this, or another, of Kelk’s books.

The first time I read anything by Kelk it was unintentional and, I must shyly admit, in jest. At some point around 7 years ago in the kitchen of a shared house, I did a dramatic reading of a section of What A Girl Wants. A week later, after wondering what happened in the story after (and before) my performance piece I found myself ordering a copy of that book and the one that came before it. The Tess Brookes trilogy ended up helping me get through a very busy and incredibly stressful multi work contract year and ever since then Kelk’s novels have serendipitously arrived as the perfect…indulgence? Distraction? I am not sure what to call it… It’s honestly like a holiday with old friends when you didn’t realise you needed one.

As my interruptions in Beth’s blog will retrospectively prove, I’m not a massive reader of fiction and, even then, often not particularly contemporary fiction. So Kelk’s work is something of a rarity to me and I am probably a rarity in her traditional audience. Kelk is someone who’s books I will now blindly pick up and have, looking back, had with me during significant times over the last few years. One was in my kit bag shooting the last short film. Another I scoured late night supermarkets for to take with me for my first international marathon. And so we get to 2020 and In Case You Missed It. As the first lockdown in England was ending and, from the 10-15 hours of news I was still watching per day, I knew the rollercoaster ride was far from over, Beth messaged me one morning – simply “New Lindsey Kelk book!”.

As ever, Kelk writes a warm story, but one that will occasionally challenge you, yet always make you feel part of the gang. The story is the perfection of formula. Proof that something done well doesn’t have to be revolutionary to be fresh and work elegantly. You could call the outcome early on if you were given to, but if you did you would be missing the point. As with the best stories, the joy is not where it’s going but how you get there. Going on the ride and engaging with what it makes both you and the characters feel. This is neatly also a wider theme in the book, one that I was surprised to find oddly profound at points. Discovering that your life and your loved ones aren’t quite who you thought they were. Just as Ros raced back to London, I wonder how many of us will want to race back to some idealised old life when we call the pandemic officially over? And what we will later realise we missed along the way.

‘It has been a while, what if he’s changed?’
‘He could have been turned into a unicorn that’s tasked with protecting the Holy Grail and I still wouldn’t think it was a good idea to text him,’  she said, bluntly as ever ‘You were together six months and it’s taken you three years to get over him. Don’t do this to yourself.’
‘it was nine months,’ I corrected. ‘Almost ten.’

The book weaves a way through a range of memorably awkward locales in a convincingly homely London, a converted garden shed, a dark disco, a suburban tennis club, all on a collision course with both a video games convention and Ros’ Parents renewal of vows (which, thinking about it, my parents also did last year!). I have probably been reading this book since that day Beth brought me back a copy. Picking it up and putting it down, reading it through 2 more lockdowns. Never quite wanting it to end, but always finding it comfortable to come back to after say, the chaos of my return to work or whatever rude word you want to use to describe last Christmas. In Case You Missed It is like a hug from an old friend, right before they call you an embarrassing schoolyard nickname, on a night spent talking about the past and the future. It’s a friendly book about where we’re going in life, having nostalgic feelings but dealing with the reality of now.

‘We tend to assume we’re entitled to the things we have, we rewrite history to make life easier for ourselves. It’s not the case, Ros.’
‘I know, mum’ I said quietly.

From a lakeside read on a summer picnic (pictured above) to finishing it in the bath mere hours ago, I was once again happy to have been on a Lindsey Kelk adventure, with a set of new but invitingly familiar characters, during another weirdly intense period in time. With another book due next year, I find myself wondering…. what possible journey we’ll all go on next?


It’s a random end note that, as a lifelong fan of pro wrestling, I always spotted occasional references in Kelk’s work that seemed too specific to be accidental. Later I would realise she is also a fan and now go looking for these nods, again this book didn’t disappoint. So this time, to bring my own, I used a WCW Arn Anderson trading card as a bookmark. No one needs to know this and the book itself will never appreciate it, but I had to tell someone to make it less odd.


May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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Mark’s Review: Spider-Man: Life Story by Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley

Hi everyone! I have something new and exciting to share with you today. We’re here to welcome my boyfriend Mark to The Books Are Everywhere. He’s going to be posting reviews for you every so often, and today he’s here with his first post – a review of Spider-Man: Life Story!

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In 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15, fifteen-year-old Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and became the Amazing Spider-Man! 57 years have passed in the real world since that event – so what would have happened if the same amount of time passed for Peter as well? To celebrate Marvel’s 80th anniversary, Chip Zdarsky and Spider-Man legend Mark Bagley unite to spin a unique Spidey tale – telling an entire history of Spider-Man from beginning to end, set against the key events of the decades through which he lived! Prepare to watch Peter Parker age through 57 years of groundbreaking history – and find out what happens to him, and those he loves the most!

I can’t decide if you need to have knowledge of the intricacies of 60 years of Spider-Man comics to follow this, or if it’s the perfect standalone entry way for the uninitiated reader. The truth is, it might be good enough to achieve both.

This graphic novel collects all 6 issues of the Spider-Man: Life Story comic book from 2019. Starting from Peter Parker’s earliest days as Spider-Man in the 1960s, we jump a decade at a time with each instalment, visiting with this alternate version of the web-slinger throughout his life in real time. In the main Marvel series Peter Parker started as an awkward teenager and, while he has grown up somewhat, he has aged at a glacial pace. The character has also been subject to a number of resets and continuity changes to meet the wider Marvel cannon. This is were Life Story is so unique.

Set outside of standard continuity, we are allowed to witness Parker, his compatriots and adversaries all grow and age from their inception. We as an audience effectively witness short interludes in each decade. Often coinciding with the major storylines that were happening in the comics of those eras, these episodes are now imagined with a realistic weight of age and lasting consequences. In the 60s we see a young and familiar Peter deal with his friends leaving for Vietnam while learning his new powers and grappling with the dilemma of perhaps joining them. The 70s takes a revisionist look at the notorious ‘Clone Saga’. While the 80’s finds an ageing group of heroes battling in a spin on the ‘Secret Wars’ storyline. This continues through the to the modern day tackling elements of very big storylines and weaving them into an increasingly different take on Spider-Man as a hero who encounters elements of both the comic and real worlds.

Copyright: Marvel (2019)

In comics the idea is often to change things while reinforcing the continuity, I have read enough to know that very few who die are ever really gone, so Life Story seems quite moving by comparison. I have enough knowledge to know all the stories Life Story is riffing on even if I haven’t read them (although I think I may have!). Seeing all these elements weaved into a more consequential narrative might not seem wildly revolutionary, but when paired with such a familiar character, it’s a really interesting proposition. The book also managed to side swipe me with some of realities for side characters, if Peter has to age from 15, then so does Aunt Mae or Tony Stark, so do his adult villains which over a 57 time period means the inevitable. Something I really hadn’t prepared for but I won’t delve into too much here.

With Spider-Man regular Mark Bagley doing the art and the often more comedic Chip Zdarsky writing I thought this was going to be a breezy ride through 60 years of spider-history. Not a more intense look at the potential realities of the usual comic book form, with all the ups and downs of a real life story.


May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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