How the World Became Obsessed with Time
‘Technology is making everything faster, and because we know that things will become faster in the future, it follows that nothing is fast enough now.’ Surveying how, over the last 250 years, time has come to dominate our lives, Simon Garfield considers its practical applications rather than theoretical physics: the subjects of his ‘illuminating stories’ include – definitely not in chronological order – football, Beethoven’s Ninth, railway timetables, Roger Bannister, Swiss watchmakers, The Clock (Christian Marclay’s film) and the British Museum.
A Boy Called Christmas
Young Nikolas lived in the second smallest cottage in Finland, his life was hard, and his only toy was a doll carved out of a turnip, but Nikolas believed in magic and grew up to be Father Christmas. Matt Haig’s wonderful book, with pictures by Chris Mould, tells the story of young Nikolas and his journey to the realm of elves where ‘an impossibility is just a possibility you don’t understand yet’. Age 7+
The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine
Jann Wenner created a new type of magazine with Rolling Stone in 1967, mixing politics with serious pop-music journalism. This biography was written with extensive access to the controversial editor as well as interviews with leading rock stars.
The Caribbean and the World
From the moment Columbus gazed on the land he mistook for India, the islands of the Caribbean have been the subject of daydreams and fantasy. This absorbing book, the result of ten years’ travel, strips away the myths to reveal the real Caribbean, a region that has produced some of the world’s most influential artists, activists, writers, musicians and sportsmen, as its people speak for themselves about their home and its place in the world.
Things That Are
Encounters with Plants, Stars and Animals
Amy Leach’s debut collection of creative non-fiction displays a remarkable fusion of enchanting poetic language, quirky humour and factual information relating to the natural world and our communion with it. From lilies and peas, frogs and beavers to the moon, constellations and exploding stars, each of these 26 short pieces is filled with what Olivia Laing has called a ‘tumultuous, incantatory rejoicing in the astonishing multiplicity of the Earth’.
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Complementing an Oscar-nominated documentary, this biography of Nina Simone (1933–2003) draws on previously unpublished material from her private diaries and the reflections of those who knew her best. It traces the legendary soul singer's struggles and successes, from her frustrated hopes of becoming a classical pianist to groundbreaking appearances at Carnegie Hall, her activities as a civil-rights activist and periodic visits to Africa in search of her 'secret self that is very black'.
A Life in Pictures
Glasgow-born Alasdair Gray (b.1934) is perhaps better known for such novels as Lanark: A Life in Four Books (1981) than his art. But he has spent a lifetime making murals, portraits, landscapes and illustrations, which are reproduced copiously in this substantial volume of 'autopictography'. The accompanying text, which is forthright and insightful, narrates how his work has developed from the 1950s to the present, including many stories highlighting the influence of friends and family on his artistic direction.
A Notable Woman
The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt
Jean Pratt was a trainee architect, journalist and publicist who lived in a Buckinghamshire cottage and ran a local bookshop. Though she was well-known in bookselling circles, none of her friends had any idea that, from the age of 16, she kept a diary, which ran to more than a million words by the time she died in 1986. It recounts, with aching honesty and infectious humour, love and loss, wartime privations, books read, indiscreet gossip – and her many feline companions.
Welcome to 'Just a Minute!'
A Celebration of Britain's Best-Loved Radio Comedy
Alongside regular players of the Radio 4 panel game Just a Minute such as Clement Freud, Peter Jones, Sheila Hancock, Kenneth Williams, Paul Merton and Jenny Eclair, Nicholas Parsons has appeared in every edition as chairman or (in the early days) panellist. In this celebration he recalls some of the funniest exchanges through the years, remembers the well-known personalities who have played the game and discusses how the show has evolved over its nearly 50-year history.
The War Diaries
An Anthology of Daily Wartime Diary Entries throughout History
War, especially modern war, involves soldiers and civilians alike, and nothing captures its terror, boredom and privations as vividly as a first-hand account. This absorbing anthology ranges from the 17th century to the 21st, from Davy Crockett at the Alamo to Anna Politkovskaya in Chechnya. The extracts - by such diverse figures as Tolstoy, Goebbels, Primo Levi, George Orwell and Virginia Woolf - capture the daily essence of life in wartime, by turns horrific and comic, epic and trivial.
The Country Diaries
A Year in the British Countryside
Described by the Daily Mail as 'a delightfully addictive treasury', this anthology features many of the great diarists who wrote about life in the countryside, among them Gilbert White, Beatrix Potter, John Evelyn and Roger Deakin. The book is arranged as a year, from 1 January 1779, when 'a most dreadful Storm of Wind and Hail & Snow' awoke James Woodforde, to Richard Jeffries counting 2000 peewits in a field in Surbiton on 31 December 1881.
Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception
Why does life speed up as we get older? Why does time seem to slow down when we fear we are about to die? Using research from psychology, neuroscience and biology, the presenter of BBC Radio 4's All In The Mind examines the idea that the experience of time is created by our minds. She also presents her own research into people's visualizations of time and suggests how we can use our brain's warping of it to our advantage.
Hell Was an Ocean Away
From the Japanese invasion of the Philippines to General MacArthur's arrival in Japan in August 1945, this narrative of the Pacific war is based on the experiences of five American servicemen – one navy pilot and four marines, including the hero of Guadalcanal and Medal of Honor recipient John Basilone. The book is read on this audio version by Mike Chamberlain.