Beyond Weird by Philip Ball


I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.'Richard Feynman wrote this in 1965 - the year he was awarded the Nobel prize in physics for his work on quantum mechanics. Quantum physics is regarded as one of the most obscure and impenetrable subjects in all of science. But when Feynman said he didn't understand quantum mechanics, he didn't mean that he couldn't do it - he meant that's all he could do. He didn't understand what the maths was saying: what quantum mechanics tells us about reality. Over the past decade or so, the enigma of quantum mechanics has come into sharper focus. We now realise that quantum mechanics is less about particles and waves, uncertainty and fuzziness, than a theory about information: about what can be known and how. This is more disturbing than our bad habit of describing the quantum world as `things behaving weirdly' suggests. It calls into question the meanings and limits of space and time, cause and effect, and knowledge itself. The quantum world isn't a different world: it is our world, and if anything deserves to be called `weird', it's us. This exhilarating book is about what quantum maths really means - and what it doesn't mean.

Gimson's Prime Ministers by Andrew Gimson


A concise, sharp-witted and illuminating account of the lives of Britain's prime ministers from Walpole to May, illustrated by Martin Rowson. For the reader who has heard of such giants as Gladstone and Disraeli, and has drunk in a pub called the Palmerston, but has only the haziest idea of who these people were, Gimson's Prime Ministers offers a short account of them all which can be read for pleasure, and not just for edification.

With Gimson's wonderful prose once again complemented by Martin Rowson's inimitable illustrations, this lively and entertaining aide-memoire and work of satirical genius brings our parliamentary history to life as never before.

Also Human by Caroline Elton


Doctors are the people we turn to when we fall ill. They are the people we trust with our lives, and with the lives of those we love. Yet who can doctors turn to at moments of stress, or when their own lives break down? Doctors are no different from everybody else, but their job is like no other. What does it take to confront death, disease, distress and suffering every day? To carry the `awesome responsibility' of care? To make decisions that can irrevocably change someone's life, or possibly end it? And how do doctors cope with their own questions and fears, when they are expected to have all the answers? Caroline Elton is a psychologist who specialises in helping medical doctors. Drawing upon hundreds of extraordinary case studies and decades of pioneering work in the UK and overseas, Also Human presents a provocative, perceptive and deeply humane examination of the modern medical profession.

The Missing Ingredient by Jenny Linford


The Missing Ingredient is about what makes good food, and the first book to consider the intrinsic yet often forgotten role of time in creating flavour. Written through a series of encounters with ingredients, producers, cooks, shopkeepers and chefs, exploring everything from the brief period in which sugar caramelises, the days required in the crucial process of fermentation in so many foods we love, to the months of slow ripening and close attention that make a great cheddar, or the years needed for certain wines to reach their peak, Jenny Linford shows how, time and again, time itself is the invisible ingredient. Linford shows how paying attention to time in the kitchen and elsewhere improves our food, from the patient browning of meat to the long investment of many food producers in fields and storehouses around the world. The result is a joyful account of the vital role of time in our culinary lives, and a book to savour.

How to Garden When You're New to Gardening by Dorling Kindersley


Let the RHS guide you through the surprisingly simple steps to creating a garden you can enjoy with your friends, and even show off to them.

Are you surrounded by weeds? Is your lawn forlorn? Are the bushes deceased?

Fear not!

How To Garden When You're New To Gardening shows you the basics to get your green space under control and keep it that way. With the expertise of the RHS, this book gives simple step by step instructions, with clear images to help you build your dream garden, no matter the size and scale.

Take the pain out of planting, potting, and pruning and enjoy your precious patch of land.

Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Talib


The bestselling author of The Black Swan is back with a book challenging many of our long-held beliefsWhy should we never listen to people who explain rather than do? Why do companies go bust? How is it that we have more slaves today than in Roman times? Why does imposing democracy on other countries never work? The answer: too many people running the world don't have skin in the game. In this provocative book, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows that skin in the game, which is usually seen as the foundation of risk management, in fact applies to all aspects of our lives. It's about having something to lose and taking a risk. Citizens, lab experimenters, artisans, political activists and hedge fund traders all have skin in the game. Policy wonks, corporate executives, theoreticians, bankers and most journalists don't. In his inimitable, pugnacious style, Taleb draws on everything from Antaeus the Giant to Hammurabi to Donald Trump, from ethics to used car salesmen, to create a jaw-dropping framework for understanding this idea. Along the way, he offers key rules to live by: do not do to others what you don't want them to do to you; never trust anyone who gives advice for a living.Just as The Black Swan did during the 2007 financial crisis, Skin in the Game comes at precisely the right moment to challenge our long-held beliefs about risk, reward, politics, religion and finance - and make us rethink everything we thought we knew.

