Underland by Robert Macfarlane $50
Macfarlane takes us on a journey into the worlds beneath our feet. From the ice-blue depths of Greenland's glaciers, to the underground networks by which trees communicate, from Bronze Age burial chambers to the rock art of remote Arctic sea-caves, this is a deep-time voyage into the planet's past and future.
"Extraordinary and thrilling." —Guardian
>>On creating the cover.
Saltwater by Jessica Andrews $38
A remarkable novel exploring mother-daughter relationships and identity in relation to place, social class and the body.
"This book is sublime. It dares to be different, to look in a different way. Andrews is not filling anyone's shoes, she is destroying the shoes and building them from scratch." —Daisy Johnson
>>Read an extract.
>>"I didn't feel I deserved to speak."
>>Glimpsed in reflection.
The Bells of Old Tokyo: Travels in Japanese time by Anna Sherman $38
Setting of to search for the bells that were used for timekeeping before the arrival of the Jesuits, Sherman follows a fascinating path through Tokyo's history and contemporary variety.
"A completely extraordinary book, unlike anything I have read before. At once modest in tone and vast in scale and ambition, it extends in all directions, delicately wrought, precise, unfaltering, lucid and strange as a dream. I haven’t felt so excited about an investigation into place since I first read W. G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn. Like Sebald, Sherman is concerned with war, brutality, nostalgia and loss, but her search for the meaning of time is also radiant and absolutely humane." —Olivia Laing
"The Bells of Old Tokyo is part personal memoir, part cultural history, but wholly unique. The fragile, fragmentary poetry of its prose so beautifully captures the transience of Tokyo time, the constant cycle of destruction and reconstruction, and the nostalgia for that which has been lost and yet wonder at all that remains to be found. It is the best book I have read about Tokyo written this century." —David Peace
Mimicry #5 $15
A journal of emerging arts and letters in Aotearoa New Zealand, this issue a co-production with Mouthfull. Contributors include: Eliana Gray, Sean Hartery, Alisdair Armstrong, Molly Robson, Rhys Feeney, Erik Kennedy, Tyler Barrow, Carolyn DeCarlo, George Turner, Joy Holley, fleshy.disguise, Georgie Johnson, Sara Cowdell, Ursula Le Sin, Malibu Stacy, BIGSWEAT, O & the Mo, Gangster Phanny, H4LF CĀST, Vanessa Crofskey, Madshrew, Rebecca Hawkes, Jessica Lim, Robbie Motion, Briana Jamieson, Wes Lee, Jordan Hamel, Carter Imrie-Milne, Adam Price, Liv Gallagher, Michaela Keeble, Rose Peoples, Flynn Gough, Catriona Britton, Caroline Shepherd, Curtis Mills, Jane Arthur.
The Science of Storytelling by Will Storr $43
Science is revealing how our brains are wired to construct and respond to narrative. Stories are ordering, sense-making machines, helping our brains to render the frantic incoherence of chaotic existence into comprehensible narratives. They are the matrix by which we understand our lives and our selves. Storr shows how and why fiction works - and how we can apply narrative to read our lives.
"Hugely compelling." —Guardian
Greenfeast: Spring, Summer by Nigel Slater $50
Vegetable-based recipes from Slater, whose personable, thoughtful books and relaxed approach increase our appreciation of eating and cooking. The Autumn/Winter volume will appear in Spring.
>>Visit Slater's website.
Another Planet: A teenager in suburbia by Tracey Thorn $33
In a 1970s commuter town, Tracey Thorn's teenage life was forged from what failed to happen. Her diaries were packed with entries about not buying things, not going to the disco, the school coach not arriving. Before she was a bestselling musician and writer, Tracey Thorn was a typical teenager: bored and cynical, despairing of her aspirational parents. Her only comfort came from house parties, Meaningful Conversations and the female pop icons who hinted at a new kind of living.
>>'On My Mind' (1983).
Life of David Hockney: A novel by Catherine Cusset $32
Born in 1937 in a small town in the north of England, David Hockney had to fight to become an artist. After leaving his home in Bradford for the Royal College of Art in London, his career flourished, but he continued to struggle with a sense of not belonging, because of his homosexuality, which had yet to be decriminalized, and his inclination for a figurative style of art not sufficiently 'contemporary' to be valued. Trips to New York and California—where he would live for many years and paint his iconic swimming pools—introduced him to new scenes and new loves, beginning a journey that would take him through the fraught years of the AIDS epidemic. A hybrid of novel and biography, Life of David Hockney offers an overview of the painter who shook the world of art with a vitality and freedom that neither heartbreak nor illness nor loss could corrode.
Salt Slow by Julia Armfield $38
In this collection of short stories, blending elements of horror, science fiction, mythology, and feminism, Armfield explores women's experiences in contemporary society, mapped through their bodies. As urban dwellers' sleeps become disassociated from them, like Peter Pan's shadow, a city turns insomniac. A teenager entering puberty finds her body transforming in ways very different than her classmates'. As a popular band gathers momentum, the fangirls following their tour turn into something monstrous. After their parents remarry, two step-sisters, one a girl and one a wolf, develop a dangerously close bond. And in an apocalyptic landscape, a pregnant woman begins to realize that the creature in her belly is not what she expected.
