Category Archives: Non-fiction

Meanwhile at Shiny…

…I’ve had several reviews published recently. In the Name of the Family by Sarah Dunant Sarah Dunant’s latest novel chronicles the last year of Pope Alexander VI’s life. He was, of course, head of the Borgia family in Renaissance Italy. His mad and vicious soldier son Cesare, and daughter about to be thrice-married Lucrezia complete the trio, with Niccolo Macchiavelli… Read more »

Meanwhile, over at Shiny…

I have two reviews from the past couple of weeks, I haven’t shared here yet… The Fatal Tree by Jake Arnott Jake Arnott’s novels are moving back in time. He started in the 1960s and 1970s with his Long Firm trilogy, (the first of which I reviewed here), then he moved back to WWII followed by the early years of… Read more »

The new look Shiny is here!

The new style Shiny New Books is back with new reviews for you We have a new site design and a new way of sharing our content with our readers. We’re changing from our former ‘magazine’ format, in which we published lots of new pages in big batches every couple of months (and giving you too much to read in… Read more »

Why being ‘Messy’ is good for you…

Messy by Tim Harford Tim Harford is a senior columnist at the Financial Times but radio listeners may know him from his programme on BBC Radio 4 – More Or Less – in which he explores, explains and debunks the statistics in everyday life.  His programme is one of my favourites. (Try this episode in which he (re)analyses the apparent… Read more »

‘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 heart-attack. Carrie Fisher was one… Read more »

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 to write a conventional memoir… Read more »

Two shorter reviews…

Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey This account of a woman becoming afflicted by, and then having to live with extreme photosensitivity is completely harrowing, but suffused with dark humour. The author was enjoying life and had met the love of her life when she started to get burning sensations on her skin after screen-use and sun exposure, Soon… Read more »

A great comfort at year-end

Play All: A Bingewatcher’s Notebook by Clive James Whatever is happening outside, a new book by Clive James is always a comfort to read – something you can’t say about many other (predominantly) non-fiction writers, except Bill Bryson. I grew up reading James’ TV reviews in the Observer every weekend – looking forward to the ways he was able to… Read more »

Year end review #4: The Stats

I’ve been number-crunching on my master spreadsheet and yes, It’s time to share my year’s stats with you!  These are accurate to book 139 or 140 on my 2016 reading list on the tab above. The amount I’m reading has been gradually going up year on year, as I watch less telly, do less sewing and go to bed to read… Read more »

Two shorter non-fic reviews

I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction lately – including some absolute crackers that deserve a whole post to themselves – and I don’t mind saving them to write about for the new year. Meanwhile, today I have two shorter non-fic reviews for you… Set Phasers to Stun by Marcus Berkmann If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll… Read more »

All that remains… in the charnel house.

A Tour of Bones by Denise Inge Denise Inge was an American who married an English clergyman. When he became Bishop of Worcester they moved there, and Denise found that they would have to share their new home with a ‘charnel house’. Wikipedia defines it thus: “A charnel house is a vault or building where human skeletal remains are stored…. Read more »

Doesn’t go up to 11…

Marshall: The Book of Loud by Nick Harper I love books of trivia and infographics – this book which is subtitled ‘An essential miscellany of musical knowledge’, is aimed squarely at the Christmas market. While fun, it doesn’t really have enough of either trivia or infographics, being saddled with too much filler – more on that later. It is nice… Read more »

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 co-founded), in its new home… Read more »

We’re doomed! Or are we?

A Farewell To Ice by Peter Wadhams One theme that has emerged in much of my reading of late is that of icy and mostly northern climes. From Beryl Bainbridge’s Titanic novel Every Man for Himself to Midge Raymond’s Antarctic penguins in My Last Continent to Eowyn Ivey’s Alaska in To The Bright Edge of the World, then Stef Penney’s forthcoming Greenland-based epic Under… Read more »

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 to you today: The Age… Read more »

My gut obsession continues – more food for thought

The Diet Myth by Tim Spector The first book I reviewed this year (Gut by Giulia Enders – review here) was a revelation to me. It created a new obsession – to improve my digestion and gut flora by eating better and hopefully losing some weight along the way. But learning about the anatomy and physiology of the gut from Gut was only half of the… Read more »

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 flair. The shame is that… Read more »

Getting Hygge …

The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell This was our book group’s read for January, chosen when our of our group had just come back from Copenhagen enthusiastic to learn more about the Danish way of life. The whole group enjoyed reading it – it’s very easy and the author has a nice line in self-deprecation. We also found… Read more »

I dared to read the book…

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo A few days ago, I posed the question Dare I read this book? Do read the earlier post for an introduction to this best-selling self-help book by the new young Japanese queen of decluttering. Well, your comments certainly emboldened me and I put the TBR Dare to one side temporarily, and I read the… Read more »

Dare I read this book?

There are few things guaranteed to put fear into a book- lover’s life than the idea of getting rid of some books, and other stuff of course.  My mind is starting to turn to the idea of downsizing – at some undecided point in the future – not now, but my house is so full of ‘stuff’ that I will need to… Read more »