There’s still time to take advantage of our big January sale – which ends midnight, Friday 13th (not such an unlucky day, after all!)
All our books are half price, and that includes a gloriously diverse range of non-fiction: everything from biography to art, history to criticism. Here we pick a few of our favourites.
The Girl who Lived on Air by Stephen Wade examines the strange story of Sarah Jacob, ‘the Welsh fasting girl’. Though not the first anorexic, she was arguably the first to cause a national furore, and was made to be the centre of a lucrative and also media-hungry ‘spin’ on the nineteenth century nexus of knowledge between science and superstition, folk-belief and religious asceticism. Stephen Wade covers new ground in examining the medical issues surrounding the case, the legal complexities, the prison life of Sarah’s parents, and the significance of folklore and superstition.
Alun Lewis biographer John Pikoulis covers new ground in Alun, Gweno & Freda, which examines Lewis’ life and writing through the particular prism of his relationships with his wife, Gweno, and Freda Aykroyd, an ex-patriot in India whose house provided respite for British officers on leave. The book argues that Lewis’s charged relationships with these two women were the key to both his writing and his mental health, and goes on to explore the circumstances surrounding Lewis’ sudden death, and weigh into the ongoing debate over whether it was accidental, or suicide.
Losing Israel by Jasmine Donahaye is more than biography. This moving and honest memoir, which won the Wales Book of the Year, Non-Fiction Category (2016), recounts the author’s struggles with identity and history after she stumbles upon the collusion of her family in the displacement of Palestinians in 1948. Biography, travel writing and birdwatching are all weaved together in this fascinating re-evaluation of memory, family and cultural identity.
Robert Minhinnick’s Watching the Fire Eater, newly back in stock, takes us from Copacabana to urban Yorkshire, from New Mexico to a Welsh funfair, from The Netherlands to the Clare coast. Minhinnick’s essays cover a variety of subjects – sunbathing, third world poverty, the demise of Margaret Thatcher, to name a few – but at the core this is a vivid series of attempts to strip away the exhausted mythologies of the writer’s own country and the increasingly-packaged places he visits.
The Roots of Rock, from Cardiff to Mississippi and Back is Peter Finch’s serenade to rock and popular music, and an infectiously nostalgic trip from the 1950s onwards that is guaranteed to enthrall music lovers. From an old valve radio playing in the Cardiff suburbs in the ’50s to live music today in America and beyond, Peter Finch tours countries and decades to illustrate how rock and pop has evolved, giving us sharp-eyed accounts of gigs from Champion Jack Dupree to the Garth Mountain Boys, visits to musical shrines and theme parks – Dollywood, Grand Ole Opry, Graceland, Stax – and music, lots and lots of music.
See our full Non-Fiction list on the Seren website, and hurry – sale ends midnight, Friday 13 January.