5 new books to read this week

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(Composite/PA)
(Composite/PA)

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

Fiction

1. The Magician by Colm Tóibín is published in hardback by Viking, priced £18.99 (ebook £9.99). Available now

The Magician is prolific Irish author Colm Toibin’s 10th novel, and is an expansive yet deeply personal exploration of the life of exiled German writer Thomas Mann Ranging from Mann’s childhood in conservative Lubeck, Northern Germany, to his life in liberal Munich Bavaria, and his family’s flight to America to escape the Nazis, the novel is almost biographically thorough. It paints a detailed portrait of Mann, encompassing everything from his sedate daily routine and fatherly misgivings, to his hidden longings and desires. The book’s opening is slow, but following the advent of the First and Second World Wars and its devastating impact on the Mann family, it becomes gripping, imbued with a sense of dread. Containing beautiful observations on life and literature, and a sweeping sense of historical scale, The Magician remains tightly written and wryly funny.9/10(Review by Jessica Frank-Keyes)

2. The Morning Star by Karl Ove Knausgaard is published in hardback by Harvill Secker, priced £20 (ebook £11.99). Available now

Karl Ove Knausgaard established his controversial reputation with his My Struggle series, and The Morning Star builds on that fine foundation. As a bright star shines in the sky, this is a tale of interwoven lives seeping together as the players battle their own wills and those of the people around them, to forge their own definitive path. A true Scandinavian epic, as the morning star shines, the darkness inside the myriad characters becomes exposed – from priest Kathrine, to a journalist out drinking while his wife works a night shift in a psychiatric care unit. And strange things begin to occur too – crabs appear on the road, brutal murders are reported… Ultimately, Knausgaard’s brilliant storytelling is as bright as the celestial body from which the book takes its title.7/10(Review by Roddy Brooks)

3. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr is published in hardback by Fourth Estate, priced £20 (ebook £9.99). Available now

It has been quite a wait since Anthony Doerr’s last novel in 2014, the Pulitzer Prize winner, All The Light We Cannot See – a tear-duct buckling World War II saga. And so, Cloud Cuckoo Land has some pressure on it, not helped by how huge it is. Ignore the 600+ page count though and let the tides of five characters take you to present-day Idaho, Constantinople in 1453 and to a spaceship in the future, whose inhabitants are searching for a new planet to call home. Doerr manages to knit together three very different trajectories, using the legend of a man turned into a donkey, a fish and a bird, as a (slightly irritating) anchor. Yes, it sounds fantastical, and at times it is, which can jar against some of the more distressing themes (climate change, war, abuse, poverty, terrorism) – but Doerr’s expansive look at freedom, the value of the natural world, and the importance of storytelling, is captivating. There are moments that are a tad worthy, but they don’t detract from the imagination at play, and the endearing, brilliantly wrought protagonists – particularly Omeir and his oxen, and Konstance and her AI.7/10(Review by Ella Walker)

Non-fiction

4. Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters by Steven Pinker is published in hardback by Allen Lane, priced £25 (ebook £12.99). Available now

In a time 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 may differ from logic. Up to date with examples, including the death of George Floyd, the US elections and TV game shows, Pinker offers insights into ways of questioning your own and other people’s thinking. From how to take apart a news report to understanding that correlation doesn’t equate to causation or really being able to understand probabilities. The book can arm you to think for yourself. It came out of a course he taught at Harvard and it sometimes feels more textbook than popular science, so for the ordinary reader it’s – in parts – hard work. For Pinker, that is the point – the book is an impassioned plea for putting the effort in, to create a more rational world.7/10(Review by Bridie Pritchard)

Children’s book of the week

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

If you thought doctors would never be crazy enough to blow smoke up your bottom if your heart stopped, or pluck a chicken’s bum and stick it in your armpit to cure the plague, then think again. As Adam Kay’s hilarious new children’s book shows, humans have taken a long time to get their heads around how bodies work and how to fix them when they go wrong. Kay’s Marvellous Medicine – a follow-up to his 2020 children’s debut, Kay’s Anatomy – takes a look at all the weird and wonderful treatments through the ages, with a lot of facts about the body and modern medicine thrown in along the way. It is a ridiculously funny read that will delight, gross out and educate all at the same time. While Kay’s adult books (This Is Going To Hurt and Twas The Nightshift Before Christmas) have gone down a storm, his chatty tone and perfectly silly humour make him a natural children’s writer who can keep young readers engaged and giggling throughout.9/10(Review by Holly Williams)

BOOK CHARTS FOR THE WEEK ENDING OCTOBER 2

HARDBACK (FICTION)1. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman2. Sharpe’s Assassin by Bernard Cornwell3. Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney4. Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber5. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr6. The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik7. The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa8. The Jealousy Man by Jo Nesbo9. Ariadne by Jennifer Saint10. How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie(Compiled by Waterstones)

HARDBACK (NON-FICTION)1. You Deserve Better by Anne-Marie2. And Away… by Bob Mortimer3. The Audacity by Katherine Ryan4. Brothers In Arms by James Holland5. Guinness World Records 2022 by Guinness World Records6. Before & Laughter by Jimmy Carr7. A Year On Our Farm by Matt Baker8. Unrequited Infatuations by Stevie Van Zandt9. Together by Jamie Oliver10. This Much Is True by Miriam Margolyes(Compiled by Waterstones)

AUDIOBOOKS (FICTION AND NON-FICTION)1. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman2. And Away… by Bob Mortimer3. The Fellowship Of The Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien4. This Much Is True by Miriam Margolyes5. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman6. Trust Me by T.M. Logan7. The Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien8. The Sound Of Laughter by Peter Kay9. Before & Laughter by Jimmy Carr10. The Storyteller by Dave Grohl(Compiled by Audible)

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