A Harvard Professor of Chinese History, Michael Puett found he was repeatedly being asked the same question: how can the ideas, taught in his classes, be put to use in modern life? Intrigued, he teamed up with Christine Gross-Loh to write The Path, a fresh and accessible look at Chinese philosophy that makes the bold claim that the teachings of Confucius, Zhuangzi and Mencius can change your life for the better. Exploring ancient Chinese thought within the framework of modern culture, the book has one simple, essential lesson to impart: the smallest actions have the most profound ramifications. Here, Christine Gross-Loh explains how we could all use a little steer in the right direction.
Posted on 3rd Feb, 2017 by Sally Campbell
Our Non-Fiction Book of The Month for February, The Romanovs 1613–1918 by Simon Sebag Montefiore, is an exceptional example of this year’s reflections on the 100 years that have passed since the climactic Russian revolutions of 1917. It is one of those once-in-a-decade texts that brings the past acutely into the present; the author’s inexhaustible research and deftness for story-telling sealing a vast but still intimate chronology of Russia’s twenty sovereigns.
Of course, the history of Russia is as vast as the nation itself, a daunting prospect for anyone looking to properly unpick its past. Exclusively for Waterstones, Simon Sebag Montefiore presents his own reading roadmap to those eager to explore the Russian adventure.
Two years following the death of its author, neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air was posthumously published to global acclaim, working as both a candid portrait of the symptoms and treatment of cancer and as a meditative essay on what it is to prepare for death. As Being Mortal’s Atul Guwande observed, ‘the dying are the ones who have the most to teach us about life.’ As our Non-Fiction Book of the Month for January, we’re honoured to be able to present Kalanithi’s introduction to this remarkable memoir, an extract deeply affecting in itself.
Our Non-fiction Book of the Month for November, The Optician of Lampedusa, is a volume that has the power to provoke true change. It is the sum of desperate, human horror: an ordinary man suddenly pitched against unimaginable circumstance. Award-winning BBC journalist Emma-Jane Kirby was no stranger to the misery of the migrant plight, but something in this account – which began, as was usual, as a piece for radio – simply refused to fade away. Exclusive for Waterstones, Kirby looks back on the book’s beginnings.
£5 of every copy sold will be donated to Oxfam in support of their work with refugees.
Posted on 30th Sep, 2016 by Sally Campbell
In 1943, three Italian prisoners of war escaped from their prison camp and climbed Mount Kenya with homemade climbing equipment and no maps or proper rations. The story has since passed into climbing legend and is preserved in the mountaineering classic, our Non-fiction Book of the Month for October No Picnic on Mount Kenya written by the escapees’ ringleader, Felice Benuzzi. Here, his daughter, Silvia Benuzzi, shares the story of her father’s remarkable adventure on Mount Kenya, and discusses the guiding philosophy that motivated him both during his years of captivity and his life after the war.
Our Non-fiction Book of the Month for September is Amy Liptrot's searing, candid, Wainright Prize-winning debut The Outrun. Here, she further explores one of the elements touched on in the book: the idea that technology can in fact bring us closer to nature even in a place as remote as Papay, Orkney
Over twenty-four years at Sky News, author and journalist Tim Marshall reported from many of the world’s primary flashpoints (including a distinguished stint covering the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s) and as their Middle East Correspondent charted Gaza’s disengagement in 2005 and the uprisings across the Arab World. His blog Foreign Matters was short-listed for the Orwell Prize in 2005.
Nicholas Lezard in the Evening Standard called Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography ‘one of the best books about geopolitics you could imagine,’ and after a winning stint as a Waterstones Book of the Month was shortlisted as a Waterstones Book of the Year for 2016. In this Waterstones exclusive, the author considered exactly where his cartographic obsession began.
Pilot Mark Vanhoenacker is the author of our Non-fiction Book of the Month Skyfaring. After leaving academia, Vanhoenacker initially worked as a management consultant. Regular flying rekindled his childhood dream of becoming a pilot and he began flight training in 2001. Today, as a Senior First Officer for British Airways, Vanhoenacker flies Boeing 747s to major cities all around the world and when he isn't at flight level, finds time to regularly contribute to The New York Times and Slate. For Waterstones, he here explores the relationship between music and flying
Dr. Peter Frankopan is a historian and Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University whose writing has featured in The New York Times, The Financial Times and The Guardian. His internationally bestselling The Silk Roads, which was our Waterstones Non-fiction book of the Month in June, charts the history and resurgence of that once glorious transportation network. The challenging and dazzling work rewrites history from an Eastern perspective and argues why we need to rethink our Western bias.
Posted on 29th Apr, 2016 by Peter Whitehead & Martha Greengrass
For some years, Cathy Rentzenbrink was a fellow soldier-in-arms at Waterstones, beginning her career as a bookseller across several of our stores in London. Ultimately she fled the nest to become Project Director to the charity Quick Reads and now, as a full-time writer and books journalist, a familiar voice in British publishing. Regional buyer Martha Greengrass introduces Cathy’s heartbreakingly honest memoir, The Last Act of Love.
Posted on 1st Mar, 2016 by Sally Campbell
James Rebanks' The Shepherd’s Life is a revelation. It is poetic, evocative and grounded in a lifestyle that has remained unchanged for thousands of years.
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