Tuesday 24 December 2019

Use the selector to choose your seasonal gifts and summer reading. 
Use the 'click and collect' function on our website to reserve your copies, or pay on-line for delivery anywhere (let us know if you'd like them gift-wrapped). If you don't find what you're looking for here, come and talk to us: we have many other interesting books on our shelves — or browse our website
List #1: FICTION
List #4: FOOD & DRINK

Saturday 14 December 2019

BOOKS @ VOLUME   #157 (14.12.19)


I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman   {Reviewed by STELLA}
Forty women are in an underground bunker with no clear understanding of their captivity. Why are they there? What was their life before? And as the years pass, what purpose do the guards, or those who employ the guards, have for them? The narrator of this story is a young woman—captured as a very young child—who knows no past: her life is the bunker. The women she lives with tolerate her but have little to do with her and hardly converse with her. She is not one of them. They have murky memories of being wives, mothers, sisters, workers. They know something catastrophic happened but can not remember what. The Child (nameless) is seen as other, not like them, not from the same place as them. The Child has been passing the days and the years in acceptance, knowing nothing else, but her burgeoning sexuality and her awareness of life beyond the cage (she starts to watch the guards, one young man in particular), limited as it is to this stark underground environment, also triggers an awakeness. She begins to think, to wonder and ask questions. As she counts the time by listening to her heartbeats and wins the trust of a woman in the group, The Child’s observations, not clouded by memories, are pure and exacting. We, as readers, are no closer to understanding the dilemma the women find themselves in, and like them are mystified by the situation. Our view is only that of The Child and what she gleans from the women—their past lives that are words that have little meaning to her, whether that is nature (a flower), culture (music) or social structures (work, relationships)—this world known as Earth is a foreign landscape to her. When the sirens go off one day, the guards abandon their positions and leave. Fortunately for the women, this happens just as they have opened the hatch for food delivery. The young woman climbs through and retrieves a set of keys that have been dropped in the panic. The women are free, but what awaits them is in many ways is another prison. Following the steps to the surface takes them to a barren plain with nothing else in sight. What is this place? Is it Earth? And where are the other people? Will they find their families or partners or other humans? The guards have disappeared within minutes—we never are given any clues to where they have gone—have they vapourised? Have they left in swift and silent aircraft? The women gather supplies, of which there are plenty, and begin to walk. I Who Have Never Known Men is a feminist dystopia in the likes of The Handmaid’s Tale or The Book of the Unnamed Midwife but is more silent, more internal and both frustrating and compelling. I found myself completely captivated by the mystery of this place and the certainty of the young woman. The exploration of humanity and its ability to hope and love within what we would consider a bleak environment, and the magnitude of one woman to gather these women to her and cherish them as they age is exceedingly tender. The introduction by Sophie MacKintosh ( author of The Water Cure), which I recommend reading after rather than before, adds another layer of meaning to the novel. I Who Have Never Known Men is haunting and memorable—a philosophical treatise on what it is to be alone and to be lonely, and what freedom truly is.   
1. I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman
2. Spring by Ali Smith
3. The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox
4. The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman
>> Read all of Stella's reviews


Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
“‘Today’ is a word that only suicides ought to be allowed to use, it has no meaning for other people.” Even five decades after it was written, this wholly remarkable book continues to reveal new possibilities in literature and new impossibilities in living.
In the first part of the book, ‘Happy With Ivan’, the unnamed narrator records her obsessive love affair with a man she first sees outside a florist’s shop near her home in Vienna. On account of Ivan, “the rest of the world, where I lived up to now — always in a panic, my mouth full of cotton, the throttle marks on my neck — is reduced to its petty insignificance.” She snatches evenings with Ivan, plays chess with him (resulting in stalemate), writes him letters (which she tears to shreds and throws away, unsent), and talks with him on the telephone, but, mainly, she waits and thinks and smokes. “Ever since I’ve been able to dial this number, my life has finally stopped taking turns for the worse, I’m no longer coming apart at the seams. I hold my breath, stopping time, and call and smoke and wait.” But hers is a desperate happiness, not a convincing happiness, not really happiness at all but a straining towards the impossibility of happiness, agitation trying to pass as happiness. Just as the difference between pleasure and irritation is generally merely a matter of degree, there is, for the narrator, no substantial difference between ostensibly contradictory states and the case for her happiness is made so strenuously that it is clearly made from a position of great unhappiness. Ivan lives along the street, but the narrator shares an apartment with Malina, a civil servant who works at the Austrian Military Museum but who is so compartmentalised in the narrator’s mind that he never makes contact with Ivan, or, rather, never enters the Ivan compartment in the narrator’s mind. Although the narrator interacts with Malina, and we are told of her visiting elsewhere with him, it is very unclear that Malina exists outside the narrator’s mind, or, rather, that he is not an aspect of the narrator. “Ivan hasn’t been warned about me. He doesn’t know with whom he’s running around, that he’s dealing with a phenomenon, an appearance that can also be deceiving, I don’t want to lead Ivan astray but he has never realised that I am double. I am also Malina’s creation.” I increasingly began to suspect that Ivan also exists, at least mostly, in the narrator’s mind, and that, although probably affixed to someone she saw outside the florist’s shop, the Ivan with whom this love affair persists is a never-quite-reachable eidolon of her longing and desperation. “My living body gives Ivan a reference point, maybe it’s the only one, but this same bodily self disturbs me. Extreme self-control lets me accept Ivan’s sitting opposite me.” Is there no exteriority? All these words, these truncated staccato telephone conversations, these endlessly commaed descriptions, these letters and interviews and documents in many versions, these moments and encounters, these details, these memories and revised memories, these stupendous rants, are they all the desperate invention of the narrator (in the same way that the novel is the desperate invention of the author)? “Whatever falls on my ground thrives, I propagate myself with words and also propagate Ivan.”
The second part of the book, ‘The Third Man’, intimates, perhaps, the degree of trauma that underlies the narrator’s agitation and the fracturing of her psyche. Passages, seemingly dreams or memories, describe violence, torment and sexual abuse, largely at the hands of the narrator’s father (and of, by extension, Austria and Nazism), enacted either upon the narrator or upon her naive and complicit alter ego Melanie. “Here there is always violence. Here there is always struggle.” Bachmann’s sentences offer no respite for the reader nor for the narrator. “I don’t want to be any more, because I don’t want war, then put me to sleep, make it end.” The dream sequences are interspersed with conversations, written as script, between the narrator and the rational, interrogating Malina, bringing into her awareness the nature of her trauma, and moving towards the possibility of understanding. “Although it disgusts me to look at him [father], I must, I have to know what danger is still written in his face, I have to know where evil originates.” But, Malina warns, “Once one has survived something the survival itself interferes with understanding.”
The third part, ‘Last Things’, charts the shrinking of the narrator’s world, her gradual inevitable loss of Ivan, either as reality or eidolon, her loss of confidence in herself or hope in her world — and it is much funnier than this list would suggest, though no less tragic. Experience, once replaced with knowledge of — or description of — experience, loses the power of experience. Language at once conjures and replaces — annihilates — what is lived. But, says the narrator, “I must have reached a point where thought is so necessary that it is no longer possible.” Her conversations with Malina drain the reality from Ivan and reveal her isolation and self-suffocation. “I am not one person,” she says, “but two people standing in extreme opposition to one another, which must mean I am always on the verge of being torn in two. If they were separated it would be livable, but scarcely the way it is.” The slow, cumulative, fatal intrusion of rationality is here like a pin being pushed against the surface of a balloon with great, horrible, slow, thrilling patience. “The story of Ivan and me will never be told, since we don’t have any story.” Literature is lack. All that is written is written against the facts. Happiness, or imagined happiness, becomes harder and harder and at last impossible to sustain. The narrator’s ‘I’, her subjective self, “an unknown woman”, catches a last whiff of Ivan in the crack in the wall, enters it and disappears, leaving the rational alter ego, Malina, the cataloguer, the explainer, the understanding mind, to answer the telephone when Ivan rings (their first encounter) and to deny her very existence. The book ends with the bare sentence, “It was murder,” but, if the characters are all fractured parts of a single mind (if there can be such a thing), what is the nature of this ‘murder’? “What is life?” asks Malina. “Whatever can’t be lived.”

