Book Reviews | June 2024 | Alex Johnson

Judith Jones, a Pseudonym Library, and London's Bookshops: June Books Roundup

Hoxton Mini Press

An Opinionated Guide to London Bookshops by Sonya Barber and James Manning with photography by Ellen Christina Hancock

Our regular look at the new books that have recently caught the eye of our print and online editors this month.

A Brief History of the Verb To Be by Andrea Moro, translated by Bonnie McClellan-Broussard

A look at the life and times of the verb proclaimed by Bertrand Russell as a disgrace to the human race from classical Greece to the present day, from MIT Press.

Reading the Room: A Bookseller’s Tale by Paul Yamazaki
A love letter to the work of bookselling from San Francisco's iconic City Lights Bookstore's longstanding chief buyer, fom his upbringing in a Japanese American family in Southern California to working with Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Sonny Mehta, including his vision for the future of bookselling. Published by Prickly Paradigm Press.

The Design of Books: An Explainer for Authors, Editors, Agents, and Other Curious Readers by Debbie Berne

Designer Debbie Berne offers an introduction to book design for authors, editors, and other publishing professionals (as well as readers), focusing on interiors as well as covers, and the aesthetic and market-driven decisions designers consider to make books readable and attractive. From University of Chicago Press.

The Editor: How Publishing Legend Judith Jones Shaped Culture in America by Sara B. Franklin

Published by Simon & Schuster, Franklin puts the biographical spotlight on editor Judith Jones, the woman behind some of the most important authors of the 20th century such as Anne Tyler, Julia Child, M.F.K. Fisher, Edna Lewis, John Updike, and Sylvia Plath, and who elevated Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl from Doubleday's slush pile.

Mark Twain's War Prayer by Seymour Chwast

Mark Twain's 1910 attack on war-mongering patriotism reinterpreted by illustrator and graphic designer Chwast.
Adventures in Maps by Debbie Hall 

Hall, a Senior Library Assistant in the Map Room of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, takes readers on 20 journeys of varying lengths including Richard Hawkins sailing to South America in the 16th century, a historic sailing route followed by pioneering 1970s solo yachtswoman Naomi James,, the archaeological expeditions of David Hogarth along the Euphrates and Aurel Stein on the Silk Road, and pilgrims making their way across Europe. These accounts are drawn from diaries, letters, memoirs and travelogues and of illustrated with maps.

An Opinionated Guide to London Bookshops by Sonya Barber and James Manning with photography by Ellen Christina Hancock

The latest release in Hoxton Mini Press's ongoing 'opinionated guide' series, this one looks at more than 60 of the finest bookshops in England's capital, from antiquarian to indie. This book is carbon neutral.

The Invention of Charlotte Brontë: Her Last Years and the Scandal That Made Her by Graham Watson

As much the story of Elizabeth Gaskell as of the author of Jane Eyre, and what Watson describes as her "tell-all biography, so scandalous it was banned and rewritten twice in six months but not before it had given birth to the legend of the Brontës." Published by The History Press.

The Pseudonym Library of Allen Ruppersberg

An artist's book/catalogue of pulp fiction books written by authors who published under pseudonyms from the collection of Allen Ruppersberg, the accompaniment to his exhibition earlier this year. Published by Christine Burgin.