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Great Thinkers

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This year at Fopp we’re delving into the great thinkers of world history with literary classics in the fields of Philosophy, Politics, Psychology and Sociology. Whether it be an ancient stoic masterwork or the original proto-feminist treatise we’ve got you covered. All priced at 2 for £7 or £4 each.

Marcus Aurelius


Is it possible to live a good life in an often vain and deceitful world? How should we think about ourselves, and the strengths and weaknesses of other people? Marcus Aurelius’s reflections on these human issues have endured for more than eighteen centuries and many of his observations are as fresh today as the day he wrote them. Marcus Aurelius was emperor of Rome at the zenith of its power and expansion. But he was a self-critical man, sceptical of his own achievements. He used his Meditations to skepth the essential traits of human character and describe way’s of coping with adversity. The favourite reading of Frederick the Great, Goethe and President Bill Clinton, these richly varied reflections are unaffected by time: humane, critical, light-hearted or serious, they are always wise and illuminating.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
Brené Brown 


Every time we are introduced to someone new, try to be creative or start a difficult conversation, we take a risk. We feel uncertain and exposed. We feel vulnerable. Most of us try to fight those feelings – we strive to appear perfect. But in a powerful new vision Dr Brene Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability, and dispels the widely accepted myth that it’s a weakness. She argues that vulnerability is in fact a strength, and when we shut ourselves off from revealing our true selves we grow distanced from the things that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. Daring Greatly is the culmination of twelve years of groundbreaking social research across the home, relationships, work and parenting. It is an invitation to be courageous; to show up and let ourselves be seen, even when there are no guarantees. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.

Susan Cain


Quiet, the Sunday Times and New York Times Bestseller by Susan Cain, will permanently change how we see introverts – and how you see yourself. Our lives are driven by a fact most of us can’t name and don’t understand: whether we’re an introvert or an extrovert. This defines who our friends and lovers are, which careers we choose, and whether we blush when we’re embarrassed. At least a third of us are on the introverted side. Some of the world’s most talented people are introverts. Without them, we wouldn’t have the Apple computer, the theory of relativity and Van Gogh’s sunflowers. Yet extroverts have taken over. Shyness, sensitivity and seriousness are often seen as being negative. Introverts feel reproached for being the way they are. In Quiet, Susan Cain shows how the brain chemistry of introverts and extroverts differs, and how society.

Essential Chomsky
Noam Chomsky


The essential guide to Chomsky and his brilliant ideas on the global state of affairs. A collection of Chomsky’s speeches and his interviews with David Barsamian, edited by Arthur Naiman. Divided into four clear sections, these extraordinary writings have collectively sold over half a million copies. Including classic essays such as: What Uncle Sam Really Wants – a dissection of US foreign policy, The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many – examining the new global economy, food, Third World ‘economic miracles’ and the roots of racism, Secrets, Lies and Democracy – the CIA’s actions in relation to religious fundamentalism, global inequality and the coming eco-catastrophe, The Common Good – unmissable writing on equality, freedom and the media. With exceptional clarity and power of argument, Noam Chomsky lays bare as no one else can the realities of contemporary geopolitics.



On Palestine
Ilan Pappé and Noam Chomsky


Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s most recent assault on Gaza, left thousands of Palestinians dead and cleared the way for another Israeli land grab. The need to stand in solidarity with Palestinians has never been greater, Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, two leading voices in the struggle to liberate Palestine, discuss the road ahead for Palestinians and how the international community can pressure Israel to end its human rights abuses against the people of Palestine. This urgent and timely book offers hope and a way forward for all those committed to the struggle to liberate Palestine. On Palestine is the sequel to Chomsky and Pappe’s acclaimed book Gaza in Crisis.


Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Hernan


A powerful assessment of how the US mass media fail to provide the kind of information that we need to understand the world. Contrary to the usual image of the press as cantankerous, obstinate and ubiquitous in its search for truth, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky depict how an underlying elite consensus largely structures all facets of the news. They skilfully dissect the way in which the marketplace and the economics of publishing shape the news. They reveal how issues are framed and topics chosen and contrast the double standards underlying accounts of free elections, a free press and governmental repression between Nicaragua and El Salvador; between the Russian Invasion of Afghanistan and the American invasion of Vietnam; between the genocide in Cambodia under a pro-American government and genocide under Pol Pot. What emerges from this groundbreaking work is an account of just how propagandistic our mass media are, and how we can learn to read them and see their function in a radically new way.

