If Apples Had Teeth by Milton and Shirley Glaser $30
This silly, inventive picture book by the outstanding graphic designer of the protopsychedelic era will make your brain turn somersaults. Facsimile of the original 1960 edition.
The Illustrated Dust Jacket, 1920-1970 by Martin Salisbury $55
An excellent and enticing survey of a period of great fertility and change in dustwrapper design, which started off as a way to protect bindings but soon became the arena in which the book's design first and most effectively attracts the eye of readers and buyers.
Island by Nicky Singer, illustrated by Chris Riddell $24
Urban teenager Cameron arrives in an uninhabited Arctic island. He's prepared for ice and storms and, stripped of his smart technology, possibly boredom. But he's not prepared for 24-hour daylight and erupting graves. At first Cameron believes the explanations of his scientist mother. But, as the island reveals itself to him, he begins to see, and hear, things that push him right to the edge of the possible. One of them is an Inuit girl. The other is a large white bear.
Book of Mutter by Katie Zambreno $48
"Writing is how I attempt to repair myself, stitching back former selves, sentences. When I am brave enough - I am never brave enough - I unravel the tapestry of my life, my childhood."
Death, loss, memory, grief. Writing into and against silence, Zambreno's great project is to excoriate her own life and correlate its residue with works of art and literature that manifest similar equations of value and loss.
My Private Property by Mary Ruefle $35
A collection of devastating short prose pieces from on of America's sharpest poets.
"The property that Ruefle deems private is the impalpable nature of the inner life we all share; it is at once ours and everyone's. Ruefle has shown a talent for elevating her acute observations and narrative inclination well above mere anecdote to create quietly disquieting moments. A literature of barbed ambiguity and unresolved disruption." - Bookforum
"Ruefle can seem like a supernally well-read person who has grown bored with what smartness looks like, and has grown attracted to the other side." - New York Times
La Belle Sauvage ('The Book of Dust' #1) by Philip Pullmamn $35
The much anticipated first novel of a wonderful new series from the world of 'His Dark Materials', set ten years before Northern Lights and telling of the strange events surrounding Lyra Belacqua.
The Others by Matthew Rohrer $35
A gripping, eerie, and hilarious novel-in-verse from poet Matthew Rohrer. In a Russian-doll of fictional episodes, we follow a midlevel publishing assistant over the course of a day as he encounters ghost stories, science fiction adventures, Victorian hashish eating, and robot bigfoots. Rohrer mesmerizes with wildly imaginative tales and resonant verse in this compelling love letter to storytelling.
Because Everything is Right but Everything is Wrong by Erin Donohue $23
Can you be lost and not know it? Can other people stop you from being lost? 17-year-old Caleb’s world is disintegrating, his walls are closing in, his sky is threatening to fall. He’s barely holding on.
"A tremendous debut novel, both delicate and muscular, artful and honest. It’s changed the way I attend to those I teach. I cannot give it higher praise than that." – Bernard Beckett
"This novel is a striking chronicle of a young person watching the wall between himself and the world grow ever taller, and the small moments of brightness that reach him through the gaps." – Ashleigh Young
Cezanne's Objects by Joel Meyerowitz $70
Cezanne wanted to emphasise the flatness of the picture plane and free our visual practices from the Renaissance conventions of perspective. Meyerowitz has photographed a series of Cezanne's still extant objects against the 'Cezanne grey' walls of his studio, undermining the traditional relationship between the subject of a painting and its background. One of the most quiet and beautiful books of the year.
Joan: The remarkable life of Joan Leigh Fermor by Simon Fenwick $55
A photographer and independent woman in the London bohemian circles in the 1930s, Joan Eyres Monsell met Patrick Leigh Fermor when she was on assignment in Egypt during the Second World War. At last we have a biography of this interesting free-thinking woman, whose photographic work supported Patrick in his writing.
"Engrossing." - Guardian
French Pâtisserie: Master recipes and techniques from the Ferrandi School of Culinary Arts, Paris $100
A very clear guide to the production of perfect patisserie, up to Michelin level (absolutely breathtaking).