The Bookworm by Lucy Mangan


When Lucy Mangan was little, stories were everything. They opened up new worlds and cast light on all the complexities she encountered in this one. She was whisked away to Narnia - and Kirrin Island - and Wonderland. She ventured down rabbit holes and womble burrows into midnight gardens and chocolate factories. She wandered the countryside with Milly-Molly-Mandy, and played by the tracks with the Railway Children. With Charlotte's Web she discovered Death and with Judy Blume it was Boys. No wonder she only left the house for her weekly trip to the library or to spend her pocket money on amassing her own at home. In Bookworm, Lucy revisits her childhood reading with wit, love and gratitude. She relives our best-beloved books, their extraordinary creators, and looks at the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. She also disinters a few forgotten treasures to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way. Lucy brings the favourite characters of our collective childhoods back to life - prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate - and brilliantly uses them to tell her own story, that of a born, and unrepentant, bookworm.

The Century Girls by Tessa Dunlop


A celebration of the one-hundred years since British women got the vote, told, in their own voices, by six centenarians: Helena, Olive, Edna, Joyce, Ann and Phyllis - The Century Girls. In 2018 Britain will celebrate the centenary of women getting the vote; during the intervening ten decades the lives of women in this country have been transformed. Told in their own voices, The Century Girls celebrates six centenarians who lived that change: what they saw, how they were treated, who they loved, what they did and where they are now. With stories that are intimately knitted into the history of these islands, The Century Girlsis a time-travel adventure featuring society's oldest, most precious national treasures. In 1918 the Suffragettes famously blazed the trail for women, this book reveals what came next for girls growing up in twentieth century Great Britain, whether they resided in Scotland, England, Wales or Northern Ireland; whether they were housewives, or in the workplace; and describing their surroundings of the city, the countryside, or coming to the British Isles from the one of the Commonwealth countries. The narrative will travel through the experiences of some key figures who are now themselves well over a hundred years old: Joyce from Cambridge; Ann from Richmond; Edna from Wroughton; Olive from Archway, London; Phyllis from Edinburgh; and finally, Helena from Brecon. Through the prism of their own experiences and memories, it will tell the human story of how women gradually began to build independent lives for themselves in the modern world of post-Great War Britain, by re-telling what their actual day-to-day reality was like, through the decades.

Cultural Dementia by David Andress


The author, professor of modern history at the University of Portsmouth, argues that we are suffering from an attack of social and cultural confusion and amnesia. The former great powers of the historic 'West' - especially Britain, the USA and France - seem to be abandoning the wisdom of maturity for senescent daydreams of recovered youth. Along the way they are stirring up old hatreds, giving disturbing voice to destructive rage, and risking the collapse of their capacity for decisive, effective, and just governance.

At the core of this is an abandonment of political attention to history, understood as a clear empirical grounding in how we reached our present condition. Historical stories are deployed in public debate as little more than dangerous fantasies.

How to be Human by Ruby Wax


It took us 4 billion years to evolve to where we are now. No question, anyone reading this has won the evolutionary Hunger Games by the fact you're on all 2's and not some fossil. This should make us all the happiest species alive - most of us aren't, what's gone wrong? We've started treating ourselves like machines and less like humans. We're so used to upgrading things like our iPhones; as soon as the new one comes out, we don't think twice, we dump it. (Many people I know are now on iWife4 or iHusband8, the motto being, if it's new, it's better.) We can't stop the future from arriving, no matter what drugs we're on. But even if nearly every part of us becomes robotic, we'll still, fingers crossed, have our minds, which, hopefully, we'll be able use for things like compassion, rather than chasing what's 'better' and if we can do that we're on the yellow brick road to happiness. I wrote this book with a little help from a monk, who explains how the mind works, also gives some mindfulness exercises, and a neuroscientist who explains where everything that makes us can be found in the brain. We answer every question you've ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, kids, the future and compassion. How to be Human is extremely funny, true and the only manual you'll need to help you upgrade your mind as much as you've upgraded your iPhone.

The Tartan Turban by John Keay


Imagine spending thirteen years fighting and travelling in disguise in the deserts of Inner Asia, then another thirteen years as an officer in the Sikh army. Suppose, too, that while 'long separated from the world' you had acquired a reputation for conduct utterly unacceptable in civilised society. Many would reckon you a scoundrel and liar, despite your protests. Lively reminiscences - such as saving the city of Lahore in 1841 by singlehandedly killing 300 invaders - and numerous scars would not impress them. Gardner's story, like Marco Polo's, changed people's understanding of the world. The urge to contest or authenticate his account contributed to the scientific and political penetration of a vast chunk of Asia. Readers will see the whole region, from the Caspian to Tibet, in a new light and gain a fresh perspective on its last years under native rule. Keay's credentials for writing the biography of Gardner are unrivalled.

Yorkshire by Richard Morris


Yorkshire, it has been said, is 'a continent unto itself', a region where mountain, plain, coast, downs, fen and heath lie close. By weaving history, family stories, travelogue and ecology, Richard Morris reveals how Yorkshire took shape as a landscape and in literature, legend and popular regard.We descend into the county's netherworld of caves and mines, and face episodes at once brave and dark, such as the part played by Whitby and Hull in emptying Arctic waters of whales, or the re-routing of rivers and destruction of Yorkshire's fens.

We are introduced to discoverers and inventions, meet the people who came and went, encounter real and fabled heroes, and discover why, from the Iron Age to the Cold War, Yorkshire has been such a key place in times of tension and struggle.In a wide-ranging and lyrical narrative, Richard Morris shows that for as far back as we can look Yorkshire has been a region of unique presence with links around the world.

Nothing but a Circus by Daniel Levin


In this eye-opening exploration of the human weakness for power, Daniel Levin takes us on a hilarious journey through the absurd world of our global elites, drawing unforgettable sketches of some of the puppets who stand guard. and the jugglers and conjurers employed within. Most spectacular of all, however, are the astonishing contortions performed by those closest to the top in order to maintain the illusion of integrity, decency, and public service. Based on the author's first-hand experiences of dealing with governments and political institutions around the world, Nothing but a Circus offers a rare glimpse of the conversations that happen behind closed doors, observing the appalling lengths that people go to in order to justify their unscrupulous choices, from Dubai to Luanda, Moscow to Beijing, and at the heart of the UN and the US government.

Writer's Luck: A Memoir:1976-1991 by David Lodge


David Lodge's frank and illuminating memoir about the years where he found great success as a novelist and critic. Luck plays an important part in the careers of writers. In this book David Lodge explores how his work was inspired and affected by unpredictable events in his life. In 1976 Lodge was pursuing a `twin-track career' as novelist and academic. As a literary critic, he made serious contributions to the subject, before carnivalising it in his comic-satiric novel Small World. The balancing act between his two professions was increasingly difficult to maintain, and he became a full-time writer just before he published his bestselling novel Nice Work. Both books were shortlisted for the Booker Prize, in which he was later involved as Chairman of the judges. Readers of Lodge's novels will be fascinated by the insights this book gives - not only into his professional career but also more personal experience. The main focus, however, is on writing as a vocation. Anyone who is interested in learning about the creative process, about the dual nature of the novel as both work of art and commodity, will find Writer's Luck a candid and entertaining guide.

Hearts and Minds by Jane Robinson


Set against the colourful background of the entire campaign for women to win the vote, Hearts and Minds tells the remarkable and inspiring story of the suffragists' march on London. 1913: the last long summer before the war. The country is gripped by suffragette fever. These impassioned crusaders have their admirers; some agree with their aims if not their forceful methods, while others are aghast at the thought of giving any female a vote. Meanwhile, hundreds of women are stepping out on to the streets of Britain. They are the suffragists: non-militant campaigners for the vote, on an astonishing six-week protest march they call the Great Pilgrimage. Rich and poor, young and old, they defy convention, risking jobs, family relationships and even their lives to persuade the country to listen to them. This is a story of ordinary people effecting extraordinary change. By turns dangerous, exhausting and exhilarating, the Great Pilgrimage transformed the personal and political lives of women in Britain for ever. Jane Robinson has drawn from diaries, letters and unpublished accounts to tell the inside story of the march, against the colourful background of the entire suffrage campaign. Fresh and original, full of vivid detail and moments of high drama, Hearts and Minds is both funny and incredibly moving, important and wonderfully entertaining.

In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott


At university when I made new friends and confidantes, I couldn't explain how I'd become a teenage mother, or shoplifted books for years, or why I was afraid of the dark and had a compulsion to rescue people, without explaining about the Brethren or the God they made for us, and the Rapture they told us was coming. But then I couldn't really begin to talk about the Brethren without explaining about my father...' As Rebecca Stott's father lay dying he begged her to help him write the memoir he had been struggling with for years. He wanted to tell the story of their family, who, for generations had all been members of a fundamentalist Christian sect. Yet, each time he reached a certain point, he became tangled in a thicket of painful memories and could not go on. The sect were a closed community who believed the world is ruled by Satan: non-sect books were banned, women were made to wear headscarves and those who disobeyed the rules were punished. Rebecca was born into the sect, yet, as an intelligent, inquiring child she was always asking dangerous questions. She would discover that her father, an influential preacher, had been asking them too, and that the fault-line between faith and doubt had almost engulfed him. In In the Days of Rain Rebecca gathers the broken threads of her father's story, and her own, and follows him into the thicket to tell of her family's experiences within the sect, and the decades-long aftermath of their breaking away.

In Therapy by Susie Orbach


Worldwide, increasingly large numbers of people are seeing therapists on a regular basis. In the UK alone, 1.5 million people are in therapy. We go to address past traumas, to break patterns of behaviour, to confront eating disorders or addiction, to talk about relationships, or simply because we want to find out more about what makes us tick. Susie Orbach, the bestselling author of Fat is a Feminist Issue and Bodies, has been a psychotherapist for over forty years. Here, she explores what goes on in the process of therapy - what she thinks, feels and believes about the people who seek her help - through five dramatised case studies. Originally broadcast as a Radio 4 series, here the improvised dialogue is replicated as a playscript, and Orbach offers us the experience of reading along with a session, while revealing what is going on behind each exchange between analyst and client. Insightful and honest about a process often necessarily shrouded in secrecy, In Therapy is an essential read for those curious about, or considering entering, therapy.

Istanbul by Bettany Hughes


Istanbul has always been a place where stories and histories collide and crackle, where the idea is as potent as the historical fact. From the Qu'ran to Shakespeare, this city with three names - Byzantium, Constantinople, Istanbul - resonates as an idea and a place, and overspills its boundaries - real and imagined. Standing as the gateway between the East and West, it has served as the capital of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin and Ottoman Empires. For much of its history it was known simply as The City, but, as Bettany Hughes reveals, Istanbul is not just a city, but a story. In this epic new biography, Hughes takes us on a dazzling historical journey through the many incarnations of one of the world's greatest cities. As the longest-lived political entity in Europe, over the last 6,000 years Istanbul has absorbed a mosaic of micro-cities and cultures all gathering around the core. At the latest count archaeologists have measured forty-two human habitation layers. Phoenicians, Genoese, Venetians, Jews, Vikings, Azeris all called a patch of this earth their home. Based on meticulous research and new archaeological evidence, this captivating portrait of the momentous life of Istanbul is visceral, immediate and scholarly narrative history at its finest.

Magna Carta by Dan Jones


On a summer's day in 1215 a beleaguered English monarch met a group of disgruntled barons in a meadow by the river Thames named Runnymede. Beset by foreign crisis and domestic rebellion, King John was fast running out of options. On 15 June he reluctantly agreed to fix his regal seal to a document that would change the world. A milestone in the development of constitutional politics and the rule of law, the 'Great Charter' established an Englishman's right to Habeas Corpus and set limits to the exercise of royal power. For the first time a group of subjects had forced an English king to agree to a document that limited his powers by law and protected their rights. Dan Jones's elegant and authoritative narrative of the making and legacy of Magna Carta is amplified by profiles of the barons who secured it and a full text of the charter in both Latin and English.

C'est la Vie by Fabrice Midal


Be calm... Stop stressing... Embrace the universe... Try yoga... Be fulfilled... We're overwhelmed with these sorts of commands, and we often torture ourselves to "try harder," yet somehow we never feel we've done quite enough. It's about time we stop pushing ourselves to do what we think we're supposed to do, and instead simply allow ourselves to be angry, be tired, be silly, be passionate - to give yourself a break, and just be. Fabrice Midal, one of the world's leading teachers of meditation explains why the key to true mindfulness is freeing ourselves from social and often self-imposed stresses - and highlights how we can embrace life more fully by giving ourselves a break. He gives readers permission to:Stop obeying -- you are intelligentStop being calm -- be at peaceStop wanting to be perfect -- accept life's stormsStop rationalizing -- let things beStop comparing -- be youStop being ashamed -- be vulnerableStop tormenting yourself -- become your own best friendStop wanting to love -- be benevolentIn C'est La Vie, Midal offers us a new solution to the perennial problem of our too much, too fast modern life. It's OK, he urges us, to say no. It's fine to quit the things that don't make you happy. It's necessary, in fact, to give yourself a break if things don't go your way and say, simply, C'est la vie. Midal gives each of us permission to stop doing the things that don't make us we have room in our lives for the things that do.

