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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.
Thoughtfully, in fact beautifully handled, this is an absolutely fascinating look at the early life of Audrey Hepburn as she lived through the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Ask me to name my favourite Movie Stars and Audrey Hepburn would appear. I have watched her films and read biographies detailing her life, she made a difference both with her art and her humanitarian work. This book takes you to the time before she became a movie star, a time that has previously been invented and misinterpreted in accounts. In Dutch Girl, the detailed historical explanation of the Second World War flows over and around Audrey, allowing you to see just why and how she became the woman so much admired around the world. The foreword by Audrey’s son Luca Dotti actually tells you everything you need to know about this biography, he thanks author Robert Matzen, calling the book a true gift. The preface tells you a little about the meticulous research carried out for Dutch Girl, Robert Matzen says that his investigation took many twists and turns and also provided surprising answers. He has located quotes from Audrey about the Second World War, has included new interviews, and used archives to form a detailed, compelling account. The photos are fascinating and act as a visual support to what is already a vivid biography. Entering this book enables you to touch history, to feel the effects of the war as it would have affected Audrey. If you’re just looking for glitz and glamour you most certainly won’t find it here. Dutch Girl is the most compassionate and wise book, it takes you beyond and behind the image of the Hollywood star, to what lay beneath.
At once personal, politically-charged, moving and witty, John Chick Donohue’s The Greatest Beer Run Ever is an engaging account of a Vietnam vet’s tracking down of his former comrades-in-arms to bring them a beer from home. Living up to its title, it really does read like the greatest beer run ever, and will have readers interested in the human side of history laughing, crying and thinking in equal measure. Like so many of life’s momentous ideas, a night in a bar prompts ex-Marine and merchant seaman Chick Donohue to hatch his plan to return to Vietnam. But unlike most bar-based ideas, Chick actually goes through with his. Armed with a list of names, a rucksack of beer, and hoping for a sprinkling of Irish luck, he sets off, though he admits that “I still had my doubts that I could pull it off.” This fascinating, enthralling account sees the author having to use his gift of the gab to press on past check-points before tackling multiple dangers and coming face to face with unexpected realities when he reaches Vietnam - realities that bring him to a big realisation: “I began to see that the protesters, however disrespectfully, were at least trying to stop this madness…If there is one thing that I learned as a result of my Vietnam experience it’s that government - all governments for that matter - are not to be trusted. Many politicians lie when it serves their interests.” This is tasty food for thought with universal resonance.
‘After the Wall Came Down’ is a well-researched account of how the British Army has changed, developed and adapted to the highly variable demands placed on it during the last 30 years. From regular deployment on the peace-keeping role in Northern Ireland to dealing with genocide in the Balkans, from rescue missions such as Sierra Leone through to wholesale war in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. Never before has so much been asked of these young men and women. When our civil support services struggle, such as during flood, Fire Brigade strikes or the Foot and Mouth outbreak, it is the military our political leaders turn to in times of crisis. This book explains why we, the public, sleep soundly at night in the knowledge there are people out there who keep us safe. Andrew Richards provides a thoroughly absorbing account made all the more interesting due to the wide ranging contributions of men and women who were there, did the jobs, experienced the changes and often have the scars to prove it. An excellent read.
Vanessa Bolosier’s Sunshine Kitchen is one of those rare kinds of cook books that can truly transform your cooking habits. It’s a life-filled, love-filled feast of recipes you’ll be proud to make and delighted to taste - recipes that are sure to become firm favourites. What’s more, it’s so beautifully-presented, you’ll want to give it pride of place on your shelves, or gift it to someone special - it’s a blast of sunshine in food (and book) form. Born in Guadeloupe, and half-Guadeloupian and half-Martiniquan, Bolosier brings a wealth of knowledge, passion and charm to the table. The book’s introduction is fabulously informative, explaining that Caribbean Creole food is a melting pot, “one of the first fusion foods, drawing influences from trading and cultural mixing since the 16th century. It reflects the diversity of the environment in which it developed - the land, the ocean, the climate - and also the diversity of the people on the islands.” These diverse people comprise the indigenous Amerindians who inhabited the region before Europeans came, Europeans, Africans and Asians. As for the recipes, the book covers drinks, starters, fish and seafood, meat and poultry, sides, soups, sauces, syrups and desserts. If you’ve never had the immense pleasure of drinking a planteur, dive straight to page 30 to find your new favourite cocktail (seriously - planteurs are paradise in a glass). Alongside recipes for classic Caribbean Creole meat and fish dishes (among them Creole fried fish, Creole cassoulet and pork ragout), there are some dazzlingly zingy, colourful salads and sides (pumpkin mash, coconut slaw), and inventive sweets (banana and rum fritters, wine pineapple). Without question, this is my new favourite cook book.
