New books on popular music!

Memory Songs book cover

Check out some of these newly catalogued books on popular music. They include the unique studies of 60s music (You know what you could be : tuning into the 1960s) and the 90s (Memory songs : a personal journey into the music that shaped the 90s), as well as the two insightful books about Peter Gabriel.

Syndetics book coverYou know what you could be : tuning into the 1960s / Mike Heron & Andrew Greig.
“This singular book offers two harmonising memoirs of music making in the 1960s. Mike Heron for the first time writes vividly of his formative years in dour, Presbyterian Edinburgh. Armed with a love of Buddy Holly, Fats Domino and Hungarian folk music, he plays in school cloakrooms, graduates to rock, discovers the joy of a folk audience, starts writing songs, wishes he was a Beatnik all while training as a reluctant accountant. These entwined stories will delight anyone who has loved the Incredible String Band; and their differing portraits of that hopeful, erratic and stubborn stumble towards the life that is ours will strike a chord with everyone.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMemory songs : a personal journey into the music that shaped the ’90s / James Cook.
“This is the story of a music-obsessed boy’s journey from his bedroom in Hitchin to the heart of nineties London just as Britpop is about to explode. More than a memoir, Memory Songs stands as a testament to music’s power over the imagination, the way it punctuates our past and shapes our future. Woven through with meditations on the artists who defined the UK’s last legendary scene, it delivers a passionate analysis of the music that shaped a crucial moment in British cultural history.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA spy in the house of loud : New York songs and stories / Chris Stamey.
A Spy in the House of Loud vividly captures the energy that drove the music scene as arena rock gave way to punk and other new streams of electric music. Stamey tells engrossing backstories about creating in the recording studio, describing both the inspiration and the harmonic decisions behind many of his compositions, as well as providing insights into other people’s music and the process of songwriting. Photos, mixer-channel and track assignment notes, and other inside-the-studio materials illustrate the stories.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover3 kings : Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay Z, and hip-hop’s multibillion-dollar rise / Zack O’Malley Greenburg.
“Tracing the careers of hip-hop’s three most dynamic stars, this deeply reported history brilliantly examines the entrepreneurial genius of the first musician tycoons: Diddy, Dr. Dre, and Jay-Z. These men are the modern embodiment of the American Dream, but their stories as great thinkers and entrepreneurs have yet to be told in full. Based on a decade of reporting, and interviews with more than 100 sources, 3 Kings tells the fascinating story of the rise and rise of the three most influential musicians in America.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHip hop raised me / by DJ Semtex ; foreword, Chuck D.
Hip Hop Raised Me is the definitive volume on the essence, experience, and energy that is hip hop, and its massive and enduring impact over the last forty years. It’s packed with contact sheets, outtakes, and glory shots of artists, collectives, and fans from iconic photographers including Martha Cooper, Henry Chalfant, Eddie Otchere, Normski, Janette Beckman, Chi Modu, Nabil Elderkin, and Mark Humphrey, as well as photographs of hip-hop ephemera and vinyl courtesy of specialist collectors.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAll gates open : the story of Can / Rob Young & Irmin Schmidt.
All Gates Open presents the definitive story of arguably the most influential and revered avant-garde band of the late twentieth century: CAN. It consists of two books.In Book One, Rob Young gives us the full biography of a band that emerged at the vanguard of what would come to be called the Krautrock scene in late sixties Cologne. Book Two, Can Kiosk, has been assembled by Irmin Schmidt, founding member and guiding spirit of the band, as a ‘collage – a technique long associated with CAN’s approach to recording. CAN were unique, and their legacy is articulated in two books in this volume with the depth, rigour, originality, and intensity associated with the band itself. (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSiren song : my life in music / Seymour Stein with Gareth Murphy.
“Seymour Stein is America’s greatest record man. Not only has he signed and nurtured more important artists than anyone alive, over sixty years in the game, but he’s still the hippest label head, travelling the globe in search of the next big thing. Since the late fifties, Stein’s been wherever it’s happening: Billboard, Tin Pan Alley, The British Invasion, CBGB, Studio 54, Danceteria, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the CD crash. Along that winding path, Stein discovered and broke out a skyline full of stars: Madonna, The Ramones, Talking Heads, Depeche Mode, Madonna, The Smiths, The Cure, Ice-T, Lou Reed, Seal, and many others. Seymour Stein is a legend. Sung from the heart, Siren Song will etch his story in stone.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWithout frontiers : the life and music of Peter Gabriel / Daryl Easlea.
“Peter Gabriel rose to fame as the lead vocalist and flautist of the progressive rock group Genesis. After leaving Genesis, Gabriel went on to a successful solo career. The book details his time as lead singer of Genesis from its inception until he went out on his own in 1975 as a singer-songwriter, soundtrack composer, and innovator in music videos and digital music recording and distribution. It examines how he became well known as an anti-Apartheid activist for his efforts to bring different styles of international music to the attention of the West by establishing the WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) Festival.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPeter Gabriel : global citizen / Paul Hegarty.
Peter Gabriel offers nuanced and trenchant insight into this enigmatic, questing musician and his works, into an artist whose constant traveling–through identities, influences, and media–defines him as one of modern culture’s truly global citizens. At the heart of Paul Hegarty’s analysis is the idea of locatedness: what it means to be in a specific place at a given time, and to reflect on that time and the changes which inevitably occur.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThis thing called life : Prince, race, sex, religion, and music / Joseph Vogel.
“What were Prince’s politics? What did he believe about God? And did he really forsake the subject- sex- that once made him the most subversive superstar of the Reagan era? In this illuminating, thematic biography, Joseph Vogel explores the issues that made PRince one of the late 20th century’s most unique, controversial, and fascinating artists.” (book jacket)

Recent parenting picks!

Have a browse of our latest selection of parenting books — including the new collection from New Zealand blogger Emily Writes, as well as some thought provoking memoirs, and (as always!) books to help parents navigate the tricky task of raising children.

Is it bedtime yet? : parenting … the hilarious, the hair-raising, the heart-breaking / Emily Writes and friends
“The experience of parenthood is different for everyone. And every day can be different too. Read a hilarious and moving collection of perspectives from the well-loved Emily Writes and her friends. Some of them are experienced writers, others have put pen to paper for the first time. If it takes a village to raise a child, then this writing comes from the whole village. Yet every experience is a real one, and you will feel the joy, the horror, the love and the heart-ache as you read about birthday parties, vasectomies, hugs, hospitals and, of course, sleepless nights.” (Catalogue)

The yes brain : how to cultivate courage, curiosity, and resilience in your child / Siegel, Daniel J.
“When facing contentious issues such as screen time, food choices, and bedtime, children often act out or shut down, responding with reactivity instead of receptivity. This is what New York Times bestselling authors Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson call a No Brain response. But our kids can be taught to approach life with openness and curiosity. When kids work from a Yes Brain, they’re more willing to take chances and explore. They’re more curious and imaginative. They’re better at relationships and handling adversity. In The Yes Brain, the authors give parents skills, scripts, and activities to bring kids of all ages into the beneficial “yes” state.” (Catalogue)

101+ baby hacks : essential tips & tricks for every parent / Rafferty, Margaret
“Being a mum is a full-time job, and can sometimes seem a little overwhelming, especially for first-time parents. With 101 Baby Hacks we share with you all our time-tested shortcuts to make the parenthood journey easier – from simple tricks to get your little ones to sleep, practical advice to make meal times easier and smart advice to keep your sanity in check. With ‘real life’ tips from other mums, 101 Baby Hacks makes the perfect gift for any new parent.” (Catalogue)

The self-driven child : the science and sense of giving your kids more control over their lives / Stixrud, William R.
“A few years ago, Bill Stixrud and Ned Johnson started noticing the same problem from different angles: Even high-performing kids were coming to them acutely stressed and lacking motivation. Many complained they had no control over their lives. Some stumbled in high school or hit college and unraveled. Bill is a clinical neuropsychologist who helps kids gripped by anxiety or struggling to learn. Ned is a motivational coach who runs an elite tutoring service. Together they discovered that the best antidote to stress is to give kids more of a sense of control over their lives. But this doesn’t mean giving up your authority as a parent. In this groundbreaking book they reveal how you can actively help your child to sculpt a brain that is resilient, and ready to take on new challenges.” (Catalogue)

Breaking mum and dad : the insider’s guide to parenting anxiety / Williamson, Anna
“With more than 1 in 10 new parents experiencing post-natal depression and anxiety, and after suffering the traumatic birth of her son, and herself being diagnosed with post-natal anxiety and birth trauma, Anna Williamson uncovers the real thoughts, feelings and behaviours that many of us experience in those first few weeks and months after becoming a parent. Breaking Mum and Dad is a little pocket guide of empathy, sympathy and above all, hope.” (Catalogue)

The mumsition : your friendly companion to the first year of motherhood / Mohan, Isabel
“Becoming a mum (i.e. your mumsition) is one of the biggest things that you’ll ever go through. That’s why the milestones in this book aren’t just about your baby smiling or walking or sleeping through the night for the first time, but everything YOU’RE going through too: the first time you manage to leave the house, the first time you get on a bus with your little one and the first time you have sex again. The Mumsition is clued-up without being judgemental or patronising, funny without trying too hard and sympathetic and supportive without being saccharine. From the moment you go on maternity leave until your baby’s first birthday, this book has got your back.” (Catalogue)

Part-time working mummy : a patchwork life : tales of heartache, hope and humour for every kind of family / Hambleton, Rachaele
“Want to know the truth about what life is like as a mum and step-mum with a chaotic patchwork family? This book is everything I’ve been through that’s made me who I am, plus the lessons I’ve learned from many mistakes. I hope that it will make you laugh as well as give you strength to keep going when times get tough. After all, we are all in this together.” (Catalogue)

Raising boys in the 21st century / Biddulph, Steve
“First published in 1995, Raising Boys was an instant bestseller and to date has sold over a million copies world wide. Few books have stayed in the hearts and minds of parents everywhere as much as Raising Boys. Now in an increasingly complicated and nuanced world, raising boys to become emotionally strong, kind and resilient men is even more important and relevant. In response to calls from parents around the world Steve Biddulph has completely updated and revised his seminal work to include all the latest international information and advice for parents on all the key issues of today. Enjoy your boy, love him well, and set him free to fly in his own special way.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Raising Rosie : our story of parenting an intersex child / Lohman, Eric
“When their daughter Rosie was born, Eric and Stephani Lohman found themselves thrust into a situation they were not prepared for. Born intersex – a term that describes people who are born with a variety of physical characteristics that do not fit neatly into traditional conceptions about male and female bodies – Rosie’s parents were pressured to consent to normalizing surgery on Rosie, without being offered any alternatives despite their concerns. Part memoir, part guidebook, this powerful book tells the authors’ experience of refusing to have Rosie operated on and how they raised a child who is intersex. The book looks at how they spoke about the condition to friends and family, to Rosie’s teachers and caregivers, and shows how they plan on explaining it to Rosie when she is older. This uplifting and empowering story is a must read for all parents of intersex children.” (Catalogue)

