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Ballerina Story Time

Saturday, August 31st 2013 at 11:00 AM

ballerinaTwinkle toes and panty hose, tutus and bunheads, today we are reading some ballet stories and Ballerina girl, Jess, will read some stories and you can show her just how well you can point those toes.

And we will colour in ballerinas and feel all ballet-y.



August 2013

Tuesday, August 27th 2013 at 3:40 PM

Novel of the Month

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo

To play the country-game, we have to choose a country. Everybody wants to be the USA and Britain and Canada and Australia and Switzerland and them. Nobody wants to be rags of countries like Congo, like Somalia, like Iraq, like Sudan, like Haiti and not even this one we live in – who wants to be a terrible place of hunger and things falling apart?

Darling and her friends live in a shanty called Paradise, which of course is no such thing. It isn’t all bad, though. There’s mischief and adventure, games of Find bin Laden, stealing guavas, singing Lady Gaga at the tops of their voices.

They dream of the paradises of America, Dubai, Europe – where Madonna and Barack Obama and David Beckham live. For Darling that dream will come true. But, like the thousands of people all over the world trying to forge new lives far from home, Darling finds this new paradise brings its own set of challenges – for her and also for those she’s left behind.

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013

Don’t miss NoViolet at this year’s Open Book Festival

Bulawayo’s novel is not just a stunning piece of literary craftsmanship but also a novel that helps elucidate today’s world.”                 Daily Telegraph

Often heartbreaking, but also pulsing with colour and energy.”                      The Times

Darling is 10 when we first meet her, and the voice Ms. Bulawayo has fashioned for her is utterly distinctive – by turns unsparing and lyrical, unsentimental and poetic, spiky and meditative…a stunning novel… remarkably talented author.”                    New York Times

“…creates a fictional world that is immediate, fresh, and identifies the arrival of a talented writer.”                       Sunday Times

NoViolet Bulawayo uses words potently, blending brutality and lyricism in her unflinching, bittersweet story of displacement.”                    Observer

Bulawayo’s use of contemporary culture…as well as her fearless defense of the immigrant experience through honoring the cadence of spoken language, sets this book apart.”                Oprah magazine

NoViolet Bulawayo has created a world that lives and breathes – and fights, kicks, screams and scratches, too. She has clothed it in words and given it a voice at once dissonant and melodic, utterly distinct”                      Aminatta Forna

I knew this writer was going to blow up. Her honesty, her voice, her formidable command of her craft – all were apparent from the first page.”            Junot Diaz



Perfect by Rachel Joyce

In 1972, two seconds were added to time. It was in order to balance clock time with the movement of the earth. Byron Hemming knew this because James Lowe had told him and James was the cleverest boy at school. But how could time change? The steady movement of hands around a clock was as certain as their golden futures.

Then Byron’s mother, late for the school run, makes a devastating mistake. Byron’s perfect world is shattered. Were those two extra seconds to blame? Can what follows ever be set right?

From the author of the bestselling and highy-acclaimed The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry


A near-flawless novel of emotional truth. Joyce executes this story with precision and flair…Its unputdownable factor lies in its exploration of so many multilayered emotions… It is her clever did-I-read-that-right twist at the end that really got to me and had me scrabbling back through the chapters, open-mouthed.”                  Evening Standard

The power of Joyce’s prose lies in small, astute observations…[her] subtle touches give the book an intense, slightly mesmeric feel. Tense and engrossing…readers who loved The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will not be disappointed.”                    Sunday Times


The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

 There are books you can’t stop reading, which keep you up all night.

There are books which let us into the hidden parts of life and make them vividly real.

There are books which, because of the sheer skill with which every word is chosen, linger in your mind for days.

The Shock of the Fall is all of these books.

The Shock of the Fall is an extraordinary portrait of one man’s descent into mental illness. It is a brave and groundbreaking novel from one of the most exciting new voices in fiction.

A stunning novel. Ambitious and exquisitely realised, it’s by turns shocking, harrowing and heartrending. The writing is so accomplished it’s hard to believe it’s a debut – it’s clearly the work of a major new talent.”                        S J Watson

 “Bittersweet and wonderfully etched…perceptive and moving.”                      Telegraph

A deeply moving (but also funny) first novel.”                The Times

A compelling story of grief, madness and loss. Filer has an ear for the dark comedy of life, and Matthew is a charismatic lead character who draws you in even as his world falls apart.”                      Observer

Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon out of his life as a Web-design drone and serendipity coupled with sheer curiosity has landed him a new job working the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. And it doesn’t take long for Clay to realise that the quiet, dusty book emporium is even more curious than the name suggests. There are only a few fanatically committed customers, but they never seem to actually buy anything, instead they simply borrow impossibly obscure volumes perched on dangerously high shelves, all according to some elaborate arrangement with the eccentric proprietor. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes, and soon he has plugged in his laptop, roped in his friends (and a cute girl who works for Google) and embarked on a high-tech analysis of the customers’ behaviour. What they discover is an ancient secret that can only be solved by modern means, and a global-conspiracy guarded by Mr. Penumbra himself…who has mysteriously disappeared.

Fun and funny and just plain enjoyable. It has mysterious books and thievery and Google (the place!)…It celebrates both the old and the new in delightful ways…And it has the honour of being the first novel of 2013 to make me cry, completely unexpectedly. Happy tears of that good-book-sucker-punch-to-the-place-in-the-heart-where-the-booklove-lives sort.”                     Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus

Think of this novel as part Haruki Murakami, part Dan Brown and part Joseph Cornell: a surreal adventure, an existential detective story and a cabinet of wonders at which to marvel.”                  Newsday

A real tour de force, a beautiful fable… It’s a lot of fun but it’s also a powerful reading experience. “                                 George Saunders

Cryptographic cults, vertical bookshops, hot geeks, theft, and the pursuit of immortality. I loved it.”                                Nick Harkaway

Delightful…The protagonist is a tech nerd, but he’s also a book nerd, so both those who crave shiny new technologies and those who relish the scent of paper will find room in these pages…Smart, hip and witty.”                        Washington Post

The Skull & the Nightingale by Michael Irwin

Set in England in the early 1760s, this is a chilling and deliciously dark tale of manipulation, sex, and seduction.

