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In their own words or from the pen of a biographer, the lives of others hold a magnetic intrigue. Indulge your curiosity here… Read and find out more about the lives of well-known figures. Want more inspiration? Head to our 'Best Autobiographies Ever' blog post filled with recommendations from our bookish friends.
Kiss Me Goodbye, Ferdinand Mount’s personal memoir of his mysterious millionaire Aunt Munca, dances with evocative detail - of people, place and period - and is an affectionate, fascinating delight. Elegantly appointed mansions. Upper echelon entertaining. Exuberant outings in a Rolls-Royce - these are among the author’s early memories (from 1945) of his enigmatic, affectionate Aunt Betty, who asks to be called Munca after a Beatrix Potter mouse. But through time, and little by little, big questions begin to gnaw - where did Aunt Munca’s adopted daughter go, and why? Why did she force her daughter to break-off her engagement to David Dimbleby? Why did Munca never mention her first marriage? Having seen “just enough through the half-open door into the next room”, the author cannot resist entering the next room: “I had tugged the thread and I could not resist following it to the end.” And so an exhilarating quest to untangle Munca’s truths begins. It’s a thrilling edge-of-your-seat journey as Mount uncovers documents, photos and articles that reveal the many fabrications of his mysterious Aunt Munca, and other family members. The tangled threads take tenacious Mount from mid-century high society to the back streets of industrial Sheffield, and wind-up with an unexpectedly joyous find.
A truly fascinating investigative piece focusing on journalist and ghost hunter Nandor Fodor who researched Alma Fielding in 1938 after a poltergeist attack. Described as historical narrative non fiction, Kate Summerscale opens a door into the world of spiritualism just as the Second World War was starting. Her prologue explains that she visited the Society for Psychical Research to look up Nandor Fodor and found his original papers including the dossier on Alma. It contained transcripts of her seances, interviews, lab reports, x-rays copies of her contracts, notes, sketches and photographs. The author sets out to explore the link between suffering and the supernatural. This is as much about Fodor as it is Fielding, their link at times almost disturbing. The story is laid out before you, Kate Summerscale thoughtfully relays the information without prejudice, and doesn’t judge, allowing the reader to form their own thoughts. The Haunting of Alma Fielding is a riveting read encouraging thorough yet reflective reasoning that is likely to continue long after the tale is told.
This memoir from a forensic scientist and cold case reviewer makes for absolutely fascinating, and rather chilling reading. Jim Fraser has had a 40 year career which has included the cases of Rachel Nickell and Damilola Taylor. Here he looks at the murder investigations which have been difficult to solve, and cases that remain controversial or unsolved. Bringing his knowledge and personal experience into play helps build a framework of awareness of the challenges faced by investigators. I could tell in the author’s note before I started reading that it is really important to the author that this memoir is not seen as gratuitous (though it is graphic). He is clear that the book “melds recollection with reflection… supplemented with research”. As someone who worked as a member of police staff for twenty years, I found parts made for uncomfortable reading. Jim Fraser is at times damning, highlighting the downfalls of the system. It is quite obvious that with financial restraints, different systems, and human foibles, mistakes will be made, and when a life is at stake it is hard to swallow. Murder Under the Microscope offers a compelling window into a world that most know little about.
Moving, honest and inspiring – this is a nurse’s story of life in a busy A&E department during the Covid-19 crisis. Working in A&E is a challenging job but nurse Louise Curtis loves it. She was newly qualified as an advanced clinical practitioner, responsible for life or death decisions about the patients she saw, when the unthinkable happened and the country was hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. The stress on the NHS was huge and for the first time in her life, the job was going to take a toll on Louise herself. In A Nurse’s Story she describes what happened next, as the trickle of Covid patients became a flood. And just as tragically, staff in A&E were faced with the effects of lockdown on society. They worried about their regulars, now missing, and saw an increase in domestic abuse victims and suicide attempts as loneliness hit people hard. By turns heartbreaking and heartwarming, this book shines a light on the compassion and dedication of hospital staff during such dark times.