Calling all outdoor adventurers who want to walk on the wild side by the light of the moon! While there’s no shortage of brilliant books to inspire and guide nature exploration in young adventurers, Chris Salisbury’s Wild Nights Out is the first nature guide to focus on night-time activities, which gives both the book and its activities a distinct and decidedly magical edge. With a foreword by Chris Packham, this is a brilliant book for grown-ups to use with 7+-year-olds who share their passion for the great outdoors. The text addresses adults, as opposed to chattily speaking to children direct, but with a background in theatre and environmental education, and currently working as professional storyteller alongside directing the Call of the Wild Foundation programme for educators-in-training, the author is well-placed to advise on how to engage young explorers. As for the activities, the book covers a blend of games, walks and sensory experiences, the latter of which form an excellent foundation from which to explore the world at night, with exercises designed to focus and enhance one’s sensory perceptions. Then there are practical activities covering the likes of learning to call for owls, detect bats and understand the night sky alongside immersive theatrical activities, such as hosting nocturnal animal performances and fireside storytelling. With black-and-white illustrations throughout and activities to last the entire summer holidays, this certainly shines an inspiring and informative light on night-time nature. You can find more recommended adventure reads in our curation for the London Mountain Film Festival Bookfest 2021.
A thought-provoking book that almost shakes thoughts loose and sets them free in a bid to reclaim the enchantment within ourselves and the natural world around us. There are concerning studies that suggest: “the brains of people in this generation might be developing differently because of their almost constant interaction with technology”. This book explores history and myth, other peoples musings and findings, through to Sharon’s own thoughts in order to offer us the tools to find the enchantment again, to relish and really live with it. Dr Sharon Blackie is an award winning writer and we are confirmed fans here at LoveReading. Sharon is our June Author in the Picture, editorial expert Joanne said If Women Rose Rooted creates: “a richly interesting perspective on other ways of living” and I simply adored the 13 bitingly beautiful stories in Foxfire, Wolfskin and Other Stories of Shapeshifting Women. She is also a psychologist and mythologist, she understands our need to connect to the world around us. From the first few paragraphs The Enchanted Life really resonated with me, it made me stop and listen, it captured and thoroughly provoked my thoughts before setting me on the trail: “to live an enchanted life is to fall in love with the world all over again”. I read, I agreed, I believed, The Enchanted Life is a meaningful and truly lovely book that I can thoroughly recommend.
Suffused in the author’s courage and lifelong commitment to justice, Parm Sandhu’s Black and Blue is a powerfully personal and pertinent account of her life through a thirty-year career in the Met - a distinguished career that saw Sandhu vilified and confronted with accusations of gross misconduct when she spoke out against discrimination. Told in an engaging, personable style, we are taken on the author’s extraordinary journey from her childhood in Birmingham as the daughter of Punjabi immigrants, to securing a position in the highest ranks of the Met. Forced into an abusive arranged marriage at the age of sixteen, Sandhu - remarkably - fled to London with her baby boy and joined the police, where she shone in multiple departments, from crime prevention, to the police corruption unit, to counter-terrorism. But, while rising through the ranks to become the most senior BAME woman in the Met, Sandhu witnessed and experienced countless incidences of racism and sexism. Revealing much about police procedures, the pressures and dangers Sandhu faced on a daily basis, and prejudice within the force, this is, above all, a powerful, page-turning - and often shocking - story of courage. It’s essential reading for those interested in the state of policing Britain, and for readers who enjoy memoirs with inspirational bite.
