Quick Answers to Quirky Questions about the Brain
In this accessible introduction to the brain and how it functions, two neuroscientists answer more than 100 widely asked questions such as why we dream, whether size matters, and how to improve memory. They also chart the history of our understanding of the brain, explore its depiction in popular culture, and offer tips on maintaining its health.
The Quantum Moment
How Planck, Bohr, Einstein, and Heisenberg Taught Us to Love Uncertainty
Schrödinger’s cat, the uncertainty principle, multiverses: the language and imagery of the quantum are now applied in all manner of contexts, from poetry and fiction to marketing and politics. A philosopher and a physicist analyse this cultural impact as they explain the origin and meaning of each term and consider what such uses and misuses reveal about the ways in which concepts from quantum mechanics help us to rediscover the strangeness of the everyday world.
The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression
Shirley Temple and 1930s America
During the 1930s Shirley Temple became the biggest box office star in the world: this is the story of her film career, with a strong focus on the wider cultural and political impact of her movies. Supported by contemporary photographs and visual material, it also explores the way that huge merchandise sales boosted jobs and local economies, and how the cinema reflected the mood of the nation during the Depression and FDR’s New Deal.
A Norton Anthology of Food Writing
This collection of food writing ranges from the Old Testament to the present. Arranged by topic, the chapters cover the role of food in memory, ethnicity and identity, the politics of food, and kitchen practices. Several of the great food writers such as Julia Child and Anthony Bourdain are here, as are writers not usually associated with gastronomy: Chekhov on oysters, Hemingway on campfire meals, Roland Barthes on chopsticks and Jhumpa Lahiri on takeaways.
The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature
In ‘a search for the soul of modern China’, the literary scholar and poet Yunte Huang has gathered Chinese works of fiction, poetry, essays and letters spanning almost a century. From Lu Xun’s autobiographical Preface to ‘Call to Arms’ published in 1922, a decade after the overthrow of the Qing dynasty, nearly 50 Chinese writers and thinkers are represented, up to Gao Xingjian, China’s first Nobel laureate in literature, represented here by excerpts from Soul Mountain (2000).
Landscapes of the Passing Strange
Reflections from Shakespeare
This collaboration pairs lines by Shakespeare with 70 photographs of landscapes reflected in antique bottles. Michael Witmore, who chose the texts, discusses the playwright’s visual imagination, while artist Rosamund Purcell tells how the distressed glass transforms sky, trees and human forms into something rich and strange.
The Essential Essays, 1968–2002
James’s commentaries on 20th-century culture include reactions to WH Auden’s death, the media response to Germaine Greer’s writing and his thoughts on MGM musicals. This collection, originally published as As of This Writing, contains 49 essays, with postscripts penned in 2003 reflecting upon his earlier views.
Paging Through History
Although we live in an increasingly digital world, the simple technology of paper – which the Chinese consider the first of the ‘great inventions’ – remains vital. In this history of paper the author examines when and why it came into use in different cultures around the world and how it has played a role in the development not only of literacy, art and education but also of religion, media and commerce. Off-mint and American-cut pages
City of Light, City of Poison
Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris
In 1667 the lawyer Nicolas de La Reynie was appointed by Louis XIV as the first lieutenant general of Paris, with far-reaching powers to combat the city’s filth, violence and organized crime. Based on court transcripts and La Reynie’s extensive notes, this account of his work describes not only projects for installing street lighting and cleaning pavements but also his shocking discovery of a cabal of poisoners, witches and renegade priests whose malign influence reached deep into the Sun King’s court.
A Christmas Carol
The Original Manuscript Edition
The tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the 'squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner', Marley's ghost and poor Tiny Tim has been a bestseller since it was hurriedly published in time for Christmas in 1843. This very fine edition presents a photographic facsimile of Dickens’s manuscript, now in the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, with a transcription facing each handwritten page, an introduction to the history of A Christmas Carol by Declan Kiely and a foreword by Colm Tóibín.
