Great books for 2019: Some ‘Everyday Glow’ from Gwyneth Paltrow, how to make your job fun again, plus loads more
PUBLISHED: 00:00 01 January 2019 | UPDATED: 12:41 02 January 2019
Grab those book tokens you got for Christmas and head off to your local bookshop to pick up some great ‘reads’ for the New Year
It wouldn’t be January without someone (actually, armies of them) pricking our consciences and telling us how to live better. Trouble is, they’re so tempting, aren’t they? – hitting us when we’re vulnerable, at the time of New Year resolutions, and teasing us with the prospect of ever-after perfection.
To be fair to Anna Newton, she’s as down to earth as the rest of us – striving to juggle work, friends, family, a “growing handbag” issue (know the feeling), and a weakness for takeaway pizza. All something of a challenge for a Virgo yearning to be organised.
She’s gone down myriad routes over the years (minimising this, bullet-pointing that) and concludes there’s no single formula for an organised life, home and mind. The key, she suggests, is editing: using our time well and spending more of it doing what makes us happy.
To me, it sounds much like de-cluttering. But, hey, who doesn’t feel they need to give it a bash?
An Edited Life: Simple Steps to Streamlining your Life, at Work and at Home, by Anna Newton, Quadrille Publishing, £16.99. Out January 10
I read somewhere (all right, it was Wikipedia) that Danielle Steel is the fourth-bestselling fiction author of all time, ever. The New Yorker has sold an estimated 800million copies, and counting.
Her new one (new to the UK) is about how life can change suddenly – and how what we’re searching for can pop up in places we don’t expect.
Four top-notch San Francisco doctors, all with their own challenges in life, go to Paris to work on a big training programme. Something terrible happens, and life is never the same.
Turning Point, by Danielle Steel, Penguin Random House, £18.99. Out January 10
When I was a child, adults would whisper “cancer” when they mentioned the C-word. The disease was often a death sentence. Since then, survival rates have improved vastly, and our willingness to discuss medical issues (vital for mental well-being) has moved on apace.
One of the people who’s helped folk talk more openly is broadcaster Rachael Bland. Diagnosed with the disease in 2016, she founded the You, Me and the Big C podcast and shared her experiences.
Sadly, cancer claimed her in September. Her book For Freddie: A Mother’s Final Gift to Her Son is just that. Part memoir, part advice, it leaves the youngster (just 14 months old when his mum received bad news) with a vivid picture of the brave parent he knew for too short a time.
For Freddie: A Mother’s Final Gift to Her Son, by Rachael Bland, published by Michael O’Mara, £16.99. Out February 21
We all need something to cheer us up, every now and again. Try the latest feelgood story from Debbie Johnson, whose brand of fiction has sold more than 750,000 books… even though it’s meant she’s had to neglect the housework in favour of writing.
Busy Auburn Longville (love the name) is caring for her ailing mother, moving in with her sister and running Budbury’s pharmacy. Then the arrival of a face from the past brings chaos and threatens her relationship with the lovely Finn Jensen. Time for some crucial decision-making.
A Wedding at the Comfort Food Café, by Debbie Johnson, HarperImpulse, £7.99. Out March 21
Former Doctor Who star Tom Baker, who turns 85 in January and played the time-traveller from 1974 to 1981, has written his first Doctor Who novel.
The Doctor and companion Sarah Jane Smith arrive on a Scottish island where frightening scarecrows are preying on the locals. The Doctor, as is his wont, pledges to save the islanders… but falls into a trap.
The Time Lord finds himself fighting an ancient force, from another dimension, who claims to be the Devil. The Scratchman wants to know what the Doctor is most afraid of.
Doctor Who: Scratchman, by Tom Baker, BBC Books, £16.99. Out January 24
Fancy another emotional tangle, of love and empowerment? Sophie Kinsella does them so well.
Fixie Farr loves helping people. It’s how she got her nickname. A stranger gives her an IOU after she helps him. She never intends taking it up… until her old teenage crush reappears and needs help.
Fixie calls in the outstanding favour, things go wrong, and she herself ends up owing much. Is she brave enough to fight for the love and life she really wants?
I Owe You One, by Sophie Kinsella, Bantam Press, £20. Out February 7
Can’t resist this – if only to read about “doctor-supported cleanses”. I can’t imagine they’re ways of scrubbing the kitchen floor with NHS-strength disinfectant (and, to be fair, they’re not).
Gwyneth Paltrow is fascinating – by turns sounding incredibly “together” and then somewhat… quirky. Her new offering talks about how delicious food can heal the body: “clean recipes” that are easy for weeknight meals or quick lunches.
Think simple, quality food – and more than 100 recipes. From Sheet Pan Chicken Broccolini to Cashew Turmeric Iced Lattes.
And those more-intensive doctor-supported cleanses? The book talks about six, including help with Candida and a “heavy metal detox”. I’m thinking about Dr Alejandro Junger’s adrenal support, myself.
The Clean Plate: Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Everyday Glow, by Gwyneth Paltrow, Sphere, £25. Out January 10
Here’s something different. The death of Stalin in 1953 made a crack in the tightly-closed Soviet Union. Through it flowed a stream of films, novels and art from the West. And because they were so different, they were often given heightened emotional significance.
Eleonory Gilburd explains how factory engineers keen to better themselves, students eager for a whiff of new lands, provincial teachers dreaming of brighter lives, and others, drank it all in.
To See Paris and Die: The Soviet Lives of Western Culture, by Eleonory Gilburd, Harvard University Press, £25.95. Out on January 25
Buckle up and hold on tight. Status Quo frontman Francis Rossi has an “explosive” memoir – pledging to reveal, for the first time, the truth about his life and times.
There’s a lot to tell. Will 330-odd pages be enough? Francis has had to deal with alcoholism and cocaine addiction, made and spent a heap of cash, and had eight children.
If it’s good, will we want to read it “Again again again again”?
I Talk Too Much: My Autobiography, by Francis Rossi, Constable, £20. Out on March 14
Like sport but angry about the obscene sums swirling around football? This book might raise your blood pressure a notch higher.
Premier League lawyer Daniel Geey has been looking under the bonnet of the modern game. He examines the issues that shape it – signing star names, sacking managers, takeovers, TV rights and more – and sees how they affect players, clubs, the leagues and, too, the fans.
Done Deal: An Insider’s Guide to Football Contracts, Multi-Million Pound Transfers and Premier League Big Business, by Daniel Geey, Bloomsbury Sport, £16.99. Out on January 24
The UK really did a good job in 2018 in honouring the sacrifices of the First World War, didn’t it? A new book chronicles what we did, and encourages us not to forget as the years tick by.
Miranda Harrison, editor of the air show programme at Imperial War Museums Duxford, over in Cambridgeshire, gazes wide and far. She looks both at the big events recalling the major battles and the community activities and war memorial restorations that also meant so much.
The Centenary of the First World War: How The Nation Remembered, edited by Miranda Harrison, DCMS Centenary Publishing, £30. Out January 31
Something for younger readers (though, to be fair, it’s the kind of thing I need, being scientifically-challenged).
Norfolk-born astronomer and TV presenter Mark Thompson invites us to imagine building a rocket and blasting off into space. (I’ve got to go to Cromer first, but am willing to have a go when I get back.)
Of course, you need to know a bit of science to do that. (Head for the stars, not Cromer.) So the book offers a dozen scientific investigations to help us grasp why gravity matters, how to power a rocket and land safely, discover why rockets are the shape they are, what happens when we create a chemical reaction, and more besides.
Step-by-step guidance is easy to follow. Readily-available materials are used that won’t break the bank, the publishers assure us.
To infinity and beyond, then.
Science for Rocketing into Space, by Mark Thompson, Wayland, £12.99. Out on February 14
If Twitter’s European vice-president is going to write a book, shouldn’t he keep to 280 characters? (Ho, ho.)
Actually, Bruce Daisley is giving us 30 ways to enjoy our jobs – timely advice, considering the New Year is traditionally a moment when many of us get itchy feet and think the grass is greener elsewhere.
Bruce has hopped about a bit – he’s also been at Google and YouTube – and he’s curious about what makes great firms tick, and how we can make our jobs more enjoyable and fulfilling. (Mine, of course, is perfect, so I have no need of his tips.)
Issues under the microscope include lunch breaks (do they help us work better?), why meetings are often a waste of time, can moving a kettle boost performance?, and what the heck is a Monk Mode Morning?
The Joy of Work: 30 Ways to Fix Your Work Culture and Fall in Love with Your Job Again, by Bruce Daisley, Random House Business, £20. Out on January 17
Someone who had an early glance at this children’s picture-book said a copy ought to be in the hands of every educational policy-maker. It’s hard to disagree – especially if you’re a square peg in a country whose politicians seem to rate only scientists, engineers, mathematicians, technologists and computer code writers.
Read this extract. Doesn’t it make your heart sing?
“Smart is not just ticks and crosses,
smart is building boats from boxes.
Painting patterns, wheeling wagons,
being mermaids, riding dragons...”
We should never forget that each child and adult has talents (even if not in the STEM field) and that we should all celebrate our strengths.
All the Ways to be Smart, written by Davina Bell, illustrated by Allison Colpoys, Scribe UK, £11.99. Out on January 14