James (Scouse) O’Connell was a 22-year old Private in the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment when, along with his fellow soldiers, he was deployed to the Falklands to engage the Argentinian invaders. Three days in June describes the last few days of the war when 3 Para fought the battle of Mount Longdon. By the time the battle was over, 23 of their number were dead and 48, wounded. Sergeant Ian McKay was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery. James O’Connell was left with life-changing injuries, the result of a bullet that entered his face through his nose and removed his cheek-bone and right eye. Candid, gritty and, at times, gruesome, this is a warts ‘n’ all account by the young men who were there, and told in their words. This makes the book all the more readable as it’s the perceptions, the humour, the fears, the honesty and the sheer heroism of these men that shines through. From the moment I opened the first page of the hardback, I suspected I was going to be in for a treat. The book looks and feels of very high quality and the content certainly delivered. A book for anyone with even the remotest interest in military history, this is a book to savour, enjoy and then have pride of place on any bookshelf.
A wonderfully readable, thoughtful yet amusing, and sometimes painfully honest memoir from journalist Emma John as she asks: “What does happily ever after look like when your Prince Charming never shows up”. Emma is in her forties, she is not in a relationship, nor plans to be, in Self-Contained she looks at a society that views single as a temporary arrangement and, what it actually means to be on your own. Emma visits her past as she galloped through her twenties into her thirties and then entered her forties. She explores with intense personal reflection and writes with a self-depreciating wit. She is also incredibly honest and friendly, I felt as though I was having a heart to heart with one of my best friends. I have to admit to blushing beet red as I read one particular section, I still cringe at the memory of twenty-something me saying to a friend: “someone will come along when you’re least expecting it” and her vexed reply that she: “wasn’t looking”. Self-contained isn’t in the slightest bit preachy, it just feels as though Emma is allowing you into her thoughts, and in turn it made me think about mine. Chapter 14 is a wonderful closing chapter and it really, really made me smile. Self Contained: Scenes from a Single Life is a book for everyone, no matter how old you are, whether in a relationship or not, there is much to discover and appreciate between the pages.
This is the most scrumptious journal for book lovers. While it is centred around book clubs even if you’re not a book club member you could still use it as a collection point for your own booky thoughts. Sanne Vliegenthart has been sharing book love since 2008 with her Books and Quills videos. She has created the most lovely journal, with space for your thoughts and feelings on books to take centre stage. The book is perfectly sized, with a beautifully stylish cover. She gives some smart tips on starting and maintaining a book club, she is realistic about little issues that may crop up, and how much time we all get to read. Basically she is encouraging and friendly, and I think will inspire your book club with her suggestions. There is space for your to write about 50 books, a helpful ribbon marker, and at the end Sanne suggests some cracking reads for you to consider as your book club picks. Book Club Journal is not only lovely to look at, it just begs to be filled in, and would make a perfect gift for someone else or yourself!
Following the exceptional running achievements recounted in Beyond Impossible, Mimi Anderson’s Limitless is a testament to the perseverance and adaptability of the human spirit (and body). Despite only taking up running at the age of 36 “because I wanted to have slimmer and more toned legs”, Mimi went on to become a record-breaking ultrarunner. Then, at the age of 55, she set herself a new huge challenge - to become the fastest woman to run across the USA, covering almost 3000 miles from LA to NYC. After running over 2000 miles battling tremendous pain, she wound up “groaning in agony every time my foot hit the ground”. Since carrying on meant she may never run again, Mimi was forced to curtail her American Dream. But while this journey was over, a whole new world opened up when she took up cycling and swimming. As Mimi counsels in her introduction, “If you want something you have never had, then you have to try something you have never done” - watch this space for her future achievements as a triathlete. Written in a chatty, energetic style, this isn’t only recommended for readers who are into running or extreme sports. It also has the broader appeal of being an honest, personal story about bouncing back and adapting in order to find fulfilment: “There will always be something else out there for you, even if you don’t find it right away. Keep looking.” Find our full list of recommended adventure reads for the London Mountain Film Festival Bookfest 2021.
