One of my favourite essays is a piece by Michael Chabon called The Wilderness of Childhood. It’s about how children’s imaginations – and the books they populate with these imaginations – are fed by their experience of wild places. Chabon’s essay is at once a celebration
Death is a part of life, but much of modern society has shunned this fact to its great detriment, according to several forthcoming books on religion and spirituality this year. Three authors, with backgrounds in medicine, theology, and philosophy, argue for why facing—and even embracing—
Long before it was a hidden storage space or a metaphor for queer and trans shame, the closet was one of the most charged settings in English architecture. This private room provided seclusion for reading, writing, praying, dressing, and collecting — and for talking in select company. In their
Thirty years ago, “just for a laugh”, actor Peter Gordon wrote a poem for his wife Alison, and left it under her pillow. She liked it, and so he carried on, every day for 25 years. To this day, Gordon continues to add to the thousands of poems he had written for Alison, even after her de
One is not born, but rather becomes, an immigrant. That’s what I thought when I read John Steinbeck’s 1939 American epic The Grapes of Wrath. Set during the Great Depression, the Pulitzer and Nobel prize-winning novel follows the dispossessed Joad family as they are driven from their Okl
Self-care has often been dismissed as a millennial fad – but these books promote the idea that looking after your wellbeing is sensible rather than selfish. And for those who suffer with mental health issues, it’s essential.
“Self-care techniques and general lifestyle changes can
Lionel Shriver is talking to me from her home in London during lockdown. And she’s not mincing her words about the coronavirus crisis, nor the economic damage that the government’s preventative actions will cause. “The numbers are not high enough for these kinds of destructive meas
We book critics were ready for this. When the covid-19 pandemic began to enter the American consciousness in late February, the army of reviewers like myself — well, a brigade (Okay, we’re a platoon) — snapped into action. We had deep experience in list-making, and now those lists
For many people quarantine has proved to be the perfect time to get back into reading if they stopped before lockdown due to their daily routine, or to pick it up if they never started.
Books, the oldest and most enlightening form of escapism, can transport readers far away from the space they ha
A History of Cargoes and Commerce over Land and SeaThe ancient world saw the expansion of Western Asian, Mediterranean and Polynesian civilizations as transport networks for trade were established. Later, imperial expansion reached far flung corners of the world. The Great Trade Routes examines the
A fresh interpretation of the life of Galileo Galilei, one of history’s greatest and most fascinating scientists, that sheds new light on his discoveries and how he was challenged by science deniers. “We really need this story now, because we’re living through the next chapter of s
I’ve always been drawn to other cultures, other countries, other languages and early on was addicted to literature in translation. My interest has moved beyond European and Russian classics, thanks to the excellent translations available from languages all over the world. Arabic has been a par
n the kind of major turnabout that publishing professionals normally can only dream about, Her Majesty’s Treasury in the United Kingdom has issued a statement today (April 30), announcing that as of tomorrow—May 1—the UK’s long-derided value added tax (VAT) on digital publica
The sweeping, authoritative and genuinely intelligent thriller — the sort of novel in which the author employs a bulldozer and a scalpel at the same time — is a rare specimen. Lawrence Wright’s second novel, “The End of October,” is one of these. The fact that it’
There aren’t many aspects of the lockdown that the author Penelope Lively enjoys but reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to her 27-year-old granddaughter on video calls is one of them. “We discovered that for some extraordinary reason she’d never read it in her childhood
Lady Hale, who presided over the momentous decision to rule Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament unlawful, is set to write her memoirs, of how “a little girl from a little school in a little village in North Yorkshire became the most senior judge in the United Kingdom”.
William Leith’s primary subject has always been appetite, and its close cousins compulsion and obsession. He first explored these themes in his newspaper columns, stagily self-absorbed fragments of a hungover life, and subsequently in two addictive books. The first, The Hungry Years, set his o
‘Be like the rocky headland on which the waves constantly break. It stands firm, and round it the seething waters are laid to rest. ‘It is my bad luck that this has happened to me.’ No, you should rather say: ‘It is my good luck that, although this has happened to me, I can b