July 2021: Non-fiction Previews
Selected by Caroline Sanderson

When is the right time to tell a story? In compiling these previews, I think about this question often, and not just when a twenty-something celebrity releases an autobiography. I find it astonishing that more than 75 years after the end of the Second World War, extraordinary untold stories of courage are still emerging, like that of Chaim Herzsman, whose derring-do in fleeing Nazi terror is related by his son John Carr in Escape From the Ghetto. And other remarkable stories merit telling more than once, like that of Beryl Gilroy, one of Britain’s “most significant post-war Caribbean migrants”, whose book Black Teacher, first published in 1976, makes for a timely reissue this month.

 

These new old stories from the past make me wonder how long it will take us to tell the story of Covid-19 and of its long-term effects on people’s lives. In publishing terms, of course, the process is already well underway, with one of the biggest stories of the pandemic set to be told this July: that of the vaccine that so many of us have now gladly queued up to receive. In Vaxxers: The Inside Story of the Oxford Vaccine and the Race Against the Virus, Sarah Gilbert and Catherine Green explain the cutting-edge science behind it.

Then again, some stories are timeless. Step forward my Book of the Month: the riveting Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn, which investigates an eternal and never-ending saga: that of the human quest for love.

Book Of The Month

  • Book of the month
    Personal development

    Conversations on Love

    by Natasha Lunn

    "It's no exaggeration to say the conversations about love I've had have changed my life. They helped me to see through the mist of longing, to see the love that was already in my life, all along." This enthralling and often profound consideration of the many-splendored thing we call love was acquired by Viking in a 16-way auction for a six-figure sum, and came out of an email newsletter of the same title created by Lunn, who is features director at Red magazine. It combines her own lived experience of love and loss with some of the interviews she has conducted with an impressive array of authors and experts, who bring their own life wisdom to bear on the thorny questions of how we find love; how we sustain it, and how we survive when we lose it.

    The power of this book lies its willingness to engage with love in the broadest sense: not merely the romantic kind, to which so many other books on relationships confine themselves. Alain de Botton describes "The psychology of being alone" for example, while Candice Carty-Williams advocates for the "The power of friends who see the goodness in you", and Poorna Bell considers "The challenges and comforts of the sibling bond". We also hear from Lisa Taddeo, Dolly Alderton, Philippa Perry, Roxane Gay, Diana Evans and many others. I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't benefit from reading this transformative book.

    Viking, £14.99, 15th July 2021, 9780241448731

Browse July 2021: Non-fiction Previews

  • Editors choice
    Current affairs

    The Sex Lives of African Women

    by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

    Those who loved Lisa Taddeo's Three Women but longed for a more diverse take too will relish the extraordinary panoply of stories in this collection of interviews conducted by feminist activist, writer and blogger Sekyiamah. From living a polyamorous life in Senegal, to the joys of queer sex as described by a 70-year-old Harlem-born feminist, it illuminates a tapestry of African female sexuality. With many of the women having combatted prejudice, as well as traditional constraints on their freedoms, their powerful stories of liberation have the potential to inspire all women.

    Dialogue Books, £18.99, 22nd July 2021, 9780349701653
  • Editors choice
    Biography/memoir

    Hello, Stranger: How We Find Connection in a Disconnected World

    by Will Buckingham

    "This book is about strangers... about how, when the world seems to be at its darkest, it can help to allow our homes and our worlds to breathe more deeply, to become porous." When Buckingham's long-time partner died, he opened up his house to strangers, by way of navigating a path through his grief, and in the process became immersed in the rich and ancient tradition of philoxenia. From Bulgaria to Pakistan, and from France to Greece and beyond, he examines the value which those we do not yet know might bring to our lives, in this humane and heart-warming book.

