Paperbacks: Under Water to Get Out of the Rain
Penguin Special
Meditations
God's Secret Agents
Howard Hodgkin: the complete prints
The Wonder Spot
Mr Muo's Travelling Couch


Under Water to Get Out of the Rain, by Trevor Norton (ARROW £7.99 (385pp))

If you can stand the occasional creaky joke, this book is perfect beach reading. On a slender autobiographical line, the Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Liverpool hauls in a fascinating trawl of maritime marvels. We learn, for example, that the octopus is "an Einstein among invertebrates", dolphins' tails go up and down because they are distant descendants of shrews whose tails did the same thing, "directional clues" in limpet slime may be imitated in a future generation of computers, an elephant once swam 48 kilometres and Homo erectus became Homo sapiens due to a shellfish diet rich in brain-building fatty acids. The cringe-making gags ("Win got fed up with this intermittent romance and made it clear I was close to a no-Win situation") are a small price to pay for this torrent of revelations, but Norton goes too far in repeating the old canard that Elephant & Castle derives from Infanta di Castile. The castle was a howdah. This book is not without its serious side. Norton's diving tales involve an alarming number of fatalities. Drowning, he stresses, "is what the sea does best". The relentless destruction of the marine environment is a sobering descant in Norton's delightful sea shanty. CH

Penguin Special, by Jeremy Lewis (PENGUIN £9.99 (484pp))

Despite the forebodings of Orwell ("for publisher, author and bookseller, it is a disaster"), Allen Lane made a success of Penguins by marrying hardback editorial standards and mass marketing. Jeremy Lewis broadens the appeal of this fine portrait by including asides on Lane's pugnacious publishing rivals and the eccentrics who worked for Penguin. Tattooed everywhere but his heels, one editor spent time in both prison and a Franciscan monastery. The charming but ruthless Lane was equally odd. His breezy attitude when lost in the Kenyan bush ("Round the next corner there'll be a melon stall") is a delight. CH

Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius (PENGUIN £7.99 (254pp))

Originally written in Greek, these imperial pensées were Socratic dialogues that the Emperor left unanswered. Perhaps it is unsurprising that they were never intended for publication since Marcus Aurelius scoffs at the notion of fame: "All is ephemeral, both memory and the object of memory." If his scorn for celebrity was never more pertinent than today, the same applies to his demolition of conventional beauty: "Any man with feeling will see a kind of bloom and fresh beauty in an old man or an old woman." Translated by Martin Hammond in a muscular style appropriate to the old warrior, Marcus's Stoic self-help manual was battle-tested. CH

God's Secret Agents, by Alice Hogge (HARPER £8.99 (445pp))

The perilous return of Jesuit priests to the Protestant England of Elizabeth I was very similar to undercover operatives in occupied Europe during World War II. Brilliantly elucidating the complexities of the era, Hogge tells a thrilling story of bravery and betrayal. Though 124 Catholic priests were executed under Elizabeth, we learn that "this regime... still actively did not want to kill". This reluctance ended with the Gunpowder Plot. Hearing the ruthlessness of arch-plotter Robert Catesby, one English Catholic declared: "I greatly misliked it." CH

Howard Hodgkin: the complete prints, by Liesbeth Heenk (THAMES & HUDSON £29.95 (240pp))

Issued in paperback to coincide with the mammoth Hodgkin retrospective at Tate Britain, this exemplary volume chronicles the great colourist's struggle to produce prints that match his painting. He swiftly discovered the impracticality of revision. "If you don't know what you're going to do, you'll make a mess," was the "sergeant-majorly advice" of one printer. Moreover, the cost precludes steady evolution. Hodgkin compares the process to a taxi that "charges by the second". His mastery of the medium can be judged by the 80 colour plates gathered here. CH

The Wonder Spot, by Melissa Bank (PENGUIN £7.99 (324pp))

"I planned to tell him that I had no Hebrew aptitude," says Sophie Applebaum, narrator of Melissa Bank's charming second novel, "and also to convey the message of Bob Dylan's song 'It Ain't Me Babe'". She manages to avoid the bat mitzvah her parents have planned, but the path to true love, and employment, is not quite so smooth. This book is like a delicious tarte au citron: sweet, yes, but also zesty and fresh. CP

Mr Muo's Travelling Couch, by Dai Sijie (VINTAGE £7.99 (264pp))

Called back from his long expat idyll as a Freudian in Paris to rescue an old flame, Mr Muo finds a China much changed from the country he left a decade ago - and, in some ways, even weirder. This exuberant Chinese Candide (translated by Ina Rilke) shows Paris-based writer-film-maker Dai Sijie analysing his native land with an offbeat humour set between satire and silliness. Earthy but erudite, with a spiced wit all its own. BT

Arts and Entertainment
The crowd enjoy Latitude Festival 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
'I do think a woman's place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.'

Is this the end of the Dowager Countess?tv
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith from The Office ten years on

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams prepares to enter the House of Black and White as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season five

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn