Near-future dystopia, a fresh guide to the Classics and a new book by Adele's favourite author make our round up.
Near-future dystopia, a fresh guide to the Classics and a new book by Adele's favourite author make our round up.
Thought-provoking reads abound this week, from novels about our relationship to Big Tech, to in-depth historical reportage, to a new journal from Untamed author Glennon Doyle.
The Every by Dave Eggers
In this new novel from the author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and The Circle, tech sceptic Delaney Wells has blagged herself into an entry-level position at The Every – the merger of the world’s largest search engine/social media company and the largest e-commerce site in the world – with a plan to bring down the company from within. Equal parts satire and true-to-life horror, Eggers’ latest raises questions about surveillance, control, and freedom – and whether humanity still craves the latter or not.
Insider view: “No one writes the very near future like Dave Eggers. Imagining a wholly plausible moment when the world’s biggest online retailer has merged with the world’s biggest social media company, he shows us how things are most likely to play out, with alarming results for human free will. Like Orwell, Eggers tells a fictional story with satiric purpose. One day, he says, this could be us. And is this what we really want? Like the hero of his book, the young woman Delaney Wells, who plots to bring down this behemoth company from within, we may all need to fight for our freedom.”
Simon Prosser, Publishing Director, Hamish Hamilton
For fans of: Big moral questions, dark humour, Dave Eggers
Penguin Modern Classics by Henry Eliot
In this “essential guide to twentieth-century literature around the world”, author Henry Eliot digs deep into the archives of the Penguin Classics series to showcase the thousands of incredible books that have defined 20th-century literature around the world, from description and commentary to context and key literary movements. If your reading list has felt small lately, this worldly guide to the scope of human written achievement in the past 60 years is the perfect place to start expanding it.
Insider view: “Henry Eliot’s amazing, immersive volume is, like the very best bookshop in the world, a place to get lost in; not only does it serve to showcase the world’s greatest modern literature, but also some of the finest graphic design and illustration of the past 60 years. Anyone with the slightest interest in books will come away from it much enriched, and in all probability clutching a lengthy reading list.”
Richard Atkinson, Publishing Director, Penguin Press
For fans of: World literature, new literary canons, beautiful coffee table books
The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones
Subtitled A New American Origin Story, this revolutionary, award-winning work of journalism from the team at The New York Times Magazine reconstructs American history from a new starting point: the year 1619, when a ship arrived in the British colony of Virginia carrying dozens of enslaved people from Africa. It is from that origin point, argues a team of writers headed by Nikole Hannah-Jones, that nearly all of American history can be understood – and in these essays, poems and short works of fiction, they show the multifarious ways that its influence manifests in American politics, arts, infrastructure, and in American democracy itself.
Insider view: “What I love most is the wild ambition of this book – putting slavery right at the beating heart of the American origin story, weaving together moving poetry, short fiction, and essays by a dazzling range of authors. Rather than quibbling at the margins, this book dives right in, sits us down to start again from the very beginning with an entirely fresh perspective on the most influential nation on Earth. And of course, any book that Donald Trump has tried to ban is always worth reading.”
Jamie Joseph, Editorial Director, Ebury
For fans of: Recontextualising history, American culture and history, in-depth reportage
Get Untamed: The Journal by Glennon Doyle
In her landmark memoir Untamed last year, Glennon Doyle grabbed the world by the ruff and shook it, entreating readers to Stop Pleasing, Start Living, to borrow the book’s urgent subtitle. Even Adele was a fan. Here, in a follow-up interactive journal, Doyle is giving readers a concrete guide to help navigate the process of unlearning people-pleasing behaviour in order to embrace your potential. Via a series of exercises and thinking prompts, Get Untamed: The Journal will help any reader “rediscover, and begin to trust, your own inner-voice”.
Insider view: “What would your life look like if you stopped abandoning yourself and instead abandoned others’ expectations of you? When Glennon shared her powerful story in Untamed, she helped millions of women realise they too had forgotten who they were before the world told them who to be. In Get Untamed, Glennon helps readers embark on their own intimate journey back to themselves. It’s a beautiful interactive journal with over 200 thought-provoking and soul-expanding questions, quotes and prompts.”
Susanna Abbott, Publishing Director, Vermilion
For fans of: Untamed, empowerment and self-care, unlearning behaviours that don’t serve you
Will by Will Smith
“Now this is a story all about how…”
One of the most dynamic and globally recognised entertainment forces of our time opens up fully about his life, in a brave and inspiring book that traces his learning curve to a place where outer success, inner happiness, and human connection are aligned. Along the way, Will tells the story in full of one of the most amazing rides through the worlds of music and film that anyone has ever had.
