testaments

The Testaments

Margaret Atwood     Recommended by Sharon    

More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.

As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

‘Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.’ Margaret Atwood

levy

The Man Who Saw Everything

Deborah Levy     Recommended by Sharon    

In 1989, Saul is hit by a car on the Abbey Rd crossing. He is fine; he gets up and goes to see his girlfriend, Jennifer. They have sex and then break up. He leaves for the GDR, where he will have more sex (with several members of the same family), harvest mushrooms in the rain, bury his dead father in a matchbox, and get on the wrong side of the Stasi.

In 2016, Saul is hit by a car on the Abbey Rd crossing. He is not fine at all; he is rushed to hospital and spends the following days in and out of consciousness, in and out of history. Jennifer is sitting by his bedside. His very-much-not-dead father is sitting by his bedside. Someone important is missing.

Deborah Levy presents an ambitious, playful and totally electrifying novel about what we see and what we fail to see, about carelessness and the harm we do to others, about the weight of history and our ruinous attempts to shrug it off.

sewers

An Underground Guide to Sewers

Stephen Halliday     Recommended by    

Lose yourself in the vast sewer networks that lie beneath the world’s great cities – past and present. Let detailed archival plans, maps and photographs guide you through these subterranean labyrinths – previously accessible only to their builders, engineers and, perhaps, the odd rogue explorer. This execrable exploration traces the evolution of waste management from the ingenious infra-structures of the ancient world to the seeping cesspits and festering open sewers of the medieval period. It investigates and celebrates the work of the civil engineers whose pioneering integrated sewer systems brought to a close the devastating cholera epidemics of the mid-19th century and continue to serve a vastly increased population today. And let’s not forget those giant fatbergs clogging our underground arteries, or the storm-surge super-structures of tomorrow.

 

 

wondersnature

The Wonders of Nature

Ben Hoare     Recommended by    

This compendium of amazing rocks and minerals, microscopic life, plants, and animals will wow children and many adults, too. With 100 remarkable items from the natural world, from orchids to opals and lichens to lizards, everyone will find something to be captivated by. Each plant, animal, and rock is shown both photographically and illustrated, and children will love poring over the detailed close-up images.

The storybook descriptions let you discover the myths and legends surrounding both organisms and gemstones, as well as key facts about their natural history. Find out how the prowling jaguar uses spots to avoid being spotted, why a sticky sundew means big trouble for insects, and what on Earth a radiolarian is. This beautiful treasury lets you find the things that interest you and uncover new favourites along the way. With reference pages packed with information you’ll go away knowing something you didn’t before, and you’ll return time and again.

With foil on the cover, gilded edges, and a ribbon for keeping your place, The Wonders of Nature makes an attractive gift for children who can’t get enough of nature. With engaging information and absorbing images, this book is perfect for kids to explore by themselves or for bedtime stories.

shared table

The Shared Table: Vegetarian and vegan feasts to cook for your crowd

Clare Scrine     Recommended by Sharon    

The Shared Table is a celebration of shared homes and their most iconic dishes – the food designed to feed the crowd, without breaking the bank or spending hours in the kitchen. It is a book about community, warmth, love and the unique connection of a nurturing home, where shared meals are central to the environment. Plus, without getting preachy or “clean ʼnʼ green eating” about it, all the recipes in the book are vegetarian and vegan.

The eight chapters in The Shared Table are captured in different share houses throughout the inner, sunshiny, suburbs of Brisbane, Australia. Each chapter has a distinct theme, as dictated by the culinary skills of those living in the featured house: A breakfast spread menu; Hungover brunch; A leisurely long lunch; Eat it with your hands; Mexican-inspired feast; A Mediterranean dinner party; Pasta night; and Comfort food spread.

Through its clean and bright photography – all taken by Clare’s own friends and housemates – The Shared Table is simultaneously luxe and sincere. It’s a warm and inviting cookbook that every share house needs on their communal bookshelf.

ruinkasch

The Ruin of Kasch

Roberto Calasso     Recommended by Alan    

A digressive history on the ‘legitimacy of power’ and the ‘right to rule’, Penguin’s publication of this  new translation of Calasso’s The Ruin of Kasch is timely. As Western capitalist democracies sweat on the drift away from pluralism toward tribalism, Calasso’s treatise is a difficult and wonderful analysis of how power is legitimised – or not.

Hailed as one of those rare books that persuade us to see our entire civilization in a new light, its guide is the French statesman Talleyrand, who knew the secrets of the ancien regime and all that came after, and was able to adapt the notion of “legitimacy” to the modern age. Calasso follows him through a vast gallery of scenes set immediately before and after the French Revolution, making occasional forays backward and forward in time, from Vedic India to the porticoes of the Palais-Royal and to the killing fields of Pol Pot, with appearances by Goethe and Marie Antoinette, Napoleon and Marx, Walter Benjamin and Chateaubriand. At the centre stands the story of the ruin of Kasch, a legendary kingdom based on the ritual killing of the king and emblematic of the ruin of ancient and modern regimes.

lenny

Lenny’s Book of Everything

Karen Foxlee     Recommended by Sharon    

Our mother had a dark heart feeling. Lenny’s younger brother has a rare form of gigantism and while Lenny’s fiercely protective, it isn’t always easy being the sister of ‘the giant’. A book about finding good in the bad that will break your heart while raising your spirits in the way that only a classic novel can.

Lenny, small and sharp, has a younger brother Davey who won’t stop growing – and at seven is as tall as a man. Raised by their mother, they have food and a roof over their heads, but not much else.

The bright spot every week is the arrival of the latest issue of the Burrell’s Build-It-at-Home Encyclopedia. Through the encyclopedia, Lenny and Davey experience the wonders of the world – beetles, birds, quasars, quartz – and dream about a life of freedom and adventure. But as Davey’s health deteriorates, Lenny realises that some wonders can’t be named.

A wonderful book for children and adults alike.
less

Less

Andrew Sean Greer     Recommended by Sharon    

Who says you can’t run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes–it would be too awkward–and you can’t say no–it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world. QUESTION – How do you arrange to skip town? ANSWER – You accept them all. What would possibly go wrong?

Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.

normalpeople

Normal People

Sally Rooney     Recommended by Sharon    

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years.

This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney’s second novel breathes fiction with new life.

wheatbelt-like-nothing

Like Nothing on this Earth: a Literary History of the Wheatbelt

Tony Hughes-d'Aeth     Recommended by Alan    

As much a history of the wheatbelt as it is a literary history.

During the twentieth century, the southwestern corner of Australia was cleared for intensive agriculture. In the space of several decades, an arc from Esperance to Geraldton, an area of land larger than England, was cleared of native flora for the farming of grain and livestock. Today, satellite maps show a sharp line ringing Perth. Inside that line, tan-coloured land is the most visible sign from space of human impact on the planet. Where once there was a vast mosaic of scrub and forest, there is now the Western Australian wheatbelt. Hughes-d’Aeth examines the creation of the wheatbelt through its creative writing. Some of Australia’s most well-known and significant writers – Facey, Cowan, Hewett, Davis, Jolley, and Kinsella – wrote about their experience of the wheatbelt. Each gives insight into the human and environmental effects of this massive-scale agriculture.

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