Thursday 31 December 2020

BOOKS @ VOLUME #210 (31.12.20)

Click through to read the last newsletter of the year.

VOLUME will reopen on 5 January. 

Thank you for being part of our book community in 2020 (an unusual year...). Best wishes, everyone, for 2021!


Colouring My Soul by Kat Maxwell           $25
Maxwell's remarkably raw and direct stories and spare, effective style evoke a childhood in a whānau marked by deprivation, misfortune and strength. 
"I write because my stories bruise my brain until they’re written. They fell out of my fingers one day after I had been nostalgic remembering my childhood and my aunties, my nanny and my koro, and all my cousins."
“Kat Maxwell writes vividly and with raw emotion. She’s inside her world, she knows how it works, her stories are brave and bare.”—Maurice Gee
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The last interview and other conversations           $36
Ginsburg details her rise from a Brooklyn public school to becoming the second woman on the United States Supreme Court, and her non-stop fight for gender equality along the way. Besides telling the story behind many of her famous court battles, she also talks openly about motherhood and her partnership with her beloved husband, her Jewishness, her surprising friendship with her legal polar opposite Justice Antonin Scalia, her passion for opera, and offers advice to high school students wondering about the law. 
Letters of Denis Glover selected and edited by Sarah Shieff           $80

"Oh Christ, a bloody ½ witted student, for purposes of an essay, has just come in to ask me what I and Baxter write verse for, and if we mean what we say, or is there something deeper; could we write better verse in England, or here; or do the critics and professors just read a lot into what’s said that isn’t there? So much. And I have been very rude indeed." – Letter to John Reece Cole, 16 August 1949

The Imaginary Museum by Ben Eastham             $23
With the help of a cast of critics, guards, curators, artists, protestors and ghosts, Eastham explores the idea that the value of art is not to be found in what it means, but in what it does to you.
“The Imaginary Museum is the most inventive writing on art I’ve read in a long while. By inviting us into his made-up institution, Ben Eastham opens up a space for reflection on how contemporary art helps us make sense of ourselves and the world around us. This is a brilliant book – a museum in the form of a parable.”  —Lauren Elkin
“Ben Eastham is a critic with intelligence, verve and delirious wit, and in this essay he makes a lovely experiment with art criticism: proposing contemporary art as a charmed space for us all to explore a radical and comical subjectivity – flâneurs freed from the illusion of connoisseurship.” —Adam Thirlwell

The 99% Invisible City: A field guide to the hidden world of everyday design by Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt           $60
The most effective design is often the design that we don't notice, the design of the objects, spaces and systems we use every day. This fascinating book helps us to appreciate the world around us in new ways. 
Must I Go by Yiyun Li             $48
Lilia Liska is 81. She has shrewdly outlived three husbands, raised five children and seen the birth of seventeen grandchildren. Now she has turned her keen attention to a strange little book published by a vanity press—the diary of a long-forgotten man named Roland Bouley, with whom she once had a fleeting affair. Drawn into an obsession over this fragment of intimate history, Lilia begins to annotate the diary with her own, rather different version of events. Gradually she undercuts Roland's charming but arrogant voice with her sharply incisive and deeply moving commentary. She reveals to us the surprising, long-held secrets of her own life. And she returns inexorably to her daughter, Lucy, who took her own life at the age of 27. How does the past shape the future? How do we live in the face of the unanswerable? 
"This brilliant novel examines lives lived, losses accumulated, and the slipperiness of perception. Yiyun Li writes deeply, drolly, and with elegance about history, even as it's happening. She is one of my favorite writers, and Must I Go is an extraordinary book." —Meg Wolitzer
The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris          $40
Kindred in spirit to their previous collaboration The Lost Words but intriguingly new in form, pocket-sized gem The Lost Spells introduces another beautiful set of word-poems and artwork. 
Patti Smith — Camera Solo            $55
For more than four decades, Patti Smith has documented sights and spaces infused with personal significance. Her visual work possesses the same unfiltered, emotional quality prevalent in her poetry and music lyrics: their allure lies in their often dreamlike imagery; their modest scale belies their depth and power. Using either a vintage Land 100 or a Land 250 Polaroid camera, Patti Smith photographs subjects inspired by her connections to poetry and literature as well as pictures that honor the personal effects of those she admires or loves.

