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Popular Non-Fiction books in March

Featured this month is From Bacteria to Bach and Back, a controversial, thought-provoking book about a new theory of the evolution of minds.

Syndetics book coverFrom bacteria to Bach and back : the evolution of minds / Daniel C. Dennett.
“A leading philosopher offers a major new account of the origins of the conscious mind that explores the deep interactions of evolution, brains, and human culture, demonstrating the role of culture in installing memes, including language, in the mind.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Brexit club : the inside story of the Leave campaign’s shock victory / Owen Bennett.
“From Boris Johnson to Nigel Farage; George Galloway to Michael Gove, the campaign to get the UK out of the EU brought together some of the most colourful characters in British politics. This once-in-a-generation opportunity to free the UK from the grip of Brussels saw egos put to one side and rivalries put on hold to push for a Leave vote in the EU referendum… Or did it?”

Syndetics book coverWhy I am not a feminist : a feminist manifesto. / Jessa Crispin.
“Are you a feminist? Do you believe women are human beings and that they deserve all the same rights as men? If so, then you are a feminist… Or are you? Is it really that simple? Outspoken cultural critic Jessa Crispin says somewhere along the way, the movement for female liberation sacrificed meaning for acceptance, and left us with a banal, polite, ineffectual pose that barely challenges the status quo. In this bracing, fiercely intelligent manifesto, she demands more- nothing less than the total dismantling of the system of oppression-and of what people currently think of as feminism.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEconomism : bad economics and the rise of inequality / James Kwak ; foreword by Simon Johnson.
“Outlines a deconstruction of the framework for understanding the world of classroom economics, clarifying assumptions and misleading teachings while sharing historical insights into how economism became a prevalent influence in the U.S.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Trump survival guide : everything you need to know about what you hoped would never happen / Gene Stone, with Nicholas Bromley, Tetsuhiko Endo, Mark Langley, Michael Otterman, Kendra Pierre-Louise, Carl Pritzkat, Miranda Spencer.
“The stunning election of Donald J. Trump rocked an already divided America and left scores of citizens feeling bereft and powerless. Now, Gene Stone …offers invaluable guidance and concrete solutions they can use to make a difference in this serious call-to-arms–showing them how to move from anger and despair to activism as the Trump presidency is in full swing and he signs one executive order after another. Before we can successfully engage, we need to be clear about the battles ahead. Stone outlines political and social concepts …providing a brief history of each, a refresher on Obama’s policies, and an analysis of what Trump’s administration might do. Stone then provides an invaluable guide for fighting back…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFive ideas to fight for : how our freedom is under threat and why it matters / Anthony Lester.
“Human Rights – Equality – Free Speech – Privacy – The Rule of Law. These five ideas are vitally important to the way of life we enjoy today. The battle to establish them in law was long and difficult, and Anthony Lester was at the heart of the thirty-year campaign that resulted in the Human Rights Act, as well as the struggle for race and gender equality that culminated in the Equality Act of 2010. A fierce argument for why we must act now to ensure the survival of the ideals which enable us to live freely, Five Ideas to Fight For is a revealing account of what we need to protect our hard-won rights and freedoms.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSpymaster : the life of Britain’s most decorated cold war spy and head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield / Martin Pearce.
“The extraordinary story of the most highly decorated British spymaster of the Cold War, Sir Maurice Oldfield. Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (commonly known as the SIS or MI6), he was the first Chief to be named and pictured in the press. He was the first Chief of MI6 that hadn’t come from an upper-class background or studied at Eton or Oxbridge. Rather, he was a farmer’s son from a provincial grammar school who found himself accidentally plunged into the world of espionage by the outbreak of the Second World War. This is the fascinating life story of Maurice Oldfield, written by his nephew Martin Pearce, who remembers asking his uncle what he did for a job. ‘Oh it’s quite boring really, dear boy. I’m a kind of security guard at embassies,’ was the reply…” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great leveler : violence and the history of inequality from the Stone Age to the twenty-first century / Walter Scheidel.
“Are mass violence and catastrophes the only forces that can seriously decrease economic inequality? To judge by thousands of years of history, the answer is yes. Tracing the global history of inequality from the Stone Age to today, Walter Scheidel shows that inequality never dies peacefully. Inequality declines when carnage and disaster strike and increases when peace and stability return. The Great Leveler is the first book to chart the crucial role of violent shocks in reducing inequality over the full sweep of human history around the world…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInsane clown president : dispatches from the 2016 circus / Matt Taibbi.
“…In twenty-four pieces from Rolling Stone–plus two original essays–Taibbi tells the full story the campaign, from its tragi-comic beginnings to its apocalyptic conclusion, through sharp, on-the-ground reporting, incisive analysis, and gallows humor. This isn’t simply a blow-by-blow recounting of this uniquely bizarre and disturbing election season, but the wider story of the seeming collapse of American democracy.”– Provided by publisher.

Syndetics book coverWhen we are no more : how digital memory is shaping our future / Abby Smith Rumsey.
“In When We Are No More Abby Smith Rumsey explores human memory from pre-history to the present to shed light on the grand challenge facing our world–the abundance of information and scarcity of human attention. Tracing the story from cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls, to movable type, books, and the birth of the Library of Congress, Rumsey weaves a compelling narrative that explores how humans have dealt with the problem of too much information throughout our history, and indeed how we might begin solve the same problem for our digital future.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Ideas and Society Newsletter for March

You can now borrow brand new tablets from Wellington City Libraries for three weeks! This month’s Ideas and Society recent picks feature Katherine Mansfield’s poetry collection, a New Zealand home buyer’s guide, festivals in the southern hemisphere, and planet Vulcan.

Library News

Literature

Katherine Mansfield is New Zealand’s best known writer, but it’s for her short stories we remember her. It now emerges that she was a significant poet too. Claire Davison has arranged the poems chronologically in a beautiful little book so that we can chart her development, her experimentation with different forms and see the themes which preoccupied her throughout her writing life.
At the other end of the spectrum are two amusing little books, one of limericks written by Michael Palin and the other an imaginary look at what celebrities might carry in their handbags.