Voice lessons for parents : what to say, how to say it, and when to listen / Mogel, Wendy
“Renowned speaker, parenting expert, and New York Times bestselling author Dr. Wendy Mogel offers an essential guide to the new art of talking to children, showing how a change in tone and demeanor can transform the relationship between parent and child. Most parents are perfectly fine communicators — unless they’re talking to their children. Then, too often, their pitch rises and they come across as pleading, indignant, wounded, outraged. In tone and body language they signal, I can’t handle it when you act like a child. Dr. Wendy Mogel saw this pattern time and again in her clinical practice. In response, she developed a remarkably effective series of “voice lessons,” which she shared with parents who were struggling with their kids. The results were immediate: a shift in vocal style led to children who were calmer, listened more attentively, and communicated with more warmth, respect, and sincerity.” (Catalogue)

Anna Burns has won the 2018 Man Booker Prize

Anna Burns has won the 2018 Man Booker Prize with her unique take on the troubles in Northern Ireland.  Her novel Milkman has been praised for its distinctive voice and dark humour. She is the first Northern Irish writer to receive the prize. Its portrayal of a divided society in which a man uses these troubles to sexually pursue a young woman has been lauded. Anna Burns manages to deal with major, serious issues that can be found in many cultures in a common sense fashion that also contains elements of humour.

The book has been described as “incredibly original” by the Booker’s chair of judges, the philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah. The novel’s themes whilst local also manage to cover the same experiences in a universal fashion. Anna Burns said of her life changing Booker win, “It’s nice to feel I’m solvent. That’s a huge gift.”

Milkman / Burns, Anna
“Written in a perfectly-rendered Irish vernacular Set in an un-named city but with an astonishing, breath-shorteningly palpable sense of time and place Milkman is a tale of gossip and hearsay, silence and deliberate deafness. The story of inaction with enormous consequences and decisions that are never made, but for which people are judged and punished.

Middle sister is our protagonist. She is busy attempting to keep her mother from discovering her nearly-boyfriend and to keep everyone in the dark about her encounter with milkman (which she herself for the life of her cannot work out how it came about). But when first brother-in-law, who of course had sniffed it out, told his wife, her first sister, to tell her mother to come and have a talk with her, middle sister becomes ‘interesting’. The last thing she ever wanted to be. To be interesting is to be noticed and to be noticed is dangerous…” (Catalogue)

The Butler in the Library with the Candlestick: Our Selection of this Month’s Best Mystery Novels

Mystery of 3 Quarters book cover

The suspects are hazy, the motives uncertain and the murder weapon is in doubt: none the less, I suspect the butler in the library with the candlestick! This month’s fictional sleuths solve their crime puzzles in a dazzling variety of ways, from the classic stylings of Sophie Hannah’s new Hercule Poirot mystery to the gritty Tartan Noir of Lin Anderson’s Sins of the Dead.

Sins of the dead / Anderson, Lin
“While illegally street racing in the underground tunnels of Glasgow, four Harley Davidson riders make a horrifying discovery. A dead man left in the darkness, hands together on his chest as if peacefully laid to rest. The cause of death unclear, the only clues being a half glass of red wine, and a partially eaten chunk of bread by his side that echo the ancient religious practice of sin-eating. Called to the scene, forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod is perplexed by the lack of evidence. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The angel in the glass / Clare, Alys
“Physician-sleuth Dr Gabriel Taverner uncovers dark secrets in his small Devon village in the second of this intriguing historical mystery series: June, 1604. When the emaciated body of a vagrant is found on the edge of the moor, it’s the verdict of physician Gabriel Taverner that the man died of natural causes – but is all as it seems? Who was the dead man, and why had he come to the small West Country village of Tavy St Luke’s to die cold, sick and alone? With no one claiming to have known him, his identity remains a mystery.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Dark queen rising / Doherty, P. C
“The Wars of the Roses are reaching their bitter and bloody climax. Edward of York has claimed the English throne, and his supporters are extracting a savage revenge on all who supported the Lancastrian cause. Surrounded by enemies wherever she turns, the position of Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and mother to Henry Tudor, the last remaining hope of the House of Lancaster, is precarious to say the least. When four bodies are discovered in a London tavern, their throats slit, and Margaret herself is suspected of being behind the crime, it’s up to Ulswicke to prove his mistress’s innocence and unmask the real killer.” (Adapted from Catalogue).

Keeper / Gustawsson, Johana
“Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror. London, 2015: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of 10 years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings. Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015: a woman’s mutilated body is found in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes locked up, do the new killings mean he has an accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose? Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells are again drawn into an intriguing case with personal links.” (Catalogue)

The mystery of three quarters : the new Hercule Poirot mystery / Hannah, Sophie
“Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met. Poirot has also never heard of a Barnabas Pandy, and has accused nobody of murder. Shaken, he goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him – a man who also claims also to have received a letter from Poirot that morning, accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy… Poirot wonders how many more letters of this sort have been sent in his name. More importantly, who is Barnabas Pandy, is he dead, and, if so, was he murdered? And can Poirot find out the answers without putting more lives in danger?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Walking shadows / Kellerman, Faye
“Who would savagely kill two innocent men? With a little help from his wife Rina, Detective Peter Decker must use all of his skills to put the pieces of this deadly puzzle together… before the murderer strikes again. Detective Decker and his wife risk life and limb to solve a pair of brutal murders that may be tied to a crime from more than twenty years ago in this intense and addictive mystery from New York Times bestselling author Faye Kellerman. .”(Adapted from Catalogue)