A stunning collection of essays and memoir from twice Booker Prize winner and international bestseller Hilary Mantel, author of The Mirror and the Light In 1987, when Hilary Mantel was first published in the London Review of Books, she wrote to the editor, Karl Miller, ‘I have no critical training whatsoever, so I am forced to be more brisk and breezy than scholarly.’ This collection of twenty reviews, essays and pieces of memoir from the next three decades, tells the story of what happened next. Her subjects range far and wide: Robespierre and Danton, the Hite report, Saudi Arabia where she lived for four years in the 1980s, the Bulger case, John Osborne, the Virgin Mary as well as the pop icon Madonna, a brilliant examination of Helen Duncan, Britain’s last witch. There are essays about Jane Boleyn, Charles Brandon, Christopher Marlowe and Margaret Pole, which display the astonishing insight into the Tudor mind we are familiar with from the bestselling Wolf Hall Trilogy. Her famous lecture, ‘Royal Bodies’, which caused a media frenzy, explores the place of royal women in society and our imagination. Here too are some of her LRB diaries, including her first meeting with her stepfather and a confrontation with a circus strongman. Constantly illuminating, always penetrating and often very funny, interleaved with letters and other ephemera gathered from the archive, Mantel Pieces is an irresistible selection from one of our greatest living writers
In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado's engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing experience with a charismatic but volatile woman, this is a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Each chapter views the relationship through a different lens, as Machado holds events up to the light and examines them from distinct angles. She casts a critical eye over legal proceedings, fairy tales, Star Trek and Disney villains, as well as iconic works of film and fiction, infusing all with her characteristic wit, playfulness and openness to enquiry. The result is a powerful book that explodes our ideas about what a memoir can do and be.
If you need a slice of pick-me-up then stop right here. Dean Nicholson is famous on social media as 1bike1world. His original aim to cycle solo around the world changed when he rescued abandoned kitten Nala and she joined him on his travels. The book charts his and Nala’s story and contains some squeezably lovely photos too. It seems as though Dean is still in shock at how quickly people took to his story (their instagram page at the time of writing sits at 810k followers). Dean comes across as completely down to earth and appreciative of the small things in life, the things that actually matter and mean the world. He has seen the very best of people, while also bearing witness to the sorrowful treatment of animals by some. Dean has raised a huge amount for charity since Nala came into his life. She is one photogenic cat, and her utter trust and love for Dean shines through. A hugely glorious bundle of feel-good, Nala’s World comes with beaming smiles of recommendation from me. Chosen as a LoveReading Star Book, this would make a perfect gift for a loved one (don’t forget to buy a copy for yourself too!). Explore our '80+ Books That Deliver a Hug' listicle for more feel-good or uplifting books.
A well-written book offering readers a fascinating glimpse into the little-known world of the modern Navy and its submarine service. Littered with amusing stories and anecdotes, Thompson’s writing entertains as well as informs. I was a little surprised some of the content isn’t covered by the Official Secrets Act but we must be grateful that its time constraints allow us to now read what was actually going on beneath the waves and how these dedicated people helped prevent the Cold War becoming more.
For ages 9 to 90 ‘Every story is the sound of a storyteller begging to stay alive’, says Khosrou – or Daniel as he’s known to his new classmates in Oklahoma - the narrator of the many wonderful stories that make up this book. Central of course is his own story, how with his mother and sister he had to flee his home in Iran, leaving his father behind, but there are also the stories of his grandparents and great-grandparents, plus the myths that he’s grown up with. Horribly picked on at school and tormented at home by his new step-father, he shares his stories Scheherazade-like with his class and with us, the lucky readers, and because of that we know that one day he will be whole again. Poignant, touching, funny and heart-breaking, this is a book in a million, a story that will connect with every person who reads it and become part of their own.
