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Bookseller Picks: New Non-Fiction in August 2022

August’s non-fiction releases display real variety of subjects and forms, from cookbooks, essays, memoirs and history. Here’s a selection of what’s piquing our staff’s interest this month:

Animal Joy: A Book of Laughter and Resuscitation by Nuar Alsadir

Published: 2nd Aug '22
Paperback / softback
£12.99

Laughter shakes us out of our deadness. An outburst of spontaneous laughter is an eruption from the unconscious that, like political resistance, poetry, or self-revelation, expresses a provocative, impish drive to burst free from external constraints. Taking laughter’s revelatory capacity as a starting point, and rooted in Nuar Alsadir’s experience as a poet and psychoanalyst, Animal Joy seeks to recover the sensation of feeling alive and embodied. Writing in a poetic, associative style, blending the personal with the theoretical, Alsadir ranges from her experience in clown school, Anna Karenina’s morphine addiction, Freud’s unfreudian behaviors, marriage brokers and war brokers to ‘Not Jokes’, Abu Ghraib, Fanon’s negrophobia, smut, the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, laugh tracks, the problem with adjectives, to how poetry can wake us up. At the centre of the book, though, is the author’s relationship with her daughters, who erupt into the text like sudden, unexpected laughter. These interventions – frank, tender, and always a challenge to the writer and her thinking – are like tiny revolutions, pointedly showing the dangers of being severed from our True Self and hinting at ways we might be called back to it.

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Colours of Art: The Story of Art in 80 Palettes by Chloe Ashby

Published: 2nd Aug '22
Hardback
£25.00

Throughout history the greatest of artists have experimented with new pigments and new technologies to lead movements and deliver masterpieces. But as something so cardinal, we sometimes forget how poignant colour palettes can be, and how much they can tell us. When Vermeer painted The Milkmaid, the amount of ultramarine he could use was written in the contract. How did that affect how he used it? When Turner experimented with Indian Yellow, he captured roaring flames that brought his paintings to life. If he had used a more ordinary yellow, would he have created something so extraordinary? And how did Warhol throw away the rulebook to change what colour could achieve? Structured chronologically, Colours of Art provides a look at the greatest artistic palettes in art history – from Rafael’s use of perspective and Vermeer’s ultramarine, to Andy Warhol’s hot pinks and Lisa Brice’s blue women.

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None of the Above: Reflections on Life Beyond the Binary by Travis Alabanza

Published: 4th Aug '22
Hardback
£16.99

In None of the Above, Travis Alabanza examines seven phrases people have directed at them about their gender identity. These phrases have stayed with them over the years. Some are deceptively innocuous, some deliberately loaded or offensive, some celebratory; sentences that have had an impact on them for better and for worse; sentences that speak to the broader issues raised by a world that insists that gender must be a binary. Through these seven phrases, which include some of their most transformative experiences as a Black, mixed race, non-binary person, Travis Alabanza turns a mirror back on society, giving us reason to question the very framework in which we live and the ways we treat each other.

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Saving Freud: A Life in Vienna and an Escape to Freedom in London by Andrew Nagorski

Published: 4th Aug '22
Hardback
£20.00

March 1938: German soldiers are massing on the Austrian border, on the cusp of fulfilling Hitler’s dream of absorbing the country into the Third Reich. Many Jews make frantic plans to flee to safety. But one of the most famous men in the world, unable to contemplate leaving his beloved Vienna, is not among them. His name is Sigmund Freud. Saving Freud is the story of the great doctor’s life, and of the extraordinary people who managed to prolong it, by convincing him to escape to London: the Welsh physician who brought psychoanalysis to Britain; Napoleon’s great-grandniece; an American ambassador; Freud’s devoted daughter, Anna; and the doctor who risked his own life by staying at Freud’s side.

