Cool stuff from the selectors: History in colour

9781786692689The colour of time: A new history of the world, 1850 to 1960

A history book spanning one hundred years is nothing out of the ordinary, however what makes this book so unusual is that all the photographs have been fully and painstakingly redigitised in colour by Brazilian artist Marina Amaral. The detail and exhaustive research that has gone into ensuring the colours are correct is amazing. The black and white pictures come to life, bringing new meaning and poignancy to many famous photos that we are familiar with. It is a shame the cover is so dull and monochrome but perhaps this is to heighten the surprise of what is inside.

9780994146021Scenic Playground: The story behind New Zealand’s mountain tourism

This book is an absolute treat and is beautifully produced by Te Papa Press. The blurb describes it as “lavish” and it really is. Highlighting old advertisements, photos (many hand-coloured, quite different from The Colour of Time, but just as beautiful) and paintings, the New Zealand alpine experience is brought to life. As an aside, I couldn’t get over how well-dressed and smart the people are in all the photos, no tatty jeans, nasty track pants or daggy shorts here, they all look incredibly glam and well put together in amongst the most stunning scenery.

 

Unruly enclaves and Ruly dogs: Cool stuff from the selectors

Beyond the Map: Unruly Enclaves, Ghostly Places, Emerging Lands and Our Search for New Utopias

9781781316382Places that maps can’t confine or identify, Utopias, pieces of land in the middle of a highway, political places and cyberplaces. Written by the author of Off the Map, this book is hard to define but easy to read.  Each chapter is short, creative writing about places that defy definition in the normal scheme of things. Makes you look at the notion of Place in an entirely different way.

Better Homes and Gardens Decorating book

9781328944986Perhaps you are a child of the 50s and 60s, or you just love the design from this era? Better Homes and Gardens presents the new decorating bible for those favouring that wonderful mid-century design sensibility.  Crammed full of original designs, plans, colours, design and advertising. Great for ideas but also wonderful just to ponder times past.

 

Really Good Dog Photography

9781846149429I love cute dog photos, (I blame Facebook for this), and luckily Really Good Dog photography has plenty of them, but what has been surprising (and in a good way) is the depth of the photos and the accompanying essays.  These are no ordinary pictures, they tell a story both about the dog and the photographers. Many are startlingly beautiful, some fit the cute variety and others are just wonderful photographs with a dog almost there by chance. All tell a story and this is a great book for those who love dogs but also for those who are interested in photography.

Cool stuff from the selectors: Wunderkammer and Generation Wealth

Generation Wealth

9780714872124Lauren Greenfield began photographing in the early 1990s, capturing an era of conspicuous consumption. She was also there to document this rarefied world as it all cam tumbling down in the financial crash of 2008.  This is a hefty tome filled with brilliant photos and candid stories of wealth and decline.

Paper Time Machine

9781783523733Early photography lacked colour until skilled artisans began hand colouring prints.  In The Paper Time Machine, colouring is taken to a new level with each element in every photograph researched and colour checked for historical accuracy.  The photos are of the ordinary and the extraordinary brought to life and reconstructed with fascinating outcomes.

Safe

9781473664340I was in the bathroom shaving. Suddenly, unexpectedly, I saw the bathroom door move. I acted without even thinking – it was my regiment training kicking in – and thumped the door back with my heel as hard as I could.  It was my wife. The sharp end of the door, and the force of my kick split her face right open.  She’s never let me forget it.

Indeed … this rather horrible incident sums up the book, no one – and I mean no one – gets in the way of this guy.

Chris Ryan will show you how to be safe on an aircraft, mass terror incident, in the car, on the street and hopefully in your own house (with sisterly nod to Chris Ryan’s wife).

Wunderkammer: An Exotic Journey Through Time

9789401442725German for A Cabinet of Curiosities, Wunderkammer are showing up everywhere apparently, and could be the “next big thing”. Design workshops, expos, and interior design stores are bringing back the memories of the tradition of exotica –  material brought back by explorers from all over the world.  Think shells, stuffed animals, wild art and exotic varieties of well…everything!