In this frank and friendly memoir of alcoholism, Karolina Robinson is nothing but honest in relating her experiences. The down-to-earth style makes Let There Be Time highly readable. There’s no distance between writer and reader here - Karolina’s voice and conversational exclamations ring loud and clear throughout. “Alcohol was always a massive part of my life,” Karolina reveals at the start of her story. As a child, she associated her parents’ excessive drinking with freedom and fun: “I used to get excited when I saw my parents drinking! They were less strict, more relaxed and would give me cash for candy!” She also recalls that bringing her mum a mug of wine every night gave her a sense that she was doing something good - she was taking care of mum. From here, Karolina’s childhood descended into a much darker place, the details of which are recounted in her first book, Let There Be Light. In Let There Be Time she shares blunt details of her personal path to alcohol dependence, from getting drunk as a fourteen-year-old, to using alcohol to make friends and be liked by colleagues in the hospitality industry, running to the Netherlands, London and Malta in search of happiness. It was in Malta, after a painful break-up precipitated by an alcohol-fuelled argument, that Karolina “stopped drinking. I became the person I was always meant to be.”
As Tough Women’s subtitle declares, these are “stories of grit, courage and determination”. True tales from twenty-two tough women from around the globe who undertake awe-inspiring adventures across the globe, from canoeing the Canadian wilderness, to hiking Pakistan, to cycling South America. Its editor is the intrepid Jenny Tough, a Canadian mountaineering expert who notes in her introduction that “the outdoor industry is actually fully of women, but when it comes to the highest level of media…the demographic dwindles to one”. Fortunately, this sexist state of affairs could be on the verge of changing - through giving voice to the “badass outdoorswomen” who here tell their extraordinary stories, this book might just change that narrow narrative and inspire new generations of female adventuresses. Each account enthrals like the best kind of travel writing. There are dazzling evocations of, for example, rugged Himalayan mountain-scapes, lush South American jungles, and howling Norwegian glacial valleys. Many of the women’s stories reveal monumental physical and emotional challenges - challenges tackled and overcome with super-human strength and resilience - and all of them underpinned by a joyously life-affirming spirit of curiosity.
Paul Armstrong’s Why Are We Always Indoors? is a slam-dunk account of the COVID-19 pandemic from mid-March 2020 to 21st June that Boris Johnson devotees might want to avoid, but should definitely read. On the other hand, readers enraged by the likes of PPE shortages, Dominic Cummings’s Barnard Castle road-trip eye test, and track and trace bungles will find a kindred spirit in Armstrong. It certainly packs potent personal and political punch. This London lockdown diary began life “as a way of recording daily reflections on the most bizarre football close-season ever known, and to fill the long hours of lockdown” but, “as events beyond our four walls grew darker, so the focus drifted from whimsical musings on football, TV and music to a growing unease with how a dreadful pandemic was being handled.” As so much has shifted, flipped and flopped since the author began keeping this journal, reading his account of the experience some seven months later is a vital reminder of what we’ve been through collectively. Alongside prescient reactions to governmental decisions, the author recounts experiences many of us will relate to - being horrified by reports from Italy. Taking daily walks that felt “like the pre-titles sequence in a zombie apocalypse movie”. Clapping for carers. The existential strangeness of having to psyche ourselves up to go to the shop. Fans of the author’s memoir Why Are We Always on Last? will also love the football and music musings and anecdotes. While right now (October 2020), no one knows how or when the pandemic will end, Why Are We Always Indoors? ends on a fittingly bittersweet note, pointing out that while we don’t know “whether we’ll taste the true freedom we once knew ever again”, we can “take comfort where we can and hope for happier times. We know there’s trouble ahead but, as Irving Berlin said, ‘While there’s music and moonlight and love and romance. Let’s face the music and dance.’ And, for now at least, there’s football, too.”
