Posted October 7, 2015 4:57 pm by Julie Corrigan | Permalink

For every single cell that makes up the human body, there are nine cells of microbes living both on and within our bodies. This rather shocking fact, is revealed by the title of one of the latest additions to our catalogue: “10% human : how your body’s microbes hold the key to health and happiness”.

In this intriguing work, Alanna Collen, relates that as a result of taking antibiotics due to illness, she became interested in the bacteria which make up our bodies. She explains that there is emerging scientific evidence that the balance of microbes within us may have an impact on both physical and mental health.

Collen looks at many current issues such as diet, hygiene, illnesses and how these relate to the trillions of bacteria within us. The result is a well-explained, sometimes witty and personal tale of a fascinating and emerging area of science.

For further details of 10% human : how your body’s microbes hold the key to health and happiness, please see our catalogue.

You say potato: the story of English accents

Posted July 9, 2015 3:28 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

(photo credit: Pan Macmillan)

Everyone has an accent, though many of us think we don’t.

We all have our likes and dislikes about the way other people speak, and everyone has something to say about ‘correct’ pronunciation. But how did all these accents come about, and why do people feel so strongly about them? Are regional accents dying out as English becomes a global language?

From reconstructing Shakespeare’s accent to the rise and fall of Received Pronunciation, actor Ben Crystal and his linguist father David travel the world in search of the stories of spoken English.

You Say Potato is a celebration of the myriad ways in which the English language is spoken – and how our accents, in so many ways, speak louder than words. Written in the form of a dialogue, where Ben narrates one chapter, followed by one narrated by David, this is a fun book containing many witty and fascinating facts.

Further details of You say potato can be found on our catalogue.

The new celebrity scientists: out of the lab and into the limelight

Posted June 10, 2015 2:48 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

When thinking of celebrity culture, science may not be the first thing that comes to mind. But a new cultural icon strode the world stage at the turn of the twenty-first century: the celebrity scientist.

Science and fame go hand in hand in Professor Declan Fahy’s new book The New Celebrity Scientists: out of the lab and into the limelight which tells the story of how eight leading scientists evolved under the fierce glare of modern media to become something new to science: celebrities.

Fahy delves into the complex, captivating world of science using both a formal and a personal approach and profiles these eloquent, controversial, and compelling scientists to investigate how they achieved celebrity in the United States and internationally. He then combines their individual stories to explore how their ideas influence our understanding of the world and helped popularise science.

This engaging book traces the career trajectories of Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, Stephen Jay Gould, Susan Greenfield, and James Lovelock. It looks at how, why, and to what effect these great scientists have consciously used the tools of today’s celebrity culture to make themselves, and thus science, active participants in public discussion.

Fahy demonstrates how each scientist embraced the power of promotion and popularisation to stimulate thinking, impact policy and influence research and the consequences of their fame within the scientific community and society at large.

Each of the scientists discussed made a deliberate decision to enter public life. Each went on to maintain a regular presence writing popular books, participating in television broadcasts, and becoming the focus of journalistic writing and scholarly analysis. He also considers critical claims that they speak beyond their expertise and for personal gain.

This absorbing, critical examination of the best-selling scientists that we love, admire, and sometimes hate will challenge assumptions and change the way you think about science, celebrity, and society.

Further details of The new celebrity scientists: out of the lab and into the limelight can be found on our catalogue.

The pleasure of reading

Posted May 26, 2015 3:49 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

Antonia Fraser describes herself as an ‘addict’ of the written word. In this revealing book, she brings together more than forty leading writers (writing in the English language) of all ages and from backgrounds a diverse as possible, to explain what inspired their interest in books and what keeps them reading.

First published in 1992, original contributors include Margaret Atwood, J. G. Ballard, Melvyn Bragg, A. S. Byatt, Carol Ann Duffy, Germaine Greer, Alan Hollinghurst, Doris Lessing, Ruth Rendell, Tom Stoppard, Sue Townsend and Jeanette Winterson.

They were asked to decribe their early reading, what did (or did not) influence them, and what they enjoy reading today. They were also asked “if possible” for a list of their ten favourite books.

