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Biography

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body

Roxane Gay

$32.99
"I ate and ate and ate in the hope that if I made myself big, my body would be safe. I buried the girl I was because she ran into all kinds of trouble. I tried to erase every memory of her, but she is still there, somewhere... I was trapped in my body, one that I barely recognised or understood, but at least I was safe."

New York Times bestselling author Roxane Gay has written with intimacy and sensitivity about food and bodies, using her own emotional and psychological struggles as a means of exploring our shared anxieties over pleasure, consumption, appearance and health. As a woman who describes her own body as  wildly undisciplined, she understands the tension between desire and denial, between self-comfort and self-care.

In Hunger, she casts an insightful and critical eye over her childhood, teens and 20s - including the devastating act of violence that acted as a turning point in her young life - and brings readers into the present, and the realities, pains and joys of her daily life. With the bracing candour, vulnerability and authority that have made her one of the most admired voices of her generation, she explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen.

Hunger is a deeply personal memoir from one of our finest writers, telling a story that hasn't yet been told, but needs to be.
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The Fall of the House of Wilde: Oscar Wilde and His Family

The Fall of the House of Wilde: Oscar Wilde and His Family

Emer O'Sullivan

$24.99
'Emer O'Sullivan has made an indispensable contribution to Wildean literature ...Compelling, informative and fascinating' Stephen Fry Oscar Wilde's father - scientist, surgeon, archaeologist, writer - was one of the most eminent men of his generation. His mother - poet, journalist, translator - hosted an influential salon at 1 Merrion Square. Together they were one of Victorian Ireland's most dazzling and enlightened couples. When, in 1864, Sir William Wilde was accused of sexually assaulting a female patient, it sent shock waves through Dublin society. After his death some ten years later, Jane attempted to re-establish the family in London, where Oscar burst irrepressibly upon the scene, only to fall in a trial as public as his father's. A remarkable and perceptive account, The Fall of the House of Wilde is a major repositioning of our first modern celebrity, a man whose fall from grace marked the end of fin de siecle decadence.
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Mathilde Wesendonck, Isolde's Dream

Mathilde Wesendonck, Isolde's Dream

Judith Cabaud

$47.99
The biography of Mathilde Wesendonck is the untold and fascinating story of this woman's inspiring influence on the major works of Richard Wagner, based on facts related in their correspondence and other authentic documents.

Under the influence of her aura, Wagner composed Tristan and Isolde , Rhinegold , The Walkyrie , the first two acts of Siegfried , The Meistersinger , the outline for Parsifal , and the music for the Wesendonck Lieder on Mathilde's poems. The discovery of unedited letters by author Judith Cabaud sheds new light on Wagner's life and works. After the Revolution of 1848, Wagner, like many others, found refuge in Switzerland.

In Zurich, Mathilde's husband, Otto, befriended and financially supported the composer in his musical endeavors. As neighbors, Mathilde sent her poems to Wagner and received them back accompanied by the music of the Wesendonck Lieder. When he sent the poem of Tristan, it had become a reality, their reality. The two lovers then had to choose between union or separation from their respective families. Torn apart, they began a passionate exchange of letters later censored by Wagner's second wife, Cosima Liszt. Many documents were falsified or destroyed.

After Wagner, Mathilde aspired to continue to be the muse of a great musician. With Brahms, she wanted to write the libretto for an opera, which the master could not compose. Her poems and her plays remained consistent with her life, which was the story of love, fidelity, and sacrifice.
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Biographic Austen: Great Lives in Graphic Form

Biographic Austen: Great Lives in Graphic Form

Sophie Collins

$19.99
A unique and fun way to know your Jane! 50 defining facts, dates, thoughts, habits and achievements of Jane Austen, presented with infographics.

Many people know that Austen was one of the greatest literary voices in history. What, perhaps, they don't know is that she was one of eight children of a clergyman; that all of her novels were originally published anonymously; and that she once accepted a marriage proposal, but changed her mind the following day.

These vivid snapshots are a quick-fire journey through truths and trivia that is the most entertaining way to follow in the footsteps of Jane.
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My Turn: The Autobiography

My Turn: The Autobiography

Johan Cruyff

$22.99
Johan Cruyff is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in football history. Throughout his playing career, he was synonymous with Total Football, a style of play in which every player could play in any position on the pitch. Today, his philosophy lives on in teams across Europe, from Barcelona to Bayern Munich and players from Lionel Messi to Cesc Fabrecas.

My Turn tells the story of Cruyff's life starting at Ajax, where he won eight national titles and three European Cups before moving to Barcelona where he won La Liga in his first season, in 1973, and was named European Footballer of the Year. He won the Ballon d'Or three times, and led the Dutch national team to the final of the 1974 World Cup, famously losing to West Germany, and receiving the Golden Ball as the player of the tournament.

While on the field Cruyff was in total control, off the field his life was more turbulent with a kidnapping attempt and bankruptcy. After retiring in 1984, he became a hugely successful manager of Ajax and then Barcelona when he won the Champions league with a young Pep Guardiola in his team. In 1999 Cruyff was voted European Player of the Century, and came second behind Pelé in the World Player of the Century poll.

In March 2016 Cruyff died after a short battle with lung cancer bringing world football to a standstill in an outpouring of emotions. A brilliant teacher and analyst of the game he love, My Turn is Johan Cruyff's legacy.
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Gonzo Girl

Gonzo Girl

Cheryl Della Pietra

$19.99
Alley Russo is a recent college grad desperately trying to make it in the gruelling world of New York publishing, but like so many who have come before her, she has no connections and has settled for an unpaid magazine internship while slinging drinks on Bleecker Street just to make ends meet.

That's when she hears the infamous Walker Reade is looking for an assistant to replace the eight others who have recently quit. Hungry for a chance to get her manuscript onto the desk of an experienced editor, Alley jumps at the opportunity to help Reade finish his latest novel.

After surviving an absurd three-day 'trial period' involving a .44 magnum, purple-pyramid acid, violent verbal outbursts, brushes with fame and the law, a bevy of peacocks, and a whole lot of cocaine, Alley is invited to stay at the compound where Reade works. For months Alley attempts to coax the novel out of Walker page-by-page, all while battling his endless procrastination, vampiric schedule, Herculean substance abuse, mounting debt, and casual gunplay.

But as the job begins to take a toll on her psyche, Alley realises she's alone in the Colorado Rockies at the mercy of a drug-addicted literary icon who may never produce another novel-and her fate may already be sealed.
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Dashing for the Post: The Letters of Patrick Leigh Fermor

Dashing for the Post: The Letters of Patrick Leigh Fermor

Patrick Leigh Fermor ,  Adam Sisman

$22.99
A revelatory collection of letters written by the author of THE BROKEN ROAD.

Handsome, spirited and erudite, Patrick Leigh Fermor was a war hero and one of the greatest travel writers of his generation. He was also a spectacularly gifted friend.

The letters in this collection span almost seventy years, the first written ten days before Paddy's twenty-fifth birthday, the last when he was ninety-four. His correspondents include Deborah Devonshire, Ann Fleming, Nancy Mitford, Lawrence Durrell, Diana Cooper and his lifelong companion, Joan Rayner; he wrote his first letter to her in his cell at the monastery Saint Wandrille, the setting for his reflections on monastic life in A TIME TO KEEP SILENCE. His letters exhibit many of his most engaging characteristics: his zest for life, his unending curiosity, his lyrical descriptive powers, his love of language, his exuberance and his tendency to get into scrapes - particularly when drinking and, quite separately, driving.

