Hexham Book Festival

​The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd

I’ve just read Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain including a brilliant introduction by Robert Macfarlane. What an evocative exploration of the Cairngorms; a call to experience the mountains with all our senses. Her prose and acute observations make for almost meditative reading, combined with an infectious enthusiasm to stride outdoors for the real thing. I repeatedly had to remind myself that this was written in the 1930s, a time when few women explored rugged mountains but Nan Shepherd had ideas ahead of her time. I definitely want to hear Charlotte Peacock talk about this remarkable woman - her biography is next on my reading pile!

​Gustav Klimt at Home by Patrick Bade

Klimt’s work has always intrigued me, and visiting the Secession show at Liverpool Tate in 2008 secured him as one of my favourite artists. Klimt at Home is a beautiful homage to the places that influenced the artist; as he studied, travelled and during his role in the Vienna Secession movement. The book is laden with sumptuous imagery of both Klimt’s work and his society at the turn of the century, powerfully revealing the links between life and art.

​Post Truth by Evan Davis

If you feel as if you’re drowning in a sea of Orwellian doublethink then this may be just the book for you. Evan Davis looks at how the ways in which we use language to communicate have been hijacked and undermined to such a degree that we seem to place very little trust in the vast amounts of information available to us. Davis argues convincingly that this has infected both our public and private discourse, yet it is something which has proved difficult to challenge. However, the book does then go on to examine how there may yet be methods by which we can navigate this post truth era; making sense of the apparent nonsense.

​The Sealwoman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson

A wise fable in itself, this novel draws on the Icelandic sagas, both literally and figuratively, to create a compelling story about the transformative nature of experience born of trauma, when all we know and love is brutally taken from us. Based on the true story of a pirate raid on Iceland in 1627, we follow the fate of captive Asta, transported to Algiers and forced into slavery. It is here that she must build a new life with the help of the stories she tells, both as a reminder of her past and a relief from the suffering which threatens to overwhelm her.

​Dear Alfonso by Mary Contini

Warm, easy-going, and full of the scents and flavours of Italy – just like a sunny Neapolitan afternoon! Mary Contini’s latest book traces the colourful history of her Italian and Scottish ancestors who founded the famous Valvona & Crolla delicatessen in Edinburgh, and also includes some mouth-watering recipes that I can’t wait to try!

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