Dan Richards

Canongate, £9.99

Richards didn’t know when he started writing this book that, when it came out, shutting oneself off from the world wouldn’t be the mark of an anti-social personality but a government recommendation. Outpost, therefore, has a relevance that wouldn’t have been apparent when he embarked on his quest to discover for himself the allure of living alone in the wilderness. Inspired by the hut his father occupied in the Norwegian wilds before he was born, he travels from the Cairngorms to Japan to Iceland, sampling the appeal of remoteness in bothies and temples. Seeking the romance of far-flung places, he locates a cabin high in the mountains of Washington State where Jack Kerouac lived for 63 days, and visits a desert station in Utah which simulates the conditions of a base on Mars, in an introspective, humorous and self-deprecating travelogue which explores why we’re drawn to such places and what being alone and isolated can teach us about ourselves.

The Austen Girls

Lucy Worsley

Bloomsbury, £7.99

The prolific maker of history documentaries takes time out to pen a novel set in 1809, when Jane Austen’s nieces, Anna and Fanny, have reached the age when they must think about marriage. Fanny’s mother, Elizabeth Austen, is determined that her daughter be married off as soon as possible to the first solvent, eligible man who happens along. Anna, meanwhile, has had it drummed into her that must find a rich husband. For advice, who better to turn to than Aunt Jane, who has shown herself to be so perceptive about affairs of the heart? Nor does it escape the girls’ attention that Jane seems to be very happy with her lot, despite being single. Aimed at children, The Austen Girls is never going to have the kind of nuance, insight and well-turned wit you’d find in the genuine article, but Worsley gives it her best shot in an amiable, flighty tale of two girls figuring out what they want from life.

The Turn of the Key

Ruth Ware

Vintage, £8.99

Rowan is looking for a new start in life. When she comes across an advert for a live-in nanny with an extremely generous salary, it seems too good to be true. And since this novel is from the pen of creepy crime queen Ruth Ware, it is not only too good to be true, but the beginning of a nightmare for our central character that sees her accused of a terrible murder. It’s also a page-turner for us. Taking the domestic thriller up a notch, The Turn of the Key is at turns spooky, gothic and a compelling family drama. It’s also tightly-plotted throughout. Set in the Highlands, this is a modern haunted house story with a twist, propelled by a likeable protagonist and cleverly created feeling of unease.