Understanding Power
Noam Chomsky 


Noam Chomsky is universally accepted as one of the pre-eminent public intellectuals of the modern era. Over the past thirty years, broadly diverse audiences have gathered to attend his sell-out lectures. Now, in understanding power, Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel have assembled the best of Chomsky’s talks on the past, present and future of the politics of power. In a Series of enlightening and wide-ranging discussions – published here for the first time – Chomsky radically reinterprets the events of the last three decades, covering topics from foreign policy during the Vietnam War to the decline of welfare under the Clinton administration. And as he elucidates the connection between America’s imperialistic foreign policy and social inequalities at home, Chomsky also discerns the necessary steps to take toward social change. With an eye to political activism and the media’s role in popular struggle, as well as US foreign and domestic policy, Understanding Power is definitive Chomsky.

Essential Chomsky
Noam Chomsky


Noam Chomsky’s writings on politics and language have established him as a pre-eminent public intellectual and one of the most original and wide-ranging political and social critics of our time. Among the seminal figured in linguistic theory over the past century, since the 1960s Chomsky has also secured a place as perhaps the leading dissident voice in the United States. Chomsky’s many bestselling works – including Manufacturing Consent, Hegemony or Survival, Understanding Power and Failed States – have served as essential touchstones for dissidents, activists, scholars, and concerned citizens on subjects ranging from the media to human rights to intellectual freedom. In particular, Chomsky’s schathing critiques  of the US wars in Vietnam, Central America and the Middle East have furnished a widely accepted intellectual inspiration for anti-war movements over nearly five decades. The Essential Chomsky assembles the core of his most important writings and allows us to appreciate both the range of his interests and the scale of his achievement. Here is an unprecedented, comprehensive overview of Chomsky’s thought.

Who Rules the World?
Noam Chomsky


Who Rules the World is the essential account of geopolitics right now – including an afterword on President Donald Trump. Noam Chomsky: philosopher, political writer, fearless activist. No one has done more to question the hidden actors who govern our lives, calling the powers that be to account. Here he presents Who Rules the World?, his definitive account of those powers, how they work, and why we should be questioning them. From the dark history of the US and Cuba to China’s global rise, from torture memos to sanctions on Iran, this book investigates the defining issues of our times and exposes the hypocrisy at the heart of America’s policies and actions. The world’s political and financial elite are now operating almost totally unconstrained by the so-called democratic structure. With climate change and nuclear proliferation threatening our very survival, dissenting voices have never been more necessary. Fiercely outspoken and rigorously argued, Who Rules the World? is an indispensable guide to how things really are.

Power Systems
Noam Chomsky


In this collection of conversations, conducted from 2010 to 2012 Noam Chomsky explores the most immediate and urgent concerns: the future of democracy in the Arab world, the implications of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the ‘class war’ fought by US business interests against working people and the poor, the breakdown of mainstream political institutions and the rise of the far right. These interviews, conducted with David Barsamian, will inspire a new generation of readers and longtime Chomsky fans eager to understand the many crises we now confront, both at home and abroad.

Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life
Helen Czerski


Our world is full of patterns. If you pour milk into your tea and give it a stir, you’ll see a swirl, a spiral of two fluids, before the two liquids mix completely. The same pattern is found elsewhere too. Look down on the Earth from space, and you’ll find similar swirls in the clouds, made where warm air and cold air waltz. In Storm in a Teacup, Helen Czerski links the little things we see every day with the big world we live in. Each chapter begins with something small – popcorn, coffee stains and refrigerator magnets – and uses it to explain some of the most important science and technology of our time. This is physics as the toolbox of science – a toolbox we need to order to make sense of what is around us and arrive at decisions about the future, fro medical advances to solving our future energy needs. It is also physics as the toy box of science: physics as fun, as never before.


The Magic of Reality
Richard Dawkins


Magic takes many forms. The ancient Egyptians explained the night by suggesting that the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. The Vikings believed a rainbow was the gods’ bridge to earth. These are magical, extraordinary tales. But there is another kind of magic, and it lies in the exhilaration of discovering the real answers to these questions. It is the magic of reality – science. Packed with inspiring explanations of space, time and evolution, laced with humour and clever thought experiments, The Magic of Reality explores a stunningly wide range of natural phenomena, What is stuff made of? How old is the universe? What causes tsunamis? Who was the first man, or woman? This is a page-turning, inspirational detective story that not only mines all the sciences for its clues but primes the reader to think like a scientist too. Richard Dawkins elucidates the wonders of the natural world to all ages with his inimitable clarity and exuberance in a  text that will enlighten and inform for generations to come.

