Swindon Festival of Literature 2017









The 24th Swindon Festival of Literature is fast approaching… time to start reading all those authors you plan to see. Do the groundwork between now and May and you’ll really be able to get the most out of every event you go to.
As long time supporters of the Festival Swindon Libraries are delighted to be hosting 3 events this year at the Central Library:

JOANNA HICKSON – on the ever-fascinating Tudor dynasty – 7pm – Tuesday 2nd May – £5 (£4 concession)

RACHEL WARREN CHAD – on birds: Myth, Lore & Legend – 7pm – Tuesday 9th May – £5 (£4 concession)

HENRY HEMMING – on one of MI5’s greatest spymasters! 7pm – Friday 12th may – £5 (£4 concession)

The Visitor Information Centre at Central Library (01793 466454) is selling tickets for all the events at the Central Library.
Full details of all events can be found on the festival website: www.swindonfestivalofliterature.co.uk

From mid-April watch out for our Festival displays

Didgeridoo and dance at Central Library – Wilks Academy help launch Swindon Festival of Literature 2017

All the books listed below are, or soon will be, available in Swindon Borough Libraries. Check the library catalogue for details of where they are held, or to reserve online.

Christopher Somerville, The January Man: a Year of Walking Britain
In January 2006, a month or two after my father died, I thought I saw him again – a momentary impression of an old man, a little stooped, setting off for a walk in his characteristic fawn corduroys and shabby quilted jacket.  ‘The January Man’ is the story of a year of walks that was inspired by a song, Dave Goulder’s ‘The January Man’. Month by month, season by season and region by region, Christopher Somerville walks the British Isles, following routes that continually bring his father to mind. As he travels the country he describes the history, wildlife, landscapes and people he encounters, down back lanes and old paths, in rain and fair weather
Somerville’s travels: journeys through the heart and soul of the British Isles
     The golden step: a walk through the heart of Crete
     Britain & Ireland’s best wild places: 500 ways to discover the wild
     Never eat shredded wheat: the geography we’ve lost and how to find it again
     Walking West Country railways
     Coast: a celebration of Britain’s coastal heritage
     The Times Britain’s best walks
     Graham Harvey Grass-fed nation
     The carbon fields: how our countryside can save Britain

Hilary Bradt Roam alone
Connemara Mollie: an Irish journey on horseback
     Dingle Peggy: further travels in Ireland on horseback
     To oldly go: tales of intrepid travel by the over-60s

Benedict Allen
Hunting the Gugu: in search ofthe lost ape-men of Sumatra
     The Faber book of exploration: an anthology of worlds revealed by explorers through the ages
     More great railway journeys

Joanna Hickson , First of the Tudors

Red rose, white rose
The Tudor bride
The Agincourt bride

Irving Finkel Cuneiform
The ark before Noah: decoding the story of the flood
Oliver James, Not in your genes: the real reason children are like their parents
There is a prevailing myth that who we are is largely down to our genetic code. Most of us believe that our personalities, abilities and health are down to a combination of both our upbringing and our natural genetic makeup. However, in this new book, Oliver James uncovers the truth about genetics: that our genes actually play very little part in shaping who we are. In fact, nearly all of the psychological differences between us are caused by our upbringing and environment, and in disease only a tiny 5-10% of cases are caused by genes. Oliver James not only demonstrates how our past and present affect us and they way we behave, but shows how this opens us up for unexpected opportunities for change
How to create emotional health
The selfish capitalist: origins of affluenza
      Contented dementia: 24-hour wraparound care for lifelong well-being
      Affluenza (,æflu’enza): how to be successful and stay sane
     Upping your Ziggy: how David Bowie used the persona of Ziggy Stardust to slay his childhood     demons
      Office politics: how to thrive in a world of lying, backstabbing and dirty tricks
      How not to f*** them up: the first three years

