Profile, £16.99, pp370
Chaney’s compelling and highly readable debut dives into the story of normalcy. It wasn’t until 200 years ago that the word “normal” was even applied to humans: before that, it was a purely mathematical term. But 19th century scientific developments and the growing popularity of statistics prompted a search for averages – and subsequently standards – in human health, experience and behavior. Encompassing everything from gender surveys to baby weights, beauty standards to sexuality, this is a brilliantly engaging work of popular science.
Granta, £9.99, pp320 (paperback)
When Solnit visited Orwell’s home in Hertfordshire, she discovered roses she believed to be descendants of flowers Orwell himself had planted in the mid-1930s. has been the catalyst for an eclectic series of observations on his life and work. Solnit goes to great lengths to emphasize that the book is not intended to be a biography, but it nevertheless illuminates Orwell’s essays, his political passions, and his highly sensitive engagement with the natural world.
Scepter, £16.99, pp256
The anonymous narrator of Deciduous teeth, plagued by body shame, leaves his toxic family in Durham and travels to London, Paris and Barcelona, unable to escape his emotional demons. Told in short vignettes that oscillate between the present and the past, the tale can feel shocking, and there’s a tendency towards self-indulgence that hampers the potential for emotional insight, but Andrews explores some important questions nonetheless.