Sunday 26 November 2017

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Click through to our latest NEWSLETTER for reviews, news, amusements, events, gift suggestions, new releases and some other things.

BOOKS@VOLUME #51 (25.11.17)

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan   {Reviewed by STELLA}
Jennifer Egan’s new novel is daringly different from her previous novels as it is, at first glance, a standard work of historical fiction. From the opening pages, it will have you entranced. Egan's writing is elegant and measured. Opening in the late 1930s in New York, we are immediately drawn into the family life of the Irish Kerrigan family. Eddie Kerrigan is making a menial living running errands for an unsavoury Irish gangster and getting the odd job on the wharf, trying to earn enough in Depression-era America to keep his family housed and fed, and to provide medical care for his disabled youngest child, Lydia. Anna, his older daughter, is a feisty and charming companion, and when the book opens she is 12, accompanying her father on a visit to meet the mysterious Dexter Styles. Kerrigan is looking for a way out of his bind and sees Styles as an opportunity to change the course of his life. The relationship between Styles and Kerrigan runs a line throughout the novel, but not necessarily in a way the reader may have expected. After our initial introductions to this trio we are pushed on, and jump to the war years where we find Anna now 19 and working at the Naval yards as part of the war effort. Her father has disappeared - Anna believes he has abandoned the family because of the pressures of Lydia. Anna wants answers to her father’s disappearance and when a chance encounter with Dexter Styles occurs her determination leads her on a dangerous course of action. Spirited, intelligent and curious, Anna is a compelling character who lies at the centre of this novel, an anchor at the centre of several overlapping stories that build layers of history, meaning and emotion in her life and those around her. Both brutal - whether it is the gangster underworld, the powers of the sanctioned elite or the heirarchy of seamen - and tender - whether it is the relationships that parents have with their children, the love which springs out of a mistake or the sentimental ties that defy logic - Manhattan Beach wraps you into its arms and takes you inside the heads of Anna, Eddie and Dexter, revealing the strengths and weaknesses of each, alongside the power structures of the time, and the trials and tribulations of lives cast into the melee of economic and political turmoil. It’s a novel about what it meant to be female at this time of extraordinary change, what it meant to be on the legitimate side of society and how you had to behave if you were not. Alongside the personal and social histories, is a contemplation of the sea - of the edges that we all live on, the beaches and coastlines that define us, literally and metaphorically, and how these borders can be transcended, or how we can be free despite their power. And Egan draws us down into the depths, submerges us, just like Anna, fierce and determined, dons her diver's suit and enters the world below.

Saturday 25 November 2017

Gordon Walters: New Vision is this week's stunning Book of the Week. Best known for his positive/negative koru stacks, Walters, as this book demonstrates, was a remarkably diverse and accomplished abstract artist. 
The book, and the exhibition it accompanies, are curated by  Lucy Hammonds, Julia Waite and Laurence Simmons. There are essays by these curators, and by Deidre Brown, Peter Brunt, Rex Butler, A.D.S. Donaldson, Luke Smythe and Thomas Crow. Walters is considered as a modernist innovator straddling New Zealand and transnational concerns, and opening a pathway between his influences and the artists that came after him. He is notable for his adoption of precedents and motifs from traditional and contemporary Maori art. 

>> "The most important dialogue in the last century of New Zealand art, if not the only important one."

>> Curators on the radio

>> The exhibition shows first at the Auckland Art Gallery and then at the Dunedin Art Gallery

>> A press release

>> Walters in Art New Zealand

>> The book has just been long-listed for the 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

>> We'll be posting images from the book in our instagram gallery every day this week. 

List #4: SCIENCE

A selection of books for those curious about the physical world and its workings. 

Come in or click through to browse our full selection. 

The Runaway Species: How human creativity remakes the world by Anthony Brandt and David Eagleman         $37
The latest neurological research shows how our brains are softwired (or live-wired!) rather than hardwired. This endless malleability enables us to reconceptualise our world and to construct experience. Where do new ideas come from? Eagleman, whose book The Brain is the best introduction to the philosophical and psychological implications of neurological research, teams up with composer Anthony Brandt to explore our need for novelty and our capacities to produce it like no other animal. 