PANdemIC! Covid 19 shakes the world by Slavoj Žižek        $30
We live in a moment when the greatest act of love is to stay distant from the object of your affection. When governments renowned for ruthless cuts in public spending can suddenly conjure up trillions. When toilet paper becomes a commodity as precious as diamonds. And when, according to Žižek, a new form of communism—the outlines of which can already be seen in the very heartlands of neoliberalism—may be the only way of averting a descent into global barbarism.
Solitude and Company: The life of Gabriel Garcia Marquez told with help from his friends, family, fans, arguers, fellow pranksters, drunks, and a few respectable souls by Silvana Paternostro               $37
Did Gabriel García Márquez survived his own self-creation?

Victors' Justice, From Nuremberg to Baghdad by Danilo Zolo             $33
An argument against the manipulation of international penal law by the West, combining historical detail, juridical precision and philosophical analysis. Zolo's key thesis is that contemporary international law functions as a two-track system—a made-to-measure law for the hegemons and their allies, on the one hand, and a punitive regime for the losers and the disadvantaged, on the other. Though it constantly advertised its impartiality and universalism, international law served to bolster and legitimize, ever since the Tokyo and Nuremberg trials, a fundamentally unilateral and unequal international order.
Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler, translated by Philip Boehm             $24
From a prison cell in an unnamed country run by a totalitarian government Rubashov reflects. Once a powerful player in the regime, mercilessly dispensing with anyone who got in the way of his party's aims, Rubashov has had the tables turned on him. He has been arrested and he'll be interrogated, probably tortured and certainly executed. 
This excellent new translation from Koestler's original, long-lost manuscript adds further dimension and nuance to this classic, hitherto known in English only in a rather inept and incomplete translation from 1940. 

Helen Garner's second volume of diaries charts a tumultuous stage in her life. Beginning in 1987, as she embarks on an affair that she knows will be all-consuming, and ending in 1995 with the publication of The First Stone and the bombshell that followed it, Garner grapples with what it means for her sense of self to be so entwined with another—how to survive as an artist in a partnership that is both thrilling and uncompromising.
Snake by Erica Wright           $22
Feared and worshiped in equal measure, snakes have captured the imagination of poets, painters, and philosophers for centuries. From Ice Age cave drawings to Snakes on a Plane, this creature continues to enthrall the public. But what harm has been caused by our mythologising? While considering the dangers of stigma, Erica Wright moves from art and pop culture to religion, fetish, and ecologic disaster. This book considers how the snake has become more symbol than animal, a metaphor for how we treat whatever scares us the most, whether or not our panic is justified.

Girl With a Sniper Rifle: An Eastern Front memoir by Yulia Zhukova         $35
Yulia was a dedicated member of the Komsomol (the Soviet communist youth organisation) and her parents worked for the NKVD. She started at the sniper school in Podolsk and eventually became a valued member of her battalion during operations against Prussia. She persevered through eight months of training before leaving for the Front on 24th November 1944 just days after qualifying. Joining the third Belorussian Front her battalion endured rounds of German mortar as well as loudspeaker announcements beckoning them to come over to the German side and witnessed Nazi atrocities as the war drew towards its end. 
I'm Your Fan: The Songs of Leonard Cohen by Ray Padgett       $22
When the tribute album by various artists I'm Your Fan was released in 1991, Cohen's popularity was at a low. Did this album of covers resuscitate his career?
There is a Britain that exists outside of the official histories and guidebooks—places that lie on the margins. This is the Britain of industrial estates, and tower blocks, of motorway service stations and haunted council houses, of roundabouts and flyovers, places where modern life speeds past but where people and stories nevertheless collect—places where human dramas play out: stories of love, violence, fear, boredom and artistic expression, places of ghost sightings, first kisses, experiments with drugs, refuges for the homeless, hangouts for the outcasts.  Struck by the power of these stories and experiences, Gareth Rees set out to explore these spaces and the essential part they have played in the history and geography of Britain. 

Sealand: The true story of the world's most stubborn micronation by Dylan Taylor-Lehman          $38
In 1967, retired army major and self-made millionaire Paddy Roy Bates inaugurated himself ruler of the Principality of Sealand on a World War II Maunsell Sea Fort near Felixstowe. Having fought off attacks from UK government officials and armed mercenaries for half a century—and thwarted an attempted coup that saw the Prince Regent taken hostage—the self-proclaimed independent nation still stands. It has its own constitution, national flag and anthem, currency, and passports. 
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong           $25
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery. A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette's first love—and first betrayal. But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can't stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.
14 ngā Tohu Aroha ka Tukuna by Wayne Youle          $20
When we’re apart from the ones we love, how do we get our kisses to them? We blow them! The blown kisses in this charming book travel far—tied to a rocket, attached to a pigeon, kicked like a rugby ball, and many other imaginative ways. Wayne Youle (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whakaeke, Ngāti Pākehā) lived in isolation for 14 days during the COVID-19 lockdown. He created 14 ways to share blown kisses with his sons.
Exit by Laura Waddell            $22
Exits are all around us. They are the difference between travelling and arriving, being on the inside or outside. Whether signposted or subversive, personal or political, choices or holes we've fallen through, exits determine how we move around our lives, cities, and the world. What does it really mean to 'exit'? In these meditations on exits in architecture, transport, ancestry, language, garbage, death, Sesame Street and Brexit, Laura Waddell follows the neon and the pictograms of exit signs to see what's on the other side. 
Best wishes for the new year!