Mark Lawson, The Allegations
On the morning after he has celebrated his 60th birthday at a celebrity-filled party, Ned Marriott is in bed with his partner when there’s a knock on the door. Detectives from the London police force’s ‘Operation Millpond’ have come to arrest him over an allegation of sexual assault. Ned is one of the country’s best-known historians – teaching at a top university, advising governments and making TV documentaries – but this ‘historic’ claim threatens to ruin him. Can the complainants, detectives, HR teams, journalists and Tweeters who are driving the stories all be seeing smoke with no fire behind it?
The deaths
      Enough is enough, or, The emergency government: a novel
      The battle for room service: journeys to all the safe places

Polly Toynbee & David Walker Dismembered
Hard work: life in low-pay Britain
      Cameron’s coup: how the Tories took Britain to the brink
      The verdict: did Labour change Britain?
      Unjust rewards: exposing greed and inequality in Britain today

Brian Clegg The Reality Frame
Light years: an exploration of mankind’s enduring fascination with light
     The global warming survival kit: the must-have guide to overcoming extreme weather, power cuts, food shortages and other climate change disasters
      Eco-logic: cutting through the greenwash: truth, lies and saving the planet
      Studying creatively: a creativity toolkit to get your studies out of a rut
      The quantum age: how the physics of the very small has transformed our lives
      Science for life: a manual for better living
      What if Einstein was wrong?: asking the big questions about physics

Marcus du Sautoy What we cannot know: explorations at the edge of knowledge
Science is king. Every week, headlines announce new breakthroughs in our understanding of the universe, new technologies that will transform our environment, new medical advances that will extend our lives. Science is giving us unprecedented insight into some of the big questions that have challenged humanity ever since we’ve been able to formulate those questions. Where did we come from? What is the ultimate destiny of the universe? What are the building blocks of the physical world? What is consciousness? This book asks us to rein in this unbridled enthusiasm for the power of science. Marcus du Sautoy explores the limits of human knowledge, to probe whether there is anything we truly cannot know
     Finding moonshine: a mathematician’s journey through symmetry
     The number mysteries: a mathematical odyssey through everyday life
Elizabeth St John The Lady of the Tower
Mixture of genuine and fictional historical 17thC letters with links to the St. John family of Lydiard Tregoze, Swindon.
Orphaned Lucy St.John, described as “the most beautiful of all,” defies English society by carving her own path through the decadent Stuart court. Elizabeth St.John tells the dramatic story of love, betrayal, family bonds and loyalty through the eyes of her ancestor Lucy and her family’s surviving diaries, letters and court papers.

Wayne Holloway-Smith Alarum

The mischievous and often dark world of Wayne Holloway-Smith’s first collection ‘Alarum’ exists in the space between the peculiar thought and its dismissal. It is a place in which commonsense is unfixed, where the imagination disrupts notions of stability. ‘A single crow falling from the mind’ of the poet is something awkward left at our feet, and the ‘air itself’ is the voice of skewered unease

Fiona Maddocks      Music for Life

How does music reflect the key moments in our lives? How do we choose the works that inspire, delight, comfort or console? Fiona Maddocks selects 100 classical works from across nine centuries, arguing passionately, persuasively and at times obstinately for their inclusion, putting each work in its cultural and musical context, discussing omissions, suggesting alternatives and always putting the music first
David Owen     Cabinet’s Finest Hour: the hidden agenda of coalition goverment May 1940
      Anti-submarine warfare: an illustrated history

Polly Morland Metamorphosis: how and why we change.
What makes a violinist become a policeman, or a monk fall in love? How does someone lose eighteen stone in as many months? Or a follower of radical Islam turn his back on holy war? When can simply taking a new name usher in a new life? And how does a family adapt to the brain injury that changes their son or brother beyond recognition? These and other stories combine with a wealth of smart thinking from psychology, philosophy, literature and science as Polly Morland unravels the mysteries and the mechanisms of human change. Most of us would like to change something about ourselves, although all too often we feel that we can’t. Yet as this book shows, change is not an event-it is a process at which we are more skilled than we realise, a story we are already good at telling. Exploring how some people harness the change that governs all our lives and then succeed in shaping it, like master storytellers, toward the happy ending of their choosing, Polly Morland shows that change is possible for us all. Appealing to that part of anyone that is stuck in a rut, Metamorphosis is about how and why real people change, and how the imagination can become the engine of our transformation too
Risk wise: nine everyday adventures

