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Our Paperback Picks

A handpicked selection of our favourite recent paperback books.


The End of Everything

- by Katie Mack

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A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2020
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY * THE WASHINGTON POST * THE ECONOMIST * NEW SCIENTIST * PUBLISHERS WEEKLY * THE GUARDIAN

From one of the most dynamic rising stars in astrophysics, an "engrossing, elegant" (The New York Times) look at five ways the universe could end, and the mind-blowing lessons each scenario reveals about the most important concepts in cosmology.

We know the universe had a beginning. With the Big Bang, it expanded from a state of unimaginable density to an all-encompassing cosmic fireball to a simmering fluid of matter and energy, laying down the seeds for everything from black holes to one rocky planet orbiting a star near the edge of a spiral galaxy that happened to develop life as we know it. But what happens to the universe at the end of the story? And what does it mean for us now?

Dr. Katie Mack has been contemplating these questions since she was a young student, when her astronomy professor informed her the universe could end at any moment, in an instant. This revelation set her on the path toward theoretical astrophysics. Now, with lively wit and humor, she takes us on a mind-bending tour through five of the cosmos's possible finales: the Big Crunch, Heat Death, the Big Rip, Vacuum Decay (the one that could happen at any moment!), and the Bounce. Guiding us through cutting-edge science and major concepts in quantum mechanics, cosmology, string theory, and much more, The End of Everything is a wildly fun, surprisingly upbeat ride to the farthest reaches of all that we know.

The Well-Gardened Mind

- by Sue Stuart-smith

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A distinguished psychiatrist and avid gardener presents "a truly uplifting book on the power of gardening--and how it can change people's lives" (Stylist, UK).

The garden is often seen as a refuge, a place to forget worldly cares, removed from the "real" life that lies outside. When we get our hands in the earth we connect with the cycle of life in nature through which destruction and decay are followed by regrowth and renewal. Gardening is one of the quintessential nurturing activities and yet we understand so little about it. The Well-Gardened Mind provides a new perspective on the power of gardening to change people's lives. Here, Sue Stuart-Smith investigates the many ways in which mind and garden can interact and explores how the process of tending a plot can be a way of sustaining an innermost self.

Stuart-Smith's own love of gardening developed as she studied to become a psychoanalytic psychotherapist. From her grandfather's return from World War I to Freud's obsession with flowers to case histories with her own patients to progressive gardening programs in such places as Rikers Island prison in New York City, Stuart-Smith weaves thoughtful yet powerful examples to argue that gardening is much more important to our cognition than we think. Recent research is showing how green nature has direct antidepressant effects on humans. "The most original gardening book ever [that] combines observation, horticulture, literature and history" (Sunday Times, UK), The Well-Gardened Mind is a book for gardeners and non-gardeners alike, and the perfect solace for people seeking healthier mental lives.

Summer

- by Ali Smith

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Longlisted for the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction
One of The Guardian's "best books of 2020"


From the Booker-shortlisted author of Autumn, as well as the Baileys Prize-winning How to Be Both, comes the last instalment in the remarkable, once-in-a-generation masterpiece, the Seasonal Quartet.


Here is the exciting culmination of Ali Smith's celebrated Seasonal Quartet, a series of stand-alone novels, separate but interconnected (as the seasons are), wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories.

The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires

- by Grady Hendrix

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The New York Times Best Seller
A Barnes & Noble Best Fiction Book of 2020
A Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist

Now in paperback, Steel Magnolias meets Dracula in this '90s-set horror novel about a women's book club that must do battle with a mysterious newcomer to their small Southern town, perfect for murderinos and fans of Stephen King.

Bonus features:
   o Reading group guide for book clubs
   o Hand-drawn map of Mt. Pleasant
   o Annotated true-crime reading list by Grady Hendrix
   o And more!

Patricia Campbell's life has never felt smaller. Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she's always a step behind on her endless to-do list. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. At these meetings they're as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families.

One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor's handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. James is well traveled and well read, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn't felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind--and Patricia has already invited him in. 
 
Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia's life and try to take everything she took for granted--including the book club--but she won't surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.

Galileo

- by Mario Livio

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An "intriguing and accessible" (Publishers Weekly) interpretation of the life of Galileo Galilei, one of history's greatest and most fascinating scientists, that sheds new light on his discoveries and how he was challenged by science deniers. "We really need this story now, because we're living through the next chapter of science denial" (Bill McKibben).

Galileo's story may be more relevant today than ever before. At present, we face enormous crises--such as minimizing the dangers of climate change--because the science behind these threats is erroneously questioned or ignored. Galileo encountered this problem 400 years ago. His discoveries, based on careful observations and ingenious experiments, contradicted conventional wisdom and the teachings of the church at the time. Consequently, in a blatant assault on freedom of thought, his books were forbidden by church authorities.

Astrophysicist and bestselling author Mario Livio draws on his own scientific expertise and uses his "gifts as a great storyteller" (The Washington Post) to provide a "refreshing perspective" (Booklist) into how Galileo reached his bold new conclusions about the cosmos and the laws of nature. A freethinker who followed the evidence wherever it led him, Galileo was one of the most significant figures behind the scientific revolution. He believed that every educated person should know science as well as literature, and insisted on reaching the widest audience possible, publishing his books in Italian rather than Latin.

Galileo was put on trial with his life in the balance for refusing to renounce his scientific convictions. He remains a hero and inspiration to scientists and all of those who respect science--which, as Livio reminds us in this "admirably clear and concise" (The Times, London) book, remains threatened everyday.

The King at the Edge of the World

- by Arthur Phillips

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Queen Elizabeth's spymasters recruit an unlikely agent--the only Muslim in England--for an impossible mission in a mesmerizing novel from "one of the best writers in America" (The Washington Post)

"Evokes flashes of Hilary Mantel, John le Carré and Graham Greene, but the wry, tricky plot that drives it is pure Arthur Phillips."--The Wall Street Journal

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW AND THE WASHINGTON POST

 
The year is 1601. Queen Elizabeth I is dying, childless. Her nervous kingdom has no heir. It is a capital crime even to think that Elizabeth will ever die. Potential successors secretly maneuver to be in position when the inevitable occurs. The leading candidate is King James VI of Scotland, but there is a problem.
 
The queen's spymasters--hardened veterans of a long war on terror and religious extremism--fear that James is not what he appears. He has every reason to claim to be a Protestant, but if he secretly shares his family's Catholicism, then forty years of religious war will have been for nothing, and a bloodbath will ensue. With time running out, London confronts a seemingly impossible question: What does James truly believe?
 
It falls to Geoffrey Belloc, a secret warrior from the hottest days of England's religious battles, to devise a test to discover the true nature of King James's soul. Belloc enlists Mahmoud Ezzedine, a Muslim physician left behind by the last diplomatic visit from the Ottoman Empire, as his undercover agent. The perfect man for the job, Ezzedine is the ultimate outsider, stranded on this cold, wet, and primitive island. He will do almost anything to return home to his wife and son.
 
Arthur Phillips returns with a unique and thrilling novel that will leave readers questioning the nature of truth at every turn.

The End of October

- by Lawrence Wright

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An Instant New York Times Bestseller
 
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower--a riveting thriller and "all-too-convincing chronicle of science, espionage, action and speculation" (The Wall Street Journal)

At an internment camp in Indonesia, forty-seven people are pronounced dead with acute hemorrhagic fever. When epidemiologist Henry Parsons travels there on behalf of the World Health Organization to investigate, what he finds will have staggering repercussions. Halfway across the globe, the deputy director of U.S. Homeland Security scrambles to mount a response to the rapidly spreading pandemic leapfrogging around the world, which she believes may be the result of an act of biowarfare. And a rogue experimenter in man-made diseases is preparing his own terrifying solution.

As already-fraying global relations begin to snap, the virus slashes across the United States, dismantling institutions and decimating the population. With his own wife and children facing diminishing odds of survival, Henry travels from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia to his home base at the CDC in Atlanta, searching for a cure and for the origins of this seemingly unknowable disease. The End of October is a one-of-a-kind thriller steeped in real-life political and scientific implications, filled with the insight that has been the hallmark of Wright's acclaimed nonfiction and the full-tilt narrative suspense that only the best fiction can offer.

