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Looking for the perfect birthday gift? The right book for Mother’s day, or a stocking filler for Christmas? Look no further as we have the perfect selection for you.
Encompassing works from ancient sages, classic poets, well-known thinkers and emerging contemporary innovators from all walks of life, this involving, inclusive collection inspires, entertains, enthrals and emboldens. Alongside enjoying the work of widely-esteemed names (including Sappho, George Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay, Christina Rosetti, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson and Margaret Atwood), it was a pleasure to discover contemporary poets whose work I shall seek out, among them Ruth Awola and Remi Graves, and lesser-known names from the past, for example Edith Södergran and Astrid Hjertenaes Andersen. If the diversity of voices is rich, so too are the themes, with growing up, friendship, love, nature, body image and protest covered in staggering depth and diversity. This varied chorus of bold, incisive voices makes for a collection to be savoured and shared.
When I first saw this book, my immediate reaction was, hands off everyone, that’s mine! (No sharp elbows were used to obtain it I promise). This is the official Harry Potter Knitting Magic Pattern Book by Tanis Gray, and if you didn’t know you needed it, you do now. Non-knitting Harry Potter fans will be queuing up to learn a new skill, knitters previously unaware of Harry Potter (ummm, there might be a couple out there), can make some perfect presents, and if you love both, well, you are sorted. Tanis Gray is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, author of 9 knitting books and has over 500 published knitting designs. If you are new to knitting, the different projects are marked according to skill levels and include ‘Crafty Creatures’, ‘Wizarding Wardrobe’, Inspired Apparel’ and ‘Delightful Decor’. Particular favourites of mine are the Nagini Lariat (beginner), the Cornish Pixie (easy), and the Wizarding Transportation Scarf (advanced). Full instructions are given, with charts, and fabulous photos of finished pieces by Laura Flippen. Both useful and beautiful, with some lovely links, sketches and photos from the Harry Potter films, this is a must-have book for crafty fans and has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book.
A magical, thoughtful, and gloriously wonderful little book. Cat Women would make a perfect gift, either for yourself, or someone else (and it really doesn’t have to be restricted to women who love cats, this is an engaging read full stop). Described as “an exploration of feline friendships and lingering superstitions” Alice Maddicott introduces us to cats and their role with humans through history before presenting second-hand photos and examining the relationship between the women and cats in the pictures. It is fascinating to view the suspicion that women with cats, particularly lone women, have come under over the years, ‘crazy cat lady’ and ‘witch’ are two of the more obvious labels. Alice Maddicott looks at the second-hand (orphan) photos with an almost forensic yet beautifully whimsical eye. She spotted things that my first glance had completely missed, her thoughts take a breezy wander, yet she really sees the woman, and in particular, the cat in each picture. Opening up into the most readable and heartfelt book, Cat Women has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book as it is all rather intriguing and absolutely delightful.
Pretty Unhealthy is written in a personal and chatty style to educate, inform and entertain. When heart surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp was diagnosed with high blood pressure, she began to look more closely at not just her own lifestyle but what being healthy really means. In modern society, health and beauty have become intertwined, with people’s looks and size being (falsely) seen as an indication of their overall physical and mental health. This book wades through the barrage of health information reaching us on a daily basis via books, websites, blogs, social media posts and magazines/newspapers. How do we know what to believe? How much of this often-conflicting information is based on actual science and written by qualified experts, rather than the popular so-called ‘wellness experts’? And is it really making us healthier – or just more miserable? Dr Stamp covers various contemporary topics, including diet fads, exercise trends, body positivity & body image and weight bias. This isn’t a diet manual – it’s about how to get back a healthy relationship with food and exercise, concentrating on how we feel rather than how we look. This book won’t tell you what to eat and drink – that has to be your decision – but it will tell you how to be in control of your own choices, rather than be influenced by the pseudoscience, false hope and ‘magic bullets’ around you. I ended the book thinking about my lifestyle and what I enjoy and how, above all, it’s important to be kind to myself. Can’t get better messages than that.
Discover and be transported by eight wonderfully diverse stories based on the myth, legend and folklore at eight English Heritage sites from the toe of Cornwall to the tip of Northumberland. Editor Katherine Davey, English Heritage, and September Publishing have worked their magic alongside the authors while Clive Hicks-Jenkins has created striking and disquieting illustrations to accompany each story. To give you an idea as to the quality on offer, the authors in order are, Edward Carey, Alison MacLeod, Paul Kingsnorth, Sarah Hall, Graeme Macrae Burnet, Sarah Moss, and Fiona Mozley. Journalist James Kidd introduces the tales, highlighting the importance of folklore, and states that: “The moods of the eight stories are similar eclectic, by turns comic or uncanny, absurd or scholarly, angry or fanciful, unsettling of poignant”. The location each story has been based on, sits at the end of the story, as while some are obviously of the site, others hover, offer, suggest. The afterword by the knowledgeable Charles Kightly explains the background to each of these new stories, the history and tradition that each site is steeped in. From sharp and pointed, to lyrical and whimsical, the creative and inspiring stories in These Our Monsters twisted in my mind. If you enjoy an original and wonderful blend of folklore, myth and legend, stop right here!