Nicola Millbank Milly’s Real Food

MILLY’S REAL FOOD is all about going back to basics and creating tasty classics from scratch with a modern twist, making food a pleasure; both the ritual of cooking and the joy of eating. Recipes that embrace sustainable and accessible ingredients, easy methods and a refreshingly fad-free approach to home cooking.
Jack Cooke Tree Climber’s guide

In London, trees can go unnoticed. They line the city’s streets, punctuate its open spaces, fill its parks, but they are not often remarked upon, scarcely touched and rarer still, climbed. But as a meadow is not a meadow without its wildness, a city is not a city without its green spaces; London would not be London without its trees. Jack Cooke has spent the last year climbing the vast assortment of the city’s trees for no other reason than sheer pleasure. In this book, Jack explores the city through its canopy; teetering on the edge of an oak’s branches, crunching the bark of a dying elm, spying views from the treetops which few have ever seen

Rina Mae Acosta The Happiest Kids in the World: bringing up kids the Dutch way
Why do: Dutch babies seem so content, and sleep so well? Dutch parents let their kids play outside on their own? The Dutch trust their children to bike to school? Dutch schools not set homework for the under-tens? Dutch teenagers not rebel? What is the secret of bringing up the happiest kids in the world? In a recent UNICEF study of child well-being, Dutch children came out on top as the happiest all-round. Rina Mae Acosta and Michele Hutchison, both married to Dutchmen and bringing up their kids in Holland, examine the unique environment that enables the Dutch to turn out such contented, well-adjusted and healthy babies, children and teens. Read this book if you want to find out what lessons you can learn from Dutch parents, to ensure your kids turn out happy!

Terry Waite Out of the Silence

At the height of the Lebanese civil war in the 1980s over 100 foreign civilians were taken hostage by Islamic Jihad. As the Archbishop of Canterbury’s special envoy, Terry Waite conducted several successful missions to negotiate the release of numerous hostages. But in January 1987, while on one of his many visits to Beirut, he was captured himself. Imprisoned for nearly five years, four of them in solitary confinement, he was chained, beaten, frequently blindfolded, and subjected to a mock execution. In this moving sequence of poems and reflections Terry Waite recalls the highs and lows of his life, both during that ordeal and throughout the happier years of humanitarian work that have followed

Francesca Martinez What the **** is Normal?
What do you do when you’re labelled abnormal in a world obsessed with normality? If you grow up in a world where wrinkles are practically illegal, cellulite is cause for a mental breakdown and women over a size ten are encouraged to shoot themselves (immediately), what the **** do you do if you’re, gasp, disabled? When Francesca was two years old, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Her parents were told by a consultant that she would never lead a normal life. For many girls, this would have meant hiding away and accepting some things were beyond their reach. Not this girl. This book is personal, funny and insightful, and explores just how bloody hard it is to learn to like yourself – wobbly or not – in this world

Lionel Shriver The Mandibles: a family 2029-2047
2029. The Mandibles have been counting on a sizable fortune filtering down when their 97-year-old patriarch dies. Yet America’s soaring national debt has grown so enormous that it can never be repaid. Under siege from an upstart international currency, the dollar is in meltdown. A bloodless world war will wipe out the savings of millions of American families. Their inheritance turned to ash, each family member must contend with disappointment, but, as the effects of the downturn start to hit, the challenge of sheer survival. Recently affluent Avery is petulant that she can’t buy olive oil, while her sister Florence is forced to absorb strays into her increasingly cramped household. As their father Carter fumes at having to care for his demented stepmother now that a nursing home is too expensive, his sister Nollie, an expat author, returns from abroad to a country that’s unrecognisable
So much for that
      The post-birthday world
      We need to talk about Kevin: a novel
      The new republic
      Game control
      Big brother
      Ordinary decent criminals

Charlotte Green The news is read
The broadcaster Charlotte Green is a true national treasure. When news broke that she was to replace James Alexander Gordon as the voice of BBC Radio 5’s football results, The Times announced, ‘Exquisite voice to announce results of the beautiful game’. Until her retirement in early 2013, Charlotte was the voice of Radio 4. Her warm and perfectly modulated tones reassured millions of devoted listeners that, despite some of the dreadful news stories she had to read out to the nation over a period of 27 years, we were safe in her hands. This is her highly entertaining autobiography

Philip Hook Rogue’s Gallery: a history of art and its dealers
Philip Hook takes the lid off the world of art dealing to reveal the brilliance, cunning, greed and daring of its practitioners.