The 4 Pillar Plan by Dr Rangan Chatterjee


A revolutionary, yet simple guide to better health from the star of BBC1's Doctor in the House.In The Four Pillar Plan, Dr Rangan Chatterjee presents an easily accessible plan for taking control of your health and your life.Everyday health revolves around Dr Chatterjee's four pillars: relaxation, food, sleep and movement. By making small, achievable changes in each of these key areas you can create and maintain good health - and avoid illness.It's not about excelling at any one pillar - what matters is the balance across all the things you do, including:* an electronic 'sabbath' once a week* aiming for 12 hours every day without food* exposure to sunlight first thing each morningBased on cutting edge research and his own experiences as a doctor, this book contains fascinating case studies from real patients. Practical and potentially life-changing, The Four Pillar Plan is an inspiring and easy-to-follow guide to better health and happiness.

Women and Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard


Why the popular resonance of 'mansplaining' (despite the intense dislike of the term felt by many men)? It hits home for us because it points straight to what it feels like not to be taken seriously: a bit like when I get lectured on Roman history on Twitter. Britain's best-known classicist Mary Beard, is also a committed and vocal feminist. With wry wit, she revisits the gender agenda and shows how history has treated powerful women. Her examples range from the classical world to the modern day, from Medusa and Athena to Theresa May and Elizabeth Warren. Beard explores the cultural underpinnings of misogyny, considering the public voice of women, our cultural assumptions about women's relationship with power, and how powerful women resist being packaged into a male template. With personal reflections on her own experiences of the sexism and gendered aggression she has endured online, Mary asks: if women aren't perceived to be within the structures of power, isn't it power that we need to redefine?

Life in the Garden by Penelope Lively


The two central activities in my life - alongside writing - have been reading and gardening.

Penelope Lively has always been a keen gardener.

This book is partly a memoir of her own life in gardens: the large garden at home in Cairo where she spent most of her childhood, her grandmother's garden in a sloping Somerset field, then two successive Oxfordshire gardens of her own, and the smaller urban garden in the North London home she lives in today.

It is also a wise, engaging and far-ranging exploration of gardens in literature, from Paradise Lost to Alice in Wonderland, and of writers and their gardens, from Virginia Woolf to Philip Larkin.

A Short Book about Painting by Andrew Marr


In A Short Book About Painting, writer and broadcaster Andrew Marr tackles the subjects of inspiration, creativity, politics, beauty and form. How does the artist make good work? What constitutes "good"? How important is technique - and the imagination? Following a serious stroke in 2013 that left him partially paralysed, Marr struggled with the physical rigours of painting using oils. This led to his wrestling with some of the very fundamental questions about painting as an art form in itself - and to interrogate himself daily about brushstrokes, colour balance, line and texture. Using his own work in progress as examples of failures, and examples of techniques from classical artists right up to the present day, Marr examines how the painter can improve and learn from his or her mistakes. Marr's provocative, political and instructive book is not just an essential resource for all amateur painters, it is a must-read for anyone fascinated by the creative process and the limits of human artistic achievement.

A Wood of Ones Own by Ruth Pavey


After years of living in London's urban jungle, Ruth Pavey dreamt of reconnecting with the British countryside. In pursuit of a haven from the unrest of city life, she embarked on a journey to find the perfect plot of land on which to plant a wood. But creating this would-be sanctuary proved more daunting than she expected. In this inspiring memoir, Pavey shares her story of finding peace by sowing her legacy in the form of a wood, one tree at a time. Chronicling her struggle to clear away the brambles to make a place for herself in the world, Pavey's story is both enchanting and candid, and at times self-deprecating as she recognises her shortcomings as a landowner. By probing her own motivations and her enjoyment of the solitude and beauty of the place, she shares her insights into our relationship with nature - and our destruction of it. Her intelligent understanding and cautioning against our romanticising of rural living forces us to consider the reality of country life in Britain today. With charming descriptions of the Somerset countryside and abundant with tales of its history and inhabitants (both past and present), Pavey's story is at once lyrical and beguiling.

The Secret Life of the Owl by John Lewis-Stempel


`Dusk is filling the valley. It is the time of the gloaming, the owl-light. Out in the wood, the resident tawny has started calling, Hoo-hoo-hoo-h-o-o-o.'There is something about owls. They feature in every major culture from the Stone Age onwards. They are creatures of the night, and thus of magic. They are the birds of ill-tidings, the avian messengers from the Other Side. But owls - with the sapient flatness of their faces, their big, round eyes, their paternal expressions - are also reassuringly familiar. We see them as wise, like Athena's owl, and loyal, like Harry Potter's Hedwig. Human-like, in other words.

No other species has so captivated us.

In The Secret Life of the Owl, John Lewis-Stempel explores the legends and history of the owl. And in vivid, lyrical prose, he celebrates all the realities of this magnificent creature, whose natural powers are as fantastic as any myth.

Talking to my Daughter about the Economy by Yanis Varoufakis


Why is there so much inequality?

