Benediction by Kent Haruf (Picador, £7.99)

Benediction by Kent Haruf (Picador, £7.99)

There's something of the tone of Joyce's Dubliners in Haruf's simply-told tale of elderly Dad Lewis, diagnosed with cancer and living out his last summer with his family and neighbours in a small Colorado town. An elegiac tone, of someone who has already gone, gives Haruf's prose its extraordinary dignity and humanity.

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What Should We Tell Our Daughters: the pleasures and pressures of growing up female by Melissa Benn (Hodder, £8.99)

Benn's aim is to educate a younger generation of women, not just about the daily sexism that they may feel pressurised into colluding with, but also about the achievements previous feminists have made. This history is both personal, as Benn talks about her own mother, and political. Accessible and important.

Mr Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (Atlantic, £7.99)

Sloan's enjoyable novel begins as one kind of story then rather skilfully becomes something else. His hero is a victim of the recession, a former web designer turned bookstore employee, but what starts out as a paean to the printed text and the fustiness of old bookshops quickly becomes a homily to intelligent code-breaking instead.

Everything You Need To Know About The Greatest Artists and Their Works by Susie Hodge (Quercus, £14.99)

Hodge's guiding rule for 'great' here, is 'whoever changed art', which seems reasonable enough on the face of it but then quickly provokes questions. While this beautifully illustrated history certainly offers no surprises, being very male-artist heavy through to the end, it is nice to see Georgia O'Keefe and Mary Cassatt honoured with entries.

Lesley McDowell