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Newsletter #14

Hello lovely people! For those who missed the press conference, the newsletter is now running on a fortnightly schedule, since the shop is now back to normal hours and we're actually allowed to have customers indoors again. It's been heartening to see you all flocking to support your local independent bookshop in person.

Besides being able to focus on customers, changing the schedule means we've been able to curate an especially excellent compendium of new releases for you. We're talking Jeff VanDermeer! We're talking Olivia Laing! We've got a spotlight on graphic novels! We're getting into it right now! Scroll to the bottom for our current opening hours and ordering policy!

New this week

The latest from award-winning sci-fi author Jeff VanDermeer, Hummingbird Salamander, is a near-future eco-thriller about a dead environmental activist, taxidermy and professional wrestling. One of the more lyrical SF authors, VanDermeer pulls as much on cutting-edge science as he does his interest in rewilding — although he doesn't skimp on the weird aliens, either.

Mizuki Tsujimura's Lonely Castle in the Mirror sounds plenty surreal, too, an adult fairy tale where a group of Tokyo teens are transported to a mysterious castle, its secrets yielding only to those who share something of themselves back. HHhH (not a typo) author Lauren Binet returns with Civilisations, another work of historical fiction, imaging a world where Western colonisation is interrupted by the arrival of the Incas in 15th century Europe...
Taking place across three different time periods — 1866 and 1959 Cuba, and 2016 Miami — Gabriela Garcia's Of Women and Salt follows five generations of Latina women through thick and thin, from cigar factories to detention centres.  In Small Pleasures Clare Chambers essays a mature and perceptive take on secrets, love and anguish in its wry tale of a small-town journalist and a young woman who claims her daughter is a virgin birth.

Now in paperback, Marilynne Robinson's Jack returns to the author's established setting of Gilead, Iowa. Adding further richness to a world she has explored in previous novels Home and Lila, this instalment centres on Jack Bougthon, whose common-law marriage to a Black woman risks creating a cause célèbre for his strict Presbyterian family in 1940s America.
Olivia Laing's much-anticipated return to non-fiction, Everybody, looks to be worth the wait based on the excerpt published in The Guardian earlier this month. The cultural critic once more assembles the collective biographies of artists, writers and thinkers to consider our relationships with our bodies. Expect appearances from Freud, Susan Sontag, and Malcolm X (albeit not all at the same time, excellent a dinner party line up though that is).

Using just one cultual artefact, the eponymous Lev's Violin, Helena Attlee explores Italian culture from the centre to the margins as she traces the ownership of her instrument. Letters to Camondo is Edmund de Waal's belated follow-up to his fascinating memoir The Hare With the Amber Eyes, this time investigating his family's relationship with French high society clan the Camondos, who also suffered the slings and arrows of antisemitism in the early twentieth century.
A portrait of the Corbyn project from someone who was actually there, Owen Jones's This Land is a frank but hopeful look at what went wrong for the resurgent Labour party, as well as assessing what the British Left can do now. Also new in paperback is Dara McAnulty's Diary of a Young Naturalist, a disarmingly open book of writing on nature and the young author's experience of being diagnosed with autism.

Highly recommended by our own Anya just the other week, and earning (deserved!) comparisons to the work of the great Oliver Sacks, we're going to go ahead and highlight Suzanne O'Sullivan's Sleeping Beauties once again. A Wellcome Prize-winning neurologist, O'Sullivan looks into mystery illnesses from across the world, asking questions about how we class something as as an illness  -- and who gets that privilege?
It's been a while since we've recommended some new graphic novels, but we've got a bumper crop for you this month. The delightful Esther's Notebooks will tide us over until the next volume of cartoonist Riad Sattouf's Arab of the Future series, a collection of comic strips recounting the weekly conversations he has with his friend's ten-year-old daughter.

We're dazzled also by the artwork in The Dancing Plague by Gareth Brookes, exploring an O'Sullivan-esque incidence of mass hysteria in 16th century Strasbourg, with the dancing illustrated in a period style with occasional bursts of psychedelic colour. Fido Nesti's adaptation of George Orwell's ever-prescient 1984 has a more suitably muted palette, bringing the dystopian classic to life with thick brush strokes and surreal imagery.
Inspired by the childhood of the author of this smashing picture book, Pete Brown, Fred Gets Dressed calls attention to a crucial point in every child's life: when marching around in the nuddy has lost its sheen, and it's time to experiment with this whole "clothing" thing. Where better to start than raiding his parent's wardrobe?

The dream team of Rachel Bright and Jim Field are back together for The Whale Who Wanted More, a story about the fulfilment found in friendship rather than things, to the surprise of a hoarding whale named Humphrey. With a silly sense of humour and a collage style reminiscent of sixties children's books, Barbara Throws A Wobbler is a fantastic chronicle of a tantrum from Nadia Shireen.
Waiting For Murder is a great mystery story from Clifftoppers author Fleur Hitchcock, aimed at slightly older readers, following two friends who spend their summer holidays investigating an old unsolved murder when a drained reservoir in their hometown reveals a crashed car and a dead body. Emmy Levels Up shows the stark divide between struggling at school when you're a bonafide celebrity online, a funny story of video games and angst from Helen Harvey.

The second in their Dragon Realm series, Katie and Kevin Tsang's Dragon Legend is a more-than-worthy follow-up. This time Billy Chan and his friends find themselves exploring frozen wastelands and ancient China atop their dragons, in a bid to rescue their kidnapped friend Dylan. Refreshingly arch, imaginative and laugh-out-loud funny!
It's two for the price of one with the jigsaw recommendations this time around, as we've a pair of puzzles honouring two departed princes of pop. These 1,000 piece puzzles ask you to figure out Where's Bowie? and Where's Prince?, Ziggy and the Purple One are hiding amongst illustrations of various ephemera, alter-egos and imagery from their respectively eccentric music careers.

What we're reading

  • Sarah is part of the way through Monisha Rajesh's Around The World in 80 Trains and loving it, a witty travel book about one woman's trip from St Pancras to Japan, North Korea, Kazakhstan and beyond!
  • Tom's started the epic sci-fi novel Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky, a far-future saga where humanity has colonised distant planets and come into contact with a race of hyper-intelligent spiders; weird and strangely plausible, if not one for the arachnophobes...
  • Anya is enjoying the magical realism of The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree by Shokoofeh Azar, the story of one family during the Islamic Revolution, narrated by the ghost of a thirteen-year-old girl
That'll do for now, eh? It's been a real treat to see the high street come alive with activity again -- we highly recommend La Rosetta, the lovely family-run pizza place across the road from us, which boasts a garden out back -- so let's keep that up! Opening hours and order information is below, and we're ready in the shop to recommend books, load up gift cards and feed your dogs. Take care of yourselves, and we hope to see you soon.
We're open Monday-Saturday from 10.00-6.00pm, and Sunday 11.00-5.00pm. Please wear a mask, and use the hand sanitiser on your way in. You can also email or call (020 7249 2808) to place an order, then pick up your items from the shop. If you're unable to get to the shop for any reason, you can order books to be delivered to you through our friends at (and we receive a decent commission!)
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