New and forthcoming

Dawn of the New Everything

Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier, ‘the father of Virtual Reality … a high-tech genius’ (Sunday Times), tells the extraordinary story of how in just over three decades Virtual Reality went from being a dream to a reality – and how its power to turn dreams into realities will transform us and our world.

Virtual Reality has long been one of the dominant clichés of science fiction. Now Virtual Reality is a reality: those big headsets that make people look ridiculous, even while radiating startled delight; the place where war veterans overcome PTSD, surgeries are trialled, aircraft and cities are designed. But VR is far more interesting than any single technology, however spectacular. It is, in fact, the most effective device ever invented for researching what a human being actually is – and how we think and feel.

More than thirty years ago, legendary computer scientist, visionary and artist Jaron Lanier pioneered its invention. Here, in what is likely to be one of the most unusual books you ever read, he blends scientific investigation, philosophical thought experiment and his memoir of a life lived at the centre of digital innovation to explain what VR really is: the science of comprehensive illusion; the extension of the intimate magic of earliest childhood into adulthood; a hint of what life would be like without any limits.

As Lanier shows, we are standing on the threshold of an entirely new realm of human creativity, expression, communication and experience. While we can use VR to test our relationship with reality, it will test us in return, for how we choose to use it will reveal who we truly are.

Welcome to a mind-expanding, life-enhancing, world-changing adventure.

Chronicles of a Liquid Society

Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco was an international cultural superstar. A celebrated essayist as well as novelist, in this, his last collection, he explores many aspects of the modern world with irrepressible curiosity and wisdom.

A crisis in ideological values, a crisis in politics, unbridled individualism – the familiar backdrop to our lives: a ‘liquid society’ where it’s not easy to find a polestar, though stars and starlets are not lacking.

In these pieces, written by Eco as articles for his regular column in l’Espresso magazine, he brings his dazzling erudition and keen sense of the everyday to bear on topics such as popular culture and politics, being seen, conspiracies, the old and the young, mobile phones, mass media, racism, good manners and the crisis in ideological values. It is a final gift to his readers – astute, witty and illuminating.

The Robin

Stephen Moss

No other bird is quite so ever-present and familiar, so embedded in our culture, as the robin. With more than six million breeding pairs, the robin is second only to the wren as Britain’s most common bird. It seems to live its life alongside us, in every month and season of the year. But how much do we really know about this bird?

In The Robin Stephen Moss records a year of observing the robin both close to home and in the field to shed light on the hidden life of this apparently familiar bird. We follow its lifecycle from the time it enters the world as an egg, through its time as a nestling and juvenile, to the adult bird; via courtship, song, breeding, feeding, migration – and ultimately, death. At the same time we trace the robin's relationship with us: how did this particular bird – one of more than 300 species in its huge and diverse family – find its way so deeply and permanently into our nation’s heart and its social and cultural history? It’s a story that tells us as much about ourselves as it does about the robin itself.

The Penguin Book of Puzzles

Gareth Moore (and others)

A collection of challenges from throughout history, featuring some of the greatest ever puzzle masters.

From the riddles of the ancients to puzzles that perplex the greatest minds of today, The Penguin Book of Puzzles is a glorious compendium of conundrums from throughout history.

These challenges will require all the reader's wits to solve, but range from the easy to the brain-bending and are suitable for novice and veteran puzzlers alike. There is something here to suit every taste, including crosswords, mathematical challenges, word games and logic conundrums, but also some intriguing types of puzzles that have been unearthed from centuries gone by.

Timeless and entertaining, there are hours of fun waiting in this miscellany of puzzlement.

Endurance

Scott Kelly

From the Nasa astronaut who spent a record-breaking year aboard the International Space Station – what it’s like out there and what it’s like now, back here. Enter Scott Kelly's fascinating world and dare to think of your own a little differently.

The veteran of four space flights and the American record holder for most consecutive days spent in space, Scott Kelly has experienced things very few of us ever have and very few of us ever will.
Kelly's humanity, compassion, humour, and passion shine as he describes navigating the extreme challenge of long-term spaceflight, both existential and banal. He touches on what’s happened to his body, the sadness of being isolated from everyone he loves; the pressures of constant close cohabitation; the catastrophic risks of colliding with space junk, and the still more haunting threat of being absent should tragedy strike at home.
From a natural storyteller Endurance is one of the finest examples the triumph of the human imagination, the strength of the human will, and the boundless wonder of the galaxy.

Tamed

Alice Roberts

**‘A masterpiece of evocative scientific storytelling.’ BRIAN COX**

The extraordinary story of the species that became our allies.

For hundreds of thousands of years, our ancestors depended on wild plants and animals for survival. They were hunter-gatherers, consummate foraging experts, taking the world as they found it. Then a revolution occurred – our ancestors’ interaction with other species changed. They began to tame them. The human population boomed; civilisation began.