For this new edition, five additional writers were invited: Kamila Shamsie, Rory Stewart, Katie Waldegrave, Emily Berry and Tom Wells, respectively a novelist, a travel writer, a biographer, a poet and a playright.

The contributors are a diverse group whose dates of birth range over seventy-six years, from countries as diverse as China, Ireland, New Zealand, India, Nigeria and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and with varied backgrounds.

Yet common themes do emerge; strongest of which is of reading as a childhood or youthful passion. The words “addiction”, “obsession” and “avid” are commonly used.

This is a delightful collection and will surely bring joy to anyone who enjoys reading.

Futher details of The pleasure of reading can be found on our catalogue.

Cuckoo : Cheating by Nature / Nick Davies

Posted February 20, 2015 4:09 pm by Julie Corrigan | Permalink

Over the centuries, the call of the Cuckoo has been celebrated as one of the first signs of Spring. Many will look forward to hearing it in the month ahead. Yet, the arrival of the Cuckoo also provokes mixed feelings. For a number of birds, the Cuckoo is the enemy who tricks them into raising its own young. Tiny Willow Warblers struggle to find enough food to feed the Cuckoo young which towers over them. The Cuckoo never raises its own chick. Just how do they manage to trick these birds into carrying out the parenting for them? In this thrilling work by the naturalist and scientist Nick Davies, we learn the methods used by the Cuckoo to deceive its hosts and cheat by nature, year after year.

Davies has studied the Cuckoo and its breeding habits for thirty years and, as such, is ideally placed to explain their behaviour to us. We are also given an insight into the methods used by birds such as the Warblers, who have adapted to defend themselves against Cuckoo trickery. Yet, in turn, we learn just how the Cuckoo adult and chick are keeping one step ahead of the hosts to ensure that they can continue their practices.

Davies does not ignore the steep decline in the Cuckoo population and explains the impact that this has had on their usual hosts. This work takes us on a journey of real drama and is a fascinating insight into the lives of some of our favourite birds. Enhanced by photographs and beautiful field drawings by James McCallum, this is one book you will certainly not want to miss this Spring!

You can find further details of Cuckoo : Cheating by Nature on our catalogue.

Reading the World : Confessions of a Literary Explorer / Ann Morgan

Posted February 13, 2015 5:07 pm by Julie Corrigan | Permalink

In 2012, Ann Morgan set out to read a book from every country in the world, focusing mainly on contemporary novels. On setting herself this challenge, she faced a number of obstacles including a lack of English translations, issues over censorship and discovering that some countries had very few published works. Through the generosity of many book-lovers and having many adventures on the way, she succeeded in reading works from all 196 independent countries in the world (plus an extra one!)

In this work, the author explains her decision to undertake this journey, how she succeeded, and how her thinking on literature changed on the way. She weaves the many tales she read over the year throughout this exploration of world-wide storytelling. The result is a fascinating examination of why storytelling matters, how reading can challenge long-held assumptions and how our changing world is altering our reading habits.

You can find further details of Reading the World : Confessions of a Literary Explorer on our catalogue.

A Broken World : Letters, Diaries and Memories of the Great War / edited by Sebastian Faulks with Ruth Hope

Posted January 23, 2015 3:45 pm by Julie Corrigan | Permalink

Much has been written about the First World War and yet, such was the scale of the conflict that still, a century later, unique stories and experiences continue to be discovered. Published to mark the Centenary of the outbreak of War, this latest anthology provides us with a diverse selection of letters, diaries and memoirs by writers from a variety of countries. Many of these writers have not been published before and have been selected to allow us new insights into this conflict. There is a greater concentration on the impact of the War and its side-effects, rather than the fighting itself, although the experience of the trenches and battle is not ignored.

Some of the most moving excerpts, for me, are in the final section of the anthology and relate to the absences felt at the end of the War. The responses of families to the Imperial War Museum’s request in 1917 for photos of Officers and, subsequently, all members of the Armed Forces, who had been lost, are difficult to read. Mrs S. E. Chessum goes from having eight children sitting around the kitchen table to just her alone. She also writes movingly about sending seeds to the Front, so that another soldier may be cheered by the sight of flowers growing.