    Granta Books, £16.99, 1st July 2021, 9781783785643
  • Editors choice
    Biography/memoir

    Two Hitlers and a Marilyn

    by Adam Andrusier

    Already garlanded with praise from Zadie Smith (who took inspiration from its author for her novel The Autograph Man), David Baddiel and Jonathan Safran Foer, this funny, bittersweet and big-hearted memoir majors on Andrusier's North London Jewish childhood and adolescence, much of which was spent in pursuit of autographs. He wrote to every famous person he could think of, and jostled with paparazzi at stage doors and outside hotels in the hope of a signature from the stars. It was not a youth misspent, for he is now a world-leading autograph dealer.

    Headline Book Publishing, £16.99, 8th July 2021, 9781472277084
  • Editors choice
    Biography/memoir

    Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?

    by Seamas O'Reilly

    "It's an infuriating quirk of the brain that I remember my first taste of a banana sandwich but not the moment I was told Mammy had died." A touching and unexpectedly funny account by the Observer columnist and founder of online parody "Remembering Ireland", of growing up as one of 11 children in rural Northern Ireland in the 1990s after the death of their mother when O'Reilly was only five. It's a tender evocation both of dazed grief, and of how a family comes together to doggedly cope with the body blow life has dealt them

    Fleet, £16.99, 22nd July 2021, 9780708899229
  • Editors choice
    Biography/memoir

    Re-educated: How I changed my job, my home, my husband and my hair

    by Lucy Kellaway

    This witty and engaging memoir of starting again in later life charts former journalist and FT columnist Kellaway's dawning realisation that the comfortable life she had built for herself over decades no longer suited her. Within months she had moved house, ended her marriage and changed career, training to become an economics teacher, and founding Now Teach, an organisation which encourages other mature professionals to do the same. It's an inspiring tribute to the old adage that it's never too late to teach yourself new tricks.

    Ebury Press, £16.99, 1st July 2021, 9781529108002
  • Ones to watch
    Film, TV & Music

    Hamilton and Me: An Actor's Journal

    by Giles Terera

    Illustrated with dozens of colour photographs and with a foreword by the show's creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, this is an absorbing account of acting in smash-hit musical "Hamilton" on London's West End, by the actor who won the Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Aaron Burr. Drawn from a journal Terera kept throughout the more than a year-long process of preparation, rehearsal and performance, it provides an engrossing commentary on songs and moments from the show, as seen from the inside.

    Nick Hern Books, £16.99, 1st July 2021, 9781848429994
  • Ones to watch
    Language & Literature

    12 Bytes: How We Got Here. Where We Might Go Next.

    by Jeanette Winterson

    "Will the physical body that is our home soon be enhanced by biological and neural implants, keeping us fit, younger and connected? Or is it time to join Elon Musk and leave Planet Earth?" Inspired by her years of reading and thinking about Artificial Intelligence, Winterson's 12 bytes are a dozen "eye-opening, mind-expanding, funny and provocative" essays on the implications of AI for the future of the ways we live, and the ways we love, drawing on a rich blend of history, religion, myth, literature and the politics of race and gender, as well as computer science in the process.

    Jonathan Cape Ltd, £16.99, 29th July 2021, 9781787332461
  • Ones to watch
    Popular science/history

    This Is Your Mind On Plants: Opium-Caffeine-Mescaline

    by Michael Pollan

    In a "radical challenge to how we think about drugs", the award-winning and hugely influential US food writer blends history, science and memoir as he explores the effects of three very different drugs-opium, caffeine and mescaline-throwing the fundamental strangeness of our thinking about them into sharp relief. Delving into, and participating in the cultures that have grown up around these substances, while consuming (or in the case of caffeine, trying not to consume) them, he reckons with the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants, and the equally powerful taboos which surround them.

    Allen Lane, £20.00, 8th July 2021, 9780241519264
  • Ones to watch
    Business, Economics & Technology

    Rebuild: How to thrive in the new Kindness Economy

    by Mary Portas (Author)

    "We're not simply consuming anymore, we're buying into something." In this "practical handbook and visionary toolkit for weathering the post-pandemic storm in business", Portas, the go-to UK commentator on retail, argues that good business is now about putting people and planet before profit, with our post-pandemic era set to be characterised by care, respect and an understanding of the implications of what we do, rather than by the biggest, fastest and cheapest. This "Kindness Economy", she shows, is a new value system with which businesses must engage.

