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Looking to find out something more about the world we live in, instead of gallivanting off into the realm of fiction? Have a look at our hand-picked non-fiction choices.
In aid of Amnesty International, a celebration of the very best comedy moments from over 30 years of the Secret Policeman’s Ball. 464 pages of comedy gold from the Dead Parrot Sketch to E. L Wisty and Eddie Izzard and beyond. Like for Like ReadingBeyond a Joke: Inside the Dark Minds of Stand-Up Comedians, Bruce DessauTragically I Was an Only Twin: The Complete Peter Cook, Peter Cook
The Secret Policeman’s Balls, there have been twelve to date, have transformed the charity Amnesty International and become the platform for blisteringly effective and extremely funny satirical comedy. This book is the anthology of these twelve landmark events. From Monty Python to Beavis and Butthead, all the acts, all the scripts and all for charity.
Loneliness has become an international epidemic, but according to Dr. Amy Banks, every one of us is quite literally hardwired for close relationships. The key to achieving more satisfying relationships is to strengthen the neural pathways in our brains that encourage closeness and connection. In Four Ways to Click, Dr. Banks reveals that there are four distinct neural pathways in the brain that correspond to the four most important ingredients for healthy and satisfying relationships: CALMNESS is a result of a well-toned vagus nerve, which in turn helps temper the sympathetic nervous system. ACCEPTEDNESS, or accepting others and feeling accepted back, comes from a well-tuned dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. EMOTIONAL RESONANCE, our ability to reflect back to others that we 'get them', occurs when the mirror neuron system is properly functioning. ENERGY, the drive to be happy and close to the people we care about despite life's hardships, comes from a dopamine reward system that is connected to healthy relationships. When we are supported by good relationships, these neural pathways - and our brains as a whole - flourish. But when we are isolated or in bad relationships, other neural pathways associated with stress are activated, creating symptoms of anxiety, anger, withdrawal, and dissatisfaction. The great news? By tuning up these four neural pathways, we can feel better - and we can enhance your ability to connect with others.
WINNER OF THE 2015 COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) is the great lost scientist: more things are named after him than anyone else. There are towns, rivers, mountain ranges, the ocean current that runs along the South American coast, there's a penguin, a giant squid - even the Mare Humboldtianum on the moon. His colourful adventures read like something out of a Boy's Own story: Humboldt explored deep into the rainforest, climbed the world's highest volcanoes and inspired princes and presidents, scientists and poets alike. Napoleon was jealous of him; Simon Bolivar's revolution was fuelled by his ideas; Darwin set sail on the Beagle because of Humboldt; and Jules Verne's Captain Nemo owned all his many books. He simply was, as one contemporary put it, 'the greatest man since the Deluge'. Taking us on a fantastic voyage in his footsteps - racing across anthrax-infected Russia or mapping tropical rivers alive with crocodiles - Andrea Wulf shows why his life and ideas remain so important today.
Darwin's theory of natural selection was a monumental step in our understanding of evolution, explaining how useful adaptations are preserved over generations. However, Darwin's great idea didn't - and couldn't - tell us how those adaptations arise in the first place. On its own, can random mutation really be responsible for all the creative marvels in nature? Renowned evolutionary biologist Andreas Wagner presents the missing piece of Darwin's theory. Using cutting-edge experimental technologies, he has found that adaptations are driven by a set of laws which allow nature to discover new molecules and mechanisms in a fraction of the time that random variation would take.
Slip into a secret world, one of suggestive snippets of information and intrigue; time hop through the career of a ghostwriter who has led a life possibly more varied and interesting than some of those he writes memoirs for. This is fascinating stuff, if you don't gulp it down in one sitting this is actually a perfect book to dip in and out of, as each short chapter tells a different story and opens your eyes to a new world. Disbelief, amusement, wonderment, and an occasional tear will accompany you through the pages and leave you wanting to know more. Oh, to be able to sit at his shoulder, be a fly on the wall or even eavesdrop on some of his conversations, what a riveting experience that would be! A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... Andrew Crofts is a bit of a legend in the book world, one of the most successful ghostwriters of all-time, so when he proposed writing a volume for our popular Confessions series I jumped at the chance. And the world he opens up to us is truly fascinating. A world of film and rock stars, of troubled lives and successful ones, of ordinary people thrown into the spotlight and career politicians (plus a dictator’s wife or two) and, of course, the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of the book world. All of which is hugely entertaining, but really appealed to me about Andrew’s book was that it is essentially the story of a young man who just wanted to write. He had a dream and really went for it, with remarkable results. He is a lovely chap in real life and that comes across in these friendly, chatty pages.' - Scott Pack, publisher of The Friday Project
Shortlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award 2006. Lyrically written prose is the hallmark of Andrew Greig’s writing and this one is no exception. Mixing his passions of Scotland and golf he provides a vivid and convincing portrait of why Scotland and golf are as one. Golfers and non-golfers alike will love this book.
