Two recent science books

Hacking Darwin: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity by Jamie Metzl Genetic engineering is a controversial topic, and news coverage is generally lacking in proper detail or hopelessly biased one way or another. There are so many scare stories, alongside the fantastic developments that will undoubtedly be helpful to mankind. The words ‘genetic engineering’ Read More

Life as a WPC

On the Line by Alice Vinten We are all fascinated by other peoples’ lives these days. Narrative non-fiction as publishers call the mixture that includes history, politics, biography and memoir – any non-fiction that tells a story. Doctors and surgeons’ memoirs, have been joined by nurses, midwives, chefs, firemen, barristers and more, and now by Read More

An evening with Kate Clanchy and her new book

Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me by Kate Clanchy Some of you may know Kate Clanchy’s work from her super comic novel Meeting the English (see here) or her earlier memoir Antigona and Me (see here), about a refugee who became her cleaner and nanny. She has also published books of poetry Read More

British Book Award Shortlists

The British Book Awards run by The Bookseller are the publishing industry’s equivalent of the BAFTAs and are affectionately known as The Nibbies. They celebrate the best British writers, books, publishers and bookshops. The Books of the Year are split into the following categories with one overall winner being picked too: Fiction Debut Crime & Read More

Blogtour – Under the Rock by Benjamin Myers

Ever since Rebecca reviewed this book in hardback for Shiny (see here), I’ve wanted to read it, (and Myers’s prize-winning novel Gallows Pole which I already had on my shelf). Now out in paperback, in Under the Rock, subtitled ‘Stories carved from the land’, Myers boldly combines nature writing with history, psycho-geography, photography and poetry Read More

Dealing with Metrophobia

The Point of Poetry by Joe Nutt You won’t find ‘metrophobia’ in the OED yet, but plenty of other places will tell you it means the fear of poetry – not underground railways! Now, I’ve always appreciated an occasional poem: I read the ones in the TLS each week; I can still remember lots of Read More

Wellcome Book Prize reading: #4 Amateur

Amateur by Thomas Page McBee McBee, a trans man, takes on the challenge of learning to box to appear in a charity match at Madison Square Gardens. Boxing, until recent years has been seen as a most masculine sport, and as he trains, McBee examines what makes a man and the interrelations between masculinity and Read More

Just the job for this young lady…

MI5 and Me – A Coronet Among the Spooks by Charlotte Bingham Back in 1963, the young Charlotte Bingham published a book of humorous memoir called Coronet Among the Weeds. The daughter of the 7th Baron, Clanmorris, it told of Bingham’s experience of ‘The Season’ as a debutante among the chinless wonders, or weeds, as Read More

Wellcome Reading 2019 #2 Trauma

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein When I picked this book to read from the Wellcome Book Prize longlist for 2019, I had no idea what an amazing person we would meet within its pages. I just knew that it was the story of a woman who runs a trauma cleaning business in Australia, where Read More

Wellcome Book Prize 10th Anniversary Blog Tour

I was delighted to be asked to take part in this blog tour, running ahead of the announcement of the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize longlist in February. This most unique of literary awards which “rewards exceptional works of literature that illuminate the many ways that health, medicine and illness touch our lives,” is ten years Read More

Review Catch-up #3 from 2018

Yet another pair of shorter reviews of books I read at the tail-end of 2018. Where Shall We Run To? by Alan Garner I shall be reviewing this book at length for Shiny but it warrants a short write-up here too. I am a big Alan Garner fan (see here), and I can think of Read More

Review Catch-up #1 from 2018

I’ve got a pile of books I finished reading in 2018 that I haven’t reviewed yet. Some deserve their own posts, but here’s a pair of shorter write-ups. The Atlas of Disease by Sandra Hempel This is a curious book – ostensibly an ‘atlas’ produced using the latest data available, in which the author charts Read More

Year End Review #4: Non-Fiction

This isn’t going to be a long post, as I’ve talked about a lot of my non-fiction reading this year recently during Non Fiction November (see here), but since that post, I’ve added several more books to that list, making my non-fiction total 31 in 2018 as of today.  That’s just about 22% which is Read More

Living on the Edge

Outskirts by John Grindrod Like the author, I am a 1970s product of the Croydon/Surrey borders, so I was particularly interested to read this book, which is part memoir, part history of the Green Belt. Grindrod grew up in a postwar estate that was added to Croydon’s south-eastern outskirts, and in this estate, he lived Read More

Nonfiction November: Book Pairings

Nonfiction November is being hosted by Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Julie (JulzReads), and Katie (Doing Dewey). through the site What’s Nonfiction?  They have a wonderful programme mapped out for November here. The topic for the second week is “book pairings” – matching a nonfiction book with a fiction one, which Read More

Nonfiction November – My Year in Non-fiction

Nonfiction November is being hosted by Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Julie (JulzReads), and Katie (Doing Dewey). through the site What’s Nonfiction?  They have a wonderful programme mapped out for November here. The topic for the first week is “Your Year in Nonfiction ” in which we’re encouraged to Read More

Who better to talk about the surrealists?