THOMAS'S 'BOOKS OF THE YEAR' (so to call them):
1. Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann
2. Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman
3. Lanny by Max Porter
4. Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick
>> Read all of Thomas's reviews

Friday 13 December 2019


The Chandelier by Clarice Lispector         $26
Virginia and her cruel, beautiful brother, Daniel, grow up in a decaying country mansion. They leave for the city, but the change of locale leaves Virginia's internal life unperturbed. In intensely poetic language, Lispector conducts a stratigraphic excavation of Virginia's thoughts, revealing the drama of Clarice's lifelong quest to discover "the nucleus made of a single instant". Written when Lispector was 23.
"Sphinx, Sorceress. Sacred monster. The Chandelier offers an early glimpse of Clarice Lispector’s power." —The New York Times
Mr Lear: A life of art and nonsense by Jenny Uglow       $33
How pleasant to know Mr Lear!
Who has written such volumes of stuff!
Some think him ill-tempered and queer,
But a few think him pleasant enough.
The writer of nonsense rhymes was also a serious painter and a gentle, melancholy man for whom the society he so amused with his verses made little room. 
"Jenny Uglow has written a great life about an artist with half a life, a biography that might break your heart." —Robert McCrumb, Guardian
Black Mountain Poems: An anthology edited by Jonathan C. Creasy        $38
Black Mountain College had an explosive influence on American poetry, music, art, craft, dance, and thought; it’s hard to imagine any other institution that was so utopian, rebellious, and experimental. Founded with the mission of creating rounded, complete people by balancing the arts and manual labor within a democratic, nonhierarchical structure, Black Mountain was a crucible of revolutionary literature. Although this artistic haven only existed from 1933 to 1956, Black Mountain helped inspire some of the most radical and significant midcentury American poets. This anthology begins with the well-known Black Mountain Poets— Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov—but also includes the artist Josef Albers and the musician John Cage, as well as the often overlooked women associated with the college, M. C. Richards and Hilda Morley.
>>Redefining the Black Mountain poets
>>Expressions of something shared
Think, Write, Speak: Uncollected essays, reviews, interviews and letters to the editor by Vladimir Nabokov         $65
Each phase of his wandering life is included, from an essay written while still at Cambridge in 1921, through his fame in the aftermath of the publication of Lolita to the final interviews given shortly before his death in 1977.
The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki      $26
In the years leading up to the Second World War, four sisters live in dilapidated houses in Osaka and Ashiya, and each navigate their own complex, personal relationship to the fading lustre of the Makioka family name. Rich with breathtaking descriptions of ancient customs and an ever-changing natural world, Junichiro Tanizaki evokes in loving detail a long-lost way of life even as it withers under the harsh glare of modernity.

"An exquisite novel about four sisters living though a turbulent decade. I'd put it in the 10 greatest books of the 20th century." —David Mitchell 
"A near-perfect novel." —Hanya Yanagihara 
Good Economics for Hard Times: Better answers to our biggest problems by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo        $50
The 2019 Nobel Laureates in Economics show how traditional western-centric thinking has failed to explain what is happening to people in a newly globalised world. This books shows why migration doesn't follow the law of supply and demand, and why trade liberalisation can drive unemployment up and wages down.

Rabbits for Food by Binnie Kirshenbaum     $33
It's New Year's Eve, the holiday of forced fellowship, mandatory fun, and paper hats. While dining out with her husband and their friends, Bunny—an acerbic, mordantly witty, and clinically depressed writer—fully unravels. Her breakdown lands her in the psych ward of a prestigious New York hospital, where she refuses all modes of recommended treatment. Instead, she passes the time chronicling the lives of her fellow "lunatics" and writing a novel about what brought her there. 
"There is a great deal of humor, compassion, and sensitivity for the material. Readers will quickly commit to this extraordinary novel. Laser-sharp prose, compelling observations, and an engaging, sympathetic central figure conspire to make it a page-turner. Rabbits for Food is an impressive achievement. It should be read as soon as possible." —Los Angeles Review of Books
Missing Person by Patrick Modiano          $26
An amnesiac detective on the streets of Paris is unaware that the person he seeks is himself, and that he in somehow implicated in something he cannot remember during the Nazi occupation. 
Out by Natsuo Kirino       $26
In the Tokyo suburbs four women work the graveyard shift at a factory. Burdened with heavy debts, alienated from husbands and children, they all secretly dream of a way out of their dead-end lives. A young mother among them finally cracks and strangles her philandering, gambling husband. She confesses her crime to her colleagues and unexpectedly, they agree to help. 
Why Trust Science? by Naomi Oreskes         $55
Do doctors really know what they are talking about when they tell us vaccines are safe? Should we take climate experts at their word when they warn us about the perils of global warming? Why should we trust science when our own politicians don't? In this landmark book, Naomi Oreskes offers a bold and compelling defense of science, revealing why the social character of scientific knowledge is its greatest strength, and the greatest reason we can trust it.