Syndetics book cover The collected poems of Katherine Mansfield / edited by Gerri Kimber & Claire Davison.
“This edition is made up of 217 poems, ordered chronologically, so that the reader can follow Mansfield’s development as a poet and her experiments with different forms, as well as tracing the themes – love and death, the natural world and the seasons, childhood and friendship, music and song – that preoccupied her throughout her writing life.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The man who invented fiction : how Cervantes ushered in the modern world / William Egginton.
“In the early seventeenth century, a crippled, graying, almost toothless veteran of Spain’s wars against the Ottoman Empire published a book. It was the story of a poor nobleman, his brain addled from reading too many books of chivalry, who deludes himself that he is a knight errant and sets off on hilarious adventures. That book, Don Quixote , went on to sell more copies than any other book beside the Bible, making its author, Miguel de Cervantes, the single most-read author in human history.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Carry this book / Abbi Jacobson.
“With bright, quirky, and colourful line drawings, Jacobson brings to life actual and imagined items found in the pockets and purses, bags and glove compartments of real and fantastical people-whether it’s the contents of Oprah’s favorite purse, Amelia Earhart’s pencil case, or Bernie Madoff’s suitcase. Carry This Book provides a humorous and insightful look into how the things we carry around every day can make up who we are.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Little grey cells : the quotable Poirot / Agatha Christie ; edited by David Brawn.
“A charming, beautifully designed collection of bite-sized wisdom from Agatha Christie’s beloved detective Hercule Poirot–delightful, witty, and perceptive quotations and bon mots to stimulate every fan’s little grey cells.” (Syndetics summary)

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Popular Non-Fiction

The highlight of this months’ books is The Machine Stops, in which 12 artists write to E.M. Forster’s imaginary Machine. The story “The Machine Stops” is included, and the book makes for fascinating reading. Also important at the moment is What is a Refugee?, a very timely book, a touch of comedy in The Revenge of Anguished English, and a new edition of the well praised Prosperity without Growth rounds up our selection.

Syndetics book cover The machine stops / E.M. Forster; with contributions by Julieta Aranda, Fia Backström and R. Lyon … [et. al.] ; edited by Erik Wysocan.
“In 1909 E.M. Forster (1879-1970) wrote his one work of dystopian science fiction, The Machine Stops, which imagines the world in the aftermath of an ecological crisis, where humans live in underground chambers without physical contact. Here, 12 artists–Julieta Aranda, Fia Backstrom and R. Lyon, Ed Atkins, Ian Cheng, Melanie Gilligan, Pedro Neves Marques, Tobias Madison, Jeff Nagy, Rachel Rose, Bea Schlingelhoff and Mariana Silva–contribute texts addressing culture in the networked age.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover What is a refugee? / William Maley.
“Arguing that Western states are now reaping the consequences of policies aimed at blocking safe and ‘legal’ access to asylum, What is a Refugee? shows why many proposed solutions to the refugee ‘problem’ will exacerbate tension and risk fuelling the growth of extremism among people who have been denied all hope. This lucid book also tells of the families and individuals who have sought refuge, highlighting the suffering, separation and dislocation on their perilous journeys to safety.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Buyer beware : a New Zealand home buyer’s guide / Maria Slade.
“How to negotiate the minefield of buying a home in New Zealand today. Property prices going through the stratosphere, leaky buildings, P contamination, bullying body corporates – purchasing a house today can feel akin to entering a minefield. Written by a news journalist who has covered many of the horror stories, this book takes a no-holds-barred look at the challenges facing home buyers and offers savvy advice on how to navigate that minefield. It will appeal to all home buyers, from first-timers hoping for a small apartment to older people looking to downsize and everyone in between.” (Syndetics summary)

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Religion & Beliefs

If you’re looking for inspiration, challenge, or reflection, there’s some great holiday reading to begin the year. Two important recommended titles to note are The Little History Of Religion, and the latest biography of Samuel Marsden.

Syndetics book cover Talking God : philosophers on belief, edited by Gary Gutting.
Where does belief come from? This book features conversations with twelve skeptics, atheists, agnostics, and believers including challenges from evolution, cutting-edge physics and cosmology, and meditations on the value of secular humanism. Insights on Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, as well as Judaism and Christianity are offered.
Syndetics book cover A little history of religion, by Richard Holloway.
Richard Holloway begins at the dawn of religious belief and retells, quite succinctly, the history of religion to the twenty-first century. Suitable for those with faith and those without, he accentuates tolerance, mystery, and calmly restores a sense of the value of faith. The discussion covers all of the major religions, and is simple without being simplistic. Evil done in the name of religion is not overlooked. This is an important snapshot to aid understanding different beliefs.
Syndetics book cover Awakening from the daydream : reimagining the Buddha’s wheel of life, by David Nichtern.
“Although traditionally thought of as modes of reincarnation, Nichtern describes the realms as mental states that we move between, sometimes quite rapidly. He clearly and briefly describes how each blocks our path towards enlightenment but also contain unique possibilities. He also provides concise and easily implemented meditation practices for coping with the negative effects of each and includes a basic guide to karma and advice for finding a spiritual guide. …this is a clear, and current introduction to Buddhist thought and practice.” (drawn from Publisher Weekly, courtesy of Syndetics).
Syndetics book cover Festivals in the Southern Hemisphere : insights into cosmic and seasonal aspects of the whole earth, by Martin Samson.
Many festivals draw on northern hemisphere seasons. This has led some to suggest that some festivals in the southern hemisphere should be celebrated at opposite times of the year: for example, celebrating Christmas in June. Rudolf Steiner shared cosmic, spiritual imaginations for the northern hemisphere, and in this book Martin Samson develops a useful equivalent guide for the southern hemisphere.

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History

This month have a look at far-reaching histories on today’s nation-states both new and old in Tokyo: A Biography and A History of South Sudan. Leaf through the intimate notes of Lydia Ginzburg from St. Petersburg under siege, or the unpredictable encounters of Tom Lutz’ ramblings through every country in the world. Take a trip through past and future in Robert L. Kelly’s Fifth Beginning, or follow the indigenous footsteps that made it back to deal directly with empire, at the heart of London.