An incredibly thoughtful, eloquent, and revealing book about policing by John Sutherland. Not only is it absolutely fascinating, there are also a whole heap of lessons that can and should be learned within its pages. John spent 25 years with the Metropolitan Police, during that time working his way to Borough Commander, leading teams as they dealt with some of the most sad and incredibly damaging aspects facing our society. Now retired on medical grounds, John is a sought-after public speaker and commentator, he regularly speaks on TV and radio, and writes for major newspapers. I can highly recommend his first book, Blue: A Memoir, this new book goes a step further. John issues an invitation to walk with him and witness the scenes behind the blue and white cordon tape. He talks about ten issues we face in the modern world, from domestic violence through to terrorism. He still cares about and loves policing, he also has huge compassion, this, linked with his ability to see the reality of policing, means he can open our eyes. Accessible, considered, meaningful, shocking, inspiring… Crossing the Line has been chosen as LoveReading Star Book, Book of the Month, and a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month. It really is the most crucially important piece of writing for the whole of our society to absorb, all I can say is, read it! Read our Q&A with John Sutherland.
Honey & Co’s Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich have struck culinary gold in Chasing Smoke, a gorgeous grill-focussed cookery book that takes readers on a tasty tour of the authors’ favourite food locations - rural Jordan, Alexandria, southern Turkey, Israel, Thessaloniki - with all manner of dishes and eateries covered, from kerbside kebab joints to swanky grill houses. Organised by food type (fruit and veg; fish and seafood; birds; lamb and other meat; bread and unmissables), the recipes are wonderfully varied and easy-to-follow. Grilled peaches with almond tahini, chicken wings in spicy pomegranate molasses, classic Adana kebabs, herby cheese-filled griddle bread - from this small selection of recipes, it’s plain to see how beautiful banquets might be born from this book. With stunning photos of places and people alongside vibrant visuals of the delicious dishes and raw ingredients, plus lively accounts of the authors’ culinary journeys, this is so much more than a recipe book - it’s as much about exploration and friendship, and discovering the region’s culinary culture, though cooking remains at its heart, of course, supported by practical tips on techniques, such as how to start (and mellow) your fire, top tools of the trade, and to how to construct you own home-smoker. Bog-standard burger-and-banger-BBQs, your time is up!
Comedian Geoff Norcott’s Where Did I Go Right? How the Left Lost Me is an honest, amusing and thought-provoking account of how a working-class lad raised on a council estate by a unionised father and matriarchal mother ended up voting (wait for it…) Tory. Framed as his journey to discover how this unlikely turn of events came about (he was surely destined to be Labour red - how on earth did he turn blue?), this lively memoir is packed with engaging anecdotes and provocative reasoning. While I stand firmly at the other end of the political spectrum, it provided fascinating and well-considered insights into how the half think and, as such, should be read by both Reds and Blues. “Given my solid working-class background and performing arts job, it’s obvious to everyone I meet that I should be Labour through and through. I’m a comedian who grew up on a council estate with two disabled parents, and my dad was a trade union man. But that’s not how I voted.” So Norcott states near the beginning of the book, setting out his unusual stall before tracing his left-to-right swing back to his adolescence. “My dial was moving all the time”, he recognises amidst growing disillusionment with New Labour - though his first non-Labour vote didn’t go to “those Tory bastards”, to quote his dad. From the 2008 collapse of the Lehman Brothers and credit crunch, through to Brexit, Norcott’s funny (and moving) personal experiences are smartly woven into his political musings and analysis.
An intriguing and yet desperately sorrowful look at the unresolved case of Sophie Toscan du Plantier who was murdered outside of her holiday cottage in 1996. Due to the remote location in West Cork, this particularly violent killing has been described as a ‘locked room’ murder mystery. Nick Foster is a journalist and author, he began researching the story in 2014 and has spent six years: “living the story, inhabiting the puzzle”, and while the twists and turns are undoubtedly fascinating, he has a considerate and compassionate touch. This is an eye-opening account, within a short time the police had a suspect, Ian Bailey, however he was released without charge. Nick Foster became involved in the case when Bailey sued the Irish state, claiming: “the Irish police had engineered a massive stitch up”. We are privy to witness statements, police notes, and transcripts, plus of course Nick Foster’s own investigations as he got to know Bailey. I felt as though I was in the middle of the investigation with every aspect over the years since the murder covered, and the last chapter sent an icy shiver down my spine. Perfect for true crime fans, Murder at Roaringwater is a compelling and riveting story of a truly dreadful crime.
