WHEN THE LIGHTS GO OUT by Carys Bray (Penguin £8.99, 336 pp)

WHEN THE LIGHTS GO DEAD Carys Bray (Penguin £8.99, 336 pp)


by Carys Bray (Penguin £8.99, 336 pp)

Walking through town on a rainy day in December, Emma Abram notices a man declaiming like an Old Testament prophet, next to a placard with the message: ‘CLIMATE CHANGE THREATENS FUTURE OF GOLF!’

Passers-by are ignoring him, but Emma recognises him: it’s her husband, Chris. There was a time in their marriage, she reflects, ‘when talking, like sex, was recreational’. Their mutual anxiety about climate has led to conflicting results.

While Emma is trying to run a sustainable household Chris is preparing for an environmental catastrophe. As Christmas approaches, Emma’s fervently religious and passive-aggressive mother-in-law arrives.

Carys Bray’s funny and perceptive novel asks what happens when concern for the environment collides with caring for the people you love most.

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE WORLD ACCORDING TO SHEEP by Sally Coulthard (Apollo £9.99, 320 pp)

A SHORT HISTORY ABOUT THE WORLD, ACCORDING to SHEEP Sally Coulthard (Apollo £9.99, 320 pp)


by Sally Coulthard (Apollo £9.99, 320 pp)

‘What have sheep ever done for us?’ asks Sally Coulthard. They have shaped human history in many ways, from the landscapes we live in to our clothes and food choices to the way we dress.

The relationship between sheeps and humans began 11,000 year ago when, instead of hunting the dark, hairy beast with large ears that was the ancestor to all modern sheep, Neolithic people began to farm them.

The domesticated sheep provided meat as well as milk, cheese and wool.

Coulthard’s lively history celebrates the millennia-old relationship between humans and ovines from prehistoric times to The Yorkshire Shepherdess, and looks to a future in which sheep play a part in sustainable agriculture.

THE WALKER by Matthew Beaumont (Verso £9.99, 336 pp)

THE WALKER Matthew Beaumont (Verso £9.99, 336 pp)


by Matthew Beaumont (Verso £9.99, 336 pp)

It was the 19th-century French poet, Charles Baudelaire, who first defined the ‘flaneur’, the urban walker who wanders the endlessly changing street scenes of the city.

Writers have always been drawn to the stories cities offer to an observant pedestrian, and in his intriguing book on the literature of walking, Matthew Beaumont explores the ‘politics and poetics’ of urban strolling, through the work of writers from Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe to Virginia Woolf and Ray Bradbury.

The relationship between cities, and those who walk to them, is complex and rich. As you walk the streets that lead to glamour and affluence, to poverty and misery, you can lose yourself.

The Walker celebrates the subversive, secret life of cities and those who live in them.