Friday 29 January 2021


The Sets by Victor Billot            $28
Dunedin poet Victor Billot finds in the South Pacific Ocean an oracle of the future and a keeper of our histories. The Sets begins with reflections on the domestic world and the fragility of the family and personal relationships that sustain us, the necessity and refuge of love, and the sometimes catastrophic effects of failure in these relationships. The collection then shifts towards political and social satire, punching out mashups of fake news and rogue algorithms that mix mordant wit with compressed rage at the banality of humanity's descent towards oblivion.
>>A political poet

The Philosopher Queens: The lives and legacies of philosophy's unsung women by Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting      $40
Featuring twenty women who have outstanding but often unseen in various fields of philosophy, this attractively illustrated book ranges through history and around the globe. 
>>Who taught Socrates? 

The Light Ages: A medieval journey of discovery by Seb Falk          $48
An interesting survey of the under-recognised scientific achievements of the Middle Ages, concentrating on the life and journeys of a real-life fourteenth century monk, John of Westwyk—inventor, astrologer, crusader—who was educated in England's grandest monastery and exiled to a clifftop priory.
Beneath the Night: How the stars have shaped the history of humankind by Stuart Clark      $33
From prehistoric cave art and Ancient Egyptian zodiacs to the modern era of satellites and space exploration, Stuart Clark explores a fascination shared across the world and throughout millennia. It is one that has shaped our scientific understanding; helped us navigate the terrestrial world; provided inspiration for our poets, artists and philosophers; and it has given us a place to project our hopes and fears. 
The Magnetic Fields by André Breton and Philippe Soupault, translated by Charlotte Mandell           $30
An excellent new translation of the 1919 foundational Surrealist text resulting from Breton's and Soupault's experiments with automatic writing and their desire to create a new literature and a new morality after the indictment of Western 'civilisation' manifest by devastation of World War One. 
"With distance, a sort of unity has established itself, and The Magnetic Fields have become the work of a single author with two heads. This double gaze has made it possible, as nothing else would, for Philippe Soupault and André Breton to push forward on the path where no one had preceded them, into these shadows where they were both speaking aloud." —Louis Aragon

Freeman's Love edited by John Freeman         $38
Is it possible that the greatest force in the world is love? asks John Freeman, former editor of Granta. Some excellent responses from eminent and emerging writers. Contents: 1: Introduction: John Freeman 2: Seven Shorts: Maaza Mengiste, Daniel Mendelsohn, Anne Carson, Mariana Enriquez, An Yu, Tommy Orange, Matt Sumell 3: "Heaven with a Capital H" / Mieko Kawakami 4: Postcard from New Mexico / Deborah Levy 5: Snowflake / Semezdin Mehmedinovic 6: Stone Love / Louise Erdrich 7: The Snowman / Daisy Johnson 8: Poet's Biography / Valzhyna Mort 9: Apples / Gunnhild Oyehaug 10: Exploding Cigar of Love / Sandra Cisneros 11: On a Stone Pillow / Haruki Murakami 12: How to Manage / Niels Fredrik Dahl 13: Good People / Richard Russo 14: High Fidelity / Robin Coste Lewis 15: Seams / Olga Tokarczuk 16: swan / Andrew McMillan 
What Can a Body Do? How we meet the built world by Sara Hendren         $50
Furniture and tools, kitchens and campuses and city streets—nearly everything human beings make and use is assistive technology, meant to bridge the gap between body and world. Yet unless, or until, a misfit between our own body and the world is acute enough to be understood as disability, we may never stop to consider—or reconsider—the hidden assumptions on which our everyday environment is built. 
Sleep Donation by Karen Russell           $24
An epidemic of insomnia has left America crippled with exhaustion. Thankfully the Slumber Corps agency provides a lifeline, transfusing sleep to sufferers from healthy volunteers. Recruitment manager Trish Edgewater, whose sister Dori was one of the first victims of the disaster, has spent the last seven years enlisting new donors. But when she meets the mysterious Donor Y and Baby A—whose sleep can be universally accepted—her faith in the organisation and in her own motives begins to unravel.
"Russell's ability to balance the quirky and the absurd with psychological acumen turns this unbelievable world into something more than dreamlike." —NPR
"Russell writes with such assurance and speed that she puts the reader under a spell for the duration of her story." —New York Times
"Russell turns an internal state into its own weather system." —Boston Globe
Prague Stories edited by Richard Bassett          $37
Stories, legends, and scenes from the city's past and present, from the Jewish fable of the golem to tales of German and Soviet invasions. The international array of writers ranges from Franz Kafka to Ivan Klima to Bruce Chatwin, and includes the  Tom Stoppard and Madeleine Albright, both of whom have Czech roots. The book covers the city's Jewish heritage, the glamour of the belle-epoque period, World War II, Communist rule, the Prague Spring, the Velvet Revolution, and beyond. 
Ekstedt: The Nordic art of analogue cooking by Niklas Ekstedt         $65
"With equal parts of birch wood and passion, we keep the flames alive. We cook all our ingredients over an open fire. Charcoal and smoke are our most powerful tools. No electric griddle, no gas stove - only natural heat, soot, ash, smoke and fire. We have chosen these ways to prepare our food as a tribute to the ancient way of cooking. At Ekstedt it is the flames that are superior."