Syndetics book cover A history of South Sudan : from slavery to independence / Øystein H. Rolandsen, M. W. Daly.
“South Sudan is the world’s youngest independent country. Established in 2011 after two wars, South Sudan has since reverted to a state of devastating civil strife. This book provides a general history of the new country, from the arrival of Turco-Egyptian explorers in Upper Nile, […] to the Anglo-Egyptian colonial era. The book concludes with coverage of events since independence, with insights into what the future might hold.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Tokyo : a biography : disasters, destruction and renewal : the story of an indomitable city / Stephen Mansfield.
“The history of Tokyo is as eventful as it is long. In a whirlwind journey through Tokyo’s past from its earliest beginnings up to the present day, this Japanese history book demonstrates how the city’s response to everything from natural disasters to regime change has been to reinvent itself time and again. Readers see a city almost unrivalled in its uniqueness, a place that–despite its often tragic history–still shimmers as it prepares to face the future.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The Great War for New Zealand : Waikato 1800-2000 / Vincent O’Malley.
“A monumental new account of the defining conflict in New Zealand history. It was war in the Waikato in 1863-64 that shaped the nation in all kinds of ways: setting back Māori and Pākehā relations by several generations and allowing the government to begin to assert the kind of real control over the country that had eluded it since 1840. Vincent O’Malley focuses on the human impact of the war, its origins and aftermath.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Science

This month’s selection features a myriad of stellar books discussing adventures to Mars, meteorites, the planet Vulcan, and telescopic advances, as well as popular authors such as Brian Cox and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Syndetics book cover Forces of nature, by Professor Brian Cox & Andrew Cohen.
Popular presenter Professor Brian Cox uncovers some of the most extraordinary natural events on Earth and in the Universe and beyond. The forces of nature shape everything we see and the results are astonishing. In seeking to understand the everyday world, the colours, structure, behaviour and history of our home, we develop the knowledge and techniques necessary to step beyond the everyday to understand the Universe beyond.
Syndetics book cover Mars : making contact, by Rod Pyle.
This book offers a visually stunning insider’s look at how Mars has been explored and the challenges facing future missions. The first 22 grainy closeups were in 1965, but the probes didn’t land until 1976. Today the two rovers Curiosity and Opportunity have allowed us to make even more discoveries of ancient rivers, lakes, ocean beds, and valleys. Plans for a manned mission to Mars, are discussed including the spacecraft design and surviving on the planet’s inhospitable surface. Another new book on Mars is Mars One, humanity’s next great adventure.
Syndetics book cover Meteorite, by Maria Golia.
‘Meteorite’ tells the long history of our engagement with these sky-born rocks, which are among the rarest things on earth. … This richly illustrated, wide-ranging account surveys the place of meteoric phenomena in science, myth, art, literature and popular culture.”(Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The hunt for Vulcan : how Albert Einstein destroyed a planet and deciphered the universe, by Thomas Levenson.
In 1859, scientist Urbain LeVerrier discovered that the planet Mercury’s orbit shifts over time. His explanation was that there had to be an unseen planet Vulcan circling even closer to the sun. Astronomers of their generation began to seek out Vulcan and at least a dozen reports of discovery were filed. But a young Albert Einstein came up with a theory of gravity that also happened to prove that Mercury’s orbit could indeed be explained – not by Newton’s theories but by Einstein’s own theory of general relativity.

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New eAudiobook Non-Fiction in March

This month Overdrive presents a range of significant non-fiction eAudiobooks, including Laurence Rees’ The Holocaust and Sue Klebold’s A Mother’s Reckoning. The Guardian calls Rees’ work “one of the best introductions to the Holocaust”, while the Washington Post describes A Mother’s Reckoning as a “painful and necessary” read. To learn more about Overdrive’s non-fiction collection, visit our website, or download the app.

Overdrive cover What to Think About Machines That Think, by John Brockman
“Stephen Hawking recently made headlines by noting, ‘The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.’ Others, conversely, have trumpeted a new age in which smart devices will exponentially extend human capacities. No longer just a matter of science-fiction, it is time to seriously consider the reality of intelligent technology.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Holocaust, by Laurence Rees
“This landmark work answers two of the most fundamental questions in history – how, and why, did the Holocaust happen? Laurence Rees has spent twenty-five years meeting survivors and perpetrators of the Holocaust. Now, in his magnum opus, he combines their enthralling eyewitness testimony, a large amount of which has never been published before, with the latest academic research to create the first accessible and authoritative account of the Holocaust in more than three decades.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Fry’s English Delight, Series 5, by Stephen Fry
“A fifth series in which Stephen Fry examines the highways and byways of the English language. He tells The Story of X: a letter holy and profane, sexy and chaste; discusses intonation, the ‘song’ of English and how cadence affects meaning; muses on the art and craft of conversation – and whether true conversation can happen on TV and radio – and ponders the meaning of meaning, and the gap between brain and mouth that means language can never truly represent thought.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Sapiens, by Yuval Noah Harari
“Planet Earth is 4.5 billion years old. In just a fraction of that time, one species among countless others has conquered it. Us. We are the most advanced and most destructive animals ever to have lived. What makes us brilliant? What makes us deadly? What makes us Sapiens? In this bold and provocative book, Yuval Noah Harari explores who we are, how we got here and where we’re going.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Walk Through Walls, by Marina Abramovic
“This memoir spans Marina Abramovic’s five decade career, and tells a life story that is almost as exhilarating as her performance art. Taking us from her early life in communist ex-Yugoslavia, to her time as an a young art student in Belgrade in the 1970s, where she first made her mark with a series of pieces that used the body as a canvas, the book also describes her relationship with the West German performance artist named Ulay who was her lover and sole collaborator for twelve years.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Sister Outsider, by Audre Lorde
“In this charged collection of fifteen essays and speeches, influential poet and feminist writer Audre Lorde takes on sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia and class, and propounds social difference as a vehicle for action and change.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Descent of Man, by Grayson Perry
“Grayson Perry has been thinking about masculinity since he was a boy. Now, in this funny and necessary book, he turns round to look at men with a clear eye and ask, what sort of men would make the world a better place, for everyone? Perry admits he’s not immune from the stereotypes himself, and his thoughts are shot through with honesty, tenderness and the belief that, for everyone to benefit, upgrading masculinity has to be something men decide to do themselves.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover A Mother’s Reckoning, by Sue Klebold
“On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives. For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. In the hope that the insights she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Why Can’t I Meditate?, by Nigel Wellings
“Mindfulness can help us relax and is great for coming to grips with thoughts that make us depressed or anxious, but it can also bring us into a more intimate relationship with ourselves—a prospect that can make some feel uncomfortable. This is where Why Can’t I Meditate? comes in. Full of practical ways to help our mindfulness practice flourish, it also features guidance from a wide spectrum of secular and Buddhist mindfulness teachers, and personal accounts by new meditators.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Popular non-fiction books

The highlight of this months’ books is The Machine Stops, in which 12 artists write to E.M. Forster’s imaginary Machine. The story “The Machine Stops” is included, and the book makes for fascinating reading. Also important at the moment is What is a Refugee?, a very timely book, a touch of comedy in The Revenge of Anguished English, and a new edition of the well praised Prosperity without Growth rounds up our selection.