Cool stuff from the selectors: Designer dogs, Dickens and decluttering

9781910552773The Art of Winnie-the-Pooh: How E.H. Shepard Illustrated an Icon.  By James Campbell

The collaboration between the writer A.A Milne and illustrator  E.H. Shepard was unheard of at the time, and led to an iconic series of books where story and illustration became synonymous with our enjoyment of Pooh, Piglet, Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Tigger, Rabbit, owl, Kanga and Roo.  This is a lovely book of whimsy and memory, including examples of how the illustrations developed, descriptions of the life and family of Shepard and his relationship with A.A. Milne.

9781910636107The Scottish Bothy Bible: The complete guide to Scotland’s Bothies and How to Reach them. by Geoff Allan

Bothies were originally built as rudimentary accommodation for bachelor farm workers, and the vast majority of them were abandoned but have now been renovated by the Scottish Bothies Association.  They are randomly found across Scotland, are free, and often nowhere near attractions or national parks, however the nature of their existence and local make them an attraction in themselves.  These are not luxury 5 star huts, they are basic…”the two low benches can be edged towards the hearth, but there is a strange absence of chairs”. “Not available during stag stalking”. “No stove or fireplace” or “bring your own fuel”.  The views, landscape and the sheer out-of-the-way nature of these places however make up for the lack of home comforts.  Detailed descriptions of how to find them are included along with beautiful photographs of the hut and surrounding areas.

9780847860906At Home with Dogs and Their Designers: Sharing a stylish life  by Susanna Stalk

Coal, a yellow Labrador retriever is owned by Interior Designer Jeffrey Alan Marks.

“Coal travels with me a great deal, so her things are held in a navy leather tote bag that matches not only the car but also the navy leash I designed for her”

The dogs in this books live a charmed life, surrounded by opulent furniture, luxurious soft coverings and well clad owners.  They generally tone in well with surroundings and exude a certain smugness as they lounge beside their owners.  If you have a love of dogs and good interior design then this book will certainly not disappoint.

9781925322330The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter  By Margareta Magnusson

The author puts herself somewhere between the age of 80 and 100, so death is not an abstract idea, but she stresses that this is not a sad book.  Certainly clearing away all that clutter accumulated over a long life, alongside making decisions about the precious to alleviate family arguments, and perhaps dealing with things that you would rather people didn’t pore over after your demise is not a bad idea.  These are all practical suggestions, but this odd little book is as much about ideas on how to declutter as a memory of a life well lived.

9781910463338A Passion for China: A little book about the objects we ear from, live with and love by Molly Hatch

In complete contrast to decluttering is an ode to the past, a collection of beautiful objects with memories attached, this little book is a celebration of the everyday.  It is a mixture of history and art with beautifully painted renditions of old china and ceramics that the author remembers from her childhood, alongside family stories and interesting detail about some of the history behind these beloved pieces.

9781782494492Dinner with Dickens: Recipies inspired by the life and work of Charles Dickens by Pen Vogler

This is a book that celebrates the food of nineteenth century England and includes many of the dishes described in the books of Charles Dickens, including recipes and detail about the history of the time. Pete Evans of Paleo fame would no doubt enjoy Bone Marrow pudding, (apparently Queen Victoria had bone marrow every day so he is in good company), however French plums appealed more to me, alongside a good Leicestershire pork pie featured in Great Expectations. Many of the recipes are surprisingly appealing and are made even more interesting with a good dash of history and an even measure of literature.

Cool stuff from the Selectors – Nature

9781472152244As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Birds and books by Alex Preston
Having kept notebooks over many, many years, Preston has collected the words of dozens of writers. Each chapter is arranged around a bird, each bird illustrated by Neil Gower. The Guardian gives this book a rave review:

Memoir, or rather memory, gilds the narrative. The most moving chapter describes Preston’s father, bedbound with lymphoma, as he watches a family of collared doves on the rooftop opposite his window. He is woken by a fledgling dove on the windowsill inside the bedroom and tries to rescue the bird. Describing himself in the third person, Preston’s father writes: “Placid and accepting, she allows his right hand to embrace her body… while he emanates all he can in telepathic sedation. It, or something like it, must be working, for her wings remain static and spread, her breast neither heaving nor fluttering … How warm to the touch. He wants to stretch the moment to eternity.” This, perhaps, is the essence of the book, this longing for communion, for connection with things other than ourselves.