'The Winding Road to Portugal' is Louise Ross's companion and comparison study to 'Women Who Walk: How 20 Women from 16 Countries Came to Live in Portugal'. This time 20 men from 11 countries share their stories of when, how and, above all, why they too came to up sticks and relocate to Portugal in particular. This is a fascinating and illuminating work, consisting of the words of the newcomers themselves, with analysis by the psychology trained author, the journalist and author Richard Zimler, who has also taken the winding road and Dr. Nigel Hall, a distinguished psychiatrist. If this all sounds a bit heavy, I assure you it's not. The whole book will stir such a gamut of emotions, that the reader cannot help but be curious about the causes of such upheaval. Though far from being simply down to one reason, for some, language must have been an important factor. Those from Angola or Brazil were already fluent, whilst those from UK, Ireland, Poland, Netherlands, Denmark or Germany may have been beguiled by the promise of the Mediterranean climate. Escaping political, economic or social hardship was also cited, as was being an 'accompanying spouse', supporting their partners in their new location. At the end of the day, we work abroad because we can. The free movement of labour in the EU and the rise of the digital workplace, means that, if we have the inclination and the incentive, we can work anywhere. However, the year 2020 brought a whole different scenario. The author decided to recontact her interviewees to see how the pandemic was affecting them and included an add-on to each section with their thoughts. Those working in tourism, such as taxi drivers and owners of hotels or guest houses, were not faring as well as, say, those working for international companies but most were optimistic that the future would be better. We all certainly hope that it won't be worse. The winding road by definition is not straight forward and not everyone interviewed saw Portugal as their final resting place. This study will surely make it's readers think carefully about their own life's journey, which can only be a therapeutic exercise. A very instructive and thought-provoking social observation. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
How Lucky Can You Get takes us on a walk with the author down memory lane. Taking us through their experiences of the 1930s to 1990s and beyond, this book covers the pre and post war years while focusing on Ray’s early years, family, and varied working life. I think that this memoir is nostalgic, and is a good reflective piece for readers interested in personal accounts of history. This is a very direct account and I would have personally liked more descriptive language or imagery to really engage with the story. However, as an autobiographical account I think it flows and reads well as it is. The author states “This true story of triumph over adversity can give hope and inspiration to many people, young and old, who are facing anxiety and hardship in these difficult times.” and I think How Lucky Can You Get is a good reminder of the different challenges faced and overcome in the past, which can be a source of encouragement to persevere. There were also a few moments throughout the book where the events of the past are compared to society now, which offers a space for reflection. I think that How Lucky Can You Get is an interesting and detailed memoir and I think it would be enjoyed by history and non-fiction fans.
Diary of a Young Naturalist recounts a year in the life of an autistic and highly gifted 15 year old, struggling with school, bullies, moving house and fearing the decline of the natural world whilst rejoicing in it. Dara McAnulty is clearly an extraordinary person and a beautiful and mature writer. His descriptions of his adventures in nature are inspiring for children, but also sure to brighten the souls of many an adult too. The intensity with which nature presents itself to the author is overwhelming, and his ability to share this with the reader is enthralling. It’s a rollercoaster ride being in the head of this young man, but the book has the magic to open our eyes and ears to what beauty is around us each and every day - if only we looked! McAnulty's knowledge of wildlife and nature is simply extraordinary. His autism is a burden but also a super-power, providing him with piercing insight to a world that simply cannot be ignored with all its truth, tragedy and hope pouring out of every hedgerow, pond and dry stone wall. This is a diary which highlights our essential connection with the natural world, the landscape and our history embedded within it - but more importantly, it is also about our futures. Dara McAnulty is on a mission, and if the quality of this book is anything to go by, he will have a huge impact. For many children, this book will be the beginning of a wondrous journey. ~ Greg Hackett Greg Hackett is the Founder & Director of the London Mountain Film Festival
Well guys, here we are! What an absolute whirlwind of a journey this has been so far. So much has happened in the last couple of life-changing years and I'm so excited to share it with you all: my Hinchers. You have been right by my side for every step of the way and I honestly couldn't have done it without the amazing love and support from this incredible family we've built together. It's often felt like a fairy tale but it hasn't always been easy, and I'm going to let you in on the highs and the lows as well as my biggest fears and my darkest challenges. Because this book right here, is me. This is me: Soph - the wife, the mother and the person behind Mrs Hinch. So let's do this! Put your Hinch Lists to one side, get comfy and join me on the sofa with a cuppa. Welcome to my world. This is my story.
