By Vikram Seth
'I have so carefully mapped the corners of my mindThat I am forever waking in a lost country...'SUMMER REQUIEM traces the immutable shifting of the seasons, the relentless rhythms of a great world that both 'gifts and harms'. Luminous, resonant and profound, these poems trace the dying days of summer, 'the hour of rust', when memory is haunted by loss and decay. But in the silence that follows, as the soul is cast adrift, there is also reconciliation with the transience of all things; the knowledge that there is a place, 'changeable, that will not betray'.
By Mark Todd
The greatest equestrian of the 20th century makes a stunning comeback in the 21st century.Mark Todd's eventing career is the stuff of legend and encompasses one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time.When he 'retired' from competing in eventing in 2000, he had already been named 'Rider of the Century' for his natural empathy with a horse and his extraordinary success, which included back-to-back Olympic gold medals, five Burghley wins and three Badminton victories. He has also show jumped to Olympic level and trained winners on the racecourse. Considered a legendary horseman by his peers, he seemed to have done it all.He returned to train racehorses in his native New Zealand but, eight years later, the idea of a comeback took root, part dare, part personal challenge to see if he could still cut it in a changed sport. Within eight months, he was riding at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and in 2011, he hit the headlines by becoming the oldest rider to win Badminton. He is now at the forefront of New Zealand's resurgence ahead of the London Olympic Games.The story of his progress from dairy farmer to world renown is told with typically laid-back humour, but it reveals the fierce determination, discipline and personal sacrifice which lies behind the relaxed outlook.
By Umberto Eco
The extraordinary historical consequences of errors and fictional inventions.SERENDIPITIES is an iconoclastic, dazzlingly erudite and witty demonstration, by one of the world's most brilliant thinkers, of how myths and lunacies can produce historical developments of no small significance. In Eco's words, 'even errors can produce interesting side effects'. Eco's book shows how:-- believers in a flat earth helped Columbus accidentally discover America-- the medieval myth of Prester John, the Christian king in Asia, assisted the European drive eastward-- the myth of the Rosicrucians affected the Masons, leading in turn to the widespread belief in a Jewish masonic plot to dominate the world and other forms of paranoid anti-Semitism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries