What We're Reading

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Neil

The Wild Silence, by Rayner Winn (Michael Joseph 2020)

This is the sequel to her previous The Salt Path, in which Rayner and her husband Moth, finding themselves homeless and with Moth's terminal diagnosis, walk the 630 miles of the South West Coast Path around the coast of England. Readers were desperate to know what happened next. This book describes how Moth, seemingly revitalised by nature, was reluctant to return to a four walls normality. Someone who read the first book offers them an opportunity to rewild a beautiful farm in the Cornish hinterland, and this becomes a new path for them.

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Neil

Surfacing, by Kathleen Jamie (Sort Of Books, 2020)

Kathleen Jamie is one of Scotlands leading poets, and has also published 3 previous non fiction books of mostly natural history observational writing. They are characterised by their extraordinary poetical economy of writing, and clarity of communication of what she observes. This latest collection is no different. In it she visits archaeological sites in Westray in Orkney, and in Alaska, and descriptions of these are the two longest pieces in the book, amongst 10 shorter pieces on a variety of subjects.

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Neil

Towards Compostela: Walking the Camino de Santiago, by Catharina Bohemen (The Cuba Press 2020)

This brilliant book has been a long time in the gestation. Van Bohemen walked the 850 kilometre pilgrimage trail across northern Spain in 1998, and kept a journal which forms the core of this evocative and powerful book. Gregory O'Brien's illustrations add atmosphere to a book which is about many things. At its heart is the walk with its blisters, bad weather, aggressive dogs, but also charming companions along the way, all described beautifully.

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Neil

Bug Week & Other Stories, by Airini Beautrais (VUP 2020)

This brief book of 13 stories in 180 pages carries a weight and power far out of proportion with its physical scale, and unusually for a short story collection, won the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction in 2021, beating off a short list of novels. It immediately reprinted a number of times, and has been a significant seller, a triumph for a previously undiscovered book. It's by turns eccentric and surreal, discomforting, disturbing, moving and always superbly, economically written. Airini Beautrais has previously published 4 poetry collections, and writes prose with a poets eye.

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Neil

Beautiful World, Where Are You, by Sally Rooney (Faber September 2021)

Sally Rooney's success is widely known. Her 2 previous novels, Conversations With Friends, and Normal People (made into a hugely successful TV adaptation) have been huge sellers, critically acclaimed, and read by a very wide range of now devoted fans. It's been quite a wait for this 3rd novel, and anticipation and expectation is high. Can she do it again? Yes she can! BWWAY, is a stunningly brilliant account of 4 friends , their lives, hopes and dreams, inner worlds and desires and beliefs. It's seemingly effortlessly profound and resonant with terrific and flawed characters.

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Neil

Imagining Decolonisation, by Bianca Elkington et al (BWB Texts, 2020)

This little book carries resonance far greater than its modest size, which is apparent by its steady sales over a long period. It's very timely given the subject matter, and will be a key book for all NZers who are concerned and interested in where we are going and the future of race relations, Treaty of Waiting issues, inequality etc etc. There are 5 essays defining and explaining decolonisation - what it is, whit it might look like, the role of Pākehā, etc. It's an introductory text to an issue that demands more reading, and action. A vital book.