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.
Infused with an infectious, unadulterated, no-guilt passion for the sweet stuff, Ravneet Gill’s Sugar, I Love You is ideal for anyone who wants to take their baking to the next level. What’s more, it’s easy-to-follow, with Gill’s demystifying, straight-talking, witty approach as central to the book as her love of sugar. It also bursts with photos that are every bit as vibrant as the recipes (and their author, for that matter). Covering Biscuits, Cakes, Cheesecakes, Sweet Doughs, Fried Delights, Entrements, Ice creams and Plated Desserts, each chapter of Sugar, I Love You is threaded with a fabulous international outlook, with mouth-watering recipes for the likes of Japanese cheesecake, Danish Brunsviger cake, and ricotta bombolini served alongside inventive twists on British classics, including Devonshire splits and a self-saucing toffee apple pudding. This is the kind of cookbook that will invigorate and inspire even the most seasoned of bakers.
Shifting from shocking confessions, to relatable emotions and experiences, Eleanor Tattersfield’s Lockdown Secrets is an ingenious concept of a book that will make an entertaining and elegant gift. It all began back in the dark days of a long COVID lockdown, when designer Eleanor Tattersfield heard a podcast about a 1980s answering machine confession line, leading her to “wonder what might happen if people had a similar opportunity at this strangest of times to document their own lockdown confessions.” Somewhat fortuitously, later that day, Eleanor found a box of unused postcards from the 1930s - “It felt like fate. I rushed upstairs, set up the type LOCKDOWN SECRETS and the shop’s address, and printed away.” Following an Instagram shout-out - “I'll send you a postcard, you send me a secret” - replies flooded in, a selection of which are reproduced in this gorgeous book. Many of the cards are resplendent with illustrations, elaborate typography, clever collages, and intriguing handwriting, and all of them capture the shared experience of lockdown in all its complex strangeness. Indeed, the author noted a number of recurring themes - “food fetishes, masturbation, loneliness, breaking the rules, sex, love and, surprisingly, the love of lockdown.” Honest and enlightening, what an extraordinarily unique document of such extraordinary times this book is.
This fascinating and engaging read will satisfy the reading curiosity of anyone who has an interest in witchcraft, pagan paths, or those who miss nature in their stressful daily lives. Nature journalist Jennifer Lane charts a year in her life after realising that she needed to step outside of the anxiety of her office based environment. I travelled with Jennifer as she looked back to her past and began to reconnect with her love for nature and witchcraft. I joined her in festivals and rituals, various courses including Shamanism and Astrology, and on her walks in our natural environment. This is a gentle and thoughtful introduction to Witchcraft and Paganism, a group of contemporary religions based around a reverence for nature. Jennifer describes her beliefs as: “balance, harmony, and living seasonally”. In the 2011 census, over 56 thousand people identified as pagan, however it is likely that numbers are far higher, as due to other people’s misunderstanding or falsification of the religion, it can remain a hidden part of their lives. The Wheel is a thought-provoking and interesting glimpse into Jennifer’s love for nature and witchcraft.
For those of us at parenting age, with children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews, we have a responsibility to guide and encourage them towards a future that is inspired and informed by values of fairness, inclusion, respect for all our fellow human beings and, of course, for the planet we call home. How to Raise a Global Citizen is written by and for parents and carers of children of all ages. In an exclusive LoveReading LitFest event, we are delighted that author Anna Davidson was joined by two of the seven contributors to the book; mother of three daughters and blogger Fariba Soetan, and father of two and founder of Dope Black CIC and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultancy BELOVD, Marvyn Harrison. For parents, grandparents or carers of the children who will go on to save the world, this is the book and the event for you. https://www.lovereadinglitfest.com/previews/how-to-raise-a-global-citizen-event-preview
For all those who are already fans of Roald’s Dahl’s awesome stories and for newcomers to them, this is a splendid introduction to some of the favourite characters and the most dramatic, hilarious, spinechilling and adventuresome stories that are his storytelling legacy. Following a brief account of Roald Dahl’s childhood and his famous writing shed, 15 of his top titles are cleverly explored through their main characters and the key features of the stories. There is James and his extraordinary crew from the awesome travelling peach in James and the Giant Peach; the delightful Charlie Bucket whose winning ticket takes him to Mr Wonka’s astonishing chocolate factory and a heap of adventures with some less lovely children including Veruca Salt and Augustus Gloop; the delightful Danny and his father and some fabulous pheasant poaching plots and the truly horrible Mr and Mrs Twit who have a whole book to themselves. The battle between Matilda and the awful Miss Trunchbull, the BFG’s encounter with the Queen and the utterly terrifying Witches – all of these and more are brought to life in these brief retellings which make clever use of letters, recipes and newspaper clippings. As in the originals, all are fabulously illustrated by Quentin Blake. The inclusion of an activity pack adds an interactive element to the book and enhances enjoyment of it.