Insider view: Will Smith’s transformation from a fearful child in a tense West Philadelphia home to one of the biggest rap stars of his era and then one of the biggest movie stars in Hollywood history, with a string of box office successes, is a tale of inner transformation and outer triumph. The combination of genuine wisdom of universal value and a life story that is preposterously entertaining, even astonishing, puts Will the book, like its author, in a category by itself.’ Ben Brusey, Publishing Director, Century & Del Rey
For fans of: Will Smith, inspirational and comedic memoir, self-help
Call of the Penguins by Hazel Prior
Hazel Prior charmed thousands of readers with Veronica McCreedy in Away with the Penguins in 2020, and now the octogenarian is back! Call of the Penguins whisks us away to the southern hemisphere, where Veronica McCreedy – a uniquely feisty and popular octogenarian – is co-presenting a wildlife documentary about penguins, with her trademark wit, vim and verve.
Insider view: Readers first fell in love with Granny McCreedy in Hazel Prior’s number one bestselling novel Away with the Penguins, and this follow-up will be a treat for new readers and existing fans alike. With vivid settings and a cast of unforgettable characters, it’s an utterly charming, heart-warming and life-affirming story, and the perfect read for anyone who has been longing for an adventure. Imogen Nelson, Editor, Transworld
For fans of: Comforting reads, older protagonists, David Attenborough
Lily by Rose Tremain
As a baby, Lily was abandoned at the gates of a park and rescued by a young police constable. After a childhood with a kind foster family in Suffolk, she returns to the Foundling Hospital for her rebellious spirit, where the underworld of Victorian London lures her in. Astonishingly, Lily is reunited with the policeman who saved her, but how can her life continue when nobody knows of the dark secret she is hiding? In this remarkable novel from fiction doyenne Rose Tremain, romance and murder intertwine in a powerful read.
Insider view: Lily is a glorious novel – the characters are as richly drawn as Dickens’s, London is alive with sounds, smells and colour, and our heroine’s story will have you turning the pages as fast as you can. To read it is to feel the warmth from the fire at Rookery Farm radiate from the page – just what’s needed as the nights draw in! Rosanna Boscawen, Head of Campaigns, Vintage
For fans of: Historical fiction, page-turning plots and Victorian stories.
Diddly Squat by Jeremy Clarkson
Traditionally known for his affinity for fast cars and snazzy motors, in recent years Jeremy Clarkson’s been showcasing his knowledge of agriculture through TV show Clarkson’s Farm. Diddly Squat offers the inside story, of red tape, biblical weather, local objections, a global pandemic and Clarkson’s own frankly staggering ignorance of how to 'do farming'. Obviously, it’s hilarious.
Insider view: Clarkson’s Farm was one of the most talked about new TV shows of the year. And deservedly so. Jeremy has always made great TV, but with Clarkson’s Farm was special. Fortunately, Jeremy’s also always been an exceptional writer and so it was a treat to read his regular dispatches from Diddly Squat. It was also great fun to get to commission some E.H. Shepard style line drawings to illustrate his (mis)adventures on the farm. Rowland White, Publishing Director, Michael Joseph
For fans of: Farming, Jeremy Clarkson, entertaining mishaps
Fry’s Ties by Stephen Fry
Yes, we all know Stephen Fry is a genius for the everyman: a polymath whose career has dominated stage, screen and shelf. But he’s also very dapper, as evidenced by his latest work: Fry’s Ties. In classic Fry fashion, the author delves beneath the surface to offer stories from his life, accompanied by beautiful photographs and hand-drawn illustrations.
For fans of: Ties, Stephen Fry, funny stories.
The Lyrics by Paul McCartney
There are few – if any – more beloved songwriters than Paul McCartney living today, and this beautiful, two-volume boxed set provides an unprecedented look into his life, both professionally and personally. Indeed, Macca notes in the press materials for the book, while he has often “been asked if I would write an autobiography”, this is the closest he’s come to actually doing so: his songs, he writes, “span my entire life”, and The Lyrics proceeds to tell its story, from the age of 14 until the current day, through them. There’s never been a better window into McCartney’s genius, making The Lyrics essential for Beatles fans – and a perfect Christmas gift, too.
Insider view: “The Lyrics is a glorious and intimate self-portrait of Paul McCartney, which contains a treasure trove of personal photographs and handwritten lyric sheets, as well as an unrecorded and never-before-seen Beatles song. The two beautiful volumes will give readers a unique insight into this beloved musician’s creative process, showcasing his skills as a writer, as well as a songsmith. Make sure to also visit the accompanying British Library exhibition, to look out for our London buses and to listen to the extracts currently being read by Paul himself on Radio 4!”