Murder mile / La Plante, Lynda
“Four brutal murders, a city living in fear, a killer on the streets…Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison returns in the 4th book in the bestselling Tennison series, from the doyenne of crime fiction.” (Catalogue)

Leverage in death / Robb, J. D.
“Lieutenant Eve Dallas puzzles over a bizarre suicide bombing in a Manhattan office building in the latest in the #1 New York Times bestselling series… In this next installment of Robb’s mega-best-selling futuristic police procedural, NYPSD lieutenant Eve Dallas investigates when marketing VP Paul Rogan walks into a big Wall Street mergers meeting strapped with explosives and blows the place sky-high. He was forced to act by masked men holding his family hostage, but their goal is murky.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A shot in the dark : a Constable Twitten mystery / Truss, Lynne
“The charming first novel in a new comic crime series, from one of Britain’s most-loved writers, the incomparable Lynne Truss. It is 1957 in Brighton and Inspector Steine is rather enjoying his life as a policeman by the sea. No criminals, no crime, no stress. So it’s really rather annoying when an ambitious – not to mention irritating – new constable shows up to work and starts investigating a series of burglaries. And it’s even more annoying when, after Constable Twitten is dispatched to the theatre for the night, he sits next to a vicious theatre critic who is promptly shot dead part way through the opening night of a new play. It seems Brighton may be in need of a police force after all.” (Catalogue)

 

 

Sustainability and Environment Recent Picks

Turning the Tide book cover

A new NZ book called Eco Home heads the list this time. It is ‘packed with practical and accessible information’ (book jacket), and is very well illustrated with beautiful pictures of NZ homes.

Eco home : smart ideas for sustainable New Zealand homes / Williams, Melinda
“Presents the modern home by moving from room to room, to look at structural materials, furnishings and general life hacks to improve your personal green-star rating. As well as the living spaces (kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, office, living area, utility rooms and outdoor areas) it also looks at the wider issues – why make an eco home at all? Also covered are: principles of sustainable building, choosing a property, building a team of professionals, foundations and floors, the structure and the shell.” (Catalogue)

The honey factory : inside the ingenious world of bees / Tautz, Jürgen
“Bee hives might look like seething anarchy at first glance, but bees know exactly what they are doing. The universe of the beehive is an intricately organised, delicately balanced ecosystem. From the mighty queen to the lowliest worker bees, each bee plays its part in the whole. The Honey Factory plunges the reader into the invisible life of a bee colony and reveals the secrets of this fascinating world. How do worker bees come to a collective decision? What does the honey bees’ waggling dance communicate? What provokes the sexual excesses of the young queen bee? And why is the precious relationship between humans and bees a matter of species survival?” (Catalogue (adapted))

Waste not : make a big difference by throwing away less / Rhoads, Erin
“What if it were possible to live a modern life with less waste? That’s where Erin Rhoads, aka The Rogue Ginger, comes in. Erin knows that small changes can have a big impact. In Waste Not she shares everything she’s learnt from her own funny, inspiring–and far-from-perfect–journey to living with less waste. Including genuinely accessible and easy tips, this book is perfect for both the novice and the eco-aware.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Raise happy chickens : how to raise healthy chickens and other poultry in your outdoor space / Roberts, Victoria
Raise Happy Chickens is a quickly accessible but authoritative guide, suitable for total beginners, that provides all the information you need to start keeping your own chickens. Telling you which breed of bird lays best and providing useful guidance on housing, equipment and the necessities of day-to-day care, it meets all the needs of anyone who dreams of a garden full of happy, clucking birds. It also goes beyond just chickens to other types of poultry, and gives advice and practical guidelines on housing, with full explanation of key areas like welfare, behavior, and diet.” (Catalogue)

Small is necessary : shared living on a shared planet / Nelson, Anitra
“Amidst crisis and fragmentation, the need for sociable, practical and sustainable housing is manifest. For centuries now, economists and governments have been relentlessly focused on growth. Bigger is always better, it seems.
But on a planet of finite resources, something has to give. And that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. With Small Is Necessary, Anitra Nelson show how shared living can help us solve a wide range of the social, economic, and sustainability challenges that we face today. Detailing a number of innovative approaches to shared living, she reveals a new way to think about our place in the world, one that is outward-looking, culturally rich, and ecologically sustainable.” (Catalogue)

Wilding : the return of nature to a British farm / Tree, Isabella
“Forced to accept that intensive farming on the heavy clay of their land at Knepp in West Sussex was economically unsustainable, Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell made a spectacular leap of faith: they decided to step back and let nature take over. The Burrells’ degraded agricultural land has become a functioning ecosystem again, heaving with life – all by itself. In Wilding, Isabella Tree tells the story of the ‘Knepp experiment’ and what it reveals of the ways in which we might regain that wilder, richer country. It shows how rewilding works across Europe; that it has multiple benefits for the land; that it can generate economic activity and employment; how it can benefit both nature and us – and that all of this can happen astonishingly quickly.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Buzz : the nature and necessity of bees / Hanson, Thor
“Bees are like oxygen: ubiquitous, essential, and, for the most part, unseen… In Buzz,the award-winning author of Feathers and The Triumph of Seeds takes us on a journey that begins 125 million years ago, when a wasp first dared to feed pollen to its young. From honeybees and bumbles to lesser-known diggers, miners, leafcutters, and masons, bees have long been central to our harvests, our mythologies, and our very existence. They’ve given us sweetness and light, the beauty of flowers, and as much as a third of the foodstuffs we eat. And, alarmingly, they are at risk of disappearing.” (Catalogue)