Truly fascinating, this is one of the most surprising books I’ve read in a while. Seriously, I could rave on and on about it! Journey to what feels like an entirely different planet and explore the wonder of fungi. “Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live...Yet they live their lives largely hidden from view , and over 90% if their species remain undocumented.” Author Merlin Sheldrake caught and held my attention from the outset. I had to stop reading every so often just to contemplate the world that was opening up in front of me. I still feel gobsmacked days after reading it. Fungi has shaped our history and “the ability of fungi to digest plastic, explosives, pesticides and crude oil is being harnessed in breakthrough technologies, and the discovery that they connect plants in underground networks, the ‘wood wide web’, is transforming the way we understand ecosystems.” Entangled Life made me reconsider established thoughts and opened my eyes to new ones. I want to recommend it to everyone, for me it’s a genuine must-read and just had to be included on my list of Liz Picks of the Month and as a LoveReading Star Book.
Meticulously and compellingly curated by his daughter, Amber Marks, Becoming Mr Nice presents a personal, kaleidoscopic visual compendium of Howard Marks’ life, from the Welsh Valleys, to the spires of Oxford, to life on the run, to court transcripts of his Old Bailey trial, and beyond. Through the likes of gig tickets, Oxford University paraphernalia, family photos, official documents, private letters, handwritten notes and Marks’ previously unpublished account of his fugitive years, this offers fresh, fascinating insights into the life of a truly fascinating - and funny - character. For example, Howard’s description of applying for the newly created position of UK Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator in the Cabinet Office (Drugs Czar, in his words) is characteristically comic: "Realising that by legalising all drugs, I could fulfil the brief easily and quickly, I wrote to the Cabinet Office". Though his application (and qualifications for the post) were mightily impressive, he wasn’t shortlisted for interview, but the whole exchange is hilarious, and superbly presented. Related, Amber Marks’ background as a researcher and barrister is very much in evidence throughout - the book has been put together perfectly, and she and her father worked on preserving many of the artefacts featured in the book together during the final years of his life.
Instagram phenomenon @1bike1world Dean Nicholson reveals the full story of his life-changing friendship with rescue cat Nala and their inspiring adventures together on a bike journey around the world. When 30-year-old Dean Nicholson set off from Scotland to cycle around the world, his aim was to learn as much as he could about our troubled planet. But he hadn't bargained on the lessons he'd learn from his unlikely companion. Three months after leaving home, on a remote road in the mountains between Montenegro and Bosnia, he came across an abandoned kitten. Something about the piercing eyes and plaintive meowing of the bedraggled little cat proved irresistible. He couldn't leave her to her fate, so he put her on his bike and then, with the help of local vets, nursed her back to health. Soon on his travels with the cat he named Nala, they forged an unbreakable bond - both curious, independent, resilient and adventurous. The video of how they met has had 20 million views and their Instagram has grown to almost 750k followers - and still counting! Experiencing the kindness of strangers, visiting refugee camps, rescuing animals through Europe and Asia, Dean and Nala have already learned that the unexpected can be pretty amazing. Together with Garry Jenkins, writer with James Bowen of the bestselling A Street Cat Named Bob, Dean shares the extraordinary tale of his and Nala's inspiring and heart-warming adventure together.
Author Nick Hayes argues that "If ... power is sourced in property, then the fences that divide England are not just symbols of the partition of people, but the very cause of it.” And so off he goes, trespassing through the estates of England, checking out what we are all denied access to and along the way unpicking bigger stitch-ups. This book is not simply a diary of naughty incursions - amongst other things it’s a meticulous deconstruction of the legal history which has led to a situation where owners will often intimidate walkers with arguments that do not stand up in court, or at best are open to interpretation. Hayes begins the book with an amusing account of a celebrated incidence of civil disobedience - the mass trespass of Kinder Scout in the Peak District in 1932 - and from there he unravels decades of frustration. The Book of Trespass is also notably a collection of intriguing and beautiful pen and ink illustrations by the author which unveil and frame these forbidden landscapes as quite mysterious and dream-like. The book is radical and persuasive, and I’m not sure I will ever treat a fence or a private land sign with the same respect again.
