Julie Myerson thinks this is a book “that everyone should read.” That’s a crazy thing to say, but she’s right. It’s a study of parents and children, 700 pages long. It’s intensively researched, based on 300 interviews with families. but it’s also brilliantly written, with flashes of wit and insight, and more probing questions than you’ll hear in a week’s television coverage. If you flicked through the chapter headings, you’d think you were in for a gloomy procession through misery – autism, dwarfs, disability, schizophrenia, rape….But it’s uplifting and fascinating, a wonderful way of briefly trying on the lives of others, many of them coping superbly with challenges we don’t ‘normally’ face. Though as you read this book, don’t be surprised if your assumption of ‘normal’ flies out of the window. Far from the Tree, by Andrew Solomon. I got it out of the library, and took it back after forty pages. Just borrowing this book is not enough; you really need it with you for the rest of your life.