The Lives of the Surrealists by Desmond Morris Surrealism was originally more than an art movement, it was a philosophical code – a way of living that rebelled against the establishment.  Originating in  1920s Paris, following the Dadaists in WWI, it spread world-wide. The term ‘surrealism’ was coined by Apollinaire a few years before two Read More

Shiny Linkiness

I don’t always have time to link to my reviews over at Shiny New Books, but I have to share this one far and wide. Viv Albertine’s second volume of memoir was published in April. I saw her talk about it at the Faber Spring Party, and she was funny and lovely, and through writing, Read More

Book Group Report: ‘White’

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson While a spirited pitch for Hari Kunzru’s White Tears was made when we selected our ‘white’ book, we went to a draw and this book from 2003 came out of the hat. Subtitled ‘Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair That Changed America’, Larson’s book is Read More

Two books about fashion and design…

Vogue Essentials: The Little Black Dress by Chloe Fox This book arrived and I couldn’t stop myself from immediately becoming totally immersed in it. The idea is simple – stunning photography from the Vogue archive – from Beaton to Demarchelier via Bailey, models Shrimpton on the cover to Moss and Lily Cole, plus Coco Chanel Read More

‘A Life in Death’

All That Remains by Sue Black As one of the world’s foremost anatomists and forensic anthropologists, Sue Black’s life in death has been full of interest. She has been a professor based at Dundee University for years, and, she was appointed as a Dame in 2016 for services to forensic anthropology and she is a Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The Tipping Point

Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, Six Degrees of Separation picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps.Our starting book this month is the non-Fiction bestseller… The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell This book, first published in 2000, (which I reviewed here in 2009) was one of Read More

A Wild Swans for this generation?

Once Upon a Time in the East by Xiaolu Guo It is inevitable that Guo’s memoir, which was shortlisted this year for the Rathbones Folio Prize (which I wrote about here), will be compared with Jung Chang’s brilliant family history and memoir Wild Swans, with Guo adding her story as a young woman from the Read More

“17 Brushes with Death”

I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell Subtitled “17 Brushes With Death” O’Farrell’s memoir was recently longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize, and I (and others on our shadow panel) were devastated when it wasn’t shortlisted. For me, it could have replaced Ayobami’s Stay With Me or perhaps Rausing’s Mayhem, although I can Read More

Wellcome Book Prize Blog Tour

Today, it’s mine and Paul’s (Halfman, Halfbook) turn on the Wellcome Book Prize Blog Tour. Each day two bloggers are covering one of the books on the shortlist for this prize which will be announced on Monday. One will review, the other will host an extract, so head over to Paul’s blog (Halfman, Halfbook) to read a Read More

Wellcome Book Prize #2 – The Butchering Art

The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris This is the second of my reviews of books shortlisted for the 2018 Wellcome Book Prize, read as part of the shadow panel. Lindsey Fitzharris is an American with a doctorate from Oxford in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology, and a post-doc Fellowship from the Wellcome Trust Read More

Wellcome shortlist #1

To Be a Machine by Mark O’Connell The second book in my shadow reading from the Wellcome Book Prize shortlist, (the first was The Vaccine Race which I’ll be reviewing for the official blog tour in a couple of week’s time). I loved this book from the front cover to the back, starting with its Read More

Get ‘Educated’ in Abingdon

Coming soon – an evening with Tara Westover The next book I’ll be reading will be Educated by Tara Westover (right). Published this week, Tara’s memoir is of growing up off-grid in the hills of Idaho sounds fascinating. Her father spent his time preparing for the end of the world, her mother worked as an unqualified Read More

Bookselling highs and lows…

The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell A couple of years ago, my fantasy of buying a bookshop could have come true – one of my local indie bookshops was up for sale. I just about had the money and the shop was ticking along nicely (thanks to the hard work put in by Read More

An artist’s memoir of childhood in London and Hollywood …

Unaccompanied Minor by Alexander Newley My review of this memoir by the son of Joan Collins and Anthony Newley is my first of the year for Shiny New Books. Newley is an artist and frequent self-portraitist, and this account of growing up in this dysfunctional story was illustrated and enriched by many of his pictures Read More