When Richard Fenwick, a young man without family or means, returns to London from the Grand Tour, his wealthy godfather, James Gilbert, has an unexpected proposition. Gilbert has led a fastidious life in Worcestershire, but now in his advancing years, he feels the urge to experience, even vicariously, the extremes of human feeling – love and passion, adultery and deceit – along with something much more sinister. He has selected Fenwick to be his proxy, and his ward has no option but to accept.

But Gilbert’s elaborate and manipulative “experiments” into the workings of human behaviour drag Fenwick into a vortex of betrayal and danger where lives are ruined and tragedy is always one small step away. And when Fenwick falls in love with one of Gilbert’s pawns and the stakes rise even higher – is it too late for him to escape the Faustian pact?

This is a surprising and thrilling Rake’s Progress. I enjoyed every word.”                 Diana Athill, author of Stet

An atmospheric portrait of the Georgian world.”             Sunday Times

Rollickingly enjoyable.”                 Literary Review

Plan D by Simon Urban

October 2011. While West Berlin enjoys all the trappings of capitalism, on the crowded, polluted, Eastern side of the Wall, the GDR is facing bankruptcy. The ailing government’s only hope lies in economic talks with the West, but then an ally of the GDR’s chairman is found murdered – and all the clues suggest that his killer came from within the Stasi.

Detective Martin Wegener is assigned to the case, but, with the future of East Germany hanging over him, Wegener must work with the West German police if he is to find the killer, even if it means investigating the Stasi themselves. It is a journey that will take him from Stasi meeting rooms to secret prisons as he begins to unravel the identity of both victim and killer, and the meaning of the mysterious Plan D.

Plan D is a gripping thriller and a thought-provoking alternative history in the vein of Robert Harris’s Fatherland and John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.

A superb alt-timeline thriller that recalls Robert Harris’s Fatherland.”                       Financial Times

A genuine page turner. But it’s also a book about the nature of dictatorships. It shows why dictatorship is possible, how dictatorship is done and what it does to people.”                       Juli Zeh

Vividly imagined and described…a very good read.”                Literary Review


Satantango by Laszlo Krasznahorkai

In the darkening embers of a Communist utopia, life in a desolate Hungarian town has come to a virtual standstill. Flies buzz, spiders weave, water drips and animals root desultorily in the barnyard of a collective farm. But when the charismatic Irimias – long thought dead – returns to the commune, the villagers fall under his spell. The Devil has arrived in their midst.

Irimias will divide and rule: his arrival heralds the beginning of a period of violence and greed for the villagers as he sets about swindling them out of a fortune that might allow them to escape the emptiness and futility of their existence. He soon attains a messianic aura as he plays on the fears of the townsfolk and a series of increasingly brutal events unfold.

Satantango follows the villagers as they are exploited and taken in by Irimias; as they drink and stumble their way toward the gradual realisation of their mistake and ultimate demise. In its measured prose and long, Tolstoyan sentences, Satantango is a formal meditation on death and avarice, human fallibility and faith

This majestic translation finally gives us its inimitable, nightmarish pleasures at first hand.”                    Sunday Times

Intoxicating and exhilarating, bleak yet beautiful, Satantango is a modern masterpiece that manages to speak both of its time and to transcend it altogether.”                Sunday Telegraph

Regarded as a classic, [Satantango] is a monster of a novel: compact, cleverly constructed, often exhilarating, and possessed of a distinctive, compelling vision…It is brutal, relentless and so amazingly bleak that it’s often quite funny. This is an obviously brilliant novel. Krasznahorkai is a visionary writer…The grandeur is clearly palpable.”                        Guardian


An Englishman in Madrid by Eduardo Mendoza

Anthony Whitelands, an English art historian, is invited to Madrid to value an aristocrat’s collection. At a welcome lunch he encounters José Antonio Primo de Rivera, founder and leader of the Falange, a nationalist party whose antics are bringing the country ever closer to civil war.

The paintings turn out to be worthless, but before Whitelands can leave for London the duque’s daughter Paquita reveals a secret and genuine treasure, held for years in the cellars of her ancestral home. Afraid that the duque will cash in his wealth to finance the Falange, the Spanish authorities resolve to keep a close eye on the Englishman, who is also being watched by his own embassy.

As Whitelands – ever the fool for a pretty face – vies with Primo de Rivera for Paquita’s affections, he learns of a final interested party: Madrid is crawling with Soviet spies, and Moscow will stop at nothing to secure the hidden prize.

If this novel is a comic confection, it is deadly serious in its import; this Englishman’s excursion takes us to the very heart of Spain.”                          T.L.S.

A funny, gripping and perfectly balanced blend of P G Wodehouse, Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene.”                                    Independent on Sunday.

A highly enjoyable read [that] elegantly evokes the eccentricities of Spain’s capital city.”             Spectator.

Jacob’s Folly by Rebecca Miller

In eighteenth-century Paris, Jacob is a peddler of knives, salt cellars and snuffboxes. Despite a disastrous teenage marriage, Jacob is determined to raise himself up in life, by whatever means he can.

In twenty-first-century America, Jacob’s life has twisted in ways he could never have imagined. But even the tiniest of flies can influence the turning of the world. Reliable, true Leslie Senzatimore, a volunteer fireman, and Masha, a gravely ill young woman, are about to have their lives transformed.