In this short book, world famous economist Yanis Varoufakis sets out to answer his eleven-year-old daughter Xenia's deceptively simple question.

Using personal stories and famous myths - from Oedipus and Faust to Frankenstein and The Matrix - he explains what the economy is and why it has the power to shape our lives.

Intimate yet universally accessible, Talking To My Daughter About the Economy introduces readers to the most important drama of our times, helping to make sense of a troubling world while inspiring us to make it a better one.

Rick Stein: The Road to Mexico


Rick Stein brings his unrivalled enthusiasm and trusted expertise to the fresh, flavourful food of Mexico and California. No one better captures the food essence of a country and brings the best recipes into our kitchens like Rick.

Starting in San Francisco and Baja California, and working his way down to the southernmost tip of Mexico, Rick Stein cooks, eats and experiences Mexican food at its very best and most diverse. Packed with vegetables, centred around fresh ingredients and always high on flavour, Mexican and California cooking is naturally healthy and satisfying - from the incredible seafood of the north Pacific coast and the mole of Oaxaca, to the spices and salsas of Yucatan and Quintana Roo.

With the trademark beautiful photography and evocative design of Rick's books, this cookbook will encourage anyone to try out the bold food of these sunshine states.

Citizen Clem by John Bew


Clement Attlee was the Labour prime minister who presided over Britain's radical postwar government, delivering the end of the Empire in India, the foundation of the NHS and Britain's place in NATO. Called 'a sheep in sheep's clothing', his reputation has long been that of an unassuming character in the shadow of Churchill. But as John Bew's revelatory biography shows, Attlee was not only a hero of his age, but an emblem of it; and his life tells the story of how Britain changed over the twentieth century.

Here, Bew pierces Attlee's reticence to examine the intellect and beliefs of Britain's greatest - and least appreciated - peacetime prime minister.

This edition includes a new preface by the author in response to the 2017 general election.

Belonging by Simon Schama


The Jewish story is a history that is about, and for, all of us. And in our own time of anxious arrivals and enforced departures, the Jews' search for a home is more startlingly resonant than ever. Belonging is a magnificent cultural history abundantly alive with energy, character and colour. It spans centuries and continents, from the Jews' expulsion from Spain in 1492 it navigates miracles and massacres, wandering, discrimination, harmony and tolerance; to the brink of the twentieth century and, it seems, a point of profound hope. It tells the stories not just of rabbis and philosophers but of a poetess in the ghetto of Venice; a boxer in Georgian England; a general in Ming China; an opera composer in nineteenth-century Germany. The story unfolds in Kerala and Mantua, the starlit hills of Galilee, the rivers of Colombia, the kitchens of Istanbul, the taverns of Ukraine and the mining camps of California. It sails in caravels, rides the stage coaches and the railways; trudges the dawn streets of London, hobbles along with the remnant of Napoleon's ruined army. Through Schama's passionate telling of this second chronicle in an epic tale, a history emerges of the Jewish people that feels it is the story of everyone, of humanity.

The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young


'A lovely, thoughtful little book about the intelligence of cows.'

James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd's Life Cows are as varied as people.

They can be highly intelligent or slow to understand; vain, considerate, proud, shy, or inventive.

Although much of a cow's day is spent eating, they always find time for extracurricular activities such as babysitting, playing hide and seek, blackberry picking, or fighting a tree.

This is an affectionate record of a hitherto secret world.

Mr Lear by Jenny Uglow


Edward Lear's poems follow and break the rules. They abide by the logic of syntax, the linking of rhyme and the dance of rhythm, and these 'nonsenses' are full of joy - yet set against darkness. Where do these human-like animals and birds and these odd adventures - some gentle, some violent, some musical, some wild - come from? His many drawings that accompany his verse are almost hyper-real, as if he wants to free the creatures from the page. They exist nowhere else in literature, springing only from Lear's imagination.Lear lived all his life on the borders of rules and structures, of disciplines and desires. He vowed to ignore politics yet trembled with passionate sympathies. He depended on patrons and moved in establishment circles, yet he never belonged among them and mocked imperial attitudes. He loved men yet dreamed of marriage - but remained, it seems, celibate, wrapped in himself. Even in his family he was marginal, at once accepted and rejected. Surrounded by friends, he was alone. If we follow him across land and sea - to Italy, Greece and Albania, to The Levant and Egypt and India - and to the borderlands of spirit and self, art and desire, can we see, in the end, if the nonsense makes sense? This is what Jenny Uglow has set sail to find out.