Here are plenty of extraordinary stories: the hunt for Byron's slippers in one of the remotest regions of Greece; an ignominious dismissal from Somerset Maugham's Villa Mauresque; hiding behind a bush to dub Dirk Bogarde into Greek during the shooting of Ill Met by Moonlight, the film based on the story of General Kreipe's abduction; his extensive travels. Some letters contain glimpses of the great and the good, while others are included purely for the joy of the jokes.
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Painting the Sand

Painting the Sand

Kim Hughes ,  Sean Rayment

$32.99
Kim Hughes is the most highly decorated bomb disposal operator serving in the British Army. He was awarded the George Cross in 2009 following a grueling six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan during which he defused 119 improvised explosive devices, survived numerous Taliban ambushes and endured a close encounter with the Secretary of State for Defence. The back drop to Painting the Sand will be the Afghan War, the conflict where the cold courage of the bomb disposal operator rose to national prominence. No other field of warfare offers the chance of a single individual to come so close to his enemy and fight out a battle of wits where losing can means death. This is one of the best memoirs that will come out of a ten-year struggle to defeat a hidden, and enduring, enemy.
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Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father

Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father

Thomas S. Kidd

$54.99
A major new biography, illuminating the great mystery of Benjamin Franklin's faith Renowned as a printer, scientist, and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin also published more works on religious topics than any other eighteenth-century American layperson. Born to Boston Puritans, by his teenage years Franklin had abandoned the exclusive Christian faith of his family and embraced deism. But Franklin, as a man of faith, was far more complex than the thorough deist who emerges in his autobiography. As Thomas Kidd reveals, deist writers influenced Franklin's beliefs, to be sure, but devout Christians in his life-including George Whitefield, the era's greatest evangelical preacher; his parents; and his beloved sister Jane-kept him tethered to the Calvinist creed of his Puritan upbringing. Based on rigorous research into Franklin's voluminous correspondence, essays, and almanacs, this fresh assessment of a well-known figure unpacks the contradictions and conundrums faith presented in Franklin's life.
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Reading With Patrick: A Teacher, a Student and the Life-Changing Power of Books

Reading With Patrick: A Teacher, a Student and the Life-Changing Power of Books

Michelle Kuo

$29.99
As a young English teacher keen to make a difference in the world, Michelle Kuo took a job at a tough school in the Mississippi Delta, sharing books and poetry with a young African-American teenager named Patrick and his classmates. For the first time, these kids began to engage with ideas and dreams beyond their small town, and to gain an insight into themselves that they had never had before. Two years later, Michelle left to go to law school; but Patrick began to lose his way, ending up jailed for murder. And that's when Michelle decided that her work was not done, and began to visit Patrick once a week, and soon every day, to read with him again. Reading with Patrick is an inspirational story of friendship, a coming-of-age story for both a young teacher and a student, an expansive, deeply resonant meditation on education, race and justice, and a love letter to literature and its power to transcend social barriers.
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Marching with the Devil: Legends, Glory and Lies in the French Foreign Legion

Marching with the Devil: Legends, Glory and Lies in the French Foreign Legion

David Mason

$16.99
A real-life boy's own adventure, Marching with the Devil is a hell-raising account of five years in the infamous French Foreign Legion.

'In 1894 a French Foreign Legion General said, "Legionnaires, vous etes faits pour mourir, je vous envoie la ou on meurt." Legionnaires, you are made for dying, I will send you where you can die. When I was in my mid-teens and first read those words they were powerful and confronting. I read them as a challenge and an invitation. The words, and the feelings they evoked, remained with me until I was ready. On 20 May 1988, I enlisted in the French Foreign Legion.'

Searching for something he wasn't finding in his life in Australia, David Mason joined the French Foreign Legion. This is a frank account of how Mason came first in basic training, trained other Legionnaires, went to Africa, did sniper, commando and medic training and took part in two operations, both in the Republic of Djibouti where a civil war nearly crippled the nation. It tells of his daily life in the Legion, in the training regiment, in Africa and with the Legion's Parachute Regiment.

