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Spring into a good book; From debut campus novels to baking recipes that helped one of our favourite authors beat depression, Waterstones share their top 20 books for your new season reading list.

This Isn't The Sort Of Thing That Happens To Someone Like You by Jon McGregor Bloomsbury, pounds 14.99 (out this month) A man builds a tree house by a river in anticipation of the coming flood. A sugar-beet crashes through a young woman's windscreen. A boy sets fire to a barn. A pair of itinerant labourers sit by a lake, talking about shovels and sex, while fighter-planes fly low overhead and prepare for war.

Thirty stories, each with the subtitle the name of a fen land town or village along the Lincolnshire landscape, make up this collection of tales of risk, fear, tenderness and laughter.

The Soldier's Wife by Joanna Trollope Doubleday, pounds 18.99 (out now) Trollope is at her best when touching on the tensions of middle-class families, and this is no exception. Dan Riley, a major in the British Army, returns to the wife and young daughters he adores after six months in Afghanistan. The outside world sees reunions like these as a taste of heaven after months of hell - but are they? The novel explores the home lives of the modern army and what happens, these days, when love and a vocation collide.

The Art Of Fielding by Chad Harbach Fourth Estate, pounds 16.99 (out now) Male bonding set against a backdrop of college baseball grab you? Debut author Harbach's story follows a group of young men who know their four years on the baseball diamond at the liberal Westish College are all that remain of their sporting careers. Only their gifted fielder seems to have the chance to keep his dream and theirs vicariously alive until a routine throw goes wrong, injuring a friend. Peppered with high culture references from Homer to Schiller, it's a twist on the campus genre.

Waiting For Sunrise by William Boyd Bloomsbury, pounds 18.99 (out now) From the best-selling author of Any Human Heart comes a journey via Vienna, London's West End, the battlefields of France and hotel rooms in Geneva, into the human psyche. Described as "a beautifully observed portrait of wartime Europe", a plot-twisting thriller and love story.

Religion For Atheists by Alain De Botton Hamish Hamilton, pounds 18.99 (out this month) Alain de Botton's new book boldly argues that the supernatural claims of religion are of course entirely false - and yet that religions still have important things to teach the secular world. Blending deep respect with total impiety, de Botton (a non-believer) proposes that we should look to religions for insights into how to build a sense of community, make our relationships last, get more out of art, overcome feelings of envy and inadequacy, and much more.

Saved By Cake by Marian Keyes Michael Joseph, pounds 16.99 (out this month) Keyes, who recently talked about her battle with depression, now explains how she found out baking was what she needed to get through the day.

Though a complete novice in the kitchen, she decided to bake a cake for a friend and that was it. As she baked, she wrote her recipes down, and little by little the depression started to lift, along with her sponges. With chapters on cupcakes, cheesecakes, meringues and macaroons, chocolate cakes, fruit cakes and favourite classics, the recipes are aimed at beginner bakers.

The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year by Sue Townsend Michael Joseph pounds 18.99 (out March) The day her children leave home, Eva climbs into bed and stays there. She's had enough - of her kids' carelessness, her husband's thoughtlessness and of the world's general indifference. Though her refusal to behave like a dutiful wife and mother soon upsets everyone from medical authorities to her neighbours, she insists on staying in bed. And from this odd but comforting place she begins to see both the world and herself very, very differently. A novel about what happens when someone refuses to be the person everyone expects them to be.

Phantom by Jo Nesbo Harvill, pounds 16.99 (out March) Last year, the film of Jo Nesbo''s thriller, Headhunters, helped Norwegian cinema hit record ticket sales.

It's out here in April, but before that comes Phantom, the follow-up to his best-selling thriller, The Leopard.

Harry Hole is back in Oslo; the police don't want him there so he strikes out on his own, discovering a trail of violence and mysterious disappearances under the city's eerie tranquillity.

And someone wants him silenced.

Various Pets Alive And Dead by Marina Lewycka Fig Tree, pounds 20 (out March) Marcus and Doro were part of a commune from the late '60s until the early 1990s - lentils, free love, radical politics and cheesecloth.

But their sensible children have grown up rather different. Set half in Doncaster, half in London, this riff on modern values features hamsters, cockroaches, poodles, a chicken and multiplying rabbits in a combination of irony and farce.