Essays in Love
Alain De Botton


Essays in Love will appeal to anyone who has ever been in a relationship or confused about love. The book charts the progress of a relationship between a man and a woman, from their first kiss to the onset of anxiety and heartbreak. The work’s genius lies in the way it minutely analysis emotions we’ve all felt before but have perhaps never understood so well: it includes a chapter on the anxieties of when and how to say ‘I love you’ and another on the challenges of disagreeing with someone else’s taste in shoes. While gripping the reader with the talent of a great novelist, de Botton brings a philosopher’s sensibility to his analyses of the emotions of love, resulting in a genre-breaking book that is at once touching and thought-provoking.

How Proust Can Change Your Life
Alain de Botton


Alain de Botton combines two unlikely genres–literary biography and self-help manual–in the hilarious and unexpectedly practical How Proust Can Change Your Life. Who would have thought that Marcel Proust, one of the most important writers of our century, could provide us with such a rich source of insight into how best to live life? Proust understood that the essence and value of life was the sum of its everyday parts. As relevant today as they were at the turn of the century, Proust’s life and work are transformed here into a no-nonsense guide to, among other things, enjoying your vacation, reviving a relationship, achieving original and unclichéd articulation, being a good host, recognizing love, and understanding why you should never sleep with someone on a first date. It took de Botton to find the inspirational in Proust’s essays, letters and fiction and, perhaps even more surprising, to draw out a vivid and clarifying portrait of the master from between the lines of his work. Here is Proust as we have never seen or read him before: witty, intelligent, pragmatic. He might well change your life.

The Art of Thinking Clearly
Rolf Dobelli


Have you ever…
Invested time in something that, with hindsight just wasn’t worth it?
Overpaid in an eBay auction?
Continued doing something you knew was bad for you?
Sold stocks too late, or too early?
Taken credit for success, but blamed failure on external circumstances?
These are examples of cognitive biases, simple errors we all make in our day-to-day thinking. But by knowing what they are and how to spot them, we can avoid them and make better choices – whether dealing with a personal problem or a business negotiation, trying to save money or make money, working out what we do or don’t want in life – and making sure we get it. A phenomenal international bestseller, The Art of Thinking Clearly is essential reading for anyone with important decisions to make. Simple, clear and always surprising, it will change the way you think – at work, at home, every day.

The Art of the Good Life
Rolf Dobelli


Have you ever…
Spent too long on a powerpoint presentation?
Lost sight of what makes you happy?
Failed to reach a long-term goal?
Become infuriated by queuing tax or parking tickets?
Since the dawn of civilisation we’ve been asking ourselves what it means to live a good life: how should I live, what will truly make me happy, how much should I earn, how should I spend my time? In The Art of the Good Life you’ll find fifty-two intellectual shortcuts for wiser thinking and better decisions, at home and at work. They may not guarantee you a good life, but they’ll give you a better chance.

A Mind Of It’s Own
Cordelia Fine


Perhaps your brain seems to stumble when faced with the 13 times table, or persistently fails to master parallel parking. But you’re in control of it, right? Sorry. Think again. Dotted with popular explanations of social psychology research and fascination real-life examples, A Mind of Its Own tours the less salubrious side of human psychology. Psychologist Cordelia Fine shows that the human brain is in fact stubborn, emotional and deceitful, and teaches you everything you always wanted to know about the brain – and plenty you probably didn’t.

Testosterone Rex
Cordelia Fine


Testosterone Rex is the powerful myth that squashes hopes of sex equality by telling us that men and women have evolved different natures. Fixed in an ancestral past that rewarded competitive men and caring women, these differences are supposedly re-created in each generation by sex hormones and male and female brains. Testosterone, so we’re told, is the very essence of masculinity, and biological sex is a fundamental force in our development. Not so, says psychologist Cordelia Fine, who shows, with wit and panache, that sex doesn’t create male and female natures. Instead, sex, hormones, culture and evolution work together in ways that make past and present gender dynamics only a serving suggestion for the future – not a recipe.


The Guilty Feminist
Deborah Frances-White


Why do we find it so hard to say ‘No’?
What does poker teach us about power structures?
How can feminism be more inclusive?


The Guilty Feminist will challenge you, reassure you and empower you to see the world differently. From workplace inclusion to intersectionality. #MeToo to men’s rights, rom-coms to pornography, Deborah Frances-White tackles urgent questions for the modern woman. Featuring interviews with activists, businesswomen and all-round inspirations, The Guilty Feminist examines how women can abandon their guilt say ‘No’ (when they mean it), say ‘Yes’ (when they want to) and to change the world – and ourselves – for the better.

