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Showing 1-16 of top 38 Results.

An English Affair: Sex, Class and...
Richard Davenport-Hines
 
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The Profumo affair fascinated just about every adolescent boy in the UK back in the early 60s, and I doubt that many of us forget the risqué photographs of Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice Davies that were splashed all over the place. This is a thorough and comprehensive look at the affair from all sides, and a fascinating view of the times. It makes for compelling reading.

Peter Robinson - 14/08/2013
Strindberg: A Life
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Sue Prideaux
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A captivating biography that reveals Sweden’s greatest writer as a peculiarly lovable polymath.

John Banville - 18/06/2012
The Autobiography of Alice B.Toklas
Gertrude Stein
 
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I recently took part in a 48-hour continuous live reading of Stein’s The Making of Americans in Brooklyn, New York. I thought I’d hate reading her aloud, but in fact the section I got was really beautiful. So then I picked this up off my 'should have read it 20 years ago' pile. And it’s so funny and thrilling. What a house they ran together, and what amazing people passed through it: Picasso, Matisse, Cezanne, Hemingway, Fitzgerald!

Zadie Smith - 10/08/2012
Rat Pack Confidential: Frank, Dean,...
Shawn Levy
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As zippy and as zingy as one of Sammy Davies Jr's stage routines, full of extraordinary anecdotes. What great fun!

Dylan Jones - 24/07/2012
Ringolevio: A Life Played for Keeps
Emmett Grogan; Peter Coyote
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Not technically a music book, but includes wonderfully evocative passages about the Diggers and the original Haight Asbury scene. By some distance the best book about the original hippie "vibe".

Dylan Jones - 24/07/2012
Birds and Light: The Art of Lars Jonsson
Lars Jonsson
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His illustrations of birds in field guides have always had an unrivalled sense of animation, movement and characteristic jizz. This volume is a selection of his field sketches and watercolours which display his mastery in conveying fleeting impressions of moving subjects in changing light and weather conditions: instants of perception. There are also very intelligent diary notes and commentary.

Jeremy Mynott - 13/03/2012
Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble...
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
 
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I've been meaning to read this one for a decade. It’s described in a blurb as "A non-fiction Middlemarch of the underclass" – I don’t think I can do much better than that. Concerning a large, chaotic family in the Bronx during the 1990s, it’s an honest account of street life – from drug dealing to child-rearing. Ms LeBlanc spent ten years embedded, interviewing, living with her subjects, listening to them. An extraordinary feat of research and patience. Reading it you are realize that class is a cocoon and you have absolutely zero idea how anybody else is living. I think this book is a masterpiece.

Zadie Smith - 10/08/2012
84 Charing Cross Road
Helene Hanff; Juliet Stevenson
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The delightful story of the twenty-year correspondence between the author and Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co, antiquarian booksellers. I remember the sensation caused by this book. I loved it, my friends loved it, everyone did. The gentle arc of the relationship the great romantic distance between the writers. The insistence it was 'a true story' and our thrill at the power of the letter. People still wrote letters then, just. And we all marvelled at the possibilities.

Nina Stibbe - 29/11/2013
Wedlock: How Georgian Britain's Worst...
Wendy Moore
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Also recommended in reference by David Mitchell

David Mitchell - 11/03/2011
Ethel and Ernest
Ethel and Ernest (Paperback)
Raymond Briggs; Raymond Briggs
 
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I don't think I've ever read this book without my eyes tearing up. How Briggs manages to impart such feeling and generosity towards his parents in this deeply moving and heartfelt yet never overly sentimental memoir amazes me. It reminds me a little in its after-effects of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town," though the two works are otherwise completely different. It will make you care more deeply about life and the people you live it with, which is about the best one can say about anything.

Chris Ware - 02/10/2012
Austerlitz
Austerlitz (Paperback)
W. G. Sebald; Anthea Bell; James Wood
 
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Sebald, a German who lived in England, looks at the war and the persecution of minorities in a highly original and fascinating way, even including his own rather amateurish photographs and postcards in the text to devastating effect.

Justin Cartwright - 03/09/2013
Life: Keith Richards
Keith Richards
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Even though he didn't actually write it himself, the voice and vernacular are all Keith. Particularly fascinating when describing London after the war.

Dylan Jones - 24/07/2012
Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica
Anthony Thwaite; Philip Larkin
 
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These letters were found after the death of Larkin’s long-time girlfriend Monica Jones in 2001, and consist of nearly two thousand letters, postcards and telegrams, from 1946 to 1984. The letters are affectionate; self deprecating and often funny. And though we don’t get Monica’s side, there are footnotes to explain some background - such as Larkin’s affair with Maeve Brennan. Larkin's love for certain writers, alcohol, music (jazz) comes across and mingles with the mundane.

Nina Stibbe - 29/11/2013
The Invention of Air: An Experiment, ...
Stephen T. Johnson
 
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I love the dramatic historical approach exploring and upsetting some fundamental assumptions about innovation and the way new ideas emerge and spread.

Biz Stone - 16/06/2014
Wellington
Wellington (Paperback)
Elizabeth Longford
 
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Still the best biography of the great man, written with admiration, sympathy and an eye for the telling detail.

Bernard Cornwell - 26/09/2013
Richard I
Richard I (Paperback)
John Gillingham
 
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John Gillingham is a scholar, addicted to understanding Richard the Lionheart. He is also readable and intuitive in his judgments of England’s emblematic king. A must for anyone interested in the Lionheart.

Justin Cartwright - 03/09/2013

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