Friday 11 December 2020


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.

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