These books have come in asking for you.
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk $37
We have in us a restlessness, a will to change, a fluidity of identity and belonging that Olga Tokarczuk in her fine and interesting book Flights would see as our essential vitality, an indicator of civilisation. Flights is an encyclopedic sort-of-novel, a great compendium of stories, fragments, historical anecdotes, description and essays on every possible aspect of travel, in its literal and metaphorical senses, and on the stagnation, mummification and bodily degradation of stasis. The book bristles with ideas, memorable images and playful treatments.
>> Read Thomas's review.
Sleeps Standing / Moetū by Witi Ihimaera and Hēmi Kelly $35
The three-day siege of the Battle of Orakau in 1864, in which 1700 Imperial troops laid siege to a hastily constructed pa sheltering 300 Maori men, women and children, marked the end of the Waikato War. Ihimaera tells the history from the point of view of a Moetu, a boy on the side that refused to submit and fought to the end. With facing texts in English and Maori (by Hemi Kelly). First-hand accounts and documentary illustrations appended.
Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss $30
A dazzlingly intelligent dual-narrative novel concerning, on the one hand, a retired New York lawyer who 'disappears' to Tel Aviv, and, on the other, a novelist named Nicole Krauss who comes home to find herself already there, and so sets off towards the point the narratives meet. Elegant and replete with Kraussian themes of memory, solitude and Jewishness.
"Restores your faith in fiction." - Ali Smith
"Charming, tender, and wholly original." - J. M. Coetzee
>>"What is ‘real’ and what isn’t, and do such questions even apply, really, to something that is entirely a construction, from beginning to end?"
Late Essays, 2006-2016 by J.M. Coetzee $38
As well as being a deeply thoughtful writer, Coetzee has always been a deeply thoughtful reader, and his essays are helpful in unlocking the work of other writers, including, here, Beckett, Walser, Murnane, Goethe and Kleist.
Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard $38
"I want to show you our world as it is now: the door, the floor, the water tap and the sink, the garden chair close to the wall beneath the kitchen window, the sun, the water, the trees." Following the remarkable quasiautobiographical 'My Struggle' series, Knausgaard has begun to produce an impressionistic personal encyclopedia of the world to appear in four seasonal volumes. The first begins as a letter to his unborn daughter and proceeds to catalogue the wonders and banalities of elements of the natural and human worlds, and of their effect on each other. Illustrations by Vanessa Baird.
>> The sun: "utterly unapproachable and completely indifferent."
>> "I am back writing good sentences."
The Book of Dirt by Bram Presser $37
"Meet Bram Presser, aged five, smoking a cigarette with his grandmother in Prague. Meet Jakub Rand, one of the Jews chosen to assemble the Nazi’s Museum of the Extinct Race. Such details, like lightning flashes, illuminate this audacious work about the author’s search for the grandfather he loved but hardly knew. Working in the wake of writers like Modiano and Safran Foer, Presser brilliantly shows how fresh facts can derail old truths, how fiction can amplify memory. A smart and tender meditation on who we become when we attempt to survive survival." - Mireille Juchau
Twins by Dirk Kurbjuweit $24
"We didn't want to be like twins-we wanted to be twins. We wanted to be absolutely identical. But because we hadn't been born twins, we had to make ourselves the same-and part of that, of course, was having to go through all our most important experiences together." Rowing partners Johann and Ludwig are best friends, but that's not enough. To defeat the region's current champions, identical twins from a nearby town, they must become twins too. Ludwig has a plan: they will eat, sleep, breathe and even think in perfect harmony. Only then will they have a chance of winning. But Johann has a secret he's been keeping from his friend-and when Ludwig begins acting strangely, Johann realises that his 'twin' wants to put their bond to the ultimate test.
Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang $27
Centred on a community of immigrants who have traded their endangered lives as artists in China and Taiwan for the constant struggle of life on the poverty line in 1990s New York City, the stories that make up Sour Heart examine the many ways that family and history can weigh us down, but also lift us up.
"As I read, I quickly realized this was something so new and powerful that it would come to shape the world, not just the literary world, but what we know about reality. Zhang's version of honesty goes way past the familiar, with passages that burst into a bold, startling brilliance. Get ready." - Miranda July
"Obscene, beautiful, moving." - The New Yorker
>> Jenny Zhang and Lena Dunham.