'Read this book to learn, but also to honour the man. We shall never see his like again.' - Sunday Times See the world. Then make it better. 'I am 94. I've had an extraordinary life. It's only now that I appreciate how extraordinary. As a young man, I felt I was out there in the wild, experiencing the untouched natural world - but it was an illusion. The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day - the loss of our planet's wild places, its biodiversity. I have been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet is my witness statement, and my vision for the future. It is the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake - and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right. We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited. All we need is the will to do so.
Michael Dixon’s Time to Heal: Tales of a Country Doctor is a timely, spirited call-to-action to restore “humanity to medicine”, and comes highly recommended for readers who like autobiographies with bite, and for those interested in discovering what it’s really like to be a present-day GP - warts and all. Moreover, one hopes that it might also serve as a wider wake-up call - “every society should be judged by what it does for its weakest. We are one of the world’s wealthiest nations,” is not a statement to be ignored. The early chapters covering Dixon’s unusual route to becoming a doctor are wistfully witty - he made the move to medicine after reading Philosophy and Psychology at Oxford. On qualifying in 1984, he took up a GP post in Devon and embarked on a life-long learning journey. From these beginnings, and through his career, he sees that serving patients’ needs demands much more than merely prescribing medicine and programmes of treatment. Indeed, Dixon’s view that practicing medicine demands a holistic, human approach is at the core of his book: “above everything, we must value and refine our skills as healers over and above the pills and procedures that we may offer.” The importance of this becomes starkly clear when we consider that despite medical advances “life expectancy is no longer improving”, and Dixon firmly believes that the increasing epidemic of long-term diseases like depression, diabetes, dementia and cancer are “the result of our catastrophic failure to care for the environment, the planet, ourselves and each other.” These failures, he observes, have become even more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has exposed the need for community connections and “the impact of social isolation”. Always honest, thoughtful and wise, I came away moved, enlightened, and hoping desperately that we see the kinds of social, community-focussed changes Dixon suggests, which are, in essence, centred around “rediscovering a common humanity.”
This is a story of mothers. This is a story of daughters. This is a story of the trauma we carry and the trauma we tend to. So begins this multigenerational memoir that explores the author's maternal history of repeated trauma, separation, adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and their impact on mental health. Set against a twenty-year dialogue with her mother Barbara who suffers from long undiagnosed PTSD, author Elizabeth Wilcox opens her maternal history with the birth of her illegitimate grandmother Violet to a German house servant outside London in 1904. With her mother's encouragement, Wilcox goes on to trace the lives of her grandmother Violet and her mother Barbara, both of whom are deeply impacted by maternal separation and the complex trauma they have endured. Violet undergoes multiple separations: from her mother until the age of six, from her German Jewish stepfather during WWI at the age of ten, and from her own three-year-old daughter Barbara when her family escapes without her from Holland during Hitler's invasion. Later put on a train to Wales with her eighteen-month-old brother Neville during Operation Pied Piper, Barbara also tragically endures an itinerant childhood characterized by maternal separation, foster homes, boarding schools, and abuse. Through a dual timeline that is both present day and historic, Wilcox weaves together these documented and imagined voices of the women who precede her, while using her experience as a journalist and writer in the field of early childhood education and mental health to explore the impact of adverse childhood experiences on adult wellbeing and mental health. Through her work and her mother Barbara who has successfully raised seven children despite her difficult past, Wilcox also shows what it means to parent with intention, forgiveness and unconditional love.