The Essentials of Psycho-Analysis
Sigmund Freud


The Essentials of Psycho-analysis is the definitive collection of Sigmund Freud’s writing. It covers the themes that Freud explored in his work, from the meaning of dreams and the concept of the unconscious, to the instinctual and sexual life and the structure of the personality. beautifully written and endlessly fascinating, the pieces collected here are the perfect guide to the principal concepts of psycho-analysis.


Sigmund Freud: Essays and Paper
Sigmund Freud


This collection focuses on the set of translations made and overseen by Joan Riviere, that formed the first library of Freud in English and became Freud’s favoured versions of his work. It includes his papers on metapsychology, applied psychoanalysis and technique, which range diversely in subject across narcissism, love, paranoia and homosexuality.  Riviere’s great understanding of Freud’s work and her ‘ear’ were attuned to Freud both from his writing and from her year on his couch. She was the first English translator to give his writing itself the place it warrants in the literary canon. We are presented with a Freud who engrosses us as readily as a novelist.

Fifty Things That Made the Modern Economy
Tim Harford


Who thought up paper money? How did the contraceptive pill change the face of the legal profession? Why was the horse collar as important for human progress as the steam engine? How did the humble spreadsheet turn the world of finance upside-down? The world economy defies comprehension. A continuously-changing system of immense complexity, it offers over ten billion distinct products and services, doubles in size every fifteen years, and links almost every one of the planet’s seven billion people. It delivers astonishing luxury to hundreds of millions. It also leaves hundreds of millions behind, puts tremendous strains on the ecosystem, and has an alarming habit of stalling. Nobody is in charge of it. Indeed, no individual understands more than a fraction of what’s going on. How can we make sense of this bewildering system on which our lives depend? From the tally-stick to Bitcoin, the canal lock to the jumbo jet, each invention in Tim Harford’s fascinating new book has its own curious, surprising and memorable story, a vignette against a grand backdrop. Step by step, readers will start to understand where we are, how we got here, and where we might be going next.

How to Make the World Add Up: Ten Rules for Thinking Differently About Numbers
Tim Harford


In How to Make the World Add Up, Tim Harford draws on his experience as both an economist and presenter of the BBC’s radio show ‘More or Less’ to take us deep into the world of disinformation and obfuscation, bad research and misplaced motivation to find those priceless jewels of data and analysis that make communicating with numbers so rewarding. Through vivid storytelling he reveals how we can evaluate the claims that surround us with confidence, curiosity and a healthy level of scepticism. It is a must-read for anyone who cares about understanding the world around them.

Undercover Economist
Tim Harford


Who makes most money from the demand for cappuccinos early in the morning at Waterloo Station? Why is it impossible to get a foot on the property ladder? How does the Mafia make money from laundries when street gangs pushing drugs don’t? Who really benefits from immigration? How can China, in just fifty years, go from the world’s worst famine to one of the greatest economic revolutions of all time, lifting a million people out of poverty a month? Looking at familiar situations in unfamiliar ways, The Undercover Economist is a fresh explanation of the fundamental principles of the modern economy, illuminated by examples from the streets of London to the booming skyscrapers of Shanghai to the sleepy canals of Bruges. Leaving behind textbook jargon and equations, Tim Harford will reveal the games of signals and negotiations, contests of strength and battles of wit that drive not only the economy at large but the everyday choices we make.

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice
Christopher Hitchens


In this frank and damning report expose of the Teresa cult, Hitchens details the nature and limits of one woman’s mission to help the worlds poor. He unmasked pseudo-miracles, questions Mother Teresa’s fitness to adjudicate on matters of sex and reproduction, and reports on a version of saintly ubiquity that affords genial relations with dictators, corrupt tycoons and convicted frauds. Is Mother Teresa merely an essential salve to the conscience of the rich West, or an expert PR machine fort he Catholic Church? In its caustic iconoclasm and unsparing wit, The Missionary Position showcases the devastating effect of Hitchens’ writing at its polemical best.

Christopher Hitchens


Hitch-22 is the candid memoir of one of the world’s most influential public intellectuals: Christopher Hitchens. He retraces the footsteps of his life to date, recalling the girls, boys and booze; the friendships and the feuds; the grand struggles and lost causes; and the mistakes and misgivings that have characterized his life. Hitch-22 is, by turns, moving and funny charming and infuriating, enraging and inspiring; an indispensable companion to the life and thought of a pre-eminent political writer.