Before mammals, there were dinosaurs. And before dinosaurs, there were cephalopods—the ancestors of modern squid, octopuses, and more creatures—Earth's first truly substantial animals. Essentially inventing the act of swimming, cephalopods presided over an undersea empire for millions of years—until fish evolved jaws, and cephalopods had to step up their game or risk being eaten. To keep up, some streamlined their shells and added defensive spines, while others abandoned the shell, opening the gates to a flood of evolutionary innovations: masterful camouflage, fin-supplemented jet propulsion, and intelligence we've yet to fully measure. 

The Running Book: A journey through memory, landscape and history by John Connell             $38
Connell sets off on a marathon run of 42.2 kilometers through his native Longford, the scene of his award-winning book The Cow Book. As he runs across woodlands, fields and tiny roads, he tells the story of his life and contemplates Ireland's history, old and new. He also remembers other great runs he has done, from Australia to Canada, tells the stories of some of his running heroes, and speculates on what it means to move through the landscape by foot. Told in 42 chapters, each another kilometer in the 42.2k race, the whole book is 42,000 words long and it captures what it is to undertake a marathon moment by moment, in body and mind. 
On April 24th 1915 Armenian intellectuals of the Ottoman Empire were arrested en masse marking the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. The following day, April 25th 1915, saw the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landing at Gallipoli. This book draws the connections between these two landmark historical events—the genocide of the minority Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire and the Anzac soldiers who fought at Gallipoli during World War I. Through eye witness accounts of ANZAC soldiers witnessing the genocide, to a history of the Australasian involvement in the international Armenian relief campaign, and enduring discussions around genocide recognition, James Robins explores the international political implications that this unexplored history still has today.
Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas        $23
The son of a drug king, seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter is negotiating life in Garden Heights as he balances school, slinging dope, and working two jobs while his dad is in prison. He’s got it all under control – until, that is, Mav finds out he’s a father. Suddenly he has a baby who depends on him for everything. This Gritty and important YA book tells the story of Starr's father from The Hate You Give

Nora by Nuala O'Connor           $34
An evocative novel of the life of Nora Barnacle, partner and muse of James Joyce, whose Ulysses is the novel of the day they met. 
"An exceptional novel by one of the most brilliant contemporary Irish writers, this is a story of love in all its many seasons, from ardent sexuality to companionable tenderness, through strength, challenge and courage. Nuala O’Connor has brought to vivid life a woman about whom every literature lover has surely wondered and has done so with immense skill and daring." —Joseph O’Connor
Four Seasons Cookery Book by Margaret Costa          $45
Hugely influential and admired, Costa's 1970 classic cookbook is now back in print. 
"If I had to choose only one book to cook from for the rest of my life it would be this one." —Nigel Slater

Like it or not, our lives are dominated by mathematics. Our daily diet of news regales us with statistical forecasts, opinion polls, risk assessments, inflation figures, weather and climate predictions and all sorts of political decisions and advice backed up by supposedly accurate numbers. Most of us do not even pause and question such figures even to ask what they really mean and whether they raise more questions than they answer.
"A wise, witty and insightful guide to clear thinking amid a deluge of percentages and probabilities." —Ian Stewart
The Language Lover's Puzzle Book by Alex Bellos          $33
Lexical perplexities and cracking conundrums from around the globe.

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