Thursday, December 02, 2010

Last Dragons, Rare Species and Priceless Objects: The Last BBC Oxford Bookclub

All good things must come to an end, and I am very sad to be giving up my monthly bookclub appearance on BBC Radio Oxford, which I have really enjoyed doing over the past year. However, the bookclub itself is in safe hands, as Patrick Neale of the wonderful Jaffe and Neale bookshop in Chipping Norton will be taking over later this month.

For the last show, I managed to pursuade Jo to pose for a shot inside the studio - she's holding a copy the marvellous Coconut Unlimited, one of the shortlisted Costa first novels:
Here are the six books we discussed on the show - which, as always, can be listened to on iPlayer for a week or so (fast forward 1hr 8minutes):

A History of the World in 100 Objects - Neil MacGregor (HB, Penguin, £30)
This is one of those books destined to become a household treasure, such is the thought, effort and care that has gone into this stunning book.
Following exactly the tone and style of the radio series, Neil MacGregor has put together this book of the objects from the British Museum that shows - in his opinion - the objects that best demonstrate how humans have shaped the world since the dawn of humans on Earth. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't want Santa to bring them a copy!

1222 - Anne Holt  (HB, Corvis, £12.99)
1222 metres above sea level, a train careens off iced rails as the worst snowstorm in Norwegian history gathers force. Passengers know they will be trapped for days. They decamp to a centuries-old mountain hotel, but as dawn breaks one of them is found dead. With the storm showing no sign of abating, retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen investigates and tensions rise.
Anne Holt is huge in Scandinavia, Germany - and this book is set to make her a big name here. It's a taut mystery - with a subtle political message and a mischievous twist at the end.

Fifty - 50 years 50 species (HB, £17.95)Fifty of the most interesting wildlife species to be found throughout Berks, Bucks and Oxon are captured in photographs and text in this beautiful new book, which also celebrates the 50th anniversary of the local wildlife trust. With stunning and imaginative photographs, what better way to support your local trust, but also get to know the precious local wildlife in your area?

The Last Dragonslayer - Jasper Fforde  (HB, Hodder, £12)This is Jasper Fforde's first children's book, a wonderful creation of a magical world where magic is disappearing! Once magic was powerful, unregulated: sorceror's advised kings and brought down kingdoms. But after centuries of creeping regulation and restrictions, magicians work as plumbers and even magic carpets deliver pizza. Jennifer Strange is a 15-year-old acting as manager for an employment agency finding odd jobs for sorcerers and soothsayers, but everything changes when the death of the Last Dragon is predicted...a great morality tale, and just the merest hint of satire on our health and safety-obsessed world...

Four Tales - Phillip Pullman - £14.99 (HB, Doubleday, £14.99)
A beautiful collection of modern fairy tales, delightfully illustrated throughout. Bringing together for the first time four of Pullman's earlier classic stories - The Scarecrow and his Servant, Clockwork, I was a Rat! and The Firework Maker's Daughter. They are perfect examples of Pullman's unique imaginative talent and will delight and amuse readers of all ages. An absolute gem of a book, perfect for a cold winter's night!

The Iron Man - Ted Hughes  (HB, Faber / Walker, £15)An impressive and striking new edition of Ted Hughes' popular children's classic The Iron Man. Part modern fairy tale and part science fiction myth about the unexpected arrival in England of a mysterious metal giant.
Accompanying the text are stunning visual images. These dramatic and exciting illustrations lend themselves perfectly to the story. A stunning gift edition, perfect for Christmas.

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