The 20 Most Popular Books of the Week
16th October 2019
Philip Pullman's The Secret Commonwealth displaces Margaret Atwood's The Testaments to become the most popular title on Books in the Media
The Boundless Sea
"At more than 1,000 pages, it offers nothing less than a history of humanity written from the perspective of the sea..."
— Financial Times
4.6 out of 5
The Brothers York
"Good history books appear to offer a refuge from the present; more meretricious ones claim to teach it unique lessons; but the best provide their readers with simultaneous relief and resonance..."
— The Daily Telegraph
4 out of 5
Me: Elton John Official Autobiography
"A memoir that is racy, pacy and crammed with scurrilous anecdotes – what more could you ask from the rocket man?..."
— The Guardian
4.3 out of 5
"One of the strengths of Bryson’s delightful new book... is that it reveals the thousands of rarely acknowledged tasks our body takes care of as we go about our day..."
— The New York Times
4.08 out of 5
"Whether or not you agree with his views, he remains an astute commentator on the contemporary political fracas...."
2.89 out of 5
The Triumph of Injustice
Emmanuel Saez (University of California, Berkeley), Gabriel Zucman (University of California, Berkeley)
"a bracing and brave formulation of a radical new approach to public funding..."
— The Observer
"Let’s give O’Brien credit for her energy and passion, for reminding us that at every moment girls are being abused and exploited with unconscionable cruelty and malice...."
4.53 out of 5
Attlee and Churchill
Leo McKinstry (Author)
"a deft account of a terrific double act..."
Rowan Hisayo Buchanan
"Buchanan is particularly effective at describing the reinforcing loops of depressive thought. ..."
— Times Literary Supplement
3 out of 5
"She’s got the moves. And she’s clever and learned in a hip way...."
3.59 out of 5
"Blatantly indebted to Stephen King..."
— The Sunday Times
"What we get in Olive, Again is the human condition, a deluge of it. ..."
Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister
"her book is well worth reading..."
4.18 out of 5
"The new Oxford poetry professor draws on The Odyssey in her skilful collection..."
3.83 out of 5
The Lying Room
"they remain as expert at suspense, plot and the psychology of stressed heroines...."
4.22 out of 5
Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas
"a literary version of a one-off Christmas single: brash and annoying, poignant and meaningful, all at the same time..."
3.31 out of 5
"Donoghue contrives a neat comedy of errors as Noah tries to make sense of Michael’s world...."
"exploits are proficiently recounted and a topical theme is unfurled..."
Agent Running in the Field
John le Carre
"Few writers are so well able to convey strength and self-belief, with the result that the reader is forced to accept everything he says, sometimes against one’s better judgement...."
— The Sunday Telegraph
Lady in Waiting
"This memoir of consorting with Princess Margaret and the royal family is remarkable...."
Unfollow: A Journey from Hatred to Hope
"It takes real talent to produce a book like this...."
Mindf*ck: Inside Cambridge Analytica’s...
"this book is valuable and revelatory..."
"a wise, gripping and skilfully told story..."
Angel on the Roof
"A timeless story fit for the approaching season, and for these times...."
Antisocial: Online Extremists, Techno-Ut...
"The New Yorker writer’s depiction of online extremists and techno-utopians is compelling, alarming … and flawed..."
Edoardo Albert, Paul Gething
"the disruptive and imaginative force of archaeology revealed..."
— The Spectator
Time Lived, Without Its Flow
"This book is without a scrap of sentimentality but provokes a deep emotional response: not from poignancy but in awe at the precision with which Riley records her grief...."
"a delightfully engaging read and a good introduction to Spain’s turbulent history..."
— The Times
"A fascination with archaeology runs through the Scottish poet’s collection of essays..."
— Irish Times
4.33 out of 5
Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister: T...
"A remarkable story of war, communism and espionage related with nuanced sympathy, but lacking reflection..."
