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.
Following on from the 2010 Book of Dogs comes the same unflinching and ruthless view of cats. Fat, ‘catwalk’ skinny, flat, philosophical and even schizophrenic - none escape the illustrators unique style.
Given Sir Alan’s public face I was prepared to be annoyed and at odds with his views but found so much sense and refreshing lack of bullshit in The Way I See It that I’ve become rather a fan. His personal recollections of starting in business, failures as well as successes underline a lot of what has changed in modern Britain. The dead hand of Health and Safety, ambulance chasing lawyers, pap journalism and government bureaucracy stifling creativity. But hard work, conviction and determination can still win out. Highly motivating reading, highly enjoyable to read and a real insight into Alan Sugar himself. Like for Like Reading:Top Man: How Philip Green Built his High Street Empire, Stewart LansleyBusiness Stripped Bare: Adventures of a Global Entrepreneur, Richard Branson
May 2012 Travel Book of the Month. A brilliant, charming, engaging look at the sometimes weird world of the bicycle and bicyclist. The people who ride them (including over water), the people who build them (the revered magicians), in fact a huge cast of colourful characters and stories. A must for any fan of pedal power.
Chris Yates, one of Britain's most insightful and lyrical writers, raises his gaze from his beloved rivers and ponds and takes us on a mesmerizing tour of the British countryside. Last November, the sudden appearance of a hundred wintering ravens in a wood in Cranborne Chase, where I have lived for twenty-five years without seeing more than a few solitary specimens, reminded me that there is always something ready to flame up again in the landscape, just when it seemed the fire had gone out. In Crystal Wood we accompany Chris Yates on the most magical of journeys into the very heart of the British countryside. His acute observation of the natural world and ability to transcend it exquisitely sets Chris apart from his contemporaries. Time slows down for a deeper intimacy with nature, and through Chris's writing we hear every rustle of a leaf, every call of a bird. He widens the power of our imagination, heightening our senses and revealing beauty in the smallest details.
A reissue of an old favourite in this highly popular nostalgic genre, taking us back to a time when district nurses were a common sight and cycled the streets taking care of patients in their own homes. Patricia Jordan was born in Ireland and came to England to train – a long, hard process in the 1940’s. She them became a district nurse, and now shares her experiences of patients and fellow professionals in her thoroughly likeable autobiography.Like for Like ReadingYes Sister, No Sister: My Life as a Trainee Nurse in 1950’s Yorkshire, Jennifer CraigNurse on Call: Tales of a Black Country District Nurse, Edith Cotterill
April 2012 Travel Book of the Month. As an eclectic a collection of travel pieces as you could wish – and the impressionistic style suits the subject material like hand to glove. Read my favourite of all his pieces on Albania and in 9 pages A A Gill has painted a vivid picture of Albania, its people and history. This is not a see-everything, do-everything travel collection but Gill will tell you far more in 2 pages than you’d think possible making this book’s 288 pages go by in a flash. A A Gill fans will go for the name but the cover depicting him in Arctic gear looking like Ranulph Fiennes’ younger brother does little to hint at the diversity and colour to be found in this collection. Like for Like ReadingThe Discovery of France, Graham RobbPanther Soup: A European Journey in War & Peace, John Gimlette
If you’ve ever kept a few chickens then you’ll know where Alice Walker is coming from. How different they all are - from the bubbling extrovert happy to sit on your shoulder to the lowering introvert, the bully, the hapless drudge - but whatever their personality, they present you with eggs, manure for the garden and as well as eating your favourite plants they do at least hoover up the insect pests. In short, chickens are a blessing, a joy to know and through their lives we can meditate on our human existence, their basic needs for food and shelter offsetting human complications and watching them brings relaxation, balm for the soul. They also bring back memories and it was the memories of a happy childhood in which chickens were a large part that spurred Alice Walker to keep them once again later in life. Her memories are mixed with reflections, enjoying the contentment that happy chickens can bring, how caring for them appeals to our nurturing natures and how grateful we must be for the gifts they bring. Like for Like Reading:Hen and the Art of Chicken Maintenance, Martin GurdonChicken and Egg: How I Came to Love My Backyard Chickens – with 120 recipes, Janice Cole
