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Book reviews: January 2022

3 min read

Pick of the month

After Dark: Walking into the nights of Aotearoa
Annette Lees
Potton & Burton
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

A beguiling new book from Annette Lees, After Dark takes readers on a night-time stroll, exploring New Zealand from dawn to dusk.

Accompanying you along the way are nocturnal creatures, myths and legends, and planetary marvels from across the universe. Lees shares discoveries from a lifetime of walking deep into Aotearoa’s night as readers journey with her, and on the way, she uncovers rich and fascinating stories and shares her experiences and observations about a calmer, quieter, wilder world.

The chapters in the book begin with dusk and end with dawn and between those pages are simple tales that weave memoir with New Zealand social history, mythology, and insights into the natural world.

Other good reads

Across the Pass
Shaun Barnett
Otago University Press
Reviewed by Steve Atkinson

If you enjoy tramping the great outdoors, then this collection of around 100 short stories (some are only one page) is sure to find a place on the bookshelf.

Essentially, it is an aggregation of previously published works, both recent and old; some have even been gathered from tramping club newsletters, but all should be of interest to those who don’t mind shacking down in tramping huts surrounded by like-minded citizens.

Among the many writers, you will find Charles Heaphy, Ed Hillary, Barry Crump, Bob Harvey, James K Baxter, and even Brando ‘Wildboy’ Yelavich gets a nod in.

The book is tastefully reproduced in a retro hardback style, perfect for slipping in a backpack.

Line-Up: NZ surf photography
Logan Murray
Potton & Burton
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

For more than 50 years, Logan Murray, who is regarded internationally as one of surfing’s top line-up photographers, has captured inspiring and captive images, and his new book is an impressive visual collection of stunning photos.

These photos come from Murray’s home patch on the east coast of the North Island as well as the Bay of Plenty and Coromandel.

Inspired as a teenager to contribute to surf magazines, many of the shots you see in the book have been on the cover of some of the world’s most prestigious surf publications, and now a lifetime of work has been packed in a beautiful hardback coffee-table book, with photos spilling over the pages that transport you to a beachside, with waves crashing against the rocks.

Theroux The Keyhole
Louis Theroux
Pan Macmillan
Reviewed by Lisa Potter

With COVID-19 rampant around the world, documentary maker Louis Theroux spent some of this lockdown time assessing his life, his home and family, and the weirdness of the world.

If you haven’t discovered Louis’ podcast Grounded With Louis Theroux yet, we suggest listening to it before picking up the book. It’s well worth the effort, plus, then you can read the book in his voice.

Written in the style of a daily diary, this is the perfect beach read, as you can dip in and out of it, reading just snippets, without losing any flow or impact. 

The 13-Storey Treehouse
Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
Pan Macmillan
Reviewed by Lisa Potter

If you’re a bedtime reader for kids who love funny and adventurous reads, then you’ll be familiar with the Treehouse series.

This full-colour hardback gift edition has 240 pages that will keep the kids entertained for quite some time. They’ll pour through it for the fun illustrations alone, while the stories are full of imagination and unexpected twists and turns.

With more than a million books by this author and illustrator sold, they’re clearly proving a hit with kids and adults.

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