Through her wonderfully memorable protagonist, Rebecca Miller considers the hold of the past on the present, the power of private hopes and dreams, and the collision of fate and free will. In Jacob’s Folly, Miller’s world – which is our own, transfigured by her clear gaze and by her sharp, surprising wit – comes brilliantly to life.

Jack 1939 by Francine Matthews

Charming. Reckless. Brilliant. Deadly.

A young Jack Kennedy travels to Europe on a secret mission for Franklin Roosevelt as the world braces for war.

It’s the spring of 1939, and the prospect of war in Europe looms large. The United States has no intelligence service. In Washington, D.C., President Franklin Roosevelt may run for an unprecedented third term and needs someone he can trust to find out what the Nazis are up to. His choice: John F. Kennedy.

It’s a surprising selection. At twenty-two, Jack Kennedy is the attractive but unpromising second son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Roosevelt’s ambassador to Britain (and occasional political adversary). But when Jack decides to travel through Europe to gather research for his Harvard senior thesis, Roosevelt takes the opportunity to use him as his personal spy. The president’s goal: to stop the flow of German money that has been flooding the United States to buy the 1940 election—an election that Adolf Hitler intends Roosevelt to lose.

In a deft mosaic of fact and fiction, Francine Mathews has written a gripping espionage tale that explores what might have happened when a young Jack Kennedy is let loose in Europe as the world careens toward war. A potent combination of history and storytelling, Jack 1939 is a sexy, entertaining read.


The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood

Jean-Marie Charles d’Aumout is many things.

Orphan, soldier, diplomat, spy, lover.

And chef.

This is his story.

We meet Jean-Marie d’Aumout as a penniless orphan eating beetles by the side of a road. His fate is changed after an unlikely encounter finds him patronage and he is sent to military academy. Despite his lowly roots, and thanks to wit and courage in great measure, he grows up to become a diplomat and spy.

Passion, political intrigue and international adventure abound in Jean-Marie’s life, yet his drive stems from a single obsession: the pursuit of the perfect taste. Three-Snake Bouillabaisse, Pickled Wolf’s Heart and Flamingo Tongue are just some of the delicacies he devours on his journey toward the ultimate feast.

Rising through the ranks of eighteenth-century French society, he feasts with lords, ladies and eventually kings, at the Palace of Versailles itself.

But beyond the palace walls, revolution is in the air and the country is clamouring with hunger of a different kind.

In the Times of Fading Light by Eugen Ruge

In Times of Fading Light begins in 2001 as Alexander Umnitzer, who has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer, leaves behind his ailing father to fly to Mexico, where his grandparents lived as exiles in the 1940s.

The novel then takes us both forward and back in time, creating a panoramic view of the family’s history: from Alexander’s grandparents’ return to the GDR to build the socialist state to his father’s decade spent in a Gulag for criticising the Soviet regime to his son’s desire to leave the political struggles of the twentieth century in the past.

With wisdom, humour and great empathy, and drawing on his own family history, Eugen Ruge majestically traces the stories of both this particular family and the GDR, while exploring the tragic intertwining of politics, love and family under the East German regime.

 Utterly absorbing, funny and humane. A romp through a twisted century in the heart of Europe.”                        Anna Funder, author of Stasiland

Eugen Ruge is to the GDR what Hans Fallada was to the Third Reich. In Times of Fading Light may be a novel as important in the whole literature of the Cold War and its aftermath as anything written by Alexander Solzhenitsyn.”                Philip Kerr

A Memory this Size: The Caine Prize for African Writing 2013

Now entering its fourteenth year, the Caine Prize for African Writing is Africa’s leading literary prize, and is awarded to a short story by an African writer published in English, whether in Africa or elsewhere. This collection brings together the five 2013 shortlisted stories, along with stories written at the Caine Prize Writers’ Workshop, which took place in South Africa in Spring 2013.

Non-Fiction Book of the Month

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-56 by Anne Applebaum

At the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union unexpectedly found itself in control of a huge swathe of territory in Eastern Europe. Stalin and his secret police set out to convert a dozen radically different countries to a completely new political and moral system: communism. In Iron Curtain, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Anne Applebaum describes how the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe were created and what daily life was like once they were complete.

Applebaum describes in devastating detail how political parties, the church, the media, young people’s organisations – the institutions of civil society on every level – were quickly eviscerated. She explains how the secret police services were organised, how the media came to be dominated by communists, and how all forms of opposition were undermined and destroyed. Ranging widely across new archival material and many sources unknown in English, she follows the communists’ tactics as they bullied, threatened and murdered their way to power. She also chronicles individual lives to show the choices people had to make – to fight, to flee, or to collaborate.

Within a remarkably short period after the end of the war, Eastern Europe had been ruthlessly Stalinised. Iron Curtain is a brilliant history of a brutal period and a haunting reminder of how fragile free societies can be. Today the Soviet Bloc is a lost civilisation, one whose cruelty, paranoia, bizarre morality, and strange aesthetics Anne Applebaum captures in the pages of this exceptional work of historical and moral reckoning.

Iron Curtain is an exceptionally important book which effectively challenges many of the myths of the origins of the Cold War. It is wise, perceptive, remarkably objective and brilliantly researched.”               Antony Beevor

Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain [is] certainly the best work of modern history I have ever read.”                                     A.N. Wilson, Financial Times

Applebaum’s description of this remarkable time is everything a good history book should be: brilliantly and comprehensively researched, beautifully and shockingly told, encyclopedic in scope, meticulous in detail…it is a true masterpiece.”                 Sunday Telegraph

In her relentless quest for understanding, Applebaum shines light into forgotten worlds of human hope, suffering and dignity…Others have told us of the politics of this time. Applebaum does that but also shows what politics meant to people’s lives, in an era when the state did more to shape individual destinies than at any time in history.”         Washington Post

Iron Curtain is modern history writing at its very best; assiduously researched, it wears its author’s considerable erudition lightly. It sets a new benchmark for the study of this vitally important subject.”                 Independent on Sunday


The Watchers: A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I by Stephen Alford

Queen Elizabeth I was a ruler who radiated a sense of power and purpose. Her long and successful reign was a Golden Age of wealth, confidence, creativity, Shakespeare’s plays and Walter Raleigh’s adventures: the apotheosis of the Tudor dynasty. Across much of Europe, however, Elizabeth was viewed very differently. She was ‘Jezebel’, the bastard offspring of Henry VIII’s illegal second marriage, a woman and a Protestant heretic. The pope denounced her as a heretic schismatic tyrant and the most powerful rulers of Europe conspired to destroy her, their plans most fully realised by the Spanish Armada. If Elizabeth’s reign was a golden age, then it was also a precarious one that required constant, anxious surveillance against sometimes overwhelming threats.