Caroline's Dilemma: A colonial inheritance saga by Bettina Bradbury        $40
This history of a widow and her children whose lives were transformed by the conditions of her husband’s will takes readers to the violent frontiers where squatters ran sheep in South Australia and Victoria, to Melbourne, Ireland, England and, occasionally, New Zealand. Caroline’s Dilemma reveals much about women’s property rights, widowhood, sibling relations, migration, settler colonialism, and Catholic-Protestant conflict. It also reminds us why feminists in the 19th century fought so hard first for wives to retain control of their own property, then for limitations on husband’s rights to bequeath family property as they wished, and in the 1970s for fair division of matrimonial property when couples divorced. Both succession law and the question of couples’ claims on relationship property are once again on the legislative agenda in New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere.
>>Bettina Bradbury on Radio New Zealand
The Happy Reader #14      $12
Grace Wales Bonner is a 28 year old fashion designer from south-east London. She has been feted by the worlds of both serious culture and high glamour, but here’s the unusual part: her clothes come with reading lists. Interviewed by Booker Prize-winning author Ben Okri, Grace explains how she sees herself on some level as a researcher. She visits libraries, digests acres of complex ideas about politics and identity, and expresses them, among other things, via the realm of clothes.
The featured book of this issue is Joris-Karl Huysmans’s Against Nature (1884), supposedly the most decadent novel ever written. Its relentless inventory-keeping thrills and inspires some readers and baffles others, and is highly relevant to this season of non-stop accumulation. Contributors include Jarvis Cocker, Lydia Davis, Rob Doyle and Jeanette Winterson.

Saturday 7 December 2019

We have been asked to name OUR FAVOURITE BOOKS OF THE YEAR (so far). Click on the titles to read our reviews and to secure your own copies.

1. Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann
2. Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellman
3. Lanny by Max Porter
4. Sleepless Nights by Elizabeth Hardwick
>> Read all of Thomas's reviews

1. I Who Have Never Known Men by Jacqueline Harpman
2. Spring by Ali Smith
3. The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox
4. The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman

>> Read all of Stella's reviews

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BOOKS @ VOLUME #156  (7.12.19)

The End of the Ocean by Maja Lunde   {Reviewed by STELLA} 
Maja Lunde, the author of the bestseller The History of Bees, turns her attention to water in her latest novel, The End of The Ocean. Like her first book, this doesn’t feel like the distant future. As fires rage in Australia, the plight of David and his young daughter running towards relative safety is immediate and prescient. This is a book of two linked stories, each as compelling as the other, so you never feel deprived of either when the timeline changes. In 2017, Norwegian Signe, activist and sailor, is making a trip back to her home village. A witness to the chipping away of the glacier to provide special ice cubes for exclusive drinks, she is appalled and critical of her fellow past associates, particularly her ex-partner. Selling out for capital gain or to improve the financial lives of the community is an argument that has not and doesn’t sit well with Signe. On a quest to make a protest, she sails across the ocean to confront her ex-lover. She is driven, passionate and angry, as well as sad. Sad for what has been, what could have been, and what is lost. Lunde delves back into Signe's early life, revealing the circumstances that have made her the eco-warrior she is. And it’s a great story about small communities, about village politics, and being an outsider. Jump to 2041 and meet a father, David, and child, his daughter Lou, newly arrived at a refugee camp. Fleeing fire in the south of France, they are awaiting the arrival of the rest of the family, David's wife and baby son. Days pass, the food and water are depleting. The Red Cross has no information. As more people arrive, the camp becomes unstable and David, at the end of his tether, seeks release by wandering through the mostly abandoned town. David and Lou come across a boat — a small sailing boat perched on a trailer — on a property near the once water-filled river canal. Secured above ground, the boat becomes a refuge for David and a source of imaginative games for Lou. It’s a place away from the chaos of the camp and the danger of flaring tempers as the resources dwindle. In Lunde's first cli-fi book, the focus was bees; here it is fresh and clean water. In 2017, Signe is tackling the commercialisation of water: who owns it and who can sell it. Lunde is clearly sending us some very direct messages about our current behaviour. In 2041, the issue of water is survival — it’s a priority and an obsession. While this is labelled a ‘dystopia’, it doesn’t feel far from fact. Climate fiction can be unrelenting, and there are definite challenges within the pages of The End of the Ocean, but Lunde cleverly draws out characters and stories that are human — her protagonists are not perfect and don't have all the answers, but they are tough and humane, ready to seek connection and hope to survive. There are many dystopian climate-focussed novels currently circulating as this topic becomes hotter and more pressing. Some are bleaker than others. This is well-written, compelling and involving. This is the second in Lunde's climate quartet, so there is more to look forward to. Also try The End We Start From by Megan Hunter, if you like something a little more lyrical or oblique.