Saturday 19 December 2020


Use the selector to choose 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.
List #1: FICTION
List #4: FOOD & DRINK

 We wish you all a happy and safe festive season, whether you are travelling or staying home, whether you are spending time with family and friends or alone. Whatever your situation, we wish you many excellent books. Thank you for being part of our book community in this unusual year.

Saturday 19 December: open 10 AM—1 PM
Sunday 20 December: closed
Monday 21 December—Wednesday 23 December: open 10 AM—4 PM
Thursday 24 December: open 10 AM—3 PM
Friday 25 December—Monday 28 December: closed
Tuesday 29 December—Thursday 31 December: open 10 AM—4PM
Friday 1 January—Monday 4 January: closed
Tuesday 5 January: normal hours resume

 BOOKS @ VOLUME #209 (18.12.20)

Read our latest newsletter.


We've been asked to name our FAVOURITE BOOKS OF 2020.
Click through to read our reviews. 
1. Dance Prone by David Coventry
2. The Harpy by Megan Hunter
3. Summer by Ali Smith

1. Minor Detail by Adania Shibli
2. The Appointment by Katharina Volckmer
3. Grove by Esther Kinsky

Friday 18 December 2020


Feline Philosophy: Cats and the meaning of life by John Gray           $45
The history of philosophy has been a predictably tragic or comical succession of palliatives for human disquiet. Thinkers from Spinoza to Berdyaev have pursued the perennial questions of how to be happy, how to be good, how to be loved, and how to live in a world of change and loss. But perhaps we can learn more from cats—the animal that has most captured our imagination—than from the great thinkers of the world.
>>Is philosophy a result of anxiety? 

Unquiet by Linn Ullmann          $37
He is a renowned Swedish filmmaker and has a plan for everything. She is his daughter, by the actress he directed and once loved. Each summer of her childhood, the daughter visits the father at his remote Faro island home on the edge of the Baltic Sea. Now that she's grown up—a writer, with children of her own—and he's in his eighties, they envision writing a book together, about old age, language, memory and loss. She will ask the questions. He will answer them. But it's winter now and old age has caught up with him in ways neither could have foreseen. And when the father is gone, only memories, images and words—both remembered and recorded—remain. Drawing on her own relationship with her father, Ingmar Bergman, this is a remarkably insightful piece of autofiction. 
"Linn Ullmann has written something of beauty and solace and truth. I don't know how she managed to sail across such dangerous waters." —Rachel Cusk
An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky           $45
Ever aware of the uneasy relationship between history and memory, Schalansky writes subtly of things, places, people and ideas that have a historical presence that no longer exists beyond memory. How should we think of extinction and loss? 
"The most wondrous book of the year: by taking what has vanished and turning it into a great piece of literature, the author has performed a magical act." —Die Zeit
"Schalansky treats each of the 12 objects cataloged in her new book with an almost religious awe, like a believer giving herself up to be inhabited by spirits." —LARB
Divorcing by Susan Taubes          $37
Dream and reality overlap in a book in which divorce is not just a question of a broken marriage but names a rift that runs right through the inner and outer worlds of Sophie Blind, its brilliant but desperate protagonist. Can the rift be mended? Perhaps in the form of a novel, one that goes back from present-day New York to Sophie's childhood in pre-World War II Budapest, that revisits the divorce between her Freudian father and her fickle mother, and finds a place for a host of further tensions and contradictions in her present life. The question that haunts Divorcing, however, is whether any novel can be fleet and bitter and true and light enough to gather up all the darkness of a given life. 
22 Minutes of Unconditional Love by Daphne Merkin        $45
Swept off her feet by Howard, everything Judith does is now about him: He calls her at work, instructs her on what to wear to dinner, and takes control of her body and sexuality with complete ownership. Judith becomes dependent on the push-pull of their sexual entanglement and on Howard's attention and approval, convinced she's found the man of her dreams. Until, that is, she understands he's the man of her nightmares: hostile, reckless, and manipulative, he seems intent on obliterating any sense of self and autonomy that Judith possesses. Escaping Howard's grasp—and her own perverse enjoyment of being under his control—becomes her mission. Merkin's new novel is deeply and often painfully insightful. 
>>See also the excellent Enchantment
Tātai Whetū: Seven Māori momen poets in translation edited by Maraea Rakuraku and Vana Manasiadis       $20
A ground-breaking bilingual poetry collection, which features a poem each by seven Māori women writers, originally written in English, and a translation in Māori. The two version of the poems are presented on facing pages. Featuring Anahera Gildea, Michelle Ngamoki, Tru Paraha, Kiri Piahana-Wong, Maraea Rakuraku, Dayle Takitimu and Alice Te Punga Somerville. The poems have been translated by Hēmi Kelly, Te Ataahia Hurihanganui, Herewini Easton, Jamie Cowell, Vaughan Rapatahana and Dayle Takitimu.
In 1807, Parliament outlawed the slave trade in the British Empire, but for the next quarter of a century, despite heroic and bloody rebellions, more than 700,000 people in the British colonies remained enslaved. And when a renewed abolitionist campaign was mounted, making slave ownership the defining political and moral issue of the day, emancipation was fiercely resisted by the powerful 'West India Interest'. Supported by nearly every leading figure of the British establishment—including Canning, Peel and Gladstone, The Times and Spectator—the Interest ensured that slavery survived until 1833 and that when abolition came at last, compensation was given not to the enslaved but to the slaveholders, entrenching the power of their families to shape modern Britain to this day. An important revision. 
Māori Philosophy: Indigenous thinking from Aotearoa by Georgina Tuari Stewart          $30
Addresses core philosophical issues including Maori notions of the self, the world, epistemology, the form in which Maori philosophy is conveyed, and whether or not Maori philosophy has a teleological agenda.

