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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.
An eye-opening wander (and sometimes adrenaline ride) down memory lane for a life-long hillwalker and mountaineer. John D. Burns has spent forty years trekking and climbing mountains, he grew up in industrial Merseyside and escaped to the wilds as often as he could. He opens by admitting a mistake that could have cost lives, his raw honesty hits home, this isn’t a playground. In his early years he learns through near catastrophes and calamitous events that he needs proper equipment and to never take the outdoors for granted. He basically learns through his mistakes - TAKE NOTE! As the author grows more experienced he later becomes a part of the rescue team and starts to really become aware of the beauty around him. The majority of this memoir runs in a straight line through time, occasionally though it deviates, and sometimes stories just stop, to carry on at a later point. This memoir is more about the thrills and escapades, than the beauty of where he is and yet that joy is also there. I would recommend reading The Last Hillwalker followed by his fictional Sky Dance, as once you have finished both, you get more of measure of this man. A fascinating read.
Some people are born to be a certain thing. And I was a born fighter. At the age of eight, Michael Bisping began his training in martial arts. By the time he was 15, he was fighting in his first no holds barred competition. When he turned professional and joined the UFC he was sure about one thing: only a world championship title would do. A British underdog in the greatest fighting championship on earth, he spent the next decade winning some of the championship's most sensational contests to achieve his dream, becoming the first-ever British UFC world champion in 2016. From his boyhood years learning to fight in the gyms of Lancashire to his most shocking clashes in the cage, in Quitters Never Win Bisping tells the raw and unfiltered story behind his legendary career for the first time, including his greatest wins, his fiercest rivals and the harrowing injury that forced him into retirement. As audacious, entertaining and as candid as the man himself, it's a backstage pass to one of the world's most extreme sports and an unbridled account of what it really takes to become a champion, from sleeping in his own car to reaching the summit of the world's fastest-growing sport.
Brought to you by Penguin. 'Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.' In August 2018 a 15-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, decided not to go to school one day. Her actions ended up sparking a global movement for action against the climate crisis, inspiring millions of pupils to go on strike for our planet, forcing governments to listen, and earning her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. This book brings you Greta in her own words. Collecting her speeches that have made history across Europe, from the UN to mass street protests, No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference is a rallying cry for why we must all wake up and fight to protect the living planet, no matter how powerless we feel. Our future depends upon it.
Founded on fables, feminism and reconnecting with the land, this is a strident call for women to re-root themselves in nature in order to take flight in themselves. “The world which men have made isn’t working. Something needs to change. To change the world, we women need first to change ourselves and then we need to change the stories we tell about who we are.” This statement perhaps best encapsulates the core and purpose of this book: to expose how centuries of patriarchy and humanity’s disengagement from nature has been to the detriment of women, and to offer insights into how to change this status quo. Throughout, the author shares many personal experiences and her own “rewilding” process, with examples from other women too. Drawing on ancient mythology and ways of life, especially those of the Celtic tradition, she interweaves ancient wisdom – stories of The Selkie’s New Skin, Ceridwen and the Cauldron of Transformation, and The Lady of Llyn-y-Fan Fach, to name a few - with contemporary contexts to create a richly interesting perspective on other ways of living.
“What is important about money is that it is a key institution in human societies…Yet it is very hard to grasp, like a spectre it slips away, shrouded in mystery.” Drawing on the disciplines of sociology, anthropology and economics, and with a fresh feminist and green perspective on financial systems, this book de-shrouds money of its mystery. Beginning at the beginning, it reveals that contrary to commonly held views, money did not somehow naturally develop from bartering and exchanging goods or services. Rather it is a social and political construct, inextricably woven into the social and political systems in which it is used. The author explores the role rulers and elites play in the history of money, and debunks the notion that money is in short supply, explaining that there is, in fact, a magic money tree. More precisely, “There are (at least) two: banks and states”. She makes compelling arguments for “democratising money.” For example, “women’s unpaid domestic labour could be recognised; care provision could be seen as a major source of employment. Environmental strategies could be funded.” The author states in her introduction that, “Challenging myths about money at one level destroys its magic, but opens up its radical potential.” This astute, clear, timely book certainly will certainly open readers’ minds to radically different ways of thinking about and connecting with money.