Essays by Lydia Davis      {Reviewed by THOMAS}
An essay is a literary form but a collection of essays is not a literary form, or, rather, a collection of essays, unless written specifically as a cohesive set, which is unusual for collections of essays, and in which case they are not usually considered a collection of essays but something else, only becomes a literary form, and only if we stretch our concept of what constitutes a literary form, at the point at which the essays are assembled, selected and ordered by someone, plausibly not even the author of the essays, some time, perhaps some considerable time, after they were written, at various times perhaps over a considerable period of time, during which the author may or may not have changed her approach to whatever and however she writes and may or may not have written and had published any number of other literary forms, if she happens to be an author who also writes other literary forms. ‘Selected works’ is not a literary form, and essay collections often tend to be selected works, these works often having appeared in various periodicals or other platforms over the years preceding their collection, or, generally more accurately, selection. Reviewing a collection of essays, as an instance of a literary non-form, presents certain difficulties as the reviewer is denied the various familiar analytic tools that are dependent on form, usually ending up making some generalised statements about the author, her qualities and importance, and then garnishing these comments with snippets pulled from various of the works in the collection, each work of which could be analysed as a literary form but none of which tend to be so treated, except perhaps cursorily, due to lack of space and time, space and time being a single entity in writing as they are in physics. If a reviewer does not quite know how to approach the literary non-form of a collection of essays this is because a reader, of which a reviewer is merely a pitiful example, does not know how to approach a non-form. A reader has no obligations towards the collectedness of pieces towards which, severally, he may have obligations, but also, at least, thankfully, tools dependent upon the form of the several pieces, but what obligations does a reviewer have towards the collectedness of the pieces? It is hard to review something that you do not recognise as a thing. Lydia Davis is best known for the devastating precision of the sentences that comprise some of the shortest, sharpest stories you are likely to read, and for her subtle and precise translations of Proust, Flaubert, Blanchot, Foucault, Leiris and others. Her economy of expression astounds, whether that economy is displayed in a single-sentence fiction, indefinitely extended in a translation, or in such various essays as are collected in this book. The essays, which are of various forms, all concern the relationship between language and lucidity; they all concern writing: either writers or the practice of writing; they are all about reading (of which the practice of writing is a peculiarly freighted subset). The essays all both demonstrate and concern what we could call ‘the mechanics of form’, the way in which language, well used, creates, sharpens or transfigures meaning in literature. Davis shows us how to narrow our linguistic aperture in order to maximise our literary depth of field. She is full of good advice, suggestions for new reading, exemplary sentences and memorable observations: “If we catch only a little of the subject, or only badly, clumsily, incoherently, perhaps we have not destroyed it.” Because a collection is not a literary form, you have no obligation as a reader towards the totality of the volume, but there is much here to enjoy and discover, much that will sharpen your writing and your reading of the writing of others, much to return to and re-read. Most likely you will read it all.
Our Book of the Week this week, Murmur by Will Eaves, is a beautifully written, sad and thoughtful novel based on the chemical castration of Alan Turing, exploring concepts of personhood and consciousness, both human and artificial. 
>>Read Thomas's review. 
>> Read an extract
>>"Life is chancier than we imagine."
>>Murmur was awarded the 2019 Wellcome Book Prize (for a book that engages with some aspect of medicine, health or illness). 
>> Murmur was a joint winner of the 2019 Republic of Consciousness Prize
>> Murmur was short-listed for the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize. 
>> Hear the opening section read aloud
>> NOTHINGINTHERULEBOOK interview with Will Eaves.
>> The author's website
>> Will Eaves and other CB Editions authors at Shakespeare & Company
>> 20 questions for Will Eaves
>> A bit about Alan Turing
>> The Strange Life and Death of Dr Turing
>> Could you pass the Turing Test? 
>> Ian McEwan's new novel Machines Like Me speculates an alternative trajectory for Alan Turing and A.I
>> Read Thomas's review of The Absent Therapist by Will Eaves
>> Read Thomas's review of The Inevitable Gift Shop by Will Eaves
>> Will Eaves performs from The Absent Therapist