The Comfort Book is just that. A beautifully packaged, beautifully comforting hug in a book. Haig’s lists, aphorisms, quotes, case studies and recipes are an antidote to today’s busy lifestyles, medicine for our crazy lives. It is suggested that you should read it how you want; “it’s as messy as life”. And there is something incredibly liberating about being told there are no rules on opening a book. So then I flicked. Because I could. Because I was given permission to. I came to a chapter: Short. Life is short. Be kind. And it make me stop and think about when I last displayed kindness. Am I too busy in my life juggling. existing. coping. to show kindness as much as I should. We need to give ourselves space. To breathe. And I spent 15 minutes on that page. Six words. Another page with 10 words I laughed out loud at. Pasta, is all I have to say. This book really made me stop. And think. And breathe. The pace of my life stopped each time I picked it up. And that space was so needed. The book is filled with Haig’s reflections on hope, survival and the messy miracle of being alive. He shares his collection of consolations learned in hard times and suggestions for making the bad day’s better. For now, I’m still enjoying it but know I’ll keep it by my bed or maybe next to the toilet for people to share. It’s a book to be savoured. To be enjoyed. To come back to. It’s a marathon. Not a sprint. He includes quotes from Henry David Thoreau, Emily Dickinson, cultural anthropologist Ernest Becker, Nietzsche, existential philosopher Rollo May, Bruce Lee. Haig’s witty. He’s wise. I love the way he writes, the way he imparts wisdom, shares his nuggets on life and I recognise that I haven’t got a routine baggy enough to live in. Thank you Matt for the comfort. I’m off to make Matt’s hummus. And eat crisps. And get some “baggy” in my life.
For centuries much has been written about a mother’s love for her son, fewer words have been dedicated to the reverse. When his controlling elderly father becomes a danger to his aged mother, Shaun Deeney takes the decision to place his mother in a charming care home. Later, following his father’s sudden death, he takes the unusual decision to remove her from the care home and to provide for her himself, in the family home, with the assistance of paid-for carers. So unheard of is this, the care home themselves have never heard of anyone doing it before and no-one even knows what forms are required. The softly spoken truth is that residents rarely leave such places until their final journey. What follows is an endearingly candid account of Denney facing down his doubts, and those of others, to provide the very best care for his Mother. In so doing he rediscovers the Mother he loves but hardly knows and forgoes his ‘new-found freedom’ as a divorcee to embrace his role as a dutiful caring son. With diversions into his daughter-assisted forays into internet dating, and his quest for love and a relationship, Deeney writes with engaging honesty and humour on the mistakes and triumphs of his decisions and explores the power of forgiveness, tolerance and understanding in this affecting account of what it means to be a son, a father and a man who faces up to the responsibilities of all three. His generosity of spirit in sharing the truth of his experience makes this a highly readable tale of redemption and a celebration of love’s many hues. The LoveReading LitFest invited Shaun Deeney to the festival to talk about Love & Care. You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Shaun in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out why everyone should read this book. Check out a preview of the event here.
Dr. Elliott states in his introduction to this fascinating volume that his ambition is bold; “…to detail conflict from the beginning of warfare itself in the Near East and Middle East from around 9000 BC through to the onset of the Classical period around 500 BC.” Bold indeed, and delivered in such crisp and well ordered chapters that Old Testament Warriors is as much master class in concision as it is admirable in its comprehensiveness. Starting out with clear definitions for how humanity has organised settlements and communities, to what warfare is, “the extreme end of organised aggression… involving a stratified polity”, Elliott treats us to a whistle-stop tour of every major civilisation that grew or protected itself through armed conflict across nigh on nine millennia. With an attention to detail that encompasses styles of armour, the game changing effects of the compound bow and various developments in chariot technology, together with brief analyses of who was responsible for them, - in the case of chariots, the Hyksos, the Hurrians and the Mitanni in the 2nd millennium BC – Elliott also presents fascinating facts about the sizes and structures of various armies and how and by whom power over and control of them was handled. For a non- academic reader interested in the history of organised warfare, this is an eye-opening, absorbing book written by an author who knows and loves his subject and who has the means and skill to communicate his knowledge crisply, clearly and with great verve. Albert Einstein famously said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it” That Elliot is able to cover such huge tracts of geography and chronology in such a compact volume shows that he is the master of his subject. And what an enthralling subject it is.
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!