Animals Among Us: The new science of anthrozoology by John Bradshaw         $50
Why do humans keep and cherish some animals i their homes and yet regard others as a source of food or sport? Our relationship with animals tells us much about our own nature as a species and as individuals. A thoughtful and enjoyable book. 


The Seabird's Cry: The lives and loves of puffins, gannets and other ocean voyagers by Adam Nicolson        $40
At the heart of the book are the Shiant Isles, a cluster of Hebridean islands in the Minch but Nicolson has pursued the birds much further-across the Atlantic, up the west coast of Ireland, to St Kilda, Orkney, Shetland, the Faeroes, Iceland and Norway; to the eastern seaboard of Maine and to Newfoundland, to the Falklands, South Georgia, the Canaries and the Azores - reaching out across the widths of the world ocean which is the seabirds' home. 
"I was entranced - my mind thrilling to the veers and lifts of thought, to the beautiful deftness of the prose. This marvellous book inhabits with graceful ease both the mythic and the scientific, and remains alert to the vulnerability of these birds as well as to their wonder. It is a work that takes wing in the mind." - Robert Macfarlane

Mysteries of the Quantum Universe by Thibault Damour and Mathieu Burniat        $48
Quantum physics gets its graphic-novel explication as Bob and his dog Rick have crepes with Max Planck, chat with Einstein about atoms and hang out, uncertainly, with Heisenberg in Heligoland. 
"Billed as 'Tintin meets Brian Cox', the book was created by theoretical physicist Thibault Damour and illustrator Mathieu Burniat so it's as scientifically accurate as it is beautiful." - BBC Focus 

Behave: The biology of humans at our best and worst by Robert Sapolsky           $40
What drives human behaviours such as racism, xenophobia, tolerance, competition, morality, war, and even peace?
>> Are we hard-wired to be cruel to each other? 

The Inner Life of Animals: Surprising observations of a hidden worldby Peter Wohlleben       $38
The aspects of ourselves that we hold as being the most human are in fact the ones that we share most widely with other animals. 
From the author of The Hidden Life of Trees
The Matter of the Heart: A history of the heart in eleven operations by Thomas Morris            $40
“Thomas Morris does for the history of cardiac surgery what The Right Stuff and Hidden Figures did for the space race. The book is – appropriately – pulse-thumpingly gripping and will be enjoyed by anyone who, in any sense of the phrase, has a heart.” – Mark Lawson
“Tremendous. An exhilarating sweep through ancient history and contemporary practice in surgery of the heart. It’s rich in extraordinary detail and stories that will amaze you. A wonderful book.” – Melvyn Bragg

The Wood for the Trees: A long view of nature from a small wood by Richard Fortey      $25
This biography of an English 'beech-and-bluebell' wood through the seasons and through history both natural and human, is a portrayal of the relationships of humans to nature and a demonstration that poetic writing can be scientifically precise. 
"'His remarkable scientific knowledge, intense curiosity and love of nature mean entries erupt with the same richness and variety as the woods they describe. Fortey's enthusiasm for his new wonderland is infectious and illuminating, deep and interesting." - Guardian 

Modern Death: How medicine changed the end of life by Haider Warraich          $43
Advances in medical science has meant not only that we live longer but that we spend more of that time dying. How has this changed our view of the world and our place in it? 

The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks        $38
The latest advances in neuroscience have bearing on the dilemmas of both philosophy and psychology. Before he died, Sacks drew together some of his incisive essays on consciousness and on the relationship between the brain and the mind, experience and memory, to be presented as this important addition to his oeuvre. 

Moonshots: 50 years of NASA space exploration seen through Hasselbladt cameras by Piers Bizony       $130
The most extraordinary images of the Apollo and later missions, presented in this lavish large-format slip-cased volume. Who would have thought that such images could inspire such awe and wonder? 

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. 

