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.
February 2015 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. Forensics is the ultimate detective work and has a surprisingly long history with a Chinese textbook detailing forensic cases from as far back as the Thirteenth Century. Val McDermid turns from the fictional forensics to investigate the real thing, giving us a history of the science and the people who make the dead reveal their secrets. Like for Like Reading Forensic Casebook: The Science of Crime Scene Investigation, N E Genge The Mammoth Book of New CSI Forensic Science in over 30 Crime Scene Investigations, Nigel Cawthorne Click here to see Val McDermid talk about insect informants. Click here to see Val McDermid talk about genetic fingerpints and Dr Crippen Click here to see Val McDermid talk about the importance of humanity
November 2009. An emaciated young lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, is led to a freezing isolation cell in a Moscow prison, handcuffed to a bed rail, and beaten to death by eight police officers. His crime? To testify against the Russian Interior Ministry officials who were involved in a conspiracy to steal $230 million of taxes paid to the state by one of the world's most successful hedge funds. Magnitsky's brutal killing has remained uninvestigated and unpunished to this day. His farcical posthumous show-trial brought Putin's regime to a new low in the eyes of the international community. Red Notice is a searing expose of the wholesale whitewash by Russian authorities of Magnitsky's imprisonment and murder, slicing deep into the shadowy heart of the Kremlin to uncover its sordid truths. Bill Browder - the hedge fund manager who employed Magnitsky - takes us on his explosive journey from the heady world of finance in New York and London in the 1990s, through his battles with ruthless oligarchs in the turbulent landscape of post-Soviet Union Moscow, to his expulsion from Russia on Putin's orders. Browder's graphic portrait of the Russian government as a criminal enterprise wielding all the power of a sovereign state illuminates his personal transformation from financier to human rights activist, campaigning for justice for his late lawyer and friend. With fraud, bribery, corruption and torture exposed at every turn, Red Notice is a shocking but true political roller-coaster that plays out in the highest echelons of Western power.
Magnificent. (Robert Macfarlane). Our lives depend on shipping but it is a world which is largely hidden from us. In every lonely corner of every sea, through every night, every day, and every imaginable weather, tiny crews of seafarers work the giant ships which keep landed life afloat. These ordinary men live extraordinary lives, subject to dangers and difficulties we can only imagine, from hurricanes and pirates to years of confinement in hazardous, if not hellish, environments. Horatio Clare joins two container ships on their epic voyages across the globe and experiences unforgettable journeys. As the ships cross seas of history and incident, seafarers unfold the stories of their lives, and a beautiful and terrifying portrait of the oceans and their human subjects emerges. Tremendous. (The Times).
In 2010, bestselling author Kathleen Winter took a journey across the legendary Northwest Passage - connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans - alongside marine scientists, historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and curious passengers. From Greenland to Baffin Island and all along this arctic passage, Winter witnesses the new mathematics of the melting North - where polar bears mate with grizzlies, creating a new hybrid species; where the earth is on the cusp of yielding so much buried treasure that five nations stand poised to claim sovereignty of the land; and where the local Inuit population struggles to navigate the tension between taking their part in the new global economy and defending their traditional way of life. Throughout the journey she also learns much from her fellow travellers - about the original expeditions, how to survive in a wasteland, Inuit society, the real perils of climate change - and guides us through her own personal odyssey, emigrating from England to Canada as a child and discovering both what was lost and what was gained as a result of that journey. In breathtaking prose charged with vivid descriptions of the land and its people, Kathleen Winter's Boundless is a haunting and powerful story: a homage to the ever-evolving and magnetic power of the North.
'I stood on the beach truly alone for the first time. I would not see another person for sixty days. I was on an uninhabited tropical island and I had nothing with me to help me survive. No food, no equipment, no knife and not even any clothes. All I had was my camera kit so that I could intimately record my self-inflicted sentence.' What if you were abandoned on a tropical island with no food or water, no basic equipment, not even a knife, and no clothes - could you survive? Extreme adventurer Ed Stafford isn't sure, but he's about to find out as he pushes himself to the limit in this gripping and inspirational test of human survival. For sixty days, with only his explorer's instinct and a video camera to record his experiences, Ed faces the ultimate feat of physical and mental endurance. He confronts blazing heat and brutal loneliness; eats snails to escape starvation and battles illness, dehydration and fatigue in what is his most dangerous, and at times life-threatening, challenge to date. This epic story of survival, full of exhilarating highs and devastating lows, is told with raw emotion and captivating honesty. This book will leave you amazed and exhausted.
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER - AS HEARD ON BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK NOW WITH A NEW CHAPTER - Facebook.com/WhereMemoriesGo Scottish broadcaster and author Sally Magnusson cared with her two sisters for their mother Mamie during many years of living with dementia. Sad and funny, wise and honest, this deeply intimate account of insidious losses and unexpected joys is also a call to arms that challenges us all to think differently. This book began as an attempt to hold on to my witty, storytelling mother with the one thing I had to hand. Words. Then, as the enormity of the social crisis my family was part of began to dawn, I wrote with the thought that other forgotten lives might be nudged into the light along with hers. Dementia is one of the greatest social, medical, economic, scientific, philosophical and moral challenges of our times. I am a reporter. It became the biggest story of my life. - Sally Magnusson Regarded as one of the finest journalists of her generation, Mamie Baird Magnusson's whole life was a celebration of words - words that she fought to retain in the grip of a disease which is fast becoming the scourge of the 21st century. Married to writer and broadcaster Magnus Magnusson, they had five children of whom Sally is the eldest. As well as chronicling the anguish, the frustrations and the unexpected laughs and joys that she and her sisters experienced while accompanying their beloved mother on the long dementia road for eight years until her death in 2012, Sally Magnusson seeks understanding from a range of experts and asks penetrating questions about how we treat older people, how we can face one of the greatest social, medical, economic and moral challenges of our times, and what it means to be human. An extraordinary and deeply personal memoir, a manifesto and a call to arms, in one searingly beautiful narrative.
One bright day in December 2001, sixty-two-year-old Germaine Greer found herself confronted by an irresistible challenge in the shape of sixty hectares of dairy farm, one of many in south-east Queensland that, after a century of logging, clearing and downright devastation, had been abandoned to their fate. She didn't think for a minute that by restoring the land she was saving the world. She was in search of heart's ease. Beyond the acres of exotic pasture grass and soft weed and the impenetrable curtains of tangled Lantana canes there were Macadamias dangling their strings of unripe nuts, and Black Beans with red and yellow pea flowers growing on their branches . and the few remaining White Beeches, stupendous trees up to forty metres in height, logged out within forty years of the arrival of the first white settlers. To have turned down even a faint chance of bringing them back to their old haunts would have been to succumb to despair. Once the process of rehabilitation had begun, the chance proved to be a dead certainty. When the first replanting shot up to make a forest and rare caterpillars turned up to feed on the leaves of the new young trees, she knew beyond doubt that at least here biodepletion could be reversed. Greer describes herself as an old dog who succeeded in learning a load of new tricks, inspired and rejuvenated by her passionate love of Australia and of Earth, most exuberant of small planets.
Join historian Suzannah Lipscomb as she reveals the hidden secrets of palaces, castles, theatres and abbeys to uncover the stories of Tudor England. From the famous palace at Hampton Court where dangerous court intrigue was rife, to less well-known houses, such as Anne Boleyn's childhood home at Hever Castle or Tutbury Castle where Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned, follow in the footsteps of the Tudors in the places that they knew. In the corridors of power and the courtyards of country houses we meet the passionate but tragic Kateryn Parr, Henry VIII's last wife, Lady Jane Grey the nine-day queen, and hear how Sir Walter Raleigh planned his trip to the New World. This lively and engaging book reveals the rich history of the Tudors and paints a vivid and captivating picture of what it would have been like to live in Tudor England.