    Bantam Press, £14.99, 1st July 2021, 9781787635166
  • Ones to watch
    Biography/memoir

    Bunnyman

    by Will Sergeant

    This memoir by the guitarist and founder member of Echo and the Bunnymen will be the first book about, or by, any member of the Liverpool band which has sold over three million records worldwide. Including never-before-seen personal photos, tickets, posters, art and other ephemera from Sergeant's personal collection, it takes in his Liverpool childhood in the 1960s and '70s, the emerging punk scene, and how one of the most influential British bands of the 1980s came to be.

    Constable, £20.00, 15th July 2021, 9781472135032
  • Editors choice
    Current affairs

    The Sex Lives of African Women

    by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

    Those who loved Lisa Taddeo's Three Women but longed for a more diverse take too will relish the extraordinary panoply of stories in this collection of interviews conducted by feminist activist, writer and blogger Sekyiamah. From living a polyamorous life in Senegal, to the joys of queer sex as described by a 70-year-old Harlem-born feminist, it illuminates a tapestry of African female sexuality. With many of the women having combatted prejudice, as well as traditional constraints on their freedoms, their powerful stories of liberation have the potential to inspire all women.

    Dialogue Books, £18.99, 22nd July 2021, 9780349701653
  • Editors choice
    Biography/memoir

    Hello, Stranger: How We Find Connection in a Disconnected World

    by Will Buckingham

    "This book is about strangers... about how, when the world seems to be at its darkest, it can help to allow our homes and our worlds to breathe more deeply, to become porous." When Buckingham's long-time partner died, he opened up his house to strangers, by way of navigating a path through his grief, and in the process became immersed in the rich and ancient tradition of philoxenia. From Bulgaria to Pakistan, and from France to Greece and beyond, he examines the value which those we do not yet know might bring to our lives, in this humane and heart-warming book.

    Granta Books, £16.99, 1st July 2021, 9781783785643
  • Editors choice
    Biography/memoir

    Two Hitlers and a Marilyn

    by Adam Andrusier

    Already garlanded with praise from Zadie Smith (who took inspiration from its author for her novel The Autograph Man), David Baddiel and Jonathan Safran Foer, this funny, bittersweet and big-hearted memoir majors on Andrusier's North London Jewish childhood and adolescence, much of which was spent in pursuit of autographs. He wrote to every famous person he could think of, and jostled with paparazzi at stage doors and outside hotels in the hope of a signature from the stars. It was not a youth misspent, for he is now a world-leading autograph dealer.

    Headline Book Publishing, £16.99, 8th July 2021, 9781472277084
  • Editors choice
    Biography/memoir

    Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?

    by Seamas O'Reilly

    "It's an infuriating quirk of the brain that I remember my first taste of a banana sandwich but not the moment I was told Mammy had died." A touching and unexpectedly funny account by the Observer columnist and founder of online parody "Remembering Ireland", of growing up as one of 11 children in rural Northern Ireland in the 1990s after the death of their mother when O'Reilly was only five. It's a tender evocation both of dazed grief, and of how a family comes together to doggedly cope with the body blow life has dealt them

    Fleet, £16.99, 22nd July 2021, 9780708899229
  • Editors choice
    Biography/memoir

    Re-educated: How I changed my job, my home, my husband and my hair

    by Lucy Kellaway

    This witty and engaging memoir of starting again in later life charts former journalist and FT columnist Kellaway's dawning realisation that the comfortable life she had built for herself over decades no longer suited her. Within months she had moved house, ended her marriage and changed career, training to become an economics teacher, and founding Now Teach, an organisation which encourages other mature professionals to do the same. It's an inspiring tribute to the old adage that it's never too late to teach yourself new tricks.

