Ghost Cities

Siang Lu     Recommended by Staff    

Ghost Cities – inspired by the vacant, uninhabited megacities of China – follows multiple narratives, including one in which a young man named Xiang is fired from his job as a translator at Sydney’s Chinese Consulate after it is discovered he doesn’t speak a word of Chinese and has been relying entirely on Google Translate for his work.

How is his relocation to one such ghost city connected to a parallel odyssey in which an ancient Emperor creates a thousand doubles of Himself? Or where a horny mountain gains sentience? Where a chess-playing automaton hides a deadly secret? Or a tale in which every book in the known Empire is destroyed – then re-created, page by page and book by book, all in the name of love and art?

Allegorical and imaginative, Ghost Cities will appeal to readers of Haruki Murakami and Italo Calvino.

Judgement at Tokyo: World War II on Trial and the Making of Modern Asia

Gary J. Bass     Recommended by Staff    

 ‘A work of singular importance . . . balanced, original, human, accessible, and riveting’ – Philippe Sands, author of East-West Street. 

 The definitive account of the Tokyo war crimes trials of 1946-8, WWII and the beginning of the end of the European empires in Asia and the impact the settlement has had on post-war China and Japan, the wider history of East and South Asia – and of the world – to this day.

From the prizewinning author of the acclaimed The Blood Telegram, a landmark, magisterial history of the postwar trial of Japan’s leaders as war criminals – and their impact on the modern history of Asia and the world.

In the weeks after Japan finally surrendered to the Allies to end World War II, the victorious powers turned to the question of how to move on from years of carnage and destruction. To them, it was clear that Japan’s militaristic leaders needed to be tried and punished for their crimes. For the Allied powers, the trials were an opportunity both to render judgment on their vanquished foes and to create a legal framework to prosecute war crimes and prohibit the use of aggressive war. For the Japanese leaders on trial, it was their chance to argue that their war had been waged to liberate Asia from Western imperialism and that the court was no more than victors’ justice.

Gary J. Bass’ Judgement at Tokyo is the product of a decade of research, a magnificent, riveting story of wartime action, dramatic courtroom battles, and the epic formative years that set the stage for the postwar era in the Asia–Pacific.

Color Charts: A History

Anne Varichon     Recommended by Staff    

The need to categorise and communicate colour has mobilised practitioners and scholars for centuries. Color Charts describes the many different methods and ingenious devices developed since the fifteenth century by doctors, naturalists, dyers, and painters to catalogue fragments of colours. With the advent of industrial society, manufacturers and merchants developed some of the most beautiful and varied tools ever designed to present all the available colours. Thanks to them, society has discovered the abundance of colour embodied in a plethora of materials: cuts of fabric, leather, paper, and rubber; slats of wood and linoleum; delicate skeins of silk; careful deposits of paint and pastels; fragments of lipstick; and arrangements of flower petals. These samples shape a visual culture and a chromatic vocabulary and instill a deep desire for colour.

Anne Varichon traces the emergence of modern colour charts from a set of processes developed over the centuries in various contexts. She presents illuminating examples that bring this remarkable story to life, from ancient writings revealing attention to precise shade to contemporary designers’ colour charts, dyers’ notebooks, and Werner’s famous colour nomenclature. Varichon argues that colour charts have linked generations of artists, artisans, scientists, industrialists, and merchants, and have played an essential and enduring role in the way societies think about colour.

Drawing on nearly two hundred documents from public and private collections, almost all of them previously unpublished, this wonderfully illustrated book shows how the colour chart, in its many distinct forms and expressions, is a practical tool that has transcended its original purpose to become an educational aid and subject of contemplation worthy of being studied and admired.

A Therapeutic Library: 100 Essential Books That Teach Fulfilment, Calm and Wellbeing

The School of Life     Recommended by Staff    

Books, however familiar, are amongst the strangest objects on the planet: little portals that open directly into the ideas, feelings, loves and sorrows of writers from all times and places.

There are many reasons to love reading. But boldly, we emphasise one: we read for emotional guidance and support. The right book can bring consolation or courage; it can locate fresh sources of generosity or confidence; it can help unlock our half-forgotten reserves of creativity or resilience. But time is precious, and opportunity is limited.

