Saturday 28 November 2020


We recommend these books as seasonal gifts and for summer reading. Click through to our website to reserve or purchase your copies—we will have them delivered anywhere or aside for collection. Let us know if you would like them gift-wrapped. 
If you don't find what you're looking for here, browse our website, e-mail us, or come and talk to us: we have many other interesting books on our shelves.

"There is the mammal way and there is the bird way." This is one scientist's pithy distinction between mammal brains and bird brains: two ways to make a highly intelligent mind. But the bird way is much more than a unique pattern of brain wiring, and lately, scientists have taken a new look at bird behaviours they have, for years, dismissed as anomalies or mysteries. What they are finding is upending the traditional view of how birds conduct their lives, how they communicate, forage, court, breed, survive.

Long before Darwin, our ancestors were obsessed with the visual similarities and differences between the animals. Early scientists could sense there was an order that unified all life and formulated a variety of schemes to help illustrate this. This human quest to classify living beings has left us with a rich artistic legacy, from the folklore and religiosity of the ancient and Medieval world through the naturalistic cataloging of the Enlightenment to the modern, computer-generated classificatory labyrinth.

The Origins of You: How childhood shapes later life by Jay Belsky, Terrie E. Moffitt, Richie Poulton and Avshalom Caspi         $95
Based on the findings of the world-leading Dunedin Study, which tracked thousands of people from birth to middle age, this book helps us to thnk about childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, about genes and parenting, and about vulnerability, resilience, and success. The evidence shows that human development is not subject to ironclad laws but instead is a matter of possibilities and probabilities—multiple forces that together determine the direction a life will take. A child's early years do predict who they will become later in life, but they do so imperfectly. For example, genes and troubled families both play a role in violent male behavior, and, though health and heredity sometimes go hand in hand, childhood adversity and severe bullying in adolescence can affect even physical well-being in midlife.

Wayfinding: The art and science of how we find and lose our way by Michael Bond         $38
How do our brains make cognitive maps that keep us orientated, even in places we don't know? How does our understanding of and relationship to place help us to understand our world and our relationship to it? How does physical space affect the way we think?

A Short History of the World According to Sheep by Sally Coulthard        $38
An addictively free-ranging survey of the massive impact that the domesticated ungulates of the genus Ovis have had on human history. From the plains of ancient Mesopotamia to the rolling hills of medieval England to the vast sheep farms of modern-day Australia, sheep have been central to the human story. Starting with our Neolithic ancestors' first forays into sheep-rearing nearly 10,000 years ago, these remarkable animals have fed us, clothed us, changed our diet and languages, helped us to win wars, decorated our homes, and financed the conquest of large swathes of the earth. Enormous fortunes and new, society-changing industries have been made from the fleeces of sheep, and cities shaped by shepherds' markets and meat trading. 
"This book deserves a place in your bookcase next to Harari's Sapiens. It's every bit as fascinating and is surely destined to be just as successful." —Julian Norton

Living with the Climate Crisis: Voices from Aotearoa edited by Tom Doig        $15
The devastating summer of Australian bush fires underlined the terrifying sense of a world pushed to the brink. Then came Covid-19, and with it another dramatic shift. Fears have been raised that the all-consuming effort to control the pandemic will distract us from the long-term challenge of limiting catastrophic climate change. At the same time, many people are hoping for a post-pandemic ‘new normal’: a cleaner, greener, fairer and safer world. This book brings together researchers, commentators, activists and writers to bear witness to the current crisis. 

Livewired: The inside story of the ever-changing brain by David Eagleman          $37
How can a blind person learn to see with her tongue or a deaf person learn to hear with his skin? What does a baby born without a nose tell us about our sensory machinery? Might we someday control a robot with our thoughts? And what does any of this have to do with why we dream? The answers to these questions are not right in front of our eyes; they're right behind our eyes. This book is not simply about what the brain is, but what it does. Covering decades of research to the present day, Livewired also presents new findings from Eagleman's own research, including new discoveries in synaesthesia, dreaming and wearable neurotech devices that revolutionise how we think about the senses.

Metazoa: Animal minds and the birth of consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith         $38
From the human being to the octopus, the shark to the humble sea squirt, all animals are physical beings made up entirely of cells. And yet they can think, to varying degrees. How did this come to be? How did a mind first grow from the matter that is the body? And at what stage did that clump of cells become a 'self'? From the author of Other Minds

Hoffman argues that how we see the world is determined by our species's imperative t survive, and that this means not only that our world view may be very different from beings with different survival imperatives, but also may contain a large number of useful errors, or once-useful errors, that may no longer be so useful at all. What we see is determined more by our minds than by actuality: evolution has shaped our perceptions into simplistic illusions to help us navigate the world around us. Interesting. 

Diary of a Young Naturalist by Dara McAnulty        $37
From spring and through a year in his home patch in Northern Ireland, 15-year-old Dara spent the seasons writing. These vivid, evocative and moving diary entries of his intense connection to the natural world, and his perspective as a teenager juggling exams and friendships alongside a life of campaigning. "In writing this book," Dara explains, "I have experienced challenges but also felt incredible joy, wonder, curiosity and excitement. In sharing this journey my hope is that people of all generations will not only understand autism a little more but also appreciate a child's eye view on our delicate and changing biosphere."

Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald           $38
Animals don't exist to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves. From the acclaimed author of H is for Hawk comes Vesper Flights, a collection of essays about the human relationship to the natural world. Macdonald brings together a collection of her best-loved pieces, along with new essays on topics and stories ranging from nostalgia and science fiction to the true account of a refugee's flight to the UK, and from accounts of swan upping on the Thames to watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary to seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk's poplar forests. She writes about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds' nests, what we do when we watch wildlife and why.
On Time and Water by Andri Snaer Magnason            $40
Icelandic author and activist Andri Snaer Magnason's 'Letter to the Future', an extraordinary and moving eulogy for the lost Okjokull glacier, made global news and was shared by millions. Now he attempts to come to terms with the issues we all face in his new book On Time and Water. Magnason writes of the melting glaciers, the rising seas and acidity changes that haven't been seen for 50 million years. These are changes that will affect all life on earth. 
"The love child of Chomsky and Lewis Carroll." —Rebecca Solnit
"A cerebral tale, well told and unabashedly philosophical. It is dark, funny and grim." —The New York Times 
Music is filled with mathematical elements. The works of Bach are often said to possess a math-like logic, and Arnold Schoenberg, Iannis Xenakis, and Karlheinz Stockhausen wrote music explicitly based on mathematical principles. Yet Eli Maor argues that it is music that has had the greater influence on mathematics, not the other way around.

For most of human history, celestial cycles drove every aspect of our daily lives. Our innate relationship with the stars shaped who we are—our religious beliefs, power structures, scientific advances, and even our biology. But over the last few centuries we have separated ourselves from the universe that surrounds us—and that disconnection comes at a cost. Marchant guides us through history and around the globe and reveals the richness of humanity's relationship with the heavens. 

In the Company of Crows and Ravens by John M. Marzluff      $55
From the cave walls at Lascaux to the last painting by Van Gogh, from the works of Shakespeare to those of Mark Twain, there is clear evidence that crows and ravens influence human culture. Yet this influence is not unidirectional, say the authors of this fascinating book: people profoundly influence crow culture, ecology, and evolution as well.

The Weil Conjectures: On maths and the pursuit of the unknown by Karen Olsson        $40
When Olsson came across the letters between the mathematician André Weil and his sister, the philosopher Simone Weil, she was struck by the way in which, between them, they grappled with the differences (and similarities) between abstract thought and practical approaches to life. What is the relationship between analytical and creative thought? 

99 Variations on a Proof by Philip Ording          $55
An exploration of mathematical style through 99 different proofs of the same theorem. This book offers a multifaceted perspective on mathematics by demonstrating 99 different proofs of the same theorem. Each chapter solves an otherwise unremarkable equation in distinct historical, formal, and imaginative styles that range from Medieval, Topological, and Doggerel to Chromatic, Electrostatic, and Psychedelic. With a rare blend of humor and scholarly aplomb, Philip Ording weaves these variations into an accessible and wide-ranging narrative on the nature and practice of mathematics. A wonderful book, the mathematical equivalent of Raymond Queneau's Elements of Style

Explaining Humans: What science can tell us about life, love, and relationships by Camilla Pang         $38
Through a set of scientific principles, this book examines life's everyday interactions including: Decisions and the route we take to make them; Conflict and how we can avoid it; Relationships and how we establish them; Etiquette and how we conform to it. Looking at human behaviour from her place on the autism spectrum has enabled Pang to present an  original and incisive exploration of human nature and the strangeness of social norms, written from the outside looking in.
Winner of the 2020 Royal Society Science Book Prize. 
Hope in Hell: A decade to confront the climate emergency by Jonathon Porritt        $33
"Brave and unflinching in setting out the reality of the hell towards which we're headed, but even more urgent, passionate and compelling about the grounds for hope if we change course fast enough, Hope in Hell is a powerful call to arms from one of Britain's most eloquent and trusted campaigners." —Caroline Lucas

How the Brain Lost its Mind: Sex, hysteria and the riddle of mental illness by Allan Ropper and B.D. Burrell         $33
In 1882, Jean-Martin Charcot was the premiere physician in Paris, having just established a neurology clinic at the infamous Salpetriere Hospital, a place that was called a 'grand asylum of human misery'. Assessing the dismal conditions, he quickly set up to upgrade the facilities, and in doing so, revolutionised the treatment of mental illness. Many of Carcot's patients had neurosyphilis (the advanced form of syphilis), a disease of mad poets, novelists, painters, and musicians, and a driving force behind the overflow of patients in Europe's asylums. The trend of neurology at the time, though, led towards hypnosis and the treatment of the mind and away from medicine and the treatment of the brain. Does the relationship between psychology and neurology mirror that between the mind and the body? 

When wildlife researcher Jonathan Slaght was a young Peace Corps volunteer in the Russian Far East, he caught a brief glimpse of a Blakiston's fish owl. It was the furthest south the species had been documented in over a hundred years, and a chance encounter that would change his life. In Owls of the Eastern Ice, Slaght tells the story of his decades-long quest to safeguard the world's largest owl from extinction in Primorye, a remote Russian province dominated by Ussuri taiga forest, the only place in the world where brown bears, tigers and leopards co-exist.
Nature, Stilled by Jane Ussher            $70
Astounding images of the natural history collections at Te Papa, from the award-winning photographer. Lavish and giftable. 

The Road to Conscious Machines: The story of A.I. by Michael Woolridge            $40
The ultimate dream of artificial intelligence is to build machines that are like us: conscious and self-aware. While this remains a remote possibility, rapid progress on AI in this century is already profoundly changing our world. Yet the public debate and media hype is still largely centred on unlikely prospects from sentient machines to dystopian robot takeovers.These anxieties distract us from the more immediate risks that this transformative technology poses — from algorithmic bias to fake news. 

The Mathematics of the Gods and the Algorithms of Men by Paolo Zellini         $40
Is mathematics a discovery or an invention? Have we invented numbers or do they truly exist? What sort of reality should we attribute to them? Mathematics has always been a way of understanding and ordering the world: from sacred ancient texts and pre-Socratic philosophers to twentieth-century logicians such as Russell and Frege and beyond.

No comments:

Post a Comment