A Little History of Poetry by John Carey (Yale, £9.99 (£8.99); 978-0-300-25503-4). New in paperback.
“If music is sound organized in a particular way, poetry is a way of organizing language. It is language made special so that it will be remembered and valued. It does not always work-over the centuries countless thousands of poems have been forgotten. But this Little History is about some that have not. John Carey tells the stories behind the world's greatest poems, from the oldest surviving one written nearly four thousand years ago to those being written today. Carey looks at poets whose works shape our views of the world, such as Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Whitman, and Yeats. He also looks at more recent poets, like Derek Walcott, Marianne Moore, and Maya Angelou, who have started to question what makes a poem ‘great’ in the first place. For readers both young and old, this little history shines a light for readers on the richness of the world's poems-and the elusive quality that makes them all the more enticing.”
What are Biblical Values? What the Bible says on key ethical issues by J. J. Collins (Yale, £14.99 (£13.49); 978-0-300-25521-8). New in paperback.
“Many people today claim that their positions on various issues are grounded in biblical values, and they use scriptural passages to support their claims. But the Bible was written over the course of several hundred years and contains contradictory positions on many issues. The Bible seldom provides simple answers; it more often shows the complexity of moral problems. Can we really speak of ‘biblical values’? In this eye-opening book, one of the world's leading biblical scholars argues that when we read the Bible with care, we are often surprised by what we find. Examining what the Bible actually says on a number of key themes, John Collins covers a vast array of topics, including the right to life, gender, the role of women, the environment, slavery and liberation, violence and zeal, and social justice. With clarity and authority, he invites us to dramatically reimagine the basis for biblical ethics in the world today.”
Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford (Faber and Faber, £16.99 (£15.30); 978-0-571-33648-7). Read the Church Times review here
Selected by Aude Pasquier, of the Church House Bookshop, which operates the Church Times Bookshop.