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What to Read Now: Vol XCI

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The Transformations of John Donne
by Katherine Rundell

As a much-garlanded author of children’s books, Katherine Rundell is no stranger to prizes, but it was a joy to see her scholarly but accessible biography of John Donne scoop the Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction in November.  Donne’s life was a fascinating one, and all the more so in Rundell’s lucid prose.

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Molly and the Captain
by Anthony Quinn

Following a famous ‘lost’ painting through the ages from Georgian London (with a marvellously Austenian plot) to the Twentieth Century, this is a wonderful novel about art, love and family and how decisions made centuries earlier can rock the modern world.

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Life is Hard
by Kieran Setiya

As a way of finding clarity in difficult times, Kieran Setiya proposes philosophy.  For dealing with pain, grief  or the general injustice of the world, here are solutions taken from the greats of the philosophical world.  The book never leans on platitudes or simple answers though – the intellectual rigours are left to the reader.

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In Search of Britain’s Greatest Athlete
by Jeremy Wilson


Another recent prize-winner, Beryl picked up the William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award at the beginning of December.  Cyclist Beryl Burton was unstoppable in her sport for several decades.  Her prowess was such that for two years, her 12-hour time trial record was faster than the men’s equivalent.  This biography takes a look at this formidable athlete, and what drove her.

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Animal Life
by Audur Ava Olafsdottir

As a reminder that this flurry of snow is nothing compared to the North – this novel takes place in Iceland in the run-up to Christmas.  Domhildur holes up in her apartment, hiding from an incoming storm, and going through her Great-Aunt’s papers on midwifery.  This is a short novel that packs a lot of information in – and makes for very interesting reading.

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Birds of a Feather
by Lauren Fairgrieve & Kate Read

If you’ve walked past our Christmas window, you might have spotted that we’ve a few new birds in there – they’ve come from this book, which is both a guide to native birds, and an activity book to press out and put together your own birds – to hang from the ceiling.  They’re beautifully illustrated, and this would make a perfect present for a young birdwatcher.

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