By Steven Johnson
Plenty of books offer useful advice on how to get better at making quick-thinking, intuitive choices. But what about more consequential decisions, the ones that affect our lives for years, or centuries, to come? Our most powerful stories revolve around these kinds of decisions: where to live, whom to marry, what to believe, whether to start a company, how to end a war.Full of the beautifully crafted storytelling and novel insights that Steven Johnson's fans know to expect, Farsighted draws lessons from cognitive science, social psychology, military strategy, environmental planning, and great works of literature. Everyone thinks we are living in an age of short attention spans, but we've actually learned a lot about making long-term decisions over the past few decades. Johnson makes a compelling case for a smarter and more deliberative decision-making approach. He argues that we choose better when we break out of the myopia of single-scale thinking and develop methods for considering all the factors involved.There's no one-size-fits-all model for the important decisions that can alter the course of a life, an organization, or a civilization. But Farsighted explains how we can approach these choices more effectively, and how we can appreciate the subtle intelligence of choices that shaped our broader social history.
The Human Tide
By Paul Morland
'Fascinating' Sunday Times'Engrossing' Evening StandardEvery phase since the advent of the industrial revolution - from the fate of the British Empire, to the global challenges from Germany, Japan and Russia, to America's emergence as a sole superpower, to the Arab Spring, to the long-term decline of economic growth that started with Japan and has now spread to Europe, to China's meteoric economy, to Brexit and the presidency of Donald Trump - can be explained better when we appreciate the meaning of demographic change across the world.The Human Tide is the first popular history book to redress the underestimated influence of population as a crucial factor in almost all of the major global shifts and events of the last two centuries - revealing how such events are connected by the invisible mutually catalysing forces of population.This highly original history offers a brilliant and simple unifying theory for our understanding the last two hundred years: the power of sheer numbers. An ambitious, original, magisterial history of modernity, it taps into prominent preoccupations of our day and will transform our perception of history for many years to come.
The Brief Life of Flowers
By Fiona Stafford
'A glowing account of the myths and meanings we impose on flowers . . . a book to reread and treasure' John Carey, Sunday Times'A captivating new book that explores our fascination with flowers . . . A delight' Daily MailCome rain or shine, flowers feature perennially in the landscape of human history. Their beauty has inspired some of the greatest works of art and literature, captivating creative minds from Ovid to O'Keeffe, Wordsworth to Van Gogh, Botticelli to Beatrix Potter. But flowers have also played a key part in forming the past, and may even shape our future. Some have served as symbols of monarchs, dynasties and nations - from the Wars of the Roses to the Order of the Thistle. And while the poppy is often associated with WWI, it was the elderflower that treated its wounded soldiers, joining a long line of healing flowers that have developed modern medicine, including lavender and foxgloves. From the personal to the political, flowers play a part in all aspects of life: the right rose, according to the Victorian language of flowers, might mend a broken heart, while sunflowers may just save our planet. This beautifully written collection is at once enchanting and intriguing, weaving together art, science, history and horticulture to offer a fresh perspective on the world around us. The Brief Life of Flowers reveals how even the most ordinary of flowers have extraordinary stories to tell.
On This Day in History
By Dan Snow
On which day was history's shortest war waged and won (in roughly 40 minutes)? How was Napoleon bested by a group of rabbits in 1807? Why did a dispute about beer in an Oxford pub lead to over 100 deaths and 470 years of penance? Why in 1752 did Britain go to bed on 2nd September and wake up on the 14th? How did a women's march in 1917 set off the Russian Revolution?On This Day in History brings to life a key event that happened on each day of the year.From the most important British battle that you've never heard of (20 May 685) to the first meeting of Lennon and McCartney (6 July 1957), and from why Julius Caesar should have been wary of the Ides of March (15 March 44BC) to the day Jeanne de Clisson became a pirate and single-handedly declared war on the King of France (2 August 1343), history is full of unlikely heroes and fascinating turning points.In this book Dan Snow shows us how each day offers a different and unexpected insight into our past. And story by gripping story, this year grows into a vivid, very human history of the world.
Britain by the Book
By Oliver Tearle
What caused Dickens to leap out of bed one night and walk 30 miles from London to Kent?How did a small town on the Welsh borders become the second-hand bookshop capital of the world?Why did a jellyfish persuade Evelyn Waugh to abandon his suicide attempt in North Wales? A multitude of curious questions are answered in Britain by the Book, a fascinating travelogue with a literary theme, taking in unusual writers' haunts and the surprising places that inspired some of our favourite fictional locations. We'll learn why Thomas Hardy was buried twice, how a librarian in Manchester invented the thesaurus as a means of coping with depression, and why Agatha Christie was investigated by MI5 during the Second World War. The map of Britain that emerges is one dotted with interesting literary stories and bookish curiosities.
By Jo Brand
'Feisty and funny' Sunday ExpressSometimes it's hard to be a woman and sometimes it's time to be a hard woman . . . This is a book for all those times.Once upon a (very very) long time ago Jo Brand was what you might describe as 'a nice little girl'. Of course, that was before the values of cynicism, misogyny and the societal expectation that Jo would be thin, feminine and demure sent her off down Arsey Avenue. The plot thickened, when due to a complicated fusion of hormones, horrible family dynamics and a no-good boyfriend they hated, Jo ended up leaving home at 16. Now she's considerably further along life's inevitable bloody 'journey' - and she's fucked up enough times to feel confident she has no wisdom to offer anyone. But who cares? She's going to do it anyway...Born Lippy is a gathering of all the things Jo Brand wishes she'd known, all the things she's learnt, and all the things she hopes for the future. A century after women got the vote (albeit married women over the age of 28) it's time to take stock of exactly what it means to be female today. And if there's one thing women are entitled to, it's having a bloody good moan about things big and small - so here goes . . .HOW TO MANAGE A BULLY * YOUR FAMILY AND HOW TO SURVIVE IT * WHAT NO-ONE TELLS YOU ABOUT THE FEMALE BODY * BEING DIFFERENT * SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT SOCIABLE * HOW NOT TO FALL IN LOVE * FEMINISM: A RE-BRANDING * ADVENTURES IN YOUR HEAD * HAVING FUN * NOT HAVING FUN: WHAT TO DO WHEN IT ALL GOES WRONG * STAYING SANE * YOU ARE NOT WHAT YOU WEAR * MODERN MANNERS* HOW TO DO WHAT YOU WANT: OR NOT DO WHAT OTHERS WANT * BEING HEALTHY * GETTING ON A BIT * THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES: MORE DEADLY THAN THE MALE?
The Golden Thread
By Kassia St Clair
** A RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK **'Fascinating . . . The history of the world through the eye of a needle . . . I recommend this book to anyone' THE SPECTATOR'A charming, absorbing and history that takes us on a journey from the silk roads to sportswear, from ruffs to spacesuits . . . I devoured this quietly feminist book' SUNDAY TIMES'Joyful and beautiful' NATURE'Will make you rethink your relationship with fabric' ELLE DECORATIONAll textiles begin with a twist. From colourful 30,000-year old threads found on the floor of a Georgian cave to what the linen wrappings of Tutankhamun's mummy actually meant; from the Silk Roads to the woollen sails that helped the Vikings reach America 700 years before Columbus; from the lace ruffs that infuriated the puritans to the Indian calicoes and chintzes that powered the Industrial Revolution, our continuing reinvention of cloth tells fascinating stories of human ingenuity. When we talk of lives hanging by a thread, being interwoven, or part of the social fabric, we are part of a tradition that stretches back many thousands of years. Fabric has allowed us to achieve extraordinary things and survive in unlikely places, and this book shows you how -- and why.With a cast that includes Chinese empresses, Richard the Lionheart and Bing Crosby, Kassia St Clair takes us on the run with escaped slaves, climbing the slopes of Everest and moonwalking with astronauts. Running like a bright line through history, The Golden Thread offers an unforgettable adventure through our past, present and future.
This Book Will Blow Your Mind
What's the nature of reality? Does the universe ever end? What is time and does it even exist? These are the biggest imagination-stretching, brain-staggering questions in the universe - and here are their fascinating answers.From quantum weirdness to freaky cosmology (like white holes - which spew out matter instead of sucking it in), This Book Will Blow Your Mind takes you on an epic journey to the furthest extremes of science, to the things you never thought possible. This book will explain: Why is part of the universe missing (and how scientists finally found it)How time might also flow backwardsHow human head transplants might be possible (in the very near future)Whether the universe is a hologramAnd why we are all zombiesFilled with counterintuitive stories and factoids you can't wait to share, as well as lots of did-you-knows and plenty of how-did-we-ever-not-knows, this new book from the bestselling New Scientist series will blow your mind - and then put it back together again. You don't need a spaceship to travel to the extremes of science. You just need this book.
The Secret Lives of Colour
By Kassia St Clair
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER'A mind-expanding tour of the world without leaving your paintbox. Every colour has a story, and here are some of the most alluring, alarming, and thought-provoking. Very hard painting the hallway magnolia after this inspiring primer.' Simon GarfieldThe Secret Lives of Colour tells the unusual stories of the 75 most fascinating shades, dyes and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso's blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. In this book Kassia St Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colours and where they come from (whether Van Gogh's chrome yellow sunflowers or punk's fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilisation. Across fashion and politics, art and war, The Secret Lives of Colour tell the vivid story of our culture.