Alice Skinner, Assistant Editor, Allen Lane
For fans of: The Beatles, creatives, people interesting in icons
My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
In her captivating debut novel, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson writes about a Black neighbourhood which comes under violent attack by a group of white supremacists, and a group of neighbours, friends and allies who set off in search of respite. They arrive at Monticello, the historic plantation home of Thomas Jefferson (the slave-owning third President of the United States), stirring up complex emotions for group leader Da’Naisha Love – a Black descendant of the former President and Sally Hemings. Never mind “for a debut”: My Monticello is a captivating, stirringly resonant achievement, period.
Insider view: “My Monticello is a one-sitting, heart-stopping read that addresses head on the trauma of racial violence while also showing the transformative power of compassion and collective action. It does what the best fiction must: reflects our society with clarity, making us think better, think deeper. It’s also completely immersive – cinematic and fast-paced – with a generous cast whose relationships are a source of hope. Jocelyn Nicole Johnson is a phenomenal talent, and I can’t wait for UK readers to discover her.”
Kate Harvey, Deputy Publishing Director, Harvill Secker
For fans of: Black resistance and reclamation, Colson Whitehead, American history
1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows by Ai Weiwei
From one of the world’s most extraordinary artists comes this expansive, enchanting memoir that interweaves the story of Ai Weiwei with that of his country’s last century. By recounting both his father’s life and his own, and placing them both against the socio-political background of China in the 20th Century, the powerfully political, explosively creative author paints a picture of what it’s like to make art under a totalitarian regime, and what it means to put one’s life on the line for what they believe. This is an artist’s story like you’ve never read before.
Insider view: “This is the deeply moving, epic and intimate story of a father and a son, a family, a nation and a century of making art under tyranny. The father is Ai Qing, one of China’s greatest 20th-century poets. The son is Ai Weiwei, perhaps the best-known artist and activist in the world today.”
Stuart Williams, Publishing Director, Bodley Head
For fans of: Art and politics, Chinese history, creative memoir
The Ruin of All Witches by Malcolm Gaskill
In this real-life folktale – ripped from America’s colonial history and told, based on research, by Malcolm Gaskill – a 1651 frontier town is torn asunder when strange happenings begin: food spoiling, livestock dying, things vanishing. Rumours of witchcraft and heresy mingle with distrust and suspicion, sowing discord in the community and leading to the ruin of a young brickmaker, his wife, and their children. By focusing on a single family and community, Gaskill tells a larger story of America in transition, stuck between belief in the fantastical and mistrust in scientific progress.
Insider view: “Montaillou meets The Witch, The Ruin of All Witches is both a brilliant act of historical recovery and a skin-prickling story of life in a remote 17th-century Massachusetts community. Chilling and claustrophobic, it’s all the more disconcerting for being entirely true.”
Thomas Penn, Publishing Director, Penguin Press Editorial
For fans of: The history of witchcraft, Colonial American history, gripping real-life tales
Better Off Dead by Lee Child
Jack Reacher is back! And he’s not messing around. The bestselling Lee Child has returned with his best-loved protagonist, and this time, he gets embroiled with grizzled FBI agent Michaela Fenton on her hunt for her twin brother in an Arizona border town. If Reacher’s going to unearth the rot - and find Fenton’s brother - he’s going to have to achieve the impossible in this hostile part of the country.
Insider view: Better Off Dead is the second book to be written by Lee in collaboration with his brother, Andrew. Fast-paced and gripping, it’s everything you’d expect from these kings of the crime/thriller. As James Patterson said of their first book, The Sentinel, ‘Two Childs are even better than one’. Patsy Irwin, Publicity Director, Transworld
For fans of: Edge-of-your-seat thrillers, compelling heroes, rural American settings
Don't Laugh, It'll Only Encourage Her by Daisy May Cooper
Showbiz memoirs can be relied upon to tell the before-they-were-famous stories of our favourite stars, but few modern celebrities have the rags-to-riches real story of Daisy May Cooper - nor the wit to tell it as she does. From her ex-boyfriends’ genitalia to a failed auditioning to be a stripper, Don’t Laugh, It’ll Only Encourage Her peppers a vital story of making your own way in showbiz, peppered with unforgettably funny anecdotes.
Insider view: Daisy May Cooper is the funniest woman on TV. Outrageously silly and gloriously daft, she is everything that we all need in our lives. Her memoir is every bit as joyful as Daisy is. Charlotte Hardman, Publisher, Non-fiction, Michael Joseph
For fans of: This Country, paranormal activity, tell-all memoir
Renegades by Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen
Two giants of American culture and politics talk man-to-man in this remarkable collection of conversations. Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen’s conversation sprawls from fatherhood to careers, race, identity and ambition in this beautiful book. A brilliant gift for the thinkers and dreamers in your life.
