Had enough of escaping into a fictional land of mystery? Feel the need to feed your brain with information? Here’s our pick of the most interesting non-fiction around at the moment.
The Future we Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis – Christiana Figueres (Hardback) A cautionary but optimistic book about the world’s changing climate and the fate of humanity. The authors outline two possible scenarios for our planet. In one, they describe what life on Earth will be like by 2050 if we fail to meet the Paris climate targets. In the other, they lay out what it will be like to live in a carbon neutral, regenerative world.
Our House is on Fire – Malena Ernman, Greta Thunberg, Beata Ernman, Svante Thunberg (Hardback) The profoundly moving story of how love, courage and determination brought Greta Thunberg’s family back from the brink. Greta’s devoted parents, and her young sister, struggled to cope when she stopped speaking and eating. They searched for answers, and began to see how their children’s suffering reached far beyond medical diagnoses. This crisis was not theirs alone: they were burned-out people on a burned-out planet. Our House is on Fire shows how, they found ways to strengthen, heal, and gain courage from the love they had for each other – and for the living world.
How to Argue with a Racist – Adam Rutherford (Hardback) A vital manifesto for a twenty-first century understanding of human evolution and variation, and a timely weapon against the misuse of science to justify bigotry.
The Meaning of Travel – Emily Thomas (Hardback) How can we think more deeply about travel? This question inspired Emily Thomas’ journey into the philosophy of travel. Part philosophical ramble, part travelogue, The Meaning of Travel begins in the Age of Discovery, when philosophers first started taking travel seriously. It meanders forward to consider Montaigne on otherness, John Locke on cannibals, and Henry Thoreau on wilderness. We discover the dark side of maps, how the philosophy of space fuelled mountain tourism, and why you should wash underwear in woodland cabins…
Homing – John Day (Paperback) As a boy, Jon Day was fascinated by pigeons, which he used to rescue from the streets of London. Twenty years later he moved away from the city centre to start a family. In moving house, he began to lose a sense of what it meant to feel at home. Returning to his childhood obsession with the birds, he built a coop in his garden and joined a local pigeon racing club. Homing delves into the curious world of pigeon fancying, explores the scientific mysteries of animal homing, and traces the cultural, political and philosophical meanings of home.
Surrounded by Idiots – Thomas Erikson (Paperback) Do you ever think you’re the only one making any sense? Or tried to reason with your partner with disastrous results? Do long, rambling answers drive you crazy? Or does your colleague’s abrasive manner get your back up? You are not alone. Communication expert and bestselling author, Thomas Erikson dedicated himself to understanding how people function and why we often struggle to connect with certain types of people. Originally published in Swedish in 2014, Surrounded by Idiots is already an international phenomenon, offering a simple, yet ground-breaking method for assessing the personalities of people we communicate with – in and out of the office – based on four personality types.
The Five – Hallie Rubenhold (Paperback) Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. Their murderer was never identified, but the name created for him by the press has become far more famous than any of these five women. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, historian Hallie Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, and gives these victims of ‘Jack the Ripper’ their stories back.
Daughters of Chivalry – Kelcey Wilson-Lee (Paperback) A vibrant account of the five daughters of the great English king, Edward I. The lives of Eleanora, Joanna, Margaret, Mary and Elizabeth – ran the full gamut of experiences open to royal women in the Middle Ages. Drawing on a wide range of contemporary sources, Daughters of Chivalry offers a rich portrait of these spirited Plantagenet women. With their libraries of beautifully illustrated psalters and tales of romance, their rich silks and gleaming jewels, we follow these formidable women throughout their lives and see them – at long last – shine from out of the shadows, revealing what it was to be a princess in the Age of Chivalry.
Seeds of Science – Mark Lynas (Paperback) Mark Lynas was one of the original GM field wreckers. Back in the 1990s – working undercover with his colleagues in the environmental movement – he would descend on trial sites of genetically modified crops at night and hack them to pieces. Two decades later, most people around the world – from New York to China – still think that ‘GMO’ foods are bad for their health or likely to damage the environment. But Mark has changed his mind. This book explains why.
Wayfinding – Michael Bond (Hardback) The physical world is infinitely complex, yet most of us are able to find our way around it. We can walk through unfamiliar streets while maintaining a sense of direction, take shortcuts along paths we have never used and remember for many years places we have visited only once. These are remarkable achievements. In Wayfinding, Bond explores how we do it: how our brains make the ‘cognitive maps’ that keep us orientated, even in places that we don’t know.
Invisible Women – Caroline Criado Perez (Paperback) From government policy and medical research, to technology, workplaces, and the media. Invisible Women reveals how in a world built for and by men, we are systematically ignoring half of the population, often with disastrous consequences. This book brings together for the first time an impressive range of case studies, stories and new research from across the world that illustrates the hidden ways in which women are forgotten, and the profound impact this has on us all. Discover the shocking gender bias that affects our everyday lives.