God Is Not Great
Christopher Hitchens


Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion. In a series of acute readings of the major religious texts, he demonstrates the ways in which religion is man-made, dangerously sexually repressive and distorts the very origins of the cosmos. With eloquent clarity, Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope’s awesome view of the universe and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry of the double helix. God Is Not Great marvels at the possibility of society without religion, arguing that the concept of an omniscient God has profoundly damaged humanity. Hitchens proposes instead that the world might be a great deal better without ‘Him’.

Christopher Hitchens


Christopher Hitchens was a matchless writer, debater and humanist. Throughout his life he shone the light of reason and truth into the eyes of charlatans and hucksters, exposing falsehood and decrying hypocrisy wherever he found it. Arguably collects Hitchens’ writing on politics, literature and religion where he was at the zenith of his career; it is the indispensable companion to the finest English essayist since Orwell.

The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr.


Compiled from his own words, this history-making autobiography is Martin Luther King Jr – the mild-mannered, inquisitive child and student who rebelled against segregation; the dedicated young minister who constantly questioned the depths of his faith and the limits of his wisdom; the loving husband and father who sought to balance his family’s needs with those of a growing nationwide movement; and the reflective, world-famous leader who was fired by a vision of equality for people everywhere. Relevant and insightful, this autobiography offers King’s seldom discussed views on some of the world’s greatest and most controversial figures including John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Mahatma Gandhi and Richard Nixon. This book brings to life a remarkable man whose thoughts and actions still inspire our desires, hopes and dreams.

Gift of Love
Martin Luther King Jr.


‘Throw us in jail, and we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you’
One of the greatest activists in history, Martin Luther King Jr.’s message of non-violent resistance rang throughout the world and continues to inspire generations. In this essential collection of his most powerful, thought-provoking sermons, preached at the height of Civil Rights activism in America, he shows how love – strong and muscular, not weak or sentimental – is the wellspring for action against the evils of racism, poverty and war. A clarion call for freedom and justice, these lectures show King as pastor, prophet and intellectual, one whose philosophy of peaceful protest is still needed urgently in our divided world.

The Divided Self
R.D. Laing


First published in 1960, this watershed work aimed to make madness comprehensible, and in doing so revolutionised the way we perceive mental illness. Using case studies of patients he had worked with, psychiatrist R.D. Laing argued that psychosis is not a medical condition, but an outcome of the ‘divided self’, or the tension between the two personas within us: one our authentic, private identity, and the other a false ‘sane’ self that we present to the world. Laing’s radical approach to insanity made him a cult figure in the 1960s, yet his work was most significant for its humane attitude, which put the patient back at the centre of the treatment.

The Transformed Mind
The Dalai Lama


The Transformed Mind is an inspiring collection of His Holiness the Dalai Lama talks delivered over a period of nine years. In his characteristically endearing and informal style, one of the greatest spiritual leaders of our time examines the nature of the human mind and emphasises the need to transform it if we want to lead more fulfilling lives. He talks about suffering, happiness, love and truth, and imparts practical wisdom on issues ranging from religious tolerance to world economy. Stressing the need for compassion and non-violence, the Dalai Lama reiterates the essential goodness of the human heart and teaches us how to live and die well, reminding us constantly of the responsibility of our actions and thoughts, and the interdependence between action and result. Wise, inspiring and always candid, The Transformed Mind gives us hope and solace as we embrace the future.

This is Your Brain On Music: Understanding a Human Obsession
Daniel Levitin


‘What do the music of Bach, Depeche Mode and John Cage fundamentally have in common?’
Exploring the relationship between music and the human brain, acclaimed neuroscientist Daniel Levitin explains how humans experience music, and why it is essential to our lives. Drawing on the latest scientific research and musical examples ranging from Bach to The Beatles, he reveals how our love affair with music is fundamental to who we are.


How Democracies Die: What History Reveals About Our Future
Steven Levitsky & Daniel Ziblatt


Democracies can die with a coup d’état – or they can die slowly. This happens most deceptively when in piecemeal fashion, with the election of an authoritarian leader, the abuse of governmental power and the complete repression of opposition. All three steps are being taken around the world – not least with the election of Donald Trump – and we must all understand how we can stop them. In How Democracies Die, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt draw insightful lessons from across history – from the rule of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile to the quiet undermining of Turkey’s constitutional system by President Erdogan – to shine a light on regime breakdown across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Notably they point to the dangers of an authoritarian leader faced with a major crisis. Based on years of research, they present a deep understanding of how and why democracies die; an alarming analysis of how democracy is being subverted today in the US and beyond; and a guide for maintaining and repairing a threatened democracy, for governments, political parties and individuals. History doesn’t repeat itself. But we can protect our democracy by learning its lessons, before it’s too late.