Insider view: “If Barack Obama’s A Promised Land took you inside the president’s head, reading Renegades is like hanging out with these two mega-selling legends in their living room, listening to their thoughts on life, on politics, music and on relationships – and being shown through their hidden treasure chests, with full-colour images throughout, including from their personal archives: from the young Bruce, and his handwritten lyrics, to the President’s family photos and the notes that show how he made his speeches so powerful. It’s a lot of fun too; at one point Springsteen says, “I know it was tough being President, but let me explain to you how hard it is making an album…” Daniel Crewe, Publishing Director, Viking Non-Fiction
For fans of: Bruce Springsteen, Barack Obama, inspirational leaders
A Modern Way to Live by Matt Gibberd
Millions of people dreamily scroll through the properties on The Modern House website every month, mostly to soak up inspiration from the beautiful, refined interiors rather than to lay down a deposit. the Modern House’s co-founder,
Insider view: With A Modern Way to Live our aim was to democratise the principles behind the Modern House – to put those essential elements of space, light, materials, nature and decoration under the microscope and show readers that no matter how large or small their property, no matter whether they rent or own, there are simple measures that can transform it into a functional, healthy home. It didn’t hurt that Matt Gibberd is an incredibly warm, funny writer who knows everything there is to know about design and wellbeing. I actually moved house while editing this book and it made the process much more thoughtful and pleasurable than ever before – although I did have to explain to my girlfriend why I’d spent countless hours looking for a more tactile loo seat.’ Tom Killingbeck, Editorial Director, Penguin General
For fans of: Architecture, lust-worthy interiors, living more beautifully
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Big Shot (Book 16) by Jeff Kinney
Greg is ready to throw in the towel on his athletics career. It’s just not meant to be, especially after THAT disastrous competition. But his mum – ever the optimist – persuades Greg to give sports one last shot. So, he tries out for the basketball team. And unbelievably makes the cut! Granted they are the worst team, but still, Greg is officially a sportsman. However, as the worst team, they’ve not had the best start to the season and it’s riding on Greg now to make that crucial shot.
For fans of: Laugh-out-loud comics, such as Captain Underpants, Tom Gates and Timmy Failure.
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
Five years after the release of his incredible bestselling novel A Gentleman in Moscow, author Amor Towles returns with The Lincoln Highway, an epic American yarn that begins in Nebraska in 1954. When young Emmett Watson is released from a juvenile work farm after serving 15 months for involuntary manslaughter, he seeks out his brother with a plan to start fresh in California – only to find that two fellow inmates from the farm have stowed away with him. Suddenly, he finds himself (and his three comrades) heading to New York City instead, in a classic-style journey across 1950s America, all told in Towles’ colourful, masterful prose.
Insider view: “The Lincoln Highway is destined to be read for years to come. At the heart of it is a gorgeous sibling relationship, an exploration of what it means to be a good person and a road trip that will leave you fantasising about going on an adventure – pick up this book for the perfect escape. Towles writes out of time, calling to mind so many beloved and classic writers.”
Ailah Ahmed, Publishing Director, Hutchinson Heinemann
For fans of: Epic American fiction, John Steinbeck, the call of the open road.
Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout
There are few better world-builders in the realm of literature than Elizabeth Strout. The award-winning American author has shown her talent for exploring every fascinating corner of a book’s universe twice now: first in 2019 with Olive, Again, when she further detailed the life of the protagonist from her Pulitzer Prize-winning 2006 novel Olive Kitteridge; and now again, to magnificent effect, with Oh William!, a return to the world of My Name Is Lucy Barton in which she reconnects with her first husband in a tender and complex tale of growth, understanding, and resiliency.
Insider view: “You cannot read only one novel by Elizabeth Strout. Once you enter her world, you want to read every book she has ever written. She can reveal a whole character in a moment, a whole life in a scene. Oh William!, her latest novel, is the story of a relationship between two people who were once married long ago. It is about how people love and let go, it is about how we hold onto ideas, often wrong ones, about ourselves and others. It is a novel of contrasts: compassionate and sharply observed, deeply moving and very wry. Strout is a genius and Oh William! might be her finest novel yet.”
Mary Mount, Editor, Viking
For fans of: Emotionally complex love stories, My Name is Lucy Barton, Booker-nominated authors.
