History is full of strange animal stories invented by the brightest and most influential, from Aristotle to Disney. But when it comes to understanding animals, we’ve got a long way to go. Whether we’re watching a viral video of romping baby pandas or looking at a picture of penguins `holding hands’, we often project our own values – innocence, abstinence, hard work – onto animals.

So you’ve probably never considered that moose get drunk and that penguins are notorious cheats. In The Unexpected Truth About…

Born OTD in 1922, American novelist, Jack Kerouac. Considered a literary iconoclast and, alongside William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation. Kerouac is recognized for his method of spontaneous prose. Thematically, his work covers topics such as Catholic spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, and travel.

Sal Paradise, a young innocent, joins his hero Dean Moriarty, a traveller and mystic, the living epitome of Beat, on…

Born OTD in 1932, founding member of The Skatalites, Don Drummond. “Drummond entered Alpha Boy’s School when he was 9 years old… He demonstrated incredible proficiency on the trombone, a difficult instrument to master, and even at his young age during his school years, Drummond began to compose his own music”.

Behind Jamaica’s musical reverberation lies the unlikely story of a boarding school run by Roman Catholic nuns and a brass…

The Pond. Nothing in the countryside is more humble or more valuable. It’s the moorhen’s reedy home, the frog’s ancient breeding place, the kill zone of the beautiful dragonfly. More than a hundred rare & threatened fauna & flora depend on it. Written in gorgeous prose, Still Water tells the seasonal story of the wild animals & plants that live in and around the pond, from the mayfly larvae in the mud to the patrolling bats in the night sky above.

It reflects an era before the water was polluted with chemicals and the land built on for housing, a time…

First published in 1971, How to Read Donald Duck shocked readers by revealing how capitalist ideology operates in our most beloved cartoons. Having survived bonfires, impounding & being dumped into the ocean by the Chilean army, this controversial book is once again back on our shelves. Written & published during the blossoming of Salvador Allende’s revolutionary socialism, the book examines how Disney comics not only reflect capitalist ideology, but are active agents working in this ideology’s favour.

Focusing on the hapless mice and ducks of Disney, curiously parentless, marginalised and always short of cash, Ariel Dorfman and…

Born OTD in 1954, Robert Gerard Sands. This is the best-selling biography of the IRA resistance fighter and hunger-striker, Bobby Sands. In this updated, new edition, Denis O’Hearn draws from a wealth of interviews with friends, comrades, fellow prisoners and prison wardens, to provide a faithful and shocking insight into life in Northern Ireland’s H-Block prisons, an exploration of the motivations and thoughts of the Republican strikers and the story of one of the world’s most radical, inspirational figures.

Following his journey from its very beginnings – an ordinary boy from a working-class background in Belfast to a highly…

It is worse, much worse, than you think. The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn’t happening at all, and if your anxiety about it is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. Over the past decades, the term “Anthropocene” has climbed into the popular imagination – a name given to the geologic era we live in now, one defined by human intervention in the life of the planet.

But however sanguine you might be about the proposition that we have ravaged the natural world, which we surely have,…

Born OTD in 1952, Scottish novelist, short story writer & screenwriter, William Boyd. ‘Any Human Heart’ is written as a lifelong series of journals kept by Mountstuart, a writer whose life (1906–1991) spanned the defining episodes of the 20th century, crossed several continents and included a convoluted sequence of relationships and literary endeavours.

  Boyd plays ironically on the theme of literary celebrity, introducing his protagonist to several real writers who are included…

Not far from London, there is a village. This village belongs to the people who live in it and to those who lived in it hundreds of years ago. It belongs to England’s mysterious past and its confounding present. It belongs to Mad Pete, the grizzled artist. To ancient Peggy, gossiping at her gate. To families dead for generations, and to those who have only recently moved here…

But it also belongs to Dead Papa Toothwort who has woken from his slumber in the woods. Dead Papa Toothwort,…

Born OTD in 1927, Columbian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter & journalist, Gabriel García Márquez. Since it was first published in May 1967, One Hundred Years of Solitude has been translated into 37 languages & has sold more than 30 million copies. The novel, considered García Márquez’s magnum opus, remains widely acclaimed & is recognized as one of the most significant works in the Spanish literary canon.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s great masterpiece is the story of seven generations of the Buendia family and of Macondo, the town…