Friday 12 November 2021


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, or e-mail us: we have many other interesting books on our shelves.

Across the Pass: A collection of tramping writing edited by Shaun Barnett          $45

For generations, New Zealanders have taken to the hills and into the forests on foot to find out more about this land, its flora and fauna, themselves, and their companions. This book presents a wide gathering of writing concerned with tramping — from journals to yarns to poetry, from articles to fiction to songs — and captures something unique in the experience of Aotearoa. Sits well on a shelf alongside Laurence Fearnley’s and Paul Hersey’s To the Mountains: A Collection of New Zealand Alpine Writing

I am an Island by Tamsin Calidas           $37
When Tamsin Calidas first arrives on a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides, it feels like coming home. Disenchanted by London, she and her husband left the city and high-flying careers to move the 500 miles north, despite having absolutely no experience of crofting, or of island life. It was idyllic, for a while. But as the months wear on, the children she'd longed for fail to materialise, and her marriage breaks down, Tamsin finds herself in ever-increasing isolation. Injured, ill, without money or friend she is pared right back, stripped to becoming simply a raw element of the often harsh landscape. But with that immersion in her surroundings comes the possibility of renewal. 

How to Be Animal: A new history of what it means to be human by Melanie Challenger           $33
Humans are the most inquisitive, emotional, imaginative, aggressive and baffling animals on the planet. But how well do we really know ourselves? How to Be Animal writes a remarkable story of what it means to be human and argues that at the heart of our psychology is a profound struggle with being animal. As well as piecing together the mystery of how this psychology evolved, the book examines the wide-reaching ways in which it affects our lives, from our politics to the ways we distance ourselves from other species.
“Melanie Challenger’s wonderful book teaches me this: our blazing continuity with the depth of time and the whole of life. It is a huge, complex and triumphant thing: challenging, but also celebratory, courageous, mournful and apprehensive. Her language is lovely: exact and lyrical and sparklingly full of suggestion and implication. It is a hymn to generosity. I know it will be something I will return to again and again.” —Adam Nicholson
Birds: An anthology edited by Jacqueline Mitchell, illustrated by Eric Fitch Daglish          $40
Arranged by bird, these literary excerpts and poems from classic and modern writers are accompanied by striking woodcuts. A very attractive hardback volume. 

Around the World in 80 Plants by Jonathan Drori and Lucille Clerc       $45
 In his follow-up to the equally fascinating and beautiful Around the World in 80 Trees, Jonathan Drori takes another trip across the globe, bringing to life the science of plants by revealing how their worlds are intricately entwined with our own history, culture and folklore. From the seemingly familiar tomato and dandelion to the eerie mandrake and Spanish 'moss' of Louisiana, each of these stories is full of surprises. Some have a troubling past, while others have ignited human creativity or enabled whole civilisations to flourish.

The Light Ages: A medieval journey of discovery by Seb Falk          $30 
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.

This is a book about abandoned places: exclusion zones, no man's lands, ghost towns and post-industrial hinterlands – and what nature does when we're not there to see it. Exploring some of the eeriest, most desolate places in the world, Cal Flyn asks: what happens after humans pick up and leave? Whether due to war or disaster, disease or economic decay, each extraordinary place visited in this book has been left to its own devices for decades. In this time, nature has been left to work unfettered – offering a glimpse of how abandoned land, even the most polluted regions of the world, might offer our best opportunities for environmental recovery.

Featherhood by Charlie Gilmour         $30
Gilmour's developing relationship with a magpie leads him to deeply consider his relationship with his father, anarchist poet and absconder Heathcote Williams, and also Williams's relationship with a jackdaw. What repeats across generations? Can birds 'run in the blood'? What else 'runs in the blood'?
"The best piece of nature writing since H is for Hawk, and the most powerful work of biography I have read in years." —Neil Gaiman
"Wonderful - I can't recommend it too highly." —Helen Macdonald

Tree Sense: Ways of thinking about trees edited by Susette Goldsmith          $37
As climate change imposes significant challenges on the natural world we are being encouraged to plant trees. At the same time, urban intensification and expansion threatens our existing arboreal resources and leads to disputes among communities, councils and developers over the fate of mature trees. To find our way through this confusion, we need to build our respect for trees and to recognise their essential role in our environment, our heritage, our well-being and our future. We need to build a 'tree sense'. This collection of essays, art and poetry by artists, activists, ecologists and advocates discusses the many ways in which humans need trees, and how our future is laced into their roots and their branches. Includes contributions from Huhana Smith, Mels Barton, Elizabeth Smither, Philip Simpson, Anne Noble, Kennedy Warne, Meredith Robertshawe, Glyn Church, Jacky Bowring, and Colin Meurk.
>>Have a look inside the book
What do we know, and how do we know it? What do we now know that we don't know? And what have we learnt about the obstacles to knowing more? In a time of deepening battles over what knowledge and truth mean, these questions matter more than ever. Grayling seeks to answer them in three crucial areas at the frontiers of knowledge — science, history, and psychology. In each area he illustrates how each field has advanced to where it is now, from the rise of technology to quantum theory, from the dawn of humanity to debates around national histories, from ancient ideas of the brain to modern theories of the mind. A remarkable history of science, life on earth, and the human mind itself.
50,000 years ago, we were not the only species of human in the world. There were at least four others, including the Neanderthals, Homo floresiensis, Homo luzonesis and the Denisovans. At the forefront of the latter's discovery was Oxford Professor Tom Higham. In this book he explains the scientific and technological advancements—in radiocarbon dating and ancient DNA, for example—that allowed each of these discoveries to be made, enabling us to be more accurate in our predictions about not just how long ago these other humans lived, but how they lived, interacted and live on in our genes today. 
In the company of bats, owls, moths and seabirds, Annette Lees guides us from dusk to dawn with fascinating night stories: tales of war stealth and ghosts; nights lit by candles and lighthouses; night surfing, fishing, diving and skiing; mountain walking and night navigation on ocean voyaging waka. From the author of Swim

Piripai by Leila Lees             $39
Piripai is natural history as prose poetry. It is a story of place, time and a subtle coming of age on the sand dunes between the river and the sea. The book is structured around twenty-six birds that inhabited Piripai, and ordered according to the time of year, beginning in spring and ending in winter. It is suffused with observation and memory, conveyed in a stripped-back style that both evokes and abstracts. Through the eyes of the book's three characters we learn about their family, their culture, their birds and the rough, beautiful land they call home.

Long unavailable and now completely revised and extended, this wonderful well-illustrated book is the definitive guide to the alpine regions that comprise so much of New Zealand. An essential book (even if you already have the earlier edition). 

Walking in the Woods by Yoshifumi Miyazaki         $28
"It is clear that our bodies still recognize nature as our home." —Yoshifumi Miyazaki. 'Forest bathing' or Shinrin-yoku is a way of walking in the woods that was developed in Japan in the 1980s. It brings together ancient traditions with cutting edge environmental health science.

Conversātiō: In the company of bees by Anne Noble          $60
"To fear the sting of a bee and know the sweetness of honey." Renowned New Zealand photographer Anne Noble has become increasingly fascinated with bees: their social complexity, their otherness, their long importance to humans, and the clarity with which they raise the alarm over environmental stress and degradation. This beautifully presented and idiosyncratic book displays Noble's bee photographs, at once sensitive and stunning, and helps us to think in new ways about the bees with which we share our world.
>>Look inside.

This is Your Mind on Plants: Opium, coffee, mescaline by Michael Pollan           $40
Of all the many things humans rely on plants for, surely the most curious is our use of them to change consciousness—to stimulate, calm, or completely alter, the qualities of our mental experience. In This Is Your Mind On Plants, Michael Pollan explores three very different drugs - opium, caffeine, and mescaline - and throws the fundamental strangeness of our thinking about them into sharp relief. Exploring and participating in the cultures that have grown up around these drugs, while consuming (or in the case of caffeine, trying not to consume) them, Pollan reckons with the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants, and the equally powerful taboos. Why are some drugs encouraged by governments and others restricted?
How to Live a Good Life: A guide to choosing your personal philosophy edited by Massimo Pigluicci, Skye Cleary and Daniel Kaufman         $38
This thought-provoking collection brings together essays by fifteen philosophers reflecting on what it means to live according to a philosophy of life. From Eastern philosophies (Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism), to classical Western philosophies (such as Aristotelianism and Stoicism), to the four major religions, as well as contemporary philosophies (such as existentialism and effective altruism), each contributor offers a lively, personal account of how they find meaning in the practice of their chosen philosophical traditions.

Fox & I: An uncommon friendship by Catherine Raven        $38
A solitary woman's inspiring, moving, surprising, and often funny memoir about the transformative power of her unusual friendship with a wild fox. Catherine Raven left home at 15, fleeing an abusive father and an indifferent mother. Drawn to the natural world, she worked as a ranger in national parks, at times living in her run-down car on abandoned construction sites, or camping on a piece of land in Montana she bought from a colleague. She managed to put herself through college and then graduate school, eventually earning a PhD in biology and building a house on her remote plot. Yet she never felt at home with people. Except when teaching, she spoke to no one. One day, she realised that a wild fox that had been appearing at her house was coming by every day precisely at 4.15. He became a regular visitor, eventually sitting near her as she read to him. Her scientific training had taught her not to anthropomorphise animals, but as she grew to know him, his personality revealed itself - and he became her friend. But friends cannot always save each other from the uncontained forces of nature. Though this is a story of survival, it is also a poignant and dramatic tale of living in the wilderness and coping with inevitable loss. 
The Unseen Body: A doctor's journey through the hidden wonders of human anatomy by Jonathan Reisman           $38
Through his offbeat adventures in healthcare and travel, Reisman discovers new perspectives on the body: a trip to the Alaskan Arctic reveals that fat is not the enemy, but the hero; a stint in the Himalayas uncovers the boundary where the brain ends and the mind begins; and eating a sheep's head in Iceland offers a lesson in empathy. By relating his experiences in far-flung lands and among unique cultures back to the body's inner workings, he shows how our organs live inextricably intertwined lives in an internal ecosystem that reflects the natural world around us.
Helgoland by Carlo Rovelli        $45
In June 1925, twenty-three-year-old Werner Heisenberg, suffering from hay fever, retreated to a small, treeless island in the North Sea called Helgoland. It was there that he came up with one of the most transformative scientific concepts—quantum theory. Almost a century later, quantum physics has given us many startling ideas—ghost waves, distant objects that seem magically connected to each other, cats that are both dead and alive. At the same time, countless experiments have led to practical applications that shape our daily lives. Today our understanding of the world around us is based on this theory. And yet it is still profoundly mysterious. In this book, Carlo Rovelli tells the story of quantum physics and reveals its deep meaning—a world made of substances is replaced by a world made of relations, each particle responding to another in a never ending game of mirrors.
>>Other excellent books by Rovelli
How I Became a Tree by Sumana Roy            $50
"I was tired of speed. I wanted to live tree time." Drawn to trees' wisdom, their nonviolent way of being, their ability to cope with loneliness and pain, Roy movingly explores the lessons that writers, painters, photographers, scientists, and spiritual figures have gleaned through their engagement with trees—from Rabindranath Tagore to Tomas Tranströmer, Ovid to Octavio Paz, William Shakespeare to Margaret Atwood. Her stunning meditations on forests, plant life, time, self, and the exhaustion of being human evoke the spacious, relaxed rhythms of the trees themselves.

Being You: A new science of consciousness by Anil Seth           $37
Consciousness is the great unsolved mystery in our scientific understanding of the brain. Somewhere, somehow, inscribed in the brain is everything that makes you you. But how do we grasp what happens in the brain to turn mere electrical impulses into the vast range of perceptions, thoughts and emotions we feel from moment to moment? Anil Seth charts the developments in our understanding of consciousness, revealing radical interdisciplinary breakthroughs that must transform the way we think about the self. Drawing on his original research and collaborations with cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, brain imagers, virtual reality wizards, mathematicians and philosophers, he puts forward a new theory about how we experience the world that should encourage us to view ourselves as less apart from and more a part of the rest of nature. 
"Beautifully written, crystal clear, deeply insightful." —David Eagleman
Raised in the forests of British Columbia, Simard was working in the forest service when she first discovered how trees communicate underground through an immense web of fungi, at the centre of which lie the Mother Trees — the mysterious, powerful entities that nurture their kin and sustain the forest. 

Kindred: Neanderthal life, love, death, and art by Rebecca Wragg Sykes          $40
Neanderthals became a distinct population 450,000 to 400,000 thousand years ago, and lived all over the world from north Wales to China and Arabia, in climates ranging from glacial to tropical, until about 40,000 years ago. They were shorter than we are, with strong arms for working hides and fine motor skills for making small tools, but probably saw, heard, smelled and possibly even spoke much like we do. With a sketch and a short piece of fiction at the start of each chapter, Wragg Sykes paints a vivid picture of life as lived by a Neanderthal parent, hunter or child. She doesn’t just want us to see Neanderthals for who they (probably) really were; she wants us to see their world through their eyes.
In this impressive reassessment Neanderthals emerge as complex, clever and caring, with a lot to tell us about human life." —Guardian
Edith Widder grew up wanting to become a marine biologist. But after complications from surgery caused her to go temporarily blind while at university, she became fascinated by light, and her focus turned to bioluminescence. On her first visit to the deep ocean, in an experimental diving suit that took her to a depth of 250 metres, she turned off the suit's lights and witnessed breathtaking explosions of bioluminescent activity. Why was there so much light down there? Below the Edge of Darkness takes readers deep into the mysteries of the oceans as Widder investigates one of nature's most widely used forms of communication. She reveals hidden worlds and a dazzling menagerie of creatures, from microbes to leviathans—many never before seen or, like the giant squid, never before filmed.
New Zealand Seabirds: A natural history by Kerry-Jayne Wilson      $50
Definitively describes the different groups of seabirds, where in New Zealand they occur, their breeding biology, foods and foraging behaviours, the conservation threats they face, and the vast distances they often travel to feed and breed.

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