The Watchers is a beautifully written, gripping account of the unflagging battle by spies, code-breakers, ambassadors and confidence-men to protect the queen. It was a reign that required endless watchfulness – of the coasts, of the Catholic seminaries, of Elizabeth’s own subjects. The stakes could not have been higher: priests coming secretly ashore were hunted down and executed, and assassination plots, real and imagined, sprung up everywhere. Drawing on extraordinary secret files, Stephen Alford brings to life this shadow world, where nobody could be trusted and where a single mistake could have changed England’s history drastically. The Watchers is a dark, surprising and utterly compelling account of an extraordinary reign.

Forget Le Carré, Deighton and the rest – this is more enthralling than any modern spy fiction.”                Daily Telegraph

Absorbing and closely documented…Alford vividly evokes this murky world of codes, ciphers, invisible ink, intercepted letters, aliases, disguises, forgeries and instructions to burn after reading…flowing narrative [and] crisp judments…engrossing.”                    Guardian

“[Alford] has brought a dash of le Carré to the 16th century.”                The Times (Book of the Week)

A vivid and staggeringly well-researched portrait of the sinister side of Elizabethan England…This is a spectacular book. It sheds new light on plots that most historians have ceased to explore and brings less famous conspiracies to the attention of the general reading public.”                Herald

Fascinating…If you want to know the inside story of this struggle, the dark heart of calculation and the fight for survival, then this is the book to read. I know no better.”                   Spectator

The Long Walk Home: One Woman’s Story of Kidnap, Hostage, Loss – and Survival by Judith Tebutt

This is the story of how, over a period of one hundred and ninety-two days, I was torn away from the life I knew and loved, and dragged down to the depths of despair; of how I endured enforced isolation and near-starvation at the hands of Somali pirates; and of how I made a choice to survive by any and all means that I could muster.

In September 2011 Judith Tebbutt and her husband David set out on an adventurous holiday to Kenya. A couple for thirty-three years, they had first met in Zambia: Africa had played a major part in their life together. After a joyous week on safari in the Masai Mara, they flew on to a beach resort forty kilometres south of Somalia. And there, in the early hours of 11 September, tragedy struck them.

Judith was torn away from David by a band of armed pirates, dragged over sea and land to a village in the arid heart of lawless Somalia, and there held hostage in a squalid room, a ransom on her head. There, too, she learned the terrible truth that the responsibility of securing her release now rested with her son Ollie.

But though she was isolated, intimidated and near-starved, Judith resolved to survive – walking endless circuits of her nine-foot prison, trying to make her captors see her as a human being, keeping her faith at all times in Ollie.

Powerful, moving and at times quite devastating, this is Judith Tebbutt’s story in her own words. It is a memoir of the life she shared with her beloved husband, an unflinching account of the ordeal that overturned her world, and a testament to the inner resilience and familial love that sustained her through captivity.

There is nothing so bad in life as to have no hope – to believe you have been defeated, to give in to that. Now that I found myself in confinement, four thousand miles from home under a hostile sky, I would not accept that fate for myself.

A detailed, touching account, revealing not just how she coped but also her tenderness for her husband.”                        Daily Telegraph

Judith Tebbutt’s book about being kidnapped and held to ransom is a wonderfully restrained story of survival against adversity and grief.”         Libby Purves The Times

A riveting tale of human fortitude…A Long Walk Home is an extraordinary tale. Not only is it an action-packed account of a kidnapping and hostage situation, it is also the story of how the author triumphed psychologically against terror, semi-­starvation and isolation …The result is a page-turner in which the action moves at a pace … Fast-paced though the action is, it is the psychological story that compels.”                Sunday Times

This powerful book captures the urgency of telling even the darkest of stories, and evokes the power of resilience in adversity…A book that begins with a horrific death becomes a clarion call to cherish whatever we might have left of life.”                Observer

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss

From a Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter at The New York Times comes the explosive story of the rise of the processed food industry and its link to the emerging obesity epidemic. Michael Moss reveals how companies use salt, sugar, and fat to addict us and, more important, how we can fight back.

In the spring of 1999 the heads of the world’s largest processed food companies—from Coca-Cola to Nabisco—gathered at Pillsbury headquarters in Minneapolis for a secret meeting. On the agenda: the emerging epidemic of obesity, and what to do about it.

Increasingly, the salt-, sugar-, and fat-laden foods these companies produced were being linked to obesity, and a concerned Kraft executive took the stage to issue a warning: There would be a day of reckoning unless changes were made. This executive then launched into a damning PowerPoint presentation – 114 slides in all – making the case that processed food companies could not afford to sit by, idle, as children grew sick and class-action lawyers lurked. To deny the problem, he said, is to court disaster.

When he was done, the most powerful person in the room – the CEO of General Mills – stood up to speak, clearly annoyed. And by the time he sat down, the meeting was over.

Since that day, with the industry in pursuit of its win-at-all-costs strategy, the situation has only grown more dire. Every year, the average American eats thirty-three pounds of cheese (triple what we ate in 1970) and seventy pounds of sugar (about twenty-two teaspoons a day). We ingest 8,500 milligrams of salt a day, double the recommended amount, and almost none of that comes from the shakers on our table. It comes from processed food. It’s no wonder, then, that one in three adults, and one in five kids, is clinically obese. It’s no wonder that twenty-six million Americans have diabetes, the processed food industry in the U.S. accounts for $1 trillion a year in sales, and the total economic cost of this health crisis is approaching $300 billion a year.

In Salt Sugar Fat, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative reporter Michael Moss shows how we got here. Featuring examples from some of the most recognisable (and profitable) companies and brands of the last half century – including Kraft, Coca-Cola, Lunchables, Kellogg, Nestlé, Oreos, Cargill, Capri Sun, and many more – Moss’s explosive, empowering narrative is grounded in meticulous, often eye-watering research.

Moss takes us inside the labs where food scientists use cutting-edge technology to calculate the “bliss point” of sugary beverages or enhance the “mouthfeel” of fat by manipulating its chemical structure. He unearths marketing campaigns designed – in a technique adapted from tobacco companies – to redirect concerns about the health risks of their products: Dial back on one ingredient, pump up the other two, and tout the new line as “fat-free” or “low-salt.” He talks to concerned executives who confess that they could never produce truly healthy alternatives to their products even if serious regulation became a reality. Simply put: The industry itself would cease to exist without salt, sugar, and fat. Just as millions of “heavy users” – as the companies refer to their most ardent customers – are addicted to this seductive trio, so too are the companies that peddle them. You will never look at a nutrition label the same way again.

What happens when one of the country’s great investigative reporters infiltrates the most disastrous cartel of modern times: a processed food industry that’s making a fortune by slowly poisoning an unwitting population? You get this terrific, powerfully written book, jammed with startling disclosures, jaw-dropping confessions and, importantly, the charting of a path to a better, healthier future. This book should be read by anyone who tears a shiny wrapper and opens wide. That’s all of us.”                    Ron Suskind

A shocking, galvanising manifesto against the corporations manipulating nutrition to fatten their bottom line-one of the most important books of the year.”                      Kirkus Reviews

In this meticulously researched book, Michael Moss tells the chilling story of how the food giants have seduced everyone in this country. He understands a vital and terrifying truth: that we are not just eating fast food when we succumb to the siren song of sugar, fat, and salt. We are fundamentally changing our lives-and the world around us.”                    Alice Waters



1913: The Year Before the Storm by Florian Illies

A witty yet moving narrative worked up from sketched documentary traces and biographical fragments, 1913 is an intimate cultural portrait of a world that is about to change forever. The stuffy conventions of the nineteenth century are receding into the past, and 1913 heralds a new age of unlimited possibility. Kafka falls in love; Louis Armstrong learns to play the trumpet; a young seamstress called Coco Chanel opens her first boutique; Charlie Chaplin signs his first movie contract; and new drugs like cocaine usher in an age of decadence. Yet everywhere there is the premonition of ruin – the number 13 is omnipresent, and in London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Trieste, artists take the omen and act as if there were no tomorrow, their brief coincidences of existence telling of a darker future. In a Munich hotel lobby, Rilke and Freud discuss beauty and transience; Proust sets out in search of lost time; and while Stravinsky celebrates the Rite of Spring with industrial cacophony, in Munich an Austrian postcard painter by the name of Adolf Hitler sells his conventional cityscapes. Told with Illies’ characteristic mixture of poignant evocation and laconic irony, 1913 is the story of the year that shaped the last century.

A hugely enjoyable idiosyncratic month-by-month narrative, in which the frenzy of artistic activity in London, Paris, Vienna, Berlin, and Trieste is conveyed with vigour and humour.”                Daily Telegraph

Illies shapes his material not as a scholar, but as a wordsmith, as a story-teller with a strong sense for dramatic effect and composition…the most enjoyable book I’ve read in years.”                     Die Welt

I couldn’t stop reading – Illies’ stories are simply magnificent.”            Ferdinand von Schirach

A vivid, richly textured book that chronicles a world crackling with talent, energy and foreboding. The pace and scale of activity is at times breathtaking…Illies’ talent is to weave all this together in a way that keeps the reader with him.”                        Financial Times

Illies is blessed with a lightness of touch and a lively mind with a feel for the colourful and the human, often at its silliest…This highly entertaining month-by-month account of 1913 is rich in detail, humour and vivid pen portraits…1913 is the best possible holiday read – or gift – as it is so enjoyable, yet the breadth of information and astute insight will prevent one feeling guilty of indulgence…a wonderfully idiosyncratic book, alive with funny, strange, unexpected yarns.”                   Irish Times

An absolute gem of a book…the most original historical account I’ve come across … Illies’ genius turn of phrase, beautifully retained by Shaun Whiteside and Jamie Lee Searle’s elegant translation, can be found throughout…The entries read like history’s footnotes, but as anyone who’s read Freud knows, the footnotes always tell the best story.”                Observer


The Man who Plants Trees by Jim Robbins

An extraordinary investigation into the world of trees – and the inspiring story of one man’s quest to help save the world’s oldest and greatest specimens

This is an extraordinary book about trees. It’s an account by a veteran science journalist that ranges to the limits of scientific understanding: how trees produce aerosols for protection and ‘warnings’; the curative effects of ‘forest bathing’ in Japan; or the impact of trees in fertilising ocean plankton.

Trees and forests are far more than just plants: they have myriad functions that help maintain the atmosphere and biosphere. As climate change increases, they will become even more critical to buffer the effects of warmer temperatures, clean our water and air and provide food – if they remain standing. The global forest is also in crisis, and when the oldest trees in the world suddenly start dying – across North America, Europe, the Amazon – it’s time to pay attention. At the heart of this remarkable exploration of the power of trees is the amazing story of one man, a shade tree farmer named David Milarch, and his quest to clone the oldest and largest trees – from the California redwoods to the oaks of Ireland – to protect the ancient genetics and use them to reforest the planet.