Why did Guy Burgess, 1st class Cambridge scholar and apparently one of the most British of characters, agree to work for a foreign power, of which he knew very little, as a student and continue to serve them as one of the Cambridge Spies for some thirty years before disappearing permanently to the Soviet Union as the net closed in? So accessible and at times reading like a who's who from 1920 to 1950, Andew Lownie’s biography of Guy Burgess draws on incredibly extensive interviews with more than a hundred people who knew Burgess personally and the discovery of hitherto secret files, to bring to life the many lives of one of Britain’s most notorious, fascinating, charming and and yet ruthless traitors. Whether you detest the idea of someone so intelligent, gifted and privileged undermining his own country in the wholesale way he did, or not, the book deserves to be read so people can see beyond the vilified stereotype and understand the effect that social, political and intellectual upheaval can have on an impressionable young man, with no moral compass and a deep-seated desire to be someone and to shape events. A message from the Author... I’ve been fascinated by the Cambridge Spy Ring since Andrew Boyle’s The Climate of Treason led to the exposure of Anthony Blunt in 1979. Why had these members of the Establishment betrayed everything to which they apparently subscribed? What did they betray and how did they get away with it? The most enigmatic, complex and , I discovered, the most important was Guy Burgess who is a gift for a biographer. I hope I have conveyed the paradoxes of Stalin’s Englishman and you enjoy the book as much as I’ve enjoyed researching and writing it. Like for Like ReadingA Spy Among Friends: Philby and the Great Betrayal, Ben MacintyreDeception: Spies, Lies and How Russia Dupes the West, Edward Lucas
With the flair for narrative and the meticulous research that readers have come to expect, Andrew Marr turns his attention to the monarch and to the monarchy, chronicling the Queen's pivotal role at the centre of the state, which is largely hidden from the public gaze, and making a strong case for the institution itself. A TV series based on this book begins on BBC1 on Monday 6th February 2012.
Winner of the Galaxy Non-Fiction Book of the Year 2010. Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 17 December 2009. The book to accompany the brilliant TV series is equally as engrossing. Andrew Marr looks at one of the most interesting and complex times of British history with the fall of the empire at the end of Victoria's reign through to the end of World War Two. Marr is passionate and knowledgeable and very accessible. A really interesting and insightful read.
December 2009 Good Housekeeping selection. As a child Andrew Martin learnt the joy of Harpic-clean toilets and hanging the dishcloth over the taps from the family’s aptly-named home-help Mrs Buffard (Andrew’s mother had died when he was little). Now he is gamely proselytizing other men into the white art of looking after the house and ironing (as a bartering tool and guilt-reliever). Run through with expert guidance (from a woman who has washed 120,000 socks and counting) to hygiene specialists and laundry mistresses, the book has a genuine thread of useful and useable tips for the man who about the house. Wit and cleaning don’t often go hand in Marigold hand but here they do.
'Ghosting' introduces us to the beguiling and divisive Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, whose autobiography the author agrees to ghostwrite with unforeseen-and unforgettable-consequences. 'The Invention of Ronnie Pinn' finds the author using the actual identity of a deceased young man to construct an entirely new one in cyberspace, leading him on a journey into the deep web's darkest realms. And 'The Satoshi Affair' chronicles the strange case of Craig Wright, the Australian web developer who may or may not be the mysterious inventor of Bitcoin, and who may or may not be willing, or even able, to reveal the truth. What does it mean when your very sense of self becomes, to borrow a phrase from the tech world, 'disrupted'? Perhaps it takes a novelist, an inventor of selves, armed with the tools of a trenchant reporter, to find an answer.
Cartoonist, Robert Crumb said; “When I come up against the Real World, I just vacillate”. Well, he can happily vacillate here for a while. This section features a whole host of books covering subjects as diverse as Mankind’s place in the Universe (Human Universe by Brian Cox), the history of the human journey to work (Rush Hour by Iain Gateley) and the real business of reading books (Bookworms, Dogears and Squashy Big Armchairs by Heather Reyes). This is the ‘Human’ section in our book lovers’ journey.
If you love reading, then you’ll find something here to fascinate you. There are new and interest-piquing passages here from science, philosophy, politics, history, religion, and all of the things that occupy the lives of humans. And we mean ALL of them. The fight against Cancer, the fight for freedom, feminism, fatality, frailty and fame. It’s too big to list. Have a browse through the titles by using our monthly recommendations past and present. We guarantee you’ll be hooked in minutes!