The Body: A Guide For Occupants

By Bill Bryson – Hardback  £25.00

At the beginning of the new decade, we could all take some time to marvel at what our body accomplishes every day, going forwards in forming our goals for the new year. It serves as a perfect mix of biological directive, historical medical enlightenment about every facet of the human body and philosophical musings surrounding the corporal form. Indeed, it is a long read: but for its heavy material, the explanations are light and witty. As we move into the murky territory of January wellness fads, I found this to be a grounding read that cements historical and scientific knowledge together for insight, but moreover wonder at our functions.

The Great Gatsby

Paperback  – £6.99  by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Special editions available.

Old but gold, if you haven’t ever read The Great Gatsby, it’s time: as this century’s roaring twenties rolls around. Although tragedy lurks behind the glitz, the fast-paced and poetic prose evokes quite literally, the roaring essence of the twenties. I predict this classic will see a revival into literary chatter as the centenary anniversary of its setting looms, so now is the perfect time to read it. In fact, the majestic and glitzy buzz of the faraway American elite, transports you away from the blues of January; into the glitter and gold of Fitzgerald’s world. I will be curling up to reread this, after a long day with a hot chocolate by the fireplace.

Transcription

Paperback £8.99 by Kate Atkinson

Transcription is a darkly witty spy novel, that twists the murky history of Britain’s intelligence service in World War Two into a compulsive page turner. It is rife with dry humour and zany characters; set against the backdrop of wartime London. Atkinson is a Costa award winner, whose previous acclaimed historical fiction, favours the subversive and fast-paced speed of crime dramas. Juliet, a civil servant, gets quickly lured into the actually unglamorous world of British espionage in a bid to keep tabs on the growing rise of fascism. For fans of Killing Eve and even James Bond, this is the literary equivalent infused with our staple British cut-throat humour.

Dancing By The Light Of The Moon

Hardback £14.99 by Gyles Brandreth

Taking stock of 2020’s hybrid trends of brain training, mindfulness and positive thinking: Dancing By The Light Of The Moon is the literary answer to the wellness question. It is a manual that shows you how to digest, learn and harness poetry’s power using over 250 of Britain’s most well-loved poems. Step by step, Brandreth explains how to weave poetry into your daily routine. It will improve your linguistic skills and change how you see poetry forever; with the know-how from enlightening commentary. It may not be marathon training, but I feel more positive and sharper minded as a result from reading a few poems a day.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Paperback £7.99  by Richard Bach

This short but sweet fable, now refreshed with a rediscovered fourth part proves this seminal story still has wings. It tells the tale of a seagull who flies against his flock. It spreads joy in its philosophy and encourages us all to chase our dreams. I was read this aloud by an old teacher over ten years ago and it has become something of a literary moral compass for me. It only then feels right that I urge everyone else to bask in its wisdom for the new decade. It also makes an excellent coming-of-age read, or bedtime tale for younger ones.

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret

Paperback £6.99  by Judy Blume (teenagers)

Judy Blume is a prolific young adults’ writer and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret is a classic, even in the age of social media, climate change anxiety and Gen Z burnout. The times have changed but Margaret’s triumphant and twisty tale of fitting in, puberty woes and self-identity crisis are timeless. The perfect inspirational read, even forty years on, for those going to secondary school this year or in the early throes of adolescence.

No Ballet Shoes in Syria

Paperback £6.99 by Catherine Bruton (8 -13 years old)

This is a moving and beautifully written tale perfect for older children and younger teens. Aya is a child refugee, who alongside her family, is seeking asylum in Britain from war in Syria. Aya’s ballet talent could see her rise to the top with a scholarship but her family must fight to be allowed to remain in the country. It delicately handles contemporary issues with accessible and beautifully written prose. Aya, who is sensitive and sweet, is a particularly delightful character. It has been called a contemporary retelling of the classic Ballet Shoes but this compassionate story, is gorgeous in itself.

The Girl Who Speaks Bear

Paperback £6.99  by Sophie Anderson (8 – 12 years old)

This is a dreamy novel for older readers, or a bedtime tale for young bookworms. You will bask in the evocative descriptions of Yanka’s journey through nefarious forests and snow-peaked lands. At its core, is the beautiful tradition of ancient folklore, spun into an adventurous feat for the senses as Sophie Anderson pulls you into the deep midst of a magical natural world. Full of heart and soul.

People Of Peace: 40 Inspiring Icons

Hardback £9.99  By Sandrine Mirza, illustrated by Le Duo (7 – 17 years old)

This is a great introduction to international history and how individuals have changed the world today. People of Peace is an exemplar factoid of a reference book. It gives brief but insightful histories, a biography and key facts surrounding notable leaders, activists, creatives and ordinary heroes who have impacted the world in big ways. The illustration and infographic style are zany and bright, making the information more memorable and putting names to the faces of such iconic figures. The international theme explores the lives of icons including Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai and Victor Hugo for well-rounded, factual fun promoting kindness and inclusivity.

The Somerset Tsunami

Paperback £6.99 by Emma Carroll (8-12 years old)

This is a beautiful story that depicts the rich history of British witchcraft paranoia and the landed gentry to weave a thrilling tale. The vivid detail evokes its classical charm for a Victorian feel to its narration. This is a novel that has embellished the children’s historical fiction genre, by covering a period of 17th century history, that other children’s authors have left to adult fiction. For fans of Michael Morpurgo, this is an enticing author and older readers will enjoy this wholeheartedly.