Friday 6 December 2019

Your Duck is My Duck by Deborah Eisenberg         $35
Each of Eisenberg's perfectly poised, preternaturally aware, precisely composed  and enjoyable stories carries the heft and resonance of novels (and take her about as long to write). 
>>"Reality is not conventional."

>>"I do feel myself to be anaesthetised."

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson       $37
A woman begins to find unexpected meaning in her life when she accepts the opportunity to care for twin children with unusual and disturbing abilities. 
"Weird, funny, but also unexpectedly moving." —Buzzfeed

This is Pleasure by Mary Gaitskill         $17
"In fewer than 100 pages, Gaitskill achieves a superb feat. She distils the suffering, anger, reactivity, danger and social recalibration of the #MeToo movement into an extremely potent, intelligent and nuanced account. She pares a single story from the chorus of condemnations, with their similarities, varieties, truths and perceptions, and through select incidents and emotional focus we see the complex details of the wider picture. It takes an expert in short fiction to condense such a difficult subject, while allowing the reader interpretive space. Gaitskill is phenomenally gifted at the metaphysical microcosmic. She makes the abstruse world clearer. There are many ways the topic will be tackled in literature. This Is Pleasure sensitively and confidently holds its fury, momentum, contrary forces and imperfect humanity within a perfect frame." —Sarah Hall, Guardian
Stillicide by Cynan Jones           $33
Jones turns his spare, effective prose to good effect in this devastating climate change novel. Water is commodified. The Water Train that serves the city increasingly at risk of sabotage. As news breaks that construction of a gigantic Ice Dock will displace more people than first thought, protestors take to the streets and the lives of several individuals begin to interlock. A nurse on the brink of an affair. A boy who follows a stray dog out of the city. A woman who lies dying. And her husband, a marksman: a man forged by his past and fearful of the future, who weighs in his hands the possibility of death against the possibility of life.
"Urgent." —Guardian 
Melvin Day, Artist by Gregory O'Brien          $70
A long-overdue, beautifully presented and thoughtfully written monograph on the seven decades of production of this New Zealand artist. 
Pushing Paper: Contemporary drawing from 1970 to now by Isabel Seligman          $45
An excellent global survey, well and thoughtfully selected and discussed. 
Pursuit (The Balvenie Stories Collection) edited by Alex Preston    $33
The stories in the this collection tell of determination, endeavour and perseverance against the odds. They range across wildly different contexts and cultures, from the epic to the intimate, in fiction and non-fiction, illustrating and illuminating the outer limits of human character and achievement. With contributions from Max Porter, Kamila Shamsie, Daisy Johnson, Eley Williams, Michael Donkor, David Szalay, Yan Ge, Benjamin Markovitz, Tash Aw, Peter Frankopan, and others.
>>Balvenie Distillery has a collection of whiskies to accompany the stories (or vice-versa). We incline towards the 14-year-old 'Week of Peat'. 
The Boundless Sea: A human history of the oceans by David Abulafia       $85
A magnificent book, both nicely shaped and satisfyingly detailed, surveying the way in which humans across the globe have used the sea to develop and extend their reach upon geography, through trade, travel and conquest. 
The Tulip by Anna Pavord        $75
A beautifully produced and illustrated edition detailing the astounding history and cultural resonance of this most prized and various of flowers. 
Babel by Alan Burns      $23
First published in 1969 and stylistically Burns's most radical work, Babel is written in short sections of highly condensed, often grammatically difficult prose. Burns targets the state, violence and power, dealing repeatedly with the Vietnam war, the effects of colonialism, religion, the amorality of the political class, the workplace, the violence inherent within the family, with the movement of money and state-sanctioned violence. 
The Reality Bubble: Blind spots, hidden truths and dangerous illusions that shape our world by Ziya Tong        $33
Our concepts of our world are severely limited by the narrowness of the sensual sliver to which we have access. Other animals share our world but, with the help of, for instance, infrared or ultraviolet or with 360-degree vision, they perceive it quite differently. This lively, fascinating book looks at ten of humans' 'blind spots' and shows us aspects of our world that we really need to take notice of before it's too late. 
How to Read a Photograph: Understanding, interpreting and enjoying the great photographers by Ian Jeffrey     $55
Approachable and interesting; good for both novices and aficionados. 

