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There’s a Ghost in this House

Oliver Jeffers     Recommended by    

Oliver Jeffers’ latest picture book is here and it’s GORGEOUS! Turn the pages to reveal the sneaky (and adorable) ghosts.

A young girl lives in a haunted house, but has never seen a ghost. Are they white with holes for eyes? Are they hard to see? She’d love to know! Step inside and turn the transparent pages to help her on an entertaining ghost hunt, from behind the sofa, right up to the attic. With lots of friendly ghost surprises and incredible mixed media illustrations, this unique and funny book will entertain young readers over and over again!

 

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The Nutmeg’s Curse: Parables for a Planet in Crisis

Amitav Ghosh     Recommended by    

The history of the nutmeg is one of conquest and exploitation – of both human life and the natural environment – and the origin of our contemporary climate crisis. Tracing the threats to our future to the discovery of the New World and the sea route to the Indian Ocean, The Nutmeg’s Curse argues that the dynamics of climate change are rooted in a centuries-old geopolitical order constructed by Western colonialism. The story of the nutmeg becomes a parable revealing the ways human history has always been entangled with earthly materials – spices, tea, sugarcane, opium, and fossil fuels. Our crisis, Ghosh shows, is ultimately the result of a mechanistic view of the earth, where nature exists only as a resource for humans to use for our own ends, rather than a force of its own, full of agency and meaning. Writing against the backdrop of the global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests, Ghosh frames these historical stories in a way that connects our shared colonial past with the deep inequality we see around us today. By interweaving discussions on everything from the global history of the oil trade to the migrant crisis and the animist spirituality of indigenous communities around the world, The Nutmeg’s Curse offers a sharp critique of contemporary society and speaks to the profoundly remarkable ways in which human history is shaped by non-human forces.

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Crossroads

Jonathan Franzen     Recommended by    

 Set in a historical moment of moral crisis, Crossroads is the stunning foundation of a sweeping investigation of human mythologies, as the Hildebrandt family navigate the political and social crosscurrents of the past fifty years.

It’s December 23, 1971, and heavy weather is forecast for Chicago. Russ Hildebrandt, the associate pastor of a liberal suburban church, is on the brink of breaking free of a marriage he finds joyless – unless his wife, Marion, who has her own secret life, beats him to it. Their eldest child, Clem, is coming home from college on fire with moral absolutism, having taken an action that will shatter his father. Clem’s sister, Becky, long the social queen of her high-school class, has sharply veered into the counterculture, while their brilliant younger brother Perry, who’s been selling drugs to seventh-graders, has resolved to be a better person. Each of the Hildebrandts seeks a freedom that each of the others threatens to complicate.

‘His best novel yet … A Middlemarch-like triumph’ Telegraph ‘Crossroads is the spiritual successor to The Corrections . .  . It is a testament to Franzen’s authorial habits of empathy, his curiosity about the lives of others, his efforts in a land of cliche to add twists to easy assumptions, that you are likely to find yourself caring about how things turn out for each of the Hildebrandts equally’ – Observer

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Matrix

Lauren Groff     Recommended by Sharon    

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD 2021

‘Lush, gripping and ferocious, MATRIX is animated with sensual detail on every page.’ – MADELINE MILLER

‘A thrillingly vivid, adventurous story about women and power that will blow readers’ minds. Left me gasping.’ – EMMA DONOGHUE

Seventeen-year-old Marie, too wild for courtly life, is thrown to the dogs one winter morning, expelled from the royal court to become the prioress of an abbey. Marie is strange – tall, a giantess, her elbows and knees stick out, ungainly.

At first taken aback by life at the abbey, Marie finds purpose and passion among her mercurial sisters. Yet she deeply misses her secret lover Cecily and queen Eleanor.

Born last in a long line of women warriors and crusaders, women who flew across the countryside with their sword fighting and dagger work, Marie decides to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. She will bring herself, and her sisters, out of the darkness, into riches and power.

MATRIX is a bold vision of female love, devotion and desire from one of the most adventurous writers at work today.

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The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music

Dave Grohl     Recommended by    

From Grohl himself:

So, I’ve written a book. Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities (‘It’s a piece of cake! Just do four hours of interviews, find someone else to write it, put your face on the cover, and voila!’), I have decided to write these stories just as I have always done, in my own hand. The joy that I have felt from chronicling these tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I’ve recorded and can’t wait to share with the world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or even hearing my voice bounce between the Kiss posters on my wall as a child. This certainly doesn’t mean that I’m quitting my day job, but it does give me a place to shed a little light on what it’s like to be a kid from Springfield, Virginia, walking through life while living out the crazy dreams I had as young musician. From hitting the road with Scream at 18 years old, to my time in Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, jamming with Iggy Pop or playing at the Academy Awards or dancing with AC/DC and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, drumming for Tom Petty or meeting Sir Paul McCartney at Royal Albert Hall, bedtime stories with Joan Jett or a chance meeting with Little Richard, to flying halfway around the world for one epic night with my daughters…the list goes on. I look forward to focusing the lens through which I see these memories a little sharper for you with much excitement.

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Crisis Zone

Simon Hanselmann     Recommended by    

Megg, Mogg, Werewolf Jones, & the whole weird crew are back!

Over the course of 2020, cult favourite Simon Hanselmann created Crisis Zone, adding daily to the extensive webcomic via Instagram. The goal was to amuse the masses amid lockdowns & global uncertainty: no matter how horrible and bleak everything seemed, at least Werewolf Jones wasn’t in your house! As the Covid-19 pandemic continued to escalate far beyond any reasonable expectations, Crisis Zone escalated right alongside it.

The hilarious addition to the Megg and Mogg universe is now presented here, unabridged and uncensored, with a slew of added pages and deleted scenes, as well as an extensive Director’s Commentary from Hanselmann himself.

Watch Megg attempt to bury herself in a digital world of escapism! See Mogg fall down the rabbit hole of paranoia and conspiracy theories! Experience Owl’s metamorphosis from timid and uptight worrywort to a no-holds-barred, asskicking leader and back again! Witness Werewolf Jones’s journey from reluctant erotic performer, to viral TikTok stardom, to Netflix sensation! Bouncing rapidly between comedy, horror, action, and relational soap-operatics, Crisis Zone refuses to take the pedal off the gas as we all hurtle towards unknown destinations.

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Wonderworks

Angus Fletcher     Recommended by    

‘Fascinating. It blew my mind!’ – Malcolm Gladwell

Literature is a technology like any other. And the writers we revere – from Homer to Shakespeare, Austen to Ferrante – each made a unique technical breakthrough that can be viewed as both a narrative and neuroscientific advancement. But literature’s great invention was to address problems we could not solve: not how to start a fire or build a boat, but how to live and love; how to maintain courage in the face of death; how to account for the fact that we exist at all.

Based on Angus Fletcher’s own research, Wonderworks tells the story of the greatest literary inventions through the ages, from ancient Mesopotamia to modern-day America. It draws on cutting-edge neuroscience to demonstrate that the inventions really work: they enrich our lives with joy, hope, courage and energy, and they help our brains heal from grief, loneliness and even trauma.

Wonderworks reveals that literature is among the mightiest technologies that humans have ever invented, precision-honed to give us what our brains most want and need.

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Bewilderment

Richard Powers     Recommended by    

Shortlisted for the 2021 Booker Prize

Picked as one of the ‘Best Books of 2021’ in the Sunday Times

Theo Byrne is a promising young astrobiologist who has found a way to search for life on other planets dozens of light years away. He is also the widowed father of a most unusual nine-year-old. His son Robin is funny, loving, and filled with plans. He thinks and feels deeply, adores animals, and can spend hours painting elaborate pictures. He is also on the verge of being expelled from third grade, for smashing his friend’s face with a metal thermos.

What can a father do, when the only solution offered to his rare and troubled boy is to put him on psychoactive drugs? What can he say when his boy comes to him wanting an explanation for a world that is clearly in love with its own destruction? The only thing for it is to take the boy to other planets, while all the while fostering his son’s desperate campaign to help save this one.

A magnificent new novel by Richard Powers, his first novel since the Booker Prize-shortlisted, Pulitzer Prize-winning The Overstory.

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The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Peculiar Pairs in Nature

Sami Bayly     Recommended by    

Come along for another fresh take on the animal kingdom from bestselling author and illustrator, Sami Bayly. Discover 60 of the most peculiar pairs in nature and learn how plant and animal species rely on each other for their survival. Whether it be a rare tick living in the fur of a pygmy possum, a stick insect feasting and hiding out amongst the Melaleuca or a handfish laying its eggs on a sea squirt, incredible natural relationships deserve to be explored and celebrated. Investigating all types of relationships, from symbiotic to parasitic, this is an eye-opening guide to the natural world.

Sami’s first book, The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Ugly Animals, won the Children’s Indie Book of the Year Award and the Australian Book Design Award for Younger Readers. It was a CBCA Honour Book and was shortlisted for an ABIA Book of the Year for Younger Children and longlisted for the ABA Booksellers’ Choice 2020 Book of the Year Awards. Her second book, The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Dangerous Animals, was a CBCA Honour Book, an ABIA Book of the Year for Younger Children, won an Australian Book Design Award for Younger Readers and was shortlisted for the Children’s Indie Book of the Year 2020.

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Birds

Tim Flach     Recommended by    

Working for years in his studio and in the field, internationally acclaimed photographer Tim Flach has portrayed nature’s most alluring creatures alertly at rest and dramatically in flight, capturing intricate feather patterns and subtle colouration invisible to the naked eye.

From familiar friends, including the king penguin and the black swan, to marvellous rarities, such as the kagu and the Bali myna, Flach conveys the dazzling diversity of birds. Here are all manner of songbirds, parrots and birds of paradise; birds of prey, waterbirds and theatrical domestic breeds.

Compelling text by prominent ornithologist Richard O. Prum takes the reader into the deep history of birds, ancestors of the dinosaurs living among us, and sheds light on the distinct behaviours of each species.

The result of much patience, precision and persistence, Birds features more than 130 extraordinary photographs. Putting us face-to-face with some of Earth’s most magnetic living beings, Flach evokes the magnificence of the animal kingdom – and the urgent need to protect and defend it.

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