Summer of Books: New popular non-fic

December is upon us, which means it’s the perfect time to start reserving books for the summer break. Is it really the holiday season if you don’t have a towering stack of tomes to see you through to the end of the year? We think not! As for the contents of said book-tower, it’s always good to prepare for any mood that may strike, and no pile is complete without a selection of sumptuous new non-fiction.

For anyone who prefers a bit of laid-back browsing during their holidays, then Our Land in Colour is a fantastic one to check out: its colourised photographs of Aotearoa are captivating. Comedian David Mitchell’s Unruly promises a rollicking run through history, if you’re after something lighter for those long, lazy days. If you find that the best part of the holidays is the food then you might try The Upstairs Delicatessen, or maybe you’ll finally have the time to sit down with a contemplative work, in which case something like Naomi Klein’s Doppelganger might find itself at the top of the pile. Whatever the mood, we wish you happy reading!

Doppelganger : a trip into the mirror world / Klein, Naomi
“Naomi Klein is one of our most trenchant and influential social critics, an essential analyst of what branding, austerity, and climate profiteering have done to our societies and souls. Here she turns her gaze inward to our psychic landscapes, and outward to the possibilities for building hope amid economic, medical, and political crises. Doppelganger asks: What do we neglect as we polish and perfect our digital reflections? Is it possible to dispose of our doubles and overcome the pathologies of a culture of multiplication? Can we create a politics of collective care and undertake a true reckoning with historical crimes? The result is a revelatory treatment of the way many of us think and feel now – and an intellectual adventure story for our times.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our land in colour : a history of Aotearoa New Zealand 1860-1960 / Graham, Brendon
“A breathtaking collection of 200 photographs expertly colourised by Aotearoa New Zealand’s premier colourist, Brendan Graham, with commentary from award-winning historian Jock Phillips. Two hundred images have been meticulously colourised, opening a window back in time with remarkable detail. From how the people adapted to the environment and the way they had to feed, clothe, house and transport themselves across an at times inhospitable land, to how they banded together with a spirit that would become famously Kiwi – each image is a reminder of who we were and where we’ve come from.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Unruly : a history of England’s kings and queens / Mitchell, David
“This will be the most refreshing, entertaining history of England you’ll have ever read. Certainly, the funniest. Because David Mitchell will explain how it is not all names, dates or ungraspable historical headwinds, but instead show how it’s really just a bunch of random stuff that happened with a few lucky bastards ending up on top. Some of these bastards were quite strange, but they were in charge, so we quite literally lived, and often still live, by their rules. It’s a great story. And it’s our story. If you want to know who we are in modern Britain, you need to read this book.” (Catalogue)

Your face belongs to us : a secretive startup’s quest to end privacy as we know it / Hill, Kashmir
“Clearview AI can scan a blurry portrait and, in seconds, collect every instance of a person’s online life. Clearview’s story opens up a window into a larger, more urgent one about our tortured relationship to technology, the way it entertains and seduces us even as it steals our privacy and lays us bare to bad actors in politics, criminal justice, and tech. American law enforcement, including the Department of Homeland Security, has already used it to arrest people for everything from petty theft to assault. Without regulation it could expand the reach of policing to a terrifying, dystopian level.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The globemakers : the curious story of an ancient craft / Bellerby, Peter
“To be a globemaker requires a knowledge of geography, skilled engineering, drawing, and painting, and only a few people in history have ever really mastered the craft. When Peter Bellerby set out to make a globe for his father’s eightieth birthday, after failing to find a suitable one to purchase, he had no idea where the process would lead. He went on to establish Bellerby & Co, one of the only artisan globemakers in the world. A full-color photographic portrait of a lost art, The Globemakers is an enlightening exploration of globes, or “earth apples,” as they were first known, and their ability to show us ourselves and our place in an infinite universe.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A memoir of my former self : a life in writing / Mantel, Hilary
“In addition to her celebrated career as a novelist, Hilary Mantel contributed for years to newspapers and journals, unspooling stories from her own life and illuminating the world as she found it. ‘Ink is a generative fluid,’ she explains. ‘If you don’t mean your words to breed consequences, don’t write at all.’ A Memoir of My Former Self collects the finest of this writing over four decades. Her subjects are wide-ranging, sharply observed, and beautifully rendered. From her unusual childhood to her all-consuming interest in Thomas Cromwell that grew into the Wolf Hall trilogy, this book reveals the shape of Hilary Mantel’s life in her own luminous words.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The upstairs delicatessen : on eating, reading, reading about eating, and eating while reading / Garner, Dwight
“The product of a lifetime of obsessively reading, eating, and every combination therein, The Upstairs Delicatessen is a charming, emotional memoir, one that only Dwight Garner could write. Through his lifelong infatuation with these twin joys, we meet the man behind the pages and the plates. He writes with tenderness and humor about his mayonnaise-laden childhood, his mind-opening marriage to a chef from a foodie family (“Cree grew up taking leftover frog legs to school in her lunch box”), and the words and dishes closest to his heart. This is a book to be savored, though it may just whet your appetite for more.” (Adapted from Amazon UK)

An uneasy inheritance : my family and other radicals / Toynbee, Polly
“While for generations Polly Toynbee’s ancestors have been committed left-wing rabble-rousers railing against injustice, they could never claim to be working class, settling instead for the prosperous life of academia or journalism enjoyed by their own forebears. So where does that leave their ideals of class equality? Through a colourful examination of her own family – which in addition to her writer father and her historian grandfather contains everyone from the Glenconners to Jessica Mitford to Bertrand Russell, and features ancestral home Castle Howard as a backdrop – Toynbee explores the myth of mobility, the guilt of privilege, and asks for a truly honest conversation about class.” (Adapted from Catalogue)