That’s why The School of Life has put together an ideal library that can speak helpfully to our individual needs and longings. Ranging across history and drawing on world literature, we’ve found our group of book-friends. A few may be acquaintances already, many will be new companions. But all offer the same essential thing: they will go with us as true friends through the complex, fascinating (and sometimes painfully hard) places of life with kindness and wisdom.

The Amplified Come As You Are: The Story Of Nirvana

Michael Azerrad     Recommended by    

“Just tell the truth. That’ll be better than anything else that’s been written about me.” — Kurt Cobain to author Michael Azerrad

A downright revolutionary 30th-anniversary deluxe edition of the iconic bestselling biography of Nirvana, updated with exclusive new content exploring the personal and cultural forces that inspired the music, the author’s friendship with Kurt Cobain and why multiple generations remain fascinated by the 1990s.

It has been three decades since Nirvana upended the pop cultural landscape with Nevermind, the landmark album that became the soundtrack of Generation X, capturing its confusion, frustration, and passion. In 1993, Michael Azerrad published what stands as the definitive biography of this revolutionary band and its star-crossed leader Kurt Cobain. Written with the band’s complete cooperation, Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana became a massive bestseller and was, in the words of Cobain, “the best rock book I’ve ever read.”

Seven months after the book’s original publication, Cobain was dead by suicide, making Come as You Are the only book about Nirvana that features original interviews with Cobain, bassist Krist Novoselic, and drummer Dave Grohl.

Now, Azerrad has revisited and reconsidered his original text. The result is this “amplified” version—a truly unique book-within-a-book featuring hundreds of extensive new essay-like annotations that deepen our understanding of this legendary band and the time in which it existed. Azerrad reconsiders the key players and their cultural context; ruminates on topics such as punk rock, selling out, and Generation X; and offers insights into the inner life and creative mind of one of the most significant songwriters and musicians in rock history—a haunting and haunted artist whose influence continues powerfully to the present day.

It all comes down to a search for the answer to the question: Why was this music so extraordinarily powerful?

Vivid, evocative, and thought-provoking, this gorgeous hardcover book—featuring 100 photos and ephemera—is an essential document not just for Nirvana fans but for anyone interested in the cultural legacy of the 1990s.

Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder

Salman Rushdie     Recommended by Staff    

A searing, deeply personal account of enduring a brutal attempt on his life, thirty years after the fatwa that was ordered against him – from internationally renowned writer and Booker Prize-winner Salman Rushdie.

On the morning of 12 August 2022, Salman Rushdie was standing onstage at the Chautauqua Institution in upstate New York, preparing to give a lecture on the importance of keeping writers safe from harm, when a man in black – black clothes, black mask – rushed down the aisle towards him, wielding a knife. His first thought – So it’s you. Here you are.

What followed was a horrific act of violence that shook the literary world and beyond. Now, for the first time, and in unforgettable detail, Rushdie relives the traumatic events of that day and its aftermath, as well as his journey towards physical recovery and the healing that was made possible by the love and support of his wife, Eliza, his family, his army of doctors and physical therapists, and his community of readers worldwide.

Knife is Rushdie at the peak of his powers, writing with urgency, with gravity, with unflinching honesty. It is also a deeply moving reminder of literature’s capacity to make sense of the unthinkable, an intimate and life-affirming meditation on life, loss, love, art – and finding the strength to stand up again.

The Book of Doors

Gareth Brown     Recommended by Staff    

These books are like weapons. And possession is power. . . With a perfect combination of dark magical books, unforgettable characters, and a storyline that grabs the reader and simply doesn’t let go, this is the heart-stoppingly exciting contemporary fantasy debut of 2024.

Because some doors should never be opened.

New York bookseller Cassie Andrews is not sure what she’s doing with her life. She lives quietly, sharing an apartment with her best friend, Izzy. Then a favourite customer gives her an old book. Full of strange writing and mysterious drawings, at the very front there is a handwritten message-

This is the Book of Doors. Hold it in your hand, and any door is every door.