I must confess that I exclaimed with delight when I saw All Good Things for the first time. It is fabulously described as “a treasury of images to uplift the spirits and reawaken wonder”. The size is perfect, the cover divinely enticing, and it just beckoned me in. I simply sank into the pages of the most beautiful images of art from around the world and through time. You may already have heard of, or indeed follow Stephen Ellcock on social media. Over the last ten years he has shared his images with the world. And we have taken them to our heart. Here he “explores our world and the human response to it one realm at a time”, and so we visit various realms from ‘The Face of the Water’, through to ‘The Human Realm’ and ‘Gods and Monsters’. The images and their explanations sit patiently, just waiting for you to turn the page. I have quite fallen in love with this book, it is gorgeous. September Publishing has created a little masterpiece, and it has been chosen as a LoveReading Star Book and one of my picks of the month. All Good Things is a treasure of a treasury and would make the most perfect gift (but make sure you keep a copy for yourself!).
In his first and only official autobiography, music icon Elton John reveals the truth about his extraordinary life, which is also the subject of the smash-hit film Rocketman. The result is Me - the joyously funny, honest and moving story of the most enduringly successful singer/songwriter of all time. Christened Reginald Dwight, he was a shy boy with Buddy Holly glasses who grew up in the London suburb of Pinner and dreamed of becoming a pop star. By the age of twenty-three, he was performing his first gig in America, facing an astonished audience in his bright yellow dungarees, a star-spangled T-shirt and boots with wings. Elton John had arrived and the music world would never be the same again. His life has been full of drama, from the early rejection of his work with songwriting partner Bernie Taupin to spinning out of control as a chart-topping superstar; from half-heartedly trying to drown himself in his LA swimming pool to disco-dancing with the Queen; from friendships with John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and George Michael to setting up his AIDS Foundation. All the while, Elton was hiding a drug addiction that would grip him for over a decade. In Me Elton also writes powerfully about getting clean and changing his life, about finding love with David Furnish and becoming a father. In a voice that is warm, humble and open, this is Elton on his music and his relationships, his passions and his mistakes. This is a story that will stay with you, by a living legend.
Is it a cookbook? Is it a memoir? No, it’s a super genre-defying anthology that eloquently exemplifies the notion of “comfort food” in its most elemental form. As the author sets out in his introduction, “this is a story book with food in it, and, of course, that other essential embroidery for life, music.” What follows is a set of personal vignettes - stories about the author’s family, his food travel experiences, his professional insights - peppered with recipes that have accompanied pivotal life moments. One such recipe is “Pleasure and Pain Soup” that follows Warner’s recounting of a strange hangover experience that came in the gloomafter his father’s death. Sizzling with self-deprecating wit (“I just hope you find at least one thing, maybe two, that make the purchase worth it”, he addresses the reader) and humour (“If God is a vegan, well that’s me screwed”), this is a book to relish in a single cover-to-cover sitting, and to return to when in need of food-based consolation.
Featuring over fifty stylishly rendered boards, this is an interactive doodle book with a difference, and certainly takes the lingering trend for adult colouring-in books to the next level. Most of the book comprises unfinished boards for users to transform into their own tabletop games – twenty designs in all, followed by twenty-five sets of rules for players to choose to follow, each of which encourages creativity with suggestions for fashioning your own versions of classic board games. There’s also plenty of options for users to invent their own entirely new games, with a superb “Stuck for Ideas?” section that suggests fun themes and mash-ups, among them “Throne of Crowns” and “Uninvited Ghost”. There are suggestions specially devised for younger players too (for example “The Magical Maze” and “Lost Pets”) making this a compendium of creativity for all ages. Taking an average of half an hour to create each game and a further half an hour to play, this provides a plethora of opportunities to exercise one’s cerebral muscles while having a whole lot of fun.
