A Perfect Cornish Summer by Phillipa Ashley (English, 1981)
Summer is on the horizon, and the people of Porthmellow are eagerly awaiting the annual food festival. At least, most of them are…For Sam Lovell, organising the summer festival in her hometown is one of the highlights of her year. It’s not always smooth sailing, but she loves to see Porthmellow’s harbour packed with happy visitors, and being on the committee has provided a much-needed distraction from the drama in her family life (and the distinct lack of it in her love life).
When their star guest pulls out with only a few weeks to go, everyone’s delighted when a London chef who grew up locally steps in at the last minute. But Gabe Matthias is the last person Sam was expecting to see, and his return to Porthmellow will change her quiet coastal life for ever.
Flex: The Modern Woman’s Handbook by Annie Auerbach (1996, History)
Flex is a creative, rebellious way to live, reinventing the rules for a smarter, happier future. It’s about looking at routines (like the nine to five) and social norms (like women bearing the brunt of the ‘emotional load’ at home) and bending and re-shaping them.
Flex is looking within and understanding yourself, your body and the patterns of your relationships, and working out how to live, earn money and be happy in a way that is perfect for you and your unique talents.
Flex is knowing that the world is changing fast. The jobs we were trained for in school won’t exist in a decade. The career ladder has been replaced with the portfolio. The book is aimed at those who feel stuck, tired, and bored and those who are burning with ideas but stuck in an environment that squashes them.
Shadow King: The Life and Death of Henry VI by Lauren Johnson (History, 2003)
First-born son of a warrior father who defeated the French at Agincourt, Henry VI of the House of Lancaster inherited the crown not only of England but also of France, at a time when Plantagenet dominance over the Valois dynasty was at its glorious height.
And yet, by the time he was done to death in the Tower of London in 1471, France was lost, his throne had been seized by his rival, Edward IV of the House of York, and his kingdom had descended into the violent chaos of the Wars of the Roses.
Henry VI is perhaps the most troubled of English monarchs, a pious, gentle, well-intentioned man who was plagued by bouts of mental illness. In Shadow King, Lauren Johnson tells his remarkable and sometimes shocking story in a fast-paced and colourful narrative that captures both the poignancy of Henry's life and the tumultuous and bloody nature of the times in which he lived.
Things Bright and Beautiful by Anbara Salam (Khalidi) (Theology, 2009)
Advent Island in the South Pacific, with its coconut palms and thick green jungle, should be Eden for missionary Max and his young wife Bea. But plagues of insects and rats, sweltering heat and local 'devil chasers' soon turn paradise into hell on earth. Just as Bea begins to adapt to island life, an unexpected guest arrives and Advent Island turns against its would-be saviors. Trapped in the jungle with her increasingly unhinged husband, Bea must fight tooth-and-nail for her freedom, and for her life.
Things Bright and Beautiful is described as 'A claustrophobic compelling read that'll suck you into its heart of darkness' by The Independent, and 'Lyrical, suspenseful, darkly comic' by the Observer
The Creativity Code by Marcus du Sautoy (Mathematics, 1983)
As humans, we have an extraordinary ability to create works of art that elevate, expand and transform what it means to be alive. Yet in many other areas, new developments in AI are shaking up the status quo, as we find out how many of the tasks humans engage in can be done equally well, if not better, by machines. But can machines be creative? Will they soon be able to learn from the art that moves us, and understand what distinguishes it from the mundane?
The Creativity Code examines the nature of creativity, as well as providing an essential guide into how algorithms work, and the mathematical rules underpinning them. Marcus asks how much of our emotional response to art is a product of our brains reacting to pattern and structure, and exactly what it is to be creative in mathematics, art, language and music.
He finds out how long it might be before machines come up with something creative, and whether they might jolt us into being more imaginative in turn. The result is a fascinating and very different exploration into both AI and the essence of what it means to be human.
Share Trading, Fraud and the Crash of 1929 – A Biography of Clarence Hatry by Chris Swinson (PPE, 1967)
This is a comprehensive biography of Clarence Charles Hatry, 1888-1965, an enigmatic and charismatic public figure. Hatry was the son of Jewish immigrant parents who became a company promoter and whose companies collapsed in 1929, leading to a crash on the London stock exchange. He was brought down by a desperate fraud. At his trial three months later, the judge said that he could not imagine a worse crime.
Analysing transactions in detail, the book reveals Hatry’s brilliance as a manipulator and a world-class networker and persuader. It also demonstrates his vain belief in his ability to overcome any risks and his insecurity which led him to surround himself with sycophants who would not challenge his ideas. It shows how others used Hatry to make money, and, as he destroyed himself, as a scapegoat who distracted from the City’s failings. Despite his deepest ambitions, he remained an outsider.
The book is based on examination of the memoirs of Hatry’s contemporaries, the archives and records which they and their companies preserved, and press reports of Hatry’s activities and marks the 90th anniversary of Hatry’s collapse.
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