Surveys by Natasha Stagg $38
"Bored of her life working in a Tucson, Arizona, mall, 23-year-old Colleen takes the life-changing plunge that so many millennials often consider - becoming an internet celebrity. Colleen posts updates about her life online, gaining followers and forming a double life teetering between young adult normalcy and the uncanny phenomenon of being sort of, kind of famous on the internet. The coming-of-age story offers a psychological dissection of the logic behind sharing your every thought with a mass of anonymous strangers, exploring the strange terrain where the personal and performative overlap and bleed into one another. Without altogether celebrating or condemning the contemporary obsession with online sharing, Stagg explores the roles we play and the selves we inhabit, online and IRL." - Huffington Post
The Missing Pieces by Henri Lefebvre $30
This book is one long list of works of literature and art that do not exist, either because they have been lost or destroyed (either by the writer or artist or by external intention or by misadventure or natural disaster) or because they were never completed, or, in some cases, never started.
Dancing With the King: The rise and fall of the King Country, 1864-1885 by Michael Belgrave $65
When Maori were defeated at Orakau in 1864 and the Waikato War ended, Tawhiao, the second Maori King, and his supporters were forced into an armed exile in the Rohe Potae, the King Country. For the next twenty years, the King Country operated as an independent state - a land governed by the Maori King where settlers and the Crown entered at risk of their lives. For twenty years, representatives of the King and of the British Queen engaged in a dance of diplomacy involving gamesmanship, conspiracy, pageantry and hard headed politics, with the occasional act of violence or threat of it.
The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius $28
Sally Jones is not only a loyal friend, she's an extraordinary individual. In overalls or in a maharaja's turban, this unique gorilla moves among humans without speaking but understanding everything. She and the Chief are devoted comrades who operate a cargo boat. A job they are offered pays big bucks, but the deal ends badly, and the Chief is falsely convicted of murder. For Sally Jones this is the start of a harrowing quest for survival and to clear the Chief's name.
"I don't know when I last read a book with such pure and unalloyed pleasure. It's ingenious, it's moving, it's charming, it's beautiful, it's exciting, and most importantly the characters are people I feel I know like old friends." - Philip Pullman
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green $30
Aza Holmes is caught in the ever-tightening spirals of her own thoughts. The book also features lifelong friendship, an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and a tuatara. The long-awaited new novel from the author of The Fault in Our Stars (&c).
The Mercy Journals by Claudia Casper $30
Following a Third World War triggered by the urgencies of climate change, nation states are a thing of the past and the world's population has been reduced by a third. When Mercy, a former soldier, and his brother travel into the wilderness to look for Ruby's children, he encounters situations in which his ethical compass is shaken and the traumas of the past threaten to destabilise his judgement.
The Future is History: How totalitarianism reclaimed Russia by Masha Gessen $37
Gessen follows the lives of four Russians born in the last days of the Soviet Union and considers how their prospects have dwindled as the country has descended into what is effectively a Mafia state.
World Without Mind: The existential threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer $55
The recent assumption by megacorporations of control of the interchange of information has reformed (or deformed) the way humans think and interact. With the intoxicating level of daily convenience and instant gratification offered us through the internet, can we any longer think, let alone act, in ways that do not merely further the interests of our digital Big Brothers?
Moonbath by Yanick Lahens $30
A Haitian family is burdened by a curse lasting generations. This novel gives insight into the lives of disenfranchised women in the Caribbean.
"Lahens describes her country with a forceful beauty - the destruction that befell it, political opportunism, families torn apart, and the spellbinding words of Haitian farmers who solely rely on subterranean powers." - Donyapress
Winner (in French) of the Prix Femina, 2014.
Illegal by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Donkin, illustrated by Giovanni Rigano $35
A graphic novel about a refugee boy's journey of hope and desperation.
The Mile End Murder: The case Conan Doyle couldn't solve by Sinclair McKay $45
On Thursday 17 August, 1860, wealthy widow Mary Emsley was found dead in her own home, killed by a blow to the back of her head. What followed was a murder case that gripped the nation. A veritable locked room mystery, there were an abundance of suspects, from disgruntled step children concerned about their inheritance and a spurned admirer repeatedly rejected by the widow, to a trusted employee, former police officer and spy, until he was sent to prison for robbery. During the police investigation there were several twists and dramatic discoveries, as suspects sought to incriminate each other and fresh evidence was discovered at the last minute. Eventually, it led to a public trial dominated by surprise revelations and shock witnesses, before culminating with one of the final public executions at Newgate. Years later the case caught the attention of Arthur Conan Doyle, who was convinced that an innocent man had been convicted and executed for the crime. But Conan Doyle was never able to find the real murder. Now the case has been solved.
The Ghost: A cultural history by Susan Owens $45
"Five thousand years have now elapsed since the creation of the world, and still it is undecided whether or not there has even been an instance of the spirit of any person appearing after death. All argument is against it; but all belief is for it." - Samuel Johnson
A fascinating look at the literature and art that have been engendered or shaped by the belief or otherwise in the phenomenon, or should that be pseudophenomenon, of ghosts.
"A work of profound scholarship and imaginative engagement, beautifully written and elegantly constructed. It's the finest study of its kind I've read." - The Literary Review
Inferior: How science got women wrong and the new research that is rewriting the story by Angela Saini $33
"Angela Saini has written a powerful, compelling and much needed account that challenges deeply rooted preconceptions about sex differences - some blatant misogyny, others buried in thousands of years patriarchy. Inferior shows that both are fundamentally flawed, and beautifully illustrates how science is just beginning to tackle this staggering imbalance." Adam Rutherford
Paleoart: Visions of the prehistoric past by Zoe Lascaze $160
How have artists envisaged human and prehuman life in prehistoric times? Perhaps you have been moved or amused by the often poignant depictions of dinosaurs, mastodons or hominids in the books of your childhood. This vast volume collects the best of such art, in all its poignancy and ludicrosity, from 1830 to 1990. Beneath the dustwrapper, the book is bound in real dinosaur skin (or something very like it).
>> A tour through the book (then resist it if you can).
The Man in a Hurry by Paul Morand $23
Pierre Niox is rushing through life, but life seems to be passing him by. Can he slow down enough to win the heart of languid Hedwige?
"Without doubt the best French writer of the twentieth century." - Philippe Sollers
"Admired both by Ezra Pound and by Marcel Proust as a pioneer craftsman of Modernist French prose. The sheer shapeliness of his prose recalls Hemingway; the urbanity of his self-destructiveness compares with Fitzgerald's; and his camera eye is as lucidly stroboscopic as that of Dos Passos." - The New York Times
Fantomas versus the Multinational Vampires: An unattainable utopia by Julio Cortázar $32
First published in Spanish in 1975 and previously untranslated, Fantomas versus the Multinational Vampires is Julio Cortazar's genre-jumping mash-up of his participation in the Second Russell Tribunal on human rights abuses in Latin America and his cameo appearance in issue number 201 of the Mexican comic book series 'Fantomas: The Elegant Menace'. With his characteristic narrative inventiveness, Cortazar offers a quixotic meta-comic novella that challenges not only the form of the novel but its political weight in contemporary cultural life.
Death: A graveside companion by Joanna Ebenstein $66
Death is common to all people but there is huge cultural variation in our relationship to the inevitable. This splendidly illustrated volume surveys the attitudes and practices and art relating to dying and the dead, both in memory and concerning the remains, through the world and throughout history. Compelling. Forward by Will Self.
Lucy and Company by Marianne Dubuc $34
A charming picture book from the author of The Lion and the Bird and the 'Mr Postmouse' books.
Mansions of Misery: A biography of the Marchelsea Debtors' Prison by Jerry White $40
For Londoners of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, whatever their walk of life, the Marchelsea Debtors' Prison was only one step of misfortune away. White introduces us to the actual inmates and tells stories that give insight into a sphere of social history that is too-often suppressed by the families to which they pertain.
The Universe Next Door: A journey through 55 parallel worlds and possible futures by New Scientist $28
What if the universe was just a little bit different (or quite a lot different)? How would this affect the rest of the universe? New Scientist introduce us to alternative universes that are just as scientifically plausible as our own.
What She Ate: Six remarkable women and the food that tells their stories by Laura Shapiro $54
What can people's attitudes to food tell us about them and about the times in which they lived? Six women famous in their time (Dorothy Wordsworth, Rosa Lewis, Eleanor Roosevelt, Eva Braun, Barbara Pym and Helen Gurley Brown) show a surprising correlation between eating habits and social change.
Estuary: Out from London to the sea by Rachel Lichtenstein $30
A chorus of voices, from mudlarkers and fishermen to radio pirates and champion racers, capturing the diverse community of people who live and work in this ancient, wild and mesmerising place.
The Good Citizen's Alphabet by Bertrand Russell, illustrated by Franciszka Themerson $22
A wonderfully contrarian and satirical ABC. It is hard to share the planet with fools, pedants and nincompoops. Facsimile of the 1953 edition.
>> Visit the Themerson archive.
>> A microdocumentary about Franciszka and Stefan Themerson.