Emotionally powerful and provocative, this true story really packs a punch. At 18, Joey O’Callaghan was signed up to the Witness Protection Programme after he gave evidence in court that put away two violent drug bosses. Joey had been part of a drugs gang since he was 10, for his own safety after giving evidence he was given a new identity and relocated to England. Award winning journalist Nicola Tallant writes his tale, with his voice. A journalist for 20 years, she has: “broken countless crime exclusives, delved into the darkest corners of the underworld and come face to face with some of the most notorious gangland criminals”. She is called on for her expertise about organised crime to contribute to television and radio, and is an author of books about crime, cults, and murder. In other words, she really does know her stuff. She turns this true story over to Joey and allows us to see the grooming, the broken childhood, and the crimes as they take place with his eyes. We also see Joey’s life after he was given a new identity, and how that affected him. The before and after the court case are equally shocking, the writing is clear and open, and unfolds into what is a truly gobsmacking story. The Witness recognises what has gone wrong in society, yet it is the personal connection that really highlights the significance of this tale.
What a fabulously readable and eye-opening book this is. With experts guiding your way, visit the amazing world of ants as they build, raise, grow, and hunt, raid and devour. I’ve always been enthralled by ants and have watched in fascination as they purposefully march their way through life. I’ve also wondered what happens to the lone lost explorer who ends up on your clothing potentially miles away from home, well I found out the answer to this and learned a whole host of other interesting facts in Empire of Ants. Yet this isn’t a data and statistic gala, the writing duo of Susanne Foitzik and Olaf Fritsche have ensured an engaging and absorbing read. One of the first things we are told is that: “If all the ants suddenly disappeared, terrestrial ecosystems across the word would be on their knees… Without ants, the natural world would suffer a long period of instability and would never look the same again”. They’re important then, these bustling ants who exist and create and invent, there’s plenty to learn as we are introduced to them by biologist Susanne. There are so many similarities with humans, and yet their structure could quite easily sit in the realms of fantasy. Empire of Ants is an intensely satisfying and entertaining read that opens up a whole new world.
Diary of a Young Naturalist recounts a year in the life of an autistic and highly gifted 15 year old, struggling with school, bullies, moving house and fearing the decline of the natural world whilst rejoicing in it. Dara McAnulty is clearly an extraordinary person and a beautiful and mature writer. His descriptions of his adventures in nature are inspiring for children, but also sure to brighten the souls of many an adult too. The intensity with which nature presents itself to the author is overwhelming, and his ability to share this with the reader is enthralling. It’s a rollercoaster ride being in the head of this young man, but the book has the magic to open our eyes and ears to what beauty is around us each and every day - if only we looked! McAnulty's knowledge of wildlife and nature is simply extraordinary. His autism is a burden but also a super-power, providing him with piercing insight to a world that simply cannot be ignored with all its truth, tragedy and hope pouring out of every hedgerow, pond and dry stone wall. This is a diary which highlights our essential connection with the natural world, the landscape and our history embedded within it - but more importantly, it is also about our futures. Dara McAnulty is on a mission, and if the quality of this book is anything to go by, he will have a huge impact. For many children, this book will be the beginning of a wondrous journey. ~ Greg Hackett Greg Hackett is the Founder & Director of the London Mountain Film Festival
A truly beautiful and stimulating book that can be devoured in one heady go or dipped into and adored. Meet and wonder over illuminated addresses, books, scrolls or certificates in celebration of events. Covering a hundred years, sitting mainly in Victorian times, each is its own masterpiece, the designs so colourful and intricate, they shine from the page. On display are 50 letters with a particular theme, from royalty, to civic duty, to clubs and societies. John P Wilson explains that the recipient could be wealthy or famous, or an ordinary person who had provided special service. He states these letters: “provide an opportunity to obtain an insight into someone’s life and achievements, and allow a brief historical opening into social history”. Each letter sits with an explanation, but the focus here is the beauty of the letter. In our current times, the art of the letter is all but forgotten, and these treasures appear to be almost jewell-like in their wonder and intensity. I have quite fallen in love with this book, it really speaks to me. Beauty in Letters is a wonderful insight into the past, and a stunning display of true creativity and artwork.
