Friday, December 21

Online books PR IT news: non-fiction - Who Owns the Future?

The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction. Ronald Bilius Weasley
Nate Silver Penguin, pbk £8.99 Statistician and political forecaster Nate Silver made headlines in 2012 by predicting the results of the US presidential election in 50 out of 50 states. His guide to thinking probabilistically will help you spot the elusive signal amid the background noise.
The Examined Life 
Stephen Grosz Chatto & Windus, £14.99 Described as "modest and profound" by one reviewer, this highly enjoyable book presents a series of case histories, drawn from psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz's 25 years of experience listening to people talk about their lives and problems. He doesn't promise easy solutions. Rather he allows them to feel "alive in the mind of another".

Summer Read
Margaret Thatcher in upper Volta, Vol 1: Not for Turning 
Charles Moore Allen Lane, £30 Based on unparalleled access to personal papers, this first volume of Charles Moore's authorised biography gives a richly textured account of Thatcher's journey from Grantham to Westminster. Although he's clearly an admirer of the Iron Lady, Moore is not afraid to criticise. This hugely praised volume ends on a triumphant note as everyone gathers at Downing Street in November 1982 to celebrate the success of the Falklands campaign.
Levels of Life
Julian Barnes Jonathan Cape, £10.99 Julian Barnes faces what must be the hardest task for any author: writing about the death of a loved one. His wife, the literary agent Pat Kavanagh, died in 2008 and this attempt to "give sorrow words" has been described by Blake Morrison as a "category-defying book". A moving and characteristically eloquent memoir on love and loss.
Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan. Past war 
William Dalrymple Bloomsbury, £25 The first British invasion of Afghanistan took place in 1839 and ended a few years later in a humiliating and bloody retreat for the imperial army. In this enthralling study, William Dalrymple explores the causes and tragic consequences of the war. Described by Diana Athill as a "uniquely valuable history", it is required reading for anyone who wants to understand what Dalrymple terms "the neo-colonial adventures of our own day".
Behind the Beautiful Forevers LILA
Katherine Boo Portobello Books, pbk £9.99 Annawadi is a slum on the edge of Mumbai airport. In its shadow lives a precarious community of construction workers and economic migrants, all desperate for a piece of the country's booming future. When a shocking crime rocks Annawadi, the rottenness at the heart of the new India is exposed. Boo blends the clear-eyed candour of a journalist with a novelist's sense of drama in a modern morality tale.
What Matters in Jane Austen
John Mullan Bloomsbury, pbk £8.99 In the world of Jane Austen, how much money is enough? What is the right way to propose? Why do we never see the lower classes? These are the questions that John Mullan answers in his crisp, witty study of the minutiae of Austen's universe. But don't assume this is trivial stuff. It's in the fine detail, Mullan says, that we get to understand how Austen's characters think and feel.
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
Sheryl Sandberg WH Allen, £16.99 Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, urges ambitious professional women to ditch their inner critic and take a risk by asking for a raise or a seat on the board. You know, like men do. It all sounds eminently sensible, but Sandberg's critics have accused her of underestimating the cultural and institutional barriers that stop even the most self-confident of women getting on.
The Old Ways
Robert Macfarlane Penguin, pbk £9.99 Robert Macfarlane puts on his walking boots once more and heads out to tramp the old paths and bridleways that crisscross modern Britain. His prose, as always, is richly lyrical and deftly made. This time he has a ghostly companion in the shape of Edward Thomas, the Georgian poet who wrote so compellingly about the Icknield Way before dying on the fields of France.
Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-1959 
David Kynaston Bloomsbury, £25 This is the latest volume in the historian's acclaimed series about Britain since 1945, Tales of a New Jerusalem. Focusing on the years of Harold Macmillan's first government, it echoes with the diverse voices of 1950s Britain, from Surbiton housewives ("Why should I spend all morning making scones?") to Enoch Powell's nationalist rhetoric. It is, writes Richard Davenport-Hines, a "shrewd, funny and ever-readable book".
GIF Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked
James Lasdun Jonathan Cape, £14.99 Creative-writing lecturer James Lasdun thought he was being warm and encouraging. His student mistook it for something more. Before Lasdun knew it, he was the victim of full-blown cyber-stalking. Give Me Everything You Have is a chilling excursion into memoir from a novelist who has never been afraid to stare down darkness.
5 Days in May. Future War 
Andrew Adonis Biteback Publishing, £12.99 No one knows better what went on during the tense days that followed the general election of May 2010 than Andrew Adonis, Labour's chief negotiator. Here he gives a gripping, West Wing-style account of the wheeling and dealing behind the scenes as both the major parties try to boss and flatter the Lib Dems into a coalition. Knowing the ending doesn't make the story any less gripping.
Be Awesome: Modern Life for Modern Ladies
Hadley Freeman Fourth Estate, £12.99 In this wry take on the self-help format, Hadley Freeman (of this parish) dispenses tips and jokes to youngish women. You'll find advice on dating, fashion and friendship, all delivered with Freeman's native New York brio. Behind the wit there are some hard, smart truths too.
The Norm Chronicles: Stories and Numbers About Danger 2027-2029
Michael Blastland and David Spiegelhalter Profile Books, £12.99 How dangerous is dangerous? The Norm Chronicles reduces jeopardy to a neat formula and invites you to conduct a risk assessment on yourself. One drink a day is good for you and the first 20 minutes of exercise are the ones that really matter. On the other hand, red meat can shave minutes off your life while cigs will lop it off in half-hour chunks.
This Boy: A Memoir of Childhood
Alan Johnson Bantam, £16.99 There's nothing of the misery memoir about Alan Johnson's account of his childhood in post-war London. Instead he gives us a moving portrait of the two extraordinary women who helped him thrive in circumstances that are frankly grim. There's Lily, his mother, who battled ill-health and domestic violence and his big sister Linda, who fought to keep him out of care. This is a generous and exacting book.
Patrick Leigh Fermor: An ADventure 
Artemis Cooper John Murray, pbk £9.99 Patrick Leigh Fermor's epic life might almost seem too big and bold for mere biography. But Artemis Cooper does a wonderful job of retelling the story of how "Paddy" tramped across Europe in the 1930s, slept with princesses and kidnapped Nazis on his beloved island of Crete. Affectionate but never credulous, Cooper gets the measure of the man.
The People's Songs: The Story of Modern Britain in 50 Records
Stuart Maconie Ebury Press, £13.99 In this love letter to the post-war pop song, Stuart Maconie argues that commercial music has managed to say more about love, war, death, sex and class than almost any other art form. Here he charts the 50 songs that have provided the soundtrack to our changing lives, from Vera Lynn's "We'll Meet Again" through "She Loves You" to "Radio Gaga". Think Proust, wrapped up in three and a half minutes.