The Voices Within: The history and science of how we talk to ourselvesby Charles Fernyhough        $28
As soon as we evolved language our minds assailed us with voices that could not be heard by anyone else. What do these voices tell us about the workings of our minds, the structures and function of language, and about our conception of ourselves and our place in our world?
>> Not I

Universe: Exploring the astronomical world by Paul Murdin       $90
A sumptuous collection of 300 images giving an overview of humanity's conceptions of the cosmos, from the earliest times to the latest discoveries and imaging techniques. 
>> See some sample pages here

The Way of the Hare by Marianne Taylor        $33
Hares are small animals with many predators but they have no burrow or tunnel to shelter them from danger. They survive by a combination of two skills honed to unimaginable extremes: hiding in plain sight, and running fast. This handsome book deals in detail with hares, both as they are, both biochemically and behaviourally, and as they are imagined in art, mythology and legend. 

Improbable Destinies: How predictable is evolution? by Jonathan Losos         $55
The natural world is full of fascinating instances of convergence: phenomena like eyes and wings and tree-climbing lizards that have evolved independently, multiple times. Convergence suggests that evolution is predictable, and if we could replay the tape of life, we would get the same outcome. But there are also many examples of contingency, cases where the tiniest change - a random mutation or an ancient butterfly sneeze - caused evolution to take a completely different course. So are we humans, and all the plants and animals in the world today, inevitabilities or evolutionary freaks? 

Sound: Stories of hearing lost and found by Bella Bathurst        $40
A thoughtful consideration of the place of sound and hearing in our lives and culture and identities, springing from the author's progressive deafness and the recovery of her capacities.
The essential planning guide for the curious space adventurer, covering all of the essentials for your next voyage, how to get there, and what to do when you arrive, and a vast amount of information about the planets. 
A remarkable, passionate, brutally human account of the shifts in societal attitudes and in science that enabled humanity to turn the tide against the AIDS epidemic. 
A hundred and seventy years ago many people would have chosen to die rather than undergo the ordeal of surgery. Today, even major operations are routine. Anaesthesia has made them possible. But how much do we really know about what happens when we go under? Can we hear what's going on around us? Is pain still pain if we are not awake to feel it, or don't remember it afterwards? How does the unconscious mind deal with the body's experience of being cut open and ransacked? 

War-torn, unstable and virtually bankrupt, revolutionary Russia tried to light its way to the future with the fitful glow of science. It succeeded through terror, folly and crime - but also through courage, imagination and even genius. Stalin believed that science should serve the state and with many disciplines having virtually unlimited funds, by the time of his death in 1953, the Soviet Union boasted the largest and best-funded scientific establishment in history - at once the glory and the laughing stock of the intellectual world. 
From robot swarms to nuclear fusion powered-toasters - what technologies are coming? What technologies are needed? What are the impediments to useful progress? Fun. 

A Map of the Invisible: Journeys into particle physics by John Butterworth      $40
Over the last sixty years, scientists around the world have worked together to explore the fundamental constituents of matter, and the forces that govern their behaviour. The result, so far, is the 'Standard Model' of elementary particles: a theoretical map of the basic building blocks of the universe. With the discovery of the Higgs particle in 2012, the map as we know it was completed, but also extended into strange and wonderful new realms.

Numbers are infinitely extensive but also infinitely divisible. Can one sort of infinity be said to be larger than another? 

Reading the Rocks: How Victorian geologists discovered the secrets of life by Brenda Maddox      $36
Was it a coincidence that geology has a pivotal science in an age of social and political repositioning? Maddox introduces us to the diverse range of geologists who kept focussed during the geology vs. Genesis showdown. 

Tōtara: A natural and cultural history by Philip Simpson            $75
Among the biggest and oldest trees in the New Zealand forest, the heart of Maori carving and culture, trailing no. 8 wire as fence posts on settler farms, clambered up in the Pureora protests of the 1980s: the story of New Zealand can be told through totara.

Humankind: Solidarity with non-human people by Timothy Morton        $22
What is a person and what is not? If we rethink our notions of identity can we both include and overcome the notion of species and arrive at a more helpful model of our place on (or in) the planet? 
"I have been reading Timothy Morton's books for a while and I like them a lot." - Bjork

Void: The strange physics of nothing by James Owen Weatherall        $42
The physics of matter receive a lot of attention, but what about the physics of nothing and of absence? Both relativity and quantum theory tell us that nothingness can't be infinitely extensive. Nothing, Weatherall shows, turns out to be very similar to something, similarly structured and describable with the same laws. 

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).

