What the books are about
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia have enchanted millions of readers over the last 50 years and the magical events described in CS Lewis’ immortal prose have left many a lasting memory for adults and children alike. All seven Chronicles are bound together in this paperback edition. Here is a world where a witch decrees eternal winter, where there are more talking animals than people, and where battles are fought by centaurs, giants and fauns.
Onitsha tells the story of Fintan, a youth who travels to Africa in 1948 with his Italian mother to join the English father he has never met. Fintan is initially enchanted by the exotic world he discovers in Onitsha, a bustling city situated on the eastern bank of the Niger River. But gradually he comes to recognise the intolerance and brutality of the colonial system. His youthful point of view provides the novel with a notably direct, horrified perspective on racism and colonialism. In the words of translator Alison Anderson, Onitsha is remarkable for its “almost mythological evocation of local history and beliefs”. It is full of atmosphere — sights, sounds, smells — and at times the author’s sentences seem to flow with the dreamy languor of the river itself. But JMG Le Clezio “never lets us forget the harsh realities of life nor the subsequent tragedy of war”. A startling account — and indictment — of colonialism, Onitsha is also a work of clear, forthright prose that ably portrays both colonial Nigeria and a young boy’s growing outrage.
Ways of Seeing
Despite the fact that it was first published in 1972, this book on the psychological and social implications of visual imagery is just as relevant now as it was then. Over six essays, Berger encourages the reader to see the world with new eyes to allow greater understanding of the images around them. He shows how the viewer can go beyond the surface of paintings, photographs and other images to see how even the tiniest details are part of the overall reading and perception of that image.
Tom Vanderbilt is one of our best and most interesting writers, with an extraordinary knack for looking at everyday life and explaining, in wonderful and entertaining detail, how it really works. It doesn’t matter whether you drive or take the bus — you’re going to want to read this book. — James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds
“A great, deep, multidisciplinary investigation of the dynamics and the psychology of traffic jams. Anyone who spends more than 19 minutes a day in traffic should read it.” — Nassim
Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan
“Fascinating, illuminating and endlessly entertaining as well. Vanderbilt shows how a sophisticated understanding of human behaviour can illuminate one of the modern world’s most basic and most mysterious endeavours. You’ll learn a lot; and the life you save may be your own.” — Cass R Sunstein, co-author of Nudge
“Everyone who drives — and many people who don’t — should read this book. It is a psychology book, a popular science book, and a how-to-save-your-life manual, all rolled into one. I found it gripping and fascinating from the very beginning to the very end.” — Tyler Cowen, author of Discover Your Inner Economist
The Poe Shadow
This title is set in Baltimore, 1849. The body of Edgar Allan Poe has been buried in an unmarked grave. The conclusion that Poe was a second-rate writer who died a drunkard is accepted by all. But none of this deters Quentin Clark, an ardent admirer, who risks his own career and reputation in a passionate crusade to salvage Poe’s. Clark discovers Poe’s last days are riddled with vital unanswered questions. But just when Poe’s death looks destined to remain a mystery, Quentin seeks out the one person who can solve this strange case: the real-life model for Poe’s brilliant fictional detective character, C Auguste Dupin. Having successfully recruited the man he believes to have inspired Poe’s Dupin, Clarke is confronted by another claiming to be the true model. The two master detectives each seek to prove he is the real ‘Dupin’.