This is a story of miracles and obsession and love and survival. Told with Jim Robbins’s signature clarity and eye for telling detail, The Man Who Plants Trees is also the most hopeful book I’ve read in years.”          Alexandra Fuller

An absorbing and eloquent book…Robbins’ tone is urgent but doesn’t compromise his crystal clear science…even the smallest details here are fascinating.”                     New York Times

A fascinating book.”                        Margaret Atwood


Dirt Busters by Deon Meyer and Adriaan Oosthuizen

New horizons beckon around each bend when much-loved South African crime writer Deon Meyer and photographer Adriaan Oosthuizen take on the country’s most beautiful off-road routes. This book shares some of the challenges they faced and the interesting characters they met as they went in search of adventure and spectacular scenery.

Their favourite routes cover nearly the entire country and are aimed at both experienced and novice riders. The route descriptions read like travel stories, with each one offering something different to discover: a breathtaking pass, a meandering river, charming old farm buildings or a deserted stretch of the Karoo.

The book also contains a riding guide, which explains the theory behind adventure motorbiking. It offers several handy tips, such as how not to fall over on a sandy road, how to navigate dongas and streams, how to do an emergency brake and how to avoid accidents in general – which is most useful!

Telling Stories by Tim Burgess

The Charlatans. Madchester. Britpop. Taking on the world. Here are the highs, the lows, the joys, the agonies, and the stories of what it’s like to be in a rock band, as told by front man and survivor, Tim Burgess. Telling Stories is an honest and revealing account of trying to rule the world.

Tim Burgess was born in Salford but grew up in a village near Northwich, Cheshire. Leaving school at 16 to work at ICI, his real love was music and soon afterwards he was invited to join new band The Charlatans. For twelve years Burgess lived in Los Angeles but he has recently returned to the UK.

For readers who enjoyed Life by Keith Richards and Bit of a Blur by Alex James, Telling Stories is one of the finest music books of recent times. It’s a story of achievement and survival, from London to LA.

Clear, honest. An unusually frank and well-written rock memoir.”      The Times

Like the best bits of every cautionary rock star tale…there is armed robbery and smuggling. There’s serious fraud. There are near and actual death experiences, divorce, industrial cocaine consumption and magnificent cameos from Madonna, Alan McGee, Ronnie Wood, Joe Strummer, LA drug dealer Harry The Dog, and Joaquin Phoenix. A minor classic.”                     Q

Diamond Street: The Hidden World of Hatton Garden by Rachel Lichtenstein

Enter Hatton Garden, one of London’s most mysterious streets. Home to ancient burial sites, diamond workshops, underground vaults, monastic dynasties, subterranean rivers and forgotten palaces. Here you’ll meet sewer flushers, artists, goldsmiths, geologists and visionaries as Rachel Lichtenstein uncovers the history, secrets and stories that bring this vibrant Clerkenwell street and its environs to life.

Diamond Street is a brilliant and moving book, intricate in its form and fabulous in its curiosity. It is poised somewhere between deep history, archaeological dig, archive-quest and contemporary documentary, and it is suffused throughout with Rachel Lichtenstein’s fascination with people and place — a fascination which approaches a moral quality, really, in its tenderness, diligence and cultural openness.”     Robert Macfarlane, author of The Old Ways

Vivid and amusing, containing so many sparkling things, elegantly organized. Lichtenstein consulted a whole gang of glorious characters, collecting tales, history and lore on her way. An overwhelming trove of stories with a multiplicity of facets to intrigue.”                  Observer

Engrossing, a superb oral historian. Lichtenstein proves to be an indefatigable explorer.”                        Sunday Times

Untangling the Web: What the Internet is doing to YOU by Aleks Krotoski

The World Wide Web is the most revolutionary innovation of our time. In the last decade, it has utterly transformed our lives. But what real effects is it having on our social world?

What does it mean to be a modern family when dinner table conversations take place over smartphones? What happens to privacy when we readily share our personal lives with friends and corporations? Are our Facebook updates and Twitterings inspiring revolution or are they just a symptom of our global narcissism? What counts as celebrity, when everyone can have a following or be a paparazzo? And what happens to relationships when love, sex and hate can be mediated by a computer?

Social psychologist Aleks Krotoski has spent a decade untangling the effects of the Web on how we work, live and play. In this groundbreaking book, she uncovers how much humanity has – and hasn’t – changed because of our increasingly co-dependent relationship with the computer. In Untangling the Web, she tells the story of how the network became woven in our lives, and what it means to be alive in the age of the Internet.

Something Beautiful

Magic: 1400s to 1950s

Illusion, enchantment, and wonder! This book deals with the world’s greatest magicians from the Middle Ages through the 1950s. Magic has enchanted humankind for millennia, evoking terror, laughter, shock, and amazement. Once persecuted as heretics and sorcerers, magicians have always been conduits to a parallel universe of limitless possibility – whether invoking spirits, reading minds, or inverting the laws of nature by sleight of hand. Long before science fiction, virtual realities, video games and the internet, the craft of magic was the most powerful fantasy world man had ever known. As the pioneers of special effects throughout history, magicians have never ceased to mystify us by making the impossible possible. This book celebrates more than 500 years of the dazzling visual culture of the world’s greatest magicians. Featuring more than 1,000 rarely seen vintage posters, photographs, handbills, and engravings as well as paintings by Hieronymus Bosch and Caravaggio among others, Magic traces the history of magic as a performing art from the 1400s to the 1950s. Combining sensational images with incisive text, the book explores the evolution of the magician’s craft, from medieval street performers to the brilliant stage magicians who gave rise to cinematic special effects; from the 19th century’s Golden Age of Magic to groundbreaking daredevils like Houdini and the early 20th century’s vaudevillians.