Syndetics book coverHow change happens / Duncan Green.
“Human society is full of would-be “change agents”, a restless mix of campaigners, lobbyists, and officials, both individuals and organizations, set on transforming the world. Striking then, that not many universities have a Department of Change Studies, to which social activists can turn for advice and inspiration. Instead, scholarly discussions of change are fragmented with few conversations crossing disciplinary boundaries, rarely making it onto the radars of those actively seeking change. This book bridges the gap between academia and practice, bringing together the best research from a range of academic disciplines and the evolving practical understanding of activists to explore the topic of social and political change…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTerrorism : a history / Randall D. Law.
“We live in an era dominated by terrorism but struggle to understand its meaning and the real nature of the threat. In this new edition of his widely acclaimed survey of the topic, Randall Law makes sense of the history of terrorism by examining it within its broad political, religious and social contexts and tracing its development from the ancient world to the 21st century. In Terrorism: A History, Law reveals how the very definition of the word has changed, how the tactics and strategies of terrorism have evolved, and how those who have used it adapted to revolutions in technology, communications, and political ideologies.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe machine stops / E.M. Forster; with contributions by Julieta Aranda, Fia Backström and R. Lyon … [et. al.] ; edited by Erik Wysocan.
“In 1909 E.M. Forster (1879-1970) wrote his one work of dystopian science fiction, The Machine Stops, which imagines the world in the aftermath of an ecological crisis, where humans live in underground chambers without physical contact. Here, 12 artists–Julieta Aranda, Fia Backstrom and R. Lyon, Ed Atkins, Ian Cheng, Melanie Gilligan, Pedro Neves Marques, Tobias Madison, Jeff Nagy, Rachel Rose, Bea Schlingelhoff and Mariana Silva–contribute texts addressing culture in the networked age.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCreating freedom : power, control and the fight for our future / Raoul Martinez.
“The ideal of freedom is at the heart of our political and economic system. It is foundational to our sense of justice, our way of life, our conception of what it is to be human. But are we free in the way that we think we are? In Creating Freedom, Raoul Martinez brings together a torrent of mind-expanding ideas, facts and arguments to dismantle sacred myths central to our society – myths about free will, free markets, free media and free elections. From the lottery of our birth to the consent-manufacturing influence of concentrated wealth and power, this far-reaching manifesto lifts the veil on the mechanisms of control that pervade our lives.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBlack and British : a forgotten history / David Olusoga.
“In Black and British, award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga offers readers a rich and revealing exploration of the extraordinarily long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa. It reveals that behind the South Sea Bubble was Britain’s global slave-trading empire and that much of the great industrial boom of the nineteenth century was built on American slavery. …Unflinching, confronting taboos and revealing hitherto unknown scandals, Olusoga describes how black and white Britons have been intimately entwined for centuries.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe singular universe and the reality of time : a proposal in natural philosophy / Roberto Mangabeira Unger and Lee Smolin.
“Cosmology is in crisis. The more we discover, the more puzzling the universe appears to be. To keep cosmology scientific, we must replace the old view in which the universe is governed by immutable laws by a new one in which laws evolve. Then we can hope to explain them. The revolution that Roberto Mangabeira Unger and Lee Smolin propose relies on three central ideas. The argument is readily accessible to non-scientists as well as to the physicists and cosmologists whom it challenges.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhat is a refugee? / William Maley.
“Arguing that Western states are now reaping the consequences of policies aimed at blocking safe and ‘legal’ access to asylum, What is a Refugee? shows why many proposed solutions to the refugee ‘problem’ will exacerbate tension and risk fuelling the growth of extremism among people who have been denied all hope. This lucid book also tells of the families and individuals who have sought refuge, highlighting the suffering, separation and dislocation on their perilous journeys to safety.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe revenge of anguished English : super duper bloopers, botches, and blunders / Richard Lederer ; illustrated by Jim McLean.
“Fourth in the Anguished English series, this updated collection of verbal bloopers will have word nerds in stitches. From the gas station sign stating “Eat Here and Get Gas” to the church bulletin that reads “Attend and you will hear an excellent speaker and heave a health lunch,” hundreds of linguistic blunders are gathered from every layer of society and presented in this jocular assemblage, extracted exactly as they were originally presented.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBuyer beware : a New Zealand home buyer’s guide / Maria Slade.
“How to negotiate the minefield of buying a home in New Zealand today. Property prices going through the stratosphere, leaky buildings, P contamination, bullying body corporates – purchasing a house today can feel akin to entering a minefield. Written by a news journalist who has covered many of the horror stories, this book takes a no-holds-barred look at the challenges facing home buyers and offers savvy advice on how to navigate that minefield. It will appeal to all home buyers, from first-timers hoping for a small apartment to older people looking to downsize and everyone in between.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverProsperity without growth : foundations for the economy of tomorrow / Tim Jackson.
“The publication of Prosperity without Growth was a landmark in the sustainability debate. Tim Jackson’s piercing challenge to conventional economics openly questioned the most highly-prized goal of politicians and economists alike: the continued pursuit of exponential economic growth. Its findings provoked controversy, inspired debate and led to a new wave of research building on its arguments and conclusions. This substantially revised and re-written edition updates those arguments and considerably expands upon them. Seven years after it was first published, Prosperity without Growth is an essential vision of social progress in a post-crisis world.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

New eAudiobook Non-Fiction in February

The late Carrie Fisher once said that “instant gratification takes too long”, and if you’re feeling a bit like that yourself, why not skip all the waiting round and go straight to Overdrive’s eAudiobook collection. This month’s additions include Fisher’s autobiography The Princess Diarist, as well as her earlier memoir (and stage show) Wishful Drinking. We’ve also got a range of other titles, including Hillbilly Elegy, The Case Against Sugar and Fluent in Three Months. You’ll be gratified before you know it!