This vibrant visual voyage around the world shares the inspiring stories of visionaries who are transforming lives by building a sharing economy, from global milk-sharers, bike-sharers and food-sharers, to empowering football projects in Mumbai. Documenting the endeavours of 200 change-makers whose innovations are changing lives and communities around the world, this informative, photo-rich compendium is as rich in scope and ambition as the projects it covers. Before delving into individual case studies, the book explores the concept of the sharing economy, explaining how it emerged from the global economic crisis of 2008-2009 and the resulting “need to do more with less”. The Sharing Economy is the “system that makes the Sharing possible. It’s how we will change the world”, and that’s exactly what the individuals featured here are doing. The range of projects is staggering and demonstrates how great things can grow from small-scale personal passions, from the Village-Sharer in Mumbai whose social enterprise project improves livelihoods through community tourism, to the US Food Justice Campaigner, whose community farm is founded on the concepts of fairness, sharing and sustainability. The scope of this approach is nothing short of revolutionary, and portrayed with uplifting verve in this innovative collaboration between a global Sharing Economy expert and an award-winning photographer.
The moment I held Rock Pool for the first time, I sensed I was in for a real treat. The book (hardback) feels like an item of quality. It has a beautifully designed and illustrated front cover, a sturdy jacket, and is printed on very good quality paper. Credit must also go to Myfanwy Vernon-Hunt for the design, which is first class. The only remaining question, would the content match up? Rock Pool is a personal account of a life spent exploring our coastal rocks, our beaches, and the life therein. It’s not, as I first believed, a reference or identification book. To some extent, this relieved me as I am not – or I wasn’t – a beach or rock pool enthusiast. That said, I am a diver and I share the author’s love of nature, and of life at our coastal edge. There’s little I enjoy more than donning a wet suit and air tank to then spend an hour or so in shallow waters exploring the nooks and crannies of the rocks. So, did content match cover? Yes, very much. Heather Buttivant’s writing style is polished and engaging. With consummate ease, she leads you, her reader, into her world, shows it to you and helps you enjoy it and learn from it. Her infectious enthusiasm shines through every chapter, every page. Rock Pool is told, with considerable originality, through the medium of twenty-four creatures likely to be seen between the tides. It made me smile, many times. If I had one, very small, comment, it is that a few of the many colour photographs were not high definition. That said, this in no way detracted from my overall enjoyment of Rock Pool - and the illustrations are excellent! Heather Buttivant maintains a blog called Cornish Rock Pools. I’ve signed up to it, and I’ve every intention of attending one of her guided tours. If it’s as good as her book, it will also prove to be a great experience.
Why do some people get to achieve aspirations that were unattainable for their parents while others don’t seem to get the opportunities they deserve? That is the critical, far-reaching question at the heart of this energetic, enlightening book. Based on fascinating – and often heart-rending - case studies of UK citizens, it explores to what extent children are offered opportunities to attain widely-held aspirations (to have a job you love, your own home and a rewarding relationship/family), what barriers are in their way, and whether decision-makers are truly prepared to take measures to remove those barriers. Through personal experience and interviews with a diverse set of individuals, the author notes that most children from working class backgrounds have at best a couple of hours of career guidance. People stumble into jobs, or end up down career cul-de-sacs they should never have taken. The findings don’t make for happy reading overall. While a working class kid might break through one barrier and get to university on merit, on arrival “the cultural codes of the elite are opaque and baffling”, and it’s often the same experience for those who break into traditionally middle class professions. Indeed, the author discovers that today people from middle-income backgrounds are more likely to slide down the scale. So what’s the solution to this depressing state of affairs? The author notes several key factors that need to be addressed. For example, social desegregation in educational institutions: “schools should be required to ensure that their intake is at least approximately reflective of the population of the surrounding local authority.” Another key factor would be to take away “opportunity tolls” i.e. children not being able to attend certain schools because of uniform costs, or jobseekers being unable to afford to travel to interviews. This engaging book makes for sobering reading, but also offers hope through the author’s ideas for rebalancing society to benefit the many.
Winner of the Costa Biography Award 2007.Costa Book Awards 2007 Judges' comment: "Incredible scholarship, lightly worn. This biography opens up the previously hidden secrets of Stalin's youth. An amazing story, exceptionally well told." The background to what made the man a monster. Born in poverty, a poet, trainee priest, and fanatical revolutionary, thrilling stuff.