The Force of Non-Violence by Judith Butler           $33
Judith Butler's new book shows how an ethic of nonviolence must be connected to a broader political struggle for social equality. Further, it argues that nonviolence is often misunderstood as a passive practice that emanates from a calm region of the soul, or as an individualist ethical relation to existing forms of power. But, in fact, nonviolence is an ethical position found in the midst of the political field. An aggressive form of nonviolence accepts that hostility is part of our psychic constitution, but values ambivalence as a way of checking the conversion of aggression into violence. Butler draws upon Foucault, Fanon, Freud and Benjamin to consider how the interdiction against violence fails to include lives regarded as ungrievable, and tracks how violence is often attributed to those who are most severely exposed to its lethal effects.
Venice: The lion, the city and the water by Cees Nooteboom        $50
With his many decades of intimacy both with the city and its place in history, art, literature and thought, Nooteboom manages to evoke new dimensions of understanding of this unique city. 
"Nooteboom has achieved the impossible: to say something new about the ageless city about which everything has been said." —Alberto Manguel
Semicolon: How a misunderstood punctuation mark can improve your writing, enrich your reading, and even change your life by Cecelia Watson            $20
Hated by Stephen King, Hemingway, Vonnegut and Orwell, and loved by Herman Melville, Henry James and Rebecca Solnit, the semicolon is the most divisive punctuation mark in the English language, and many are too scared to go near it. But why? When is it effective? Have we been misusing it? Should we even care?

American Utopia by David Byrne and Maira Kalman           $53
A joyful collaboration between old friends David Byrne and Maira Kalman, American Utopia offers readers an antidote to cynicism, bursting with pathos, humanism, and hope, featuring Byrne's words and lyrics brought to life with more than 150 of Kalman's colorful paintings. David Byrne's American Utopia was a hit Broadway show before becoming a documentary from Spike Lee. The four-color artwork, by Maira Kalman, which she created for the Broadway show's curtain, is composed of small moments, expressions, gestures, and interactions that together offer a portrait of daily life and coexistence.
William Softkey and the Purple Spider by C.F. (Christopher Fourges)         $40
Buried deep under sand sits a library the size of a small city, owned by the eerily powerful Mr. Wish and protected by roving bands of toughs and lethal sentient vehicles. When a small but heavy interdimensional spider demands access to the vault, poor William Softkey, with assistance from the gravity-experimenter Gigglewindow sisters, is hired to deal with the problem. Rendered in the artist's trademark stark linework—against a backdrop of paranoid techno-fantasy, strange emblematic beings, and woozy halftone patterns—William Softkey and the Purple Spider is a dreamy comic narrative with strange appeal. 

Friday 11 December 2020


BOOKS @ VOLUME #208 (11.12.20)

Our latest newsletter!


>> Read all Stella's reviews.


