Busytown by Jolisa Gracewood

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Busytown: Tell You What: A Nonfiction Giveaway!

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  • Russell Brown,

    Also, Russell’s own 2005 collection of a century’s worth of speeches and essays, Great New Zealand Argument: Ideas About Ourselves, is – if not the daddy, then certainly the benevolent beardy big bro of our own brainchild.

    So kind! By the same token, when I did that project, I was consciously looking to whakapapa back to the pamphlets and small presses of earlier eras.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22756 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Kearns,

    This year I enjoyed Chris Brickell's Manly Affections, a follow-on from Mates and Lovers, combined these books have given me a whole new appreciation, tools and language to understand photography, as well as unique/rare insight into the photos and world of Robert Gant and others.

    Runanga • Since Dec 2014 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    Travelling overseas today so a bit pressed for time, but wanted to say that this new collection sounds really fabulous. We already own the Great NZ Argument and have much enjoyed it.
    Thanks to being lucky enough to belong to a wonderful science book group, I’ve gotten to read some excellent nonfiction this year. Highlights include:
    Spillover by David Quammen (who also wrote the excellent Song of the Dodo. Spillover is about zoonoses (infectious diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans) and is just a really great, and prescient, read.
    Junkyard Planet, by Adam Minter, about the global recycling trade – fascinating and full of unexpected insights.
    Tragedy at Pike River Mine, by, of course, Rebecca Macfie. Needs no introduction to PA readers, stunning book, should be read by everyone.
    Better Angels of our Nature< by Steven Pinker. A very interesting read about how the common perception that the modern world is more violent and nasty than ever before is probably quite wrong.

    Looking forward to hearing others’ recommendations.
    __

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 822 posts Report Reply

  • RaggedJoe,

    Good on you for the give away, I am happy to pay for a copy. Is it available as ebook? The University Press website sent me into a frustrating loop, and Amazon says not available.

    City of Sales • Since Sep 2008 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • Laurie Fleming,

    My two favourite books this year were both by Colin Thubron: Shadow Of The Silk Road and Journey Into Cyprus, the latter written just before partition.

    I love travel writing, especially when it's done as beautifully as this.

    Wellington • Since May 2014 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Lynley Chapman,

    My favourite NZ non-fiction book this year is Anne Else's "The Colour of Food. A memoir of life, love and dinner"

    Skilfully written, evoked a range of emotions, reflections, questions and nostalgia. Full of interesting detail, intimate at times,enchanting, captivating and 24 recipes from the simple to exotic to try, as well as two pages of books which have inspired Anne.

    A treat. Available as an ebook (an international ebook bestseller) and now as a book of the old fashioned kind.

    Porirua • Since Aug 2011 • 45 posts Report Reply

  • philipmatthews,

    Dirty Politics by Nicky Hager.
    Madmen by Steve Braunias.
    No Place to Hide by Glenn Greenwald.
    Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan.
    Peter McLeavey: The Life and Times of a New Zealand Art Dealer by Jill Trevelyan
    Gutter Black by Dave McArtney
    Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop by Bob Stanley

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2007 • 656 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    I'm reading City of Falling Angels by John Berendt, its quite fascinating, the tale of the Fenice Opera House in Venice and its death by fire and resurrection. Its striking chords with me as I was in Venice last year, and am yearning to visit again, for longer.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    How could I forget Dirty Politics? Word of the year, book of the year!

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 822 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Stephanie de Montalk's How Does It Hurt, Tragedy at Pike River, the amazing Once in a Lifetime by Freerange Press. And well, yes, Nicky's book.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Mike Bartley,

    Madmen: Inside the weirdest election campaign ever
    Dirty Politics
    Promoting Prosperity (actually 2013 but I only got it this year) (and it's got lots of pictures)

    Bad Tauranga • Since Dec 2014 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Joanna,

    Now to lower the tone dreadfully and disclose my very lowbrow tastes, I have loved the shit out of Popbitch ’s magazine and annual. I love their dedication to taking silly things very very seriously and also smartly.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 746 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth,

    I greatly enjoyed Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan, but my non-fiction book of the year beyond any shadow of a doubt was The Beatles: All These Years, Volume 1 – Tune In by Mark Lewisohn. It is both a detailed history of the way the Beatles came together, and of necessity also a social history of Liverpool and Britain as the post war gloom lifts and youth culture as we knew/know it is born. Far more than a book for Beatles anoraks...

    Bucolic in the backblocks… • Since Jan 2008 • 269 posts Report Reply

  • llew40,

    Best non-fiction book I've read all year was Night Games: Sex, Power and a Journey into the Dark Heart of Sport by Anna Krien

    Won the William Hill Sports Book of the year award this year - and its an unputdownable and harrowing examination of something very rotten at the heart of the AFL.

