On 14 February 1989, Valentine's Day, Salman Rushdie was telephoned by a BBC journalist and told that he had been 'sentenced to death' by the Ayatollah Khomeini. For the first time he heard the word fatwa. His crime? To have written a novel called The Satanic Verses, which was accused of being 'against Islam, the Prophet and ... read more

I'm half way through Joseph Anton, Salman Rushdie's account of the years he spent in hiding from the fatwa issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini following the publication of The Satanic Verses. It is an extraordinary story and this is the first time Rushdie has written about it in detail. Rather disconcertingly he has wr... read more

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June 23, 2012 marks the centenary of Alan Turing's birth, and preparations are being made worldwide for the celebration of his life and work. Turing can be regarded as one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century. But who was Turing, and what did he achieve during his tragically short life of 41 years? Best known as the... read more

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The age of discovery was at its peak in the eighteenth century, with heroic adventurers charting the furthest reaches of the globe. Foremost among these explorers was navigator and cartographer Captain James Cook of the British Royal Navy. Recent writers have viewed Cook largely through the lens of colonial exploitation, rega... read more

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The inspiring story of a son and his dying mother, who form a 'book club' that brings them together as her life comes to a close. For fans of Tuesdays With Morrie and The Last Lecture.
Mary Anne Schwalbe is waiting for her chemotherapy treatments when Will casually asks her what she's reading. The conversation they have... read more

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It's rare for someone to emerge in America who can change our attitudes, our beliefs and our very culture. It's even rarer when that someone is a middle-aged, six-foot three-inch woman whose first exposure to an unsuspecting public is cooking an omelet on a hot plate on a local TV station. And yet, that's exactly what Julia C... read more

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'Composed by a writer still with one foot in childhood, and whose autism was at least as challenging and life-defining as our son's, THE REASON I JUMP was a revelatory godsend. Reading it felt as if, for the first time, our own son was talking to us about what was happening inside his head.' Written by Naoki Higishida when he... read more

"When we look at nature we receive a sort of permission to be alive in this world." This is a very interesting book, written by a 13-year-old autistic boy using a cardboard ‘keyboard’. In response to a series of questions, he gives insights into the usually unreachable world of someone whose mind is so acutely... read more

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Author:Kate De Goldi
Series:Lolly Leopold

At Lorenza (Lolly) Leopold's school every March the club's epidemic breaks out "like a giant nit plague... everyone's infected. Not me. I must be inoculated". With the Barbie Club, Lego Club, Kitten Club and Harry Potter Club all having their own weird rules, what would a cynical girl do in protest at their silliness but fo... read more

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The loss of a parent is an experience that we all face without any training - relating to a parent through old age and illness; going through the actual death in different circumstances and whether we can help parents to have a good death; the emotional aftermath - shock, grief, relief, the effect on families; funerals, wills... read more

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The extraordinary true story behind the film Belle. Beautiful, wealthy and sophisticated, Dido Belle appears, in her famous portrait alongside her 'sister' and companion Lady Elizabeth Murray, a vision of eighteenth-century aristocratic virtue. But Dido Belle was no normal eighteenth century Lady, and this was no common paint... read more

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In a memoir hailed for its searing candor and wit, Alice Sebold reveals how her life was utterly transformed when, as an eighteen-year-old college freshman, she was brutally raped and beaten in a park near campus. What propels this chronicle of her recovery is Sebold's indomitable spirit - as she struggles for understanding (... read more

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'I've watched deer and elk frolic in the meadow below me, and pine trees explode in a blue ball of smoke. If there's a better job anywhere on the planet, I'd like to know what it is.'
For nearly a decade, Philip Connors has spent half of each year in a small room at the top of a tower, on top of a mountain, alone in mi... read more

Fire Seasons, by Philip Connors, was written so eloquently and beautifully that I felt I could almost see it as a song. His life in a fire tower in North America was so well portrayed and by the end of the book, I felt that I could have been there myself. It was a book filled with compassion for the world and I loved every mi... read more

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Auntie F. came in announcing dramatically that Hitler is coming tomorrow, at which my father remarked that he would, now that he's just finished papering upstairs. At the outbreak of World War Two, May Smith was twenty-four. She lived in a small village near Derby with her parents, and taught at the local elementary school. T... read more

May Smith was a young school teacher in wartime Britain. These Wonderful Rumours comprises her diary entries from the end of 1938 through to 1944. This is an interesting read and gives a real idea of what wartime Britain was like for an ordinary young woman. Both frivolous (May is continually waiting for her pay cheque to ... read more

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Author:Julian Barnes
Awards:Shortlisted for Waterstones Book of the Year 2013.

'You put together two things that have not been put together before. And the world is changed...' Julian Barnes' new book is about ballooning, photography, love and grief; about putting two things, and two people, together, and about tearing them apart. One of the judges who awarded him the 2011 Man Booker Prize described him... read more

Levels of Life is a memoir encompassing ballooning, photography, love and grief. That might seem an odd combination but in the hands of Julian Barnes it is magnificent and cohesive; this short book will resonate for a long time. - Tim
This small book is superb and I find it difficult to describe it adequately.... read more

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Cat behaviorist and star of Animal Planet's hit television show "My Cat from Hell," Jackson Galaxy, a.k.a. "Cat Daddy," isn't what you might expect for a cat expert (as "The New York Times" noted, with his goatee and tattoos, he "looks like a Hells Angel"). Yet Galaxy's ability to connect with even the most troubled felines -... read more

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Born to parents who were enthusiastic naturalists, and linked through his wider family to a clutch of accomplished scientists, Richard Dawkins was bound to have biology in his genes. But what were the influences that shaped his life and intellectual development? And who inspired him to become the pioneering scientist and publ... read more

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Gifts come in many guises. One summer, Rebecca Solnit was bequeathed a hundred pounds of ripening apricots, which lay on her bedroom floor - a windfall, a riddle, an emergency to be dealt with. The fruit came from a neglected tree that her mother, gradually succumbing to memory loss, could no longer tend to. From this unexpec... read more

A pile of apricots stands at the beginning of a difficult year for Solnitt. Her mother's worsening dementia intensifies their always difficult relationship, and a health scare and a friend’s death send her clutching at loose threads of her life. Solnitt’s interest is in the ambivalences of closeness and dista... read more

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As a boy in post-War England, legendary Kinks singer/songwriter Ray Davies fell in love with America - its movies and music, its culture of freedom all fed his imagination. Then, as part of the British Invasion, he toured the US with the Kinks during one of the most tumultuous eras in American history - until the group was ba... read more

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The image remains pristine: a charismatic high-school dropout turned billionaire, whose stratospheric rise and daring exploits have won him millions of enduring admirers and made him a model for aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the world. But is this story still credible? Over the last decade, has Branson matched the expecta... read more

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It's a movie tie-in unlike any other: a combination of dramatic recreations and history, featuring film stills alongside archival photographs of actual events; a narrative text drawn from Long Walk to Freedom, complemented by Mandela's own words and artefacts from his personal papers and archive, and first-person accounts fro... read more

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The long-awaited memoir of her Southern childhood from the bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun. Growing up, Frances Mayes longed to leave the small town of Fitzgerald, Georgia, but now she's been drawn back to explore her past ...Beautifully written and very intimate, this memoir evokes the Deep South in all its steamy... read more

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