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What We’re Reading

The Wych Elm

Recommended by Max

£8.99

Available in Paperback

Published September 2019

Published by Penguin

Available to buy over the phone on 01799 524 552 or in the shop.

For me it all goes back to that night, the dark corroded hinge between before and after, the slipped-in sheet of trick glass that tints everything on one side in its own murky colours and leaves everything on the other luminous and untouchable.

One night changes everything for Toby. He’s always led a charmed life – until a brutal attack leaves him damaged and traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his family’s ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.

But not long after Toby’s arrival, a discovery is made: a skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden.

As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself.

A spellbinding standalone from a literary writer who turns the crime genre inside out, The Wych Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, if we no longer know who we are.

This is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality

Recommended by Max

£14.99

Available in Paperback

Published September 2019

Published by Faber

Available to buy over the phone on 01799 524 552 or in the shop.

When information is a weapon, everyone is at war. We live in a world of influence operations run amok, a world of dark ads, psy-ops, hacks, bots, soft facts, ISIS, Putin, trolls, Trump. We’ve lost not only our sense of peace and democracy – but our sense of what those words even mean.

As Peter Pomerantsev seeks to make sense of the disinformation age, he meets Twitter revolutionaries and pop-up populists, ‘behavioural change’ salesmen, Jihadi fan-boys, Identitarians, truth cops, and much more. Forty years after his dissident parents were pursued by the KGB, he finds the Kremlin re-emerging as a great propaganda power. His research takes him back to Russia – but the answers he finds there are surprising.

Part reportage, part intellectual adventure, This is Not Propaganda is a Pynchon-like exploration of how we can reimagine our politics and ourselves in a time where truth has been turned topsy-turvy.

Once Upon a River

Recommended by Max

£8.99

Available in Paperback

Published September 2019

Published by Transworld

Available to buy over the phone on 01799 524 552 or in the shop.

On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames, the regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open and in steps an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a child. Hours later, the dead girl stirs, takes and breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? And who does the little girl belong to?

An exquisitely crafted multi-layered mystery brimming with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.

The Land of Roar

Recommended by Max

£6.99

Available in Paperback

Published August 2019

Published by Egmont

Available to buy over the phone on 01799 524 552 or in the shop.

The first in a new children’s fantasy adventure series, full of imagination, humour and heart, and with echoes of Peter PanThe Chronicles of NarniaThe Neverending Story and JumanjiThe Land of Roar is perfect for children aged 8 to 12, and can sit on their bookshelf next to NevermoorWizards of Once and How to Train Your Dragon.

Readers can bring their fantasy world to life and meet dragons, unicorns, mermaids and more in this beautifully illustrated children’s book. Believing is just the beginning . . .

When Arthur and Rose were little, they were heroes in the Land of Roar, an imaginary world that they found by climbing through the folding bed in their grandad’s attic. Roar was filled with things they loved – dragons, mermaids, ninja wizards and adventure – as well as things that scared them (including a very creepy scarecrow. . .).

Now the twins are eleven, Roar is just a memory. But when they help Grandad clean out the attic, Arthur is horrified as Grandad is pulled into the folding bed and vanishes. Is he playing a joke? Or is Roar . . . real?

At the Pond: Swimming at the Hampstead Ladies’ Pond

Recommended by Max

£9.99

Available in Paperback

Published June 2019

Published by Daunt Books

Available to buy over the phone on 01799 524 552 or in the shop.

Tucked away along a shady path towards the north-east edge of Hampstead Heath is a sign: Women Only. This is the Kenwood Ladies’ Bathing Pond.

Floating in the Pond’s silky waters, hidden by a canopy of trees, it’s easy to forget that you are in the middle of London. On a hot day, thousands of swimmers from eight to eighty-plus can be found waiting to take a dip before sunbathing in the adjoining meadow. As summer turns to autumn and then winter, the Pond is still visited by a large number of hardy regulars in high-vis hats, many of whom have been swimming here for decades.

In these essays we see the Pond from the perspectives of writers who have swum there. Esther Freud describes the life-affirming sensation of swimming through the seasons; Lou Stoppard pays tribute to the winter swimmers who break the ice; Margaret Drabble reflects on the golden Hampstead days of her youth; Sharlene Teo visits for the first time; and Nell Frizzell shares the view from her yellow lifeguard’s canoe.

Combining personal reminiscence with reflections on the history of the place over the years and through the changing seasons, At the Pond captures fourteen contemporary writers’ impressions of this unique place.

Contributors:

Ava Wong Davies | Margaret Drabble | Esther Freud

Nell Frizzell | Eli Goldstone | Amy Key

Jessica J. Lee | Sophie Mackintosh | So Mayer

Deborah Moggach | Nina Mingya Powles

Leanne Shapton | Lou Stoppard | Sharlene Teo

‘The Ladies’ bathing ponds on Hampstead Heath are a London institution, whether it’s sunny or snowy, so what better way to immortalise them than with a book?’ – Red

‘In this collection of work, writers including Margaret Drabble, Esther Freud, Deborah Moggach and Sophie Mackintosh share their stories of the pond and reflect on its history and present.’ –Stylist

‘A joyous collection of essays celebrating the sanctuary of the women’s pond on Hampstead Heath.’ –  New Statesman

‘A small but wonderful collection that shares the joy of the Ladies’ Pond … At the Pond is a series of essays about a body of water but these essays are about so much more than that.’  – Outdoor Swimming Society

‘If you’re a pond dipper / wild swimmer / have ever front-crawled alongside a family of fuzzy buttercup ducklings / peculiarly adored silt in your pores / swum in water so cold you can feel your blood wrapping your heart and lungs in an invisible thermal blanket… this beautiful collection of essays is for you.’ – Dolly Alderton

‘Captures the exhilaration of a visit to the Ladies’ Pond.’ – The Herald

‘There’s a ringing clarity, like the most purposeful swim. And also, there’s the kind of poetry I love, found in prosaic things like bus routes and mobile phones and in the way old cucumber goes mushy inside its shrink wrap. There’s lots of wit and perspicacity. There’s cool honesty, insight and warmth, even in the coldest months… It struck me as clever and appropriate, what Daunt have done: produced a thing about a thing which is a perfect accompaniment to doing the thing. For completion, this should be read near water.’ – Jenny Landreth, Caught by the River

‘In this collection of work, writers including Margaret Drabble, Esther Freud, Deborah Moggach and Sophie Mackintosh share their stories of the pond and reflect on its history and present.’ – Stylist2019’s best non-fiction books

‘This book is made of memories, and sunny days . . . It’s a collection of essays about swimming in the Hampstead Ladies’ Pond, written by an impressive roster of some of the most luminous literary voices in the UK. I especially loved Nina Mingya Powles’ piece, Small Bodies Of Water, which took me beyond North London, to Shanghai and New Zealand, with powerful, poetic descriptions of everything that is beautiful and bewildering about the natural world. I found that I fell in love with many new voices, as well as rediscovering old favourites like Margaret Drabble and Esther Freud. This is a perfect book to dip into when you’re travelling, and it will probably make you want to maintain your adventurous spirit when you’re back at home.’ – Daisy Buchanan

‘The Ladies’ Pond has truly been one of the wonders of my life. Slipping into its waters is slipping into bliss.’ – Deborah Moggach

‘I loved to lower myself down the rungs of the ladder and launch myself into the silky waters of the Pond. There was something magical about the unplumbed depths, the moorhens, the dragonflies, the waterlilies, the willows, the floating rings and rafts.’ – Margaret Drabble, ‘Out of Time’