In short: The secret world of weather; Song for the Departed; Spain – opinion | Books

Tristan Gooley
Sceptre, £10.99, pp384 (paperback)

Trying to guess what the weather might do without the use of an app seems almost magical these days. Tristan Gooley, however, is a wonderfully enthusiastic guide to how we can all learn to understand time simply by looking and smelling, smelling and touching. The sections on microclimates and how the weather relates to the earth around us are scientifically rigorous and accessible. It’s one of those books that makes you look at your surroundings in a different, more poetic way.

Pierre Jarawan (translated by Elisabeth Lauffer)
Global Editions, £12.99, pp472

The sequel to Jarawan’s much-loved debut, The narrator, finds the German-Lebanese author in Beirut, initially during the Arab Spring of 2011. The unrest awakens in its protagonist Amin memories – and feelings towards – a country that he both loves and fears. There’s a well-crafted balance to Jarawan’s approach, the bomb-dropping and corruption lifted by the poignant, intimate, and thoughtful depiction of a family trying to navigate their way through enduring trauma. Elisabeth Lauffer’s translation from the German is moving but urgent.

Gilles Tremlett
Apollo, £25, pp304

Tremlett’s previous books on Spain have taken specific events or historical figures as a prism to understand the country. Here he attempts something far more ambitious – a brief but comprehensive history of Spain. Focusing on the intricate details of its diverse peoples, Tremlett explores the tensions and myths that resonate through the centuries, finding a country unique in its lack of a national narrative due to its many identities. He’s a fascinating socio-cultural guide, as happy to discuss Spain’s World Cup victory as they are about their Moorish domination.

Lance B. Holton