Summer Reading Catalogue – New Zealand Non-fiction

We are blessed in New Zealand with a ncover_catalogue_coverumber of wonderful publishers publishing very high quality domestic non-fiction. This is a run-down of the Summer Reading Catalogue promotions of New Zealand non-fiction.

Looking at this page, I am instantly transported to happy summer days spent jumping off the end of a pier in Kaikoura, courtesy of Coast: A New Zealand Journey (Random House NZ). This was reviewed by Emma Wong-Ming, who says ‘What I loved most was the distinct ‘Aotearoa’ voice of the book.  It feels as though an accomplished orator was standing in the room with me, telling a story about our cover_coast_cataloguecountry.’ This is going to be under my Christmas tree for my parents, I hope it makes it under a good few more.

There is a glut of amazing pictorial non-fiction featured here. Promoting Prosperity, by Peter Alsop and Gary Stewart (Craig Potton Publishing) is the follow-up to NZ Post Illustrated short-lister Selling the Dream by the same team. Other art histories featured include Landscape Paintings of New Zealand (Random House NZ), by Christopher Johnstone, which features 137 Poppies NZ Summer Cat 13_sml_Page_5_forblogreproductions of New Zealand art – ‘a must-have for every lover of New Zealand and its art.’ With a similar theme, one of our super-specials for our catalogue-subscribed independent bookstores, is Painting the Frontier (David Bateman Ltd), by David Filer, on special at just $12, down from $49.99. Check out the second section of this article to find out where you can find this special.

There are two fantastic war history pictorial books, both reviewed here by our CEO Lincoln Gould. New Zealand and the First World War: 1914-1919 (Penguin NZ) is a multimedia scrapbook by Damien Fenton, each copy of which required 40min to assemble at the printer in China. Images of War: New Zealand and the First World War in Photographs (HarperCollins NZ) by Glyn Harper and John Tonkin-Covell is a collection of photographs with a difference – many of them were taken by the soldiers on the front lines.

You can’t go wrong with lavish illustration when you are cv_creature_comfortswriting serious history. Must-haves for history buffs this year include Tuhoe: Portrait of a Nation, by Kennedy Warne (Penguin NZ), telling Tuhoe history with an ‘exquisite photographic showcase’; Bateman Illustrated History of New Zealand, by Matthew Wright , which includes nearly 600 maps, paintings and photos; for pet-lovers Creature Comforts: New Zealanders and their Pets – an Illustrated history, by Nancy Swarbrick (Random House NZ); and a great buy for architecture buffs, New Zealand’s Lost Heritage, by Richard Wolfe (New Holland).

There is certainly plenty on offer this year for those who like their reading to be informative as well as entertaining!

– Sarah Forster, Booksellers NZ

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Book Review: Coast: A New Zealand Journey, by Bruce Ansley and Jane Ussher

This book is available in bookstores now, and is also featured in our Summer Reading Cataloguecv_coast_a_nz_journey

When I was asked to review this book I had in mind a coffee table book, low on writing and long on stock photographs. The book, however, is a delight of stories, history, culture and mood-evoking photographs. I keep sitting down to read a few pages and finding myself idly noting that half an hour had passed.

The book moves around New Zealand, beginning with Cape Reinga and the story of the Maori Underworld. The story continues down the North Island’s East Coast, winding around to Wellington and Taranaki. The (West) Coast and the rest of the South Island follows. Each location has been researched thoroughly, and the length of time the authors spent on this project is apparent.

What I loved most was the distinct ‘Aotearoa’ voice of the book. It feels as though an accomplished orator was standing in the room with me, telling a story about our country.  When you slow down to let the words wash over you then you know you are in the presence of a great book! Having grown up in Taranaki I was keen to see what was written about the West Coast of the North Island. In a great collaboration between words and images the story of Digger’s lament was very moving. The strength of this book is the emphasis on the stories people have linking them to a particular patch of coastline. For some, the coast provides a livelihood. Others are fascinated by the resources of the coast – fishing or plant life. Kiwis who see the coast as being for serious play and recreation are also covered.

Both Bruce Ansley (writer) and Jane Ussher (photographer) show an ability to form relationships with the people they interviewed. The stories are richly worded and detailed – the images strongly capturing the mood of the subjects and location.

What a special book. I can think of no better purchase for the difficult-to-buy-for person this Christmas.

Reviewed by Emma Wong-Ming

Coast: A New Zealand Journey
by Bruce Ansley, photographs by Jane Ussher
Random House NZ
ISBN  9781869799434