    Since Nov 2012 • 140 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Um, someone let me borrow Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns N' Roses by Stephen Davis. It wasn't *good*, but it was awesomely trashy. And now I know that Axl Rose's real name is Bill Bailey, which I find hilarious.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Kerri Perwick,

    I enjoyed Randall Munroe's What if?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions - funny and educational.
    David Byrne's How Music Works.
    Margaret Sparrow's Rough on Women.
    I finally read Seabiscuit and adored it, despite being ethically opposed to the horse racing industry.
    Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya von Bremzen was beautiful, both the descriptions of food and the cultural history.
    Slavery by Another Name by Douglas A. Blackmon for more context on what happened in USA after slavery.
    Tragedy at Pike River Mine. I thought I'd do my duty and read it, but found it so fascinating and tragically compelling.
    Dirty Politics, of course.
    And the delightful Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi.

    Deep South • Since Dec 2014 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to Kerri Perwick,

    And the delightful Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi.

    Oh Kerri, I love this book! Am currently reading it in bite-sized chunks to my 8 year old, and dreaming of opening a school like Tomoe Gakuen...

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • Shaun Scott, in reply to Kerri Perwick,

    Tragedy at Pike River Mine. I thought I'd do my duty and read it, but found it so fascinating and tragically compelling.

    Same- an utterly heartbreaking book that, despite knowing what the outcome for the workers was, compelled the reader to keep reading. The geology/science/engineering needed to understand was explained really clearly- an absorbing and "easy" read.

    In essence, a tragic book of how personal arrogance and corporate greed kills.

    A close second for me was, of course, Dirty Politics.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2008 • 88 posts Report Reply

  • Grant McDougall,

    The best non-fiction I've read this year was Robert Hilburn's magisterial Johnny Cash - A Life. Even if you're not a fan of his actual music, it's a cracking, superbly-written story. A fascinating, warts 'n' all insight to one of the giants of 20th C music and American culture.

    Antony Beevor's Stalingrad was gripping. I just assumed it'd be an interesting, but basically prosaic recounting of the facts. Instead, after a few pages, it became clear it was a lot better than that.
    It really got inside the character and psychology of the Russian and German armies and, especially, their commanders. It clearly and succinctly outlined the appalling conditions and brutality but without being merely gratuitous. Great read.

    On a lighter note, Harry Ricketts' How To Watch A Cricket Match was plenty of fun. His enthusiasm was a pleasure to follow and the anecdotes were always entertaining.

    Dunedin • Since Dec 2006 • 759 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    The best single piece of non-fiction I read this year was George Packer's New Yorker profile of Angela Merkel, 'The Quiet German' (December 1 issue if you don't have a ket to the new subscriber paywall) -- which is not only a great snapshot of a woman whose near-decade as the Chancellor of Germany, and how she got there, is definitely NOT politics as usual but a rather nicely understated counter to a lot of assumptions about what politics is that is more relevant to New Zealand than you might think.

    Another pearler, if you're as interested in Germany as I am, is Mary Elise Sarotte's The Collapse: The Accidental Opening of The Berlin Wall. Pretty much what it says on the tin, and you're a fan of the ideas of historical inevitability or Western triumphalism give this a wide swerve. This is a scholarly but accessible assembly of the (sometime patchy) historical record, that tells a story of a series of small events that had vast consequences.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    One of my recent faves is an out-of-print children's book documenting the lives of two children living on a lighthouse on Farewell Spit in the 1960s.

    A Birthday at the Lighthouse. It's all here to read online.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    There’s a wonderful book I bought in a second-hand shop a few months back of NZ Railways anecdotes, taken from historic railways periodicals.

    I can’t tell you the title, because I lent it to Mum and she won’t give it back!

    *I will find out though

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3887 posts Report Reply

  • Jolisa, in reply to RaggedJoe,

    Is it available as ebook? The University Press website sent me into a frustrating loop, and Amazon says not available.

    Hi Joe - appreciate the attempted purchase :-) I agree, it's a bit tricky... I haven't bought ebooks myself, but apparently it depends what format you are looking for. From the AUP ebooks page it looks like both the Kobo site and iBooks (via iTunes) currently have it for purchase, and I'll see if I can figure out where else you might be able to buy it.

    Are you in NZ? I'm told that some local independent bookshops also on-sell ebooks, but you might have to ask them individually. Hang in there, and I'll see if I can find out more.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Nov 2006 • 1472 posts Report Reply

  • KathrynB,

    "Tragedy at Pike River" and "Dirty Politics" are at the top of my non-fiction NZ list because of what they revealed. I can't say I enjoyed them, as even writing down the titles makes me angry all over again, particularly because none of the people exposed in those books have been held accountable for their actions.
    I have just bought "Tangata Whenua" and it looks impressive if my first dips into the content are anything to go by.
    I am now forming a long list of must reads based on the entries here for my summer reading..

    Auckland • Since Nov 2014 • 13 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    My favourite writing this year is Robert Martin's biography written by John McRae called Becoming a Person. Not for any great literary merit but because it is one of NZ's hidden stories of citizenship denied, and then made good. Robert grew up in various institutions but is now a nominee for a UN committee. The book sits nicely next to Dirty Politics, its Craig Potton stablemate.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3203 posts Report Reply

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