Overdrive cover The Glass Universe, by Dava Sobel
“New York Times bestselling author Dava Sobel returns with a captivating, little-known true story of the pioneering women of Harvard College Observatory and their revolutionary astronomical discoveries. Described as ‘intricate, complex and fascinating’ by The Observer and a ‘peerless intellectual biography’ by The Economist.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Case Against Sugar, by Gary Taubes
“Gary Taubes delves into Americans’ history with sugar: its uses as a preservative, as an additive in cigarettes and the contemporary overuse of high-fructose corn syrup. He explains what research has shown about our addiction to sweets. He clarifies the arguments against sugar, corrects misconceptions about the relationship between sugar and weight loss and provides the perspective necessary to make nutritional decisions as a society.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher
“When Carrie Fisher discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved—love poems, unbridled musings and a vulnerability that she barely recognized. With excerpts from these notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time—and what developed behind the scenes.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Fluent in 3 Months, by Benny Lewis
“Meet the man who makes the mission of learning any language possible! Language hacker Benny Lewis shows how anyone anywhere can learn any language without leaving their home, using a simple toolkit and by harnessing the power of the internet. Benny’s key principles include speaking the language from day one, changing your mind-set, staying focussed and harnessing free resources.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Hillbilly Elegy, by J. D. Vance
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover WTF?!, by Olivier Magny
“With Stuff Parisians Like, Olivier Magny shared his hilarious insights into the fervently held opinions of his fellow Parisians. Now he moves beyond the City of Light to skewer the many idiosyncrasies that make modern France so unique.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, by Janna Levin
“In 1916, Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves. One century later, we are recording the first sounds from these waves, the music to accompany astronomy’s silent movie.
In Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, Janna Levin recounts the story of the obsessions, aspirations and trials of the scientists who embarked on a fifty-year endeavour to capture these elusive waves.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover What Happened, Miss Simone?, by Alan Light
“From Alan Light comes a biography of incandescent soul singer and Black Power icon Nina Simone, one of the most influential, provocative and least understood artists of our time. Drawn from a trove of rare archival footage, audio recordings and interviews (including Simone’s remarkable private diaries), this nuanced examination of Nina Simone’s life highlights her musical inventiveness and unwavering quest for equality.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher
“Finally, after four hit novels, Carrie Fisher comes clean (well, sort of) with the crazy truth that is her life. Fisher reveals what it was really like to grow up a product of ‘Hollywood in-breeding,’ come of age on the set of a little movie called Star Wars and become a cultural icon at the age of nineteen. Intimate, hilarious and sobering, Wishful Drinking is Fisher, looking at her life as she best remembers it (what do you expect after electroshock therapy?).” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover How to Ruin Everything, by George Watsky
“Are you a sensible, universally competent individual? Are you tired of the crushing monotony of leaping gracefully from one lily pad of success to the next? Are you sick of doing everything right? In this brutally honest and humorous debut, musician and artist George Watsky chronicles the small triumphs over humiliation that make life bearable.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

New recent eAudiobook Non-Fiction

One word: Springsteen. Or, if you’d prefer three, Born to Run. That’s right, the king of recession rock has launched his memoir, and we’ve got you the eAudiobook. Sharing the bill are none other than writer and blogger Jessica Valenti and comedian Phoebe Robinson, as well as the latest work from Noam Chomsky. So in the words of The Boss – sit tight, take hold (and sign in to Overdrive!).

Overdrive cover Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen
“Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humour and originality found in his songs. He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger and darkness that fuelled his imagination, as well as the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Sex Object, by Jessica Valenti
“Jessica Valenti has been leading the national conversation on gender and politics for over a decade. Now, in a darkly funny memoir, Valenti explores the toll that sexism takes from the every day to the existential. Sex Object explores the painful, funny and sometimes illegal moments that shaped Valenti’s young adulthood in New York City, revealing a much shakier inner life than the confident persona she has cultivated as one of the most recognizable feminists of her generation.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Forty Autumns, by Nina Willner
“A former American military intelligence officer goes beyond traditional Cold War espionage tales to tell the true story of her family—of five women separated by the Iron Curtain, and their miraculous reunion after the fall of the Berlin Wall. She takes us deep into the terrifying world of East Germany under Communist rule, revealing both the cruel reality her relatives endured and her own experiences as an intelligence officer. A beautifully written story of five women whose spirits could not be broken.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Soul at the White Heat, by Joyce Carol Oates
Why do we write? With this question, Joyce Carol Oates begins an imaginative exploration of the writing life and all its attendant anxieties, joys and futilities. Leading her quest is a desire to understand the source of the writer’s inspiration—do subjects haunt those that might bring them back to life until the writer submits? Or does something “happen” to us, a sudden ignition of a burning flame? Oates provides unique insights in this candid dispatch from the writing room.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover You Can’t Touch My Hair, by Phoebe Robinson
“Phoebe Robinson has experienced her fair share of prejudice: she’s been unceremoniously relegated to the role of “the black friend”; she’s been questioned about her love of U2 and Billy Joel; she’s been called “uppity” for having an opinion in the workplace; she’s been followed around stores by security guards; and yes, people do ask her whether they can touch her hair all. the. time. Now, she’s ready to take these topics to the page—and she’s going to make you laugh as she’s doing it.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover The Body Keeps the Score, by Bessel A. van der Kolk
“In The Body Keeps the Score, Bessel van der Kolk transforms our understanding of traumatic stress, revealing how it rearranges the brain’s wiring—specifically areas dedicated to pleasure, engagement, control and trust. He shows how these areas can be reactivated through innovative treatments including neurofeedback, mindfulness techniques, play, yoga and other therapies.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Time Travel, by James Gleick
“From the author of The Information and Chaos, here is a mind-bending exploration of time travel: its subversive origins, its evolution in both literature and science and its influence on our understanding of time itself. James Gleick tracks the evolution of time travel as an idea that becomes part of contemporary culture—from Marcel Proust to Woody Allen. He investigates the inevitable paradoxes and porous boundary between pulp fiction and modern physics.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Carry On, Warrior, by Glennon Doyle Melton
“Glennon Melton believes that by shedding our weapons and armour, we can stop hiding, competing, striving for the mirage of perfection, and ultimately build a better life in our hearts, homes and communities. Readers will find a wise and witty friend who will embolden them to cut themselves a break and commit to small acts of love that can have an extraordinary impact.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Overdrive cover Who Rules the World?, by Noam Chomsky
“The world’s leading intellectual offers a probing examination of the waning American Century, the nature of U.S. policies post-9/11 and the perils of valuing power above democracy and human rights. Drawing on a wide range of examples, from the expanding drone assassination program to the threat of nuclear warfare, he offers unexpected and nuanced insights into the workings of imperial power on our increasingly chaotic planet.” (Adapted from the Overdrive description.)

Recent Home, Garden & DIY picks.

It’s all about creativity and style. This month’s pick features vertical garden, best soil, and personalised design for your garden, as well as decoration and desserts for your party!