A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa   {Reviewed by STELLA}
“Perhaps the past is always trembling inside the present, whether or not we sense it.” Irish poet’s Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s debut novel is a triumph of obsession, self-reflection and love. Obsessed with the eighteenth-century poet Eibhlín Dubh Ní Chonaill, a young mother negotiates her desire to unpick the mystery of this woman as she navigates the daily tasks of her life. “I try to distract myself in my routine of sweeping, wiping, dusting, and scrubbing. I cling to all my little rituals. I hoard crusts.” Out of small spare moments, car trips to historic sites (houses, cemeteries and libraries) with her youngest child and late-night searches on her phone the shape of Eibhlín Dubh’s life is constructed or more accurately imagined. Who was she? What happened to her? Why can this woman’s life not be tracked while her father's, husband's and sons’ lives can? At the heart of the story is a poem—a lament—written by Eibhlín Dubh for her husband Art O’Leary slain by the orders of the  English magistrate. “Trouncings and desolations on you, ghastly Morris of the treachery”. The poem becomes a touchstone for the narrator, a place where she can rest, where she can dream—imagine the world of this other woman who is dealing with loss, a woman who is resolute and tough, who will not lie down nor succumb to expectation from either her family nor the authorities. A Ghost in the Throat questions the telling of history—the invisibility of female voices. Scattered throughout the novel is the phrase “This is a female text”, making us aware that stories are told and histories revealed in other ways, through the body and its scars, through cloth and object, through the tasks that make us human, through the words that are sometimes unsaid and in the margins where many do not look. As the narrator discovers the poet, she frees herself along with this woman trapped in time and neglect.  Ní Ghríofa writes with bewitching clarity as she describes the daily grind, with dreamlike essence in the moments of childhood memory—the longing and discovery—with realist angst about entering adulthood and motherhood, and with compelling atmosphere as the narrator unpicks the past. Rich in content and language, A Ghost in the Throat is both a scholarly endeavour and an autofiction—endlessly curious and achingly beautiful.


 >> Read all Thomas's reviews. 


Tropisms by Nathalie Sarraute   {Reviewed by THOMAS}
In biology, the directional response of a plant’s growth either towards or away from an external stimulus that either benefits or harms it is termed tropism. Nathalie Sarraute, in this subtly astounding book, first published in 1939, applies the term to her brief studies of ways in which humans are affected by other humans beneath the level of cognitive thought. In these twenty-four pieces she is interested in describing “certain inner ‘movements’, which are hidden under the commonplace, harmless appearances of every instant of our lives. These movements, of which we are hardly cognisant, slip through us on the frontiers of consciousness, in the form of undefinable, extremely rapid sensations. They hide behind our gestures, beneath the words we speak. They constitute the secret source of our existence.” We are either attracted or repulsed by the presence of others, though attraction and repulsion are indistinguishable at least in the degree of connection they effect, we are either benefitted or harmed by others, or both at once (which is much more harmful), but we cannot act upon or even acknowledge our impulses without making intolerable the life we have striven so hard to make tolerable in order to survive. Neurosis may be a sub-optimal functional mode, but it is a functional mode all the same. We wish to destroy but we fear, rightly, being also destroyed. We sublimate that which would overwhelm us, preferring inaction to action for fear of the reaction that action would attract, but we cannot be cognisant of the extent to which this process forms the basis of our existence for such awareness would be intolerable. We must deceive ourselves if we are to make the intolerable tolerable, and we must not be aware that we so deceive ourselves. Such devices as character and plot, which we both apply to ‘real life’ and practise in the reading and writing of novels, are “nothing but a conventional code that we apply to life” to make it liveable. Sarraute’s brilliance in this book, which is the key to her other novels, and which constitutes an object lesson for any writer, is to observe and convey the impulses “constantly emerging up to the surface of the appearances that both conceal and reveal them.” Subliminal both in its observations and in its effects, the book suggests the urges and responses that form the understructure of relationships, unseen beneath the effectively compulsive conventions, expectations and obligations that comprise our conscious quotidian lives. Many of the pieces suggest how children are subsumed, overwhelmed and harmed by adults: “They had always known how to possess him entirely, without leaving him an inch of breathing space, without a moment’s respite, how to devour him down to the last crumb.” Sarraute is not interested here in character or plot, but in the unacknowledged impulses and responses that underlie our habits, attitudes and actions. Each thing emerges from, or tends towards, its opposite. All that is beautiful moves towards the hideous. Against what is hideous, something inextinguishable moves to rebel, to survive. ‘Tropism’ also suggests the word ‘trop’ in French, in the sense of ‘too much’. The ideas we have of ourselves are flotsam on surging unconscious depths in which there is no individuality, only impulse and response. Sarraute’s tropisms give insight into the patterns, or clustering tendencies, of these impulses and responses, and are written in remarkable, beautiful sentences. “And he sensed, percolating from the kitchen, squalid human thought, shuffling, shuffling in one spot, going round and round, in circles, as if they were dizzy but couldn’t stop, as if they were nauseated but couldn’t stop, the way we bite our nails, the way we tear off dead skin when we’re peeling, the way we scratch ourselves when we have hives, the way we toss in our beds when we can’t sleep, to give ourselves pleasure and to make ourselves suffer, until we are exhausted, until we’ve taken our breath away.”