Long Walk To Freedom
Nelson Mandela


The riveting memoirs of the outstanding moral and political leader of our time, Long Walk to Freedom brilliantly recreates the drama of the experiences that helped shape Nelson Mandela’s destiny. Emotive, compelling and uplifting, Long Walk to Freedom is the exhilarating story of an epic life; a story of hardship, resilience and the ultimate triumph told with the clarity and elegance of a born leader.

The Book of Humans
Adam Rutherford


Waging war? Sex for pleasure? Creating art? Mastery of fire? In this thrilling tour of the animal kingdom, Adam Rutherford tells the story of how we became unique creatures we are today. Illuminated by the latest scientific discoveries, The Books of Humans is a dazzling compendium of what unequivocally fixes us as animals, and reveals how we are extraordinary among them.

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes
Adam Rutherford


This is a story about you. It is the history of who you are and how you came to be. It is unique to you as it is to the 100 billion modern humans who have ever drawn breath. But it is also our collective story, because is every single one of our genomes we each carry the history of our species – births, deaths, disease, war, famine, migration and a lot of sex.

In The Mind’s Eye
Oliver Sacks


How does the brain perceive and interpret information from the eye? And what happens when that process is disrupted? In The Mind’s Eye, Oliver Sacks tells the stories of people who are able to navigate the world and communicate with others despite losing what many of us consider indispensable senses and abilities: the capacity to recognize faces, the sense of three-dimensional space, the ability to read, the sense of sight. For all of these people, the challenge is to adapt to a radically new way of being in the world – and these cases are testament to the myriad ways that we, as humans, are capable of rising to this challenge.

Oliver Sacks


Oliver Sacks’ compassionate tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we think of our own minds. In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians and everyday people – those struck by affliction, unusual talent and even in one case, by lightning – to show not only that music occupies more areas of our brain than language does, but also that it can torment, calm, organise and heal. Always wise and compellingly readable, these stories alter our conception of who we are and how we function, and show us an essential part of what it is to be human.

Oliver Sacks


Have you ever seen something that wasn’t really there? Heard someone call your name in an empty house? Sensed someone following you and turned around to find nothing? Hallucinations don’t belong wholly to the insane. People with migraines may see shimmering arcs of light or tiny, Lilliputian figures, the bereaved may receive comforting visits from the departed, and in some conditions, hallucinations can lead to religious epiphanies or the feeling of leaving one’s own body. Dr Sacks weaves together stories of his patients and of his own mind-altering experiences with hallucinogens to show how hallucinations have influenced every culture’s folklore and art, and why the potential for hallucination is present in us all, a vital part of the human condition.

Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality
Max Tegmark


Why does mathematics explain the universe so well? From the big bang to the distant future via parallel worlds, Max Tegmark proposes a radical idea: that our reality is not only described by mathematics: it is mathematics.

Art of War
Sun Tzu


These are the words of ancient Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu, who now classic treatise, The Art of War, was written more than 2,500 years ago. Originally a text for victory on the battlefield, the book has vastly transcended its original purpose. Here is a seminal work on the philosophy of successful leadership that is as applicable to contemporary business as it is to war. Today many leading business schools use the text as required reading for aspiring managers.

The Beauty Myth
Naomi Wolf


The struggle for gender equality has played out alongside the unchanging belief that women must be beautiful. In this groundbreaking work of feminism, Naomi Wolf argues that our all-pervading emphasis on the important of female beauty entraps women in the ceaseless pursuit of a physical ideal and colours perceptions of women at home, at work, in the media and in public life. With razor sharp insight and fascinating examples, Wolf exposes the tyranny of the beauty myth, its oppressive function and the destructive obsession it engenders.

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Mary Wollstonecraft


Before the concept of equality between the sexes was even conceived, Wollstonecraft wrote this book, a treatise of proto-feminism that was as powerful and original then as it is now. In it she argues with clarity and originality for the rational education of women and for an increased female contribution to society. It was a cry for justice from a woman with no power other than her pen and it put in motion a drive towards greater equality between men and women, a movement which continues to this day.

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