21 Breaths by Oliver James is a gorgeous little yellow hardback book. It’s excellent quality, inside and out. The first section of the book focuses on the benefits of breathing techniques. Oliver James relates the story of when he discovered breathing techniques could change his life, followed by simple explanations of how these can affect different parts of your body, and how they may help to change how you feel too. Then there’s a chapter with four simple tests to check how to assess whether you’re breathing correctly – it really did make me think about ‘how I breathe’ and how my breathing could be improved. In the main section of his book, Olive James describes breathing techniques to suit various physical and mental needs, including pain, constipation, sleep, confidence, anxiety, posture and stress. Each breathing technique is explained clearly, with simple tips to follow. The book contains beautiful black-and-white drawings of the author demonstrating each breathing exercise, and these really helped me to get my posture and positioning right. A fascinating book that’s easy to dip into or read all the way through – and it looks great too!
Conceived a year before his tragic death as “an atlas of the world through his eyes”, Anthony’s Bourdain’s World Travel is a glorious testament to the unique wit and worldview of a chef, food writer and travel documentarian who was, above all else, a brilliant storyteller. Put together by his long-time assistant Laurie Woolever, with contributions from friends, family and colleagues in place of Tony being around to write some of the planned pieces himself, this is a travel guide like no other - unsurprising given that Bourdain was a character like no other. From Argentina to Vietnam, Australia to Uruguay, this A-Z travelogue includes information you’d expect to find in a conventional guidebook (how to get there, where to eat, where to stay) but beyond these basics, it dishes up Bourdain’s distinctly personal take on the many places he’s explored. His words are always incisive; always a brutal blend of raw candour and decadent description. There are thoughts on food, history and culture, sometimes contextualised by Tony’s companions, while at other times all it takes is a straight-talking, straight-from-the-horse’s-mouth quote from the man himself, like these words of caution for first-time tasters of Brazil’s potent dendê oil: “You know, it takes some getting used to. The first time I was here, you eat it, you shit like a mink for hours afterwards. But now, no problems! Lovin’ it.” There’s passionate political commentary too, notably when he talks about Cambodia (“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands”) and Mozambique, a beautiful nation that has, to Tony’s anger, been “relentlessly screwed by history”. Honest, insightful and salty, this is a delicious antidote to formulaic travel writing; a rejuvenating blast of anti-blandness that stirs an urge to explore the world with even a soupçon of Bourdain’s fearless, flamboyant spirit.
I was not too sure what to expect when picking up this book but having read the introduction and hearing the author speak on Woman’s Hour Radio 4, I was keen to start. It is an incredibly readable book. Not what I was expecting, a book to inspire teachers, but a book packed with the most fascinating, and often quite harrowing stories of her pupils at Alperton Community School. She talks about the children in such an insightful way, telling the reader not just about their time in the classroom, but about their background and their families and the huge impact this has on their abilities and successes in school. The difficulties and challenges some of her pupils’ face are both memorable and moving. She conveys to the reader so clearly the effect that lack of language, cultural differences, cramped conditions and poverty can have on a child’s ability to learn. She looks at the whole person, beyond the bluff and bravado to the real child beneath. Her empathy with her pupils and the obvious passion for her subject really do shine through. I liked her honesty. She believes that she is ‘almost an imposter’ and there are far more worthy winners of the Global Teachers Prize, but reading the many examples she writes about, I feel she is underselling herself. She intersperses her account with insights into her own life, her upbringing and her adult life with her family. The book teaches us all valuable life lessons: Never judging a child on first impression and the importance of mutual respect are two themes that run throughout the book. I thought initially, it was a book for teachers, but this is a book for anyone. I think on reading it, we will all wish that we had had a teacher such as her when we were at school.
