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Non-fiction recommendations and reviews

Enter the world of Charlie's four unlikely friends and remind yourself of the important things in life.

The conversations of the boy, the mole, the fox and the horse have been shared thousands of times online, recreated in school art classes, hung on hospital walls and turned into tattoos. In Charlie's first book, you will find his most-loved illustrations and some new ones too...a modern fable for all ages to treasure.

We think: a beautiful book to keep close or to gift this Christmas

The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse

by Charlie Mackesy

Peter Fiennes follows in the footsteps of twelve inspirational writers, bringing modern Britain into focus by peering through the lens of the past. 

From the wilds of Skye and Snowdon, to a big night out in Birmingham with J.B. Priestley and Beryl Bainbridge, Footnotes is a series of evocative biographies, a lyrical foray into the past, and a quest to understand Britain through the books, journals and diaries of some of our greatest writers.

We think: a great combination of places and people

Footnotes

by Peter Fiennes

In this era of massively increasing globalisation, and with China ever more at the forefront of the news, does the global balance of power still lie in the West? In his critically acclaimed new book, Peter Frankopan (author of best-selling 'The Silk Roads') argues that the global power balance has shifted east. Looking at all aspects of China's relationship with the world, this accessible and thought-provoking book seeks to argue that China, not the West, calls the shots in today's world.

We think: timely and intriguing look at where the global balance of power now lies

The New Silk Roads

by Peter Frankopan

'Everything needs to change. And it has to start today'.

Read young activist Greta Thunberg's powerful speeches which have inspired a global movement against climate change and earned her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

We think: uncomfortable yet vital reading

No one is too small to make a difference

by Greta Thunberg

Award-winning writer Adam Nicolson tells the story, almost day by day, of the year in the late 1790s that Coleridge and Wordsworth produced some of their most celebrated works, including The Ancient Mariner, Kubla Khan and Lyrical Ballads.

Laced with dynamic prints by artist Tom Hammick, this is a fantastic exploration of creativity and a book to gift or treasure for yourself.

We think: wonderful combination of poetry and landscape

The Making of Poetry: Coleridge, the Wordsworths and their Year of Marvels

by Adam Nicolson

'Hastings himself says that “the literature of the Vietnam war is immense”. Why, then, add to it? It is a good question, but one to which his book provides a resounding answer. This is a work of considerable quality, marked by a possibly unique combination of military expertise, historical grasp and journalistic skill in unearthing hitherto undiscovered human stories of the war, as well as judiciously selecting from among others already known.' (The Guardian)

We think: absorbing history witnessed first-hand by Hastings as a young reporter

Vietnam: An Epic History of a Tragic War 

by Max Hastings

'A travel book of the first order. Atkins reminds a world shrunken by Google Earth that true discovery remains not only possible, but exhilarating - History, Geography, Art, Politics, all get a look in'. (Financial Times)

We think: beautifully observed classic travel writing

The Immeasurable World: A Desert Journey 

by William Atkins

A book that will make you want to go outside on the next sunny day, find a bee on a flower and settle down to watch...

We think: enchanting piece of natural history writing

BUZZ 

The Nature and Necessity of Bees by Thor Hanson

A mysterious green knight gatecrashes King Arthur's court, laying down a challenge involving beheading and revenge...

Written around 1400, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of the finest examples of medieval poetry, expertly retold by recently named Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage (May 2019).

We think: accessible re-telling steeped in mystery, violence and romance

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight transl by Simon Armitage

'The future of all life on this planet depends on our willingness to take action now'. Sir David Attenborough

This official companion to the groundbreaking documentary combines facts and photography in a powerful call to arms to save our beautiful world.

We think: compelling text and stunning photography

Our Planet  - Netflix documentary tie-in

Trauma surgeon David Nott describes his experiences at the sharp end of surgery in war and disaster zones. At times harrowing, but always compelling, a memoir of astonishing bravery and humanity in the most desperate of situations.

We think: unputdownable memoir of renowned trauma surgeon

War Doctor by David Nott

Based on previously classified material, Roland Philipps reveals the character and devastating impact of perhaps the most dangerous soviet agent of the twentieth century. From his conversion to Communism at a young age through his stellar diplomatic career and eventual daring escape to Moscow.

We think: exposes breathtaking naivety of a former age

A Spy named Orphan by Roland Philipps

Last few copies remaining of the fascinating story of Liz Eberlie, fondly remembered by many as headmistress of local Bricklehurst Manor school, previously decorated for a formidable career as successful code-breaker and senior intelligence officer in France and the Far East during WWII.

We think: extraordinary and colourful wartime experiences of local heroine

Liz's War by Dick Eberlie

A meticulously researched and highly readable double biography of Byron's wife, Annabella Milbanke, and the daughter he never saw grow up, Ada Lovelace, who became a pioneer of computing and a feminist heroine.

Sunday Times Book of the Year!

We think: behind every great man, there's a great woman (or two)

In Byron's Wake by Miranda Seymour

A family biography of Lien de Jong, who was "given away" by her parents to save her from the Holocaust. Bart van Es, grandson of the couple who took Lien in, explores his fascinating family story.

We think: a worthy winner of the Costa Awards

The Cut out girl by Bart van Es

Leading Tudor historian, John Guy, offers radical interpretations of Mary Stuart's dramatic life. Previously published as "My Heart is my  Own" and winner of the Whitbread Biography Award 2004 - "... now a major motion picture" as they say

We think: the truth behind Mary is every bit as dramatic as the film!

Mary Queen of Scots by John Guy

Polish journalist, Ryszard Kapuscinski, describes his Cold War-era postings to India and China in the company of a translation of Herodotus' Histories, only permitted to be published after Stalin's death, which becomes a constant companion, comfort and guide.

We think: A beautifully written snapshot of a different life and time

Travels with Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuscinski

Full of gems that make you think and may make you laugh out loud. From Haiku No 1 ("To freeze the moment / in seventeen syllables / is very diffic") to Bipolar Inmate Diary or The Man Who Didn't Love Elvis, Cooper Clarke moves from wit to social commentary and back to the simply whimsical.

We think: a rare book from this punk performance poet - full of wit and whimsy

The Luckiest Guy Alive by John Cooper Clarke