In another excerpt, during the two-minute silence of the Armistice, a war widow thinks of selling her husband’s medals to buy shoes for her daughter. One writer, Arthur Mee, describes the “Thankful Villages” from which all of the men who went to fight returned. R. E. Roller creates a unique gift for his uncle of framed railway tickets obtained in Ypres Station whilst it was under bombardment.

Over the next few years, it is expected that there will be a great deal more published about the First World War. It will be analysed and discussed in great depth. It is, perhaps, the more personal stories however, that give us the greatest understanding of just what happened over those four years of “The War to End all Wars” and the impact felt by those who lived through it and had to live on after.

You can find further details of A Broken World : Letters, Diaries and Memories of the Great War on our catalogue.

Cheer up your January blues – sing a song!

Posted January 15, 2015 12:22 pm by Julie Corrigan | Permalink

Needing a cheer up post-Christmas? Perhaps a sing-a-long book will help! “Hook Line & Singer : 125 songs to Sing Out Loud” by Cerys Matthews landed on my desk this week and just flicking through it brought a smile to my face.

Old favourites such as “You Are My Sunshine” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” brought back childhood memories but this book does more than this! There are, of course, nursery rhymes and lullabies but there are also tunes from around the world in multiple languages. The lyrics and musical arrangements are printed clearly and simply. The real highlight though, is the history of the songs and personal stories of the author relating to them. Each song has been carefully selected and has real meaning for her.

There is something lovely about the fact that people have been singing, dancing to and generally enjoying these songs for many generations. Recent surveys have shown that one in four parents do not remember whole nursery rhymes. Hopefully, books like this will help to revive the tradition of singing with your family and keep these songs alive.

You can find further details of Hook, line & singer on our catalogue.

Behind the shock machine

Posted September 19, 2014 2:49 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

(Photo credit: Behind the shock machine: the untold story of the notorious Milgram psychology experiments by Gina Perry. Published by Scribe Publications.

In 1961, Stanley Milgram, a young psychologist and an assistant professor at Yale, recruited ordinary people through an advert in the local newspaper offering them $4.50 each to take part in an experiment on memory and learning.

None of the volunteers could have imagined that, once in the lab, they would be asked to sit behind a box known as a shock machine and ordered to give electric shocks to a man they’d just met.

At the conclusion of the experiment, the volunteers learned that the shock machine was a prop; the shocks were fake; the ‘victim’ was an actor; the screams were scripted; and the subject of the experiment was not memory at all.

What was really being tested was how far they, the true subjects of the experiment, would go in obeying orders from an authority figure.

When Milgram’s results were released, they created a worldwide sensation. He reported that people had repeatedly shocked a man they believed to be in pain, even dying, because they had been told to — linking his findings to Nazi behaviour during the Holocaust.

But some questioned Milgram’s unethical methods in fooling people. Milgram became both hero and villain, and his work seized the public imagination for more than half a century, inspiring books, plays, films, and art.

Gina Perry investigates this fascinating story. Interviewing participants and delving into Milgram’s unpublished papers, she uncovered an incredible story: Milgram’s results differed from what he reported, and his plans went further than anyone imagined.

This is the gripping, unforgettable tale of one man’s ambition and an experiment that defined a generation.

Further details of Behind the shock machine can be found on our catalogue.

The story of the World Cup :the essential companion to Brazil 2014

Posted July 4, 2014 12:59 pm by Louise Jack | Permalink

(Photo credit: Faber & Faber)

The world’s leading football tournament has a dramatic and, at times, controversial history.

Brian Glanville was football correspondent for the Sunday Times for thirty-three years and then sports columnist for the People. In this revised edition of his book, first published as The Sunday Times history of the World Cup in 1973, he celebrates the great players and matches from the World Cup’s debut in Uruguay in 1930 to South Africa in 2010.

Each tournament is studied individually with a brief account of the background to that tournament, the contenders, the early games, and the final game. There is also a list of results for each tournament.

Glanville has strong feelings about the tournament and is open about his discontent. He clearly attacks those he feels have mismanaged the ‘beautiful game’. This makes the book feel more personal rather than just a list of statistics.

With this year’s tournament throwing up some interesting results and shock knockouts, now is the perfect time to discover, or reaquaint ourselves, with previous tournaments.

Further details of The story of the World Cup can be found on our catalogue.