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What We Want: A Journey Through Twelve of Our Deepest Desires by Charlotte Fox Weber

Published: 4th Aug '22
Hardback
£20.00

Chloe is beautiful and fiercely bright, but her thirst for alcohol and attention is insatiable. Sara resents being tied down to anything, but part of her craves stability. Elliot is secretly grieving the death of his famous lover and feels like he’s invisible. The lives and problems of psychotherapist Charlotte Fox Weber’s clients vary, but all are united by a common question: what do I really want? In What We Want, Charlotte Fox Weber takes us on a journey through twelve universal wants and desires, bringing us behind the closed doors of her practice. It is at once a fly-on-the-wall look at what binds us all, an expression of the profound importance of understanding and articulating our desires, and a practical toolkit for living well.

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Masters of the Lost Land: The Untold Story of the Fight to Own the Amazon by Heriberto Araujo

Published: 19th Jan '23
Hardback
£20.00

Deep in the heart of the Amazon, an entire region has lived under the control of one notorious land baron: Joselio de Barros. Joselio cut a grisly path to success: having arrived in the jungle with a shady past, he quickly made a name for himself as an invincible thug who grabbed massive tracts of public land, burned down the jungle and executed or enslaved anyone trying to stop him. Enter Dezinho, the leader of a small but robust farm workers’ union fighting against land grabs, ecological destruction, and blatant human rights abuses. When Dezinho was killed in a shocking assassination, the local community held its breath. Would Joselio, whom everyone knew had ordered the hit, finally be brought to account? Or would authorities look the other way, as they had hundreds of times before? Dezinho’s widow, Dona Joelma, was not about to let that happen. After his murder, she stepped into the spotlight, orchestrating a huge push to bring national media attention to the injustices in the Amazon. Set against the backdrop of Bolsonaro’s devastating cuts to environmental protections, Brazil’s rapidly changing place in the geopolitical spectrum, and the Amazon’s crucial role in climate change, Masters of the Lost Land is an illustration of how people are fighting for – and winning – justice for their futures and the environment.

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Belonging: Natural histories of place, identity and home by Amanda Thomson

Published: 4th Aug '22
Hardback
£16.99

We will be hosting Amanda Thomson in conversation with Alycia Pirmohamed to discuss Belonging on August 25th!

Reflecting on family, identity and nature, Belonging is a personal memoir about what it is to have and make a home. It is a love letter to nature, especially the northern landscapes of Scotland and the Scots pinewoods of Abernethy – home to standing dead trees known as snags, which support the overall health of the forest. Belonging is a book about how we are held in thrall to elements of our past. It speaks to the importance of attention and reflection, and will encourage us all to look and observe and ask questions of ourselves.

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Persiana Everyday: THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER by Sabrina Ghayour

Published: 4th Aug '22
Hardback
£26.00

The all-new collection of more than 100 crowd-pleasing recipes for everyday eating from the author of the award-winning, Sunday Times bestselling cookbook Persiana. Designed to ensure maximum flavour with the greatest of ease – including no-cook, quick-prep, quick-cook and one-pot dishes, Persiana Everyday is full of generous, inviting and delicious recipes to cook again and again for family and friends.

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We Could Have Been Friends, My Father and I: A Palestinian Memoir by Raja Shehadeh

Published: 4th Aug '22
Hardback
£14.99

Aziz Shehadeh was many things: lawyer, activist, and political detainee, he was also the father of bestselling author and activist Raja. In this new memoir, Raja Shehadeh unpicks the snags and complexities of their relationship. A vocal and fearless opponent, Aziz resists under the British mandatory period, then under Jordan, and, finally, under Israel. As a young man, Raja fails to recognise his father’s courage and, in turn, his father does not appreciate Raja’s own efforts in campaigning for Palestinian human rights. When Aziz is murdered in 1985, it changes Raja irrevocably. This is not only the story of the battle against the various oppressors of the Palestinians, but a moving portrait of a particular father and son relationship.

