How to Read a Graveyard : Journeys in the Company of the Dead

Death is the one certainty in life, yet, with the decline of religion in the West, we have become collectively reluctant to talk about it. Our contemporary rituals seek to sanitise death and distance us from our own inevitable fate. If we want to know how previous generations dealt with death, graveyards (famous and not) tell us the history — if we are able to read them.

If we want to know how we struggle today with understanding or facing up to death, then graveyards provide a starting point. And, if we want to escape the present taboo on acknowledging our mortality and contemplate our own end, then graveyards offer a rare welcome. From Neolithic mounds to internet memorials via medieval corpse roads and municipal cemeteries, war graves and holocaust memorials, Roman catacombs, Pharaonic grave-robbers, Hammer horrors, body-snatchers, Days of the Dead, humanist burials and flameless cremations, Stanford shows us how to read a graveyard, what to look out for in our own, and how even the most initially unpromising exploration can enthral.

Merchant Adventurers : The Voyage of Discovery That Transformed Tudor England

In the spring of 1553 three ships sailed north-east from London into uncharted waters. The scale of their ambition was breathtaking. Drawing on the latest navigational science and the new spirit of enterprise and discovery sweeping the Tudor capital, they sought a northern passage to Asia and its riches.

The success of the expedition depended on its two leaders: Sir Hugh Willoughby, a brave gentleman soldier, and Richard Chancellor, a brilliant young scientist and practical man of the sea. When their ships became separated in a storm, each had to fend for himself. Their fates were sharply divided.

One returned to England, to recount extraordinary tales of the imperial court of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. The tragic, mysterious story of the other two ships has to be pieced together through the surviving captain’s log book, after he and his crew became lost and trapped by the advancing Arctic winter. This long-neglected endeavour was one of the boldest in British history, and its impact was profound.

Although the ‘merchant adventurers’ failed to reach China as they had hoped, their achievements would lay the foundations for England’s expansion on a global stage. As James Evans’ vivid account shows, their voyage also makes for a gripping story of daring, discovery, tragedy and adventure.

Oxford Children’s Classics: The Wind in the Willows

What are you looking for? Adventure! Excitement! Fun! Friendship! Join in the delights and disasters on the riverbank with Mole and his new friends. With sensible Ratty, wise Badger, fun-loving Toad, and the dastardly stoats and weasles, there’s never a dull moment! Oxford Children’s Classics present not only the original and unabridged story of The Wind in the Willows in a stunning new edition, but also help you to discover a whole world of new adventures with a vast assortment of recommendations and activities.

Princess Mirror-Belle and the Dragon Pox

Ellen gets a big shock when her double appears out of the bathroom mirror, but Mirror-Belle is a double with a difference! She is a princess, and a mischievous one at that. She is sure that Ellen’s chicken pox is actually dragon pox – and she is full of ideas about how to make the spots disappear. The seventh title from the chart-busting team of Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks is another winner.

There’s glitter on every page too! Praise for THE SINGING MERMAID: ‘[A] tip-top adventurous ballad which will hold its readers captive.’ – Guardian ‘[...] a delightful rhyming adventure.’ – Daily Mail

Being Mortal : Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End

Longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2014 In Being Mortal, Gawande examines his experiences as a surgeon, as he confronts the realities of aging and dying in his patients and in his family, as well as the limits of what he can do. And he emerges with story that crosses the globe and history, exploring questions that range from the curious to the profound: What happens to people’s teeth as they get old? Did human beings really commit senecide, the sacrifice of the elderly? Why do the aged so dread nursing homes and hospitals? How should someone give another person the dreadful news that they will die? This is a story told only as Atul Gawande can – penetrating people’s lives and also the systems that have evolved to govern our mortality. Those systems, he observes, routinely fail to serve – or even acknowledge – people’s needs and priorities beyond mere survival.

And the consequences are devastating lives, families, and even whole economies. But, as he reveals, it doesn’t have to be this way. Atul Gawande has delivered an engrossing tale of science, history and remarkable characters in the vein of Oliver Sacks.

 

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