Somewhere Becoming Rain
"a collection of witty essays by a great critic about a great poet..."
"Indian political horrors alternate with domestic London life in an innovative tale that fuses reality and fiction..."
The Fowl Twins
"Colfer’s playfulness is in full swing, as puns fly and physics bends to the machinations of the twins, who are just as bad (or should that be good?) as Artemis. It is, inevitably, the start of a new series..."
"With hints of Brideshead Revisited and Emma Jane Unsworth's Animals, Royals is the coolest book you'll read this year..."
Patrick O’Brian: A Very Private Life
"Try as he might to redeem O’Brian, Tolstoy tends only to make matters worse..."
The Lost Ones
"If you liked A Woman in Black, you'll love this utterly gripping and atmospheric book..."
— Woman & Home
"The vividly written and well-researched The Fortress is a masterpiece ..."
The Family Gift
"Kelly shines an insightful light on female insecurity and, through Freya's journey, shows the healing power of self-belief and family support..."
Invisible in a Bright Light
"[Gardner's] assured plot swings audaciously between alternate realities, as another pair of twins, Maria and Celeste, are forced to play a confounding, dangerous dream-game..."
A Month in Siena
"This is an exquisite, deeply affecting book, one in which an experience of dislocation and loss is conveyed in prose that flows so clearly and gracefully it finds continuities and connections all the time...."
— Evening Standard
Dogs: A philosophical guide to our best friends
"[A] delightful little book..."
"Horrendously read-able, deliciously sickening and elegantly twisted, Joe Hill’s new collection of stories range from elegiac pulp to full-on horror...."
— Daily Mail
Genius and Anxiety: How Jews Changed the...
"There isn’t a lot of explanation of who people are. You either know their names and a bit of their biographies already or you don’t. The result is one of those dip-in, dip-out kind of books...."
— Literary Review
The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse
This Little Dark Place
A. S. Hatch
"a short, sharp shocker..."
Guest House for Young Widows
Azadeh Moaveni (Senior Gender Analyst, International Crisis Group and Lecturer in Journalism, NYU in London)
"For those interested in understanding them, this book is essential reading...."
Priests de la Resistance!
The Revd Fergus Butler-Gallie
"He proves it true that comedy and tragedy run side by side, and that some of the most unlikely people turn out to be saints and martyrs..."
Letters from an Astrophysicist
Neil deGrasse Tyson
"You can’t doubt Tyson’s commitment to the cause. He takes the time to reply to a huge range of correspondents, no matter how unhinged..."
Waters of the World
"Dry’s call to use her scientific history of the climate to “prepare us to see differently, to use the difference of the past to help us conceive of the future with more options in mind” is laudable, but seems unduly optimistic..."
In the Key of Code
"You might not have thought that the words “PUB-lic STAT-ic voidmain string BRACK-et BRACK-et ARGS” could bring a computer layperson to tears, but they did, as this uncommon book reached its crescendo...."
The Music of Time: Poetry in the Twentieth Century
"This is a highly idiosyncratic experiment and much less Anglocentric than one might have expected..."
Who Am I, Again?
"Henry’s instability, his search for a voice of his own, extends to his prose. He can be chatty and colloquial, all banter and bonhomie, recalling teenage high jinks with dizzied abandon..."
3.46 out of 5
Who Dares Wins
" This is vividly panoramic history, ranging from high affairs of state to the tiniest textural details of everyday life..."
4.27 out of 5
Margaret Thatcher: Herself Alone Vol III
"The final part of this great biography tells how Mrs Thatcher’s political instincts deserted ..."
4.2 out of 5
Afternoons With the Blinds Drawn
"Anderson’s writing is as he is in real life: sharp, unsparing and sensitive..."
Year of the Monkey
"Patti Smith had a bad year in 2016 Year of the Monkey is the sly and wonderful book that resulted from it..."