This week's Book of the Week is the just-published collection of nineteen outstanding New Zealand graphic novelists' and comic artists' responses to the month-long lockdown with which the country eliminated Covid-19 transmission from the community. LOCKDOWN: STORIES FROM AOTEAROA presents a wide range of experiences in a wide range of graphic styles, all of which capture some aspect of our collective effort, trauma and hope, and some way in which we learned to look at our lives differently. The artists included are: Alex Cara, Hana Chatani, Li Chen, Miriama Grace-Smith, Sloane Hong, Ruby Jones, Sarah Laing, Sarah Lund, Toby Morris, Sharon Murdoch, Ross Murray, Ant Sang, Coco Solid, Anthony Stocking (Deadface Comics), Mat Tait, Jessica Thompson Carr (Māori Mermaid), Zak Waipara, Tokerau Wilson, and Jem Yoshioka.
>>We appreciated Sarah Laing's Covid-19 Diaries during lockdown
>>Toby Morris worked with Souxsie Wiles to bring us clear information and advice. 
>>Sharon Murdoch set the tone at the beginning of the lockdown
>>The book contains work by Mat Tait.
>>Rufus Marigold found that social distancing and face-masks relieved his social anxiety
>>Ruby Jones has also produced the Thanks from Iso project to express gratitude from returning New Zealanders in MIQ. 
>>Your copy of this book


Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu           $38
A unique novel about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping the roles we are forced to play. Willis Wu doesn't perceive himself as a protagonist even in his own life: He's merely Generic Asian man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but he is always relegated to a prop. Yet every day he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. He's a bit player here, too, but he dreams of being Kung Fu Guy—the most respected role that anyone who looks like him can attain. At least that's what he has been told, time and time again. Except by one person, his mother. Who says to him: Be more. 
Winner of the 2020 US National Book Award for Fiction. 
"One of the funniest books of the year has arrived, a delicious, ambitious Hollywood satire." —The Washington Post 
"Fresh and beautiful. Interior Chinatown represents yet another stellar destination in the journey of a sui generis author of seemingly limitless skill and ambition." —Jeff VanderMeer, The New York Times Book Review
On Photographs by David Campany        $75
Is it possible to describe a photograph without interpreting it? Can a viewer ever be as dispassionate as the mechanism of a camera? And how far can a photographer's intentions determine responses to their image, decades after it was made? These are just a few questions that David Campany addresses in On Photographs. Campany explores the tensions inherent to the photographic medium — between art and document, chance and intention, permanence and malleability of meaning — as well as the significance of authorship, performance, time and reproduction. Rejecting the conventions of chronology and the heightened status afforded to 'classics' in traditional accounts of the history of the medium, Campany's selection of photographs is a personal one — mixing fine art prints, film stills, documentary photographs, fashion editorials and advertisements. 
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.
Lockdown: Tales from Aotearoa          $35
19 outstanding graphic novelists and comic artists provide their takes on the New Zealand lockdown and the ways our lives have been changed by the unforeseen events of 2020. Alex Cara, Hana Chatani, Li Chen, Miriama Grace-Smith, Sloane Hong, Ruby Jones, Sarah Laing, Sarah Lund, Toby Morris, Sharon Murdoch, Ross Murray, Ant Sang, Coco Solid, Anthony Stocking (Deadface Comics), Mat Tait, Jessica Thompson Carr (Māori Mermaid), Zak Waipara, Tokerau Wilson, and Jem Yoshioka!
Tasty Treats: Easy cooking for children by  Adina Chitu and Elenia Beretta      $40
Appealing dishes nicely illustrated and very achievable. 

