Archive for November, 2015

November 24, 2015

Fabulous advent calendars now in!

by Team Riverside

We have many excellent advent calendars now in store – get yours now!  Father Christmas, Battersea Cats and Dogs Home, 3D, wild animals… We also have a huge range of unusual Christmas cards, gift bags and wrap, and ribbons.Father xmas advent calendar 151124

November 18, 2015

Signed copies in now – Jonathan Coe and Sebastian Faulks

by Team Riverside

Now in store – limited supplies of signed copies of Number 11 by Jonathan Coe, and also of Where My Heart Used to Beat by Sebastian Faulks.

Both of these new hardbacks have been greeted by great reviews, so pick up your copy now!Coe and Faulks signed copies 151118

November 18, 2015

A Notable Woman: The Romantic Journals of Jean Lucey Pratt, edited by Simon Garfield

by Team Riverside

Hardback £20, Canongate, out now

“There is so much in this world to make me happy. Small things such as cats, a good meal, one’s garden, trees in spring and autumn, clouds, colours, fabrics, clothes, companionship, books and music and films, a driSimon Garfield A NOTABLE WOMANnk in the friendly atmosphere of an English pub, a ride in a bus, a letter from a friend, staying in bed when one is tired, firelight, starlight, waves breaking against rocks, evening sunlight on a flight of bombers”.

Jean Lucey Pratt writes this in 1944, aged 34, a woman living alone and working in Slough as the bombs fall around her. She takes much joy in life, as this extract shows, and is not afraid of giving her own views on the remarkable times she’s living through. In these edited journals, started when she was 16 and continuing into old age, she is painfully honest about her romantic life (I was absolutely willing her to find someone half decent to get off with). Like all the best published diaries, we feel that we are getting a view into someone’s secret inner life, but she also illuminates the uncertainties of living through a time of great international and domestic turbulance.

Jean is anything but fluffy, despite the excellent cats that march through these pages. Her diary is a real page turner, and well edited by Simon Garfield (who has previously published some of her contributions to the Mass Observation study). I enjoyed spending time with her enormously, and only wish she could have seen this delicious volume published during her lifetime.

Review by Bethan

November 17, 2015

Robert Harris Dictator – Signed copies now in!

by Team Riverside

We are delighted to have signed hardback copies of Robert Harris’s latest, excellent, book – Dictator.  This completes his Cicero trilogy, and has had rave reviews.  Get your Christmas shopping underway now!Robert Harris DICTATOR signed

November 16, 2015

The American Lover, by Rose Tremain

by Team Riverside

Paperback £8.99, Vintage, out nowRose Tremain THE AMERICAN LOVER

I don’t often feel like reading short stories, but this collection by one of my favourite novelists makes for a swift and pleasurable read. The stories are diverse but this manages not to jar, which is especially impressive given their variety.

Tolstoy is dying in a Russian stationmaster’s house – but what do their respective wives think about this? In my favourite story, A View of Lake Superior in the Fall, an American couple run away from their troublesome adult daughter to a winter cabin by a lake.

The best first line in the collection in my view belongs to The Housekeeper: “Everybody believes that I am an invented person: Mrs Danvers”. This is a strong and engagingly written selection. Recommended.

Review by Bethan

November 15, 2015

The Antarctic Book of Cooking and Cleaning: a Polar Journey, by Wendy Trusler and Carol Devine

by Team Riverside

Hardback £25, HarperCollins, out now

Wendy Trusler and Carol Devine have created a beautiful visual and written record of a 1995-96 volunteer expedition to clean up rubbish on the South Shetland Islands in Antarctica. The book is illustrated with photographs both from the trip and fWendy Trusler ANTARCTIC BOOK OF COOKING AND CLEANINGrom previous historic outings by Scott and Shackleton, among others. It also features delicious and achievable international recipes used by Wendy to feed large groups of volunteers and friends during the tour – tasty looking White Bean and Roast Garlic Pate, Honey Oatmeal Bread, Frozen Chocolate Cream…

Contemporary journal entries from both authors candidly show the delights and strains of being ‘alone and together’ in Antarctica. Relationships within the camp and with those back home, as well as colleagues from other national research camps, become of prime importance.

For anyone whose imagination and interest strays towards Antarctica, or who likes unusual cookbooks or tales from women travellers, this is a must. One of the most unusual and beautiful books we have in the shop.