CoverBritain’s Wild Flowers: A Treasury of traditions, superstitions, remedies and literature by Rosamond Richardson
Keeping with the literary/nature bent, Richardson traces the history of wild flowers and celebrates the important role they have played in literature as well as their uses in food, medicine and their place in history and myth.  A very beautiful book that is ideal to dip into.

9781473651975Basic Mathematics: An Introduction by Alan Graham
I reserved this book on a whim…I am not known for my mathematical ability and thought that it was about time I tackled what could almost be called a phobia. I must confess to scanning this book and promptly returned it, obviously I will need some more indepth counselling before I can tackle my “issues”. However, in the brief time that this book held my attention I did think it was very user-friendly, tackled basic concepts, and would be especially useful if you were struggling with keeping up with your school age children’s maths.

9780714873527Honar: The Arkhami Collection of Modern and Contemporary Iranian Art
A very disappointing cover hides a luscious book documenting the Afkhami collection of Iranian art. The art in the collection is incredibly varied and at times surprising. Each artist has their own essay, plus there are well written and interesting chapters devoted to the collection itself and to Iranian art history.

9781783963508What’s Your Bias? The Surprising science of why we vote the way we do by Lee De-Wit
We may think that we make rational decisions when it comes to voting but apparently we are just as much affected by our personality traits and unconscious biases as we are by what the news media and political debates are telling us. Perhaps you want to know more about why you think Jacinda is just the ticket or what it is about Bill that makes him irresistible? Apparently you will get to know more about yourself and the bigger political picture!

Cool stuff from the Selectors

Art, fashion, religion, sport with a touch of history and death thrown in for good measure.  Check out some cool stuff from the selectors this month.

Art and Fashion: Collaborations and Connections Between Icons

Cover of Art and Fashion: Collaborations and Connections Between Icons

Spanning numerous eras, men and women’s fashion, and a wide range of art mediums, these 25 collaborative projects reveal the astonishing work that results when luminaries from the art world (such as Pollock, Haring, and Hirst) come together with icons of the fashion world (including Saint Laurent, Westwood, McQueen).  A good book for flicking through admiring the pictures, but also includes thoughtful essays for those of you who like a bit more detail.

Art and religion in the 21st Century

Cover of Art and Religion in the 21st CenturyThis book shows how religious themes and images continue to permeate the work of contemporary artists from across the globe.  Some exploit the shock potential of religious imagery, but many also reflect deeply on spiritual matters. Each of the ten chapters opens by introducing a theme, followed by a selection of works of art that develop that theme. The book encompasses a wide range of media and genres, from sculpture to street art, and considers faith in its broadest sense from Islam and Christianity to Aboriginal mythology and meditation.

Old Sparky: The Electric Chair and the History of the Death Penalty

Cover of Old Sparky: The electric Chair and the History of the Death PenaltyOld Sparky covers the history of capital punishment in America and the “current wars” between Edison and Westinghouse which led to the development of the electric chair. It examines how the electric chair became the most popular method of execution in America, before being superseded by lethal injection. Famous executions are explored, alongside quirky last meals and poignant last words.

The Rugby World Cup: The Definitive Photographic History

Cover of The Rugby World Cup the definitive photographic historyA visual history of rugby’s greatest sporting event, this beautiful photographic book is a chronological exploration of the matches, teams, heroes and surrounding stories of the tournament. Each chapter covers a Rugby World Cup, starting with the inaugural competition in 1987,  the historical 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa after the end of apartheid, through to England’s win in 2003 breaking the southern hemisphere’s dominance and up to the 2015 qualifiers.  A handy reference guide to keep you awake for those early morning starts!

Glam stuff from the selectors

For those of you who love to pore over glamorous pictures and design, we have some beautiful books for you this month.