    Ebury Press, £16.99, 1st July 2021, 9781529108002
  • Editors choice
    Biography/memoir

    Black Teacher

    by Beryl Gilroy

    While teachers are among the heroes of lockdown, this vivid and inspiring memoir embodies a whole other kind of trailblazing heroism in the pursuit of a teaching profession. First published in 1976, it charts how Gilroy's courage and belief in the transforming power of education sustained her when she moved from British Guiana to London in the 1950s, allowing her to face down racism to become the first Black headteacher in Camden, a published writer, and "one of Britain's most significant post-war Caribbean migrants". Bernardine Evaristo has written the foreword to this new edition.

    Faber & Faber, £12.99, 1st July 2021, 9780571367733
  • Editors choice
    Biography/memoir

    The Right Sort of Girl

    by Anita Rani

    "I'm a girl and northern and brown. A triple threat!" Born and bred in Bradford in a Punjabi family, Rani is best-known as one of the lead presenters on BBC's "Countryfile" and BBC Radio 4's "Woman's Hour". Her first book is no identikit celebrity memoir, but rather a beautifully pitched coming-of-age story told through thematic essays ("Families Are Never Simple", "Food Will Always Be Life") which chart her journey to work out how she fits in as a second-generation British Indian woman who is also immensely proud of her Yorkshire heritage. I much admired its verve and charm.

    Blink, £16.99, 8th July 2021, 9781788704236
  • Editors choice
    Food & Drink

    An A-Z of Pasta

    by Rachel Roddy

    "Pasta, a small word for a universe of shapes... the story of these shapes is the story of Italy." In this stylish A-Z paean to pasta, the award-winning, Rome-dwelling food writer serves up everything she has learned about Italy's favourite food since moving there in 2005. Along with the enticing and eminently doable recipes for classic dishes (and less familiar concoctions) are short essays that weave together the history, culture and derivation of 50 pasta shapes, from Alfabeto (in the shape of letters) to Ziti (the longest pasta shape of all).

    Fig Tree, £25.00, 8th July 2021, 9780241402504
  • Editors choice
    Natural history & Pets

    Gifts of Gravity and Light

    by Anita Roy

    This excellent, essential collection shines a light on writing about the natural world in all its biodiversity from those who, for reasons of gender, ethnicity, sexuality, class or disability, are seldom heard from in the traditional landscape of nature writing. Divided into four sections (one for each of the seasons), it includes pieces by Testament, a hip-hop MC, beatboxer and playwright (under the beautiful title, "Hoarfrost Butterfly); poet Tishani Doshi on summers in Wales; and Luke Turner, author of Out of the Woods, on the landscapes of First World War battlefields. Foreword by Bernardine Evaristo.

    Hodder & Stoughton, £16.99, 8th July 2021, 9781529363159
  • Editors choice
    Current affairs

    Fallen Idols: Twelve Statues That Made History

    by Alex Von Tunzelmann

    "Statues are not a record of history but of historical memory. They reflect what somebody at some point thought we should think". From George III in 18th-century New York, pulled down as an enemy of the revolution; to Edward Colston making a splash on Bristol Harbourside in 2020, I loved this bracing and witty account of 12 statues from history, which demonstrates that these edifices have always been a controversial construct, first venerated and then later pulled down by more critical, and often more enlightened, generations.

    Headline Book Publishing, £20.00, 8th July 2021, 9781472281876
  • Ones to watch
    Film, TV & Music

    Hamilton and Me: An Actor's Journal

    by Giles Terera

    Illustrated with dozens of colour photographs and with a foreword by the show's creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda, this is an absorbing account of acting in smash-hit musical "Hamilton" on London's West End, by the actor who won the Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Aaron Burr. Drawn from a journal Terera kept throughout the more than a year-long process of preparation, rehearsal and performance, it provides an engrossing commentary on songs and moments from the show, as seen from the inside.