A sweeping political, social, military and cultural overview of the United Kingdom on the eve, and then the day, of the greatest battle fought by British arms. Midnight, Sunday, 17 June 1815. There was no town in England that had not sent its soldiers, hardly a household that was not holding its breath, not a family, as Byron put it, that would escape 'havoc's tender mercies' at Waterloo, and yet at the same time life inevitably went on as normal. As Wellington's rain-sodden army retreated for the final, decisive battle, men and women in England were still going to the theatre and science lectures, still working in the fields and the factories, still reading and writing books and sermons, still painting their pictures and sitting in front of Lord Elgin's marbles as if almost five thousand did not already lie dead. After ten hours of savage fighting, Waterloo would be littered with the bodies of something like 47,000 dead and wounded. Meanwhile, as the day unfolded, a whole nation, countryside and town, artisan and aristocrat, was brought together by war. From Samuel Johnson Prize shortlisted author David Crane, Went the Day Well is a breathtaking portrait of Britain in those moments. Moving from England to the battle and back again this vivid, stunning freeze-frame of a country on the single most celebrated day in its modern history shows Crane's full range in tracing the endless, overlapping connections between people's lives. From private tragedies, disappointed political hopes, and public discontents to grandiloquent public celebrations and monuments, it answers Wellington's call as he rallied his troops to 'Think what England is thinking of us now'.
Author and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin tackles the problems of twenty-first century information overload in his New York Times bestselling book The Organized Mind. The Organized Mind is smart, important, and as always, exquisitely written . (Daniel Gilbert, Harvard University, author of Stumbling on Happiness). Overwhelmed by demands on your time? Baffled by the sheer volume of data? You're not alone: modern society is in a state of information overload. The Organized Mind investigates this phenomenon and the effect it has on us, analysing how and why our brains are struggling to keep up with the demands of the digital age. The twenty-first century sees us drowning under emails, forever juggling six tasks at once and trying to make complex decisions ever more quickly. Using a combination of academic research and examples from daily life, neuroscientist and bestselling author Daniel Levitin explains how to take back control of your life. This book will take you through every aspect of modern life, from healthcare to online dating to raising kids, showing that the secret to success is always organization. Levitin's research is surprising, powerful and will change the way you see the world. It's time to learn why there's no such thing as multitasking, why email is so addictive and why all successful people need a junk drawer. In a world where information is power, The Organized Mind holds the key to harnessing that information and making it work for you. Dr. Daniel J. Levitin has a PhD in Psychology, training at Stanford University Medical School and UC Berkeley. He is the author of the No. 1 bestseller This Is Your Brain On Music (Dutton, 2006), published in nineteen languages, and The World in Six Songs (Dutton, 2008) which hit the bestseller lists in its first week of release. Currently he is a James McGill Professor of Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience and Music at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.
Who invented beds? When did we start cleaning our teeth? How old are wine and beer? Which came first: the toilet seat or toilet paper? What was the first clock? Every day, from the moment our alarm clock wakes us in the morning until our head hits our pillow at night, we all take part in rituals that are millennia old. Structured around one ordinary day, A MILLION YEARS IN A DAY reveals the astonishing origins and development of the daily practices we take for granted. In this gloriously entertaining romp through human history Greg Jenner explores the gradual and often unexpected evolution of our daily routines. This is not a story of politics, wars or great events, instead Greg Jenner has scoured Roman rubbish bins, Egyptian tombs and Victorian sewers to bring us the most intriguing, surprising and sometimes downright silly nuggets from our past.
For centuries it was believed that the price paid for the brain's complexity was its inability to recover from damage or illness. Norman Doidge's The Brain's Way of Healing turns this belief on its head, and explains that this very sophistication is the source of a unique kind of healing. Doidge shows the latest advances in neuroplasticity, the discovery that the brain can change its structure and function in response to mental experience. He describes natural, non-invasive avenues into the brain provided by the forms of energy around us - light, sound, vibration, movement - which pass through our senses and our bodies to awaken the brain's own healing capacities without producing unpleasant side effects. The Brain's Way of Healing discusses a series of near-miracle recoveries: patients told they would never improve have years of chronic pain alleviated or damage from debilitating strokes undone, and symptoms of multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, brain injury, autism or learning disorders are reversed. It also shows how the risk of dementia can be lowered by 60 per cent with easy-to-follow instructions. Through stories that present cutting-edge science with practical real-world applications, Doidge illustrates the principles of neuroplastic healing that we can all use to improve our brain's performance and health. Norman Doidge, M.D., is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and New York Times bestselling author. His book The Brain That Changes Itself was chosen by the Dana Foundation's journal Cerebrum as the best general book ever written on the brain. He is on the faculty of the University of Toronto's Department of Psychiatry as well as the Research Faculty at Columbia University's Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research in New York City. He lives in Toronto.
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!