Lessons and Letters from History

Presenting Our Books of the Month for October

October's crop of recommended reading provides both warnings and wisdom from the past, with a deftly executed novella about Europe's freefall into the Second World War and an anthology of eye-opening missives from history's good, bad and ugly. Elsewhere, we follow a compelling Nigerian tale of sisterly love and mass murder, and take our seats aboard the magical sleigh, Frostheart.


Fiction Book of the Month

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Hitler's manipulative, insidious path to Austrian invasion told with dead-pan documentary realism and deliciously understated irony, The Order of the Day is a mordantly funny and darkly disturbing novella. Told in staccato bursts and combining expertly researched real events with precisely imagined detail, it provides a unique and disconcerting perspective both on those who spearheaded Germany’s grim descent into war and on the fresh resonance of those moments today.

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Non-Fiction Book of the Month

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Curated with immense skill and eye for intriguing juxtapositions by Simon Sebag Montefiore, the one hundred plus letters contained within Written in History provide a fascinating window into the private and public lives of history's greatest figures. Arranged thematically this collection of correspondence provides an enlightening parallel narrative to the linear march of conventional history, and includes missives by everybody from Rameses to Trump, by way of Elizabeth I and Nelson Mandela.

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Thriller of the Month

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Sharp, menacing and darkly funny, this debut novel from Nigerian author Oyinkan Braithwaite is not just an inventive take on the serial-murder thriller but also a tender examination of sibling relationships in an oppressively patriarchal society. A wickedly original story that turns the tables on the woman-as-victim trope, My Sister the Serial Killer is an addictive - and hugely satisfying - read. 'Pulpy, peppery and sinister,’ as the New York Times writes, ‘this scorpion-tailed little thriller leaves a response, and a sting, you will remember.'

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Children's Book of the Month

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Glittering with wintry wonder, this debut children’s novel takes a sleigh ride into the heart of a magical adventure. With a wonderfully visual sense of storytelling honed by an illustrious illustrating career providing pictures for the likes of Danny Wallace’s Hamish series and modern editions of The Famous Five, Jamie Littler pitches a diminutive Arctic hero and his disagreeable yeti guardian into a rollicking adventure aboard the mighty sleigh Frostheart.
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Scottish Book of the Month

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Oscillating between the present day and the Nazi occupied France of World War II, Manda Scott’s elegantly twisting espionage thriller probes the scars left by the legacy of the Resistance and the desperate lengths people will go to keep old secrets buried for good. When horrific methods of torture appear on the corpse of an elderly woman, maverick police inspector Ines Picault is thrown back into the darkest days of the Second World War and a chilling story of collaboration and retribution. Winner of the McIlvanney Prize for crime writing, A Treachery of Spies is a new breed of espionage thriller.
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Irish Book of the Month

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Reviewing thirty years of dissident warfare and community division, Patrick Radden Keefe uses the lives of two very different women – one a notorious murderer, the other a condemned informant – to provide a fresh path through the conflict’s well-trodden ground. Presenting the disappearance of a mother of ten in 1970s Belfast as a microcosm of the grueling Northern Irish Troubles as a whole, Say Nothing condemns a culture of silence and blind sectarian loyalty for exacerbating the sufferings of ordinary people.
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Welsh Book of the Month

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Wonderfully democratic and inclusive, this anthology reflects the favourite poems of Great Britain, as chosen by everyone from world-famous astronauts to primary school teachers. Published to coincide with National Poetry Day, this collection explores the theme of truth through a diverse and always unpredictable range of verse, resulting in an essential store of poems to combat the increasing prevalence of concepts such as post-truth and fake news. With a beautiful introduction from Welsh songbird Cerys Matthews, Tell Me the Truth About Life is a deftly curated and timely collection. 

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