Friday 1 December 2017

The newest books aren't always the best books, but quite often they are. 
Tinderbox by Megan Dunn        $30
Like everyone, Megan Dunn had a book inside her. In Dunn's case, that book happened to be Fahrenheit 451, which had already been written by Ray Bradbury. Tinderbox is about the hold of literature on our minds and about the mechanisms by which society attempts to destroy that hold. It is about hope and failure and retail and living in the twenty-first century and failure (it's strong on failure), and it's fun to read. 
>> Read an extract
>> The 1966 film by Francis Truffaut
>> Megan's Julie Christie slide show
Women and Power: A manifesto by Mary Beard       $23
"You can't easily fit women into a structure that is already coded as male; you have to change that structure." Beard explores the cultural underpinnings of misogyny, considers our cultural assumptions about women's relationship with power, and advocates the overthrow of gendered templates for female advancement. 
>> The woman behind the book
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood             $35
A splendid new edition of this excellent novel (and now a NetFlix series). A doctor specialising in amnesia interviews Grace Marks, imprisoned for the 1843 murder of her employer and his housekeeper. Grace claims to remember nothing. Was she guilty? 
"Brilliant. So intimate it seems to be written on the skin." - Hilary Mantel

Border Districts by Gerald Murnane         $30
Gerald Murnane writes perhaps the most perfect sentences in English of any living writer. In this, his last work of fiction (though the narrator claims it is a report of actual experience and no sort of fiction), an elderly writer, having moved to a small town close to the border of a territory he had never in his previous life left, postpones a trip over the border to consider the life and death of mental states, and persistence or evanescence of images in the mind. Murnane, the Australian Proust, has written a valedictory work of great subtlety. 
>> Murnane's writing room

Between Eternities by Javier Marias         $37
"Marias is able to see and discover those things which many of us have failed to notice, as well as the things which we do recognise but have never put into words. He keeps looking at this world long after most of us have turned away." - Alexis Grohman

Wide-ranging but incisive, Marias's essays are good workouts for the cerebral muscles. 
Monograph by Chris Ware        $119
Whether he is writing graphic novels, making paintings, or building sculptures, Ware explores universal themes of social isolation, emotional torment, and depression with his trademark self-effacing voice. The end result is wry and highly empathetic. This vast and splendid volume chronicles a quarter century of remarkable and very individual creative work. 
>> What is he doing now? 
You Belong Here by M.H. Clark and Isabelle Arsenault       $35
Everything and everyone is right where they belong. A beautifully illustrated and reassuring bedtime story. 
Sea Change: Climate politics and New Zealand by Bronwyn Hayward      $15
Action is urgently needed, but what action is appropriate for a small country in the face of a global problem? 

Aalto by Robert McCarter       $95
Architecture, furniture, glassware, textiles, product design: Alvar Aalto brought a clarity and humanity to every project. This lovely book surveys the full range and depth of his activities. 
>> Visit the Alva Aalto Foundation
>> Meet Alvar Aalto

Bread is Gold: Extraordinary meals with ordinary ingredients by Massimo Bottura and friends        $65
Three-course meals from some of the world's leading chefs, all using overlooked, undervalued or waste ingredients. Beautifully presented. "These dishes could change the way we feed the world, because they can be cooked by anyone, anywhere, on any budget. To feed the planet, first you have to fight the waste." - MB
>> See some spreads
>> See some chef reducing waste
Follow Finn: A search-and-find maze book by Peter Goes       $30
A beautifully drawn and delightfully immersive maze boo with lots to find and an exciting plot. When goblins invade and then flee the house, Finn's dog gives chase - and so must Finn. Hours of fun. 

Tangata Ngai Tahu / People of Ngai Tahu edited by Takerei Norton and Helen Brown       $40
Fifty biographies of key figures in Ngai Tahu's history, up to the Deed of Settlement. Fully illustrated and fully interesting. 