Range

- by David Epstein

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The #1 New York Times bestseller that has all America talking: as seen/heard on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS, Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, The Bill Simmons Podcast, Rich Roll, and more.

"Fascinating. . . . If you're a generalist who has ever felt overshadowed by your specialist colleagues, this book is for you." --Bill Gates


"The most important business--and parenting--book of the year." --Forbes

"Urgent and important. . . an essential read for bosses, parents, coaches, and anyone who cares about improving performance." --Daniel H. Pink  

Shortlisted for the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award

Plenty of experts argue that anyone who wants to develop a skill, play an instrument, or lead their field should start early, focus intensely, and rack up as many hours of deliberate practice as possible. If you dabble or delay, you'll never catch up to the people who got a head start. But a closer look at research on the world's top performers, from professional athletes to Nobel laureates, shows that early specialization is the exception, not the rule.    

David Epstein examined the world's most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors, forecasters and scientists. He discovered that in most fields--especially those that are complex and unpredictable--generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. Generalists often find their path late, and they juggle many interests rather than focusing on one. They're also more creative, more agile, and able to make connections their more specialized peers can't see.

Provocative, rigorous, and engrossing, Range makes a compelling case for actively cultivating inefficiency. Failing a test is the best way to learn. Frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The most impactful inventors cross domains rather than deepening their knowledge in a single area. As experts silo themselves further while computers master more of the skills once reserved for highly focused humans, people who think broadly and embrace diverse experiences and perspectives will increasingly thrive.

All Adults Here

- by Emma Straub

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AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A TODAY SHOW #ReadWithJenna BOOK CLUB PICK!
"In a time when all we want is hope, it's a beautiful book to reach for." -Jenna Bush Hager

"Literary sunshine."--New York Times

"The queen of the summer novel."--Entertainment Weekly


"Brimming with kindness, forgiveness, humor and love and yet (magically) also a page turner that held me captive until it was finished. This is Emma Straub's absolute best and the world will love it. I love it." --Ann Patchett

 
"An immensely charming and warmhearted book. It's a vacation for the soul."--Vox

A warm, funny, and keenly perceptive novel about the life cycle of one family--as the kids become parents, grandchildren become teenagers, and a matriarch confronts the legacy of her mistakes. From the New York Times bestselling author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers.



When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she'd been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?

Astrid's youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid's thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.

In All Adults Here, Emma Straub's unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.

The Quantum Astrologer's Handbook

- by Michael Brooks

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This is a landmark in science writing that resurrects from the vaults of neglect the polymath Jerome Cardano, a Milanese of the sixteenth century.

Who is Jerome Cardano? A gambler and blasphemer, inventor and schemer, plagued by demons and anxieties, astrologer to kings, emperors, and popes. This stubborn and unworldly man was the son of a lawyer and a brothel keeper, but also a gifted physician and the unacknowledged discoverer of the mathematical foundations of quantum physics.

The Quantum Astrologer's Handbook, like Jerome, has multiple occupations: it is at once a biography, a history of science, an explanation of quantum theory, and an engrossing story which is truly original in its style and, in the manner of the modernists, embodies in its very form its theories about the world.

The Quantum Astrologer's Handbook is a science book with the panache of a novel, a work of and about genius.

Breasts and Eggs

- by Mieko Kawakami

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A BEST BOOK OF 2020
TIME Magazineã?»The Atlanticã?»Book Riotã?»Electric Literatureã?»The New York Times (Notable Book of the Year)

The story of three women by a writer hailed by Haruki Murakami as Japan's most important contemporary novelist, WINNER OF THE AKUTAGAWA PRIZE.