But more than this: it reveals his disillusionment, frustration and disappointment with the much mythologised Legion, and how the Legion today is not what it seems - or could be. Now part of the Hachette Military Collection.
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Flesh and Blood: A History of My Family in Seven Maladies

Flesh and Blood: A History of My Family in Seven Maladies

Stephen McGann

$39.99
His family survived famine-ravaged Ireland in the 1850s.

His ancestors settled in poverty-rife Victorian Liverpool, working to survive and thrive.

Some of them became soldiers serving on the Western Front.

One would be the last man to step off the SS Titanic as it sank beneath the icy waves. He would testify at the inquest.

This is their story.

Stephen McGann is Doctor Turner in the BBC hit-drama series Call the Midwife.

Flesh and Blood is the story of the McGann family as told through seven maladies – diseases, wounds or ailments that have afflicted Stephen’s relatives over the last century and a half, and which have helped mould him into what he now perceives himself to be. It’s the story of how health, or the lack of it, fuels our collective will and informs our personal narrative. Health is the motivational antagonist in the drama of our life story - circumscribing the extent of our actions, the quality of our character and the breadth of our ambition. Our maladies are the scribes that write the restless and mutating genome of our self-identity.

Flesh and Blood combines McGann’s passion for genealogy with an academic interest in the social dimensions of medicine – and fuses these with a lifelong exploration of drama as a way to understand what motivates human beings to do the things they do. He looks back at scenes from his own life that were moulded by medical malady, and traces the crooked roots of each affliction through the lives of his ancestors, whose grim maladies punctuate the public documents or military records of his family tree. In this way he asks a simple, searching question: how have these maladies helped to shape the story of the person he is today?
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The Shipwreck Hunter: A Lifetime of Extraordinary Discovery and Adventure in the Deep Seas

The Shipwreck Hunter: A Lifetime of Extraordinary Discovery and Adventure in the Deep Seas

David L. Mearns

$32.99
David Mearns, the man who discovered the wreck of HMAS Sydney, takes us on an extraordinary voyage through his amazing career as one of the world's most successful shipwreck hunters.

David Mearns has found some of the world's most fascinating and elusive shipwrecks. His deep-water searches have solved the 66-year mystery of HMAS Sydney, discovered the final resting place of the mighty battlecruiser HMS Hood and revealed the Australian Hospital Ship Centaur in the narrow underwater canyon that served as its grave. His painstaking historical detective work has led to the shallow reefs of a remote island that hid the crumbling wooden skeletons of Vasco de Gama's sixteenth century fleet.

The Shipwreck Hunter is the compelling story of David's life and work on the seas, focusing on some of his most intriguing discoveries. It details the extraordinary techniques used, the research and the mid-ocean stamina and courage needed to find a wreck kilometres beneath the sea, as well as the moving human stories that lie behind each of these oceanic tragedies.

Part detective story, part history and part deep ocean adventure, The Shipwreck Hunter is a unique insight into a hidden, underwater world.
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The Book of Emma Reyes: A Memoir in Correspondence

The Book of Emma Reyes: A Memoir in Correspondence

Emma Reyes ,  Daniel Alarcon

$29.99
This astonishing memoir of a childhood lived in extreme poverty in Latin America was hailed as an instant classic when first published in Colombia in 2012, nine years after the death of its author, who was encouraged in her writing by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Comprised of letters written over the course of thirty years, it describes in vivid, painterly detail the remarkable courage and limitless imagination of a young girl growing up with nothing.

Emma was an illegitimate child, raised in a windowless room in Bogota with no water or toilet and only ingenuity to keep her and her sister alive. Abandoned by their mother, she and her sister moved to a convent housing 150 orphan girls, where they washed pots, ironed and mended laundry, scrubbed floors, cleaned bathrooms, and sewed garments and decorative cloths for church. Illiterate and knowing nothing of the outside world, Emma escaped at age nineteen, eventually coming to have a career as an artist and to befriend the likes of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.