How to grow & eat your own super foods / Dickinson, Becky
“In an age of clean eating and fad diets, the term super food has become synonymous with inflated prices and overstated claims about the disease-fighting, anti-aging, life-enhancing powers of certain foods. This lively, engaging book weeds out the hype and unearths the secrets of what makes a food a super food. Discover a wide array of fruits and vegetables all with their own super qualities, and learn how to sow and plant them yourself, free from chemicals and full of goodness.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Turning the tide on plastic : how humanity (and you) can make our globe clean again / Siegle, Lucy
“Enough plastic is thrown away every year to circle the world 4 times. More than 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the oceans each year. 300 million tonnes of new plastic is produced every year. An estimated 15-51 trillion pieces of plastic now litter the world’s oceans. 38.5 million plastic bottles are used every day in the UK. A million plastic bottles are used per minute around the world. 500 million plastic straws are used per year. Without big action, at the current rate, pieces of plastic will outnumber fish in the ocean by 2050. That is the legacy we are leaving our children and grandchildren.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Planting for honeybees : the grower’s guide to creating a buzz / Lewis, Sarah Wyndham
“Our gardens would be unrecognizable without the gentle buzz of the humble honeybee. Yet in recent years bee populations have suffered from th loss of green spaces and need our help. Planting for Honeybees is a charmingly illustrated, practical guide on how to help attract these delightful pollinators – whether you only have a city window ledge or a whole country garden.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Backstairs of History: The Best of Recent Biographies

I am, I am, I am Cover

Have you ever thought about writing your memoirs? Of course you have! And you don’t need to be a famous politician or a rock star or an eccentric billionaire to do it—some of the most radical (and successful) memoirs have been written by normal-ish human beings!

But perhaps you need a bit more encouragement? Never fear, below is a list of some of the best biographies of the last few years, and while, yes, there is a celebrity or two, there are ordinary people as well, and each of them have expanded the idea of what a memoir can accomplish—and whose voices need to be heard!

The beautiful struggle : a memoir / Coates, Ta-Nehisi
“With a remarkable ability to reimagine both the lost world of his father’s generation and the terrors and wonders of his own youth in 1980’s Baltimore, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers readers a small and beautiful epic about boys trying to become men in black America and beyond.” (Catalogue)

I am, I am, I am : seventeen brushes with death / O’Farrell, Maggie
“A terrifying encounter on a remote path. A mismanaged labour in an understaffed hospital. This is a memoir with a difference: seventeen encounters with Maggie at different ages, in different locations, reveal to us a whole life in a series of tense, visceral snapshots. It is a book to make you question yourself: what would you do if your life was in danger?” (Catalogue)

Hunger : a memoir of (my) body / Gay, Roxane
“Gay, who deals fearlessly with our hardest truths in both essays (the New York Times best-selling Bad Feminist) and fiction (An Untamed State, an LJ Best Book), here addresses issues of eating and self-image, then broadens her meditation on body as she examines violence against women, starting with a terrible incident in her youth.” (Catalogue)

Making rent in Bed-Stuy : a memoir of trying to make it in New York City / Harris, Brandon
“A young African American millennial filmmaker’s funny, sometimes painful, true-life coming-of-age story of trying to make it in New York City–a chronicle of poverty and wealth, creativity and commerce, struggle and insecurity, and the economic and cultural forces intertwined with ‘the serious, life-threatening process’ of gentrification.” (Catalogue)

Driving to Treblinka : a long search for a lost father / Wichtel, Diana
“When Diana Wichtel was 13 she moved to New Zealand with her mother, sister and brother. Her father was to follow. Diana never saw him again. Many years later she sets out to discover what happened to him.” (Catalogue)

You can’t touch my hair and other things I still have to explain / Robinson, Phoebe
“A hilarious and affecting essay collection about race, gender, and pop culture from celebrated stand-up comedian and WNYC podcaster Phoebe Robinson.” (Catalogue)

Wishful drinking / Fisher, Carrie
“In her first ever memoir, Carrie Fisher takes us on an intimate, hilarious and sobering journey through her life. Adapted from the sold-out one-woman show of the same name.” (Catalogue)

The good immigrant / Shukla, Nikesh (editor)
“Bringing together 21 exciting black, Asian and minority ethnic voices emerging in Britain today, The Good Immigrant explores why immigrants come to the UK, why they stay and what it means to be ‘other’ in a country that doesn’t seem to want you – but still needs you for its diversity monitoring forms.” (Catalogue)

This is going to hurt : secret diaries of a junior doctor / Kay, Adam
“As soon as Adam Kay set foot on a hospital ward for the first time, he realized there’s quite a lot they don’t teach you at medical school. His diaries from the NHS front line – scribbled in secret after long nights, endless days and missed weekends – are hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns.” (Catalogue)

Golden Age of Crime

A Different Kind of Evil cover

In 1930’s Britain an eclectic group of authors banded together to form The Detection Club. Some of the participants included Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, G K Chesterton and A A Milne. The members were all known for their literary excellence and were not shy of mining the darker side of human conduct. They wrote tales of mystery that have enthralled their audience from publication to current times. Their club oath defines what would become the style of the ‘Golden Age of Crime’:

To do and detect all crimes by fair and reasonable means; to conceal no vital clues from the reader; to honour the King’s English… and to observe the oath of secrecy in all matters communicated to me within the brotherhood of the club”

The gentle tropes perfected by the Golden Age writers has been reprised and honoured by modern authors using both style and characters. Referencing Agatha Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926, Andrew Wilson presents the ‘Dame of crime’ with mysteries of her own. Private detective Hercule Poirot is revived through the work of Sophie Hannah. Below are some classic titles and some new works that reference the style of the era:

Murder on the Orient Express / Christie, Agatha
“Agatha Christie’s most famous murder mystery, reissued with a striking new cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers. Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.” (Catalogue)

 

The complete Father Brown stories / Chesterton, G. K.
“Father Brown, one of the most quirkily genial and lovable characters to emerge from English detective fiction, first made his appearance in The Innocence of Father Brown in 1911. That first collection of stories established G.K. Chesterton’s kindly cleric in the front rank of eccentric sleuths. This complete collection contains all the favourite Father Brown stories, showing a quiet wit and compassion that has endeared him to many, whilst solving his mysteries by a mixture of imagination and a sympathetic worldliness in a totally believable manner.” (Catalogue)

Party girls die in pearls / Sykes, Plum
“Not rich and not glamorous, Oxford outsider Ursula Flowerbutton wants only to be left to her studies. But when she finds a classmate with her throat slashed, she’s quick to investigate. Determined to unravel the case and bag her first scoop for the famous student newspaper Cherwell Ursula enlists the help of her fellow Fresher, the glamorous American Nancy Feingold. While navigating a whirl of black-tie parties and secret dining societies, the girls discover a surfeit of suspects. From broken-hearted boyfriends to snobby Sloanes, lovelorn librarians to dishy dons, none can be presumed innocent.” (adapted from Catalogue)

A different kind of evil / Wilson, Andrew
“In January 1927 Agatha Christie sets sail on an ocean liner bound for the Canary Islands. She has been sent there by the British Secret Intelligence Service to investigate the death of one of its agents, whose partly mummified body has been found in a cave. Early one morning, on the passage to Tenerife, Agatha witnesses a woman throw herself from the ship into the sea. At first, nobody connects the murder of the young man on Tenerife with the suicide of a mentally unstable heiress. Yet, soon after she checks into the glamorous Taoro Hotel situated in the lush Orotava Valley, Agatha uncovers a series of dark secret” (Catalogue)

The mystery of three quarters : the new Hercule Poirot mystery / Hannah, Sophie
“The world’s most beloved detective, Hercule Poirot – the legendary star of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express and most recently The Monogram Murders and Closed Casket-returns in a stylish, diabolically clever mystery set in 1930’s London. Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met.” (Catalogue)

An act of villainy / Weaver, Ashley
“A gem filled with style, banter, and twists that traditional mystery fans will positively relish. With husband Milo, Amory Ames glides through 1930s London to the dress rehearsal of a new play directed by friend Gerard Holloway. Unfortunately, Gerard has cast his mistress, Flora Bell, in the lead (Amory is friends with his wife), and he wants her to figure out who’s sending threatening letters to Flora. Curtains up for another charmer from Louisiana librarian Weaver.” (Catalogue)

Four funerals and maybe a wedding / Bowen, Rhys
“Star amateur sleuth of the 1930s-set Royal Spyness Mystery series, Lady Georgiana Rannoch is getting ready to walk down the aisle and is offered her godfather’s fully staffed country estate as a home. But the staff don’t seem very trustworthy, and the gas leak in her bedroom doesn’t seem like an accident.” (Catalogue)

 

New popular non-fiction books

Fight Like a Girl book cover

Another small, perfect book from BWB Texts begins our list today, False Divides written by Lana Lopesi.

False divides / Lopesi, Lana
“Te Moana Nui a Kiwa is the great ocean continent. While it is common to understand ocean and seas as something that divides land, for those Indigenous to the Pacific or the Moana, it was traditionally a connector and an ancestor. Imperialism in the Moana, however, created false divides between islands and separated their peoples. In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, these connections are becoming visible again, partly through the use of globalising technologies. In this BWB Text, Lana Lopesi argues that while colonisation created divisions across Te Moana Nui a Kiwa, the adaptability of Moana peoples is now turning the ocean back into the unifying continent that it once was.” (Catalogue)

That F word : growing up feminist in Aotearoa / Marvelly, Elizabeth
“Lizzie Marvelly tells the story of New Zealand’s feminist roots, then traverses the modern landscape, tearing apart areas of gender imbalance and pervading attitudes to Kiwi women. Lizzie speaks about her own first-hand experiences with sexism and male misconduct, while also offering advice to young girls on how to take full control of their lives…” (Catalogue (adapted))

What to read and why / Prose, Francine
“In an age defined by hyper-connectivity and constant stimulation, Francine Prose makes a compelling case for the solitary act of reading and the great enjoyment it brings. Inspiring and illuminating, What to Read and Why includes selections culled from Prose’s previous essays, reviews, and introductions, combined with new, never-before-published pieces that focus on her favorite works of fiction and nonfiction, on works by masters of the short story, and even on books by photographers like Diane Arbus…” (Catalogue (adapted))

Value of everything : making and taking in the global economy / Mazzucato, Mariana
“A scathing indictment of our current global financial system, The Value of Everything rigorously scrutinizes the way in which economic value has been accounted and reveals how economic theory has failed to clearly delineate the difference between value creation and value extraction. Mariana Mazzucato argues that the increasingly blurry distinction between the two categories has allowed certain actors in the economy to portray themselves as value creators, while in reality they are just moving around existing value or, even worse, destroying it…”-Publisher’s description.” (Catalogue (adapted))

The AI delusion / Smith, Gary
“Gary Smith argues that the real danger of artificial intelligence is not that computers are smarter than us, but that we think they are. Through many examples, Smith shows that human reasoning is fundamentally different from artificial intelligence, and it is needed more than ever. …Computers are very good at discovering patterns, but are useless in judging whether the unearthed patterns are sensible because computers do not think the way humans think…” (Catalogue (adapted))