Syndetics book coverDomino : your guide to a stylish home : discovering your personal style and creating a space you love / by Domino editors, Jessica Romm Perez, Shani Silver.
“From the editors of domino magazine comes the essential guide to discovering your personal style at home. Domino: Your Guide to a Stylish Home will help readers to: Identify your personal decorating style. Find inspiration from hundreds of beautiful, inspiring photos of real homes. Style the major and minor components of your home, from textiles to table settings to art. Shop for quality pieces that will stand the test of time. Learn from domino editors and tastemakers about how to style magazine-quality looks at home…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe good dirt / Xanthe White.
“As the title suggests, this book is all about the soil we find in our garden and more particularly how we can maximize its growing potential. If you’ve ever wondered why some plants thrive in one location but struggle in your own backyard you’ll be likely to find explanations in the soil below. Xanthe White examines the five main soil types found in New Zealand and offers advice on how to get the best from each one by working in harmony with nature. Complete with ingredients guides for each soil type and ideas and design features to enhance its fertility, this is an essential companion for anyone looking to establish a new garden or improve their existing one.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGood Housekeeping simple household wisdom : 425 easy ways to clean & organize your home / edited by Sara Lyle Bow.
“Your home is the place where you’re free to relax, entertain, and express your personality. Filled with fabulous photographs of every room, plus genius tips, savvy shortcuts, and quick fixes for tidying, decluttering, organizing, adding style, and more, Good Housekeeping Simple Household Wisdom is your go-to guide for turning a house into the home you’ll love even more.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverModern potluck : beautiful food to share / Kristin Donnelly.
Modern Potluck is a cookbook and guide for today’s potluckers that delivers Instagram-worthy dishes packed with exciting, bold flavors. These 100 make-ahead recipes are perfect for a crowd and navigate carnivore, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, and vegan preferences gracefully. With beautiful color photographs and lots of practical information such as how to pack foods to travel, Modern Potluck is the ultimate book for gathering friends and family around an abundant, delicious meal.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverVertical gardens / Leigh Clapp & Hattie Klotz.
“Vertical gardening is a fun, creative way to grow plants in urban spaces. As long as you’ve got a blank wall or bare fence that needs beautifying, you can tend edibles, annuals, even perennials with vertical garden products. Vertical gardens will turn your bare spaces into gorgeous living walls indoors and out.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverSimple tailoring & alterations : hems, waistbands, seams, sleeves, pockets, cuffs, darts, tucks, fastenings, necklines, linings / J. François-Campbell.
“Revamp your wardrobe with advice from acclaimed costumer and expert tailor J. Francois-Campbell in this comprehensive guide to maintaining and altering men’s and women’s clothing. Simple Tailoring & Alterations offers concise instructions covering all tailoring and alteration techniques from replacing buttons to changing a garment’s shape for a better fit. Guided by easy to follow instructions, you will enjoy projects on skirts, dresses, pants, jackets, shirts, coats, sweaters, vests, ties, and more.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWell played : the ultimate guide to awakening your family’s playful spirit / Meredith Sinclair.
“From Today Show contributor, Meredith Sinclair, comes this ultimate resource for awakening your playful spirit, jumpstarting your relationships, and upping your happiness quotient. In our age of digital addiction, many of us have lost our ability to be spontaneous. More parents are complaining that they no longer even remember how to play…with their children, their spouse, and even with their own friends. Don’t fret! In Well Played, expert Meredith Sinclair helps families relearn what used to come naturally and shows how to find happiness through play. (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverElbows off the table, please : recipes to make any occasion special / Jo Seagar ; photography by Jae Frew.
“Delicious, effortless recipes along with wise advice on how to navigate any social occasion. A home-cooked meal or gift of baking is still one of the best ways to show your appreciation. …Jo Seagar shares her favourite dishes for simple gatherings, special celebrations and those times when a home-made offering saves the day. Accompanied by useful tips to help you be a generous host and gracious guest, this is an indispensable kitchen-to-table companion.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe finer things : timeless furniture, textiles, and details / Christiane Lemieux ; foreword by Miles Redd.
“Quality matters. Just as a home’s foundation should be built to stand the test of time, so, too, should the furniture, objects, and elements of our rooms speak to an enduring sense of beauty and comfort. They should outlast trends and our loving day-to-day use. …Weaving together the insights and guidance of dozens of wallpaper and paint specialists, textile fabricators, accessories artisans, and interior designers, Lemieux has curated an unparalleled education in recognizing the hallmarks of timeless, heirloom-quality pieces.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDecorate for a party : stylish and simple ideas for meaningful gatherings / Holly Becker + Leslie Shewring.
Decorate for a Party is a stunning sourcebook packed with decorating tips and techniques that will ignite your creativity. Whether you are planning a significant celebration or a simple dinner with friends, this book delivers creative ideas for every occasion.” (Amazon.co.uk)

Recent new non-fiction books

Our first pick this time is an interesting book about Queen Elizabeth I who, after being excommunicated, turned to the Islam world for allies. Our last book is a celebration of popular British culture.
In-between, the always popular Sociology for Beginners in a new edition.

Syndetics book coverThe Sultan and the Queen: The Untold Story of Elizabeth and Islam
“History watchers know that 2016’s Brexit doesn’t mark the first time England has divorced itself from Europe. With the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I’s excommunication in 1570, England looked to the south (Morocco) and east (the Ottoman Empire and its enemy, Persia) for new allies in trade and war…” (adapted from Library Journal)

Syndetics book coverHow population change will transform our world / Sarah Harper.
“Population growth, primarily in Asia and Africa, is the focus of much concern. But, as Sarah Harper explains, it is not so much population growth as the changing age structures of populations that is set to transform the world in future decades.” (book jacket)

