5 new books to read this week


A legendary Irish writer is back, and comedian Adam Kay delights with his latest children’s book…


1. The Magician by Colm Tóibín is published as a hardcover book by Viking, priced at £ 18.99 (eBook £ 9.99). Available now

The Magician is the 10th novel by prolific Irish author Colm Toibin, and is a broad yet deeply personal exploration of the life of exiled German writer Thomas Mann. Ranging from Mann’s childhood in Lubeck, northern Germany, to his life in the liberal city of Munich, Bavaria, and his family’s flight to America to escape the Nazis, the novel is almost biographically in depth. He paints a detailed portrait of Mann, encompassing everything from his calm daily routine and fatherly fears to his hidden wants and desires. The opening of the book is slow, but following the advent of WWI and WWII and its devastating impact on the Mann family, it becomes captivating, imbued with a sense of dread. Containing beautiful observations on life and literature, and a general sense of historical scale, The Magician remains well-written and ironically funny. 9/10 (Commentary by Jessica Frank-Keyes)

2. The Morning Star by Karl Ove Knausgaard is published as a hardcover book by Harvill Secker, priced at £ 20 (eBook £ 11.99). Available now

Karl Ove Knausgaard established his controversial reputation with his My Struggle series, and The Morning Star builds on this beautiful foundation. As a bright star shines in the sky, it’s a tale of intertwined lives seeping in as players fight their own will, and that of those around them, to forge their own final path. True Scandinavian epic, as the morning star shines, the darkness within the myriad of figures becomes exposed – from priest Kathrine to journalist drinking while his wife works nights in a psychiatric ward . And strange things are starting to happen too – crabs appear on the road, brutal killings are reported… Ultimately, Knausgaard’s brilliant storytelling is as brilliant as the celestial body the book takes its title from. (Review by Roddy Brooks)

3. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr is published as a hardback book by Fourth Estate, priced at £ 20 (eBook £ 9.99). Available now

The wait has been long enough since Anthony Doerr’s last novel in 2014, Pulitzer Prize-winning, All The Light We Cannot See – a tear-apart WWII saga. And so, Cloud Cuckoo Land has some pressure, not helped by his huge. Ignore the number of pages and over 600 pages and let the tides of five characters take you to present-day Idaho, Constantinople in 1453, and a spaceship of the future, whose inhabitants are looking for a new planet to settle in. Doerr manages to articulate three very different trajectories, using the legend of a man transformed into a donkey, fish, and bird, as an anchor (somewhat irritating). Yes, it sounds fantastic, and sometimes it is, which can offend some of the more agonizing themes (climate change, war, abuse, poverty, terrorism) – but Doerr’s broad take on freedom, the value of the world naturalness and the importance of storytelling, is captivating. There are some somewhat worthy moments, but they don’t detract from the imagination in play and the endearing, brilliantly crafted protagonists – especially Omeir and his Oxen, and Konstance and his AI. 7/10 (Review by Ella Walker )


4. Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Rare, Why It Matters by Steven Pinker is published as a hardback book by Allen Lane, priced at £ 25 (eBook £ 12.99). Available now

In an age when fake news, conspiracy theories and urban myths thrive, Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker has taken it upon himself to encourage us to think more rationally. In each chapter, he provides tools to help readers become more able to think clearly and challenge their own biases and assumptions. Pinker defines what he means by rationality, as well as how to develop it and how it can differ from logic. Up to date with examples including the death of George Floyd, the US election, and game shows, Pinker offers insight into ways to challenge your own thinking and that of others. From taking a story apart to understanding that correlation is not the same as causation or actually being able to understand probability. The book can arm you to think for yourself. It came out of a class he taught at Harvard, and sometimes it looks more like a textbook than popular science, so to the ordinary reader it’s – in part – hard work. For Pinker, that’s the point – the book is a passionate plea to make the effort, to create a more rational world. 7/10 (Commentary by Bridie Pritchard)

Children’s book of the week

5. Kay’s Marvelous Medicine: A Gross And Gruesome History Of The Human Body by Adam Kay, illustrated by Henry Paker, is published in hardcover by Puffin, priced at £ 14.99 (eBook £ 10.99). Available now

If you thought doctors would never be foolish enough to blow smoke in your butt if your heart stops, or rip a chicken’s butt off and put it under your armpit to cure plague, then think again. . As Adam Kay’s hilarious new children’s book shows, humans have been slow to figure out how bodies work and how to fix them when they are wrong. Kay’s Marvelous Medicine – a sequel to its 2020 children’s debut, Kay’s Anatomy – examines all the weird and wonderful treatments through the ages, with plenty of facts about the body and modern medicine along the way. It’s a ridiculously funny read that will delight, disgust, and educate all at the same time. While Kay’s adult books (This Is Going To Hurt and Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas) have seen a storm, his chatty tone and perfectly silly humor make him a natural children’s writer who can keep young readers engaged and laughter throughout. 9/10 (Holly Williams review)


CARDBOARD (FICTION) 1. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman2. The Sharpe Assassin by Bernard Cornwell 3. Beautiful people, where are you from Sally Rooney4. Once upon a time there was a broken heart by Stéphanie Garber5. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr6. The latest graduate of Naomi Novik7. The cat that saved Sosuke Natsukawa’s books 8. The jealous man of Jo Nesbo 9. Ariane by Jennifer Saint10. How to Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie (compiled by Waterstones)

CARDBOARD (NON-FICTION) 1. You Deserve Better by Anne-Marie2. And far… by Bob Mortimer3. The Boldness of Katherine Ryan 4. Brothers in arms of James Holland 5. Guinness World Records 2022 by Guinness World Records 6. Before & Laughter by Jimmy Carr7. One year on our farm by Matt Baker8. Fads not shared by Stevie Van Zandt9. Together by Jamie Oliver10. This is true by Miriam Margolyes (compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIO BOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION) 1. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman2. And far… by Bob Mortimer3. The Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien4. This is true by Miriam Margolyes5. Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club 6. Trust me by TM Logan7. The two towers of JRR Tolkien8. The sound of laughter from Peter Kay9. Before & Laughter by Jimmy Carr10. The Storyteller by Dave Grohl (compiled by Audible)

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