Published to coincide with what would have been Best’s 75th birthday, Wayne Barton’s True Genius is a must-read for football fans. What sets this apart from other Best biographies is its introduction by the Best family, rare archive images, and the author’s exhaustive research, coupled with deep insights and an affectionate, amiable style. As befits its subject, True Genius is in a league of its own. “Our George was a funny, kind, shy and intelligent boy. Then he belonged to the world, and he came to be perceived as something quite different. Sometimes the perception was quite different to the truth.” So writes the Best family in the book’s moving, open-hearted introduction, setting the tone and approach for the entire book - an approach that sees the author present the full truth about George, beginning with his Belfast childhood, when he was the only boy in his class to pass the eleven-plus. With fascinating contributions from Best’s former team-mates, managers, family and friends, this is as comprehensive as it gets when it comes to understanding George’s on-the-pitch panache and off-the-pitch struggles. As the book reminds readers, George’s last wish was that people “remember me for the football”, and this book’s in-depth coverage of his exceptional talent certainly honours that wish, alongside providing a deeper understanding of the man behind the footballer.
What an uplifting and joyous book this is, the blend of family warmth and hard work at Cannon Hall Farm makes for a fascinating read. You may have already heard about The Nicholson’s, or even feel as if you know them if you’ve watched them on Springtime on the Farm or This Week on the Farm on TV. Cannon Hall Farm is known as ‘the perfect family day in Yorkshire’, it’s an award-winning farm that has grown to become a true tourist attraction. At its heart though it’s still a family farm and its success is down to teamwork, tenacity through hard times, and enthusiasm for exploring new ideas. Author Nicole Carmichael has captured the story of this family and the farm from the beginning. I was enveloped in their love for animals, nature, and life in the country. I travelled through the years with the Nicholson’s and was there as the tearoom started and they diversified to become a full tourist attraction. I loved seeing the photos and hearing about the various animals at the farm, particularly how they are named! You also meet the current team and wider family members, plus focus on different aspects of the current farm, such as the farm shop. Living Our Best Lives is a celebration of farming, and more importantly family, it’s absolutely gorgeous and has been chosen as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month.
Structured Chaos is the latest volume of memoirs from one of the world’s leading mountaineers. While it contains accounts of Alpine and Himalayan exploits at least equal to any of those in its predecessors, this a more wide ranging and contemplative work. From an early childhood in colonial Malaysia via a bleak Scottish boarding school and a haphazard introduction to rock climbing in the Avon Gorge to the lofty heights of the Karakoram and the presidency of the Alpine Club (although of course he’s too modest to mention the latter), Saunders’s focus is very much on the personalities, friendships and occasional frictions experienced during the ‘unusual life of a climber’. The descriptions of the rigours, terrors and elations of high altitude climbing are leavened by a thread of understated but appealing lunacy running through the book including a brutal boxing match in a terrifying East End pub with his friend and climbing partner Mick Fowler, and the establishment of the longest continuous traverse in the British Isles; the 33 pitches of vertical mud and crumbling sandstone that is Reasons to be Fearful, a project described at the time by his co-ascentionist Phil Thornhill as “probably the silliest route on the silliest cliff ever climbed”. Ultimately, however, the lasting impression is of the author’s infectious enthusiasm for the landscapes and the people he encounters as he pursues the obscure ambitions of the exploratory mountaineer. The book opens and closes with a quote from Colin Kirkus; “Going to the right place, at the right time, with the right people is all that really matters. What one does is purely incidental”. Whether he’s working his passage as the “oily rag” in the engine room of a cargo ship or being blown, inside a tent, across a glacier by a huge avalanche, it’s this world view which makes Saunders book such an engaging read. Sam Huby, climbing enthusiast Find our full list of recommended adventure reads for the London Mountain Film Festival Bookfest 2021 - plus extra festival news!
Bothy expert Geoff Allan, author of The Scottish Bothy Bible, has followed it up with a collection of his favourite walks which just happen to have a built-in Bothy stopover. Find out how to visit places you may never have otherwise known about, what to expect when you get there and the best routes to follow. The book includes Geoff’s own beautiful photographs which will further inspire you to give Bothying a go. Find our full list of recommended adventure reads for the London Mountain Film Festival Bookfest 2021.
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!