What We're Reading

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Neil

Women, Men & The Whole Damn Thing, by David Leser (A&U 2019)

This controversial but vital book sprang from an article that Australian journalist David Leser wrote for the Sydney Morning Herald. It's an overview of the events that led to the #MeToo movement, and one straight, white male's attempt to understand, listen and learn. He has been accused of mansplaining, and asked to 'shut up and listen', but I do think the book has validity, as it doesn't stem from an all-knowing position, but rather Leser trying to understand why misogyny has become so toxic and what can be done about it.

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Neil

How To Walk A Dog, by Mike White (A&U 2019)

Wellington journalist Mike White is probably best known for his crime reportage in North & South magazine, but he's also known in the capital's dog parks with his SPCA rescue dog Cooper. His new book is an extremely funny and poignant book about the joys of dog ownership. His portrayal of the community of dog-walkers and their dogs in Wellington is terrific, and the book includes brilliant cartoons by Sharon Murdoch. A lovely gift package for the dog-lover in your life.

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Neil

Let Me Be Frank: Comics 2010-2019, by Sarah Laing (VUP 2019)

This is a collection of Sarah Laing's personal comics/blog from 2010 to this year. It's witty, smart, disarmingly honest, finely observed and self-effacing. It's not a narrative like her Mansfield and Me (2017), but a collection of comic anecdotes of varying length, but they do hang together, and are always wise and profound.

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Neil

The Way Home, by Mark Boyle (One World 2019)

Mark Boyle, a former business graduate, became disillusioned with the modern world, so a few years ago he spent three years living without money, and wrote about it in The Moneyless Man, which was a massive success and translated into over 20 languages. Now he has decided to live without modern technology: no running water, no electricity or anything it powers, no phone or internet; just a wooden cabin he built himself. In this book he tells of a year making fire, collecting water, foraging, fishing, existing and working in tune with the passing seasons and nature.

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Neil

Rules For Visiting, by Jessica Frances Kane (Granta 2019)

Rules For Visiting is a smart, funny novel about friendship and trees. It's engaging and compassionate, elegant and moving. The lead character, May, is a successful gardener at a university, but her life seems empty, so she decides to look up some old friends in different parts of the US, and slowly reconnects with herself and the future. If you've enjoyed Sally Rooney's books, you will like this.

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Neil

The Absolute Book, by Elizabeth Knox (VUP 2019)

What a tremendous book this is! 650 pages of epic fantasy, rich in metaphor, thrilling, multi-layered and profound, it's about treachery, books and libraries, portals into brilliantly realised other worlds, secrets and much more. Just read it!