RuPaul’s Drag Race by Christian Guiltenane
After 10 seasons of the American original, RuPaul’s Drag Race finally came to the UK in 2019 – and promptly captured the hearts and imaginations of viewers. Following two smashingly entertaining series, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK has just returned for a new one, and this complete guide – including interviews with all of the Series 3 queens, the best moments of Series 1 and 2, mini challenges, trivia and more – has arrived just in time. As RuPaul says: reading is fundamental!
Insider view: “Full of humour, history, and heart, RuPaul’s Drag Race UK is your perfect companion to the hit UK series. Learn more about the Series 3 queens in exclusive interviews, relive the best moments of Series 1 and 2, and compete in your own Drag Race mini challenges. This book is guaranteed to make your day MUCH BETTA!”
Daniel Sørensen, Assistant Editor, BBC Books
For fans of: RuPaul’s Drag Race UK; queer culture; charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent.
D (A Tale of Two Worlds) by Michel Faber
Praised by the likes of Neil Gaiman, and compared to some of the most imaginative Young Adult novels of all time, books like Michel Faber’s D (A Tale of Two Worlds) don’t come along very often. In this clever new work from the Dutch-born author of Under the Skin, The Crimson Petal and the White and The Fire Gospel, a teenager must retrieve the letter D, which has disappeared from the English language – along with the local dentist, the neighbour’s Dalmatian, and more. Travelling between England and the world of Liminus, Dhikilo sets off in search of it…
Insider view: “Michel Faber’s bestselling The Crimson Petal and the White has become a classic. Here, Michel turns his hand to Young Adult fiction, creating a nuanced, charming and surprisingly dark take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia in which a teenager is enlisted by her dead history teacher to retrieve the letter D – which has lately gone missing from the English language. Result: a powerful fable on inclusivity, bravery and friendship. This makes a great gift for a younger reader but will enchant Faber fans everywhere.”
Jane Lawson, Editorial Director, Doubleday
For fans of: Thought-provoking YA, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, wit and cleverness.
Keisha the Sket by Jade LB
Sometimes, literary phenomena are born without a book in sight. In the early 00s, Keisha the Sket was just that: a pop cultural narrative that took hold on websites and the mobile phones of teenagers around the country, decolonising literature and depicting a culture that was too often overlooked by the publishing industry. Now, for the first time, the coming-of-age story is being released in print. For those in the know, it’s a moment. For those not, it’s a vital read.
Insider view: Without a doubt Keisha the Sket is the original love letter to the ends. The rawest depiction of sex, relationships and coming of age in the inner-city. A thrilling tale of girlhood, friendship, choices and love. If you don’t know – get to know, because you’re not part of the cultural vanguard if you don’t know about Keisha.
Lemara Lindsay-Prince, Senior Commissioning Editor, Cornerstone
For fans of: Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners, mid-2000s British youth culture, Nokia 2210s.
Hill House Living by Paula Sutton
A decade before the pandemic encouraged us to examine our lives a little more closely, former magazine editor Paula Sutton had learned how to make hers more joyful: uprooting herself from London to a beautiful (and remote) Norfolk home, separating her identity for her work and doing things that made her happy – from baking a cake to dressing in exactly what she wanted. Hill House Living tells her story, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Insider view: Whether you’re (re)decorating your flat or house, on a budget or splurging, in the city or country, or you simply want to get a slice of country life, this book is for you. Replete with practical advice on buying second-hand items, styling your indoor and outdoor spaces, going DIY, as well as exquisite comfort meals, Hill House Living is the ultimate cosy book, out just in time for the nesting season! Tailored for each season, Paula has packed in hundreds of tips, tutorials, recipes and stories that will inspire you to ‘practice joyfulness’ and treat yourself – without breaking the bank.
Marianne Tatepo, Commissioning Editor, Ebury
For fans of: Living more beautifully, interior design, country house chic.
Free by Lea Ypi
Lea Ypi grew up in one of the most isolated corners of Stalinist Europe, and never knew anything different. Albania was all but cut off from outsiders, and very few residents were able to leave. To Ypi, it was home. But when the Berlin Wall fell, Albania changed, revealing Ypi’s family secrets in the process.
Insider view: Deeply moving, witty and fiercely intelligent, this book has already resonated with so many readers. It’s that rare thing: a very specific story about growing up in Albania in the 1980s and 90s that is also truly universal. Reading it has transformed my understanding of the Cold War and my own upbringing.
Casiana Ionita, Publishing Director, Penguin Press
For fans of: Educated by Tara Westover, Cold War stories, humorous writing.