Summer read
A History of Cricket in 100 Objects
Gavin Mortimer Serpent's Tail, £12.99 Gavin Mortimer tells an intriguing story about how cricket developed from a medieval village game to a huge global business. Along the way we meet stoic Yorkshiremen, American money-men and elegant Indians, all happy to explain the arcana of wicket and willow. You don't have to be a regular at Lord's to enjoy Mortimer's well-chosen anecdotes.
Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of The Great Gatsby 
Sarah Churchwell (Virago, £16.99) Sarah Churchwell ventures deep into the heart of the American Dream to explain the enduring fascination of F Scott Fitzgerald's brief but haunting novel. The result is a biography of a book that is also a portrait of an intoxicating era of jazz clubs, speakeasies, and organised crime. She even throws a sensational double murder into the mix to cast new light on Fitzgerald's masterpiece.
Jaron Lanier Allen Lane, £20 "Information is people in disguise," says computer scientist Jaron Lanier. He explores the impact of the digital revolution on the economy and individuals, arguing that in this age of big data our personal information should not be controlled and exploited by corporations.
The Sea Inside 
Philip Hoare Fourth Estate, £18.99 Philip Hoare won the 2009 Samuel Johnson prize for Leviathan or, The Whale. His latest book focuses on the ocean itself. In this evocative mix of cultural history and travel writing, Hoare dives with dolphins and discovers the lives and seascapes of the sailors, scientists, and others who have loved the briny. Ideal beach reading.
Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation Sushi 
Michael Pollan Allen Lane, £20 This is a heartfelt paean to one of the most fundamental human activities: cooking. Pollan celebrates the ancient ways in which we used the elements to transform raw food, and argues that our modern fast-food diets are literally killing us. We would all be much healthier and happier if we spent more time in the kitchen rather than watching celebrity chefs on TV.
Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting, and Why It Still Matters 
Philip Hensher Macromedia, £16.99 In an age when typing threatens to make handwriting redundant, Philip Hensher argues that we should treasure it as a vital expression of human individuality. From Elizabeth I's signature and the invention of copperplate in the 18th century, to the 19th-century pseudo-science of divining character from writing and the modern ballpoint pen, Hensher guides us through the very human history of handwriting.
The Cloud Atlas: The Story of the Movies and What They Did to Us 
David Thomson Allen Lane, £25 Praised by John Banville as "probably the best overview of the cinema ever written", this is a passionate and deeply nostalgic love letter to the silver screen. For Thomson, now in his 70s, the cinema is a magical place where dreams come alive, and where people's views of love, identity and desire are shaped. In this hefty history, Thomson travels from "Muybridge to Facebook", and hails the golden age of the movies as one of the great achievements of human civilisation.
Money: The Unauthorised Biography 
Felix Martin Bodley Head, £20 Felix Martin, an economist and fund manager, wants to change the way you think about money. He rejects the textbook idea that it's an alternative to barter, the oil in the engine of the world economy. He sees money as a liberating (though unstable) system of creating and exchanging credit. This original and thought-provoking history of what's in your wallet also offers some controversial solutions to the financial crisis, such as raising inflation levels and writing off national debts.
Wave: HELP
Sonali Deraniyagala Little, Brown, £12.99 On 26 December 2004, Sonali Deraniyagala was enjoying a holiday in Sri Lanka with her two sons, her husband and parents when the tsunami struck, knocking her unconscious and sweeping her family away. She never saw them again. "The most moving book I have ever read about grief," was how William Dalrymple described it.

Francis Spufford Faber, pbk £8.99 Francis Spufford says he doesn't know if God exists. But nor, he points out, does Richard Dawkins. What Spufford does know, though, is that there are things about Christianity that feel right and good, and can't be got elsewhere. Unapologetic is a sharp, witty defence of faith which proves that, sometimes, the Devil doesn't have the best tunes.

On the MapMassaraksh.
Simon Garfield Profile, £16.99 From the early sketches of Antarctica to today's Google Earth, Simon Garfield explores how maps relate and re-imagine our history. We meet a whole cast of cartographical characters, including guesswork surveyors, unreliable navigators and sticky-fingered fraudsters. It's this wonkiness that fascinates Garfield most, as he reveals how maps are, in fact, another species of fiction. A book in which to get pleasurably lost.

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