NEW BOOKS JUNE 2019

FICTION

Frankissstein: A Love Story by Jeanette Winterson

House of Beauty and Other Stories by Yasunari Kawabata

How We Disappeared by Jing Jing Lee

The Porpoise by Mark Haddon

A Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata

NON-FICTION

Blueprint: How DNA Makes Us Who We Are by Robert Plomin

The blueprint for our individuality lies in the 1% of DNA that differs between people.

Our intellectual capacity, our introversion or extraversion, our vulnerability to mental illness, even whether we are a morning person – all of these aspects of our personality are profoundly shaped by our inherited DNA differences. In Blueprint, Robert Plomin, a pioneer in the field of behavioural genetics, draws on a lifetime’s worth of research to make the case that DNA is the most important factor shaping who we are. Our families, schools and the environment around us are important, but they are not as influential as our genes. 

This is why, he argues, teachers and parents should accept children for who they are, rather than trying to mould them in certain directions. Even the environments we choose and the signal events that impact our lives, from divorce to addiction, are influenced by our genetic predispositions. 

Now, thanks to the DNA revolution, it is becoming possible to predict who we will become, at birth, from our DNA alone. As Plomin shows us, these developments have sweeping implications for how we think about parenting, education, and social mobility. A game-changing book by a leader in the field, Blueprint shows how the DNA present in the single cell with which we all begin our lives can impact our behaviour as adults.

MEMBER RECOMMENDATION

A CEO, an Entrepreneur, a Tourist, and the Monk: Finding the Balance Between Success and Happiness by Alex Butt

Charles, a CEO at the peak of his career, successful but unhappy, caught in his hamster wheel-of-fortune. Antonio, an entrepreneur constantly starting new ventures, but unsure of his long-term future. Toby, a tourist trying to escape from a life that was not his own, and break his cycle of bad luck. 

A chance encounter between these three disparate characters and the Monk becomes the turning point in their lives. They embarked on a journey of self-reflection, reprioritize their lives, and take a different route to happiness, while enjoying the pursuit of material success.

But this story is just a parable for what we can all achieve in our lives.

Too many people today are preoccupied with work, have little time for their family and friends, and even less time for themselves. They tell themselves that they are doing this so that they can reap the fruits of their labour, relax, and be happy in the future. But what if today was their future? When then will they be happy?

Author Alex Butt invites you to take a leaf from this book and ask yourself, “Am I content and happy with my life?” Just like these three characters, a CEO, an Entrepreneur, a Tourist and the Monk, you too can apply the simple truths contained in this tale, redefine your own path to contentment, and discover a balance between success and happiness.

Japan Story: In Search of a Nation, 1850 to the Present by Christopher Harding

Japan Story is a fascinating, surprising account of Japan’s culture, from the ‘opening up’ of the country in the mid-19th century to the present, through the eyes of people who always had their doubts about modernity – who greeted it not with the confidence and grasping ambition of Japan’s familiar modernizers and nationalists, but with resistance, conflict, distress. 

We encounter writers of dramas, ghost stories and crime novels where modernity itself is the tragedy, the ghoul and the bad guy; surrealist and avant-garde artists sketching their escape; rebel kamikaze pilots and the put-upon urban poor; hypnotists and gangsters; men in desperate search of the eternal; feminine and feminists in search of something more than state-sanctioned subservience; Buddhists without morals; Marxist terror groups; couches full to bursting with the psychological fall-out of breakneck modernization. These people all sprang from the soil of modern Japan, but their personalities and projects failed to fit. They were ‘dark blossoms’ – both East-West hybrids and home-grown varieties that wreathed, probed and sometimes penetrated the new masonry and mortar of mainstream Japan.

Leadership: Lessons from the Presidents for Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s magnum opus tackles the big leadership questions – are leaders born or made? Do the times make the leader or does the leader make the times? 

In Leadership Goodwin draws upon four of the presidents she has studied – Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson – to show how they first recognized leadership qualities within themselves, and were recognized as leaders by others. By looking back to their first entry into public life, when their paths were filled with confusion, hope, and fear, we can share their struggles and follow their development into leaders.

This seminal work provides a roadmap for aspiring and established leaders. In today’s polarized world, these stories of authentic leadership in time of surpassing fracture and fear take on a singular urgency.