On a sweltering summer day, Makiko travels from Osaka to Tokyo, where her sister Natsu lives. She is in the company of her daughter, Midoriko, who has lately grown silent, finding herself unable to voice the vague yet overwhelming pressures associated with adolescence. The story of these three women reunited in a working-class neighborhood of Tokyo is told through the gaze of Natsu--thirty years old, an aspiring writer, haunted by hardships endured in her youth. Over the course of theirfew days together in the capital, Midoriko's silence will prove a catalyst for each woman to confront her fears and family secrets.

On yet another blistering summer's day eight years later, Natsu, during a journey back to her native city, struggles with her own indeterminate identity as she confronts anxieties about growing old alone and childless. 

One of Japan's most important and best-selling writers, Mieko Kawakami mixes stylistic inventiveness, wry humor, and riveting emotional depth to tell a story of contemporary womanhood in Japan.Breasts and Eggs recounts the intimate journeys of three women on the path to finding peace and futures they can call their own.

"Original and deeply moving...This book is a gift."--Laura van den Berg

Entangled Life

- by Merlin Sheldrake

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INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER o "Merlin Sheldrake's marvelous tour of these diverse and extraordinary life forms is eye-opening on why humans should consider fungi among the greatest of earth's marvels. . . . Wondrous."--Time 

A mind-bending journey into the hidden universe of fungi, "one of those rare books that can truly change the way you see the world around you" (Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk).


NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Time o BBC Science Focus o The Daily Mail o Geographical o The Times o The Telegraph New Statesman o London Evening Standard o Science Friday

When we think of fungi, we likely think of mushrooms. But mushrooms are only fruiting bodies, analogous to apples on a tree. Most fungi live out of sight, yet make up a massively diverse kingdom of organisms that supports and sustains nearly all living systems. Fungi provide a key to understanding the planet on which we live, and the ways we think, feel, and behave.

In Entangled Life, the brilliant young biologist Merlin Sheldrake shows us the world from a fungal point of view, providing an exhilarating change of perspective. Sheldrake's vivid exploration takes us from yeast to psychedelics, to the fungi that range for miles underground and are the largest organisms on the planet, to those that link plants together in complex networks known as the "Wood Wide Web,"  to those that infiltrate and manipulate insect bodies with devastating precision.

Fungi throw our concepts of individuality and even intelligence into question. They are metabolic masters, earth makers, and key players in most of life's processes. They can change our minds, heal our bodies, and even help us remediate environmental disaster. By examining fungi on their own terms, Sheldrake reveals how these extraordinary organisms--and our relationships with them--are changing our understanding of how life works.

SHORTLISTED FOR THE BRITISH BOOK AWARD o LONGLISTED FOR THE RATHBONES FOLIO PRIZE

"Entangled Life is a gorgeous book of literary nature writing in the tradition of [Robert] Macfarlane and John Fowles, ripe with insight and erudition. . . . Food for the soul."--Eugenia Bone, Wall Street Journal

"[An] ebullient and ambitious exploration . . . This book may not be a psychedelic--and unlike Sheldrake, I haven't dared to consume my copy (yet)--but reading it left me not just moved but altered, eager to disseminate its message of what fungi can do."--Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times

How Much of These Hills Is Gold

- by C Pam Zhang

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NEW YORK TIMES  NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR

ONE OF NPR'S BEST BOOKS OF 2020 

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2020 BOOKER PRIZE

FINALIST FOR THE 2020 CENTER FOR FICTION FIRST NOVEL PRIZE

WINNER OF THE ROSENTHAL FAMILY FOUNDATION AWARD, FROM THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND LETTERS

A NATIONAL BOOK FOUNDATION "5 UNDER 35" HONOREE

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"Belongs on a shelf all of its own." --NPR

"Outstanding." --The Washington Post
 
"Revolutionary . . . A visionary addition to American literature." --Star Tribune

An electric debut novel set against the twilight of the American gold rush, two siblings are on the run in an unforgiving landscape--trying not just to survive but to find a home.


Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence. Fleeing the threats of their western mining town, they set off to bury their father in the only way that will set them free from their past. Along the way, they encounter giant buffalo bones, tiger paw prints, and the specters of a ravaged landscape as well as family secrets, sibling rivalry, and glimpses of a different kind of future.