The Glossy Years
"What gives great gusto to The Glossy Years, indeed, is the spirit of unrepentant devilry Coleridge evokes..."
3.78 out of 5
The River Capture
"Joyce’s influence is writ large here, and The River Capture could be read as an extended love letter to the great novel of interiority..."
3.73 out of 5
A Day Like Today
"one is left with a sense of the author having not so much set the record straight as confirmed the suspicion that he is increasingly out of touch..."
3.71 out of 5
The Secret Commonwealth
"a vivid portrait of the often painful transition to adulthood and autonomy, laced with a moral purpose that is not without ambiguity or doubt...."
3.66 out of 5
The Madness of Crowds
"Murray’s book performs a great service in exposing the excesses of the left-modernist faith. Let’s hope we find a way to slay this dragon...."
3.38 out of 5
More Than Likely
Dick Clement, Ian le Frenais
"the book is a tribute to the breadth and range of their impact — and how much fun they have had in the process...."
3.33 out of 5
Through The Wall
"The writing style will be a bit too chatty for some, but Corcoran maintains suspense throughout and she is brave enough not to opt for a fairytale ending...."
3.2 out of 5
The Windrush Betrayal
"It’s a depressing story, told in discreet, unsensational prose...."
3.14 out of 5
For the Record
"At a time when people wonder why anyone would want the job, this book is a helpful reminder of the good a PM can do..."
2.95 out of 5
"He cannot hope to laugh the terrible reality of Brexit out of existence, but McEwan’s comic parable at least provides some relief from a political farce that has long gone beyond a joke..."
2.35 out of 5
The Pursuit of Art: Travels, Encounters ...
"[An] entertaining book [that] is comprehensively balanced, fair, lucid and subtly witty..."
"He lets people speak for themselves... once you fall into the rhythm of the words there is much to enjoy...."
"this anthology of submerged lives that prickles with beautiful, comic and brutal details..."
North Korea Journal
"Palin’s writing lacks the vigour of his presenting; it isn’t as evocative or inspiring as it should be..."
3.56 out of 5
4.25 out of 5
The Man Who Saw Everything
Night Boat To Tangier
3.76 out of 5
10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World
3.94 out of 5
Girl, Woman, Other
4.28 out of 5
Lost Children Archive
3.74 out of 5
Max Porter (Author)
An Orchestra of Minorities
My Sister, the Serial Killer
3.72 out of 5
4.09 out of 5
Learning from the Germans
"A thought-provoking work of ‘moral atonement’ and ‘comparative redemption’..."
Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune
"Muir’s book provides some useful yardsticks. ..."
3.63 out of 5
"Darley’s personal exploration is the ideal antidote to platitudes and prejudice; it is the celebration that the Essex diaspora has been waiting for..."
Winds of Change
"a deeply informed book that has, nearly 60 years later, powerful resonance...."
4.19 out of 5
"Damrosch sketches the lives adroitly,..."
— London Review of Books
3.5 out of 5
Fat: A Cultural History of the Stuff of Life
Christopher E. Forth
"At the heart of Forth’s account of attitudes to fatness and beauty is a reassuringly consistent pragmatism...."
2.75 out of 5
The King Over the Water
"(a) bracingly revisionist history..."
The Map of Knowledge
"The Map of Knowledge’s adjective-filled prose clearly takes pleasure in a recreation of the atmosphere..."
Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain
Paul Corthorn (Reader in Modern British History, Queen's University Belfast)
"For a slim volume, Corthorn’s book is a scholarly one. Unfortunately, Corthorn never quite escapes the archives in which he has laboured...."
3.6 out of 5
"[Marozzi's] writing style is lively, limpid and graceful and it enables him to turn a vast amount of material into a continuously readable narrative..."
3.69 out of 5
"action-packed, densely plotted read..."
" It is vivid, well balanced and often sympathetic. ..."
3.67 out of 5
"This will make for comprehensive introductory reading for those new to the subject...."