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New non-fiction for January 2018

Written by · Published Dec 29, 2017

How to be Human, The Patriot, Hearts and Minds

How to be Human: the manual, by Ruby Wax

Another smart and funny book from the comedian and bestselling author of A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled:

“In this work, Ruby Wax tries to come up with some answers to that niggling question about who we are. With the input of a monk (an expert on our inner lives) and a neuroscientist (an expert on the brain), Ruby explores how to find happiness in the modern world - despite the constant bombardment of bad news, the need to choose between 5000 different types of toothpaste, and the loneliness of having hundreds of friends who we’ve never met and don’t know us.”

The Patriot, by James Patterson & Alex Abramovich

A compelling foray into non-fiction from Patterson and his writing team:

“Everyone thought they knew Aaron Hernandez. He was an NFL star who made the game of American football look easy. Until he became the prime suspect in a gruesome murder. But who was Aaron Hernandez, really? Rich with in-depth, on-the-ground investigative reporting that gives readers a front row seat to Hernandez’s tumultuous downward spiral, ‘The Patriot’ reveals the unvarnished truth behind the troubled star, with first-person accounts and untold stories.”

What She Ate: six remarkable women and the food that tells their stories, by Laura Shapiro

An unusual approach to women’s history from a US culinary historian:

“Dorothy Wordsworth believed that feeding her poet brother, William, gooseberry tarts was her part to play in a literary movement. Cockney chef Rosa Lewis became a favourite of King Edward VII, who loved her signature dish of whole truffles boiled in Champagne. Eleanor Roosevelt dished up Eggs Mexican - a concoction of rice, fried eggs, and bananas - in the White House.

“Eva Braun treated herself to Champagne and cake in the bunker before killing herself, alongside Adolf Hitler. Barbara Pym’s novels overflow with enjoyment of everyday meals - of frozen fish fingers and Chablis - in midcentury England. Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurley Brown’s idea of ‘having it all’ meant having almost nothing on the plate except a supersized portion of diet gelatin.

“In What She Ate, Laura Shapiro examines the plates and recipe books of these six extraordinary women, casting a new light on each of their lives.”

White King: the tragedy of Charles I, by Leanda de Lisle

“Drawing on lost royal letters from a closed archive, White King introduces us to Charles I as the monarch at the heart of a story for our times: a tale of populist politicians and the fall of the mighty, of religious hatreds and civil war, of the power of a new media and a maligned queen.

“The reign of Charles I is one of the most dramatic in history. Yet Charles the man remains elusive. Too often he is recalled as weak and stupid, his wife, Henrietta Maria, as spoilt and silly: the cause of his ruin. This has bred not only contempt, but also indifference. Today’s readers have preferred the well-trodden reigns of the Tudors.

“But Charles is revealed here as a complex and fascinating man who pays the price for bringing radical change; Henrietta Maria is a warrior queen and political player as extraordinary as any Tudor.”

This is just the kind of book you need to see you through the cold and dark of January. We get to learn a lot about Henrietta Maria, of whom very little has been known up to now.

The Only Girl in the World: a memoir, by Maude Julien, translated by Adriana Hunter

“Maude still remembers the sound of the gate being locked behind her. She was three years old when they moved into the secluded manor, and she would only be allowed out again a handful of times. Her parents belonged to a fanatical Masonic order who believed that it was their sacred duty to turn her into the ultimate survivor. She followed a strict schedule of study, hard labour and endless drills designed to ‘eliminate weakness’, such as holding an electric fence without flinching and sitting still in a rat-infested cellar.

“But Maude’s parents could not rule her inner life. Befriending animals on the lonely estate and characters in the books she read, Maude nurtured in herself the compassion and love her parents forbade.”

Hearts and Minds: suffragists, suffragettes and how women won the vote, by Jane Robinson

“Set against the colourful background of the entire campaign for women to win the vote, Hearts and Minds tells the remarkable and inspiring story of the suffragists’ march on London.

“1913: the last long summer before the war. The country is gripped by suffragette fever. These impassioned crusaders have their admirers; some agree with their aims if not their forceful methods, while others are aghast at the thought of giving any female a vote.

“Meanwhile, hundreds of women are stepping out on to the streets of Britain. They are the suffragists: non-militant campaigners for the vote, on an astonishing six-week protest march they call the Great Pilgrimage. Rich and poor, young and old, they defy convention, risking jobs, family relationships and even their lives to persuade the country to listen to them. This is a story of ordinary people effecting extraordinary change.”

Brandon King

I work in the Suffolk Libraries Stock Team