Five books to enjoy during the holidays - Monocolumn | Monocle


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25 December 2013

Dear Life

By Alice Munro

If ever there was a collection of short stories to epitomise the chilly, stark reality of rural Canada then this latest book of 14 tales from Alice Munro, Dear Life, is it. Think of a flat-and-unremarkable horizon in which tales of joy and pain unfold, ranging from a flawed romance in a medical practice to the story of a widowed small-town policeman. It has been said that Munro has a deep ambivalence toward her native Ontario but this questioning of norms is what makes this author so great. Critics seem to agree, with Munro having won the Nobel prize for literature in 2013.

‘Dear Life’ by Alice Munro is available to buy now.

Slow Train to Switzerland

By Diccon Bewes

The world’s very first package holiday was a far more refined affair than today’s no-frills EasyJet fodder. It was, in fact, a train trip from the UK to Switzerland in 1863 – lovingly revisited by British expat and fan-of-all-things-Swiss, Diccon Bewes, in Slow Train to Switzerland. Bewes retraces the steps of Jemima Morrell who kept a studious diary of that fateful journey and measures the changing pace of life between two experiences separated by over 150 years of history. It’s a reflective read that delights in each winding, steep ascent and sitting back to take the time to appreciate travel through snow-capped peaks at a glacial pace – whether you’re headed to London or Lucerne.

‘Slow Train to Switzerland’ is available to buy now.

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat

By Bee Wilson

How many people buy or receive cookbooks filled with countless delicious recipes that never end up being cooked or even read? Well, Consider the Fork is a book all about food but contains no instructions or ingredient lists. Instead, food writer and historian Bee Wilson takes us along food’s epic historical journey beginning by pondering how the first humans learnt to cook with heat, to today’s modern technological breakthroughs. With a good balance of anthropological discourse and a light, pacey style Wilson’s analysis makes for appetising reading.

‘Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat’ is available to buy now.

The London Scene

By Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf paints an impressionistic portrait of 1930s London in this beautifully illustrated new edition of The London Scene published by Daunt Books. Five essays, originally published in Good Housekeeping magazine, capture the essence of the modern metropolis as Woolf saw it: “Not merely as a gorgeous spectacle, a mart, a court, a hive of industry, but as a place where people meet and talk, laugh, marry, and die, paint, write and act, rule and legislate”.

‘The London Scene’ by Virginia Woolf is available to buy at Daunt Books now.

The New York Review Abroad

By various

The New York Review of Books has been sending acclaimed writers abroad to capture vivid accounts of war, unrest, social movements and happenings for over half a century. In The New York Review Abroad, 28 of the best have been collected together ranging from Susan Sontag’s inspiring profile of a production of Waiting for Godot being staged in war-ravaged Sarajevo, to Ryszard Kapuscinski’s harrowing telling of being set alight in Nigeria. It’s not always easy reading, but then ecstatic highs and testing lows are the trademark of a life well-lived – and stories well-written.

‘The New York Review Abroad’ is available to buy now.


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