Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales, by Penn Gillette (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

A stage magician’s account of his weight loss, and the unorthodox methods used to achieve this. A forceful, loquacious, funny and quite possibly at times too-salty-for-some diet memoir. Interesting and a fun read into the bargain, even if the approach used might not translate. As the author notes, though, this is a case study, not a recipe to follow.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Downsizing, by Tom Watson & Jo Lake (Kyle Books, 2020)

The former Labour politician’s account of his eight-stone weight loss, and the reversal of Type 2 diabetes. A scrappy book: equal parts name-droptastic autobiography, diet book (keto, basically), and Big Sugar polemic. While the core messages are sound, the scattershot approach – which reads as padding –  might be frustrating for some looking for focus.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England

A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind, by Shoukei Matsumoto [trans. Ian Samhammer] (Penguin Books, 2018)

A Buddhist monk’s guide to keeping home, head and heart clean. A clear and simple guide to living frugally, respectfully, and peacefully, though consideration of daily and other rituals of cleaning, care, order, and respect for one’s possessions and environments. A beguiling mix of household tips and zen philosophy; recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Billionaires: The Lives of the Rich and Powerful, by Darryl Cunningham (Myriad Editions, 2019)

Three case studies of extreme wealth and power: Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers, Jeff Bezos. A confident blend of biography and polemic, clearly making the argument that power corrupts, and that money distorts. Lots to ponder on here, rendered in a  chirpy and accessible graphic format. Recommended.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Landscapes of Detectorists, edited by Innes M Keighren & Joanne Norcup (Uniform Books, 2020)

Academic essays on the BBC single-camera comedy Detectorists, plus context from writer/star/director Mackenzie Crook, and original producer Adam Tandy. Focusing on the programme’s engagements with landscape, history, and gender relations, this is a fine introduction to the thematic richness and blokeish pleasures of the series. Volume II, please!

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Shoot for the Moon: How the Moon Landings Taught us the 8 Secrets of Success, by Richard Wiseman (Quercus, 2019)

A guide to positive thinking, stickability, and efficiency, filtered through lessons learned from the Apollo space missions. Genial pop psychology matched well with an overview of NASA problem-solving and lateral thinking approaches to life. Nothing revelatory here, but great for Moon mission completists and fans of Wiseman alike.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef, by Mark Schatzker (Periscope Books, 2015)

An investigation into what makes for the best steak. Jolly travelogue-cum-popular science book that relies a touch too much on stereotypes to get its points across, but nevertheless has much to say about cattle, compassion in farming, and in the relationship between process and product in an era of increasingly-mechanised and volume-driven production.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England

The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor, by Mark Schatzker (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

An exploration of the relationship between food flavour, nutritional qualities and diet, and the ways in which processed food industries work to substitute quality for flavour. A smart, clear overview of the topic area. Accessible and informative, even if its conclusions are straightforward.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England

Vacationland, by John Hodgman (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2017)

Ruminations on, among other things, owning two holiday homes. Similar in its approach to that of its follow-up Medallion Status, Hodgman discusses the advantages and the minor pitfalls of almost being a celebrity, rural v city life, and the odd responsibilities of homeownership. Deft, pleasant, amusing, melancholic as ever.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England