The Brontë Cabinet
Three Lives in Nine Objects
A series of everyday objects preserved at the Brontë parsonage in Haworth provides the entry-point for this exploration of the sisters’ lives and writing. The tiny notebooks in which they inscribed their juvenile literary efforts; their sewing box; the walking sticks they used when striding the moors; and Charlotte’s portable desk, her passionate letters to her married lover, and the bracelet containing locks of Emily’s and Anne’s hair all bear the imprint of their personalities and imaginations. Off-mint.
The Reluctant Rebel
The author of Gulliver’s Travels was a man of complex character – a libertarian struggling with conservative beliefs, a church minister with complicated personal relationships, and a satirist who scorned the world yet sought to improve it. This biography follows his flight from war-torn Ireland in 1688 to the splendour and squalor of London, examining his shifting political allegiances and complicated love life to identify the roots of the ‘savage indignation’ that drove him.
The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers
From Bjarne Aas (1886–1969), the great Norwegian designer of International Rule boats, to Douglas Zurn (b.1963), whose 2003 high-tech, Kevlar-epoxy 34z set new speed and fuel efficiency standards, the Encyclopedia presents an A–Z of some 500 yacht designers, illustrated with over 600 photographs and drawings of their most notable boats.
Inside the Machine
Art and Invention in the Electronic Age
In the early twentieth century the electronics industry employed fine artists to create advertising material explaining rapid technological advancements to the general public. The resulting artwork tracks the development of new components, including valves, transistors and circuit boards, from ‘laboratory to tabletop’. Slightly off-mint.
A History of the Written Word
‘There is a favoured metaphor for writing’s tangled skein of overlapping figurations: the palimpsest.’ In this history, Matthew Battles reflects on the reasons for writing, its origins and how it is shaped by human peculiarities; and he attempts to untangle the threads of its history, from primitive marks, through cuneiform, Chinese characters, Holy writ and movable type to digital display.
The Human Age
The World Shaped By Us
Diane Ackerman may rue the destruction of the natural world, yet she is thrilled by human ingenuity and here contemplates nascent technologies – including those for body heat recycling, 3D-printed human tissue and carbon capture – that may yet save our planet and our species. Slightly off-mint.
The Invention of the Modern Mind
This wide-ranging account of how Enlightenment philosophers developed a concept of mind explores the intellectual ground covered by English, Scottish, French and German thinkers, including the notion of the mind existing solely within, and nurtured by, the body. The author also demonstrates, with reference to Foucault, how these ideas led to mind sciences, including phrenology and psychology, and why in our own times consensus on the nature of the mind has yet to be achieved. Slightly off-mint.
Evolution in a Man-Made World
‘The Pekingese is a tinkered wolf, not redesigned wholesale from its wolf ancestors.’ This study examines recent developments in evolutionary biology through the lens of domestication. The rapid physical and behavioural changes which, through centuries of breeding, have been wrought on pets and farm animals, allow us to see evolutionary processes accelerated, and therefore, Francis argues, to understand them better; particularly their conservative nature, a notion espoused by the fields of genomics and evolutionary developmental biology, which feature prominently here. Slightly off-mint.
The Discovery of Middle Earth
Mapping the Lost World of the Celts
It was while planning a cycling expedition along the Via Heraklea, the legendary route of Hercules from the western tip of the Iberian Peninsula to the Alps, that Graham Robb discovered a precise pattern of towns and holy places based on astronomical and geometrical measurements: the three-dimensional 'Middle Earth' of the Celts. This volume describes his historical treasure hunt, revealing the lasting influence of the Druids, and looking afresh at the 'protohistory' of Europe.
The Green Road
The Madigan children are living separate lives, but when matriarch Rosaleen announces she is selling the family home they return to west Ireland for Christmas. Spanning thirty years, the novel explores the tensions that could break the family apart and how they might be overcome. Slightly off-mint.
The People and the Books
18 Classics of Jewish Literature
This exploration of Jewish literature looks beyond the scriptures to understand how various writers have reflected the central questions and themes of Jewish culture, from religious commentaries to history, biography and fiction. The selections include The Jewish War by Roman historian Josephus, Spinoza’s heretical Theological-Political Treatise and the Tevye the Dairyman stories by Sholem Aleichem.
