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Four London booksellers recommend books to sharpen your brain

We got some of London’s venerable independent booksellers to share their favourite thinky tomes

Eddy Frankel

Local independent bookshops are more than just community hubs: they provide ways to expand your mind. And with Lockdown 2 shutting many of us indoors for a while, now is the perfect time to sharpen our brains. We got some of London’s most astute booksellers to recommend the tomes that will make a boffin of you yet. And remember, you can now support and buy from your local indie bookshop via

‘Men and Apparitions’ by Lynne Tillman

Men and Apparitions Book
Photograph: Peninsula Press

‘This anarchically hilarious and moving novel by Lynne Tillman riffs on autofiction and toxic masculinity. It follows Zeke, an academic who’s made a career studying family photo albums. The novel mixes analyses of snapshots with episodes from his own life, which is rapidly slipping into crisis. It’s not to be missed.’ Peninsula Press, £12.99.
Picked by Sam Fisher, Burley Fisher Books, Haggerston.

‘Bullshit Jobs: The Rise of Pointless Work, and What We Can Do About It’ by David Graeber 

‘Bullshit Jobs: The Rise of Pointless Work, and What We Can Do About It’ by David Graeber
Photograph: Penguin

‘The working world is grinding to a crawl again and this book by the recently deceased and much celebrated anarchist-anthropologist David Graeber is the perfect material to help you contemplate whether going back to the rat race is in any way desirable, necessary, or inevitable.’ Penguin, £9.99.
Picked by Nik Gorecki, Housmans Bookshop, King’s Cross.

‘No Modernism Without Lesbians’ by Diana Souhami

No Modernism Without Lesbians
Photograph: Head of Zeus

‘This book will keep you company on the long nights ahead. It’s an extraordinary testament to Diana Souhami’s life’s work as a brilliant biographer of modernist lesbians like Sylvia Beach, Gertrude Stein, Natalie Barney and Bryher, who shaped the women they loved as well as the movement of Modernism.’ Head of Zeus, £8.99.
Picked by Erica Gillingham, Gay’s the Word, Bloomsbury.

‘There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness’ by Carlo Rovelli

‘There Are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness’ by Carlo Rovelli
Photograph: Penguin

'This collection of articles, written over the past decade by Carlo Rovelli, one of our age’s most inspiring thinkers, offers intellectual adventures for the curious. Rovelli writes of poets, scientists and philosophers, as the widest of terrain is covered. Perfect for when our physical movement is curtailed.’ Allen Lane, £20.
Picked by Lloyd Sowerbutts, Libreria, Spitalfields.

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