Human Anatomy: Stereoscopic images of medical specimens by Jim Naughten        $100
Fascinating, unsettling, wonderful. The specimens are all drawn from the Vrolik Museum in Amsterdam. Includes stereoscope. 
From religion to philosophy, humanity has traditionally sought out absolutes to explain the world around us, but as science has developed, relativity has swept away many of these certainties, leaving only a handful of unchangeable essentials such as absolute zero, nothingness, and light, leading to better science and a new understanding of our place in the physical world. 
Bird Words: New Zealand writers on birds by Elisabeth Easther      $35
An anthology of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, all concerned with the birds, both native and endemic, of New Zealand. 
Bee Quest by Dave Goulson        $45
A hunt for the world's most elusive bees leads Dave Goulson from the Salisbury plains to the Sussex hedgerows, from Poland to Patagonia. 
 “A cracking critique of the ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’ hypothesis, Cordelia Fine takes to pieces much of the science on which ‘fundamental’ gender differences are predicated. Graced with precisely focused humour, the author makes a good case that men and women are far more alike than many  would claim. Feminist? Possibly. Humanist? Certainly. A compellingly good read.” - Richard Fortey

Anatomy: A cutaway look inside the human body by Helene Druvert and Jean-Claude Druvert       $45
Here's the human body as you've never seen it before. Clever laser cut-outs, flaps and overlays explore every detail of the organs, systems and senses. 

In Search of Stardust: Amazing micrometeorites and their terrestrial imposters by Jon Larson      $33
The solar system is a dusty place. Every day approximately 100 metric tons of cosmic dust collides with Earth, mainly in the form of micrometeorites. Most of these mineral particles (iron, nickel, etc.) are smaller than grains of sand, and they are falling down on us all the time and all over the globe. This book shows you how to find and identify (and collect!) micrometeorites, and how to distinguish them from other microstuff. 
>> Stardust found

The Second Body by Daisy Hildyard   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
“The fate of a single man can be rich with significance, that of a few hundred less so, but the history of thousands and millions of men does not mean anything at all, in any adequate sense of the word,” writes Stanisław Lem in Solaris. Daisy Hildyard’s interesting book, The Second Body, addresses itself to possible reasons why, despite evidence of both the causes and mechanisms of the crises that face the planet (climate change, loss of species diversity, pollution, water precarity, overpopulation, war, refugee imperatives), we collectively choose to take what amounts to next to no action when we could be doing something that would go at least some way towards action. Hildyard models our existence as taking place in two bodies. The first is the individual body we move about in. “The second body is not so solid as the other one but much larger. This second body is your own literal and physical biological existence - it is not a concept, it is your own body. You are alive in both.” It would perhaps be more accurate to say that the first body, the one we tend to think of, somewhat sloppily, as co-extensive with our individuality, is the one that is conceptual, or at least that its individuality is conceptual, and that this is why we so carefully maintain its borders, and the other borders (between bodies, between species, between social groups (sports teams!), between nations) that are part of the conceptual construct that seems to us to give it validation. Our conception of ourselves as individuals, as persons, a flavour of consciousness that we generally attempt to reserve for humans (sometimes withdrawing it from groups of humans we regard as significantly ‘other’, sometimes unthinkingly extending it to particular animals (e.g. pets) with whom we share the locations of our quotidian existence), gives us a dual existence: both correlated and individual, natural and unnatural, animal and non-animal. Because our identities are hard-won and have both pragmatic and conceptual advantages, at least on the scale immediate to that individuality, we defend them by suppressing the greater actualities of what Hildyard calls the second body. To be aware of the first body is to experience fear, the violability of the borders of that body, of its transience and mortality, generally conceptually more than physically. To the individual, the truth is a pathological state. On the scale of the second body and from an epochal viewpoint, the ledger of our consumption and output are of vastly more importance than any concern we may attach to our individuality. “The smallest half-conscious acts of your first body are transformed, by the existence of your second body, into momentous political decisions which have global impact. It becomes impossible to rule anything out of a relationship with anything else. When we look at the global body, it is impossible to relate that body to anything individual because there can be no certain borders between one thing and another. The whole of life becomes a mass. The second body appears to pose a threat to the first body - the one you live in. Any body that is global doesn’t understand that individuals exist at all.” Hildyard suggests that we are not actually as concerned with global crises as we pretend to be, because if we were we would be doing more about them. The end of the world, death and extinction are not our greatest fears. We are more afraid of our subsumption. “I am not sure that the end of the world is very horrific to humans. The threat posed to the human by its second body is not the end of the world, but the loss of individuality, which presents itself in the prospect of parity with other living beings, and possibly objects.” To expand without limits is to dissolve. To witness expansion without limits is to be overwhelmed. To be aware of the body on the vast scale is to lose sight of the body on the individual scale and to be aware of the body on the individual scale is to lose sight of the body on the vast scale. Could we find a way to be able to bridge the conceptual divide between our individual body and the global body that is also ours, without losing our individual identities? Can we build dual, or, rather, multilevel, ‘Russian-doll’ identities that synthesise our interests on every scale at which we exist, or is there always a limit, somewhere, to these sympathies? Must we always define ourselves in opposition to an ‘other’ in order to be aware of ourselves? Are we more attached to ourselves as individuals than we are to our physical survival? 

