Our top book picks this week: why another financial crash is likely and more

The End of Alchemy by Mervyn King

Is banking the Achilles heel of capitalism or a necessary evil? King was governor of the Bank of England during the financial crisis of 2008 and argues that another crisis is likely as regulators have failed to reform banking. (Little, Brown and Company, March 3)

Into the Black by Rowland White

In April 1981, a new type of spacecraft blasted off from the United States. It was Nasa’s space shuttle Columbia. But an hour after lift-off, tiles designed to withstand the heat of re-entry fell off. This is the riveting story of the first space shuttle flight. (Bantam Press,

March 10)

Better Living Through Criticism by A O Scott

A Twitter spat that erupted after Scott gave a poor review to the second Avengers film inspired this book. Here, The New York Times film critic argues (perhaps unsurprisingly) that "criticism" is a noble pursuit. (Jonathan Cape, March 24)

Trading Futures by Jim Powell

Matthew Oxenhay is 60. But it is not a happy occasion. The man is a stranger to his wife, an embarrassment to his children and a failure in his career. Not exactly the life he imagined for himself. So he uses his party to deliver some home truths to his loved ones. (Picador, March 10)

The Painted Ocean by Gabriel Packard

Shruti has been abandoned by her father, is being bullied at school, while her mother faces pressure to return to India to get married. But Shruti becomes obsessed with a new arrival at her school and when they both return to India on holiday, that obsession has deadly consequences. (Corsair, March 3)

The Senility of Vladimir P

The former Russian president, a man called Vladimir P, has retired to his luxury dacha. His memory is failing and he lives an isolated life, surrounded by the mementos of power while his staff skim as much money as they can from their employer. Tragicomedy about life in the not-so-distant Russia. (Atlantic Books, March 3)

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