The Almanac


Have you ever wondered why the moon is sometimes blue?The New Almanac revives the tradition of the rural almanac for those who want to connect with the seasons through gardening, eating seasonally, moon-gazing, foraging, celebrating feast days and picking seasonal flowers. It brings you the tools and inspiration you need to celebrate, mark and appreciate each month of the year. For each of the 12 months, award-winning gardener and food writer Lia Leendertz shares her practical guidance for expeditions, meteor-spotting nights and beach holidays, as well as stories about each month's unique nature and folklore, and charts relevant to each month. Keep track of the phenomena of the universe with tables familiar to almanacs of the past: significant dates; phases of the moon; sunrise and sunset times; king tides; equinoxes, solstices and cross-quarter days; food in season; a forager's guide; meteor showers, visible planets and lunar eclipses; festivities (Samhain, Wassailing, Divali, Midsummer) and more. Lia also shares her favourite recipes using seasonal ingredients and relating to each month's festivity: cider cake for wassailing in January; blood orange tart in February; potato kugel gratin for Passover in April; Beltane wine for May Day; sticky cinnamon figs in September; and soul cakes at Hallowe'en. Filled with wonder, The New Almanac is a highly practical, historical and contemplative book to be enjoyed all year long, and it will have you looking forward to the next edition as the year draws to a close.

More Letters of Note compiled by Shaun Usher


Discover Richard Burton's farewell note to Elizabeth Taylor, Helen Keller's letter to The New York Symphony Orchestra about 'hearing' their concert through her fingers, the final missives from a doomed Japan Airlines flight in 1985, David Bowie's response to his first piece of fan mail from America and even Albus Dumbledore writing to a reader applying for the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor at Hogwarts.

Also includes letters from Jane Austen, Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry James, Sylvia Plath, John Lennon, Gerald Durrell, Janis Joplin, Mozart, Janis Joplin, Hunter S. Thompson, C. G. Jung, Katherine Mansfield, Marge Simpson, Dorothy Parker, Buckminster Fuller, Beatrix Potter, Che Guevara, Evelyn Waugh, Charlotte Bronte and many more.

More Letters of Note is another rich and inspiring collection, which reminds us that much of what matters in our lives finds its way into our letters.

Down to Earth by Monty Don


Unrivalled gardening wisdom from Monty Don.

Written as he talks, this is Monty Don right beside you in the garden, challenging norms and sharing advice.

Month-by-month, Monty reveals the jobs he does in his own garden, that he hopes are relevant to you.

Discover Monty's thoughts and musings on nature, seasons, colour, design, pests, flowering shrubs, containers, and much more. Monty's intimate and lyrical writing is accompanied by photos of his own garden.

"I have written many gardening books but this is the distillation of 50 years of gardening experience. It has all the tips and essential pieces of knowledge that enable you to make your garden grow well, and it also shares my view that gardening is the secret to living well too." - Monty

Britain's 100 Best Railway Stations by Simon Jenkins


It is the location of all our hopeful beginnings and intended ends; an institution with its own rituals and priests; and a long-neglected aspect of Britain's architecture: the railway station.Bestselling historian Simon Jenkins has travelled the length and breadth of the country to select this joyous celebration of our social history.

With his usual insight and authority, he describes the history, geography, design and significance of each of these glories; explores their role in the national imagination; champions the engineers, architects and rival companies that made them possible; and tells the story behind the development, triumphs and follies of these very British creations.

From Waterloo to Whitby, St Pancras to Stirling, these are the marvellous, often undersung places that link our nation. All aboard!

The Dun Cow Rib: A Very Natural Childhood by John Lister-Kaye


John Lister-Kaye has spent a lifetime exploring, protecting and celebrating the British landscape and its wildlife.

His memoir The Dun Cow Rib is the story of a boy's awakening to the wonders of the natural world. Lister-Kaye's joyous childhood holidays - spent scrambling through hedges and ditches after birds and small beasts, keeping pigeons in the loft and tracking foxes around the edge of the garden - were the perfect apprenticeship for his two lifelong passions: exploring the wonders of nature, and writing about them.

Threaded through his adventures - from moving to the Scottish Highlands to work with Gavin Maxwell, to founding the famous Aigas Field Centre - is an elegy to his remarkable mother, and a wise and affectionate celebration of Britain's natural landscape.

Optimism over Despair by Noam Chomsky


An essential overview of the problems of our world today -- and how we should prepare for tomorrow -- from the world's leading public intellectual We have two choices. We can be pessimistic, give up, and help ensure that the worst will happen. Or we can be optimistic, grasp the opportunities that surely exist, and maybe help make the world a better place. Not much of a choice.