Far from self-pitying, the portrait that emerges from this clear-eyed account inspires awe at the stunning early life of a gifted writer whose talent remained hidden for far too long.
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Miracles Do Happen

Miracles Do Happen

Felix Rosenbloom ,  Fela Rosenbloom

$27.99
In 1933, a 10-year-old Jewish girl, Fela Perelman, befriended a new family that had moved into her street in Lodz, Poland. There were three children in the Rozenblum family - Rose, Felix, and Maria. Fela and Rose became best friends, while Felix kept his distance. Five years later, Fela and Felix discovered that they liked each other, and soon became sweethearts.

When war broke out not long after, the Jews of Lodz found themselves under German occupation, and were soon forced into a ghetto. For Fela and her family, and her community, it was the start of a descent into hell. Fela eventually survived the ghetto, forced labour in Germany, and then the last 17 months of Auschwitz’s existence and the death march out of it.

For Felix, the Germans’ intentions were crystal-clear. Late in November 1939, as a 17-year-old, he decided to flee eastward, to Soviet-controlled Polish territory. He begged his family to come with him, but they felt unable to. Felix spent the war doing forced labour in the Soviet Union, often in very harsh conditions.

After the war, miraculously, Fela and Felix found each other. None of Fela’s family had survived. Of Felix’s immediate family, only his two sisters had survived - and they were now in Sweden. The young couple were bereft and alone. This is their story.
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Walks with Walser

Walks with Walser

Carl Seelig ,  Anne Posten

$22.95
After a nervous breakdown in 1929, Robert Walser spent the remaining twenty-seven years of his life in mental asylums, closed off from the rest of the world in almost complete anonymity. While at the Herisau sanitarium, instead of writing, Walser practiced another favorite activity: walking. Starting in 1936, Carl Seelig, Walser's friend and literary executor, visited and accompanied him on these walks, meticulously recording their conversations. As they strolled, Walser told stories, shared his daily experiences of the sanatorium, and expressed his opinions about books and art, writing and history. When Seelig asked why he no longer wrote, Walser famously replied: I'm not here to write, I'm here to be mad. Filled with lively anecdotes and details, Walks with Walser offers the fullest available account of this wonderful writer's inner and outer life.
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Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate

Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate

Zoe Quinn

$49.95
You've heard the stories about the dark side of the internet - hackers, #gamergate, anonymous mobs attacking an unlucky victim, and revenge porn - but they remain just that: stories. Surely these things would never happen to you.

Zoe Quinn used to feel the same way. She is a video game developer whose ex-boyfriend published a crazed blog post cobbled together from private information, half-truths, and outright fictions, along with a rallying cry to the online hordes to go after her. They answered in the form of a so-called movement known as #gamergate - they hacked her accounts; stole nude photos of her; harassed her family, friends, and colleagues; and threatened to rape and murder her. But instead of shrinking into silence as the online mobs wanted her to, she raised her voice and spoke out against this vicious online culture and for making the internet a safer place for everyone.

In the years since #gamergate, Quinn has helped thousands of people with her advocacy and online-abuse crisis resource Crash Override Network. From locking down victims' personal accounts to working with tech companies and lawmakers to inform policy, she has firsthand knowledge about every angle of online abuse, what powerful institutions are (and aren't) doing about it, and how we can protect our digital spaces and selves.

Crash Override offers an up-close look inside the controversy, threats, and social and cultural battles that started in the far corners of the internet and have since permeated our online lives. Through her story - as target and as activist - Quinn provides a human look at the ways the internet impacts our lives and culture, along with practical advice for keeping yourself and others safe online.
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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

J. D. Vance

$24.99
‘Hillbilly Elegy’ is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis – that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of the United States that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in post-war America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir with its share of humour and vividly colourful figures, ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of the country.
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