Syndetics book coverAs right as rain : the meaning and origins of popular expressions / Caroline Taggart.
“Let’s not beat about the bush: the English language is littered with linguistic quirks, which, out of context, seem completely peculiar. If you can’t quite cut the mustard, this book will explain how on earth ‘off the cuff’ came to express improvisation, why a ‘gut feeling’ is more intuitive than a brainwave, and who the heck is ‘happy’ Larry…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGood cop, bad war : my life undercover inside Britain’s biggest drug gang / Neil Woods with JS Rafaeli.
Good Cop, Bad War is a unique story about a man with a striking ability to infiltrate and extinguish drug gangs, but who, as the success of his operations grows, becomes disillusioned with the War on Drugs, ‘as he sees how it demonises those who need help while empowering the very worst elements in society’.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGirls & sex : navigating the complicated new landscape / Peggy Orenstein.
“Bestselling journalist Orenstein follows up Cinderella Ate My Daughter with a look at what happens when the little princess hits puberty. The result is an eye-opening, sometimes horrifying look at sex for today’s girls and young adults. Through frank interviews, research, and school visits, Orenstein reveals that, on average, young women are engaging in sexual contact earlier than ever, in more varied ways, and reporting more coercion and less satisfaction than their male counterparts.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeyond measure : rescuing an overscheduled, overtested, underestimated generation / Vicki Abeles ; with Grace Rubenstein.
“…Pulling from powerful anecdotes and convincing new research, Abeles presents inspirational, quantifiable success stories and shows how anyone–students, parents, and educators–can effect change. Teachers who cut students’ workload see scores rise; kids discover their own motivation once parents relieve the pressure to perform; schools that institute later start times have well-rested students who are able to learn more efficiently; and schools that emphasize depth over test prep find students more attentive, inventive, and ready to thrive.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRaising the transgender child : a complete guide for parents, families, & caregivers / Dr. Michele Angello & Alisa Bowman.
“Written by Dr. Michele Angello, a leading therapist and go-to expert in the field of transgender parenting, and Ali Bowman, bestselling writer and parent advocate, Raising the Transgender Child helps readers champion and celebrate gender diverse children while at the same time shedding fear, anger, sadness, and embarrassment. With specific and actionable advice–including coming-out letters, identity challenges, school and caregiver communications, and more –the guide provides a wealth of science-backed information alongside friendly and practical wisdom that is sure to comfort, guide, and inspire the family and friends of transgender and gender diverse children.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA farewell to ice / Peter Wadhams ; with a foreword by Walter Munk.
“Most of the scientific establishment predict that the North Pole will be free of ice around the middle of this century. As Peter Wadhams, the world’s leading expert on sea ice, demonstrates in this book, even this assessment of the future is optimistic. Wadhams has visited the Polar Regions more often than any other living scientist – 50 times since he was on the first ship to circumnavigate the Americas in 1970 – and has a uniquely authoritative perspective on the changes they have undergone and where those changes will lead. From his observations and the latest scientific research, he describes how dramatically sea ice has diminished over the past three decades, to the point at which, by the time this book is published, the Arctic may be free of ice for the first time in 10,000 years.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSociology for beginners / Richard Osborne.
“Sociology is the study of how society functions, or in some cases does not function. There are many competing schools of sociology with different conceptual systems. This introductory book traces the origins of these systems, from Enlightenment thought and the work of Auguste Comte to Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. Also outlines are the rapid expansion of sociology in 20th-century America and Britain, the post-World War II dominance of Talcott Parsons, the Chicago School, the rise of Structuralism, postmodernism, globalisation and digital society.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Tea Party and the remaking of Republican conservatism / Theda Skocpol and Vanessa Williamson.
“On February 19, 2009, CNBC commentator Rick Santelli delivered a dramatic rant against Obama administration programs to shore up the plunging housing market. Invoking the Founding Fathers and ridiculing “losers” who could not pay their mortgages, Santelli called for “Tea Party” protests. Over the next two years, conservative activists took to the streets and airways, built hundreds of local Tea Party groups, and weighed in with votes and money to help right-wing Republicans win electoral victories in 2010.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great British dream factory : the strange history of our national imagination / Dominic Sandbrook.
“…Britain’s empire has gone. We no longer matter as we once did. And yet there is still one area in which we can legitimately claim superpower status: our popular culture. …This is a book about the success and the meaning of Britain’s modern popular culture, from Bond and the Beatles to Catherine Cookson and Coronation Street, from Harry Potter, heavy metal and Kate Bush to Damien Hirst, Downton Abbey and Grand Theft Auto. Dominic Sandbrook’s superbly rich, entertaining and thought-provoking book makes it clear that The Great British Dream Factory is a very strange and wonderful place indeed.” (Syndetics summary)

New popular non-fiction

From politics to climate change, the refugee crisis to “Senior Moments”, there are some light hearted topics in amongst the serious issues in this months’ selection.

Syndetics book coverCrash, bang, wallop : the inside story of London’s Big Bang and a financial revolution that changed the world / Iain Martin.
“Big Bang was the dramatic moment in October 1986 when London became a testing ground for a new type of global finance. It embodied a wider revolution and the birth of a new age of fully electronic trading, transcontinental commerce and wealth creation on titantic scale. Published to mark the 30th anniversary of Big Bang, Crash, Bang, Wallop is the definitive, unflinching story of what really happened during one of the most daring and ambitious financial experiments in history.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe madhouse effect : how climate change denial is threatening our planet, destroying our politics, and driving us crazy / Michael E. Mann and Tom Toles.
“Through satire, The Madhouse Effect portrays the intellectual pretzels into which denialists must twist logic to explain away the clear evidence that man-made activity has changed our climate. Toles’s cartoons collapse counter-scientific strategies into their biased components, helping readers see how to best strike at these fallacies. Mann’s expert skills at science communication aim to restore sanity to a debate that continues to rage against widely acknowledged scientific consensus.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCast away : true stories of survival from Europe’s refugee crisis / Charlotte McDonald-Gibson.
“In 2015, more than one million migrants and refugees, most fleeing war-torn countries in Africa and the Middle East, attempted to make the perilous journey into Europe. Around three thousand lost their lives as they crossed the Mediterranean and Aegean in rickety boats provided by unscrupulous traffickers, including over seven hundred men, women, and children in a single day in April 2015.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe great derangement : climate change and the unthinkable / Amitav Ghosh.
“The extreme nature of today’s climate events, Ghosh asserts, make them peculiarly resistant to contemporary modes of thinking and imagining. This is particularly true of serious literary fiction: hundred-year storms and freakish tornadoes simply feel too improbable. In the writing of history, too, the climate crisis has sometimes led to gross simplifications. Ghosh ends by suggesting that politics, much like literature, has become a matter of personal moral reckoning rather than an arena of collective action. But to limit fiction and politics to individual moral adventure comes at a great cost. The climate crisis asks us to imagine other forms of human existence–a task to which fiction, Ghosh argues, is the best suited of all cultural forms. His book serves as a great writer’s summons to confront the most urgent task of our time.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWorktown : the astonishing story of the birth of Mass-Observation / David Hall.
“In the late 1930s the Lancashire town of Bolton witnessed a ground-breaking social experiment. Over three years, a team of ninety observers recorded, in painstaking detail, the everyday lives of ordinary working people at work and play – in the pub, dance hall, factory and on holiday. Their aim was to create an ‘anthropology of ourselves’. The first of its kind, it later grew into the Mass Observation movement that proved so crucial to our understanding of public opinion in future generations.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSenior moments : looking back, looking ahead / Willard Spiegelman.
Senior Moments is a series of discrete essays that, when taken together, constitute the life of a man who, despite Western cultural notions of aging as something to be denied, overcome, and resisted, has continued to relish the simplest of pleasures: reading, looking at art, talking, and indulging in occasional fits of nostalgia while also welcoming what inevitably lies ahead. Spiegelman’s expertly crafted book considers, with wisdom and elegance, how to be alert to the joys that brim from unexpected places even as death draws near”– Provided by publisher, adapted.

