By Laura Waddell

Published by Bloomsbury Academic

IT is most common for me to regularly read works of fiction, often rooted in real life but also quite a few that are more fantastical. Laura Waddell’s debut book was a departure from that into a book of facts and of theory – thoughtful but it was one that I was excited about.

It is part of the Object Lessons series of essays and books focused on one aim: to explore the hidden lives of ordinary things. Each writer takes on a topic that could be mundane and looks at it from all the angles they can think of .

Over the course of this book the themes of exit explored are vast and disparate, all drawn together by the central idea.

Sunday National readers have already enjoyed a taste of it in Laura Waddell’s recent column in the paper.

Whether discussing literal exit signs you see flashing green and their origin or language and poetry, or Brexit and even architecture, it all seems to make sense in its own way. It all begins to flow together and leaves you feeling you have finished reading almost as soon as you started, with something a little different about your perspective after all the different angles of the theme are investigated.

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Although there were moments of the discussion I wanted to go on longer, this type of book works incredibly well when each chapter is shorter, making complex ideas much easier to read than they would otherwise be. Another helpful aspect of the style is the focus on all the different ideas of exits and what they have come to mean. The concept of Object Lessons of various writers using a singular word or thought and being given the space and time to interpret it in all the ways they see fit within a deliberate and concise format is really what makes this series and the pieces within it unique and informative.

My favourite aspect of Exit is that it never felt detached or cold, avoiding the risk of reading much like just a series of facts and analysis. What made it feel alive, and what kept me reading, was Waddell’s way of writing. There were plenty of statistics, historical facts and analysis of them, but this was balanced by a softening aspect of something entirely different.

It revelled in adding a little personal touch to each page which, far from taking away from the integrity of the key themes of the book, actually rather enhanced them. It’s a writing style which is able to deliver something educational and thought provoking while also keeping it light.

For many reasons, from its timely nature and broad range of subjects, to the style in which it was written, I would highly recommend Exit, particularly to anyone looking to enjoy their first taste of the Object Lessons series.