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  • Welcome to Pitshanger Books

    A warm welcome to our new website. Please feel free to explore the site and let us know what you think of it.
  • Your local independent bookshop

    Located on lovely, leafy Pitshanger Lane. We stock over 3000 titles. As well as books, we sell cards, wrapping paper, stationery and games.
  • Serving our community

    Everybody that works here lives locally. We all love the area and we all love books so please feel free to ask if there's anything you need.
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Costa Award Book of the Year

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The winner of this year's Costa Prize is H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, who also won the Samuel Johnson Prize - both very well deserved.

'In real life, goshawks resemble sparrowhawks the way leopards resemble housecats. Bigger, yes. But bulkier, bloodier, deadlier, scarier, and much, much harder to see. Birds of deep woodland, not gardens, they're the birdwatchers' dark grail.' As a child Helen Macdonald was determined to become a falconer. She learned the arcane terminology and read all the classic books, including T.H. White's tortured masterpiece, The Goshawk, which describes White's struggle to train a hawk as a spiritual contest. When her father dies and she is knocked sideways by grief, she becomes obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk.She buys Mabel for GBP800 on a Scottish quayside and takes her home to Cambridge. Then she fills the freezer with hawk food and unplugs the phone, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this wildest of animals. 'To train a hawk you must watch it like a hawk, and so gain the ability to predict what it will do next.Eventually you don't see the hawk's body language at all. You seem to feel what it feels. The hawk's apprehension becomes your own.As the days passed and I put myself in the hawk's wild mind to tame her, my humanity was burning away.' Destined to be a classic of nature writing, H is for Hawk is a record of a spiritual journey - an unflinchingly honest account of Macdonald's struggle with grief during the difficult process of the hawk's taming and her own untaming. At the same time, it's a kaleidoscopic biography of the brilliant and troubled novelist T. H.White, best known for The Once and Future King. It's a book about memory, nature and nation, and how it might be possible to try to reconcile death with life and love.

Book of the Week

Boundless by Kathleen Winter

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In 2010, bestselling author Kathleen Winter took a journey across the legendary Northwest Passage - connecting the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans - alongside marine scientists, historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and curious passengers. From Greenland to Baffin Island and all along this arctic passage, Winter witnesses the new mathematics of the melting North - where polar bears mate with grizzlies, creating a new hybrid species; where the earth is on the cusp of yielding so much buried treasure that five nations stand poised to claim sovereignty of the land; and where the local Inuit population struggles to navigate the tension between taking their part in the new global economy and defending their traditional way of life. Throughout the journey she also learns much from her fellow travellers - about the original expeditions, how to survive in a wasteland, Inuit society, the real perils of climate change - and guides us through her own personal odyssey, emigrating from England to Canada as a child and discovering both what was lost and what was gained as a result of that journey.In breathtaking prose charged with vivid descriptions of the land and its people, Kathleen Winter's Boundless is a haunting and powerful story: a homage to the ever-evolving and magnetic power of the North.


Book at Bedtime

The Liezig Affair by Fiona Rintoul

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The year is 1985. East Germany is in the grip of communism. Magda, a brilliant but disillusioned young linguist, is desperate to flee to the West.When a black market deal brings her into contact with Robert, a Scottish research student at Leipzig University, she conceives a plan to escape. Robert stumbles into a complex world of shifting half-truths - one that will undo them both. More than a decade later, Robert returns to post-communist Leipzig in search of answers.Can he track Magda down? And will the past give up its secrets?

Afghanistan

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If you are interested in Afghanistan, look out for this definitive book on the war there by award-winning journalist Christina Lamb, which will be published on January 1st 2015. How did the war in Afghanistan go so terribly wrong? This shocking account provides answers that will surprise even the experts. An unmissable account of the conflict that has dominated foreign affairs since 9/11. Crouched in a ditch in Helmand, with Taliban gunfire exploding around her, Christina Lamb found herself wondering what the British troops at her side were achieving.Twenty years earlier, she had cowered in a ditch in nearby Kandahar, only that time under Russian fire, and alongside Afghans who later became Taliban. Today, the war in Afghanistan - at one point hailed by the US as 'a breathtaking success' - has sucked in 140,000 troops. Meanwhile, 70 per cent of terror plots are believed to originate in neighbouring Pakistan.How did this happen? Lamb travels both countries seeking answers. She visits Hamid Karzai's palace in Kabul, where she finds him pacing a walled garden with snipers on the roof and two baby deer for company. In Herat, she meets a group of women writers who risked their lives under the Taliban, and are once again living in fear.In Peshawar, she discovers mosques openly raising money to fight Americans, while in Quetta she encounters Taliban ministers openly recruiting fighters. In Karachi, she spends days with Benazir Bhutto, whose dream of saving Pakistan would end in tragedy. Lamb's riveting account reveals a textbook case of how not to run a war. It is a tale of international confusion, competing military operations, civilian casualties and payoffs. But the real problem is Pakistan, whose dictator takes billions of dollars of US aid even as the country's intelligence agencies help to train enemies of the West. With unparalleled access to key players, from top officials in Washington, London, Islamabad and Kabul, to Taliban and Pakistani spies, Christina Lamb traces the Afghan conflict back to the 1980s, when the CIA decided to use Islam as a rallying cry against the Soviet invaders.Unflinching and insightful, this account of the West's involvement in Afghanistan is vital reading for anyone who wants to understand the mistakes and misjudgements that cost so many lives.

These are the books that were most popular with our customers last week......

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1.The Queen's Orang-Utan by David Walliams (for Comic Relief)

2. Nora Webster by Colm Toibin

3. Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

4. The Establishment and How they Get Away with it by Owen Jones

5. Poldark by Winston Graham

6. After I'm Gone by Laura Lipman

7. After the Crash by Michel Bussi

8. The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

9. This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein

10.H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

If you would like to read any of these books, please send us a message from our contacts page, and we will reserve a copy for you.

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Tired from a grim war in America, Ross Poldark returns to his land and his family. But the joyful homecoming he has anticipated turns sour, for his father is dead, his estate is derelict and the girl he loves is engaged to his cousin. But his sympathy for the destitute miners and farmers of the district leads him to rescue a half-starved urchin girl from a fairground brawl and take her home - an act which alters the whole course of his life ..

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Forthcoming events

  • Britain's Greatest Generation
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This wonderful book co-authored by Sue Elliott will be published in April and ties in with a major BBC 2 series.

It tells the story of a truly remarkable generation. Born into a world still reeling from the earth-shattering events of the Great War, they grew up during the Great Depression, witnessed the globe tear itself apart all over again during the Second World War, and emerged from post-war austerity determined to create a new society for their children. This is the story of the men and women who raised their families during the immense social upheaval of the Sixties and Seventies, as the battle for civil liberties raged on and old industrial communities were rent asunder by unprecedented technological advances. Britain's Greatest Generation follows both the ordinary men and women who lived through these extraordinary times, as well as a host of household names including Dame Vera Lynn, Sir David Attenborough, Brian Rix and Diana Athill, as they reflect upon these incredible experiences in their own words.

Join us on Thursday April 23rd to hear Sue read from the book and discuss some of the many fascinating themes. The evening starts at 7pm. Do let us know if you are interested in coming along as places are limited.