With Burning Hearts by Henri Nouwen (Orbis/Alban Books, £12.99). A gifted communicator, the late priest and author Henri Nouwen provides a challenging meditation on the Christian life through reflecting on the Gospel story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. First published in 2003, this slim book, beautifully illustrated by the paintings of Duccio di Buoninsegna, describes the stages of the Emmaus disciples’ emerging understanding of their faith: mourning the loss of Christ; discerning the presence of God in their midst; seeking out the stranger; entering into Communion; and finally, going out on mission, following Jesus’s charge of “Go ye …”
The Apocalypse Fire by Dominic Selwood (Corax, £12.95). Dr Ava Curzon is a brilliant archaeologist and erstwhile spy. When the Turin Shroud is stolen, she is called in to investigate, gradually unravelling a nest of secret societies and apocalyptic Russian cults. Selwood breathes life into the conspiracy thriller by knowing his history and deploying it well. Moving from Rome to London, Malta and the Middle East, he keeps the tension ratcheted up as Curzon and her helpers fight extremists and uncover a secret hidden in the Bible.
Shifting Stories by Andrew Scott (Matador Books, £14.99). Scott, a freelance coach, trainer and facilitator, has spent 30 years helping organisations and institutions to function more effectively by learning to understand the false constructs and unhelpful stories they tell themselves. He believes that “stories are so important and so compelling” because man is a story-telling creature. Using examples from his professional experience, Scott shows how individuals and teams can be taught to resolve problems and effect positive change.
Yours Always edited by Eleanor Bass (Icon Books, £9.99). A fascinating idea for a compilation, this books reprints letters of lost or agonised love by famous people. We get to see Winston Churchill’s anger at being slighted, Kafka in delirium, and many others. There is something weird about reading such personal missives, but they also remind us that everyone, whether king, politician, novelist or bus driver, feels the same. Other notables included in this collection are Charlotte Brontë, Henry VIII, David Hume, Charles Dickens, Graham Greene, Marie Curie and, of course, the lovelorn Abelard writing to Héloïse.
The Other Paris by Luc Sante (Faber and Faber, £16.99). Subtitled “An Illustrated Journey Through A City’s Poor and Bohemian Past”, Sante’s book is a treasure trove of a vanished Paris, a city immortalised in writer’s biographies and memoirs, sepia photographs and dense, surrealistic poetry. Sante shows us the other side of the City of Light, the dark underbelly of criminals, anarchists and movie stars. Illustrations (including political cartoons and film posters) feature on every page. This is a delightful survey of the hidden city that sleeps beneath the more famous one.
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