    Nick Hern Books, £16.99, 1st July 2021, 9781848429994
  • Ones to watch
    Language & Literature

    12 Bytes: How We Got Here. Where We Might Go Next.

    by Jeanette Winterson

    "Will the physical body that is our home soon be enhanced by biological and neural implants, keeping us fit, younger and connected? Or is it time to join Elon Musk and leave Planet Earth?" Inspired by her years of reading and thinking about Artificial Intelligence, Winterson's 12 bytes are a dozen "eye-opening, mind-expanding, funny and provocative" essays on the implications of AI for the future of the ways we live, and the ways we love, drawing on a rich blend of history, religion, myth, literature and the politics of race and gender, as well as computer science in the process.

    Jonathan Cape Ltd, £16.99, 29th July 2021, 9781787332461
  • Ones to watch
    Popular science/history

    This Is Your Mind On Plants: Opium-Caffeine-Mescaline

    by Michael Pollan

    In a "radical challenge to how we think about drugs", the award-winning and hugely influential US food writer blends history, science and memoir as he explores the effects of three very different drugs-opium, caffeine and mescaline-throwing the fundamental strangeness of our thinking about them into sharp relief. Delving into, and participating in the cultures that have grown up around these substances, while consuming (or in the case of caffeine, trying not to consume) them, he reckons with the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants, and the equally powerful taboos which surround them.

    Allen Lane, £20.00, 8th July 2021, 9780241519264
  • Ones to watch
    Business, Economics & Technology

    Rebuild: How to thrive in the new Kindness Economy

    by Mary Portas (Author)

    "We're not simply consuming anymore, we're buying into something." In this "practical handbook and visionary toolkit for weathering the post-pandemic storm in business", Portas, the go-to UK commentator on retail, argues that good business is now about putting people and planet before profit, with our post-pandemic era set to be characterised by care, respect and an understanding of the implications of what we do, rather than by the biggest, fastest and cheapest. This "Kindness Economy", she shows, is a new value system with which businesses must engage.

    Bantam Press, £14.99, 1st July 2021, 9781787635166
  • Ones to watch
    Biography/memoir

    Bunnyman

    by Will Sergeant

    This memoir by the guitarist and founder member of Echo and the Bunnymen will be the first book about, or by, any member of the Liverpool band which has sold over three million records worldwide. Including never-before-seen personal photos, tickets, posters, art and other ephemera from Sergeant's personal collection, it takes in his Liverpool childhood in the 1960s and '70s, the emerging punk scene, and how one of the most influential British bands of the 1980s came to be.

    Constable, £20.00, 15th July 2021, 9781472135032
  • Ones to watch
    Personal development

    Keep the Receipts: Three Women, Real Talk, No Filter

    by The Receipts Media Ltd

    "This is the sisterhood you've always wanted to be a part of." Shoneye, Indome and Sanchez are the frontwomen of the award-nominated podcast of the same name, the first hosted and produced by women of colour to top the Apple podcast charts. This "unashamedly brutally honest and audacious" book is billed as a celebration of the wonderful messes and successes of life, in which they share their highs and lows, life lessons and unfiltered conversations on subjects ranging from different approaches to love and building strong friendships, to enjoying life as a woman of colour.

    Headline Book Publishing, £19.99, 8th July 2021, 9781472282606
  • Ones to watch
    Popular science/history

    Vaxxers

    by Sarah Gilbert & Catherine Green

    On 1st January 2020, Gilbert, who is professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, read an article about four people in China with a strange pneumonia. Within two weeks she had designed a vaccine against a pathogen that no one had ever seen before. Twelve months later, the Oxford vaccine is being rolled out across the world. In this "thrilling" narrative, we hear directly from Professor Gilbert, and her colleague Dr Cath Green, as they reveal the inside story of the vaccine and explain the cutting-edge science behind it.

    Hodder & Stoughton, £20.00, 8th July 2021, 9781529369854
  • Ones to watch
    Film, TV & Music

    Shiny and New: Ten Moments of Pop Genius that Defined the '80s

    by Dylan Jones

    "Subjective and idiosyncratic", this cultural history of 1980s pop by the author and editor of GQ takes us from downtown New York to post-industrial Manchester in the first "widescreen attempt to weave together the stories, songs and events which reshaped music and society". It is all framed through 10 defining singles (one from each year of the decade) which epitomised their time or ushered in a cultural shift, including "The Look of Love" by ABC, "Like a Virgin" by Madonna and "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang.

