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
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
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.

    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
    UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

    39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

    There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
    Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

    Computerised cooking is coming

    From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
    Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

    Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

    The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
    Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

    Education: Football Beyond Borders

    Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
    10 best barbecue books

    Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

    We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
    Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

    Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most