What we’re reading: 1st April, 2014

Our booksellers share some of their favourite books of the moment…

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh

Do No Harm by Henry Marsh reviewed by Jonathan O'Brien

Reviewed by Jonathan O’Brien

Brain surgeons have arguably one of the most interesting jobs in the world. They have to operate on possibly the least understood part of our bodies with the understanding that the slightest mistake can have irreversible effects on how a person thinks.

In this memoir, neurosurgeon Henry Marsh explains not just the stress and difficulties of his job but also the emotional pain and psychological pressure brought on when things go wrong. His entirely frank account is a fascinating insight into a profession that until recently seemed shrouded in mystery. It’s brilliant, one of the best memoirs there’s ever been about the medical profession.

All That is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon

All That is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon reviewed by Kerry Meech

Reviewed by Kerry Meech

Not only is this one of the best books I have read so far this year, but it is also one of the best looking ones too (seriously, never before has a dust jacket looked so gorgeous!). Set in Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine, this startling debut chronicles the journey of four characters as their lives are forever changed by events in one small Ukrainian town, Chernobyl. At once terrifying and beautiful, All that is Solid Melts into Air, could easily pass for an authoritative piece of non-fiction; the line between fact and fiction is barely visible. Indeed, for those of you finding yourself on the verge of googling ‘closest nuclear reactor’. Don’t. Not since reading Brother in the Land, have I had so many sleepless nights.

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair
by Joël Dicker

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker reviewed by Paul Fox

Reviewed by Paul Fox

A successful writer becomes caught-up in trying to solve an old murder case, in a small community far from the city he lives in. Loosely speaking, this could also be the plot of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but really there the similarity ends. This is a rare treat, a literary whodunit, based in New England and written in a compelling style that’s been compared to Phillip Roth and Jonathan Franzen. What’s all the more unusual, is that it’s a debut novel from a young Swiss author, which has already been a huge bestseller elsewhere in Europe. It had me guessing right to the end, even as the mystery began to unravel, proving itself to be far from a conventional crime novel.

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark reviewed by Dan Lewis

Reviewed by Dan Lewis

Unlike fellow journalist turned novelist James Naughtie, Kirsty Wark’s debut couldn’t be further removed from the intrigues of Westminster politics. Set on the Scottish Island of Arran, it is a gentle but compelling mystery with an unusual protagonist – an elderly woman. Tackling with quiet honesty questions of familial responsibility, maternal loss, dementia and our perception of the elderly, this is a first novel of conviction and beauty which demands and rewards slow, considered reading.

Red Love: The story of an East German Family by Maxim Leo

Red Love: The story of an East German Family by Maxim Leo reviewed by Dominic Kennerk

Reviewed by Dominic Kennerk

This November marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall so this is just one of many books which will be published in the coming months to coincide with the anniversary, which is great if like me you are fascinated by Post-War Berlin.

Red Love is a compelling and intimate account of the author’s experience of growing up in shadow of the Berlin Wall in the German Democratic Republic. Writing with honesty, wit and insight, Maxim Leo has succeeded in capturing a personal snap shot of a world which no longer exists.

Visions of Heresy by Alan Merrett

Visions of Heresy by Alan Merrett reviewed by Paul Carter

Reviewed by Paul Carter

Visions of Heresy is the culmination of the 28-book-long storytelling and artistic endeavour, The Horus Heresy series. The coffee-table sized book lays out the entire epic narrative in short form alongside full-page glossy artwork from the series, including the iconic cover images. As someone who’s read and enjoyed several of the books in the series I couldn’t help myself and had to pick up a copy – I was not disappointed.

The book does a great job of showcasing the top-class illustrations of popular Warhammer 40k concept artists whilst deftly condensing and navigating the monumental storyline into something manageable in an evening. Be prepared to sit down and lose several hours exploring both the art and the text.

Gironimo! by Tim Moore

Gironimo! by Tim Moore reviewed by Greg Eden

Reviewed by Greg Eden

Tim Moore is one of the funniest travel writers around, and this account of his attempt to re-enact the 1914 Giro d’Italia, which has gone down in cycling history as the toughest bike race ever staged, really hits the spot.
Moore has perfected the art of self-deprecation, and specialises in accounts of the unprepared versus the insurmountable, whether riding the route of the Tour de France, walking 500 miles tethered to an intransigent donkey, or on a Greenland glacier, in the sights of a hungry polar bear.

Blessed with the mechanical skills of a sea lion in oven gloves, and having barely ridden a bike in anger in 10 years, Moore rebuilds a hundred year-old gearless bike, and rides it 3,000km round the 1914 Giro route, in vintage kit, with hilarious results.

Whether you’re into sport, travel writing, or history – or you just like a good laugh, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. A non-fiction gem for the Spring.

What do you think?