    Orion Books Ltd, £20.00, 8th July 2021, 9781474620055
  • Ones to watch
    Natural history & Pets

    Woodston

    by John Lewis-Stempel

    Broader and more ambitious in scope than Lewis-Stempel's recent quartet of nature titles, this standalone book tells the story of Woodston, his family farm, for the first time; from the volcanoes that stained it and the Romans who occupied it, to the Tudors who traded it and the bombs that fell on it. He mines both the memories of his relatives and written records to provide a "deep and thoughtful" portrait of the land his family has been bound to for millennia. In so doing, he also interrogates why farming is so central to our country, and to humanity.

    Doubleday, £20.00, 1st July 2021, 9780857525796
  • Ones to watch
    Current affairs

    Everything You Really Need to Know About Politics

    by Jess Phillips

    From the sublime to the ridiculous, the inner workings of Westminster are often a mystery to those on the outside. Now, drawing on her own time as an MP, the Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley and current shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding lifts the lid on the systems and rules that govern us all, and in her own inimitable style, shows us what's really going on in British politics as she explains the processes of running for government, changing a law, serving constituents, wrangling with fellow MPs and more.

    Simon & Schuster , £16.99, 22nd July 2021, 9781398500907
  • Ones to watch
    Language & Literature

    Sista Sister

    by Candice Brathwaite

    "The low ache which can be found in the very bone marrow of those who happen to be defined as Black cannot be empathised with in just a few weeks." The author of the landmark I Am Not Your Baby Mother returns with a trenchant collection of essays about some of the issues she had to grapple with when she was a young Black girl growing up in London; from family, money, Black hair and fashion, to sex and friendships between people of different races. Written in her straight-talking but warm and funny style, it will no doubt garner her many more fans.

    Quercus Publishing, £16.99, 8th July 2021, 9781529415278
  • Ones to watch
    Food & Drink

    Happy Cooking: Easy uplifting meals and comforting treats

    by Candice Brown

    "Feel-good food for grey and busy days." Brown was the winner of "The Great British Bake-Off" in 2016, and is now a Sunday Times columnist, and co-owner with her brother of The Green Man pub in Eversholt, Bedfordshire. In her second cookbook, a lead title for Ebury, she shares the recipes which bring her joy, as well as relief from the anxiety and depression with which she suffers; from chicken nuggets and brown butter macaroni cheese, to cinnamon pastry twists. Giovanna Fletcher, Frankie Bridge and Tom Kerridge are among her fans.

    Ebury Press, £22.00, 1st July 2021, 9781529108330
  • Ones to watch
    Language & Literature

    Things Are Against Us

    by Lucy Ellmann

    "These are essays bursting with energy and reading them feels like sticking your hand in the mains socket." This "fierce" first collection of essays from the author of the Booker-shortlisted and Goldsmiths Prize-winning Ducks, Newburyport covers everything from feminism to environmental catastrophe, labour strikes to sex strikes, and bras ("Men have managed to eroticise bras but they don't have to wear them") to Agatha Christie ("atrocious but ideal for people with colds"). "Provocative, smart, angry, wise and very very funny," I'm assured, and it sounds it.

    Galley Beggar Press, £9.99, 4th July 2021, 9781913111137
  • Ones to watch
    Business, Economics & Technology

    An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook's Battle for Domination

    by Sheera Frenkel

    This major lead title for Little, Brown offers a detailed insider account of the controversies and crises that have roiled Facebook over the past four years. Building on a New York Times article in 2018 which exposed how leadership decisions at Facebook enabled and then tried to cover up massive privacy breaches and Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, the investigation's lead reporters, Frenkel and King, take an even deeper dive into the story. Drawing on "unrivalled" sources, they take us inside the company's complex court politics, with Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg at the centre.

    Little, Brown, £20.00, 13th July 2021, 9781408712719