Dedicated to “readers and writers everywhere” this is a stunning gift of a book for every devoted bibliophile. Ex Libris: 100+ Books to Read and Reread is a beautiful, beautiful reminder of the power and the joy of books. Libris is used as an inscription on a bookplate to show the name of the book's owner. I’ve never had one, I’ve always wanted one. Life goals right there. Michiko Kakutani is perfectly placed to write this “magical brick-sized object”, as she wonderfully speaks of books. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning literary critic and the former chief book critic of The New York Times. And this really is a beautifully packaged, beautifully illustrated magical gift of a book. From her fascinating introduction talking of her love of books burgeoning from a young age, she comments on how books “give us the stories of men and women we will never meet in person, illuminate the discoveries made by great minds, and allow us access to the wisdom of earlier generations.” Don’t they just, and this book is a perfect celebration of that. I too am an avid reader. I always have been. I also was the one in my house who wanted to read all the books and who wore out her library card. As a lover of books, you can’t help but engage, dive in, eat her words up hungrily and pore over the accompanying illustrations of alternative book plates by the talented Dana Tanamachi. This book is an absolute gem. Michiko takes you on a literary journey via these “tiny time machines”. Oh how I adore her expressive way of talking about books. She lists more than 100 books across the decades and from a variety of genres – books that have shaped her life, complemented by illuminating essays about them. The themes include books about work and vocation, democracy and tyranny, the war on terror and housekeeping. Her selections range from Shakespeare to Toni Morrison to Abraham Lincoln and Dr Seuss right through to Educated by Tara Westover and The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (all of whom I heartily agree with!) The introduction includes the words of Virginia Woolf who famously said: “the pleasure of reading is so great that the world would be a far different and far inferior place without it”. And boy, are we reminded of this. As Michiko comments, the list is “subjective and decidedly arbitrary” but it doesn’t feel that way. I wholeheartedly bought into her excitement, and her passion for reading. Whatever books mean to you, they connect us all and this is a timely reminder of that; a stunning anthology of over 100 gems we all should read and re-read. And next on my list is...best get back to that bookshop!
Best known for his No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith’s writing is nothing if not warm-hearted, charming and filled with the joys of friendship - themes and characteristics that are at the heart of this delightful poetry anthology. Being a book to treasure and return to through the year (and across years), this will make a wonderful gift for fans of his fiction - even those who don’t usually read poetry. With sections covering the likes of journeys, Scotland through the seasons, animals, love and longing, books and reading, and places - with contextualisation coming courtesy of the author’s personal anecdotes - many of the poems invite readers to slow down, to look, to see, to remember. To take-in “the simple facts of being”. Others take readers on evocative journeys - we stand beside the author as he observes Mumbai from his hotel room, and as he and a friend save an oak tree in Scotland. We sit beside him as his train pulls into Kings Cross, as he drives through Los Angeles, as he explores Kerala, South India, and rural Australia. And all of them inspire reflection, and an empathetic urge to take-in the world through the eyes of others.
A clever concept, delectably delivered - featuring a feast of recipes and tales to inspire readers around the table, around the year, Miranda York’s The Food Almanac will make a piquant present for gourmands and bibliophiles. With a bounty of stories, pieces of passion, stylish illustrations and reading lists accompanying the recipes, this is a book to relish over time rather than scoff down in one sitting, though the delicious results might make that quite a feat of restraint. Each chapter covers a month of the year and opens with a handy checklist of seasonal ingredients to look out for, with an in-depth focus on star ingredients - lemons that “bring flashes of brightness to the dull grey days of January”. Gooseberries that “perform their spritely dance” in July puddings. September’s “tiny, tangy, ancient” crab apples. The “smoky sweetness” of December chestnuts. It’s global in outlook too, with poets, novelists and acclaimed food writers and chefs from around the world sharing stories, memories and insights alongside coverage of food-focussed feasts deserving of a fanfare, among them New Orleans Carnival and Anzac Day in Australia. The roll-call of writers provides a rich range of voices and views too, with contributions from chefs Raymond Blanc and José Pizarro, chef, restaurateur and food writer Yotam Assaf Ottolenghi, writer and cook Zoe Adjonyoh, novelists Kit de Waal and Deborah Levy, and many more besides.
Tani Adewumi’s life-affirming memoir is a “dare to dream” story with the power to make souls sing. As he and his parents relate their extraordinary experiences from living under Boko Haram in Nigeria to forging a new life in America, eight-year-old Tani’s voice is unfailingly endearing, with his parents’ narratives providing enlightening context, underpinned by their Christian faith. The tone is set in the introduction, in which Tani tells us that while he’s not sure what he’ll do when he grows up (maybe become a chess grandmaster, maybe a pilot, or maybe both), “I do know this much. I believe in miracles.” The story begins when Tani’s printer father is visited by Boko Haram and he evades their order to print posters that declare “No to Western Education” and “Kill all Christians”. When this makes the family a target, they flee to another area of Nigeria, then to Dallas after it becomes clear they’re not safe in their homeland. But their first experiences in America are from the life they’d hoped for. They stay with Tani’s great uncle, whose American wife becomes hostile, which compels them to move again. Thanks to the kindness of an old Nigerian friend, they’re able to move to New York where a pastor finds them a place in a shelter. Here Tani is given the opportunity to join a chess club, where meeting Coach Shawn proves to be life-changing. Tani’s natural talent for chess coupled with hard work, family support, and the kindness of coaches who give him a scholarship, sees him make fast progress. Within months he’s crowned State Chess Champion. But it doesn’t end there – when Coach Shawn suggests the family tell the national press their story to help them secure a place to live, the coverage leads to even bigger things. Alongside the overarching story, Tani’s mother shares fascinating detail about her Yoruba heritage, and this memoir is also poignant in showing the hard realities of migrant life. This comes recommended for readers who love discovering human stories that don’t shirk from the truth, but still radiate a feel-good message of hope. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
'From a very early age I loved the countryside as much as any garden and was fascinated by the life that I saw all around me from trees, wildflowers, birds, insects and mammals. In a sense this book has been over sixty years in gestation. I have kept notebooks and journals ever since I could write and I have drawn upon these as well as the events of the past year.' My Garden World by Monty Don is a celebration of every living creature that we all share. This year has given us the enforced opportunity to learn more about the fascinating natural world around us. Whether you live in the countryside or the town, Monty's observations and insights are relevant to each and every one of us. My Garden World is Monty Don's personal journey through the natural year, month by month, season by season, observed from the immediate world around him. 'Wildlife is not something that we watch happening in remote and exotic parts of the world on our screens, but right here in our own back yards and the more that we encourage it and learn to live with it, the more rewarding it becomes. If, in our own modest back yards, we can help preserve and treasure our natural world then we will make the world a better place -- not just for ourselves but for every living creature.'
Author Nathan Pettijohn has just broken up with his girlfriend. He rents an RV and takes to the road with his dog, Hafa, to explore the Pacific Northwest for the month of October. He describes the people he meets and the places he stays beautifully. He also shares his views on many aspects of life in America, up to and including their reaction to the current pandemic and the tragic murder of George Floyd. As a fellow motorhomer (as we call RVs in the UK) I read this book with great interest. It is wonderfully written and evokes the excitement and anticipation of going to a different place every day and staying in a different campsite every night. I’ve always found that a very addictive thing to do and clearly, so does the author. I feel that I now want to go to the US and explore the same area that he did, especially as, due to the pandemic, I haven’t had any trips in my motorhome this year and I’m getting very itchy feet. Like the author, I wouldn’t dream of going on a road trip without at least one dog. He brilliantly evokes the camaraderie that occurs when dog people meet and talk dog talk. His descriptions of the places he visits are excellent and I could empathise with some of the issues he faced in getting used to his RV. This is a thoroughly enjoyable book, very well written and extremely readable. Highly recommended. Susan Wallace, A LoveReading Ambassador
Who is Captain Sir Tom Moore? You've seen him on the television walking the length of his garden. A frail elderly man, doing his bit at a time of crisis. But he wasn't always like this. Where did he come from? Where was he made? From a childhood in the foothills of the Yorkshire Dales, Tom Moore grew up in a loving family, which wasn't without its share of tragedy. It was a time of plenty and of want. When the storm clouds of the Second World War threatened, he raised his hand and, like many of his generation, joined up to fight. His war would take him from a country he had never left to a place which would steal his heart, India, and the Far East, to which he would return many years later to view the sight he had missed first time around: the distant peak of Everest. Captain Tom's story is our story. It is the story of our past hundred years here in Britain. It's a time which has seen so much change, yet when so much has stayed the same: the national spirit, the can-do attitude, the belief in doing your best for others. In this rich, happy life packed with incident you will encounter time and again the curiosity, courage and generosity that saw Captain Tom look around him during our current crisis and decide that something had to be done . . .
