Radical Wordsworth: The Poet Who Changed the World
Jonathan Bate, William Collins, RRP£25
“All who hike or simply gaze in the wild places are legatees of Wordsworth’s . . . way of seeing,” writes Jonathan Bate in his biography, published to mark the 250th anniversary of the poet’s birth. In a time of lockdown, Wordsworth’s vision — of the joy to be found in nature, and the solace to be had from a new way of thinking — offers the modern reader a radical escape.
House of Glass: The Story and Secrets of a Twentieth-Century Jewish Family
Hadley Freeman, Fourth Estate, RRP£16.99
The discovery of a burnished red shoebox filled with secrets sets journalist Hadley Freeman on a decade-long exploration of the life of her late grandmother Sala Glass and her three brothers. This captivating memoir traces the siblings’ lives across the 20th century — and resonates with our own age of upheaval.
Samantha Irby, Faber, RRP£9.99
Irby’s essays mix humour with misanthropy while addressing everything from lust to chronic ill health. In this third collection (dedicated to the antidepressant, Wellbutrin, no less), Irby takes stock as she turns 40, telling it as she sees it with an honesty that is both raw and funny.
The Ratline: Love, Lies and Justice on the Trail of a Nazi Fugitive
Philippe Sands, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, RRP£20
Sands brings the “forensic stamina and precision” last seen in his acclaimed East West Street (2016) to the story of the “Butcher of Lemberg”, Otto Wächter. With the help of Wächter’s own son, Sands investigates the life and crimes of the Nazi who presided over the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews while shedding light on the complexities of justice.
James Shapiro, Faber, RRP£20
The Shakespeare scholar explores how the Bard has been something of a lightning rod for issues of gender, race, immigration and class warfare in the US over the past two centuries. Filled with eye-popping controversies, scrupulously researched, Shapiro’s is — as the FT reviewer put it — “a riveting story, nimbly told”.
Leïla Slimani, translated by Sophie Lewis, Faber, RRP£12.99
Prix Goncourt-winning French-Moroccan author Slimani follows her bestselling novel Adѐle, about a female sex addict, with this essay collection that entwines the lives and stories of women living and loving in a conservative Arab culture with her own arguments for a sexual revolution in Morocco.
Rebecca Solnit, Viking, RRP$26/Granta, RRP£16.99
Best known for her feminist essays — most notably the 2008 breakout, “Men Explain Things to Me” — Solnit turns memoirist with this examination of her “heroic task of becoming”; her early period of self development in which she struggled to overcome both sexism and the conditioning she’d received to minimise herself to stay safe in 1980s San Francisco. Recollections . . . is more essayistic than biographical, but no less powerful for it.
All this week, FT writers and critics choose their favourites — from politics, economics, science and history to art, tech, food and wellness. Novels, poetry and audiobooks feature too. Explore the series here
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