Both epic and intimate, blending Chinese symbolism and reimagined history with fiercely original language and storytelling, How Much of These Hills Is Gold is a haunting adventure story, an unforgettable sibling story, and the announcement of a stunning new voice in literature. On a broad level, it explores race in an expanding country and the question of where immigrants are allowed to belong. But page by page, it's about the memories that bind and divide families, and the yearning for home.

The Book of Eels

- by Patrik Svensson

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Los Angeles Times Bestseller

IndieBound Bestseller

One of USA Today's "5 Books Not to Miss"

One of Forbes' "Best Summer Reads" One of the LA Times' "21 New and Classic Books to Keep You in Touch with the Natural World"

Part H Is for Hawk, part The Soul of an OctopusThe Book of Eels is both a meditation on the world's most elusive fish--the eel--and a reflection on the human condition

Remarkably little is known about the European eel, Anguilla anguilla. So little, in fact, that scientists and philosophers have, for centuries, been obsessed with what has become known as the "eel question": Where do eels come from? What are they? Are they fish or some other kind of creature altogether? Even today, in an age of advanced science, no one has ever seen eels mating or giving birth, and we still don't understand what drives them, after living for decades in freshwater, to swim great distances back to the ocean at the end of their lives. They remain a mystery.

Drawing on a breadth of research about eels in literature, history, and modern marine biology, as well as his own experience fishing for eels with his father, Patrik Svensson crafts a mesmerizing portrait of an unusual, utterly misunderstood, and completely captivating animal. In The Book of Eels, we meet renowned historical thinkers, from Aristotle to Sigmund Freud to Rachel Carson, for whom the eel was a singular obsession. And we meet the scientists who spearheaded the search for the eel's point of origin, including Danish marine biologist Johannes Schmidt, who led research efforts in the early twentieth century, catching thousands upon thousands of eels, in the hopes of proving their birthing grounds in the Sargasso Sea.

Blending memoir and nature writing at its best, Svensson's journey to understand the eel becomes an exploration of the human condition that delves into overarching issues about our roots and destiny, both as humans and as animals, and, ultimately, how to handle the biggest question of all: death. The result is a gripping and slippery narrative that will surprise and enchant.

Square Haunting

- by Francesca Wade

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A NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' CHOICE o LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE o "A beautiful and deeply moving book."--Sally Rooney, author of Normal People

An engrossing group portrait of five women writers, including Virginia Woolf, who moved to London's Mecklenburgh Square in search of new freedom in their lives and work.


NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY POPMATTERS

"I like this London life . . . the street-sauntering and square-haunting."--Virginia Woolf, diary, 1925

In the early twentieth century, Mecklenburgh Square--a hidden architectural gem in the heart of London--was a radical address. On the outskirts of Bloomsbury known for the eponymous group who "lived in squares, painted in circles, and loved in triangles," the square was home to students, struggling artists, and revolutionaries.

In the pivotal era between the two world wars, the lives of five remarkable women intertwined at this one address: modernist poet H. D., detective novelist Dorothy L. Sayers, classicist Jane Harrison, economic historian Eileen Power, and author and publisher Virginia Woolf. In an era when women's freedoms were fast expanding, they each sought a space where they could live, love, and--above all--work independently.

With sparkling insight and a novelistic style, Francesca Wade sheds new light on a group of artists and thinkers whose pioneering work would enrich the possibilities of women's lives for generations to come.

Praise for Square Haunting

"A fascinating voyage through the lives of five remarkable women . . . moving and immersive."--Edmund Gordon, author of The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography

"Elegant, erudite, and absorbing, Square Haunting is a startlingly original debut, and Francesca Wade is an author to watch."--Frances Wilson, author of Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey

"Outstanding . . . I'll be recommending this all year."--Sarah Bakewell, author of At the Existentialist Café

"I much enjoyed Francesca Wade's book. It almost made me wish I belonged to the pioneering generation of women spoiling eggs on the gas ring and breaking taboos."--Sue Prideaux, author of I Am Dynamite! A Life of Friedrich Nietzsche