You’ve Got to Laugh by Alison Hammond
Alison Hammond's enough of a national treasure for most daytime TV devotees to know something of her career: that brilliant debut on Big Brother 3 and I'm a Celebrity, the pitch-perfect presenting on This Morning. But there's still plenty of Hammond's life to fill her sparkling memoir – not to mention showbiz gossip.
Insider view: Alison loves to laugh. And the nation laughs with her. It’s impossible to watch her onscreen and not to feel buoyed up by her infectious joy and energy – and what a joy it is to publish You’ve Got To Laugh! For fans desperate to know more about the woman behind the laugh, this will provide a glorious, effervescent look at the moments that made Alison who she is today.
Frankie Gray, Publishing Director, Commercial Fiction, Transworld
For fans of: Laugh-out-loud writing, big-hearted stories, disruptive daytime television.
Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet by Thich Nhat Hanh
It’s easy, particularly in despairing moments, to look at the state of the world and think, ‘But I’m just one person!’. Yet, argues Thich Nhat Hanh, there is one thing we always have the power to change: our mind. In Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet, the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk also known as ‘Thay’ outlines the incredible potential we each hold when it comes to shaping the world around us, and does so in a way that’s both accessible and pragmatic.
Insider view: “Thay is one of the most influential spiritual leaders of our time, and his soothing words of wisdom have helped millions of readers around the world. In Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet, he offers a vital message to facing the climate crisis: in these uncertain and challenging times, our mindset can make all the difference. This is an essential read and we are so proud to be publishing it.”
Bianca Bexton, Editor at Ebury
For fans of: Making a better world, self-care, the writings of the Dalai Lama.
Nests by Susan Ogilvy
Forget smelling the roses; have you ever stopped to admire a bird’s nest? That’s exactly what Susan Ogilvy did one day after stumbling upon a chaffinch nest blown onto the ground, and it kickstarted a new project: to closely examine the stunning architecture and ingenuity of bird’s nests and then paint them. The result is Nests, a book of life-sized paintings that reveal the genius and detail – every twig, root, reed, leaf, hair, feather, every bit of moss, lichen, cobwebs, stuffing and string – hidden in the homes of the avian world.
Insider view: “This wondrous book – quite possibly the most beautiful I’ve had the pleasure of publishing – is a unique celebration of birds’ nests and the genius of their creation. These nest portraits – which have been reproduced in all their twiggy detail, at exact life size, on creamy art paper – should open readers’ eyes to the wonders of avian architecture, and engender a renewed respect for birds of all feathers.”
Richard Atkinson, Publishing Director at Penguin Press
For fans of: Nature, bird-watching, David Attenborough, the detail of everyday things.
Taste by Stanley Tucci
Whether you ascribe it to Stanley Tucci’s seemingly endless charisma or lockdown boredom – we’re calling it an 80/20, realistically – the beloved actor nearly destroyed the entire internet in April of 2020, when a video of him making a negroni with such nonchalant charm and sprezzatura that numerous publications referred to it as ASMR. This week, Tucci is finally capitalising on his obvious affinity for food-related content by publishing My Life Through Food, a witty and delightful memoir that views his relationships, family, career and more through the prism of that most delicious conversation-starter: food.
Insider view: “Stanley Tucci’s Taste is a funny, intimate, warm and enormously entertaining memoir, ranging across decades, countries (and filmsets) and rich with a love of family, culinary history and tradition. It’s a book with a big heart – and a big stomach – and is an absolute delight”
Helen Garnons-Williams, Publishing Director at Fig Tree
For fans of: Nigella Lawson, good food, witty memoirs.
Spider Woman by Lady Hale
Though the pinnacle of Lady Hale’s exalted career arguably came in 2019 when, as President of the Supreme Court, she found prorogation of Parliament to be unlawful, her new memoir Spider Woman, which follows Hale’s extraordinary life – from being raised in a “a little village in North Yorkshire” to her ascension to the British House of Lords and, in 2009, to the newly founded Supreme Court, where her rulings in domestic violence, divorce, mental health, equality and elsewhere changed the world for the better – demonstrates just why she’s become such a respected figure in the UK. Fascinating and inspirating in equal measure, Spider Woman is a captivating account of an incredible life.
Insider view: “Lady Hale is a hero and inspiration to many people – for her achievements and for the causes she has backed. She’s a trailblazer and serial smasher of glass ceilings. Spider Woman gives us the law’s most charismatic communicator, but also an inspiring story about overcoming the odds in life.”
Stuart Williams, Publishing Director at Bodley Head
For fans of: Feminist history, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, inspiring memoirs.
Manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo
Since she became the first Black woman to win the Booker Prize in 2019, Bernardine Evaristo has felt ever-present in the world of books, whether she’s being interviewed or helping to shine a light on Black British voices. But her story began many years earlier; a veteran novelist, Evaristo has written a combined dozens of novels, plays and short stories. Here, in what she’s titled her Manifesto, Evaristo tells the story of her life, from her “childhood steeped in racism” to her trailblazing successes as a writer, activist and vital member of Britain’s artistic community.
Insider view: “Bernardine’s Booker win in November 2019 still feels like a revolutionary moment, and this magnificent memoir, told in her unique style, charts how she got there. It is endlessly interesting – honest, funny, eye-opening, engaged and above all inspiring: an exemplary account of creative unstoppability, from birth to Booker.”
Simon Prosser, Publishing Director at Hamish Hamilton
For fans of: Girl, Woman, Other, writing about writing, intersectional feminism.
Rationality by Steven Pinker
Bestselling author Steven Pinker’s book is named after the concept it champions: the notion of injecting logic, reason and rationality into an increasingly complex world. With fake news, increasing distrust of the structures in place and a world adjusting to life with a pandemic, there has never been a greater need for rationality, and an explanation as to how it can offer a solution to the problems we face today.
For fans of: big thinking, social science, new ideas.
Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad
Behind every great cookery book lies a test kitchen. Yotam Ottolenghi has changed the way a nation cooks, introducing flavours and ingredients that have made our tables – and plates – more vibrant, healthy and delicious. Now, with Ottolenghi Test Kitchen, the team who appear on the pages of books such as FLAVOUR and SIMPLE are stepping into the spotlight, focusing on encouraging the reader’s creativity and confidence to make the most of your dinner.
Insider view: “Our first book, Shelf Love, strips back your cooking by celebrating items already in your fridge, cupboard or freezer so you can build culinary confidence and, if you wish, make any dish your own.” Lizzy Gray
For fans of: Life-changing cookery books, mixing it up in the kitchen, delicious food.
Beautiful Country by Qian Julie Wang
To move to another country, leaving behind everything you know and starting anew, is one thing. To live in that new country as an undocumented – “illegal” – immigrant is another. Qian Julie Wang tells the remarkable story of her life and family, uprooted from China during her childhood to live in Brooklyn without documentation, grappling for survival with every passing day. In the process, she sheds much-needed insight on a narrative that is known all too well by millions around the world. Wang will be speaking about Beautiful Country at her Penguin Live event; ticket information here.
Insider view: “Occasionally a memoir comes along that truly shifts the way you understand the world around you. This is one of those memoirs. Searing in its honesty, beautifully written and tremendously moving I want to press it into the hands of everyone I know.” Mary Mount
For fans of: Educated by Tara Westover, memoirs, true stories.
The Jealousy Man by Jo Nesbo
A former footballer and popstar, novelist Jo Nesbo has succeeded at more than enough careers for one lifetime. Still, he’s added another string to his bow with The Jealousy Man, his first collection of short stories. After selling more than 50 million copies of novels, many of which featuring Harry Hole, his problematic detective, Nesbo has divided The Jealousy Man by the themes that have dominated his gritty novels: Power and Jealousy. Within these two, the author has contained a number of delectable tales displaying the grimness of humankind’s urges.
Insider view: “All the best-loved hallmarks of Nesbo’s novels are here – dark and complex protagonists, unexpected twists and nailbiting plotlines - but in short, sharp, perfectly formed stories which conjure whole worlds of threat and explore the dark side of human psychology. Completely gripping.’ Elizabeth Foley
For fans of: Harry Hole, short stories, an air of looming suspense
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
There have been a spell of novels inspired by witchcraft, its history and the women who were subjugated within it in recent years. But Alexis Henderson’s debut is a novel take on the genre. Immanuelle has been born and raised in a religious cult named Bethel, but when she discovers the diary of her late mother she uncovers the dark history at the only world she’s ever known – and why her mother consorted with witches. Powers she never knew she had enable Immanuelle to affect fundamental change, making The Year of the Witching a potent novel for our times.
Insider view: It’s a thrilling and at times chilling read. Indeed, it’s rare that I agree with the Daily Mail but for me, when it called Alexis Henderson’s debut ‘a magnificent, raw slice of folk horror, dark with threat and clenched with suspense’, it was bang on! Simon Taylor, editor at Transworld
For fans of: Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, Southern Noir.
Change Sings by Amanda Gorman & Loren Long
Amanda Gorman inspired the world when she delivered a poetry reading at the inauguration of US President Joe Biden in January 2021. She spoke of hope and progress overtime for a better and fairer world. And her new picture book Change Sings encapsulates that same message for children. Gorman’s lyrical text alongside Loren Long’s stunning illustrations, tells the story of a young girl who leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, teaching them that they all have the power to make big and small changes.
