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The Peregrine: The Hill of Summer &...
J. A. Baker; Mark Cocker; John Fanshawe
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The best edition is the 2010 one from Harper Collins, edited by Mark Cocker and John Fanshawe, which also contains Baker’s wonderful Hill of Summer and some interesting extracts from his diaries. Baker draws on both close observation and literary imagination to fashion his startling metaphors and extraordinary prose and has an almost shamanistic identification with the wildlife he responds to so sensitively.

Jeremy Mynott - 13/03/2012
The Wisdom of Birds: An Illustrated...
Tim Birkhead
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A superb piece of scientific popularization. As a leading ornithologist the author is committed to the importance of disciplined and testable scientific research on bird behaviour and ecology, but is also (and much more unusually) a real expert at conveying its significance and excitement to a large lay audience. The book is a very engaging and well-written blend of science, history and personal experience. His new book, Bird Sense, has all the same virtues.

Jeremy Mynott - 13/03/2012
Field Grey: A Bernie Gunther Novel
Philip Kerr
 
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I've been a fan of Bernie Gunther ever since the Berlin Trilogy. After a long gap, I caught up with him again in The One from the Other in 2006, and now I’m moving at a leisurely pace with, I think, still two more books in hand before the next one is published. Field Grey is set in a number of locations before and after the Second World War, but mostly it concerns events during the fall of France and the beginnings of the German occupation in 1940. In this, it mirrors the era of Suite Française, though it’s a completely different kind of story. Bernie Gunther is an ex-cop turned private eye, and his capacity for surviving tyrannical regimes whilst retaining most of his integrity is awe-inspiring! He's also a witty, wise-cracking PI, likely to make exactly the kind of remark that will earn him another twist of the thumbscrews. Philip Marlow takes on the Nazis.

Peter Robinson - 14/08/2013
Pulphead: Notes from the Other Side ...
John Jeremiah Sullivan
 
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I was totally blown away by this collection of the new new new journalism, or however many "news" we’re up to these days. I think I like it as much – at times, even more – than Foster Wallace’s A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never do Again. And that, for me, is saying a lot.

Zadie Smith - 10/08/2012
The Garden of Evening Mists
Foyalty72Special Offer
Tan Twan Eng
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Booker shortlisted and my favourite to win (which it didn't). Somehow takes the final testament of a woman with very little time, once an inmate of a brutal prison camp, and turns it into a story of healing and redemption. At every turn it surprised me, and it never lost my attention. Unmissable.

Nick Harkaway - 25/01/2013
The Lore and Language of Schoolchildren
Iona Opie; Peter Opie; Marina Warner
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MetaMAUS
MetaMAUS (Hardback)
Art Spiegelman
 
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I thought that my generation was doing pretty well following Art's example of how to make serious comic books for adults, but this book demonstrates just how pale and paltry our efforts have been; via interviews, documents, photographs and preparatory sketches (and an interactive DVD) it's clear that Art not only created the graphic novel, but that graphic novel may also never be bettered.

Chris Ware - 02/10/2012
The Small Hours
The Small Hours (Paperback)
Susie Boyt
 
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This book is only 200 pages long, and I read it all in one go on a transatlantic flight, but it felt like I had devoured 500 pages worth of material. The heroine, Harriet, is such a brilliantly drawn character, properly three dimensional, full of dark and shade and light and contradictions. I don’t know how Boyt did it.

Sathnam Sanghera - 26/09/2013
The Orphan Master's Son
Adam Johnson
 
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I’ve just started this and it’s one of those books where you know you’ve found yourself in the hands of someone who can really tell a story, and is yet not naïve about the artificiality of stories. The conceit is fantastic: a narration partly told through the loud speakers of the North Korean regime.

Zadie Smith - 10/08/2012
A World on Fire: An Epic History of...
Amanda Foreman
 
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A hefty book about Anglo-American diplomacy during the American civil war. It sounds daunting, but is a brilliant piece of exposition and story-telling.

Bernard Cornwell - 26/09/2013
Bronze Summer
Bronze Summer (Paperback)
Stephen Baxter
 
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Baxter is unafraid of the uglinesses of life, as science fiction continues to serve up its great variety of lives, possible or impossible, not only to lighten our darkness but to darken our lightness.

Brian Aldiss - 05/07/2013
Strindberg: A Life
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
Fahrenheit 451
Fahrenheit 451 (Paperback)
Ray Bradbury
 
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Fahrenheit 451 is a novel by human Ray Bradbury about an imagined American society where books are outlawed. It is very good book, despite using a laughably general estimate of the auto-ignition point of paper. In fact, there are many physical variables for the ignition of paper, including thickness, density, composition, air pressure, humidity, and ambient temperature. This book would more accurately have been titled: Celsius 218–246, Depending upon Conditions. I would like to assure all fans of my books that every one of my 450,000 dystopian works are stored in offsite data facilities, and that our laboratories here at Infinitek Systems are protected by a state-of-the-art, foam-injection Fire Location and Managed Extraction System (F.L.A.M.E.S).

AKH48 . - 29/07/2013
Letters of Note: Correspondence...
Shaun Usher
 
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The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Rachel Joyce
 
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One of the sweetest, most delicately-written stories I've read in a long time. One man's walk along the length of England to save the life of a dying woman. Each chapter describes a different encounter along the way, with a definite nod to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Philosophical, intriguing, and profoundly moving.

Richard Madeley - 07/06/2013
Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall (Paperback)
Hilary Mantel
 
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Mantel’s work is characterised by incredible attention to detail – a period and characters made real. She has the ability to take an historical event which we know must have taken place – such as a conversation – and then creating that conversation so well, it’s easy to believe we are reading a verbatim account. Her research is impeccable and of course, she has elevated the genre of historical fiction to a higher art-form by winning the Booker prize twice. Wolf Hall in particular is a masterwork.

Conn Iggulden - 11/09/2013

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