From peerless political thinker Noam Chomsky comes an exploration of rising neoliberalism, the refugee crisis in Europe, the Black Lives Matter movement, the dysfunctional US electoral system, and the prospects and challenges of building a movement for radical change. Including four up-to-the-minute interviews on the 2016 American election campaign and global resistance to Trump, this Penguin Special is a concise introduction to Chomsky's ideas and his take on the state of the world today.

Fall Down Seven Times, Get Up Eight by Naoki Higashida


FALL DOWN SEVEN TIMES, GET UP EIGHT is Naoki Higashida's gently subversive follow-up to his phenomenally popular book THE REASON I JUMP, which he wrote as a 13-year-old boy with severe autism. Now he shares his thoughts and experiences as a young man, exploring a range of topics from education, identity, family and society to personal growth. He has also written an enigmatic story, 'A Journey', especially for this edition, which is introduced by David Mitchell (co-translator with KA Yoshida). Part memoir, part critique of a world that sees disabilities ahead of disabled people, it opens a window into the mind and world of an autistic, non-verbal young adult, providing remarkable insights into autism in general.

The Clever Guts Diet by Michael Mosley


Your gut is astonishingly clever. It contains millions of neurons - as many as you would find in the brain of a cat - and is home to the microbiome, an army of microbes that influences your mood, weight and immune system. In this groundbreaking book, Dr Mosley takes us on a revelatory journey through the gut, showing how junk food and overuse of antibiotics have wiped out many "good" gut bacteria, leading to a modern plague of allergies, food intolerances and obesity. Setting the record straight on everything from prebiotics to probiotics, fermented foods to fasting, Dr Mosley provides scientifically proven ways to control your appetite and boost your mood. The Clever Guts Diet is packed with delicious, healing recipes, menu plans, checklists and tips - all the tools you need to transform your gut and change the way you eat for ever.

Admissions: A Life in Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh


. Henry Marsh has spent a lifetime operating on the surgical frontline. There have been exhilarating highs and devastating lows, but his love for the practice of neurosurgery has never wavered. Prompted by his retirement from his full-time job in the NHS, and through his continuing work in Nepal and Ukraine, Henry has been forced to reflect more deeply about what forty years spent handling the human brain has taught him. Moving between encounters with patients in his London hospital, to those he treats in the more extreme circumstances of his work abroad, Henry faces up to the burden of responsibility that can come with trying to reduce human suffering. Unearthing memories of his early days as a medical student, and the experiences that shaped him as a young surgeon, he explores the difficulties of a profession that deals in probabilities rather than certainties, and where the overwhelming urge to prolong life can come at a tragic cost for both patients and for those who love them. In this searing, provocative and deeply personal memoir, the bestselling author of Do No Harm finds new purpose in his own life as he approaches the end of his professional career, and a fresh understanding of what matters to us all in the end.

East West Street by Philippe Sands


When he receives an invitation to deliver a lecture in the Ukrainian city of Lviv, international lawyer Philippe Sands begins a journey on the trail of his family's secret history. In doing so, he uncovers an astonishing series of coincidences that lead him halfway across the world, to the origins of international law at the Nuremberg trial. Interweaving the stories of the two Nuremberg prosecutors (Hersch Lauterpacht and Rafael Lemkin) who invented the crimes or genocide and crimes against humanity, the Nazi governor responsible for the murder of thousands in and around Lviv (Hans Frank), and incredible acts of wartime bravery, East West Street is an unforgettable blend of memoir and historical detective story, and a powerful meditation on the way memory, crime and guilt leave scars across generations.

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari


Sapiens showed us where we came from. Homo Deus shows us where we're going. War is obsolete. You are more likely to commit suicide than be killed in conflict. Famine is disappearing. You are at more risk of obesity than starvation. Death is just a technical problem. Equality is out - but immortality is in. What does our future hold? Yuval Noah Harari, author of the bestselling phenomenon Sapiens envisions a not-too-distant world in which we face a new set of challenges. Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century - from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers?

The Things you only See when you Slow Down by Haemin Sunim


'Is it the world that's busy, or my mind?' The world moves fast, but that doesn't mean we have to. In this timely guide to mindfulness, Haemin Sunim, a Buddhist monk born in Korea and educated in the United States, offers advice on everything from handling setbacks to dealing with rest and relationships, in a beautiful book combining his teachings with calming full-colour illustrations. Haemin Sunim's simple messages - which he first wrote when he responded to requests for advice on social media - speak directly to the anxieties that have become part of modern life and remind us of the strength and joy that come from slowing down. Hugely popular in Korea, Haemin Sunim is a Zen meditation teacher whose teachings transcend religions and borders and resonate with people of all ages. With insight and compassion drawn from a life full of change, the 'mega-monk' succeeds at encouraging all of us to notice that when you slow down, the world slows down with you.