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‘The Old Man and the Sand Eel’ by Will Millard

The Oldie

Documentary maker from the Fens Will Millard was taught to fish by his grandfather. This is a wonderful book about less explored waters as he ‘allows the fish to guide him’ on his quest to find Britain's lost waterways. 

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‘Dictator Literature: A History of Despots Through Their Writing’ by Daniel Kalder

The Oldie

An enthralling book of literature of the 20th-century dictators; from Gaddafi's stream of consciousness to Mussolini's salacious novel, it is full of the greatest work of some of the worst people. You need not worry that it may become too heavy, as Kalder provides a brilliant running commentary.

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‘Figures in a Landscape: People and places: Essays 2001-2016’ by Paul Theroux

The Oldie

A set of essays from Paul Theroux that document his travels – from Hawaii to Ulster to Albania, and tea with Muriel Spark or Bono whom he calls ‘Mrs Jellyby in a ten-gallon hat’. An enjoyable reminder of the rewards of freedom.

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‘Nefertiti's Face’ by Joyce Tyldesley

The Oldie

Although she lived over 3,000 years ago, Nefertiti still fascinates us with with her extraordinary beauty and regality. However, very little is known of her, so Tyldesley, with Nefertiti’s bust as an inspiration, has written a biography of the great Egyptian.

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‘Phantom Architecture’ by Philip Wilkinson

The Oldie

This a book about the greatest buildings never to exist: a five-storey, hollowed-out elephant; a Chicago skyscraper a mile high, fit for the accommodation of 100,000 people; or giant trees with apartments for leaves. Every project has accompanying artist’s drawings.

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‘The Wood’ by John Lewis-Stempel

The Oldie

A diary about acclaimed nature writer and military historian Lewis-Stempel’s final year managing a small wood in Herefordshire. A funny and warming book about pigs and the history of his farm, where his family have lived for 700 years.

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‘Owl Sense’ by Miriam Darlington

The Oldie

Thanks to JK Rowling and Harry Potter, owls have a reputation as cute birds. Darlington argues that we should not forget they are phenomenal predators – so notorious that drug dealers in Liverpool have adopted them for protection instead of dogs. 

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‘Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket’ by Stephen Fay and David Kynaston

The Oldie

A book about two well-known post-war commentators with hugely different backgrounds, one the son of a stockbroker, the other a grammar-school boy from Hampshire. Fay and Kynaston have produced a joint study about their lives – and their opinions on cricket becoming ever more commercialised. 

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‘Trumpocracy’ by David Frum

The Oldie

The former speechwriter for George W Bush explains how Trump is corroding democracy in the US. He also explains how America got to this point by focusing on the disillusionment of the white working class – influential in putting Trump in office.

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‘Skin in the Game’ by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The Oldie

Never trust economists, bankers, fund mangers, policymakers or anyone not at the sharp end of a deal says Taleb. Why? Because they lack both credibility and integrity as they have nothing to lose. An intriguing book if a bit heavy-handed at times...

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‘A Higher Loyalty’ by James Comey

The Oldie

A ‘slimeball’, according to Donald Trump, Comey reveals everything about his last two decades in the government, most recently as director of the FBI. He recounts most of his life, but the selling point of this book has to be his chapters about Trump, for whom Comey cannot hide his loathing.

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‘Hired’ by James Bloodworth

The Oldie

James Bloodworth travels around the UK experiencing the lives of the huge number of people in low-paid, zero-hours jobs. He does not just take the jobs but also spends time living in the slums with fellow workers. Caution: this book has been described as enough to make you never use Amazon again.

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‘The Secret Barrister’

The Oldie

Written anonymously, ‘The Secret Barrister’ provides a scathing account of the misdemeanours of the English courts today where, apparently, the innocent often find themselves behind bars and the provably guilty walk free. The author blames this on undertrained and unqualified magistrates. 

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‘An Inconvenient Death’ by Miles Goslett

The Oldie

Miles Goslett, known for being the first to expose (in ‘The Oldie’) Jimmy Savile, looks into the death of Dr David Kelly, the weapons expert caught up in the controversy in the run up to the invasion of Iraq. This is not the expounding of a conspiracy theory, but an examination of a tragic death.

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Corfe Castle, Dorset

The Oldie

Sometimes a good ruin is all you need, and Corfe Castle is one of the best. Set in one of southern England’s most strategically important points, providing passage through the Purbeck Hills, it was battered by cannonballs during a Civil War siege. Cool off with a paddle at nearby Studland. 

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Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

The Oldie

It’s a steep 20-minute hike from the Forestry Commission car park, five-and-a-half miles south of Carbost, but what a reward! Dwarfed by the Black Cuillin crags and sheltered by red-berried rowans, the Fairy Pools are a magical set of wild waterfall tarns on the River Brittle.

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World Bog Snorkelling Championships held annually in August, Powys

The Oldie

This 200ft swim down a peaty Welsh trench is the climax of two days of stinky eventing at Llanwrtyd Wells – it costs £15 to enter. The 82-second record was set in 2014 by the English swimmer Kirsty Johnson. There’s fancy dress too for those who don’t fancy the bog race.

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Old Lighthouse, Dungeness

The Oldie

If you’ve got the legs for it, the climb up the century-old, 150ft Old Lighthouse (for just £4) puts the remarkable shingle Dungeness landscape in context. Admire and gawp at Britain’s only desert.

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A great coastal walk: Romney Sands to Dungeness, Kent

The Oldie

A four-mile hike through the pebbly, post-apocalyptic world of the Dungeness promontory is the most distinctive you’ll take all year. Park up at Dungeness itself, hop on the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway to Romney Sands (£4.80; rhdr.org.uk), then follow the coast road back towards Lydd-on-Sea.

‘Death in Ten Minutes’ by Fern Riddell

The Oldie

The story of Kitty Marion is not as well known as that of other, more prominent suffragettes, but she should not be overlooked. A prolific bomber and arsonist, she was influential in the fight for enfranchisement. The book contains extracts from Marion’s own unpublished autobiography.

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‘Hearts and Minds’ by Jane Robinson

The Oldie

Jane Robinson tries to shift the spotlight from the notorious suffragettes to the lesser-known peaceful organisation of the Suffragists. She sheds light on some remarkable stories of pilgrimages and demonstrations in this often moving account of their struggle.

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‘Rise Up Women!’ by Diane Atkinson

The Oldie

This is a complete history of the suffragettes which illuminates the role of working-class women in this campaign. Weighing in at 700 pages, there is certainly plenty to delve into, with a huge array of stories of the many women who worked so hard to achieve the right to vote.

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'Enlightenment Now' by Steven Pinker

The Oldie

Described by Bill Gates as his ‘new favourite book of all time’, this is full of optimism and praise for the progression of the human race. A morale booster that serves to remind us how far we've come. 

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‘The Drugs that Changed Our Minds’ by Lauren Slater

The Oldie

Lauren Slater has been on medication to treat her bipolar disorder, OCD and anxiety for 35 years. This book documents those experiences, as her dosage has increased tenfold, alongside the story of ten drugs that have transformed mental health since the 1950s. 

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‘Brainstorm’ by Suzanne O'Sullivan

The Oldie

Our brains are remarkable things that rarely go wrong, but when they do, there can be strange consequences. This book is full of real-life stories, including a troupe of seven dwarves and tasting pains, and is a fascinating insight into the function and malfunction of our brain.

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