Karl Maughan edited by Hannah Valentine and Gabriella Stead        $80
For more than three decades, Karl Maughan has painted intricately painted gardenscapes, presenting idyllic yet unsettling enclosed spaces characterised by their claustrophobic and visually heightened atmosphere. 
Jacob's Ladder by Ludmilla Ulitskaya           $38
A twentieth-century family epic tracing the fates of an assimilating Jewish couple and their descendants through the maelstrom of Russian history. 
"Jacob’s Ladder dramatizes this Russian concept of sudba, the understanding of fate as a kind of prison we can never escape." —New York Times 
"A brilliant achievement by one of Russia’s greatest writers." —World Literature Today
Dark Matter; A guide to Alexander Kluge and Oskar Negt by Richard Langston           $43
Collaborators for more than four decades, lawyer, author, filmmaker, and multimedia artist Alexander Kluge and social philosopher Oskar Negt are an exceptional duo in the history of Critical Theory precisely because their respective disciplines operate so differently. Dark Matter argues that what makes their contributions to the Frankfurt School so remarkable is how they think together in spite of these differences.  At the core of all their adventures in gravitational thinking is a profound sense that the catastrophic conditions of modern life are not humankind's unalterable fate. In opposition to modernity's disastrous state of affairs, Kluge and Negt regard the huge mass of dark matter throughout the universe as the lodestar for thinking together with others, for dark matter is that absolute guarantee that happier alternatives to our calamitous world are possible.
Lark by Anthony McGowan          $17
Things are tense at home for Nicky and Kenny. Their mum's coming to visit and it will be the first time they've seen her in years. A lot has changed since they were little and Nicky's not so sure he's ready to see her again. When they head for a trek across the moors to take their minds off everything, a series of unforeseen circumstances leaves the brothers in a vulnerable and very dangerous position. There might even be a chance that this time not everyone will make it home alive. Exciting and well written.
Winner of the 2020 CILIP Carnegie Medal. 
"The clear, poetic prose in this affecting story about two brothers creates a perfectly pitched, moving tale which captures the humour and strength of their love for one another.  The characters are skilfully drawn making them realistic and believable.  There is an incredible sense of place when the boys are out on the moors, effectively conveying their fear and the dangers of their situation.  The growing sense of jeopardy and building tension is perfectly balanced with instances of humour and palpable brotherly love, making this a breath-taking read. The epilogue brings the story to a moving and powerful conclusion." —Judges' citation
>>McGowan talks about the book
The Seventh Mansion by Maryse Meijer         $35
An introverted young environmental activist forms a relationship with the ghost of a martyred fourth-century saint whose bones he steals from a church. 
"Meijer examines the ethics of environmental activism through the prism of teenage angst and idealism. At the heart of the book lie questions about what it means to live an ethical life under late-stage capitalism, including how best to love others. Meijer spins a contemporary fable of lust, devotion, and transgression that will challenge readers to examine all the ways they move through the world. A sensitive, nuanced meditation on radical politics, queerness, and the responsibility of care." —Kirkus
Who's Your Real Mum? by Bernadette Green and Anna Zobel           $30
When Nicholas wants to know which of Elvi's two mums is her real mum, she gives him lots of clues. Her real mum is a circus performer, and a pirate, and she even teaches spiders the art of web. But Nicholas still can't work it out! Luckily, Elvi knows just how to explain it to her friend.
Penguins and Polar Bears: Getting to know the Arctic and Antarctic by Alicia Klepeis and Grace Helmer     $48
We all know that ice bears and penguins never meet (except in zoos), but what else do you know about the Arctic and the Antarctic (or polar) regions? Did you know that Antarctica is not just the coldest, but also the driest continent on Earth? Have you ever wondered how a polar bear stays warm in the Arctic? Sitting on the most extreme North and South Poles are two of our planet's most mysterious regions, but what similarities and differences do they share? 
Mother for Dinner by Shalom Auslander          $38
Seventh Seltzer has done everything he can to break from the past, but in his overbearing, narcissistic mother's last moments he is drawn back into the life he left behind. At her deathbed, she whispers in his ear the two words he always knew she would: "Eat me." This is not unusual, as the Seltzers are Cannibal-Americans, a once proud and thriving ethnic group, but for Seventh, it raises some serious questions. Of practical concern, she's six-foot-two and weighs over 30 stone - even divided up between Seventh and his 11 brothers, that's a lot of red meat. Plus Second keeps kosher, Ninth is vegan and Sixth is dead. To make matters worse, even if he can wrangle his brothers together for a feast, the Can-Am people have assimilated and the only living Cannibal who knows how to perform the ancient ritual is their Uncle Ishmael, a far from reliable guide. Beyond the practical, Seventh struggles with the sense of guilt and responsibility he feels—to his mother, to his people and to his unique cultural heritage. His mother always taught him he was a link in a chain, stretching back centuries. But he's getting tired of chains.
The Little Book of Humanism: Universal lessons on finding purpose, meaning and joy by Alice Roberts and Andrew Copson        $25
2000 years of humanist wisdom, quotes and stories exploring what it means to lead an ethical and fulfilling life. "At the heart of humanism is the idea that humans can be deeply moral beings without having some external source of goodness to either impel or encourage them to behave well. Living a good life comes from you, from employing your own human faculties of reason and empathy and love.” —Alice Roberts
The Last Good Man by Thomas McMullan           $33
Fleeing the city, Duncan Peck seeks refuge in a village where the people can write accusations on a great wall and the accused are punished without the need for proof. 
"A troubling, uncanny and believable nightmare world. The Last Good Man is an original exploration of mob mentality and the increasingly blurred line between fact and opinion that dominates so much political and cultural discourse across the world today." —Irish Times
This beautiful book, photographed by Jane Ussher, surveys the New Zealand Maritime Museum’s collection and explores New Zealand maritime history through 100 fascinating and wide-ranging objects. From ship-building tools and yachting trophies, to menu cards from the glory days of ocean liners and exquisite model ships, it is a for all who love the sea, boats and ships, and all else that sails on the water.