The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch $33
Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan and The Small Backs of Children, tells of a life that navigates, and transcends, abuse, addiction, self-destruction and the crushing loss of a stillborn child. Her memoir is also a paean to the pursuit of beauty, self-expression, desire, and the exhilaration of swimming.
>>The beauty of being a misfit.
>>Read Stella's review of The Book of Joan.
How to Grow a Human: Adventures in how we are made and who we are by Philip Ball $37
Delving into humanity's deep evolutionary past to look at how complex creatures like us emerged from single-celled life, Ball offers a new perspective on how humans think about ourselves. In an age when we are increasingly encouraged to regard the 'self' as an abstract sequence of genetic information, or as a pattern of neural activity that might be 'downloaded' to a computer, he return us to the body - to flesh and blood - and anchors a conception of personhood in this unique and ephemeral mortal coil.
The Gospel of Trees by Apricot Irving $33
Apricot Irving grew up as a missionary’s daughter in Haiti during a time of upheaval. Her father’s unswerving commitment to replant the deforested hillsides, despite growing political unrest, threatened to splinter his family. Drawing from her parents’ journals, as well as her own, Irving retraces the story of her family, the missionaries in the north of Haiti, and the shattered history of colonisation. The Gospel of Trees grapples with the complicated legacy of those who wish to improve the world.
"Irving moves seamlessly between the wide-eyed perspective of the child and the critical gaze of the adult, creating a tale as beautiful as it is discomfiting. The question that haunts her also haunts her book: 'Should we have kept trying, even if we were doomed to fail?'” —The New Yorker
Migrations: Open hearts, open borders $23
An astounding collection of postcards by illustrators around the world affirming solidarity with refugees. Powerful and beautifully done.
Rough Magic: Riding the world's wildest horse race by Lara Prior-Palmer $48
The Mongol Derby is the world's toughest horse race. A feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the people of Genghis Khan, competitors ride 25 horses across a distance of 1000km. Many riders don't make it to the finish line. In 2013 19-year-old Lara Prior-Palmer entered the race.
>>An unlikely victory.
>>From the horse's mouth.
Threads of Life: A history of the world through the eye of a needle by Clare Hunter $38
From the political propaganda of the Bayeux Tapestry and First World War soldiers with PTSD, to the maps sewn by schoolgirls in the New World, Threads of Life stretches from medieval France to contemporary Mexico, from a POW camp in Singapore to a family attic in Scotland. It is a chronicle of identity, protest, memory, power and politics told through the stories of the men and women, over centuries and across continents, who have used the language of sewing to make their voices heard, even in the most desperate of circumstances.
She Wolf by Dan Smith $19
A Viking girl is swept by a storm on to a desolate English beach. Cruelly orphaned there, Ylva becomes set on revenge, tracking a killer through dangerous hinterland. She wants only the favour of the Norse gods and the comfort of her stories. But when a stranger decides to protect Ylva - seeming to understand her where others cannot - Ylva must decide if her story will end in vengeance or forgiveness.
The People's Republic of Walmart: How the world's biggest corporations are laying the foundation for Socialism by Leigh Phillips and Michal Rozworski $23
Since the demise of the USSR, the mantle of the largest planned economies in the world has been taken up by the likes of Walmart, Amazon and other multinational corporations. For the left and the right, major multinational companies are held up as the ultimate expressions of free-market capitalism. Their remarkable success appears to vindicate the old idea that modern society is too complex to be subjected to a plan. And yet, as Leigh Phillips and Michal Rozworski argue, much of the economy of the West is centrally planned at present. The real question is whether planning can be democratic. Do the corporations' successes prove that Socialism is possible?
Disparities by Slavoj Žižek $30
The concept of disparity has long been a topic of obsession and argument for philosophers but Slavoj Zizek would argue that what disparity and negativity could mean, might mean and should mean for us and our lives has never been more hotly debated. Disparities explores contemporary 'negative' philosophies from Catherine Malabou's plasticity, Julia Kristeva's abjection and Robert Pippin's self-consciousness to the God of negative theology, new realisms and post-humanism and draws a radical line under them. Instead of establishing a dialogue with these other ideas of disparity, Slavoj Zizek wants to establish a definite departure, a totally different idea of disparity based on an imaginative dialectical materialism.
The Patient Assassin: A true tale of massacre, revenge and the Raj by Anita Anand $38
The Jallianwala Bagh massacre, also known as the Amritsar massacre, took place on 13 April 1919 when troops of the British Indian Army under the command of Acting Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer fired rifles into a crowd of unarmed Punjabi civilians who had gathered in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab. For ten minutes, the troops continued firing, stopping only when 1650 bullets had been fired. Not a single shot was fired in retaliation. According to legend, a young, low-caste orphan, Udham Singh, was injured in the attack, and remained in the Bagh, surrounded by the dead and dying, until he was able to move the next morning. Then, he supposedly picked up a handful of blood-soaked earth, smeared it across his forehead and vowed to kill the men responsible, no matter how long it took. The truth, as Anand has discovered, is more complex but no less dramatic.