Living with the Gods: On Beliefs and Peoples by Neil MacGregor

No society on Earth lacks beliefs about where it has come from, its place in the world, and the connection of individuals to the eternal. Until recently, it was widely assumed that religion was on the wane almost everywhere: now, far from becoming marginalised, the relationship between faith and society has moved to the centre of politics and global conversation. Neil MacGregor’s new book and radio series, and the parallel exhibition at the British Museum, trace how different societies have understood and articulated their place in the cosmic scheme. 

He examines mankind’s beliefs not from the perspective of institutional religions, but by focusing on the shared narratives that have shaped societies – and on what happens when different narratives run up against each other. MacGregor brilliantly turns his kaleidoscope of objects, monuments and ideas to set these pressing contemporary concerns in the long perspectives of time and place.

MEMBER RECOMMENDATION

The Matriarch: Barbara Bush and the Making of an American Dynasty by Susan Page

Barbara Pierce Bush — political powerhouse, Bush family matriarch, former First Lady, and celebrated public servant — has not been the focus of a robust, mainstream biography for over a decade.

In The Matriarch, her story is revived and told in full: from growing up in Rye, New York to becoming America’s First Lady, every tragedy and triumph is rivetingly told. An institution in and of herself, Barbara Bush’s role in American history cannot be understated. Beginning while Second Lady and through her time as First Lady, she invested herself deeply in expanding literacy programs in America, launched efforts to combat homelessness, and eventually became the first woman since Eleanor Roosevelt to speak at her party’s national convention in 1988. While her own political beliefs sometimes differed from her husband’s, Barbara Bush nevertheless became an astute political campaign strategist, helping him to gain the nomination and win the election.

Barbara Bush’s accomplishments, struggles, and contributions are many. Now, Susan Page brings them all into one place in The Matriarch, a book certain to cement Barbara Bush as one of the most unique and influential figures in American history.

Nature’s Mutiny: How the Little Ice Age Transformed the West and Shaped the Present by Philipp Blom

In this innovative and compelling work of environmental history, Philipp Blom chronicles the great climate crisis of the 1600s, a crisis that would transform the entire social and political fabric of Europe.

While hints of a crisis appeared as early as the 1570s, by the end of the sixteenth century the temperature plummeted so drastically that Mediterranean harbours were covered with ice, birds literally dropped out of the sky, and ‘frost fairs’ were erected on a frozen Thames – with kiosks, taverns, and even brothels that become a semi-permanent part of the city.

Recounting the deep legacy and sweeping consequences of this ‘Little Ice Age’, acclaimed historian Philipp Blom reveals how the European landscape had ineradicably changed by the mid-seventeenth century. While apocalyptic weather patterns destroyed entire harvests and incited mass migrations, Blom brilliantly shows how they also gave rise to the growth of European cities, the appearance of early capitalism, and the vigorous stirrings of the Enlightenment.

A sweeping examination of how a society responds to profound and unexpected change, Nature’s Mutiny will transform the way we think about climate change in the twenty-first century and beyond.

Raising Humans In A Digital World: Helping Kids Build A Healthy Relationship With Technology by Diana Graber

Sexting, cyberbullying, revenge porn, online predators… all of these potential threats can tempt parents to snatch the smartphone or tablet right out of their children’s hands. While avoidance might eliminate the dangers, that approach also means your child misses out on technology’s many benefits and opportunities. 

Raising Humans in a Digital World shows how digital kids must learn to navigate this environment, through: Developing social-emotional skills; Balancing virtual and real life; Building safe and healthy relationships; Avoiding cyberbullies and online predators; Protecting personal information; Identifying and avoiding fake news and questionable content; Becoming positive role models and leaders.

This book is packed with at-home discussion topics and enjoyable activities that any busy family can slip into their daily routine. Full of practical tips grounded in academic research and hands-on experience, today’s parents finally have what they’ve been waiting for a guide to raising digital kids who will become the positive and successful leaders our world desperately needs.

The Secret World: A History of Intelligence by Christopher Andrew

A stupendous history of intelligence and its uses, showing how it has frequently changed the course of history – by the world’s leading historian of intelligence.

“God sent out spies into the land of Canaan”. The first mention of espionage in world literature is in the Book of Exodus. From there, Christopher Andrew traces shift in the ancient world from divination to what we would recognise as attempts to gather real intelligence in the conduct of military operations, and considers how far ahead of the West – at that time – China and India were.

