November marks the true start of the annual holiday season, and there’s no better time to pick up a good book than after you’ve gathered to give thanks and before you start planning out what gifts you’re going to buy for your friends and family.
1. The Idiot Brain: A Neuroscientist Explains What Your Head is Really Up To, Dean Burnett
Motion sickness. Nightmares. Forgetting people’s names. Why did I walk into this room?? For something supposedly so brilliant and evolutionarily advanced, the human brain is pretty messy, fallible and disorganised. In The Idiot Brain neuroscientist Dean Burnett celebrates the imperfections of the human brain in all their glory, and the impact of these quirks on our daily lives. Expertly researched and entertainingly written, this book is for anyone who has wondered why their brain seems to be sabotaging their life, and what on earth it is really up to.
2. Norse Mythology, Neil Gaiman
Bestselling and much loved author Neil Gaiman, whose novel American Gods has been adapted into a major television series, brings vividly to life the stories of Norse mythology that have inspired his own extraordinary writing in this number one Sunday Times bestseller
The great Norse myths are woven into the fabric of our storytelling – from Tolkien, Alan Garner and Rosemary Sutcliff to Game of Thrones and Marvel Comics. They are also an inspiration for Neil Gaiman’s own award-bedecked, bestselling fiction. Now he reaches back through time to the original source stories in a thrilling and vivid rendition of the great Norse tales. Gaiman’s gods are thoroughly alive on the page – irascible, visceral, playful, passionate – and the tales carry us from the beginning of everything to Ragnarok and the twilight of the gods. Galvanised by Gaiman’s prose, Thor, Loki, Odin and Freya are irresistible forces for modern readers and the crackling, brilliant writing demands to be read aloud around an open fire on a freezing, starlit night.
3. The Power, Naomi Alderman
What if all women developed the power to electrocute people at will? In The Power Naomi Alderman answers this intriguing question in spectacular style, weaving an utterly absorbing narrative around the lives of characters around the world as they bear witness to society’s violent transformation. If you like your page-turners whip-smart and ferociously current, this is the book for you.
4. Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, Yuval Noah Harari
Sapiens showed us where we came from. Homo Deus shows us where we’re going. War is obsolete. You are more likely to commit suicide than be killed in conflict. Famine is disappearing. You are at more risk of obesity than starvation. Death is just a technical problem. Equality is out – but immortality is in. What does our future hold? Yuval Noah Harari, author of the bestselling phenomenon Sapiens envisions a not-too-distant world in which we face a new set of challenges. Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century – from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? “Homo Deus will shock you. It will entertain you. Above all, it will make you think in ways you had not thought before.” (Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast, and Slow).
5. Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Haruki Murakami
A narrative particle-accelerator that zooms between Wild Turkey Whiskey and Bob Dylan, unicorn skulls and voracious librarians, John Coltrane and Lord Jim. Science fiction, detective story and post-modern manifesto all rolled into one rip-roaring novel, Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World is the tour de force that expanded Haruki Murakami’s international following. Tracking one man’s descent into the Kafkaesque underworld of contemporary Tokyo, Murakami unites East and West, tragedy and farce, compassion and detachment, slang and philosophy. The result is a wildly inventive fantasy and a meditation on the many uses of the mind.