John Rees The Levellers

The Levellers, revolutionaries that grew out of the explosive tumult of the 1640s and the battlefields of the Civil War, are central figures in the history of democracy. In this thrilling narrative, John Rees brings to life the men – including John Lilburne, Richard Overton, Thomas Rainsborough – and women who ensured victory at war, and brought England to the edge of radical republicanism. From the raucous streets of London and the clattering printers’ workshops that stoked the uprising, to the rank and file of the New Model Army and the furious Putney debates where the levellers argued with Oliver Cromwell for the future of English democracy, this story reasserts the revolutionary nature of the 1642-48 wars, and the role of ordinary people in this pivotal moment in history

Rachel Warren Chadd, Birds: myth, lore, legend
Why are owls regarded either as wise or as harbingers of doom? What gave rise to the fanciful belief that storks bring babies? Why is the eagle associated with victory or the hummingbird with paradise? The answers are here in this new and engaging book. By re-telling the many legends, beliefs, proverbs and predictions associated with more than 80 birds from many nations, it brings into focus the close – and often ancient – links between humans and these remarkable feathered descendants of dinosaurs offering an enchanting and different perspective on birds across the world
Secrets the experts won’t tell you: more than 1500 insiders’ tips to save you time, money and trouble
     Reader’s Digest fast healthy food

Clover Stroud The Wild Other

Clover Stroud’s idyllic childhood in rural England was shattered when a horrific riding accident left her mother permanently brain-damaged. Just 16, she embarked on a journey to find the sense of home that had been so savagely broken. Travelling from gypsy camps in Ireland, to the rodeos of west Texas and then to Russia’s war-torn Caucasus, Clover eventually found her way back to England’s lyrical Vale of the White Horse. ‘The Wild Other’ is a grippingly honest account of love, loss, family and the healing strength of nature
Vanessa Lafaye At first light

Rachel Crowther The Things You Do For love

An elite surgeon with a brilliant but philandering husband, Flora Macintyre has always defined herself by her success in juggling her career and her marriage. Until, all at once, she finds herself with neither. Retired and widowed in the space of a few months, Flora is left untethered. In a moment of madness, she realises there’s nothing to stop her running away to France. But back home her two daughters – the family she’s always loved, but never had the time to nurture – are struggling. Lou is balancing pregnancy with a crumbling relationship, while her younger sister, Kitty, begins to realise she may have to choose between love and her growing passion for music. And even as the family try to pull together, one dark secret could still tear them all apart

Gillian Best The Last Wave

A beautifully rendered family drama set in England between the 1940s and the present, following the life of Martha, a woman who has swum the English Channel ten times, and the complex relationships she has with her husband, her children and her close friends.

Catherine Mayer     Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman

In March 2015, journalist and author Catherine Mayer accidentally founded a new political party. A trio of female MPs had taken to the stage at the Women of the World Festival, to set out their manifestos for gender parity ahead of the general election. Here women were, discussing elections to a parliament swarming with more male MPs than the sum total of all women ever to hold Westminster seats, in a country with greater numbers of men called John at the helm of big businesses than there are female CEOs. Catherine took to the microphone, suggested there might be a need for a new women’s party, and announced she’d be in the bar if anyone wanted to discuss. That night, the Women’s Equality Party was born. Now, with major party status and numbers bigger than UKIP’s, this could be the future – and in this book, Catherine Mayer shows just how that future could look

Amortality: the pleasures and perils of living agelessly
     Charles: the heart of a king