Goethe Dies by Thomas Bernhard   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
The four stories in Goethe Dies were first published in German-language periodicals in the early 1980s, and in them we can see Bernhard exercising the devices and themes he used to greater extent and effect in some of the novels written in his last decade (he died in 1989). The title story displays Bernhard’s puckish tendency to appropriate and subvert the biographies of actual people, as he did with Glenn Gould in The Loser. In this story, Goethe, on his deathbed, requests a visit from Wittgenstein, who is living in England (and, in reality, was born nearly 60 years after Goethe’s death). Apart from travelling to England and finding Wittgenstein to have died eight days previously and returning too late to report this to Goethe, who has by then himself died, the nameless narrator has no role other than to report the words of another character, or, more commonly, what one character reports of the words of another character, or, often, what one character reports of another character’s report of the words of yet another character. This device of Russian-doll narratorial passivity witnessing not so much the subject but what may well be little more than hearsay (about hearsay about hearsay) about the subject is a favourite of Bernhard’s, continually calling into question any certainty a reader may think they draw from the text. The story ‘Reunion’ destabilises the operations of memory and satirises the narrator who claims to have freed himself from the influence of the tyrannical parents who in fact still dominate him through his memories and his reistence to them in his memories, compared with the old friend who listens to his rant, who, the narrator claims, never escaped the influence of his parents, and yet who seems not to remember any of the obsessive details of the narrator’s oppressive memories and may therefore be less affected by the shared unhappiness of childhood. These and the other stories display Bernhard’s resentment of reactionary and traditional power, whether that be in a nation (his will states that his books may not be published in his native, hated "Catholic, National Socialist" Austria) or in a family (but he also portrays his resentment of family as base and ludicrous). “Parents make a child and strive above all else to destroy it, I said, my parents just like yours and every parent altogether and everywhere.”

