Posted on Leave a comment

Epic Journeys Through Words and Pictures

With our most recent new member to the Jaffé & Neale team, Peter Jones, taking a wide interest in Graphic Novels we have all been recommending our favourite GNs in the shop. Typically associated with Comic Book series the genre of Graphic Novels has moved from superheroes to the adventures of everyday life in all of its beauty, bleakness and bold relationships that we, as humans, have experienced throughout time. Here are some of our recommendations:

MausThe Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman £16.99

Tanya Recommends

The first graphic novel I have ever read and I loved it. Telling the story of what happened to his father in World War II, Art Spiegelman recounts the holocaust like never before.


watchmenWatchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons £14.99

Peter Recommends

Moore has created an incredible story, exploring the political, ethical and psychological consequences of life as a vigilante. The sheer scope of issues Moore tackles is breath-taking, and its magnificent details is matched only by its beautiful illustration. The Watchmen sets the benchmark for modern superhero storytelling.


Take a step out of your comfort zone and try a new graphic novel or come and ask us for our recommendations. These books are like nothing you will have experienced before. Look out for authors such as Chris Ware, Joe Sacco and Bryan Lee O’Malley.

Posted on 1 Comment

Lunch with David Mitchell

david mitchell 021As we all sat there expectantly, each imagining the genius behind Cloud Atlas and Black Swan Green, nothing could prepare us for the compelling and engaging character of David Mitchell. Far from the stereotypical absent author persona, Mitchell greeted us as friends and very much spoke to us as if we had been reunited after years apart. Sitting in his arm chair, drinking tea and flickers of a whole literary world unfolding in his imagination I was amazed by his passion to share his love of books and the everyday joy that reading can bring.

david mitchell 026His new book, The Bone Clocks, is yet another imaginative and challenging tale that is not restrained by worlds or by genres; a brilliant blend of hard-hitting political writing, fantasy and the journey that is human existence. This book is apart of the ‘Mitchell World’ with the clever, and perfect fit, of Hugo Lamb, seen in Black Swan Green, reappearing and new characters that have a depth that will inevitably  draw you in. david mitchell 022

Whether you have read a book by such an acclaimed author before this book exceeds expectations.


Posted on Leave a comment

Weekend Reading: Thinking, Fast and Slow

fast slow 2There is a video on Youtube of a tightly-knit group of people passing a ball between them. You are told to watch carefully and count how many passes there are during the clip. In the middle of the clip, a man dressed as a gorilla walks through. There is a very high chance you did not notice the big, hairy ape. This is an experiment familiar to most people (if not, sorry for ruining it for you), but it is, according to Kahneman, author of the phenomenon Thinking, Fast and Slow, only the tip of the iceberg. He states that humans are not as logical and clever as we’d like to think, and that, far from being in control, our unconscious mind governs the vast majority of what we do; he likens our conscious mind to a supporting actor convinced he’s in the lead role.

Khaneman announces that, for the sake of simplicity, we should imagine that our brains contain two systems of thought, named 1 and 2. 1 is impulsive, intuitive and in charge; 2 is slow, thorough and utterly lazy. 1 is used for basic tasks: driving on an empty road, making a cup of tea, walking on a flat path. 2 is used for complex thought processes: solving maths sums, writing an essay, choosing a book to read.

Khaneman then outlines the various ways the two are manipulated. 1 is by far the most gullible, liable as it is to a vast array of biases and tics (to give some technical names: the halo effect, the framing effect, the florida effect, and so on). It can give a razor-sharp retort, save your life in a car accident and tell you immediately that your boss is in a terrible mood and therefore should be avoided, but the speed comes at a price. Decisions made by 1 are fairly likely to be illogical on some level. So why not use 2? Namely because 2 is extremely lazy – try 56 x 17 and see what happens. Khaneman refers to a process called ego depletion, whereby 2 literally gets tired and a little bit rubbish.

In outlining the various ways in which our brains can be tricked and worn out, Khaneman makes them avoidable, like being shown the secret compartment of a magician’s hat.  You could therefore call Thinking, Fast and Slow a self-help book, although to do so would be hopelessly derivative. It is also a leap in understanding of the brain for its own sake, for although there are many books on psychology and neuroscience, few are as comprehensive, irrefutable and well-told as this one. Kahneman rarely relies on brain scans (which are generally accepted to be vague and sometimes contradictory when dealing with psychology) and never drifts into vague, umbrella statements (unlike another psychology bestseller, Quiet). The author instead relies on fascinating studies and tests.

To be frank, the book’s brilliant. Brilliant because it can change the way you think, and brilliant because it does so with such a warm and witty voice that you won’t immediately realise just how much of a game changer the book is.

By Gabriel Smith, Bookseller at Jaffé & Neale.

Posted on Leave a comment

Book Review: Deep

deepEver wondered what it would be like to dive 30 stories down into the ocean without scuba gear? To swim alongside sperm whales, hold your breath for four minutes at a time, and plumb the black depths of the ocean in a makeshift submarine? James Nestor has, and in his wonderful book Deep he attempts to find the answers himself.

He explores free diving in all its slightly insane forms, from the international competitions where underwater blackouts are both regular and expected, to the more practical uses. The latter are extraordinary: meet the researchers who swim with whales the size of buses, and whose lungs shrink to the size of fists under conditions that would kill a scuba diver instantly. These people believe that investigating the sea from a scuba suit is like investigating jungle wildlife from within a land rover with the windows up and music on. And marine life seems to agree with them – animals are far friendlier to free divers. As Nestor shows, more has been learned about whales, sharks and echolocation from free diving than any other method, and what they have learned is fascinating.