Ingrid Seward The Queen’s Speech: an intimate portrait of the Queen in her own words
On 9 September 2015, Queen Elizabeth II will become the longest-serving monarch in British history. During her 63 years on the throne, few have got to know her well, but there is one body of work that sheds real light on her thoughts, personality and the issues that really concern her: the Queen’s own speeches. For many years, the Queen’s Christmas address was the most-watched programme on television on Christmas Day, and millions still tune in to hear what she has to say. Now, in this intimate portrait of Her Majesty, Ingrid Seward uses the Queen’s speeches as a starting point to provide a revealing insight into the character of the woman who has reigned over us since the days when Churchill was Prime Minister

Xiaolu Guo    Once Upon a Time in the East

Novelist Xiaolu Guo writes the extraordinary story of her childhood in rural China, her young adulthood in the Beijing underground and her move to the West in search of freedom of expression
A concise Chinese-English dictionary for lovers
     I am China
     20 fragments of a ravenous youth

Roman Krznaric Carpe Diem Regained

We’ve all heard the saying ‘seize the day’; it is one of the oldest pieces of life advice in Western history. But what does it really mean? And how can we use it to jump-start our lives? In the age of distraction, carpe diem is more essential than ever: it promises a remedy for the awareness we have that life is short and our time is running out; it asks us to live with greater passion, consciousness and intention; it asks us to live a life with no regrets. But here’s the problem: carpe diem has been hijacked and reduced simply to the idea of living in the here and now, and the instant hit of one-click online shopping. This title is a far-ranging read which explores five very different ways humankind has discovered over the centuries to seize the day, which we urgently need to revive

The wonderbox: curious histories of how to live
     Empathy: a handbook for revolution

Laurence Rees The Holocaust: a new history
Laurence Rees’ text is revealing in three ways. First, it is based not only on the latest academic research, but also on 25 years of interviewing survivors and perpetrators, often at the sites of the events, many of whom have never had their words published before. Second, the book is not just about the Jews – the Nazis would have murdered many more non-Jews had they won the war – and not just about Germans. Third, as Rees shows, there was no single ‘decision’ to start the Holocaust – there was a series of escalations, most often when the Nazi leadership interacted with their grassroots supporters
The dark charisma of Adolf Hitler: leading millions into the abyss
     The Nazis: a warning from history
     World War Two: behind closed doors: Stalin, the Nazis and the West
     Auschwitz: the Nazis and ‘the final solution

Stephen Law Believing Bullshit: How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole
Here, the author provides a witty and insightful critique that will immunize readers against the wiles of cultists, religious and political zealots, conspiracy theorists, and more by clearly setting out the tricks of the trade by which such insidious belief systems are created and sustained

The Xmas files: the philosophy of Christmas
     The great philosophers: the lives and ideas of history’s greatest thinkers

Henry Hemming      M

Maxwell Knight was a paradox. A jazz obsessive and nature enthusiast (he is the author of the definitive work on how to look after a gorilla), he is seen today as one of MI5’s greatest spymasters, a man who did more than any other to break up British fascism during the Second World War – in spite of having once belonged to the British Fascisti himself. He was known to his agents and colleagues simply as M, and was rumoured to be part of the inspiration for the character M in the James Bond series. Drawing on declassified documents, private family archives and interviews with retired MI5 officers as well as the families of MI5 agents, M reveals not just the shadowy world of espionage but a brilliant, enigmatic man at its centre.
Misadventure in the Middle East: travels as tramp, artist and spy
     Churchill’s iceman: the true story of Geoffrey Pyke – genius, fugitive, spy
     Together: how small groups achieve big things

Alice Jolly Dead Babies and seaside towns
How far would you go in order to have a baby? Is surrogacy morally acceptable? If you need a surrogate and an egg donor how do you find them? Can you bring a surrogate baby from America to the UK legally? Ten years ago I had never considered any of these questions – but when our second child was stillborn and all our attempts to have another baby were failing, we started to consider every possible option, no matter how unorthodox. ‘Dead Babies and Seaside Towns’ is the story of that period of our lives and of our relationship with two extraordinary American women who offered to make the impossible possible

Vanessa Kisuule Joyriding the storm

Vanessa Kisuule here collects the poetry that has made her a much loved performer on the live UK circuit.