Friday 24 November 2017


These books have all arrived this week. 
Gordon Walters: New Vision by Lucy Hammonds, Julia Waite, Laurence Simmons et al     $79
Best known for his positive/negative koru stacks, Walters, as this book demonstrates, was a remarkably diverse and accomplished abstract artist. 
>> An exhibition by the same name is currently on display at the Auckland Art Gallery.
The Second Body by Daisy Hildyard            $38
How can we bridge the conceptual divide between our individual body and the global body that is also our responsibility, without losing our individual identities?
"Hildyard takes us on a white-knuckle philosophical ride through identity, agency, ecology and molecular biology, leaving us vitally disconcerted, but with a strange new sense of community and solidarity. A curious, oblique, important, and fascinating book." — Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast
McSweeney's Quarterly Concern #50         $55
A whole summer's worth of reading from Lydia Davis, Sarah Vowell, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Diane Williams, Jesse Ball, Sheila Heti, Carrie Brownstein, Etgar Keret, Jonathan Lehtam, Valeira Luiselli, Heidi Julavits, Sherman Alexie, &c, &c, &c, &c, &c, &c (50 writers and artists).
Here We Are: Notes for living on planet earth by Oliver Jeffers         $30
"Well, hello. And welcome to this Planet. We call it Earth. Our world can be a bewildering place, especially if you've only just got here. Your head will be filled with questions, so let's explore what makes our planet and how we live on it. From land and sky, to people and time, these notes can be your guide and start you on your journey. And you'll figure lots of things out for yourself. Just remember to leave notes for everyone else. Some things about our planet are pretty complicated, but things can be simple, too: you've just got to be kind."
Winter by Karl Ove Knausgaard         $38
Knausgaard's notes for living on Planet Earth. As the birth of his daughter approaches, Knausgaard continues his quartet recording what he manages to find valuable, beautiful, significant or particular in the world, or at least what he would like to find valuable, beautiful, significant or particular in the world, or least what he would like us to think he finds valuable, beautiful, significant or particular in the world. As always with Knausgaard, the profound and banal prove to be indistinguishable. 
"A bit like reporting on a football match by watching the grass." - Guardian
My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci         $28
A conversation with a talking cat starts a young man on a journey back to the Kosovo his mother fled before his birth, to confront the magical, cruel, incredible history of his family, and to find a chance to find love. 
"A strange, haunting, and utterly original exploration of displacement and desire. A marvel, a remarkable achievement, and a world apart from anything you are likely to read this year." - Tea Obreht, The New York Times
"An elegant, allegorical portrait of lives lived at the margin, minorities within minorities in a new land. My Cat Yugoslavia is layered with meaning and shades of sorrow." - Kirkus

Hazana: Jewish vegetarian cooking by Paola Gavin      $52
During 2000 years of exile, Jews have spread across the world, bringing their culinary traditions with them and adapting and adopting the cuisines of their host societies. This book travels from North Africa across Europe and into the Middle East and India, showing all the subtle variations and innovations of essentially Jewish dishes. 
Cleansing the Colony: Transporting convicts from New Zealand to Van Diemen's Land by Kristyn Harman      $35
During the mid-nineteenth century at least 110 people were transported from New Zealand to serve time as convict labourers in the penal colony of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania).
The Punishments of Hell by Robert Desnos        $30
Written in the period after the dissolution of Paris Dada but before the formalisation of Surrealism, this novel is caught between nihilistic incomprehensibility and savage lyricism. Featuring Desnos and most of other prime members of the Paris Dada movement the momentum of the narrative soon begins to act upon them like a particle accelerator, tearing them off into the impossible. 

The Long Dream of Waking: New perspectives on Len Lye edited by Paul Brobbel, Wystan Curnow and Roger Horrocks        $50
One of twentieth century art's outstanding modernist innovators, Lye's direct films, kinetic sculptures, photography, drawing, painting and poetry continue to reward new scholarship and discovery. The essays here consider Lye's importance from various perspectives and in international contexts. 
>> Two steps ahead of the avant-garde
Flowersmith: How to handcraft and arrange enchanting paper flowers by Jennifer Tran       $45
If you have never wanted to make paper flowers you will want to after seeing this book. 
>> These could be your hands

Why Dylan Matters by Richard F. Thomas         $30
When the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Bob Dylan in 2016, many wondered whether he even qualified for the award. Thomas makes the case for his inclusion in the literary canon. 

Bottled by Chris Gooch         $40
Jane is sick of her dead-end life in the suburbs, and desperate for a change. Her old friend Natalie made it out, living in Japan as a fashion model. Now, as Natalie comes back to town on business, Jane sees a way for her friend to do her a favour - whether she likes it or not.
"Chris Gooch twists the knife in the gap between persona and self. Bottled is a slow burn of a comic where the betrayals and the dread cut deep." - Katie Skelly
The Balkans, 1804-2012: Nationalism, war and the great powers by Misha Glenny          $40
Glenny investigates the roots of the bloodshed, invasions and nationalist fervour that have come to define our understanding of the south-eastern edge of Europe, and presents portraits of its kings, guerrillas, bandits, generals, and politicians. Glenny shows that groups we think of as implacable enemies have, over the centuries, formed unlikely alliances, thereby disputing the idea that conflict in the Balkans is the ineluctable product of ancient grudges. He explores the often-catastrophic relationship between the Balkans and the rest of Europe, raising some disturbing questions about Western intervention.
Stories by Susan Sontag        $50
All of Sontag's short fiction collected for the first time. Her stories, vignettes, observations and allegories wrestle with similar concepts to her essays, but do so in ways that the essays could not reach.  