By Anthony DeCurtis
A GUARDIAN AND CHOICE BOOK OF THE YEAR'A walk on the wild side with the alt-rock pioneer' GQ'DeCurtis is well placed to trace Reed's five-decade career, drawing on insider knowledge but skilfully balancing it with detailed research and fascinating interviews' Mojo MagazineAs lead singer and songwriter for the Velvet Underground and a renowned solo artist, Lou Reed invented alternative rock. His music, at once the height of sanctity and perversity, transcended a genre, speaking to millions of listeners, inspiring a new generation of musicians, and forever changing the way we think of that iconic era of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. Throughout his five-decade career, Reed embodied artistic self-awareness and captured the beauty, paranoia, and vivacity of his time into an array of hit songs, experimental albums, and a larger-than-life persona. With such masterpieces as 'Sweet Jane' and 'Walk on the Wild Side', Reed exerted an influence on popular music rivaled only by the likes of Bob Dylan and the Beatles and is recognized to this day as one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century.Now, just a few years after Reed's death, comes the thrilling, provocative story of his complex life. An acclaimed Rolling Stone contributor, Anthony DeCurtis interviewed Reed extensively and knew him well. With unparalleled access to Reed's friends, family, and dozens of other intimate relations, DeCurtis brings Reed's story compellingly alive and deepens our understanding of his indelible music. We travel deep into the underground artist clubs, listen along in the studio as the Velvet Underground record their signature work, and revel in Reed's relationship with legendaries like Andy Warhol, Patti Smith, and David Bowie. Insightful, revelatory, and intimate, Lou Reed is a gripping tribute to a quintessential American icon.
How Britain Really Works
By Stig Abell
'Absorbing . . . an intelligent and clear-eyed account of much that goes on in our country' Sunday Times'Wry and readable' GuardianGetting to grips with Great Britain is harder than ever. We are a nation that chose Brexit, rejects immigration but is dependent on it, is getting older but less healthy, is more demanding of public services but less willing to pay for them, is tired of intervention abroad but wants to remain a global authority. We have an over-stretched, free health service (an idea from the 1940s that may not survive the 2020s), overcrowded prisons, a military without an evident purpose, an education system the envy of none of the Western world. How did we get here and where are we going?How Britain Really Works is a guide to Britain and its institutions (the economy, the military, schools, hospitals, the media, and more), which explains just how we got to wherever it is we are. It will not tell you what opinions to have, but will give you the information to help you reach your own. By the end, you will know how Britain works - or doesn't.'Stig Abell is an urbane, and often jaunty guide to modern Britain, in the mould of Bill Bryson' Irish Times
By Josh Ireland
'An epic tale of love, dishonour, bravery, cowardice, betrayal and high-treason. Beautifully written. A stunning debut' Damien LewisPlayboy. Fascist. Strongman. Thief.Traitors.John Amery is a drunk and a fanatic, an exiled playboy whose frail body is riven by contradictions. Harold Cole is a cynical, murderous conman who desperately wants to be seen as an officer and a gentleman. Eric Pleasants is an iron-willed former wrestler; he is also a pacifist, and will not be forced into fighting other men's battles. William Joyce can weave spells when he talks, but his true gifts are for rage and hate. By the end of the Second World War, they will all have betrayed their country. The Traitors is the story of how they came to do so. Drawing on declassified MI5 files, it is a book about chaotic lives in turbulent times; idealism twisted out of shape; of torn consciences and abandoned loyalties; and the tragic consequences that treachery brings in its wake.
Dent's Modern Tribes
By Susie Dent
Did you know that . . . a soldier's biggest social blunder is called jack brew - making yourself a cuppa without making one for anyone else? That twitchers have an expression for a bird that can't be identified - LBJ (the letters stand for Little Brown Job)? Or that builders call plastering the ceiling doing Lionel Richie's dancefloor? Susie Dent does.Ever wondered why football managers all speak the same way, what a cabbie calls the Houses of Parliament, or how ticket inspectors discreetly request back-up? We are surrounded by hundreds of tribes, each speaking their own distinct slanguage of colourful words, jokes and phrases, honed through years of conversations on the battlefield, in A&E, backstage, or at ten-thousand feet in the air. Susie Dent has spent years interviewing hundreds of professionals, hobbyists and enthusiasts, and the result is an idiosyncratic phrasebook like no other. From the Freemason's handshake to the publican's banter, Dent's Modern Tribes takes us on a whirlwind tour of Britain, decoding its secret languages and, in the process, finds out what really makes us all tick.