In Tamed, Alice Roberts uncovers the deep history of ten familiar species with incredible wild pasts: dogs, apples and wheat; cattle, potatoes and chickens; rice, maize and horses – and, finally, humans.

She reveals how becoming part of our world changed these animals and plants, and shows how they became our allies, essential to the survival and success of our own species.

Enlightening, wide-ranging and endlessly fascinating, Tamed encompasses thousands of years of history and archaeology alongside cutting-edge genetics and anthropology. Yet it is also a deeply personal journey that changes how we see ourselves and the species on which we have left our mark.

The Secret Life of the Owl

John Lewis-Stempel

‘Dusk is filling the valley. It is the time of the gloaming, the owl-light.
Out in the wood, the resident tawny has started calling, Hoo-hoo-hoo-h-o-o-o.’

There is something about owls. They feature in every major culture from the Stone Age onwards. They are creatures of the night, and thus of magic. They are the birds of ill-tidings, the avian messengers from the Other Side. But owls – with the sapient flatness of their faces, their big, round eyes, their paternal expressions – are also reassuringly familiar. We see them as wise, like Athena’s owl, and loyal, like Harry Potter's Hedwig. Human-like, in other words.

No other species has so captivated us.

In The Secret Life of the Owl, John Lewis-Stempel explores the legends and history of the owl. And in vivid, lyrical prose, he celebrates all the realities of this magnificent creature, whose natural powers are as fantastic as any myth.

'John Lewis-Stempel is one of the best nature writers of his generation' Country Life

The Unexpected Truth About Animals

Lucy Cooke

'Eye-opening, informative and very funny!' - Chris Packham
History is full of strange animal stories, invented by the brightest and most influential, from Aristotle to Disney, and they reveal as much about us and the things we believe as they do about the animals they misrepresent. We once thought that eels were born from sand, that swallows hibernated under water, and that bears gave birth to formless lumps that were licked into shape by their mothers.

Zoologist Lucy Cooke unravels many such myths, revealing the facts she’s uncovered while sniffing out vultures, snooping on sloths and stalking drunk moose.

The Unexpected Truth About Animals is in equal parts astonishing, illuminating and laugh-out-loud funny. Starring: feminist hyenas; perverted penguins, exploding bats and frogs in taffeta trousers...

WTF?: What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us

Tim O'Reilly

‘An indispensable guide.’ Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn

‘Tech’s most valuable teacher.’ Forbes


Silicon Valley’s leading intellectual and the founder of O’Reilly Media explores the upside and the potential downsides of our future – what he calls the next economy’.

Tim O’Reilly’s genius is to identify and explain emerging technologies with world shaking potential – the World Wide Web, Open Source Software, Web 2.0, Open Government data, the Maker Movement, Big Data. ‘The man who can really can make a whole industry happen,' according to Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt, O’Reilly has most recently focused on the future of work – AI, algorithms, and new approaches to business organisation that will shape our lives. He has brought together an unlikely coalition of technologists, business leaders, labour advocates, and policy makers to wrestle with these issues. In WTF? he shares the evolution of his intellectual development, applying his approach to a number of challenging issues we will face as citizens, employees, business leaders, and a nation.

What is the future when an increasing number of jobs can be performed by intelligent machines instead of people, or only done by people in partnership with those machines? What happens to our consumer based societies – to workers and to the companies that depend on their purchasing power? Is income inequality and unemployment an inevitable consequence of technological advancement, or are there paths to a better future? What will happen to business when technology-enabled networks and marketplaces are better at deploying talent than traditional companies? What’s the future of education when on-demand learning outperforms traditional institutions? Will the fundamental social safety nets of the developed world survive the transition, and if not, what will replace them?

The digital revolution has transformed the world of media, upending centuries-old companies and business models. Now, it is restructuring every business, every job, and every sector of society. Yet the biggest changes are still ahead. To survive, every industry and organisation will have to transform itself in multiple ways. O’Reilly explores what the next economy will mean for the world and every aspect of our lives – and what we can do to shape it.

The Inner Life of Animals

Peter Wohlleben

Mother deer that grieve?
Horses that feel shame?
Squirrels that adopt their grandchildren?

We humans tend to assume that we are the only living things able to experience feelings intensely and consciously. But have you ever wondered what’s going on in an animal’s head?

From the leafy forest floor to the inside of a bee hive, The Inner Life of Animals takes us microscopic levels of observation to the big philosophical, ethical and scientific questions. We hear the stories of a grateful humpback whale, of a hedgehog who has nightmares, and of a magpie who commits adultery; we meet bees that plan for the future, pigs who learn their own names and crows that go tobogganing for fun. And at last we find out why wasps exist.

As more and more researchers are discovering, animals experience a rich emotional life that is ready to be explored. The Inner Life of Animals will show you these living things in a new light and will open up the animal kingdom like never before.

Never miss a story...

Join us to receive the best-read newsletter