But eventually the author’s curiosity goes deeper, beyond what any human can naturally withstand. He enlists the help of a dubious Honduran who has built a makeshift submarine that tends to fizz and buckle when deep. But go deep they do, down to black depths where the pressure for a human would be ‘like balancing the Eiffel Tower on your head.’ Here Nestor witnesses the ‘71% silent majority’ of life on Earth: the strange glowing, pulsing life of the deep ocean. It is hard to decide which part of Nestor’s adventure is the best, but it is a book you won’t want to end.

By Gabriel Smith, Bookseller at Jaffé & Neale.


Posted on Leave a comment

Book review: A Wolf in Hindelheim

wolf hindelheimNot a lot happens in Hindelheim, that is until a baby disappears, setting off a course of events that quietly spirals out of control.

Jenny Mayhew’s debut novel is set in the rural South West Germany of 1926. Harsh memories of the Great War are still fresh and although ex-serviceman, Constable Theodore Hildebrandt, bares the physical scars, he is mentally sharp. Despite the remote location and his lowly rank, this policeman is a match for any of his urban peers. He is a stubborn man of honour with a meticulous eye for detail, but often forgets when to keep his mouth shut. This is particularly frustrating for his son, Deputy Constable Klaus, especially in the presence of their superiors.

The leading cast of players is a match for any contemporary television soap. The families of Hindelheim are awash with secret liaisons, affairs and illegitimate births. A Wolf in Hindelheim is a simmering pot that takes its time to develop but reaches boiling point when Elias Frankel escapes from the law and unleashes a manhunt and hysteria in the local population, gaining him the undeserved reputation as the Wolfman. Elias is a Jew and this is at a time in Germany when the unsavoury eugenics-healthy breeding campaign starts to raise its ugly head and we are introduced to The German Peoples League, a forerunner to the Nazis. Perhaps the Wolf in the title is a metaphor for what the future holds – a growing hatred of anything different.

Mayhew’s writing is poetic and engaging. She tells a story with subtle nuances, drawing the reader into a small world with major consequences. In the closing chapters Mayhew writes “hope…is the last organ to die” which speaks volumes.

Order a copy of A Wolf in Hindelheim.

Reviewed by Gerard O’Hare. Gerard previously worked as an actor, appearing in theatre, film, TV, and on the radio. His short screenplay, The Long Walk won funding from the Northern Lights scheme, was screened on the BBC and at film festivals. Gerard is now Client Development Manager at The Bookseller and book reviewer for We Love This Book focusing on new authors

Posted on Leave a comment

The #lovereading project: week four

It’s the final week of our #lovereading project, and we’ve loved hearing everyone’s thoughts on our specially compiled reading list. 28 books in 28 days: you might not read them all, but we’re sure you’ll find something there to tempt you!

To see the full list, click here, but in the meantime, here are the final seven books in the #lovereading project.

22. Down to the Sea in Ships, by Horatio Clare

23. The Encyclopaedia of Early Earth, by Isabel Greenberg

24. Illuminations, by Walter Benjamin

25. The Moustachapillar, by Jonty Lees

26. Rock the Shack, by S Ehmann

27. The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, by Barbara W Tuchman

28. The Snow Child, by Eowyn Ivey


love reading week 4

If you’d like your own copy of any of the above titles, pop into the shop, or give us a call on 01608 641033.

Posted on Leave a comment

The #lovereading project: week three

Week three of our #lovereading campaign brought seven fabulously different books: there is definitely something in this list for everyone!

To see the rest of our month-long reading list, click here.

15. Vile Bodies, by Evelyn Waugh

16. Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome

17. European Peasant Cookery, by Elisabeth Luard

18. Patagonia, by Bruce Chatwin

19. Tintin in America, by Herge

20. Canada, by Richard Ford

21. & Sons, by David Gilbert


love reading week 3

Posted on Leave a comment

The #lovereading project: week two

Week two of our #lovereading project has been huge fun, with a great list of books to push you out of your comfort zone! For our round-up of week one’s titles, check out last week’s blog post, or follow the #lovereading hashtag on Twitter or Facebook.

Here are week two’s titles:

8. The Cuckoo’s Calling, by Robert Galbraith

9. My Age of Anxiety, by Scott Stossel

10. On the Trail of Genghis Khan, by Tim Cope

11. Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson

12. The Many Days: Selected Poems of Norman MacCaig

13. Stoner, by John Williams

14. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

To order a copy of any of the above titles, come into the shop or call 01608 646830.

love reading week 2

Posted on Leave a comment

The #lovereading project: week one

This month we launched our #lovereading project: 28 books in 28 days. You might read one; you might read them all, but we hope you’ll enjoy exploring books outside of your normal genre. Each day we post another book title on Twitter and Facebook, and invite you to tell us what you love reading.

Here’s a round-up of our titles for the first week of February:

1. The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert

2. New and Selected Poems, by Mary Oliver

3. The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion

4. The is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett

5. A Compendium of Collective Nouns, by Jason Sacher

6. The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

7. Letters of Note, by Shaun Usher

If you’d like your own copy of any of the above titles, pop into the shop, or give us a call on 01608 641033.

Love Reading Week One

Posted on Leave a comment

Book review: The Martian, by Andy Weir

An extra-terrestrial Robinson Crusoe, Andy Weir’s The Martian is a compelling read.  Mark Watley is left for dead on Mars and his supplies will not keep him alive until his support team, on Earth, return for him. He’s a resourceful fellow and it’s a joy to read his death defying battle for survival. Potato growing has never before been this thrilling.

The Martian, by Andy Weir, is published by Del Ray, £9.99. To order a copy, call 01608 641033 or email

See our review, written by Gabriel Smith, featured in the Banbury Guardian

The Martian, by Andy Weir