The Ones Who Keep Quiet by David Howard      $25
The ones who keep quiet the longest are the dead, but there are echoes of them everywhere. 

Franklin D. Roosevelt: A political life by Robert Dallek       $75
Driven my grand but always complicated motivations, Roosevelt harnessed public consensus to make the presidency the foremost institution in the United States of America. 
Explorer's Atlas for the Incurably Curious by Piotr Wilkowiecki and Michal Gaszynski      $45
The world is so full of a number of things that I'm sure we should all be terribly confused if there weren't books such as this one to give some sort of spatial pattern to our confusion. A beautiful, large-format hardback.  

Sodden Downstream by Brannavan Gnanalingam          $29
The stresses of yet another once-in-a-lifetime storm in Wellington and not helped by the demands put upon Tamil refugee Sita by her employer, but support comes from unexpected quarters when the usual structures of urban life and upended.
>> "A subversion of the classic quest narrative."
Freedom Hospital: A Syrian story by Hamid Sulaiman       $48
A graphic novel giving insight into one the tragedies of our time. Over 40,000 people have died since the start of the Syrian Arab Spring. In the wake of this, Yasmin has set up a clandestine hospital in the north of the country. The town that she lives in is controlled by Assad's regime, but is relatively stable. However, as the months pass, the situation becomes increasingly complex and violent. 

The Robin: A biography by Stephen Moss        $37
Write to the Point: How to be clear, correct and persuasive on the page by Sam Leith          $33
Writing effectively is partly a matter of not making common mistakes and partly a matter of learning a few key skills. 

Moonshots: 50 years of NASA space exploration seen through Hasselbladt cameras by Piers Bizony       $130
The most extraordinary images of the Apollo and later missions, presented in this lavish large-format slip-cased volume. Who would have thought that such images could inspire such awe and wonder? 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Olivia Lomenech Gill        $48
A sumptuously illustrated new gift edition with extra content.

"No wizarding household is complete without a copy." - Albus Dumbledore
Sticky Fingers: The life and times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone magazine by Joe Hagan         $40
To what extent has the vision and ego of one man shaped (or distorted?) popular culture over five decades? 
Orwell's Cough: Diagnosing the medical maladies and last gasps of the great writers by John Ross        $25
Did Shakespeare's doctors addle his brain with mercury, leading to his early retirement? Was Jane Eyre inspired by the plagued school that claimed the Bronte clan? Did writing 1984 kill George Orwell?
>> Six famous writers injured when writing
What a Plant Knows: A field guide to the senses by Daniel Chamovitz         $38
How do plants experience life on earth? How do they communicate? Is there any sense in which they are 'aware' or can be said to 'remember'? What is it like to be a plant? 

A Farewell to Ice: A report from the Arctic by Peter Wadhams       $30
Ice regulates the world's temperatures. It is vanishing, fast, faster than anyone predicted and the effects will make the the planet a very different place. 
'Astonishing, beautiful, compelling and terrifying." - Observer
"Wadhams' writing sparkles. He has a lyrical sense of wonder at the natural world. This may be the best reader-friendly account of the greenhouse effect available." - John Burnside
>> Our time is running out
Fraulein Else by Arthur Schnitzler          $23
While staying with her aunt at a fashionable spa, Else receives an unexpected telegram from her mother, begging her to save her father from debtor's jail. The only way out, it seems, is to approach an elderly acquaintance in order to borrow money from him. This stream-of-consciousness novella, written from the the point of view of a naively romantic young woman hilariously at odds with reality. 
A Short History of Drunkenness by Mark Forsyth        $38
Alcohol has existed in all times and in all cultures but drunkenness and the way that is it viewed has varied tremendously across history and peoples. 
The Sex Pistols, 1977: The Bollocks Diaries      $45
An exhaustive archive of images and writings from the year the Sex Pistols detonated their load on the prevailing musical tastes. 
>> "Am I not entitled to do what I want?"
>> 'Anarchy in the UK' (in Sweden).