MUST READS

MUST READS

CASE STUDY by Graeme Macrae Burnet (Saraband £9.99, 288pp)

CASE STUDY

by Graeme Macrae Burnet (Saraband £9.99, 288pp) 

The preface to Graeme Macrae Burnet’s psychological thriller explains his plans to write a biography of the 1960s psychotherapist Collins Braithwaite, when he was contacted by a stranger who offered him notes from an unnamed woman who believed that her sister had been driven to suicide by Braithwaite. 

She investigated her death by becoming Braithwaite’s patient, under the pseudonym Rebecca Smyth. 

Macrae Burnet uses his trademark device of presenting an entirely fictional story as though it were real, interspersing extracts from Braithwaite’s case studies and‘Rebecca’s’ notebooks, which reveal her spinsterish personality being overtaken by her much racier alter ego. 

Sinister, darkly funny and well-plotted, with an elegant twist. Truly compelling.

FOUR THOUSAND WEEKS

by Oliver Burkeman (Vintage £9.99, 288pp) 

Four thousand weeks seems a worryingly short amount of time in which to measure a life, but that is how many weeks we have if we live to be 80. 

‘It follows,’ writes Oliver Burkeman, ‘that time management… should be everyone’s concern’. Yet time management has become a modern obsession, with every moment supposed to be productively filled (although too often undermined by innumerable distractions). 

If we pause from ticking off our to-do lists, it is often to experience the haunting sense that we are waiting for our real life to begin. Burkeman’s book suggests that instead of constantly doing, we should consider simply being. 

His advice for making the best of our finite lifespan includes deleting apps, finding novelty in the everyday and learning to do nothing at all — if only for a few minutes.

LIVING PLANET: THE WEB LIFE ON EARTH by David Attenborough (William Collins £10.99, 320pp)

LIVING PLANET: THE WEB LIFE ON EARTH

by David Attenborough (William Collins £10.99, 320pp) 

Sir David Attenborough’s TV series, The Living Planet, was a dramatic survey of the huge variety of plants and animals from across the world. 

Based on the 1984 series, this beautiful book explores the diversity of life that flourishes in every kind of terrain, from fiery volcanos and the icy expanses of the Arctic and Antarctic, to the open seas, the windswept sands of the Sahara desert, where temperatures can rise to 58c, and the great expanse of forest that encircles the Northern hemisphere from Alaska to Siberia. 

The book subtly emphasises the interconnectedness of all life, and especially the role of humans in adapting and changing our environment and that of creatures with which we share our world. ‘The continued existence of life now rests in our hands,’ Sir David concludes.

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