Heiða: A shepherd at the edge of the world by Steinunn Sigurðardóttir and Heiða Guðný Ásgeirsdóttir $38
Why did Heiða Guðný Ásgeirsdóttir turn her back on a modelling career and become a sheep farmer and green activist in Iceland?
>> Meet an Icelandic shepherd.
A Place of Stone and Darkness by Chris Mousedale $30
When the human creatures appeared, they ravaged the forests and hunted many birds to extinction. The flightless Striggs had only one option: They went down, down under the ground . . . And it’s there, as you may have heard it whispered, that they still remain. Far below, in a place of stone and darkness . . . Over thousands of years, they colonised a labyrinth of tunnels and caves, but even underground the Striggs are not safe: chemicals now pollute their water and a deadly sickness threatens the flock. Even worse: an inquisitive young Strigg discovers a human boy, trapped deep in a well. Humans are to be feared and saving him could mean travelling to the surface, a place of untold peril.
Crossings by Alex Landragin $38
"I didn't write this book. I stole it." A Parisian bookbinder stumbles across a manuscript containing three stories, each as unlikely as the other. The first, 'The Education of a Monster', is a letter penned by the poet Charles Baudelaire to an illiterate girl. The second, 'City of Ghosts', is a noir romance set in Paris in 1940 as the Germans are invading. The third, 'Tales of the Albatross', is the strangest of the three: the autobiography of a deathless enchantress. Together, they tell the tale of two lost souls peregrinating through time. Replete with literary references and metafictional pyrotechics, Crossings is a novel in three parts, designed to be read in two different directions, spanning a hundred and fifty years and seven lifetimes.
>>Read an extract.
Song of the River by Joy Cowley and Kimberly Andrews $30
A boy follows the river from its trickling source in the mountain snow all the way to the coast.
How We Fight White Supremacy by Akiba Solomon and Kenrya Rankin $30
Black Americans show how they subvert and resist racism.
The Hazards of Time Travel by Joyce Carol Oates $35
A woman in the totalitarian NAS [USA] of 20 years hence is suddenly thrust back into small-town Wisconsin of 1959 in this dystopian novel that asks, How damaging are our concepts of future and past?
My Life as a Rat by Joyce Carol Oates $35
A young girl is exiled from her family after she reveals her brothers’ involvement in a brutal crime in this tense and probing novel.
People Like Us: Bridging the cultural chasm between Islam and the West by Waleed Aly $35
No two civilisations have spoken so many words about each other in recent years as those of Islam and the West. And no two seem to have communicated less. People Like Us confronts the themes that define this chasm head-on: women, jihad, secularism, terrorism, reformation and modernity. Its piercing examination of these subjects reveals our thoughtless and destructive tendency to assume that the world's problems could be solved if only everyone became more like us.
100 Natural History Treasures of Te Papa edited by Susan Waugh $45
A showcase of the breadth and depth of the national collection.
The Book of Flora ('The Road to Nowhere' #3) by Meg Elison $28
In the wake of the apocalypse, Flora has come of age in a highly gendered post-plague society where females have become a precious, coveted, hunted, and endangered commodity. But Flora does not participate in the economy that trades in bodies. An anathema in a world that prizes procreation above all else, she is an outsider everywhere she goes, including the thriving all-female city of Shy.
>>Read Stella's reviews of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife and The Book of Etta.
Meat Market by Juno Dawson $19
YA novel exposing the underbelly of the fashion industry in an era of #TimesUp and #MeToo.
Queer Intentions: A (personal) journey through LGBTQ+ culture by Amelia Abraham $38
Abraham cries at the first same-sex marriage in Britain, loses herself in the world's biggest drag convention in LA, marches at Pride parades across Europe, visits both a transgender model agency and the Anti-Violence Project in New York to understand the extremes of trans life today, parties in the clubs of Turkey's underground LGBTQ+ scene, and meets a genderless family in progressive Stockholm.
Whale Oil by Margie Thomson $40
In May 2012 Auckland businessman Matt Blomfield found himself the target of a vicious online attack, the work of far right Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater. The attack came out of the blue, destroying Blomfield’s reputation and career, stealing his identity, turning him into a social outcast. Two years after the online attack began an armed gunman came to Blomfield’s house and tried to kill him. He only survived because the intruder’s shotgun misfired. Blomfield spent seven years and hundreds of thousands of dollars taking a defamation case against Slater, which he ultimately won, establishing that Slater’s vendetta was based entirely on lies. How did Slater get away with calculated on-line bullying and character assassination for so long?
>>Blomfield talks with John Campbell.
>>10 shocking moments.