Northern Soul isn't just a music genre, it's a way of life and one that intensely encompasses and overpowers those that fall for it's high energy 'stomping' - dancing. Young Soul Rebels is part personal autobiography of the acclaimed music journalist and presenter Stuart Cosgrove, part biography of the music, fans, DJs, venues and musicians, and part social history. Every song, person, place and event is richly and significantly described. It's passionately and emotionally written with a depth of information that is expertly woven into the story, which informs but never gets in the way of the drive of it's narrative. You can't but help to want to play Northern Soul music whilst reading Stuart's excellent book. The true test for any great book on music.The book journeys through the defining years of Northern Soul - the 1960s through to the 1980s (and it's later rebirth) and it's backdrop is the decline and decay of the industrial north of England. But against this is the driving power of Northern Soul music.It kept the disposed alive, awake and stomping.At the heart of Northern Soul is the the hunt for that mega rare seven inch single, with an addictive beat and heartfelt lyric and then the pilgrimage to the 'all nighters' in jam-packed, drug-fuelled, sweaty clubs. To say that you had to be obsessive to be a true Northern Soul fan is an understatement and it's a music genre that those that love it want kept secret and underground, even to this day. The beauty is, for a lot of people, this book really shines a light on a time, people and music that most people know little of.It's time to go searching for the young soul rebels.' ~ Anthony Keates A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... ‘One of the most exciting books I've worked on in years. Okay, the most exciting book. Stuart was a joy to work with. He buzzes with ideas and infectious energy, and this jumps off the page. Memoir, true crime, music biog, social history, political history: you've got the lot. This will become the bible for northern soul fans.’ Alison Rae, Managing Editor, Polygon
Northern Soul isn't just a music genre, it's a way of life and one that intensely encompasses and overpowers those that fall for it's high energy 'stomping' - dancing. Young Soul Rebels is part personal autobiography of the acclaimed music journalist and presenter Stuart Cosgrove, part biography of the music, fans, DJs, venues and musicians, and part social history. Every song, person, place and event is richly and significantly described. It's passionately and emotionally written with a depth of information that is expertly woven into the story, which informs but never gets in the way of the drive of it's narrative. You can't but help to want to play Northern Soul music whilst reading Stuart's excellent book. The true test for any great book on music.The book journeys through the defining years of Northern Soul - the 1960s through to the 1980s (and it's later rebirth) and it's backdrop is the decline and decay of the industrial north of England. But against this is the driving power of Northern Soul music.It kept the disposed alive, awake and stomping.At the heart of Northern Soul is the the hunt for that mega rare seven inch single, with an addictive beat and heartfelt lyric and then the pilgrimage to the 'all nighters' in jam-packed, drug-fuelled, sweaty clubs. To say that you had to be obsessive to be a true Northern Soul fan is an understatement and it's a music genre that those that love it want kept secret and underground, even to this day. The beauty is, for a lot of people, this book really shines a light on a time, people and music that most people know little of.It's time to go searching for the young soul rebels.' ~ Anthony Keates June 2016 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. A 'Piece of Passion' from the publisher... ‘One of the most exciting books I've worked on in years. Okay, the most exciting book. Stuart was a joy to work with. He buzzes with ideas and infectious energy, and this jumps off the page. Memoir, true crime, music biog, social history, political history: you've got the lot. This will become the bible for northern soul fans.’ Alison Rae, Managing Editor, Polygon
Capturing the same kind of excitement and action that a novel by Patrick O’Brien might, this book tells the stories of the young men, and boys really, who fought in the Napoleonic wars. Unbelievable that boys as young as 8 would be sent to war but here, with many first hand letters and accounts to back this up, is the story of these brave young sailors.
A joyous celebration through Quentin's uniquely original illustrations of the art of ageing. A delightful little picture book to share with any child, but parents and grandparents will delight in its contents too, so in that respect it will make an ideal companion to the bookshelf in the loo as well as the nursery bookshelf! Whether it's making music, keeping fit or looking back on life, Quentin Blake, one of the world's favourite illustrators, shows just how much fun growing old can be ~ Julia Eccleshare
I wanted to be a unicorn. I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to be an astronaut. But the thing I really wanted to be, more than anything else, was a little less like me. It was only recently that I realised not wanting to be me was at the heart of every dumb decision I ever made. And so now I am writing this book containing all the life lessons I wish someone had taught me. A book for the teenage girl in me. And for every teenage girl out there. Because the most powerful thing you can be when you grow up is yourself. Frank and fearless, You Got This openly explores topics like self-respect, body image, masturbation and mental health, making it the perfect companion for young women.
