Natural Heritage of Slovakia: Trees. Pavol Hanzel and Kliment Ondrejka. Dajama, 2008.
Slovakia is a country of forests and as such it is home to a wide variety of trees. Trees cover the Slovak landscape and are part of its natural heritage and their breadth and density give Slovakia its natural charm. Trees are the official symbols of many locations in Slovakia and some are even destinations for trips. That is why the authors of Trees decided to choose those trees that are interesting from the visual and aesthetic viewpoint as well as those with unique parameters. The authors describe not only protected trees but also trees in Slovakia that have been finalists in the Tree of the Year competition in recent years.
The Black Swan. Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Penguin, 2010.
Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications, the concepts in The Black Swan change the way we look at the world. The author argues that Black Swans underlie many aspects of life, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives. A Black Swan is a highly improbable event with three principle characteristics: it is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, people concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random and more predictable than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was the disaster of 9/11. Taleb explains everything we know about what we don’t know and shows us as well as how to face such a world.
Icons of England. Edited by Bill Bryson. Black Swan, 2010.
This celebration of the English countryside does not only focus on the rolling green landscapes and magnificent monuments that set England apart from the rest of the world. Many of the contributors bring their own special touch, presenting a refreshingly eclectic variety of personal icons, from pub signs to seaside piers, from cattle grids to canal boats, and from village cricket to nimbies. This new expanded paperback edition has contributions from many celebrities including Bill Bryson, Michael Palin, Eric Clapton, Bryan Ferry, Sebastian Faulks, Kate Adie, Kevin Spacey, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, Richard Mabey , Simon Jenkins, John Sergeant, Benjamin Zephaniah, Joan Bakewell, Antony Beevor, Libby Purves, Jonathan Dimbleby, and many more, as well as a preface by HRH Prince Charles.
Losing My Virginity. The Autobiography. Richard Branson. Virgin Books, 2009.
This is an autobiography by iconic entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, featuring his take on his latest business ventures, personal achievements and intrepid adventures.
Branson describes how he is committed to building a better world through responsible, holistic business practices and ventures such as the Virgin Health Bank, which is contributing to regenerative medicine, Virgin Fuels, which has pledged GBP 200 million (about €235 million) to renewable energy projects, and his company’s charitable arm, Virgin Unite. The book also mentions how Branson’s company is reaching for the stars in a new era of commercial space travel with Virgin Galactic.
Italian Shoes. Henning Mankell. Vintage, 2010.
Once a successful surgeon, Frederick Welin lives in self-imposed exile on an island in the Swedish archipelago. Nearly 40 years have passed since he was disgraced for attempting to cover up a tragic mishap on the operating table. One morning in the depths of winter, he sees a hunched figure struggling towards him across the ice – Harriet, the only woman he has ever loved, the woman he abandoned in order to go and study in America.
Lost World. Patricia Melo. Bloomsbury, 2009.
The author of The Killer, Inferno and Black Waltz presents the story of an ex-contract killer, Máiquel, who has been a fugitive for ten years – ever since his girlfriend Erica ran off with his daughter Samantha, took up with an evangelical pastor and disappeared as completely from his life as Máiquel himself has disappeared from the front pages of the Brazilian newspapers. Then his aunt dies, leaving him a house and a savings account and a fresh chance to find the lost world of his one-time family. Máiquel sets out to find the man who stole his girlfriend and daughter.
Someone Like You. Roald Dahl. Penguin Classics, 2010.
There’s the gambler who collects little fingers from losers . . . there’s the lady who murders her husband with a frozen leg of lamb . . . not to mention the man who has made a machine that can hear grass scream . . . Roald Dahl’s particular brand of bizarre, alarming and disturbing story-telling has already attracted a huge following which can only be more disturbed, alarmed and - thankfully - amused by Someone Like You.
This column is a selection by The Slovak Spectator of English-language books recently released in Slovakia; it does not represent an endorsement of any of the books selected. The column is prepared in cooperation with the Oxford Bookshop Bratislava, located at Laurinská 9.
26. Jul 2010 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff