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PFD Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year shortlist – Minoo Dinshaw

Outlandish Knight: The Byzantine Life of Steven Runciman by Minoo Dinshaw I think I can be forgiven for going ‘Steven Who?’ when faced with this doorstop of a book to read as a Shadow Judge of this prize. History has never been my strong suit, and I’d never heard of Runciman – who turned out Read More

The Day That Went Missing

An evening with Richard Beard at Mostly Books

Last night I was at a rather special author event at my local indie bookshop Mostly Books with local(ish) author Richard Beard.  Mark in the shop had long ago persuaded me to buy Beard’s last novel, Goldsmith Prize shortlisted, The Acts of the Assassins, but sadly I’ve not read it yet – I know I’ll have a Read More

Princess Diarist

‘Carrison’ and ‘A New Hope’

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher Like the whole world, I was totally shocked to hear of Carrie Fisher’s heart-attack, then death over Christmas, followed by her mother Debbie Reynolds just one day later. I’d bought this volume the week it came out, and had just started to read it when I heard of her Read More

how-music-works

A Talking Head talks about music

How Music Works by David Byrne This book was the highlight of my splurge of non-fiction reading in December. David Byrne, founder and idiosyncratic front man of Talking Heads – one of the best punky/art-rock bands there has ever been, friend and collaborator with Brian Eno and Robert Fripp amongst others, could never be expected Read More

my-life-in-design

What a Life in Design…

My Life in Design – Sir Terence Conran Terence Conran is 84 years young and still working. He’s one of the UK’s most iconic designers – a quote on the back cover of this book declares him: “Britain’s Taste-Maker in Chief”   Mick Brown, Daily Telegraph. With the upcoming reopening of London’s Design Museum (which he Read More

SNB logo medium

Shiny issue 12 published today

One of the reasons I’ve been quieter here, despite reading like mad is the number of books I’ve been reading and reviewing for the next issue(s) of Shiny New Books, and Issue 12 is published today! I’ve reviewed an eclectic mix of books for this issue, and would like to highlight the two non-fiction titles Read More

last act of love

Learning to let go …

The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize (read more about that here), Cathy Rentzenbrink’s book about her and her brother is the kind of memoir that hits you with a wallop. Once started, it won’t let go – I read it in one sitting, going from shock to being Read More

shopgirl

The making of Mary (Queen of Shops)

Shop Girl by Mary Portas Mary Portas is one of those TV presenter/gurus you either love or find profoundly irritating. I love her and her championing of the high street and independent retailers. Her TV programmes where she helps ailing businesses are full of common sense and good advice jazzed up with her team’s design Read More

Carrie Fisher

Capturing her memories

Republished into its original place in my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher In my review of Fisher’s previous slim volume of anecdotal memoir, Wishful Drinking, I wished she would write a full memoir a couple of years down the line. Instead, she has done more of the same, but you know what, I don’t care Read More

From those wonderful folk

Those maddening real-life Mad Men …

From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-line Dispatches from the Advertising War by Jerry Della Femina. This book was originally published in 1970 – an insider’s guide to the goings on in the ad industry in the 1960s by a guy who was there – one of the original Mad Men.  Thanks to the success Read More

Different for Girls

Being in a band – a girl’s perspective

Different for Girls: A Girl’s Own True-life Adventures in Pop by Louise Wener While I never followed the band Sleeper, I was aware of them – their singles were fun and tuneful.  However their singer, Louise Wener, did stand out from the crowd with her big brown eyes, pouty lips and great haircut – there were few Read More

Direct Red

You need toughness to be a cutter …

Direct Red: A Surgeon’s Story by Gabriel Weston This slim book about becoming a surgeon is one of the best medical books I’ve ever read.  Some days as an interested bystander, I secretly wish I’d become a doctor – even a surgeon, but then seeing programmes on telly or reading books like this, I know Read More