Review by Bethan

November 14, 2015

Spill, Simmer, Falter, Wither: Sara Baume

by Team Riverside

Sara Baume SPILL SUMMER FALTER WITHERI first picked up this book because of the high praise from Eimear McBride and because of the title which seemed to herald the type of word-play found in McBride’s own extraordinary debut A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. Spill, Simmer, Falter, Wither really is inventive: the title, for instance, refers to the seasons, both onomatopoeically and metaphorically lending itself to the words: ‘spring’, ‘summer’, ‘autumn,’ and ‘winter’. Then there are Baume’s unusual coinages (‘spork’), metaphors (‘hedgehogs of moss’) and constructions, which lend the prose urgency and immediacy. Take the opening passage, for instance:

He is running, running, running.
And it’s like no kind of running he’s ever run before. He’s the surge that burst the dam and he’s pouring down the hillslope, channelling through the grass to the width of his widest part. He’s tripping into hoof-rucks. He’s slapping groundsel stems down dead. Dandelions and chickweed, nettles and dock.

Baume has also devised an original strategy for relaying the dog’s past : through the man’s dreams, while simultaneously linking the two characters’ consciousness, journey and fate.

This novel is not as original or as dazzling as McBride’s, but perhaps because of that, it is more accessible and will appeal to a wider array of readers. Baume’s narrative of an unlikely friendship between a lonely, damaged man and an abused, runaway dog is atmospheric, moving and fearless in its exploration of just how dark life can be. A wonderful book, though not for the faint-hearted.

Review by Emily

November 10, 2015

Carl Cattermole, H.M. Prison: A Survival Guide

by Team Riverside

Carl Cattermole HM PRISON A SURVIVAL GUIDECarl Cattermole’s short, sharp, shockingly good guide to life on the inside is without a doubt one of the best books I’ve read all year. Unlike so many of the squillions of things that get ushered into print each month, H.M. Prison: A Survival Guide is a book that feels like it urgently needed to be written, and equally urgently; needs to be read. It’s the upshot of a truly generous impulse; to demystify the prison experience and to offer pragmatic help to a huge amount of people who are often vulnerable, confused and scared. It should also, of course, be required reading for anyone and everyone on the outside.

Eschewing the lurid tales and grim machismo that characterize so many prison memoirs, 20-something Londoner Cattermole’s nifty book is a straight-talking, utterly no-nonsense account of what life is like if you get sent down. It’s beautifully and wittily written, and indeed beautifully and wittily illustrated; by Private Eye’s very own ‘Banx.’

The ‘Survival Guide is eye-opening, at times eye-watering, and thoroughly educational in every sense. Like all the best books; it works as a kind of empathy generator. It’s also dirt-cheap (£4!). And it’s not-for-profit. And it looks and feels great. What more could you want? This is that rare kind of book that actually helps to make the world a better place.

Review by Stuart

November 3, 2015

Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and How to Think Smarter about People Who Think Differently, by Steve Silberman

by Team Riverside

Allen and Unwin, £16.99, paperback out now

A worthy winner of the Samuel Johnson non-fiction book prize, this is a fascinating and highly readable history of autism. We alsSteve Silberman NEUROTRIBESo get to meet several interesting people affected by autism, and an invitation to reconsider what we think we know about it.

Silberman, a journalist for Wired magazine, became interested in autism in 2001 when he heard of an ‘epidemic’ of autism among the children of Silicon Valley employees – parents who tended to be computer programmers and engineers. The book opens with The Wizard of Clapham Common Henry Cavendish, genius 19th century scientist and inventor, who Silberman retrospectively diagnoses as autistic.  Silberman is an informative guide through geek culture, disability in Nazi Germany, faulty diagnoses of toxic parenting, Rain Man and more.

Critically, the author is respectful of autistic people. Oliver Sacks in his foreword notes that Silberman particularly sought out autistic people for his research.  A further mark of quality is that it is dedicated to Lorna Wing, a psychiatrist and doctor who transformed thinking about autism for the better first in the UK and then internationally both through her work and her involvement in the establishment of the National Autistic Society. He concludes: “Designing appropriate forms of support and accommodation is not beyond our capabilities as a society, as the history of the disability movement proves. But first we have to learn to think more intelligently about people who think differently”.   This is an excellent, accessible book, and a worthwhile call to consider the riches that can come from diversity.

Review by Bethan