Books

Vampire bats, like succubi, prey on sleeping men at full moon in a 19th-century engraving

Creatures of the night: why do we find them irresistible?

29 June 2019 9:00 am

When it was recently announced that Robert Pattinson, who played the vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight films, had secured…

An inflatable boat with 47 migrants is rescued off Libya’s coast in January 2019. Credit: Getty Images

Desperate souls: Travellers, by Helon Habila, reviewed

29 June 2019 9:00 am

Death by water haunts the stories of Africans in Europe that flow through this fourth novel by Helon Habila. From…

Niven Govinden. Credit: Dan Lepard

A drag army in waiting: This Brutal House, by Niven Govinden, reviewed

29 June 2019 9:00 am

Niven Govinden’s This Brutal House is set in the demi-monde of the New York vogue ball. This is an organised,…

Barry Lopez. Credit: John Clark

For a passionate ecologist, Barry Lopez burns a lot of oil

29 June 2019 9:00 am

It is more than a generation since the appearance of Barry Lopez’s classic Arctic Dreams. That book’s effortless integration of…

‘The Bibliophile’, by Johann Hamza (1850–1921)

From bibliomania to kleptomania: the serious crimes of book lovers

29 June 2019 9:00 am

In the spring of 1998, Rolling Stones fans in Germany were disappointed to hear that the band had been forced…

Karoline Kan

The Kan-do spirit: Under Red Skies, by Karoline Kan, reviewed

29 June 2019 9:00 am

The defining feature of Chinese millennials is not Instagram, avocado on toast or propertylessness. Born in the early years of…

An illustration from Emperors, Admirals and Chimney Sweepers by Peter Marren

Fluttering to extinction: the tragedy of Britain’s butterflies

29 June 2019 9:00 am

In 1979, despite the best efforts of scientists for more than a century, a butterfly called the British Large Blue…

The Apollo 11 astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins and Buzz Aldrin. Credit: Getty Images

Getting to grips with rocket science

29 June 2019 9:00 am

Now that we are stupidly rendering Earth almost entirely uninhabitable by many species including our own (through overcrowding, failing political…

Growing up in the wooded hills round Limpsfield, the girls climbed trees, built huts, made fires and skinned rabbits

The free-spirited sisters who galvanised the Bloomsbury Group

29 June 2019 9:00 am

It was high time we had a proper look at the four beautiful, original Olivier sisters. Hitherto, with one exception,…

Stars rotate behind the Copernicus Monument in Chicago. Credit: Getty Images

History is made from ideas — but are ideas becoming history?

29 June 2019 9:00 am

Wallace Stevens called it ‘the necessary angel’. Ted Hughes thought it ‘the most essential bit of machinery we have if…

Polari, the secret gay argot, is making a surprising comeback

22 June 2019 9:00 am

Imagine you’re a gay man living in the year 1950. Not unnaturally, you would like to meet another gay man.…

An education in love: City of Girls, by Elizabeth Gilbert, reviewed

22 June 2019 9:00 am

One of the chief regrets of book-loving women of my age — and a surprising number of men — is…

The snake-oil salesmen who prey on schizophrenics

22 June 2019 9:00 am

Schizophrenia is the psychiatric illness about which the most misconceptions abound. It’s not so much the ‘negative’ symptoms that cause…

The sinister strains of English folk music

22 June 2019 9:00 am

With public life increasingly a din of personalised ringtones and phone chatter, we crave silence. Acoustic ecologists speak of ‘ear…

Pigeons are plucky and loyal — so don’t go poisoning them in the park

22 June 2019 9:00 am

Growing up as a rootless army brat in bases home and abroad, I would listen in appalled delight to my…

Entertaining Iris Murdoch – for months on end

22 June 2019 9:00 am

If you know your Peter Conradi from your Peter J. Conradi, you’ll also know that the former is foreign editor…

Haunting and hallucinatory: hospital poems from Hugo Williams

22 June 2019 9:00 am

Hugo Williams’s wryly candid reports from the front lines of sex and family life are a perennial delight. Often timeless,…

How does today’s world compare with Orwell’s nightmare vision?

22 June 2019 9:00 am

Apart from a passionate relationship with the common toad, what do George Orwell and David Attenborough have in common? H.G.…

Heroism in a hopeless cause: why the crusades remain fascinating

15 June 2019 9:00 am

The crusades are part of everyone’s mental image of the Middle Ages. They extended, in one form or another, from…

Mystery in the Sundarbans: Gun Island, by Amitav Ghosh, reviewed

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Meet Deen Datta, a nervous, practical and cautious man, born and brought up in Calcutta, who now lives in Brooklyn,…

Naomi Wolf is holed below the waterline

15 June 2019 9:00 am

What is it about Naomi Wolf that inspires such venom? Perhaps that she’s American, brash, media-savvy and not averse to…

Searching for Coco on the Côte d’Azur

15 June 2019 9:00 am

Anne de Courcy, an escapee from tabloid journalism, has become a polished historian of British high society in the 20th…

Gunning for Narendra Modi

15 June 2019 9:00 am

K.S. Komireddi sets out to establish his secular credentials before he sets up his primary argument: which is that India’s…

Is one of history’s most rousing speeches apocryphal?

15 June 2019 9:00 am

As rousing death-and-glory speeches go, it is one of the best. With a besieging Roman army only hours from storming…

Has Daisy Dunn chosen the wrong Pliny to write about?

15 June 2019 9:00 am

I couldn’t help thinking, as I read this book, of an old story, vaguely recalled from English A-level classes, about…