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Favourite Reads

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A collection of some of my favourite books. 

All My Puny Sorrows

This book is short listed for the Folio Prize 2015. It is short listed for the Wellcome Book Prize 2015 Sunday Times Top Choice Summer Read. Elf and Yoli are two smart, loving sisters. Elf is a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, happily married: she wants to die. Yoli is divorced, broke, sleeping with the wrong men: she desperately wants to keep her older sister alive. When Elf's latest suicide attempt leaves her hospitalised weeks before her highly anticipated world tour, Yoli is forced to confront the impossible question of whether it is better to let a loved one go. Miriam Toews' All My Puny Sorrows, at once tender and unquiet, offers a profound reflection on the limits of love, and the sometimes unimaginable challenges we experience when childhood becomes a new country of adult commitments and responsibilities. "The novel she has written - so exquisitely that you'll want to savour every word - reads as if it has been wrenched from her heart." (Christina Patterson, Sunday Times). "[Miriam Toews] has produced a masterly book of such precise dignity. It is, also against all the odds, at times a desperately humorous novel." (Daily Mail). "Toews takes her place alongside Alice Munro, Robertson Davies, Margaret Atwood and Mordicai Richler as the loveliest quintet of Canadian writing." (Los Angeles Times).

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Empathy Exams, The: Essays

The subjects of this stylish and audacious collection of essays range from an assault in Nicaragua to a Morgellons meeting; from Frida Kahlo's plaster casts to a gangland tour of LA. Jamison is interested in how we tell stories about injury and pain, and the limits that circumstances, bodies and identity put on the act of describing.

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The Sixth Extinction

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions of life on earth. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. Elizabeth Kolbert combines brilliant field reporting, the history of ideas and the work of geologists, botanists and marine biologists to tell the gripping stories of a dozen species - including the Panamanian golden frog and the Sumatran rhino - some already gone, others at the point of vanishing. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy and Elizabeth Kolbert's book urgently compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

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L'Amie prodigieuse

"Je ne suis pas nostalgique de notre enfance : elle était pleine de violence. C'était la vie, un point c'est tout : et nous grandissions avec l'obligation de la rendre difficile aux autres avant que les autres ne nous la rendent difficile." Elena et Lila vivent dans un quartier pauvre de Naples à la fin des années cinquante. Bien qu'elles soient douées pour les études, ce n'est pas la voie qui leur est promise. Lila abandonne l'école pour travailler dans l'échoppe de cordonnier de son père. Elena, soutenue par son institutrice, ira au collège puis au lycée. Les chemins des deux amies se croisent et s'éloignent, avec pour toile de fond une Naples sombre, en ébullition. Formidable voyage dans l'Italie du boom économique, L'amie prodigieuse est le portrait de deux héroïnes inoubliables qu'Elena Ferrante traque avec passion et tendresse.

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Being Mortal

For most of human history, death was a common, ever-present possibility. It didn't matter whether you were five or fifty - every day was a roll of the dice. But now, as medical advances push the boundaries of survival further each year, we have become increasingly detached from the reality of being mortal. So here is a book about the modern experience of mortality - about what it's like to get old and die, how medicine has changed this and how it hasn't, where our ideas about death have gone wrong. With his trademark mix of perceptiveness and sensitivity, Atul Gawande outlines a story that crosses the globe, as he examines his experiences as a surgeon and those of his patients and family, and learns to accept the limits of what he can do. Never before has aging been such an important topic. The systems that we have put in place to manage our mortality are manifestly failing; but, as Gawande reveals, it doesn't have to be this way. The ultimate goal, after all, is not a good death, but a good life - all the way to the very end. Published in partnership with the Wellcome Collection. WELLCOME COLLECTION is the free museum and library for the incurably curious. It explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. It is part of Wellcome, a global charitable foundation that exists to improve health for everyone by helping great ideas thrive.

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The Emperor of All Maladies

A magnificent, beautifully written biography of cancer - from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles to cure, control and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence.In The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee, doctor, researcher and award-winning science writer, examines cancer with a cellular biologist's precision, a historian's perspective, and a biographer's passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with - and perished from - for more than five thousand years.The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience and perseverance, but also of hubris, arrogance and misperception, all leveraged against a disease that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out `war against cancer'. Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories and deaths, told through the eyes of predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary.From the Persian Queen Atossa, whose Greek slave cut off her malignant breast, to the nineteeth-century recipient of primitive radiation and chemotherapy and Mukherjee's own leukemia patient, Carla, The Emperor of All Maladies is about the people who have soldiered through toxic, bruising, and draining regimes to survive and to increase the store of human knowledge.Riveting and magesterial, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments and a brilliant new perspective on the way doctors, scientists, philosophers and lay people have observed and understood the human body for millennia.