Istanbul: Memories and the city by Orhan Pamuk         $55
A beautifully illustrated edition of Pamuk's memoir, with 450 historical photographs. 
The Ground Between: Navigating the oil and mining debate in New Zealand by Sefton Darby       $15
The politics, ethics, cultural and environmental considerations of resource extraction.
Jacob's Room is Full of Books by Susan Hill         $33
Where does reading end and living begin? Considering everything from Edith Wharton's novels through Alan Bennett's diaries, Virginia Woolf and the writings of twelfth century monk Aelred of Rievaulx, Susan Hill charts a year of her life through the books she has read, reread or returned to the shelf.
Today by Julie Morstad           $28
What should we do today? Where should we go? What should we wear? What should we eat? A beautifully illustrated book (with choices!) about all the options we have available to us every day. 
>> "Maybe I'll read my favourite book. Can you guess what it's about?"
The Standing Chandelier by Lionel Shriver       $23
When Weston Babansky receives an extravagant engagement present from his best friend (and old flame) Jillian Frisk, he doesn't quite know what to make of it - or how to get it past his fiancee. Especially as it's a massive, handmade, intensely personal sculpture that they'd have to live with forever.
Picasso / Giacometti bSerena Bucalo-Mussely and Virginie Perdrisot        $90
Picasso and Giacometti were addressing similar issues of form and meaning at the same time and in the same circles but in different ways. How can their work be considered a dialogue about the direction of modern art? 
>> Picasso vs. Giacometti.
Wednesdays with Bob by Derek Reilly with Bob Hawke        $33
On a sun-drenched veranda, Australia's longest-serving prime minister and a young writer smoke choice cigars and share conversation about  life, death, love, sex, religion, politics, sport, fatherhood, marriage and everything in between. Interspersed with interviews with Hawke's contemporaries, these conversations provide the deepest insight into this thinker who did not shy from controversy when pursuing his ideals.
Fantasyland: How America went haywire, A 500-year history by Kurt Andersen       $40
If you are free to create your own reality in the Land of the Free, what happens when this reality is contradicted by actuality? Trump's post-factual universe has deep and long precedents in American history. 
"This is the indispensable book for understanding America in the age of Trump." - Walter Isaacson

100 Songs by Bob Dylan       $35
Bob Dylan was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature, so here is a book of his words (without the music and the voice). You can catch all the lyrics and be awed. 
>> Richard Thomas also ranks Dylan with the Classical greats
>> Featuring all the literati (except Shakespeare)
Logical Family by Armistead Maupin        $40
A memoir from the author of Tales of the City, from being a conservative son of the Old South to being a gay rights pioneer and novelist. 
"A book for any of us, gay or straight, who have had to find our family. Maupin is one of America's finest storytellers, and the story of his life is a story as fascinating, as delightful and as compulsive as any of the tales he has made up for us." - Neil Gaiman
The Polar Bear Explorers' Club by Alex Bell       $21
Tumbling from an ice bridge to be impaled on a mammoth's tusk is a noble death for an arctic explorer, but Stella and her team have an adventure to pursue. Can they cross the Arctic wastes and live to tell the tale? 
Chip Book: Work, 2007-2017 by Chip Kidd      $119
The outstanding graphic designer, best known for his book covers. 
>> Portfolio.

Where the Wild Coffee Grows: The untold story of coffee from the cloud forests of Ethiopia to your cup by Jeff Koehler        $39
Not only the past but the future of coffee. 
To the River: A journey beneath the surface by Olivia Laing     $23
Virginia Woolf drowned  herself in the Ouse in 1941. Decades later, Laing walked the river from its source to the sea and wrote this fascinating book on landscape and our place within it. New edition. 
"Laing's writing at its sublime best reminds me of Richard Mabey's nature prose and the poetry of Alice Oswald. Laing seems to lack a layer of skin, rendering her susceptible to the smallest vibrations of the natural world as well as to the frailties of the human psyche." - The Times 
"Has a Sebaldian edge to it that lifts it out of memoir and biography and into something far more tantalizing and suggestive." - Guardian 
Osteria: 1000 generous and simple recipes from Italy's best local restaurants     $90
A special Slow Food investigation into authentic regional cuisine. 
Johnson by Dean Parker      $35
Whatever happened to the hero of John Mulgan's Man Alone? Parker's novel extrapolates Johnson's life from the point at which he leaves to fight in the Spanish Civil War at the end of Mulgan's novel.
>> For a fictionalised account of Mulgan's life after he parted ways with Johnson, read Mulgan by Noel Shepherd. 

Frida: The story of her life by Vanna Vinci       $60
An outstanding graphic novel mix of biography and fiction. 
>> See some sample pages
How to Resist: Turn protest into power by Matthew Bolton        $20
A handy wee incendiary volume. 
"This extraordinary book is the road map for a new kind of effective activism." - Brian Eno
>> Resistance is useful
The Man Booker Prize Diary 2018: Celebrating 50 years of the finest fiction        $28
Each week, find out who won the Booker (and who was on the short list) for a year of the prize's history. Doubles as a fifty-year history of book cover design. 

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