The Explorer by Katherine Rundell $19
From his seat in the tiny aeroplane, Fred watches as the mysteries of the Amazon jungle pass by below him. He has always dreamed of becoming an explorer, of making history and of reading his name amongst the lists of great discoveries. If only he could land and look about him. As the plane crashes into the canopy, Fred is suddenly left without a choice. He and the three other children may be alive, but the jungle is a vast, untamed place. With no hope of rescue, the chance of getting home feels impossibly small. Rundell, author of The Wolf Wilder, writes beautifully as always.
Edmund Hillary, A biography by Michael Gill $60
Exhaustive and magisterial, this biography benefits from its author's first-hand knowledge and from his access to Hillary's personal papers. It reveals dimensions of Hillary's life not hitherto examined.
Democracy and its Crisis by A.C. Grayling $37
Why are the institutions of representative democracy seemingly unable to sustain themselves against forces they were designed to manage, and why does it matter?
The Sixteen Trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting $38
When a beautifully made coffin turns up for Edvard's grandfather, whose death is nowhere in sight, Edvard begins to unravel the mystery of his lost uncle and dead parents, an unravelling that takes him from the remote Norwegian farmstead where he grew up to the Shetland Islands, to the historic battlefields of France. The novel is neatly dovetailed throughout, just like the woodwork that runs through it. From the author of the incomparable Norwegian Wood.
>> Mytting speaks with Kathryn Ryan.
Ragnar Redbeard: The antipodean origins of radical fabulist Arthur Desmond by Mark Derby $20
The first concrete evidence for Desmond arrives when he stood for parliament in Hawkes Bay in 1884 (coming last of three candidates). He continued to campaign against landlords, bankers and monopolists, and for Maori against the settlers (and aligning himself with Te Kooti). By the time he left New Zealand in 1892, Desmond had already formulated the first version of Might is Right, his notorious manifesto of extreme social Darwinism, in which he proposed that the strong have an evolutionary duty to uproot and supplant the weak (including Christians).
The Library: A catalogue of wonders by Stuart Kells $38
Kells runs his finger along the shelves and wanders the aisles of libraries around the world and through time, both real and imagined, with books and without, and ponders the importance of the library as a representation of the human mind.
The Complete Guide to Baking: Bread, brioche and other gourmet treats by Rodolphe Landemaine $65
Everything from the fundamentals (types of flours and starters; stages of fermentation; basic doughs and fillings) through to recipes for breads (baguettes, sourdoughs, speciality breads, flavoured breads, oil breads and milk breads), Viennese pastries (croissants, pains au chocolat, apple tarts) gateaux (flan patissier, pistachio and apricot tart, spice bread), brioches (Parisian, praline, plaited, layered and cakes) and biscuits (sables, madeleines, almond tuiles).
Veneto: Recipes from an Italian country kitchen by Valeria Necchio $45
Authentic and achievable recipes from the northeast of Italy, attractively presented.
The Museum of Words: A memoir of language, writing and mortality by Georgia Blain $38
In 2015 a tumour in the language centre of her brain robbed Blain of her ability to speak. After the rigours of treatment, she set about rebuilding her linguistic capacities through writing. At the same time, her mother was losing her faculties to Alzheimer's disease. An interesting meditation of the place of language in our conception of ourselves.
The Inhabitable Boy by J.M. Moreaux $24
Being a teenager is hard enough without someone else using your body to commit murder. With the help of his 'ghost pimp,' Andy earns extra cash renting his body to spirits hungry for a taste of the corporeal world. But one day his body is returned battered and bruised, and he finds himself accused of a murder he doesn't remember committing. With the police on his trail and time running out, Andy must embark on a dangerous quest to catch the spectral killer, unaware he's a pawn in a larger conflict between supernatural forces. Exciting YA fiction from local author Mike Moreaux.
Casting Off: A memoir by Elspeth Sandys $35
Continues the project begun in What Lies Beneath into the sixties, sexual liberation, literature and Thatcherism.
How Saints Die by Carmen Marcus $37
Ten years old and irrepressibly curious, Ellie lives with her fisherman father, Peter, on the wild North Yorkshire coast. Her mother's breakdown is discussed only in whispers, with the promise 'better by Christmas' and no further explanation. Steering by the light of her dad's sea-myths, her mum's memories of home across the water, and a fierce spirit all her own, Ellie begins to learn how her world is put together (or pulled apart).
Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee $35
The elder daughter of working-class Korean immigrants, Casey inhabits a New York a world away from that of her parents. As Casey navigates an uneven course of small triumphs and spectacular failures, a clash of values, ideals and ambitions plays out against the colourful backdrop of New York society, its many layers, shades and divides.
"Ambitious, accomplished, engrossing. As easy to devour as a 19th-century romance." - New York Times
"This big, beguiling book has all the distinguishing marks of a Great American Novel. A remarkable writer." - The Times
The Man Who Climbs Trees: A memoir by James Aldred $35
Nature writing from a professional tree-climber whose work has taken him into the upper strata of forests around the world. Beautifully written.
The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk $38
Orhan Pamuk’s tenth novel, The Red-Haired Woman, is the story of a well-digger and his apprentice looking for water on barren land. It is also a novel of ideas in the tradition of the French conte philosophique. In mid-1980s Istanbul, Master Mahmut and his apprentice use ancient methods to dig new wells. This is the tale of their back-breaking struggle, but it is also an exploration—through stories and images—of ideas about fathers and sons, authoritarianism and individuality, state and freedom, reading and seeing.
A Crack in Creation: The new power to control evolution by Jennifer Doudna and Sam Sternberg $40
Doudna's discovery of the genome editing capacities of Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) has provided scientists with potentially the most powerful interventional tool yet in the field of genetics.
Ferment: A guide to the ancient art of culturing foods by Holly Davis $50
Bread, vinegar, kvass, yoghurt, butter, sauerkraut, kimchi, natural sodas, scrumpy, mead, pickles, kefir, creme fraiche, buttermilk, kombucha, cheese, miso, tempeh: you can make it all. Gentle and thorough.
First Fox by Leanne Radojkovich $23
"Like a fox running over snow there is a lightness, a poetic grace and a keen focus to these stories. Sharp, true and always hinting at a larger world, the work has a fable-like quality. Devour this delightful book in one sitting, then savour the stories all over again. " - Frankie McMillan
Illustrations by Rachel J. Fenton.
>> The back of a woman walking away. Radojkovich's flash fiction.
Footsteps: Literary pilgrimages around the world, from Farrente's Naples to Hammetti's San Francisco from The New York Times $38
Engaging columns on literary travel.
The Kite and the String: How to write with spontaneity and control - and live to tell the tale by Alice Mattison $35
"An insightful guide to the stages of writing fiction and memoir without falling into common traps, while wisely navigating the writing life, from an award-winning author and longtime teacher.
A book-length master class." - The Atlantic
What's Up Top? by Marc Martin $28
What is at the top of the ladder? Who knows.
Democracy in Chains: The deep history of the radical right's stealth plan for America by Nancy MacLean $40
Exposes political economist James McGill Buchanan as the architect behind the right's relentless campaign to eliminate unions, suppress voting, privatise public education, and curb democratic majority rule.
The Water Kingdom: A secret history of China by Philip Ball $30
A grand history of China's deep and recent history told through its relationship and management of water.
The City of the Secret Rivers by Jacob Sager Weinstein $23
London is crisscrossed with sewers and underground rivers. Can Hyacinth, recently arrived from the US locate the magically charged drop of water that will prevent another Great Fire? Who can she trust?
Do You, Mr Jones? Bob Dylan with the poets and professors edited by Neil Corcoran $30
Serious critical consideration of the 2017 Nobel Literature laureate from Simon Armitage, Christopher Butler, Bryan Cheyette, Patrick Crotty, Aidan Day, Mark Ford, Lavinia Greenlaw, Hugh Haughton, Daniel Karlin, Paul Muldoon, Nicholas Roe, Pam Thurschwell and Susan Wheeler. A new edition, with a perceptive introduction by Will Self.
>> You know something is happening.
The Choice by Edith Eger $35
The psychologist specialising in PTSD recounts her own experiences surviving Auschwitz (where she was forced to dance for Josef Mengele) and those of the people she has helped.
"The Choice is a gift to humanity. Dr. Eger's life reveals our capacity to transcend even the greatest of horrors and to use that suffering for the benefit of others." - Desmond Tutu
Los Angeles Cult Recipes by Victor Garnier Astorino $55
Spices, grilled food, health food, vegan food, caramel, hamburgers, chilli hot dogs, avocado cheeseburgers, granola, lobster rolls, hamburgers, French-style tacos, fro yo, hamburgers, kale pizza, acai bowls, shrimp pad thai and hamburgers. Excellent photographs; part of the 'Cult Recipes' series.