Art Nouveau FashionArt Nouveau Fashion

A wonderful book to browse through. Enjoy the stunning and glamorous designs of Worth, Paquin, Poiret, Fortuny and many more. You will learn how the style overlaps with late Arts and Crafts movement in the 1890s and early Modernism in the 1910s, and then wallow in the beautiful pictures of Art Nouveau jewellery and accessories, and new colour photographs of gar­ments from the V&A’s collection.

Hollywood Frame by Frame

Cover of Hollywood Frame by FrameHundreds of never-before-published photos from the sets of some of the greatest films of the twentieth century. Hollywood’s biggest stars are caught with their guard down behind the scenes of movie classics from Some Like It Hot and Breakfast at Tiffany’s to Taxi Driver and The Silence of the Lambs. A treasure trove for any fan of Hollywood s Golden Age, this rare glimpse of the unseen silver screen will intrigue even movie buffs who think they’ve seen everything.

If you have a scientific bent, but still enjoy a good photograph then Molecules could fill all your needs!

MoleculesGray goes beyond the 118 elements in the periodic table to explore, through fascinating stories and stunning photographic imagery, what he considers to be the most essential and interesting of the millions of possible chemical bonds. At the beginning of Molecules, Gray explains what molecules and compounds are, what holds them together and how they form bonds, the difference between ionic and covalent bonds, how molecules get their names and what their scientific names mean and the difference between organic and inorganic compounds.

Ladybird : a cover story : 500 Iconic coversLadybird

The size of an original ladybird book (a mite thicker though) and scanned directly from Ladybird’s own archives – tattered jackets, battered edges and all – made our selector feel very nostalgic.

It contains 500 iconic covers from the Ladybird archives, ranging from the most-loved covers of the 1940s, 50s and 60s to some of the more unusual and striking Ladybird covers from the 1970s and 80s. This book showcases personal favourites from Ladybird staff both past and present, and those of Ladybird fans from around the world.

One from left field and a nominee for best title of the year….

Cover of Behold the beautiful dung beetleBehold the beautiful dung beetle 

Surprisingly lovely to look at with impressive watercolours,  you will learn everything you ever wanted (or didn’t want) to know about the dung beetle. For example did you know that there are over 5000 species of dung beetle and they can make a cow pat disappear in 24 hours?

New mystery authors – cool new stuff from selectors

Our fiction buyer has some stellar suggestions for new mysteries:

The biggest selling fiction genre worldwide would have to be Mystery/Thriller/Suspense. It’s one of the biggest movers in libraries as well. Airport bookshops – and the amount published – may make a mystery reader feel overwhelmed with choice.One of the things you can do is take a punt on a new author and there are a fair few as publishers salivate at the thought they may be signing up a new Gillian Flynn. Here are five interesting debuts:

Liar’s chair Rebecca Whitney.

She’s English, educated at Nottingham and from the creative writing course at Sussex University. Her book is in the Gone girl genre of domestic disharmony that turns nasty when an accident is covered up and a marriage turns toxic.

Wolf winter Cecilia Ekback.

Swedish born author now living in Canada, her novel is set in 18th century Lapland where a community covers up murder as a wolf attack and the daughter of a newly settled family is determined to uncover the truth.

The girl on the pier Paul Tomkins.

English writer’s story about a forensic sculptor who can’t forget a girl he met on the Brighton Pier in the 1990s and linking her disappearance to a crime in the 1970s.

The serpent papers Jessica Cornwell

The author has a pedigree: granddaughter of John Le Carre. Her novel fits into the Dan Brown marker as it’s about some gruesome murders that link up down the ages to a world of witchcraft and alchemy with links to biblical times.

Unbecoming Rebecca Scherm.

A Michigan author whose novel is about a young woman involved in an art heist with her husband and another man. They are arrested and go to prison and she escapes but the deception starts to unravel. Early reports suggest her novel is in the Patricia Highsmith tradition.

Cover of The Liar's Chair Cover of Wolf winter Cover of The girl on the pier Cover of The Serpent Papers Cover of Unbecoming

From the meaningful to the delightful: Cool new stuff from our selectors

In the field of philosophy, psychology and religion there are interesting titles coming along soon.

Cover of David and Goliath

Gary Quinn’s The Yes frequency deals with the much vaunted idea of mindfulness and encourages the reader to break habits that lock them into self-defeating behaviours.

Eldon Taylor’s Choices and illusions mixes science and spirituality while Douglas T. Kenrick’s Rational animal looks at our decision-making processes and finds that many are entirely irrational and proposes a new alternative based on evolutionary science.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of the bestsellers Blink and The tipping point,  has a new book, likely to be a big seller, named David and Goliath,  which sets out to challenge how we deal with obstacles, disadvantages and disabilities.

Reza Aslan’s book Zealot- the Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth has had a lot of advance publicity and its attempt to balance the Jesus of the Gospels with the historical records of the time should give food for thought.

Moving into the area of children’s books,  Judith Kerr, famous for The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the iconic Mog books, has written Judith Kerr’s creatures  It is a lavishly illustrated retrospective. Our selector loved seeing the very early drawings Kerr did as a child. She tells the story of her life from war torn Europe up until the celebration of her 90th birthday.
Cover of Judith Kerr's creaturesCover of Maurice Sendak

Another great big fabulous tome to drool over is Maurice Sendak:  A Celebration of the Artist and His Work. Described in the book as the pre-eminent Children’s book artist of the twentieth century, we certainly have no argument with that!  Celebrate his 60 year career with this full colour catalogue of more than two hundred images exhibited at the Society of Illustrators in New York in June and August 2013.

From disasters to sex: Cool stuff from the selectors

Cover of The year it all fell down2011 was a big year for Christchurch, and we can be forgiven for being unaware of what was happening in the rest of the word.  Thankfully Bob Ellis in The Year it All Fell Down can help our collective memories.

From the Arab Spring to the London riots and Occupy Wall Street; from the Christchurch earthquake and the Fukushima meltdown to the possible discovery of the Higgs-Boson ‘God’ particle; from the shooting of US Senator Gabby Giffords to her vote on the bill that saved America’s economy; from Assange fighting extradition to the Murdoch empire on trial; from the last hours of Kim Jong-il and Vaclav Havel to the Breivik massacre in Norway and the executions of Gaddafi and bin Laden – the year 2011 was portentously charged. The shockwaves from these events – and more – continue to reverberate through the corridors of power and even the foundations of the planet.

If you are wondering about the origin of your surname David McKie’s What’s in a Surname?: From Abercrombie to Zwicker is full of quirky but useful information.  I always thought surnames were connected to occupation, but according to the author I could well be wrong.

Occupational names are full of hazards: ” … Farmer? That sounds easy enough. A man who owns or runs a farm. But farmer used also to mean tax collector”.

Cover of Kawaii!Kawaii! Japan’s Culture of Cute by Manami Okazaki is a colourful examination of how Kawaii culture began, and how it is now inside homes, on lunchboxes, airplanes, in haute-couture, street fashion, and in cafes, museums, and hotels.

Cover of Five days at MemorialFive Days At Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink has created quite a stir in the United States. The five days after Hurricane Katrina hit created total chaos. The hospital was plunged into darkness, became cut off from the outside world and most of the machines keeping seriously ill people alive failed.

Post disaster, one doctor and two nurses were charged with second degree murder for administering lethal doses of morphine to patients after completing triage  (the allocation of scarce medical resources) and making life and death decisions about whether to evacuate the able-bodied, who had a better chance of survival, or the more severely ill. How these decisions were made during utter chaos and the unfolding legal case makes for riveting reading

The Art of Sleeping Alone: Why One French Woman Suddenly Gave up Sex.  French women have perfect children, don’t get fat, have no need for facelifts, and apparently one of them (at least) has given up on sex.

Complaining that she has had enough of being “taken and shaken” the well-known writer, stylish, sexy and 49, is no longer ashamed to say she wants to get off the sexual merry-go-round.