Strong as Death is Love
The Song of Songs, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, and Daniel
As distant in time from the Pentateuch of Moses as Updike is from Shakespeare, these later books of the Old Testament are innovative and entertaining works of literature, in which women are often centre stage. The Song of Songs is a sensuous celebration of young love, Queen Esther’s shrewd triumph is a sly sexual comedy, while the story of Ruth celebrates loyalty, charity and love. Robert Alter’s award-winning translation from the Hebrew captures all their freshness and immediacy.
Guide to Britain's Working Past
The impact of the industrial revolution on Britain is unmistakable in the form of bridges, factories, railways and canals, but evidence of industry goes back further to mills, mines and forges of the medieval period. This regional guide to key industrial sites around Britain includes the most significant transport and industrial museums as well as factories, potteries, mills and mines. Entries include information on location, admission prices and opening hours.
A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times
From the large staff running an Edwardian estate to the harried housemaid of a cramped middle-class home, servants were once an integral part of British life. Richly entertaining and impeccably researched, this fascinating history uses letters and diaries to bring to life the day-to-day experience of men and women whose lives were dedicated to providing for their employers’ personal needs and social status, and reflects on why, in a more egalitarian age, we look back on those times with nostalgia. Off-mint.
Mad Mary Lamb
Lunacy and Murder in Literary London
One night in 1796, Mary Lamb killed her mother. Confined in various madhouses, she discovered a gift for writing, collaborating on the bestselling Tales from Shakespeare with her essayist brother Charles. This authoritative biography tells a story of madness, forgiveness and the redemptive power of the written word.
Henry VIII, James IV and the Battle for Renaissance Britain
The decisive battle at Flodden Field in 1513 marked the climax of the personal and political tension between England’s Henry VIII and his brother-in-law James IV of Scotland. This book traces the origins and escalation of their rivalry, with analysis of the political and military manoeuvres leading up to Flodden. It ends with an account of the battle itself, which saw the first artillery exchange on a British battlefield, and an assessment of James’s level of responsibility for Scotland’s defeat.
His Life, Thought, and Work
Marlon Brando (1924–2004) is remembered for his charismatic screen presence, rugged good looks and rebellious stance. Drawing on unpublished documents, letters, the actor's own library and interviews with friends and colleagues, this major biography presents a very different portrait of the fascinating private man: a civil-rights activist and intellectual who collected 4,000 books, rewrote scripts to sharpen his dialogue, loved the poetry of Emily Dickinson, and embraced other cultures and let them shape both his politics and his art.
Flight from the Reich
Refugee Jews, 1933–1946
Six million European Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, but three million managed to escape death by fleeing, hiding or simply enduring. From victims of the early discriminations to perilous escapes during the height of the persecution and the resettlement of concentration camp survivors, this book pieces together official documents and personal accounts to examine the experience of Jewish refugees forced to flee to neighbouring countries, to Palestine, to America and ultimately to all over the world.
Paris to the Past
Traveling Through French History by Train
This characterful guide takes the reader on a journey through French history via 25 train outings from Paris. An expedition to the great Gothic cathedrals of Reims and Chartres brings to life the scheming Abbot Suger; a day-trip to the château of Blois evokes the splendours of the Renaissance; and an excursion to Versailles recalls the shining glory of the Sun King. Engaging and informative, the book also features helpful tips on hotels and bistros. American-cut pages.
Known professionally as Yvon, Pierre Yves Petit’s evocative photographs of Paris between the wars were originally printed as postcards. Characterized by unusual viewpoints and cloudy skies, their subjects include rundown alleys, bookstalls and homeless people as well as the city’s grander architecture, sculptures and ordinary workers. Over 60 images are reproduced in this portfolio, with an introduction to his life and career.
The Poems of Jesus Christ
'Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.' Jesus Christ is the great invisible poet of the world. Embedded in the Gospels are sayings and parables of lyric intensity: austere, vivid and poignant, and rich in garden, nature and animal imagery. Barnstone's translations, excerpted from his Restored New Testament (2009), strip away the trappings of prose to reveal the consummate poetic drama of the Gospel of Jesus in all its wonder and majesty. American-cut pages.