Insider view: “Amanda Gorman’s work is rich, powerful, a beacon of hope; to publish this truly remarkable poet through her passionate picture-book writing is a real privilege.” Andrea MacDonald, Puffin Picture Books Editorial Director
For fans of: poetry and uplifting, life-affirming picture books.
Bewilderment by Richard Powers
Clocking up a Booker Prize shortlisting before release is something many authors dream of, but Richard Powers is no stranger to accolades: his previous novel, The Overstory, won the 2018 Pulitzer prize. Where that novel explored the environmental crisis, Bewilderment broadens Powers' scope to the entire cosmos, explored through a father-son relationship left vulnerable by the death of a wife and mother. Astrobiologist Theo Byrne must handle his own grief while navigating that of his troubled nine-year-old son, and their joint exploration of the universe results in poignant resolution. The Guardian calls Bewilderment “a ghostly and affecting love story”.
For fans of: the cosmos, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, stories about loss.
Big Panda and Tiny Dragon by James Norbury
There is considerable buzz around the world about this new book which follows an unlikely pair of friends as they contemplate the meaning of love, friendship and life itself. Inspired by self-taught artist James Norbury's time volunteering for the Samaritans, its blend of ancient proverbs and beautiful illustrations is just the uplifting tonic we need after a tough 18 months. A lovely Christmas gift, too.
For fans of: philosophy, spirtuality, Winnie-the-Pooh.
Not Without a Fight by Ramla Ali
A Somali refugee raised on an East London council estate, Ramla Ali became the first Somali boxer to compete in the Olympics earlier this year in Tokyo – an athlete who Anthony Joshua says he’s inspired by. But that’s not all: Ali’s also a humanitarian and model – and now, she’s an author. Not Without A Fight: 10 Steps to Becoming Your Own Champion is a galvanizing guide to encouraging anyone – no matter their background – to connect with their wellbeing, improve their self-development and examine their relationship to health and fitness.
Insider view: “It’s a powerful and practical knockout of a book from a real inspiring voice and force for change. Each page is full of honesty and urgency, empowering the reader to become their own champion.” Lemara Lindsay-Prince, Editor at Cornerstone
For fans of: motivational reads, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, polymaths.
Matrix by Lauren Groff
Over the course of her novels and short story collections, Lauren Groff has twisted time, stretching from Ancient myth and local folk legend to communes in the 1970s. For her latest novel, though, Groff’s firmly turns the clock back by a matter of millennia: Matrix is set in a medieval nunnery and fictionalises the life of 12th-century poet Marie de France, broadly considered the first woman to write verse. Groff’s version of her is 17, in a secret lesbian tryst and a fierce pioneer for women’s rights.
Insider view: “All women will see something of themselves in Marie de France and her struggle for power and influence. This is a truly dazzling and ambitious new novel by Groff” Ailah Ahmed, Publishing Director for Hutchingson Heinemann
For fans of: historical fiction, Fingersmith by Sarah Waters, mystical visions.
The Story of the World in 100 Moments by Neil Oliver
It sounds ambitious but if anyone can tell the history of the planet on an engrossing and entertaining whistle-stop tour, it’s esteemed broadcaster and historian Neil Oliver. A follow-up to his exemplary 2020 bestseller The Story of the British Isles in 100 Places, this collection of micro-essays allows us to put history’s pivotal moments in context to better understand how we got to where we are today.
Insider view: "The book is a brilliant achievement. The breadth of Neil’s knowledge is awe-inspiring, he writes evocatively and movingly, and both individually and read as a piece, reading these moments is massively rewarding." Susanna Wadeson, Editor at Transworld
For fans of: trivia, history documentaries, pub quizzes,
Eating to Extinction by Dan Saladino
We’ve perhaps never, in recent times, been more conscious of what’s on our plate. In the midst of climate catastrophe and a global obsession with wellbeing, what we eat reflects how we live. Which is why Dan Saladino’s in-depth guide to the thousands of foods that we risk losing to extinction is so pertinent. From pistachios to pears, the history of how and what we eat touches everyone from farmers to food producers.
Insider view: “This is a truly eye-opening and inspiring book about food, environment and global loss of biodiversity. These stories of nearly extinct foods are the hidden stories of who we are – our past, present and future. It’s a book I’ve been pressing into the hands of everyone I know, and a call to arms for all of us who love food and care about the future of our planet.” ” Bea Hemming, Deputy Publishing Director at Jonathan Cape
For fans of: cooking, English Pastoral by James Rebanks, knowing where your food comes from
Which book are you most excited about? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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