He charts the development of intelligence and security operations and capacity through, amongst others, Renaissance Venice, Elizabethan England, Revolutionary America, Napoleonic France, right up to sophisticated modern activities of which he is the world’s best-informed interpreter. What difference have security and intelligence operations made to course of history?

The Truth About Fat by Anthony Warner

We are getting fat and sick in increasing numbers and it’s placing a devastating burden on our healthcare systems. Scientists in every field are desperate to explain this epidemic and stave off a modern health disaster. But what’s to blame? Carbs, fat or sugar? Gut microbes or genes? Laziness or poverty?

In The Truth About Fat, Anthony Warner scrutinises the explanations of academics, doctors, researchers and journalists. As he lays out the best evidence available, he rails against quack theories preying on the desperate and considers whether we are blaming our own bodies for other people’s ignorance and cruelty. What remains is the unvarnished truth about one of the great preoccupations of our age.

MYSTERY/THRILLER

MEMBER RECOMMENDATION

The Snack Thief  by Andrea Camilleri

An Inspector Montalbano novel. When an elderly man is stabbed to death in an elevator and a crewman on an Italian fishing trawler is machine-gunned by a Tunisian patrol boat off Sicily’s coast, only Inspector Montalbano suspects a link between the two incidents. His investigation leads to the beautiful Karima, an impoverished house cleaner and sometime prostitute, whose young son steals other school children’s mid-morning snacks. But Karima disappears, and the young snack thief’s life – as well as Montalbano’s – is endangered when the inspector exposes a viper’s nest of government corruption and international intrigue.

CHILDREN'S NON-FICTION

Octopuses: A Ladybird Expert Book by Helen Scales

– Why is it octopuses, and not octopi or octopodes?
– How did octopuses evolve to be so clever? 
– How can octopuses see and speak with their skin? 

Bendy bodies, big brains. Examine these crafty hunters of the seabed – shape-shifting, skin-signalling and using complex tools – their remarkable abilities are still being uncovered.

Written by celebrated marine biologist and documentarian Helen Scales, Octopuses is an enthralling introduction to these utterly unique creatures, the myths and fiction they have inspired, and what they can tell us about the roots of intelligence.

CHILDREN'S FICTION

MEMBER RECOMMENDATION

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey 

George and Harold (the co-stars of the enormously popular Captain Underpants series) are in big trouble again! Their mean principal, Mr Krupp, has had it with their comic books. But the boys aren’t giving up, and they decide to create an all-new epic novel about a subject they’ve never tackled before!

Dr. Dilbert Dinkle started his career as an ordinary, everyday evil genius/inventor/bank robber. But when he awakens one day transformed into a walking, talking puddle of pee, he vows to destroy every toilet in town. Will the devious Dr. Dinkle and his conniving cat, Petey, ruin restrooms for the rest of us? Or could this be a job for the death-defying, dynamic duo of Super Diaper Baby and Diaper Dog? Will all their obsessive one-upmanship end?

CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOKS

Caterina and the Lemonade Stand by Erin Eitter Kono

(For 4-6 years) Caterina loves big, creative projects, like planning a lemonade stand — the perfect summer pastime. But everybody else seems to have the same idea. How can she make her stand truly stand out? Leave it to artistic Caterina (and her younger brother, Leo) to come up with a great solution and then be able to celebrate summer in style!

If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur by Linda Bailey

(For 0-3 years) If you happen to have a dinosaur, lying around your living room, and you don’t know what to do with it…why don’t you use it as a can opener? It will make a terrific nutcracker too! There are oodles of uses for a dinosaur from a fine umbrella to an excellent kite and a dandy pillow, not to mention a reliable burglar alarm and the perfect excuse to forget your homework. 

This delightfully absurd exploration of the domestic uses of dinosaurs and the things dinos just aren’t good for at all is guaranteed to tickle funny bones and spark imaginations. If you read carefully, you’ll learn how to make your dinosaur last a very long time.

Mummy Laid an Egg! by Babette Cole

(For 4-12 years) Just how are babies made? Erm…Well…they’re delivered by dinosaurs squidged out of tubes and found under stones! In this story the kids put their embarrassed parents straight and dispel the myths surrounding baby-making, growth and birth. Babette Cole careers through the facts of life with her no-nonsense text and funny illustrations.

Please! Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt

Spork by Kyo Maclear