Hidden Cape Town by Paul Duncan and Alain Proust

A unique look ‘inside’ 30 of Cape Town’s most notable buildings. If you have ever wondered what lies behind an interesting façade, or wished you could peek behind a closed door in the Mother City, Hidden Cape Town is the book for you. The author and photographer have collaborated to reveal the architectural secrets and artworks that lie behind the doors of some well-known, and lesser known, landmark buildings in and around the Cape Town. These buildings are part of our collective heritage, reflecting the myriad cultural influences that have shaped our country.

These ‘hidden’ interiors include the Sendinggestig Museum, South African National Library, City Hall, Palm Tree Mosque, Welgelegen, the Royal Observatory, Bertram House, the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St George, Groote Schuur, the Old Synagogue, Irma Stern Museum and the officer’s mess of the Cape Town Rifles (‘The Dukes’). Really very lovely.

100 Contemporary Green Buildings

The most exciting new buildings in the world are now almost all environmentally aware, sustainable, and conceived to consume far less energy than ever before. That architecture is one of the major sources of greenhouse gases in the world makes this new trend all the more significant. This book brings the best examples of green projects from the Architecture Now! series together with numerous new, never-seen-before projects. Well-known architects like Frank Gehry and Norman Foster are present right alongside young, up-and-coming creators from Latin America, the United States, Europe, and Asia. This is not a technical book, nor are its contents limited to any predefined category. Being “green” means being aware of the responsibility implied in the construction and use of modern buildings, and there are many ways to express this rising consciousness. Some solutions, the ones generally called “passive,” are as old as the history of architecture, while others are born of cutting-edge technologies. Both approaches and many more are included in this groundbreaking collection of 100 of the world’s most innovative and recent eco-friendly buildings.

Fresh, Happy, Tasty: An Adventure in 100 Recipes by Jane Coxwell

In 2009, personal chef Jane Coxwell joined the crew of the Eos – Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg’s sailing yacht – a position that has taken her throughout Southeast Asia, New Zealand, Australia, Papua New Guinea, French Polynesia, the Caribbean, and Central America. Cooking for a star-studded list of guests, Jane specialises in fresh, healthy meals with flavours from all around the globe. Yet her food is never extravagant or ornamental. Above all, Jane believes in a low-key approach: while relaxing and travelling – as well as in everyday life – the most delicious dishes are created with fresh food that looks good, tastes great, and is thoughtfully prepared.

In Fresh Happy Tasty, she shares her cooking philosophy and offers dozens of healthy, accessible and appealing recipes that have become yacht favorites, including: Bright Green Pea Salad with Lemon and Mint; Herb, Lemon, and Caper Stuffed Trout; Honey Poached Pineapple; Cape Malay Lamb Curry; Brussels Sprouts and Oyster Mushrooms with Pine Nuts; Israeli Couscous with Shrimp and Zucchini; Lobster Quinoa; and Middle Eastern Watermelon Salad.

Full of delicious flavors, healthy ingredients, and a refreshing down-to-earth attitude, ad illustrated with more than 100 gorgeous food and travel shots, Fresh Happy Tasty is the perfect way to bring family and friends together to share fabulous food and good times.

Graphic Novels

Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez

American cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez (Heartbreak Soup/Love and Rockets) tells the untold stories of these American comics legends’ youth, and portrays the reality of life in a large family in suburban 1960s California. Told largely from the point of view of middle child Huey – who stages Captain America plays and treasures his older brother’s comic book collection almost as much as his approval – Marble Season deftly follows these boys as they navigate their cultural and neighborhood norms.

Set against the golden age of the American dream and the silver age of comics, and awash with pop-culture references – TV shows, comic books, super-heroes and music –Marble Season subtly details how their innocent, joyfully creative play changes as they grow older and encounter name-calling, abusive bullies, and the value judgments of others. A coming-of-age story both comic and moving, it will have timeless resonance for children and adults alike.

Grandville by Brian Talbot

Bryan Talbot’s most recent book, Alice in Sunderland, was hailed by the Guardian as one of the ten best graphic novels ever and acclaimed by critics all over the world. Before that, at the start of his career, he created the first ever steampunk graphic novel, The Adventures of Luther Arkwright.

In Grandville Talbot brings us another steampunk masterpiece. Inspired by the work of the nineteenth-century French illustrator Gérard, who worked under the pseudonym ‘Grandville’ and frequently drew anthropomorphic animal characters, it tells the story of detective Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard as he stalks a gang of murderers through the heart of Belle Epoque Paris. In this alternative reality France is the major world power and its capital is thronged with steam-driven hansom cabs, automatons and flying machines. The characters are mostly animals, though there is an underclass of humans, often referred to as ‘dough faces’, who resemble the ‘clear-line’ characters of Hergé’s Tintin books.

Visually stunning, Grandville is a fantastical and audacious rollercoaster ride that will add to Talbot’s reputation as one of the best graphic novelists in the world.

It’s a wry big-hearted book with a serious message about terror and bravery.”                     Scotland on Sunday Review

“…a playful, allusive book in which there’s a witty touch or knowing in-joke on almost every page…and throughout, the glossy gorgeousness fills your eyes.”             The Times

A fast-paced, gorgeously coloured, amusingly anthromorphic fantasy.”                   Metro

Happy reading!

Njom-njom Story Time

Saturday, August 24th 2013 at 11:00 AM

njom njomLike to eat? Have a snack while paging through your favourite book? Do you like broccoli? Or only marshmallows? Today we will read some stories about food and eating and if we listen closely whose tummy will we hear rumbling…

Njom-njom tasty!