Syndetics book coverFeminist fight club : an office survival manual (for a sexist workplace) / Jessica Bennett ; illustrations by Saskia Wariner, with Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell.
“In Feminist Fight Club, acclaimed journalist Jessica Bennett blends the personal stories of her real-life fight club with research, statistics, and no-bullsh*t advice for how to combat today’s sexism (and come out the other side). Part manual, part manifesto, Bennett offers a new vocabulary for the sexist archetypes women encounter every day–such as the Manterrupter, who talks over female colleagues in meetings; or the Bropropriator, who appropriates their ideas–as well as the self-sabotaging behavior women sometimes exhibit themselves…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHomo deus : a brief history of tomorrow / Yuval Noah Harari.
“…Yuval Noah Harari, author of the bestselling ‘Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’, envisions a not-too-distant world in which we face a new set of challenges. In Homo Deus, he examines our future with his trademark blend of science, history, philosophy and every discipline in between. Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPolitics : between the extremes / Nick Clegg.
“Politics has changed. For decades Britain was divided between Left and Right but united in its belief in a two-party state. Now, with nationalism resurgent and mainstream parties in turmoil, stark new divisions define the country and the centre ground is deserted. As Deputy Prime Minister of Britain’s first coalition government in over fifty years, Nick Clegg witnessed this change from the inside. Here he offers a frank account of his experiences from his spectacular rise in the 2010 election to a brutal defeat in 2015, from his early years as an MEP in Brussels to the tumultuous fall-out of Britains EU referendum and puts the case for a new politics based on reason and compromise.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIs the planet full? / edited by Ian Goldin.
“While it is common to hear about the problems of overpopulation, might there be unexplored benefits of increasing numbers of people in the world? How can we both consider and harness the potential benefits brought by a healthier, wealthier and larger population? May more people mean more scientists to discover how our world works, more inventors and thinkers to help solve the world’s problems, more skilled people to put these ideas into practice?” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Fix: How Nations Survive and Thrive in a World in Decline
“We all know the bad news… Jonathan Tepperman’s The Fix presents a very different picture. The book reveals the often-overlooked success stories, offering a provocative, unconventional take on the answers hiding in plain sight. The Fix presents practical advice for problem-solvers of all stripes, and stands as a necessary corrective to the hand-wringing and grim prognostication that dominates the news, making a data-driven case for optimism in a time of crushing pessimism.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Recent additions to the NZ Collection

Always eclectic, new additions to the New Zealand Collection this month feature stories from a museum curator, a kiwi sanctuary, photography, poetry, the sad history of post war state care of children and lastly a murder mystery. The new book shelves of the NZ Collection have something to interest everyone.

Syndetics book coverThe unburnt egg : more stories of a museum curator / Brian Gill.
“Museum natural history collections have been called libraries of life. In The Unburnt Egg Brian Gill continues his spellbinding stories from more than thirty years as a curator. Some tales are so bizarre they read like fiction: a population of ship rats decimating the entire wildlife of an island and then collapsing; birds leaving their young to be raised by other birds; frogs and lizards living in trees and flying. Others reveal the painstaking detective work involved in solving mysteries presented by police, biosecurity agencies, government departments and members of the public. Frogs’ legs on sale as chicken, a feather hidden in a bag of sugar, a live boa constrictor on a street in snake-free New Zealand–it’s all in a day’s work.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverProject Kiwi : how one man’s passion for the land hatched New Zealand’s first community kiwi sanctuary/ Sue Hoffart.
Project Kiwi is New Zealand’s first community-led kiwi conservation project, on the Coromandel Peninsula.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThrough the eyes of a miner : the photography of Joseph Divis / Simon Nathan ; with assistance from Les Wright and Brendon Wilshire.
“Joseph Divis (1885-1967) photographed life in New Zealand mining towns where he lived and worked between 1909 and 1935. His images provide a unique record of life in some small communities, especially the now-abandoned town of Waiuta, near Reefton.” (Introduction)

Syndetics book coverThe road to hell : state violence against children in postwar New Zealand / Elizabeth Stanley.
“From the 1950s to the 1980s, the New Zealand government took more than 100,000 children from experiences of strife, neglect, poverty or family violence and placed them under state care in residential facilities. In homes like Epuni and Kingslea, Kohitere and Allendale, the state took over as parent. The state failed. Within institutions, children faced abysmal conditions, limited education and social isolation. They endured physical, sexual and psychological violence, as well as secure cells, knock-out sedatives and electro-convulsive therapy. This book tells the story of 105 New Zealanders who experienced this mass institutionalisation.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDark days at the Oxygen Café / James Norcliffe.
“James Norcliffe is one of New Zealand’s most widely published and anthologised poets. In Dark Days at the Oxygen Cafe, he looks over the shoulders of many characters and creatures, both real and imagined, and takes us deep into uncanny valleys. Poems about Seneca and James Dean sit alongside poems about a Turken dictator and an owl man. We share in a portentous UFO sighting, a small celebration for Laika the space dog, and Peter the Great being offered an Air New Zealand lolly. These scenes from myth, history, pop culture and personal experience make for a wryly funny, deeply felt collection that contemplates the quirks of shared and personal histories.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNothing for it but to sing : poems / Michael Harlow.
“Michael Harlow’s poems are small detonations that release deeply complex stories of psychological separations and attractions, of memory and desire. Frequently they slip into the alluring spaces just at the edges of language, dream and gesture, as they carefully lower, like measuring gauges, into the ineffable: intimations of mortality, the slippery nature of identity, longing, fear … This is a beautifully honed new collection.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMister Hamilton / John Dickson.
Mister Hamilton, John Dickson’s first collection in eighteen years, is an appealing, questioning mix of elements. Over a base of South Island bedrock (granite, schist, greywacke), Dickson has peopled this quietly fiery collection with day-to-day working voices and narratives, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, sometimes charged with a political consciousness and lyrical intensity. Shot-through with veins of jazz, rock and blues, quizzical religiosity and a streak of the absurd, this book takes a fresh look at the streets and lawns and people of urban and suburban ‘Pig Island’ and offers some thoughtful, wisely pitched and immensely likeable poems.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe black widow : how one woman got justice for her murdered brother / by Lee-Anne Cartier.
“The Black Widow almost got away with murder. But then her sister-in-law became suspicious… The infamous Black Widow case shocked the nation. An average-looking suburban housewife carefully staged her husband’s ‘suicide’. At first it looked like she might get away with murder, but then her sister-in-law, Lee-Anne Cartier, became suspicious and started gathering evidence and presenting it to the police. Helen Milner, who became known as the Black Widow, was eventually convicted of murder and is now serving out her sentence in Arohata Prison. This book tells how Lee-Anne persevered and put together many strands of information to crack the case wide open.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)


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