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What We’re Reading

The Beekeeper of Aleppo

£8.99

Available in Paperback

Published February 2020

Published by Zaffre

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

In the midst of war, he found love In the midst of darkness, he found courage In the midst of tragedy, he found hope.

Nuri is a beekeeper; his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life, rich in family and friends, in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens. When all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape. As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world, they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps this is the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.

Moving, powerful, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a testament to the triumph of the human spirit. Told with deceptive simplicity, it is the kind of book that reminds us of the power of storytelling.

Apeirogon

Recommended by Max

£18.99

Available in Hardback

Published February 2020

Published by Bloomsbury

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

Rami Elhanan and Bassam Aramin live near one another – yet they exist worlds apart.

Rami is Israeli. Bassam is Palestinian. Rami’s license plate is yellow. Bassam’s license plate is green. It takes Rami fifteen minutes to drive to the West Bank. The same journey for Bassam takes an hour and a half. Both men have lost their daughters.

Rami’s thirteen-year-old girl Smadar was killed by a suicide bomber while out shopping with her friends. Bassam’s ten-year-old daughter Abir was shot and killed by a member of the border police outside her school. There was a candy bracelet in her pocket she hadn’t had time to eat yet. The men become the best of friends.

In this epic novel – named for a shape with a countably infinite number of sides – Colum McCann crosses centuries and continents, stitching time, art, history, nature and politics into a tapestry of friendship, love, loss and belonging. Musical, muscular, delicate and soaring, it is a book for our times from a writer at the height of his powers.

The Intelligence Trap: Revolutionise your Thinking and Make Wiser Decisions

Recommended by Max

£9.99

Available in Paperback

Published February 2020

Published by Hodder

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

How was a brilliant physics professor tricked into carrying 2kg of cocaine across the Argentinian border? Why do doctors misdiagnose 10 to 15% of their patients? Why do Nobel Prize winners spread fake news?

We assume that smarter people are less prone to error. But greater education and expertise can often amplify our mistakes while rendering us blind to our biases. This is the ‘intelligence trap’.

Drawing on the latest behavioural science and historical examples from Socrates to Benjamin Franklin, David Robson demonstrates how to apply our intelligence more wisely; identify bias and enhance our ‘rationality quotient’; read and regulate our emotions; fine-tune our intuition; navigate ambiguity and uncertainty; and think more flexibly about seemingly intractable problems.

The twenty-first century presents us with complex problems that demand a wiser way of thinking. Whether you are a NASA scientist or a school student, The Intelligence Trap offers a new cognitive toolkit to realise your full potential.

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper

Recommended by Max

£9.99

Available in Paperback

Published January 2020

Published by Black Swan

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

Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London – the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.

Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers. What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888.

The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women. For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that ‘the Ripper’ preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told.

Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time – but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.

Winter in Sokcho

Recommended by Max

£9.99

Available in Paperback

Published January 2020

Published by Daunt Books

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

It’s winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. The cold slows everything down. Bodies are red and raw, the fish turn venomous, beyond the beach guns point out from the North’s watchtowers. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One evening, an unexpected guest arrives: a French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape.

The two form an uneasy relationship. When she agrees to accompany him on trips to discover an ‘authentic’ Korea, they visit snowy mountaintops and dramatic waterfalls, and cross into North Korea. But he takes no interest in the Sokcho she knows – the gaudy neon lights, the scars of war, the fish market where her mother works. As she’s pulled into his vision and taken in by his drawings, she strikes upon a way to finally be seen.

An exquisitely-crafted debut, which won the Prix Robert Walser, Winter in Sokcho is a novel about shared identities and divided selves, vision and blindness, intimacy and alienation. Elisa Shua Dusapin’s voice is distinctive and unmistakable.