Looking Good: A Visual Guide to the Nun’s Habit by Veronica Bennett and Ryan Todd (GraphicDesign, £17.50). This delightful and truly original book comes out just in time for Christmas. A collaboration between a theologian and a graphic designer has resulted in a picture book displaying and illustrating the dress of more than 40 communities of Catholic nuns and Sisters. From Carmelites to Franciscans to Benedictines, each item of clothing is analysed and beautifully depicted. Potted biographies of each order sit next to the illustrations. Highly recommended.
The New Communion Bible: Catholic Version (St Paul’s, £25). This new gift edition is a revised version of the Christian Community Bible translated by Bernardo Hurault. This is a post-Vatican II translation that renders the language of the Old and New Testaments into a modern, simple English. Each book has an instructive introduction detailing the nature, origins and themes of that particular part of the book. These introductions also provide important structural breakdowns and plenty of references for those seeking to delve deeper into Scripture.
Terms and Conditions by Ysenda Maxtone Graham (Slightly Foxed, £17.50). Subtitled “Life in Girls’ Boarding-Schools 1939-1979”, this book is full of understated yet hilarious anecdotes. Written in a gently ironic style, it is a series of interviews with women, aged 50 upwards, who were packed off to rural boarding schools by parents who wanted them to make the right friends rather than shine academically (the exceptions being Roedean and Cheltenham Ladies’ College). A few were unhappy, most were stoical, thriving despite the weird rules, eccentric teachers, poor food and constant chilblains.
Exhibitionist by Richard Dorment (Wilmington Square Books, £25). Dorment, former art critic of the Daily Telegraph, has selected more than 100 of his reviews for this lavishly illustrated book. Ranging across the spectrum of art, from ancient and non-European to 20th-century British and American, the author shows his eclectic tastes, his prejudices and passions. The book is full of information about artists, art movements and insights into paintings, alongside stimulating reflections on art exhibitions over the years. Dorment is always engaging and worth reading, regardless of whether one agrees with his opinions.
Blitzed by Norman Ohler (Allen Lane, £20). Ohler has written a fascinating account of how Nazi Germany was permeated with drugs, from the Führer through to his ministers, the army and even German housewives. Drawing on original research, including the memoirs of Hitler’s personal physician, Dr Theodor Morell, Ohler demonstrates that cocaine, morphine and crystal meth were used liberally and legally, contributing to the extraordinary advance of the army through western Europe in 1940. This book offers a glimpse into a dark aspect of a despicable regime.
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