A Winter’s Tale – 21 January 2023

Our last newsletter was full of excitement about new books due in early 2023. None of them have disappointed. I have been particularly enjoying The End of Nightwork by Aidan Cottrell-Boyce. Reading it, I feel a little like I’m on a roller-coaster, if roller-coasters comprised erudite references to British Museum archives, inter-generational conflict and trips to Pompeii.

Whilst there are many new books to look forward to, January has brought with it customers turning to classics and to the books they “feel they should have read” or have always pretended to have read. New Year’s resolutions have led to Infinite Jest and Ulysses flying (thumping?) off the shelves along with a hefty helping of MiddlemarchWuthering Heights and Crime & Punishment.

Having said that there are of course some superb new releases and this week has been especially good for non-fiction, including:

The Road: A story of Romans and ways to the past by Christopher Hadley
The Romans built ten thousand miles of road in Britain. In his new book, Hadley takes the reader on a journey traversing 2000 years and just 14 miles of Roman road: by placing the focus on this apparently insignificant stretch, Hadley opens up the stories and the secrets held by the construction of the road itself, by the things dropped along the way, by the lives that have interacted with it for millennia.

Toy Fights: A boyhood by Don Paterson
Born in Dundee in 1963, Don Paterson grew up on a council estate with a busy programme of activities, including avoiding children who wanted to play the game that gives the book its title, playing music, obsessing about God, origami, football, money, sex and sugar. It’s a sharp, funny and angry memoir about growing up, schizophrenia, inequality and so much more.

On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans discovered Europe by Caroline Dodds Pennock
Turning the received narrative of transatlantic history on its head, Caroline Dodds Pennock examines the Indigenous travellers who came to Europe. Looking at adventure stories, diplomatic missions, trading missions, abductions, and horrific exploitations, Dodds Pennock demonstrates the impact of Indigenous Americans on early modern Europe in this fascinating history.

In Defence of Witches: Why women are still on trial by Mona Chollett
What do you see when you hear the word witch? Who were the women accused of witchcraft by history and by fairy tales? Women who weren’t married, who didn’t have children, who weren’t young and classically beautiful. Chollett looks at the women who didn’t conform and how closely their treatment aligns with today’s patriarchy and misogyny.

Art Night
We will be open late on Thursday 26th January for an evening celebrating art. Hidden Gallery, our neighbours in the Clifton Arcade, are celebrating their new exhibition of works from Tracey Emin, Roy Lichtenstein, Bridget Riley, Andy Warhol and others and we are looking forward to showing off our new art books. An invitation is attached and we hope to see you then.

Book groups for February – 6.30, The Lansdown
The non-fiction group meets on 20th February to discuss Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck. Do let us know if you’d like to sign up.
The fiction group meets on 22nd February to discuss The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes. It is rather full and we may need to start a second one so do let us know if you are keen to be added to the waiting list.