If you want your personal sense of superiority punctured (and we all have one) then David McRaney is the man to do it. A follow-up to his You Are Not So Smart, here are more revelations into the not-so-perfect human brain and the traps it leads us into. You Can Beat Your Brain gives us some ammunition in fighting back to become the cool, calm and incredible brainiac we truly are. It’s both fun and fascinating to read but there is a serious side to all this, if we realised how our perceptions mislead us, life would be infinitely better for us and the planet with less aggression and all-round dumbness. Like for Like Reading The Invisible Gorilla and other Ways Our Intuition Deceives Us, Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules our Lives, Leonard Mlodinow
'You are the music / While the music lasts' T.S. Eliot, The Four Quartets Do babies remember music from the womb? Can classical music increase your child's IQ? Is music good for productivity? Can it aid recovery from illness and injury? And what is going on in your brain when Ultravox's 'Vienna', Schoenberg's Verklarte Nacht or Dizzee Rascal's 'Bonkers' transports you back to teenage years? In a brilliant new work that will delight music lovers of every persuasion, music psychologist Victoria Williamson examines our relationship with music across the whole of a lifetime. Along the way she reveals the amazing ways in which music can physically reshape our brains, explores how 'smart music listening' can improve cognitive performance, and considers the perennial puzzle of what causes 'earworms'. Requiring no specialist musical or scientific knowledge, this upbeat, eye-opening book reveals as never before the extent of the universal language of music that lives deep inside us all.
For those who think they are in control this is a real counterblast showing just how irrational and delusional our brains can be. Loads of mindboggling examples, anecdotes and research keep this entertaining, informative – and quite scary book zipping along. Like for Like Reading The Magic of Reality: How Do We Know What’s Really True, Richard Dawkins Thinking: Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
In You Are Here, bestselling author and celebrated astronaut Chris Hadfield creates a virtual orbit of Earth, giving us the really big picture: this is our home, from space. The millions of us who followed Hadfield's news-making Twitter feed from the ISS thought we knew what we were looking at when we first saw his photos. But we may have caught the beauty and missed the full meaning. Now, through photographs - many of which have never been shared - Hadfield unveils a fresh and insightful look at our planet. He sees astonishing detail and importance in these images, not just because he's spent months in space but because his in-depth knowledge of geology, geography, and meteorology allows him to reveal the photos' mysteries. Featuring Hadfield's favourite images, You Are Here is divided by continent and represents one (idealized) orbit of the ISS. This planetary photo tour - surprising, playful, thought-provoking, and visually delightful - provides a breathtakingly beautiful perspective on the wonders of the world. You Are Here opens a singular window on our planet, using remarkable photographs to illuminate the history and consequences of human settlement, the magnificence of newly uncovered landscapes, and the power of the natural forces shaping our world and the future of our species.
Forget scarves and bobble hats. Here are some woollen wonders that will really blow your mind...For the last four years, Gabrielle Grillo has been scouring the web for the most bizarre knitted items she can find. In this hysterically funny book, she has collected the very best of her finds. From a knitted Christmas turkey cosy to woolly vomit, they have to be seen to be believed. After you've read WTF Knits and stitched your sides back together, you might just be inspired to dust off your needles, dig out your balls of wool and knit something downright odd yourself.
As one of the UK's leading forensic scientists, Mike Silverman has helped to identify and convict dozens of murderers, rapists, armed robbers, burglars and muggers, thanks to the evidence they - or their victims - unwittingly left behind at the scenes of their crimes. Mike Silverman started his career in the days when fingerprints were still kept on card files and DNA profiling was just a pipe dream, so Written in Blood is more than just a casebook - it is also a definitive history of the development of forensic science over the course of the past thirty-five years. From collecting blood samples at gangland executions to investigating forensic science failings, including in the murders of Rachel Nickell and Damilola Taylor, Mike Silverman's unique career provides a fascinating insight into the ways forensic science is used to help solve real-life crimes. Packed with genuine crime scene photographs and original sketches, Written in Blood is the ultimate insider's account of the fascinating world of forensic science.
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!