Launch of Welcome to the Real World! by Alex Ferguson-Williams and Lisa Kretschmer

Thursday, August 22nd 2013 at 5:30 PM

welcome real world invite


Launch of Etienne van Heerden’s In Love’s Place

Wednesday, August 21st 2013 at 5:30 PM


In Love’s Place, the English translation of Etienne’s Afrikaans novel In Stede van die Liefde has been translated by Leon de Kock and is a tour de force that promises to intrigue and enchant readers.

About the book

After his heart bypass operation, former champion-athlete Christian Lemmer needs to take stock. When a Cape Flats gang begins to target him, this becomes vitally important.

Christian commutes between Johannesburg and Stellenbosch, where he returns at weekends to his amnesiac wife Christine and his confrontational son Siebert. But he also has a hideaway that no one knows about, a flat in Sea Point where his drug dealer meets him, and a Swazi prostitute becomes his confidante.

And in Matjiesfontein the staff of the Lord Milner Hotel and the local pigeon breeders are in a state of excitement with the approach of the Southern Cross Derby – the most important event in the Karoo’s pigeon racing calendar.

But other things are afoot in Matjiesfontein as well, things in which the lives of the Lemmers are soon to become involved, from the arrival of the Piss-Man to the disappearance of prodigy Snaartjie Windvogel who, it is said, bewitches her father’s pigeons with her violin playing. The Lemmers come to the village to try to unravel one mystery, only to find themselves caught up in another.

About the author

Etienne Van Heerden is an internationally acclaimed South African writer whose books have been published in thirteen languages. He is the founding editor of LitNet and Hofmeyr Professor in the School of Languages and Literatures at the University of Cape Town. Originally published in Afrikaans as In stede van die liefde, this novel won the W A Hofmeyr Prize in 2005 as well as the ATKV prize for prose in 2006.


Launch of Falls the Shadow. Editors Kristina Bentley and Laurie Nathan will be in discussion

Tuesday, August 20th 2013 at 5:30 PM

Falls the Shadow

South Africa supposedly has one of the best Constitutions in the world, one which is intended to control and constrain the exercise of power by the state so that it does not threaten the liberty and security of citizens. But, in reality, does the Constitution contribute more to the security of some groups than others? Does it help to ensure certain types of security but not others? And does it have greater impact on some institutions than others? The book is based on the assumption that the Constitution has a significant impact on the security of South African citizens and communities but that this impact is differential.

The chapters in the book explore what kind of differential impact the Constitution has, explain what accounts for the differences, examine the consequences of the different impact and consider whether there are any general observations and hypotheses that emerge from comparative perspectives.




Tuesday, August 20th 2013 at 10:55 AM

Open Book and The Book Lounge are once again running the annual library appeal. This year we have identified Westridge High School in Mitchell’s Plain as our target school. The school has over 1,100 pupils but no library, so we have committed to installing a full library of 5,000 books for them as part of this year’s Open Book Festival. We believe passionately that children benefit exponentially from having access to books throughout their education. Last year we installed a library at Parkhurst Primary in Mitchell’s Plain, with great success.

Parkhurst feeds in to Westridge, so this will give every pupil at both schools the wonderful opportunity to engage with books and reading throughout their school career.

 We organise events throughout the year to raise funds for the library, but ultimately the library installation depends on the kindness of the general public – to buy the books that have been chosen by our experts specifically for the school. The school has appointed a librarian, who is very keen to start enriching the children’s lives with the myriad delights of literature! All she needs now are the books…

We are appealing to the public to buy books for the school (available from the Book Lounge) or to give a donation. Any amount from R100 to R10,000 would help enormously!

Please mail us on or phone on 021 462 2425. Thank you for your help!

Afrikaanse Storietyd

Saturday, August 17th 2013 at 2:30 PM

reading to kidsHierdie is ons tweede Afrikaanse storietyd by die Book Lounge die jaar. Ons het besluit om dit gereeld te hou en te kyk of daar ‘n getroue groepie boeklesertjies gaan opdaag.

Vandag gaan Danica vir ons stories lees wat ons gaan laat lag en dan gaan ons bietjie saam inkleur.

Laat ons gerus weet as jul gaan kom saamkuier op die mat.


I Love My Dog Story Time

Saturday, August 17th 2013 at 11:00 AM

i love my dogMy dog lives on the sofa.
That’s where he wants to be.
He likes to sit there night and day
and watch what’s on TV.
He surfs the channels constantly
by chewing the remote,
then watches what he wants to watch;
I never get a vote.
He’s fond of films with animals.
He takes in nature shows.
Whenever cat cartoons come on
he always watches those.
He loves the pet commercials too,
and anything with food.
Whenever there’s a tennis match
he nearly comes unglued.
I got him from the dog pound.
He didn’t cost a cent.
I asked them for a “watch dog,”
but this isn’t what I meant.

–Kenn Nesbitt


Down in the Basement! Encore!

Friday, August 16th 2013 at 5:30 PM

sannie fox-page-001
On Friday evening, 16th August we are happy to have the Sannie Fox crew in the Basement getting our feet tapping. Tickets are on sale from today and can be bought at the Book Lounge (at the counter). Tickets are R35 and can only be bought with cash (paper money). As always tickets are limited, so don’t take your sweet time to want to purchase them.

The gig will start at 6 and we are all keenly awaiting the happiness our ears will feel.

Sannie Fox described as belting out the blues like she was born in a Louisiana swamp. (- The New Age) is a guitarist and vocalist based in South Africa with Portuguese and Afrikaans parentage.  She began to sing and perform from a young age and remembers growing up listening to her parents records with an immediate affinity for an eclectic mix of artists ranging from Screaming Jay Hawkings, Led Zeppelin, Ella Fitzgerald, Patti Smith to John Lee Hooker and more.  Her musical influences span from Soul music, to Jazz,to Dub, to Celtic Rock and Dance with an ever-strong delta blues base.