Digital human : the fourth revolution of humanity includes everyone / Skinner, Chris
“This digitalisation of our planet is bringing about a major transformation. Everyone on the planet will soon be included in the network and everyone on the planet will get the chance to talk, trade and transact with everyone in real time. This book offers insight into a number of intriguing topics that stem from the digitalisation of humanity such as how bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are challenging government and control mechanisms and why the Chinese tech giants are more imaginative than their Western counterparts…”-Dust jacket.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Poverty safari : understanding the anger of Britain’s underclass / McGarvey, Darren
“Darren McGarvey has experienced poverty and its devastating effects first-hand. He knows why people from deprived communities all around Britain feel angry and unheard. And he wants to explain… This book takes you inside the experience of poverty to show how the pressures really feel and how hard their legacy is to overcome. Arguing that both the political left and right misunderstand poverty as it is actually lived, McGarvey sets out what everybody – including himself – could do to change things…” (Catalogue (adapted))

Emotional AI : the rise of empathic media / McStay, Andrew
“What happens when media technologies are able to interpret our feelings, emotions, moods, and intentions? In this cutting edge new book, Andrew McStay explores that very question and argues that these abilities result in a form of technological empathy. …Combining established theory with original analysis, this book will change the way students view, use and interact with new technologies. It should be required reading for students and researchers in media, communications, the social sciences and beyond.” (Catalogue (adapted))

The edge of memory : ancient stories, oral tradition and the post-glacial world / Nunn, Patrick D.
“In The Edge of Memory, Patrick Nunn explores the science in folk history. He looks at ancient tales and traditions that may be rooted in scientifically verifiable fact, and can be explored via geological evidence, such as the Biblical Flood. We all know those stories that have been told in our families for generations. The ones that start “Have I ever told you about your great, great Uncle …?” In some cultures these stories have been passed down for thousands of years, and often reveal significant information about how the surrounding environment has changed and the effect it has had on societies–from stories referring to coastal drowning to the devastation caused by meteorite falls. Geologists are now starting to corroborate the tales through study of climatic data, sediments and land forms; the evidence was there in the stories, but until recently, nobody was listening.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Plundering beauty : a history of art crime during war / Tompkins, Arthur
“The roll-call of mankind’s wars down the centuries is paralleled by an equally extensive catalogue of the theft, destruction, plundering, displacement and concealing of some of the greatest works of art. …The works of art involved have fascinating stories to tell, as civilization moves from a simple and brutal ‘winner takes it all’ attitude to the spoils of war, to contemporary understanding, and commitment to, the idea that a society’s artistic heritage truly belongs to all humankind”–Back cover.” (Catalogue (adapted))

Wolf boys : two American teenagers and Mexico’s most dangerous drug cartel / Slater, Dan
“What it like to be an employee of a global drug-trafficking organization? In the border town of Laredo, Texas, Gabriel and his friend Bart abandon promising futures for the allure of the Zetas, a drug cartel with roots in the Mexican military. Mexican-born Detective Robert Garcia has worked hard all his life and is now struggling to raise his family in America. As violence spills over the border, Detective Garcia pursuit of the boys, and their cartel leaders, puts him face to face with the urgent consequences of a war he sees as unwinnable. Slater shows the way in which the border itself is changing, disappearing, and posing new, terrifying, and yet largely unseen threats to American security.” (Catalogue)

Raising Rosie : our story of parenting an intersex child / Lohman, Eric
“When their daughter Rosie was born …intersex – a term that describes people who are born with a variety of physical characteristics that do not fit neatly into traditional conceptions about male and female bodies – Rosie’s parents were pressured to consent to normalizing surgery on Rosie, without being offered any alternatives despite their concerns. Part memoir, part guidebook, this powerful book tells the authors’ experience of refusing to have Rosie operated on and how they raised a child who is intersex. The book looks at how they spoke about the condition to friends and family, to Rosie’s teachers and caregivers, and shows how they plan on explaining it to Rosie when she is older…” (Catalogue (adapted))

Fight Like a Girl book coverFight like a girl / Ford, Clementine
An incendiary debut taking the world by storm, Fight Like A Girl is an essential manifesto for feminists new, old and soon-to-be, and exposes just how unequal the world is. Personal and fearless – a call to arms for feminists new, old and as yet unrealised by one of our most outspoken feminist writers.” (Catalogue)

New Classical CD Picks

In this week’s new classical music CD arrivals there are three interesting new recordings from Deutsche Grammophon:

Johann Sebastian Bach. Performed by Víkingur Ólafsson.
“Thirty-five tracks and just one name – Johann Sebastian Bach. This exceptional album may be devoted to a single composer, but it contains an astonishing range and variety of music. ‘There isn’t just one Bach,’ explains Víkingur Ólafsson… All of these many facets [of Bach] can be heard in Ólafsson’s performances here…” (CD insert).

Nightfall. Performed by Alice Sara Ott.
A compilation of piano pieces by Debussy, Satie and Ravel, the trio of early 20th century French composers. “Nightfall is that magical hour when day and night face each other and the sky descends into twilight. For a brief moment, light and darkness are in harmony and merge together…” (Alice Sara Ott, cover).

Symphony No. 2, ‘The Age of Anxiety’, Leonard Bernstein. Performed by the Berliner Philharmoniker.
“…when Leonard Bernstein celebrated his 70th birthday, he invited Krystian Zimerman to perform his Symphony No. 2 with him for the first time. After a fabulous concert Bernstein asked the pianist, ‘Will you play this piece with me when I’m 100?’ So here we are, more than 30 years later – Bernstein live from Berlin!” (cover).