Bunker: Building for the End Times by Bradley Garrett        $48
The bunker has become the extreme expression of our greatest fears: from pandemics to climate change and nuclear war. And once you look, it doesn't take long to start seeing bunkers everywhere. Garrett explores the global and rapidly growing movement of 'prepping' for social and environmental collapse, or 'Doomsday'. From the 'dread merchants' hustling safe spaces in the American mid-West to eco-fortresses in Thailand, from geoscrapers to armoured mobile bunkers, Bunker is a disturbing story from the frontlines of the way we live now: a reflection on our age of disquiet and dread. The bunker, Garrett shows, is all around us: in malls, airports, gated communities, the vehicles we drive. Most of all, it's in our minds.
Te Kai a te Rangatira: Leadership from the Māori world edited by Rawiri J. Tapiata, Renee Smith and Marcus Akuhata-Brown     $80
An exploration of Māori leadership – its origins and values, and the life experiences that nurture rangatiratanga, based on interviews with 100 elders and with striking portraits. 
>>Watch the trailer
The Rise and Fall of James Busby, His Majesty's British Resident in New Zealand by Paul Moon         $40
James Busby is known was the author of New Zealand's Declaration of Independence and a central figure in the early history of independent New Zealand as its British Resident from 1833 to 1840. Officially the representative of the British government in the volatile society of New Zealand in the 1830s, Busby endeavoured to create his own parliament and act independently of his superiors in London. This put him on a collision course with the British Government, and ultimately destroyed his career and left him caricatured as an inept, conceited and increasingly embittered person. This book draws on an extensive range of previously unused archival records to reconstruct Busby's life in much more intimate form, and exposes the back-room plotting that ultimately destroyed his plans for New Zealand. Moon aims to alter the way that Britain's colonisation of New Zealand is understood, and leave readers with an appreciation of how individuals, more than policies, shaped the Empire and its rule.
Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi     $23
"Makumbi’s collection of short stories reveals a thoughtful writer who quietly, engagingly, pierces the reality of relocating to Britain. Makumbi made the same journey from Uganda to Manchester that so many of her characters struggle with in this collection, which spans work from 2012 to the present day. Yet it never feels repetitive. Rather, Manchester Happened explores the emotional nuance of the immigrant experience." —Guardian
Winner of the Windham Campbell Prize
Common Ground: Garden hsitories of Aotearoa by Matt Morris         $45
While a lot of gardening books focus on the grand plantings of wealthy citizens, Morris explores the historical processes behind humble gardens—those created and maintained by ordinary people. From the arrival of the earliest Polynesian settlers carrying precious seeds and cuttings, through early settler gardens to 'Dig for Victory' efforts, he traces the collapse and renewal of home gardening culture, through the emergence of community initiatives to the recent concept of food sovereignty. Considering compost, Maori gardens, the suburban vege patch, the rise of soil toxin levels, the role of native plants and City Beautiful movements, Morris looks at the ways in which cultural meanings have been inscribed in the land through our gardening practices over time. 
14 Blown Kisses by Wayne Youle         $20
When we’re apart from the ones we love, how do we get our kisses to them? We blow them! The blown kisses in this charming book travel far—tied to a rocket, attached to a pigeon, kicked like a rugby ball, and many other imaginative ways. Wayne Youle (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whakaeke, Ngāti Pākehā) lived in isolation for 14 days during the COVID-19 lockdown. He created 14 ways to share blown kisses with his sons.