April 2012 Travel Book of the Month. A travel miscellany with Paul Theroux’s best pieces interspersed with his choice of the best travel writing. Travellers' tales new and old – from novice to expert.Like for Like ReadingOxTales: Meetings with Remarkable Travellers, Ruth PadelThe Smell of the Continent: The British Discover Europe, James Munson & Richard Mullen
Military archaeology is amongst the newest academic disciplines and is also one of the fastest growing. The BBC TV series Dig WWII will be using this discipline to examine some of the most compelling stories of the Battle of the Atlantic, the Battle of Britain and the Battle for Europe to provide fresh insights and understanding into our dramatic fight for survival. There will be perilous dives onto a tank graveyard and a sunken U-boat; the recovery of a crashed Spitfire from a Northern Irish bog; and an exploration of the tunnels and bunkers on a D-Day beach. Each story has personal testimony from veterans who were there. The series is made by the same team who made Dig 1940 for BBC1, which achieved nearly 5 million viewers for its opening episode. Author Jean Hood looks into all these stories, revealing the scientific breakthroughs, such as DNA profiling that has allowed families to identify loved ones, as well as the dangers inherent in diving to 130 metres and digging in a peat bog, while providing broader discussion on the themes in the programmes within a wider framework of the war in Europe.
Alistair Darling's knowledge and understanding make this not only a unique perspective on the events that rocked global capitalism, but a vital and fascinating historical document. Back from the Brink is also a gripping and immediate account of an unprecedented global financial catastrophe.
April 2012 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. The classic and much-loved memoir by Hannah Hauxwell about life in remote Yorkshire in the 1970s. Seasons of My Life is an enduring and affectionate look at rural life in a world where everything is changing. Louise Weir from Lovereading on her time with Hannah... Hannah Hauxwell was a truly remarkable woman who for years and years lived deep in the Dales with just her animals for company living a incredibly hard existence with no electricity. In the 1980s she was discovered and some of you may well remember her being introduced to the outside world for the first time. She visited London and she even went on a Grand Tour of Europe complete with TV cameras. I certainly remember her as I worked in the publishing house that first published her memoir Seasons of My Life back in 1989 and I was lucky enough to take Hannah on tour around the UK. She was an intensely private person but incredibly well read and talked animatedly about her extraordinary life and lifestyle. My time with her was certainly one of the most memorable author tours for me and I’m thrilled to see this new edition of her memoir being published now for a new generation of readers to enjoy. It is staggering to think that less than 25 years ago Hannah was living a hand to mouth existence with her livestock on an income of just £280 a year. If you remember Hannah then do pass on her story of rural life not so very long ago!
David Jenkins is The Alphabet Traveller. Having previously made an 85 000 mile journey to visit all countries in the world whose names are made up of four letters, David is now off to explore 12 countries which all have ten letters to their name. He heads to Bangladesh in search of the elusive Bengal tiger but disaster strikes quickly and worse is to follow. After a bungled attempt to break into a Luxembourg jail he sets off to cross the Stans of Central Asia by horse, jeep and bicycle only to stumble upon the world's most notorious heroin trail. Assaulted by customs officials and hi-jacked at gunpoint, he manages to escape across the mountains and make it safely over the Steppes in a Lada full of vodka. To a land of oil, pelicans and naked men beating themselves with branches. He follows the Silk Road and the spread of Islam to the deserts of Mauritania and makes the rail journey of a lifetime through the mountains of tiny Montenegro. In the sparkling Indian Ocean he uncovers the sinister side of the seductive Seychelles, finds himself at the helm of an aircraft over the islands of Mozambique and takes a razor attack in his stride to enjoy the wacky wildlife of magical Madagascar...David Jenkins hitchhiked to France the day he left school and has trotted the globe ever since. He has waited tables in Switzerland, sprayed crops in Israel, crewed yachts around the Pacific and cleaned urinals at Sydney Cricket Ground. He became a professor in Japan and then ran a business school in Rio de Janeiro before setting up his own company delivering newspapers across Africa. Now based in Cambridge, David's first book The Four-Letter Countries, was widely featured in the national media.
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!