Fresh Historical Fiction

The Silence of the Girls book cover

Here are some recent titles ranging from first time authors through to accomplished writers. Two authors bring ancient and more recent Chinese history to our library collection. A thin slice of heaven – Tiāntáng bópiàn by Paul Wah recounts a family tale of an emigration to New Zealand followed by a return to a changed homeland. A Hero born by Jin Yong and translated by Anna Holmwood – is the first title of the twelve volume epic Legends of the Condor. Jin Yong is the pen name of Louis Cha Leung-yung, one of the most widely read authors in China, with a plethora of film, TV and game adaptations for his works of the wuxia genre – martial arts chivalry. This epic details the rise of the different forms of martial arts and the sweeping territorial exchanges of 13th century China.

History is written by the victorious, or so the story goes, yet there are so many tales are hidden in the vast mesh of human history. Writers have been teasing these stories from research, family anecdotes and personal interest to bring previous eras vividly to life. Although these are fictional accounts, the reconstruction of historical places and people; personal and national politics help us understand our own times.

Pat Barker, renown for her Regeneration Trilogy has turned her mind to the legend of The Ilyad, Silence of the girls, places the reader in the experiences of the women during the Trojan War. Conn Iggulden also looks to ancient conflict in The Falcon of Sparta. There is also a new edition of Mary Renault’s Funeral Games which transports the reader to the time and place of the death of Alexander the Great, and features all that follows in the wake of the vacuum of a lost leader. Other titles leaf through the pages of history to bring you tales of intrigue from Georgian London, and also trials of new settlement in North America and Australia.

A thin slice of heaven / Wah, Paul
“A historical novel recounting the adventures of the author’s great-grandfather, Ng Leung Kee, who migrated to New Zealand in 1880 and set up a successful Chinese merchant business in Wellington. Ng Leung Kee returned to Tiansum, China in 1922, to take his grandson Leslie to receive a Chinese education. They faced significant challenges, including the kidnapping of Leslie by bandits, during a period of tumultuous political, economic and social conditions in China.” (Catalogue)

A hero born / Jin,Yong
“China: 1200 A.D. The Song Empire has been invaded by its warlike Jurchen neighbours from the north. On the Mongolian steppe, a disparate nation of great warriors is about to be united by a warlord whose name will endure for eternity: Genghis Khan. Guo Jing, son of a murdered Song patriot, grew up with Genghis Khan’s army. He is humble, loyal, perhaps not altogether wise, and is fated from birth to one day confront an opponent who is the opposite of him in every way: privileged, cunning and flawlessly trained in the martial arts.” (Catalogue)

The silence of the girls : a novel / Barker, Pat
“Briseis was a queen until her city was destroyed. Now she is slave to Achilles, the man who butchered her husband and brothers. Trapped in a world defined by men, can she survive to become the author of her own story? Discover the greatest Greek myth of all – retold by the witness history forgot.” (Catalogue)

Daughter of a daughter of a queen / Bird, Sarah
“Powerful, epic, and compelling, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen shines light on a nearly forgotten figure in history. Cathy Williams was born and lived a slave – until the Union army comes and destroys the only world she’s known. Separated from her family, she makes the impossible decision – to fight in the army disguised as a man with the Buffalo Soldiers.” (Catalogue)

Funeral games / Renault, Mary
“After Alexander’s death in 323 BC his only direct heirs were two unborn sons and a simpleton half-brother. Wives, distant relatives, and generals all vied for the loyalty of the increasingly undisciplined Macedonian army.” (Catalogue)

The optickal illusion : a very eighteenth-century scandal / Halliburton, Rachel
“It is three years from the dawn of a new century and in London, nothing is certain any more: the future of the monarchy is in question, the city is aflame with right and left-wing conspiracies, and the French could invade any day. Against this feverish atmosphere, the American painter Benjamin West is visited by a strange father and daughter, the Provises, who claim they have a secret that has obsessed painters for centuries: the Venetian techniques of master painter Titian.” (Catalogue)

Salt creek / Treloar, Lucy
“Salt Creek, 1855, lies at the far reaches of the remote, beautiful and inhospitable coastal region, the Coorong, in the new province of South Australia. The area, just opened to graziers willing to chance their luck, becomes home to Stanton Finch and his large family, including fifteen-year-old Hester Finch… Cut adrift from the polite society they were raised to be part of, Hester and her siblings make connections where they can with the few travellers that pass nearby, among them a young artist, Charles – and the Ngarrindjeri people they have dispossessed. Aboriginal boy, Tully, at first a friend, becomes part of the family.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hunger / Katsu, Alma
“Effortlessly combining the supernatural and the historical, The Hunger is an eerie, thrilling look at the volatility of human nature, pushed to its breaking point. Depleted rations, bitter quarrels, and the mysterious death of a little boy have driven the isolated travelers to the brink of madness. Though they dream of what awaits them in the West, long-buried secrets begin to emerge, and dissent among them escalates to the point of murder and chaos.” (Catalogue)

The falcon of Sparta / IIggulden, Conn
“In the Ancient World, one army was feared above all others. 401 BC. The Persian king Artaxerxes rules an empire stretching from the Aegean to northern India. As many as fifty million people are his subjects. His rule is absolute. Yet battles can be won – or lost – with a single blow. Princes fall. And when the dust of civil war settles, the Spartans are left stranded in the heart of an enemy’s empire, without support, without food and without water. Based on one of history’s most epic stories of adventure The Falcon of Sparta masterfully depicts the ferocity, heroism, and savage bloodshed that was the Ancient World.” (Catalogue)