Gloucester Crescent by William Miller (pbk)

Review by Annabel, 15 October 2019 Nestled between Primrose Hill and Camden Town in NW1, it’s hard to believe that Gloucester Crescent (and Regents Park Terrace which joins its ends) was ever considered slightly shabby: you’ll know the road if you saw the film The Lady in the Van. When you look at today’s house…

Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie

Review by Peter Reason, 10 October 2019 Kathleen Jamie is primarily known as a poet, but her prose writing is eagerly anticipated and widely acclaimed. Surfacing is the third in a loose trilogy of prose collections that joins Findings (2005) and Sightlines (2012). I am unashamedly a fan. Findings drew nature and landscapes together with…

Street Art (Art Essentials) by Simon Armstrong

Review by Liz Dexter, 8 October 2019 The Art Essentials series aims to be engaging, accessible, authoritative, richly illustrated and expertly written and conceived, and with a bookseller and book collector who has watched the rise of street art in the public consciousness to write it and the expert designers at Thames & Hudson to…

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Review by Simon, 1 October 2019 As the cover of Confessions of a Bookseller tells us, Bythell is an international bestseller. A couple of years ago, The Diary of a Bookseller was a surprise hit – or perhaps not a surprise, to those of who love reading about the running of a bookshop from the…

Futurekind: Design by and for the People by Robert Phillips

Review by Liz Dexter, 17 September 2019 Robert Phillips is a senior tutor on the Design Products course at the Royal College of Art, as well as being an award-winning product designer in his own right.  He researches open design and citizen science and all this means he’s the ideal person to introduce the world…

Moonlighting: Beethoven and Literary Modernism, by Nathan Waddell

Review by Rob Spence, 17 September 2019 When the newly-elected Brexit party MEPs took their place at the European Parliament in June, they used the opening ceremony as a stunt, turning their backs during the playing of the European Union anthem. That anthem is, as everybody knows, Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, by common account a…

Machines in the Head: Selected Short Writing by Anna Kavan

Review by Karen Langley, 12 Sept 2019 There was quite a resurgence of interest in Anna Kavan’s writing last year with the release of not one, but three, different editions of her classic dystopian novel Ice (which I covered in detail for Shiny New Books). Kavan published over several decades, though the majority of her…

The Remarkable Life of the Skin by Monty Lyman

Review by Simon Thomas, 5 Sept 2019 The number of science books I’ve read can be numbered on my fingers, and the number of science books I’ve read that weren’t written by Oliver Sacks is nil. Until now! Full disclosure, Monty Lyman is a friend of mine – and that was why I picked up The Remarkable Life…

Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save Our Wild Places by Julian Hoffman

Review by Rebecca Foster, 13 August 2019 More so than ever, I’m convinced that the purpose of literature is to educate us about the most pressing issues that we face as a species. Whiling away a few hours? Having a laugh? Being transported to a magical setting long ago or halfway around the world? Such…

The Seafarers: A Journey Among Birds by Stephen Rutt

Review by Liz Dexter, 8 Aug 2019 This charming and perceptive book opens with a gut-wrenching account of taking off in a very small plane from Kirkwall in Orkney, travelling to North Ronaldsay. But how has the author got to this point? Well, he got into birdwatching through his father seeing his first Cetti’s warbler:…

This Really Isn’t About You by Jean Hannah Edelstein (pbk)

Reviewed by Max Dunbar There’s a common British anecdote that goes: ‘We had some American friends here on holiday, and on the third day they drove to Stonehenge!’ The idea behind it is that because the UK is a small island, even driving to the next village seems like an epic poem. But Americans grow…

The Frayed Atlantic Edge by David Gange

Reviewed by Peter Reason David Gange is historian at the University of Birmingham and has a passion for mountains and wild water. Well before The Frayed Atlantic Edge was published, I came across him on Twitter and through his blog,  Mountain, Coast, River, much appreciating his stunning photographs from the western coasts of the British…

Picture by Lillian Ross

Reviewed by Basil Ransome-Davies Picture is Lillian Ross’s 1951 account of the making and unmaking of a John Huston project, The Red Badge of Courage, a film adaption of Stephen Crane’s 1895 novel. It was originally serialised in the New Yorker. Among Ross’s numerous antipathies, according to a piece by Andrew O’Hagan (LRB 41, 13),…

This Is Not a Drill: An Extinction Rebellion Handbook

Edited by Clare Farrell, Alison Green, Sam Knights, and William Skeaping. Review by Peter Reason There cannot be many followers of Shiny New Books who are not aware of the activities of Extinction Rebellion. Reports of the shutdown of London bridges and the later occupation of five major London sites for ten days, and of…

Selfies by Sylvie Weil

Translated by Ros Schwartz Reviewed by Karen Langley The selfie might seem to be a very modern phenomenon; the sight of people constantly stretching their arms out and craning to get a snap of themselves in a special location or with a famous person has become commonplace. We live in a modern age characterised by…

Birds in the Ancient World: Winged Words by Jeremy Mynott

Reviewed by Liz Dexter Jeremy Mynott is both a classical scholar and a writer on birds, and his love and deep knowledge of both areas shine through in this fascinating and rather wonderful book. From the preface, where he describes the variety of birds to be found in Athens and Rome, to the epilogue, which…

Chromatopia: An Illustrated History of Colour by David Coles

Reviewed by Liz Dexter This truly spectacular book would grace any coffee table with ease, but it’s more than just a pretty face, with fascinating facts in abundance and offers a good read to anyone interested in art, colour or indeed chemistry. After an introduction to the author, who runs a small paint-making company in…

The Way Home: Tales from a life without technology by Mark Boyle

Reviewed by Rebecca Foster It’s common practice nowadays, when publicizing a book review published in an online venue, to tag the author on social media. Provided I’ve been able to write a broadly positive review, I think of it as a nice way to reassure an author that someone has been reading and enjoying their…

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

Reviewed by Liz Dexter I felt a little overwhelmed facing up to reviewing this book, as there have been many reviews published since it came out in March this year. But then, looking at those reviews, you notice something: most of them are by women. Because, inevitably it seems, this will have been ‘othered’, passed…

Little Boy by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Reviewed by Karen Langley American poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti is perhaps more regularly acknowledged nowadays for his pivotal role in pioneering the Beat Generation; from founding the famous City Lights bookshop in San Francisco, to championing writers like Kerouac and Ginsberg, he was a crucial element in the success of the Beat authors. Yet he’s also…