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History of Water, A: Being an Account of a Murder, an Epic and Two Visions of Global History by Edward Wilson-Lee

Published: 4th Aug '22
Hardback
£25.00

It is the 30th of January 1574 and the king’s archivist lies dead – burned or strangled or drowned. The paper found in his hand could be from any corner of the Portuguese empire. But whatever it contains is probably a lie. From award-winning writer Edward Wilson-Lee, this is a thrilling true historical detective story set in sixteenth-century Portugal. A History of Water follows the interconnected lives of two men across the Renaissance globe. One of them – an aficionado of mermen and Ethiopian culture, an art collector, historian and expert on water-music – returns home from witnessing the birth of the modern age to die in a mysterious incident, apparently the victim of a grisly and curious murder. The other – a ruffian, vagabond and braggart, chased across the globe from Mozambique to Japan – ends up as the national poet of Portugal. The stories of Damiao de Gois and Luis de Camoes capture the extraordinary wonders that awaited Europeans on their arrival in India and China, the challenges these marvels presented to longstanding beliefs, and the vast conspiracy to silence the questions these posed about the nature of history and of human life. Like all good mysteries, everyone has their own version of events.

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Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle by Jody Rosen

Published: 4th Aug '22
Hardback
£25.00

Two Wheels Good reveals extraordinary encounters with cycling fanatics across the globe while unveiling the history of our beloved two-wheeled ‘green machine’. The bicycle is a vestige of the Victorian era, seemingly out of pace with our age of smartphones and ridesharing apps and driverless cars. Yet across the world, more people travel by bicycle than by any other form of transportation. Almost anyone can learn to ride a bike – and nearly everyone does. In Two Wheels Good, writer and critic Jody Rosen reshapes our understanding of this ubiquitous machine, an ever-present force in humanity’s life and dreamlife, and a flashpoint in culture wars for more for than two hundred years. Combining history, reportage, travelogue, and memoir, Rosen unfolds the bicycle’s saga from its invention in 1817 to its present-day renaissance as a ‘green machine’ in a world afflicted by pandemic and climate change. Readers meet unforgettable characters: feminist rebels who steered bikes to the barricades in the 1890s, a Bhutanese king who races mountain bikes in the Himalayas, astronauts who ride a floating bicycle in zero gravity aboard the International Space Station. Two Wheels Good examines the bicycle’s past and peers into its future, challenging myths and cliches, while uncovering cycling’s connection to colonial conquest and the gentrification of cities. But the book is also a love letter: a reflection on the sensual and spiritual pleasures of bike riding and an ode to an engineering marvel – a wondrous vehicle whose passenger is also its engine.

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Passengers, The by Will Ashon

Published: 4th Aug '22
Hardback
£14.99

Between October 2018 and March 2021, Will Ashon collected voices – people talking about their lives, needs, dreams, loves, hopes and fears – all of them with some connection to the British Isles. He used a range of methods including letters sent to random addresses, hitchhiking, referrals from strangers and so on. He conducted the interviews in person, on the phone, over the internet or asked people to record themselves. Interview techniques ranged from asking people to tell him a secret to choosing an arbitrary question from a list. The resulting testimonies tell the collective story of what it feels like to be alive in a particular time and place – here and now. The Passengers is a book about how we give shape to our lives, find meaning in the chaos, acknowledge the fragility of our existence while alleviating this anxiety with moments of beauty, love, humour and solidarity.

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Mushrooms: Over 70 Recipes That Celebrate Our Favourite Fungi by Martin Nordin

Published: 18th Aug '22
Hardback
£15.00

The 70 vegetarian recipes in Mushrooms applaud the versatility of this classic ingredient. Bestselling author of Fire, Smoke, Green, Martin Nordin, showcases creative and varied ways that mushrooms can be served. From soups and stews, to dumplings, pizzas and pickles, all the recipes draw inspiration from around the world.

