Thomas Halliday is a palaeontol­ogist and evolutiona­ry biologist. His book, Otherlands, is out now The Binding by Bridget Collins (2018) The making of a book is something magical, and never more so than in this novel. It has a light fantasy element, but that’s the steppingof­f point for a wonderfull­y emotional story. The Travels of Ibn Battuta by Ibn Battuta, translated by Tim Mackintosh-Smith (1829) Ibn Battuta was a lawyer from 14th-century Morocco. He left home on the hajj and didn’t return for decades, travelling as far as modernday Tanzania and China. Mackintosh-Smith’s translatio­n of his account of the journey is detailed, fascinatin­g and transporti­ng. Underland by Robert MacFarlane (2019) A giant in the world of nature writing, and this is, to my mind, his best work. It explores undergroun­d spaces, both in a literal sense and in their cultural meaning as spaces of forgetting and remembranc­e, destructio­n and preservati­on. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (1995) A beautifull­y-written and at times disturbing portrait of India in the late 1970s, told from the perspectiv­es of four strangers. Endeavour by Peter Moore (2018) A biography of the ship Endeavour, in which James Cook landed in Australia, from its early days as a Whitby collier to its latter involvemen­t in the American Revolution. It’s also a history of science, of social changes and much more. The Seabird’s Cry by Adam Nicholson (2018) Portraits of various different species of seabird from the waters of the North Sea and Atlantic. Each is imbued with character and feeling while also discussing the latest science and threats to these wonderful birds. The Holy Roman Empire: A Thousand Years of Europe’s History by Peter H Wilson (2016) Honestly, this is a vast book. It covers all aspects of a millennium of European history in nearly 700 pages. Yes, it’s got tables of tax rates and agricultur­al production, but somehow they’re made utterly compelling.

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