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Hyperbole and a Half

Hilarious stories about life's mishaps from the creator of the immensely popular blog 'Hyperbole and a Half'. Fully illustrated with over 50% new material. Hyperbole and A Half is a blog written by a 20-something American girl called Allie Brosh. She tells fantastically funny, wise stories about the mishaps of her everyday life, with titles like 'Why Dogs Don't Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving' and 'The God of Cake'. She accompanies these with naive drawings using Paint on her PC. Brosh's website receives millions of visitors a month and hundreds of thousands per day. Now her full-colour debut book chronicles the many "learning experiences" Brosh has endured as a result of her own character flaws. It includes stories about her rambunctious childhood; the highs and mostly lows of owning a mentally challenged dog; and a moving and darkly comic account of her struggles with depression. Poignant and uproarious - think Cyanide and Happiness but with story-lines, cake and dogs.

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Galore

Sprawling and intimate, stark and fantastical, "Galore" is a novel about the power of stories to shape and sustain us. This is Michael Crummey's most ambitious and accomplished work to date. An intricate family saga and love story spanning two centuries, "Galore" is a portrait of the improbable medieval world that was rural Newfoundland, a place almost too harrowing and extravagant to be real. Remote and isolated, exposed to savage extremes of climate and fate, the people of Paradise Deep persist in a realm where the line between the everyday and the otherworldly is impossible to distinguish. Propelled by the disputes and alliances, grievances and trade-offs that bind the Sellers and Devine families through generations, "Galore" is alive with singular characters, and an uncommon insight into the complexities of human nature.

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The Signature of All Things

LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILEYS WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION SHORTLISTED FOR THE WELLCOME BOOK PRIZE From the moment Alma Whittaker steps into the world, everything about life intrigues her. Instilled with an unquenchable sense of wonder by her father, a botanical explorer and the richest man in the New World, Alma is raised in a house of luxury and curiosity. It is not long before she becomes a gifted botanist in her own right. But as she flourishes and her research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she comes to love draws her in the opposite direction - into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical. The Signature of All Things soars across the globe of the nineteenth century, from London and Peru, to Philadelphia, Tahiti and beyond. Peopled with extraordinary characters along the way, most of all it has an unforgettable heroine in Alma Whittaker.

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The Flamethrowers

This is shortlisted for the Folio Prize 2014. It is longlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Reno mounts her motorcycle and sets a collision course for New York. In 1977 the city is alive with art, sensuality and danger. She falls in with a bohemian clique colonising downtown and the lines between reality and performance begin to bleed. A passionate affair with the scion of an Italian tyre empire carries Reno to Milan, where she is swept along by the radical left and drawn into a spiral of violence and betrayal. The Flamethrowers is an audacious novel that explores the perplexing allure of femininity, fakery and fear. In Reno we encounter a heroine like no other. Best Books of the Year: Guardian; New York Times; The Times; Observer; Financial Times; New Yorker; Telegraph; Slate; Oprah; Vogue; Time; Scotsman; and Evening Standard. It is shortlisted for the National Book Awards 2013.

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In the Orchard, the Swallows

In the foothills of a mountain range in northern Pakistan is a beautiful orchard. Swallows wheel and dive silently over the branches, and the scent of jasmine threads through the air. Pomegranates hang heavy, their skins darkening to a deep crimson. Neglected now, the trees are beginning to grow wild, their fruit left to spoil on the branches. Many miles away, a frail young man is flung out of prison gates. Looking up, scanning the horizon for swallows in flight, he stumbles and collapses in the roadside dust. His ravaged body tells the story of fifteen years of brutality. Just one image has held and sustained him through the dark times - the thought of the young girl who had left him dumbstruck with wonder all those years ago, whose eyes were lit up with life. A tale of tenderness in the face of great and corrupt power, "In The Orchard, The Swallows" is a heartbreaking novel written in prose of exquisite stillness and beauty.

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2666

Written with burning intesity in the last years of Roberto Bolano's life, 2666 has been greeted across the world as the great writer's masterpiece, surpassing everything in imagination, beauty and scope. It is a novel on an astonishing scale from a passionate visionary. 'The best book of 2008 ...A masterpiece, the electrifying literary event of the year' Time 'Readers who have snacked on Haruki Murakami will feast on Roberto Bolano' Sunday Times 'Bolano makes you feel changed for having read him; he adjusts your angle of view on the world' Guardian

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A Fine Balance

Set in mid-1970s India, A Fine Balance is a subtle and compelling narrative about four unlikely characters who come together in circumstances no one could have foreseen soon after the government declares a 'State of Internal Emergency'. It is a breathtaking achievement: panoramic yet humane, intensely political yet rich with local delight; and, above all, compulsively readable.

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Hunting and Gathering

Camille is doing her best to disappear. She barely eats, works at night as a cleaner and lives in a tiny attic room. Downstairs in a beautiful, ornate apartment, lives Philibert Marquet de la Durbelliere, a shy, erudite, upper-class man with an unlikely flatmate in the shape of the foul-mouthed but talented chef, Franck. One freezing evening Philibert overcomes his excruciating reitcence to rescue Camille, unconscious, from her garret and bring her into his home. As she recovers Camille learns more about Philibert; about Franck and his guilt for his beloved but fragile grandmother Paulette, who is all he has left in the world; and about herself. And slowly, this curious quartet of misfits all discover the importance of food, friendship and love.

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The Girls

Rarely has the experience of being a sister been so poignantly and memorably captured as in Lori Lansens's triumphant novel. The Girls celebrates life's fundamental joys and trials as it presents Rose and Ruby, sisters destined to live inseparably but blessed with distinct sensibilities that enrich and complicate their shared experiences-of growing up, of finding their way in the world, of saying good-bye.Readers who encounter the girls will find it hard to resist falling under their spell.

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Late Nights on Air

The eagerly anticipated novel from the bestselling author of A Student of Weather and Garbo Laughs. Harry Boyd, a hard-bitten refugee from failure in Toronto television, has returned to a small radio station in the Canadian North. There, in Yellowknife, in the summer of 1975, he falls in love with a voice on air, though the real woman, Dido Paris, is both a surprise and even more than he imagined. Dido and Harry are part of the cast of eccentric, utterly loveable characters, all transplants from elsewhere, who form an unlikely group at the station. Their loves and longings, their rivalries and entanglements, the stories of their pasts and what brought each of them to the North, form the centre. One summer, on a canoe trip four of them make into the Arctic wilderness (following in the steps of the legendary Englishman John Hornby, who, along with his small party, starved to death in the barrens in 1927), they find the balance of love shifting, much as the balance of power in the North is being changed by the proposed Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline, which threatens to displace Native people from their land. Elizabeth Hay has been compared to Annie Proulx, Alice Hoffman, and Isabel Allende, yet she is uniquely herself. With unforgettable characters, vividly evoked settings, in this new novel, Hay brings to bear her skewering intelligence into the frailties of the human heart and her ability to tell a spellbinding story. Written in gorgeous prose, laced with dark humour, Late Nights on Air is Hay's most seductive and accomplished novel yet, and is already garnering interest abroad. On the shortest night of the year, a golden evening without end, Dido climbed the wooden stepsto Pilot's Monument on top of the great Rock that formed the heart of old Yellowknife. In the Netherlands the light was long and gradual too, but more meadowy, more watery, or else hazier, depending on where you were. . . . Here, it was subarctic desert, virtually unpopulated, and the light was uniformly clear. On the road below, a small man in a black beret was bending over his tripod just as her father used to bend over his tape recorder. Her father's voice had become the wallpaper inside her skull, he'd made a home for himself there as improvised and unexpected as these little houses on the side of the Rock -- houses with histories of instability, of changing from gambling den to barber shop to sheet metal shop to private home, and of being moved from one part of town to another since they had no foundations.--From Late Nights On Air From the Hardcover edition.

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Homegoing

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Best First BookEffia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader's wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel - the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portraits, Homegoing is a searing and profound debut from a masterly new writer.

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Bookish Social Media Person. INFJ. Reading. Writing. Music. Dogs. Tea. Literary Fiction. Nonfiction (Science, Health, Medicine, Biographies). Classics.

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