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Re-Sisters: The Lives and Recordings of Delia Derbyshire, Margery Kempe and Cosey Fanni Tutti by Cosey Fanni Tutti

Published: 18th Aug '22
Hardback
£18.99

In 2018, boundary-breaking visual and sonic artist Cosey Fanni Tutti received a commission to write the soundtrack to a film about Delia Derbyshire, the pioneering electronic composer who influenced the likes of Aphex Twin and the Chemical Brothers. While researching Delia’s life, Cosey became immersed in Derbyshire’s story and uncovered some fascinating parallels with her own life. At the same time Cosey began reading about Margery Kempe, the 15th century mystic visionary who wrote the first English language autobiography. Re-sisters is the story of three women consumed by their passion for life, a passion they expressed through music, art and lifestyle; they were undaunted by the consequences they faced in pursuit of enriching their lives, and fiercely challenged the societal and cultural norms of their time.

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Without Warning and Only Sometimes: Scenes from an Unpredictable Childhood by Kit de Waal

Published: 18th Aug '22
Hardback
£16.99

Kit de Waal grew up in a household of opposites and extremes. Her haphazard mother rarely cooked, forbade Christmas and birthdays, worked as a cleaner, nurse and childminder sometimes all at once and believed the world would end in 1975. Meanwhile, her father stuffed barrels full of goodies for his relatives in the Caribbean, cooked elaborate meals on a whim and splurged money they didn’t have on cars, suits and shoes fit for a prince. Both of her parents were waiting for paradise. It never came. Caught between three worlds, Irish, Caribbean and British in 1960s Birmingham, Kit and her brothers and sisters knew all the words to the best songs, caught sticklebacks in jam jars and braved hunger and hellfire until they could all escape. Without Warning and Only Sometimes is a story of an extraordinary childhood and how a girl who grew up in house where the Bible was the only book on offer went on to discover a love of reading that inspires her to this day.

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Black and Female by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Published: 18th Aug '22
Hardback
£9.99

This paradigm shifting essay collection weaves the personal and political in an illuminating exploration of internationally acclaimed novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga’s complex relationship with race and gender. At once philosophical, intimate and urgent, Dangarmebga’s landmark essays address the profound cultural and political questions that underpin her novels for the first time. From her experience of life with a foster family in Dover and the difficulty of finding a publisher as a young Zimbabwean novelist, to the ways in which colonialism continues to disrupt the lives and minds of those subjugated by empire, Dangarembga writes to recenter marginalised voices. Black and Female offers a vision toward re-membering – to use Toni Morrison’s word – those whose identities and experiences continue to be fractured by the intersections of history, race and gender.

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Last Colony, The: A Tale of Exile, Justice and Britain's Colonial Legacy by Martin Rowson, Philippe Sands

Published: 25th Aug '22
Hardback
£16.99

After the Second World War, new international rules heralded an age of human rights and self-determination. Supported by Britain, these unprecedented changes sought to end the scourge of colonialism. But how committed was Britain? In the 1960s, its colonial instinct ignited once more: a secret decision was taken to offer the US a base at Diego Garcia, one of the islands of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, create a new colony (the ‘British Indian Ocean Territory’) and deport the entire local population. One of those inhabitants was Liseby Elyse, twenty years old, newly married, expecting her first child. One suitcase, no pets, the British ordered, expelling her from the only home she had ever known. For four decades the government of Mauritius fought for the return of Chagos, and the past decade Philippe Sands has been intimately involved in the cases. In 2018 Chagos and colonialism finally reached the World Court in The Hague. As Mauritius and the entire African continent challenged British and American lawlessness, fourteen international judges faced a landmark decision: would they rule that Britain illegally detached Chagos from Mauritius? Would they open the door to Liseby Elyse and her fellow Chagossians returning home – or exile them forever? Taking us on a disturbing journey across international law, The Last Colony illuminates the continuing horrors of colonial rule, the devastating impact of Britain’s racist grip on its last colony in Africa, and the struggle for justice in the face of a crime against humanity. It is a tale about the making of modern international law and one woman’s fight for justice, a courtroom drama and a personal journey that ends with a historic ruling.

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