The Deep History of Ourselves: The four-billion-year story of how we got conscious brains by Jospeh LeDoux        $60

LeDoux argues that the key to understanding human behavior lies in viewing evolution through the prism of the first living organisms. By tracking the chain of the evolutionary timeline he shows how even the earliest single-cell organisms had to solve the same problems we and our cells have to solve each day. Along the way, LeDoux explores our place in nature, how the evolution of nervous systems enhanced the ability of organisms to survive and thrive, and how the emergence of what we humans understand as consciousness made our greatest and most horrendous achievements as a species possible.
The Flight of Birds by Joshua Lobb        $43

A linked collection of fictional and ficto-critical stories, presenting one person's encounters with a range of birds. The birds in the stories inhabit the same space as the human, but perceive the world in different, often opposing, ways. Embedded in the fictional encounters is a philosophical and theoretical investigation into the ways humans engage with birds. The book examines myths about birds - told in fables and fairy tales, documentaries, and poetry - and their symbolic functions in contemporary culture. 
Eclipse: Concrete poems by Alan Riddell      $23
In this volume of typographical poems, Alan Riddell weaves words and the very letters they're made of into shapes and patterns that heighten or, in some cases, completely undermine the professed message of the pieces.

Embers by Sándor Márai       $26
In a secluded woodland castle an old General prepares to receive a rare visitor, a man who was once his closest friend but who he has not seen in forty-one years. Over the ensuing hours host and guest will fight a duel of words and silences, accusations and evasions. They will exhume the memory of their friendship and that of the General’s beautiful, long-dead wife. And they will return to the time the three of them last sat together following a hunt in the nearby forest—a hunt in which no game was taken but during which something was lost forever. A classic of modern European literature, a work whose poignant evocation of the past also seems like a prophetic glimpse into the moral abyss of the present.
>>The candle that burned right down.
Rhyme Cordial by Antonia Pesenti         $23
Some words and phrases do sound a little like some other words and phrases. From Alarm Croc to Cheepy Head, you'll enjoy Rhyme Cordial all day long!
Imperial Tragedy: From Constantine's empire to the destruction of Roman Italy, 363—568 by Michael Kulikowski         $70
Makes a convincing case that Rome disintegrated due to internal forces and changes rather than because of external invasions. 

Lunch with the F.T, A second helping: 42 new interviews edited by Lionel Barber         $65

The most entertaining, incisive and fascinating interviews from the past five years in the Financial Times, including those with Donald Trump, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Yanis Varoufakis, Zadie Smith, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and David Guetta. Illustrated in colour with James Ferguson's portraits.
The Remarkable Life of the Skin: An intimate journey across our surface by Monty Lyman       $40

Providing a cover for our delicate and intricate bodies, the skin is our largest and fastest growing organ. We see it, touch it and live in it every day. It's a habitat for a mesmerizingly complex world of micro-organisms and physical functions that are vital to our health and our survival. It's also one of the first things people see about us and is crucial to our sense of identity. And yet how much do we really know about it?

New Zealand Nature Heroes: Inspiration and activities for young conservationists by Gillian Candler         $30
An excellent mix of activities, information, biographies, illustrations and much more. 
Customer Service Wolf: Comics from the retail wilderness by Anne Barnetson          $20
Barnetson, who is possibly a wolf, has, while working as a bookseller, drawn these wonderful comics of customer interactions that will resonate with anyone who has worked in retail or been any sort of customer.
A new batch of Faber Stories has arrived, fresh from the oven. Perfect as small gifts. $10 each