The Food Of Spain by Claudia Roden Michael Josep, pounds 25 (out March) Claudia Roden has spent five years researching and writing about the food of Spain, resulting in this cookbook of delicious food and recipes passed down through generations.

From simple, rustic tapas and delicately flavoured soups, to elaborate celebratory dishes served on silver platters, and cakes and desserts each with a story to tell, this is the book about Spain to learn from and to cook from.

The Land Of Decoration by Grace McLeen Chatto and Windus, pounds 12.99 (out March) Bullied at school, Judith finds solace in making a model of the Promised Land - little people made from pipe cleaners, a sliver of moon, luminous stars and a mirror sea - if she makes it snow indoors (using shaving foam and cotton wool and cellophane) there will be no school on Monday. Sure enough, she has performed her first miracle. And that's when her troubles begin.

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan Virago, pounds 12.99 (out March) Set at the turn of the 20th century, this is the story of Grace Sachs, an enigmatic young woman whose life is forever altered when the ocean liner on which she is honeymooning mysteriously explodes.

Her husband secures her a place on a lifeboat with a group of strangers, but they soon realise their boat is over capacity, and that they must reduce their numbers in order to survive.

The Humorist by Russell Kane Simon & Schuster, pounds 12.99 (out April) Survivor, genius, critic. Murderer. Meet Benjamin Davids White - blessed since his infancy with an extraordinary gift: to understand humour at its deepest level. Yet Benjamin is cursed, too: in his life, he has never laughed or smiled. The comedy critic, lacking any kind of human empathy, discovers a formula that will allow him to construct the most powerful joke the world has ever known.

The Wind Through The Keyhole by Stephen King Hodder and Stoughton, pounds 19.99 (out April) This new stand-alone novel in King's popular Dark Tower series takes a story within a story, featuring both the younger and older gunslinger Roland Deschain on his quest to find the Dark Tower. Roland tells a tale from his early days as a gunslinger, in the guilt ridden year following his mother's death. He's sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape shifter.

Jubilee Lines by Carol Ann Duffy Faber, pounds 12.9 (out April) To mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II's accession to the throne, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy brings together an array of contemporary poets (60 of them) to write about each of the 60 years of Her Majesty's reign. Includes work from Simon Armitage, Gillian Clarke, Wendy Cope and Jo Shapcot.

Stonemouth by Iain Banks Little Brown, pounds 18.99 (out April) Stewart Gilmour is back in Stonemouth for a funeral after five years in exile. Would staying away really be even more dangerous than turning up? Adolescence, love, brotherhood and vengeance in this rite of passage novel.

Bring Up The Bodies by Hilary Mantel Fourth Estate, pounds 20 (out May) In this sequel to the Man Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall, Hilary Mantel explores one of the most mystifying and frightening episodes in English history: the destruction of Anne Boleyn.

The Second World War by Antony Beevor Weidenfeld & Nicholson, pounds 20 (out June) Using the most up-to-date scholarship and research, Beevor assembles the whole picture of the Second World War in a narrative that extends from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific, from the snowbound steppe to the North African Desert, to the Burmese jungle, SS Einsatzgruppen in the borderlands, Gulag prisoners drafted into punishment battalions, and to the unspeakable cruelties of the Sino-Japanese War.

Prisoner Of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon Weidenfeld & Nicolson, pounds 18.99 (out June) This sequel to the international bestseller The Shadow Of The Wind returns to the world of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books and the Sempere & Sons bookshop, where a mysterious stranger enters the shop, looking for a copy of The Count Of Monte Cristo.

Silver by Andrew Motion Jonathan Cape, pounds 12.99 (out April) In the marshy eastern reaches of the Thames lies the Hispaniola, an inn kept by Jim Hawkins and his son. Young Jim spends his days roaming the mist-shrouded estuaries, running errands for his father and listening to his stories in the taproom; tales of adventures on the high seas, of curses, murder and revenge, black spots and buried treasure - and of a man with a wooden leg. Late one night, a mysterious girl named Natty arrives on the river with a request for Jim from her father - Long John Silver, in this sequel to Treasure Island.* All books are available to local branches of Waterstones and online at
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Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 7, 2012
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