SH**GED Saturday nights out on the tiles, undying crushes, dating like it's a competitive sport, awkward tales of dating woes, one-night stands, the walk of shame, ghosting, tears and break-ups. MARRIED Finding 'the one', meeting their parents, first holidays and romantic weekends away, engagement rings, big moment proposals, wedding bells, the hen do, the stag, the much anticipated - and feared - best man speech, the honeymoon of a lifetime. ANNOYED Who stacks a dishwasher like this? Empty milk cartons placed back into the fridge, pregnancy, sleepless nights, toilet seats up, toothpaste everywhere, less and less frequent date nights, DIY weekends, divorce. Whether you're sh**ged, married, annoyed, or, all of the above, Chris and Rosie Ramsey, hosts of the number one podcast, write hilariously and with honesty about the ups and downs and ins and outs of love, sex and relationships.
Ant and Dec hold a special place in the hearts of TV viewers everywhere. This is their epic story, with never-before-seen photography and the very best tales from their 30 years in TV. Ant: As the old Chinese proverb says, 'Good things come in pairs'. Dec: And as another Chinese proverb says, 'If you've been in a double act with your best mate for thirty years, why not write a book about all your most memorable moments in three decades of showbusiness?' Ant: Less catchy that one, isn't it? Dec: But no less true. And after three decades together, we're writing that book. Covering everything from a pirate radio storyline in Byker Grove through to the biggest shows on telly, this is our story. Ant: Thirty years, eh? Amazing. Dec: Absolutely. Especially when you consider we are both still 27 years old. From their modest beginnings in Byker Grove through to their unique time as pop stars and an award-laden TV career, the last three decades have flown by in the blink of an eye. They've also featured an incredible cast of supporting characters, including their first scriptwriter (an unknown comedian called David Walliams), Saturday night fun and games with countless Hollywood A-listers, and celebrities they torture - sorry, work with - every year in the jungle. Told through the lens of every TV show they've made, as well as everything they've learnt along the way, this is the riotously funny journey of two ordinary lads from Newcastle who went on to achieve extraordinary things.
NO.1 BESTSELLER ANT MIDDLETON SHARES HIS SECRETS ABOUT HIS POSITIVE MINDSET AND TEACHES YOU TO LIVE A LIFE WITH ZERO NEGATIVITY There are times when life feels like it has you cornered: financial difficulties, relationship issues, work problems, all of the above. Every one of us, at one time or another, will have to face up to the challenges that come our way. And there are two ways of meeting them: negatively, where blame is the answer, where other people are at fault, where you haven't been treated fairly. Or positively, where you own the situation, learn and grow from it, and become a better person at the end of it. Letting you into areas of his life he's never talked about before, in Zero Negativity, Ant will show you how to embrace failure and use it to your advantage, how to see change as the foundation of your future success, how to develop resilience, how to deal with bullies, what it means to be a positive roll model, and how to live a life with no regrets. This book will not tell you who to be, where you should live, or what job you should do. That's up to you. What this book is for, however, is to give you the tools you need to become the best possible version of yourself, to own who and what you are, and to live your life with Zero Negativity.
There are people who just read biographies, interested only in the details of the lives of real people. There are others, like us, who enjoy dipping a toe, every now and then, into the deep inviting waters of the biography pool, to see first-hand the experiences of a person, past or present, who captures our imagination or pique’s our interest. From the First Man on the Moon to the latest winner of a jungle-based reality TV programme; sport-star to leading politician; religious leader to Arctic explorer, the choice is vast!
Want more inspiration? Head to our 'Best Autobiographies Ever' blog post filled with recommendations from our bookish friends.