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Do our memories make us who we are? – books podcast

On this week’s show, we take a look at the brain and how it relates to our sense of self. Wendy Mitchell, who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at 58, talks about her memoir Somebody I Used to Know and what changes her dementia has caused in her personality, tastes and everyday life.

Neuroscientist Dr Jules Montague explains the science of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and talks about her new book Lost and Found, a philosophical look at the human brain and the imp...

What Are We Doing Here? by Marilynne Robinson review – hope, as distinct from optimism
Essays with a religious sensibility from the author of Gilead and Housekeeping argue that modern culture tends to devalue humankind

“I have never admired deference.” Marilynne Robinson is a stubborn nonconformist, and her new collection of essays confirms the distance between her combative ideas and the dominant values of the west. This is partly a matter of temperament. Her years as a novelist reflect her belief that char...

Book clinic: why are some titles changed from country to country?

This week, our expert discusses the importance of book titles and why they are sometimes changed for overseas editions

Q: Why are book titles sometimes changed depending on country of publication (for example, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK/Sorcerer’s Stone in the US) and what factors are considered when making a title change?
From a librarian in Massachusetts

A: From Rebecca McNally, editorial director of the children’s division ...

In brief: Swell, The Hoarder, Daphne – reviews
Jenny Landreth’s swimming memoir plunges into issues of equality, Jess Kidd delves into a world of hidden secrets, and Will Boast gives Greek myth a 21st-century twist

Swell: A Waterbiography
Jenny Landreth
Bloomsbury, £9.99 (paperback)

Swimming, believes Jenny Landreth, “can be a barometer for women’s equality”. Here she tells the fascinating story of the inspirational “swimming suffragettes” who wen...

The Debatable Land by Graham Robb review – the lost world between Scotland and England
The historian and biographer traverses perhaps the oldest national land boundary in Europe as he explores a once independent, and very bloody, territory

In 2010, the historian and biographer Graham Robb decided to leave his Oxford home for what he describes as “a lonely house on the very edge of England”, so close to the brink that Scotland begins where his land ends. This border, Robb suggests, is probably the oldest na...

Book clinic: recommended literary page-turners
This week, our expert suggests a selection of books to rekindle the joy of reading in even the most battle-hardened litterateur

Q: Having completed my MA in creative writing, I can’t read with pleasure any more because I am too busy analysing how the book I am reading is put together. Can you recommend books I can get lost in – page-turning literary fiction (or is that an oxymoron)?
Colette Hill, Bath

A: from

The Pixels of Paul Cézanne by Wim Wenders review – the film-maker on the power of seeing

A collection of essays in free verse by the maker of Paris, Texas and Wings of Desire explores his influences in film, painting and photography

Just like the camera in Wim Wenders’ films, his writing demands the “freedom to move”: “I need to be able to ‘circle’ an idea”. For this reason he chooses to write in free verse – or what he modestly refers to as “my odd verse” – for many of the essays in this illuminating collection....

Ruby Tandoh: ‘I want to remind people that it’s fine to enjoy a ready meal’
The cookery writer’s new book is about relearning the joy of food – in print as much as on plates

Born in Southend in 1992, Ruby Tandoh is the author of two cookbooks, Crumb: The Baking Book and Flavour: Eat What You Love. She studied philosophy at UCL and was a runner-up on The Great British Bake Off in 2013. Since then she has written a baking column for the Guardian,

Top 10 books about the Scottish Highlands and Islands

Remote yet magnetic, the rugged environments of Scotland’s north have been inspiring writing for centuries, whether in memoir, natural history or tales of alien hitchhikers...

“Wherever I wander, wherever I rove / The hills of the Highlands forever I love,” said Robert Burns, and I high-five him wholeheartedly.

I’ve been obsessed with the Scottish Highlands and Islands since first going there on a family holiday at the age of 10. Its remote, rugged landscape has pulled me b...

Consent by Leo Benedictus review – the evolution of a psychopath
A tricksy thriller puts the reader on the trail of a stalker who likes to show off

Leo Benedictus’s first novel, The Afterparty, was a high-octane satire on the publishing world in which the author himself – or rather, a fictionalised version of him – played a leading role as public stand-in for a pseudonymous writer whose book was called, as it so happened, The Afterparty.

In his new work, an...