A stimulating, fresh, and thoughtful read that ponders and wanders through some of the big questions in philosophy. When I initially picked this book up, I did wonder whether it was a quirky guide to training your dog, I very quickly realised that it is in fact an interesting introduction to philosophy (for humans). The author Anthony McGowan is an award winning writer for children and young adults, and has lectured widely on creative writing and philosophy (he has a BA, Mphil and PhD in philosophy). He has joined the two together to produce the most fabulous book for anyone who has questions about the way we humans think and act. The author and his dog Monty chat about philosophy on their daily walks. And so we join them as they take a humorous light stroll through some really pretty big subjects, including happiness and ethics. It made me consider and think about some of the things I take for granted, the discussion between the two helps stimulate thoughts. There is one part where I simultaneously wanted to berate and hug the pair, you’ll know what I mean when you get there! At the end there are suggestions for further reading, including on logic, and the meaning of life. If you’re at all curious about philosophy and want a fascinating introduction, then look no further than How To Teach Philosophy to Your Dog as it is a wonderfully inspiring read.
Here you can discover a truly lovely collection of poems celebrating friendship. With 365 on offer, you can read one a day for a year, or splurge out and just read until sated. Can I say how visually gorgeous this book is, both inside and out! Friends sits so well alongside its sister A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year, and here is where I admit to stroking the cover when I first picked it up (stroking beautiful books is absolutely, in fact more than fine in my opinion). Edited by Jane McMorland Hunter, each poem focuses on the special nature of friendship and each month is preceded by a lovely illustration by Tatiana Boyko. In her introduction she examines the different types of friendship, from marriage, to a connection with or between animals. Also contained within are some extracts from essays, novels, plays, and diaries. I found some of my favourite poets, including Christina Rossetti, William Blake, and Edward Lear, there really is the most huge variety on offer here! Friends A Poem For Every Day Of The Year called out to me, it made me smile, it is a book I will treasure, and dip into again and again. It really would make the most perfect present (alongside its sister) and I can highly recommend it.
Modern Toss: Work is Shit is a book of hilarious cartoons by Jon Link and Mick Bunnage, who together make up Modern Toss. Some of the cartoons have appeared previously in The Guardian or Private Eye but most are to be seen here for the first time. Set in the workplace, as the title suggests, and containing some bad language, they are extremely funny because they are so true, putting into words what so many of us are thinking and have wanted to say on finding ourselves in similar situations. So well-drawn too, with expressions and body language conveyed in just a few pen strokes. My very favourite takes place at the water cooler (as so much does!), where a male colleague is telling his female counterpart that he has 'been really enjoying working here since I started pretending it was some ropey reality TV show'. On a slightly more serious note, the changes brought about by the introduction of more technology and issues like sexual harassment, health and safety and stress are also addressed in a humorous way. Utterly irreverent and often absurd, these clever satirical cartoons will have you in stitches...I just wish there were more of them. Guess I'll just have to wait for the next edition. Drena Irish, A LoveReading Ambassador
Beginning with the origins of gardens, this gloriously illustrated expedition through time and place begins in ancient Mesopotamia and explores the luscious gardens of the Sumerians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians. From here we move to Ancient Greece and Rome, to the beginnings of botany and Roman topiary. The coverage of the gardens of Islam is especially gratifying with the authors’ description of them as being “among the most sublime in the world - soothing, refreshing and deeply spiritual” borne out by the accompanying photography and images of ancient art, tiles, textiles and scripts. Later we enter the complex formalised gardens of 17th century France, celebrated as expressions of “French rationalism”, and then comes an unearthing of the founding of Kew Gardens, before we discover the history and charms of gardens of the Americas, China and Japan. Written by gardening history doyenne Penelope Hobhouse and celebrated writer Ambra Edwards, this is a dazzlingly informative labour of love.
Celebrate the dawning of a new decade with the fully revised Guinness World Records 2020. To kick off the '20s, we've created an electrifying new cover and curated a record-breaking edition packaged with thousands of new, updated and classic superlatives, hundreds of never-before-seen images, and a selection of eye-opening photo-composites that put a new spin on record-breaking... A new decade means it's time for a fresh approach, so starting with our front cover, we've re-booted record-breaking with an all-new design. There's a new look inside, too, and thanks to our team of digital artists, we've created mind-blowing poster pages that will reveal some of our classic record holders in a whole new light. Our ever-expanding pool of international consultants and experts help us make sense of the world around us, so join us as we explore the vast spectrum of record-breaking in 11 superlative-packed chapters. As always, we're committed to bringing you record-breaking from the cutting edge of science, and this year we've produced a feature chapter on remarkable robots with the help of award-winning tech blogger Evan Ackerman. We've also been out on the road, adjudicating records at events as diverse as the UK National Pet Show, Skill Con in Las Vegas and BubbleFest in Wales. Guinness World Records is nothing without its dedicated record-breakers, so we've also selected the best of the newly approved claims from the 50,000 applications received from the public over the past 12 months. If you want to be one of those lucky few, look out for the Do Try This At Home challenges in the VIRAL SPORTS chapter - you might even make it into next year's edition!
Looking for the perfect birthday gift? The right book for Mother’s day, or a stocking filler for christmas? Look no further as we have the perfect selection for you.