Cassie is about to discover that the Book of Doors is a special book – a magic book. A book that bestows extraordinary abilities on whoever possesses it. And she is about to learn that there are other magic books out there that can also do wondrous – or dreadful and terrifying – things.

Because where there is magic there is power and there are those who will stop at nothing to possess it.

Suddenly Cassie and Izzy are confronted by violence and danger, and the only person who can help them is Drummond Fox who has a secret library of magical books hidden in the shadows for safekeeping, a man fleeing his own demons. Because there is a nameless evil out there that is hunting them all . . .

Because this book is worth killing for.

Addictive, brilliantly written and utterly irresistible, The Book of Doors is the spell-binding, mind-bending, heart-pounding new adventure that is perfect for fans of The BindingThe Midnight Library and A Discovery of Witches . . .


‘A stunning fever dream of a story.’ LEE CHILD

‘A beautiful, unputdownable love letter to books.’ BETH LEWIS

‘A real page-turner – incredibly ambitious and inventive.’ ROSIE ANDREWS

The Year I Met My Brain

Matilda Boseley     Recommended by Luka    

This book is a game changer! I can’t recommend it enough for anyone with, or suspects they have, ADHD. Chock-full of stats and research to satisfy my fact-loving brain, but brilliantly balanced with anecdotes that decode some of the more complex stuff – like the difference between dopamine and norepinephrine! Boseley clearly knows her audience; this book is bold and colourful, with bigger chunks of text made more accessible with dot points, summaries, diagrams, and bloody cute illustrations.

As a journalist, Boseley is a seriously skilled writer, and I can’t stress enough just how accessible and readable this book is – obviously very helpful for those with ADHD! Why does it seem like so many people are diagnosed with ADHD lately? Why have some adults with ADHD been missed? And in the future of ADHD education, who is being left behind? Boseley unpacks all these questions in detail, and offers substantial insight into the big question: how the bloody hell do you live with ADHD? -Luka

What Happened to Nina?

Dervla McTiernan     Recommended by Luka    

So… What Happened to Nina? My first foray into Dervla McTiernan’s catalogue; it’s good to know if I ever need a good crime-mystery, I have a new confidant in McTiernan! What Happened to Nina? is very, very hard to put down. It reminded me somewhat of Gone Girl – grisly missing-girlfriend crime-drama – in an era where ‘picking a side’ is fodder for brutal, rage-fuelled, click-bait algorithms. The mystery of what happened to Nina Fraser expands into a dark feud between the Frasers and the Jordans. The Jordans are certain their love-sick son (and Nina’s boyfriend), Simon, is being framed. The Frasers just want Nina back, at whatever cost. The rumour mill is a weapon, and between the two grief-stricken families, they stab true. It’s odd to call a crime novel ‘a great time’, but… I had a great time reading this. It’s seriously captivating. -Luka

All You Need Is Love: The End of the Beatles – An Oral History by Those Who Were There

Steven Gaines and Peter Brown     Recommended by Staff    

‘I can think of no one better placed to tell the story behind The Beatles than Peter Brown.’ -Pattie Boyd Harrison

‘A revealing oral history of the forces that spurred the band’s breakup… drawing from a trove of never before published conversations. Beatles fans will be impatient to get their hands on this.’ –Publishers Weekly

All You Need is Love is a ground-breaking oral history of the Beatles and how it all came to an end. Based on never-before-published or heard interviews with Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and their families, friends, and business associates, this is a landmark book, containing stunning new revelations, about the biggest band the world has ever seen.

In 1980-1981 former COO of Apple Corp, Peter Brown and author Steven Gaines interviewed everyone in the Beatles’ inner circle and included a small portion of the transcripts in their international bestselling book The Love You Make, which spent four months on the New York Times bestseller list. But left in their archives was a treasure trove of unique and candid interviews that they chose not to publish, until now.

A powerful work assembled through honest, intimate, sometimes contradictory and always fascinating testimony, All You Need is Love is a one-of-a-kind insight into the final days, weeks, months and years of the Beatles phenomenon.

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