It will soon be time to get some books together for your summer holiday reading, so here to help you is a short list of the best of the recent crop of publisher's offerings...
How Nietzsche Can Help You In The Garden, by Alain de Botton and Alan de Titchmarsh, Audit Books, £19.99. Alain de Botton believes that philosophy is not just an academic process but can still, if applied to real life, shift a lot of books. He has got together with gardening broadcaster Alan de Titchmarsh to see how the ideas of the German philosopher Nietzsche can be applied to an easily manageable small town garden. "Nietzsche believed that human existence came in cycles and, if we waited long enough, everything would happen again exactly as before," says the intro. "Well, if that isn't a perfect description of the gardening year, then I'm a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floor of some lost ocean."
Anna Karenina by Amy Jenkins, Cool Press, £19.99. In her long-awaited first novel, Amy Jenkins tells the story of twenty-something Anna who comes to the big city and can't make up her mind who to stick with; this lovely boyfriend Vronsky she has met and fallen in love with or this not-so-lovely husband she is already married to. After a lot of dialogue, she finally has a terrible accident with a railway train, which some reviewers have seen as a cop-out ending, though not if it is seen as a clear and telling response to the haunting reverberations of the Ladbroke Grove disaster inquiry.
Harry Potter's Diary by Sue Townsend, Hay Diet Books, £19.99. This is the inner monologue of the wizard with acne problems and an inability to give up smoking which has caught the fancy of the nation. It's terribly funny and terribly relevant and appallingly close to home, because we all know someone like that. Deals with the burning question: how far should a wizard go on his first date, and if he does go too far, should he let the girl know?
What Pythagoras Can Tell Us About Home Improvement by Alain de Botton and Germaine Greer, Warwick University DIY Press, £19.99. Another in De Botton's series on how old Greek thinkers would have dealt with rising damp and faulty wiring, this one centres on the somewhat specialised problems of university lecturers who live by themselves and are subject to the threat of being tied up in knots by clever young students. Diagrams show how to make a security system, how to link your alarm circuit to the local police station and how, if the worst comes to the worst, to untie knots behind your back with one hand.
Letters From Martin Amis To Philip Larkin's Son by Martin Amis, HarpicCollins, £19.99. The letters between Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin turned into a modest best-seller, so Martin Amis has decided to do the same for the next generation and publish the letters between him and Larkin junior. Unfortunately, Philip Larkin never had any children. Fortunately, Martin Amis has never allowed a little thing like that to put him off and has written the letters that Larkin's son (if he had had one) would have written to him. Larkin's son says some acerbic things about his dad, but not half as bad as what Martin says about Kingsley.
The Wife's Story by Sophie Rhys-Jones, Royal Books, £19.99. Sophie Rhys-Jones, now married to Prince Edward, was not in the car when Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed met their deaths. Nor was Griff Rhys Jones, one-time partner of Mel Smith, who never suffered from bulimia in his life. It was Trevor Rhys-Jones, the bodyguard on hire from Harrods, who was in the car that fateful night. How do all these Rhys-Joneses fit together? How come none of them has a Welsh accent? And why has the name become popular when, for centuries, nobody called Rhys-Jones was ever heard of? None of these questions is answered in this book, but there are some nice recipes.
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