Christmas Lit Gifts 2017: Riveting and thought-provoking nonfiction

For the knowledge hounds, history buffs, and real life story addicts on your gifting list, we recommend illuminating and fascinating nonfiction that cover everything from future technologies and historical jaunts to poignant memoirs.

Istanbul: Memories of a City
By Orhan Pamuk
Beautifully written and immensely moving, Orhan Pamuk’s memoir, Istanbul: Memories of a City, is a triumphant encounter of place and sensibility. This new Illustrated Edition includes a selection of 450 stunning and poignant photographs handpicked by the Nobel Prize winning author. There are contributions from Ara Güler, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Istanbul’s characteristic photography collectors, as well as previously unpublished family photographs from the Pamuk’s archives. (Hardcover, RM145)

 

We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe
By Jorge Cham & Daniel Whiteson
PHD Comics creator Jorge Cham and particle physicist Daniel Whiteson have teamed up to explore everything we don’t know about the universe: the enormous holes in our knowledge of the cosmos. Armed with their popular infographics, cartoons, and highly entertaining and lucid explanations of science, they give us the best answers currently available for a lot of questions that are still perplexing scientists. Cham and Whiteson also make a compelling case that the questions we can’t answer are as interesting as the ones we can. With equal doses of humour and delight, Cham and Whiteson invite readers to see the universe as a possibly boundless expanse of uncharted territory that’s still ours to explore. (Hardcover, RM131.95)

 

Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve And/Or Ruin Everything
By Kelly Weinersmith & Zach Weinersmith
From noted researcher Dr. Kelly Weinersmith and the celebrated cartoonist Zach Weinersmith (creator of the hugely popular web comic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal) comes a hilariously illustrated investigation into future technologies. By weaving their own research, interviews with the scientists who are making these advances happen, and Zach’s trademark comics, the Weinersmiths investigate 10 different emerging fields, from programmable matter to augmented reality, from space elevators to robotic construction, to show why these technologies are needed, how they would work, and what is standing in their way. (Hardcover, RM119.95)

 

The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu: The Quest for This Storied City and the Race to Save its Treasures
By Charlie English
Lauded as “an exemplary piece of investigative journalism that is also a wonderfully colourful book of history and travel” by The Guardian, this compelling book encompasses two tales of a city: The historical race to reach one of the world’s most mythologised places, and the story of how a contemporary band of archivists and librarians, fighting to save its ancient manuscripts from destruction at the hands of Al Qaeda, added another layer to the legend. Relying on extensive research and first-hand reporting, Charlie English expertly twines these two suspenseful strands into a fascinating account of one of the planet’s extraordinary places, and the myths from which it has become inseparable. (Paperback, RM79.90)

 

Puzzle Ninja: Pit Your Wits Against the Japanese Puzzle Masters
By Alex Bellos
This is a must-have for anyone who enjoys solving puzzles or find them intriguing. Alex Bellos travelled to Tokyo to meet the puzzle masters of Japan, who create the world’s most satisfying puzzles. These enigmatologists include the godfather of Sudoku, the winner of the WorldPuzzle Championships, an inspiring teacher who uses games to enliven his students’ maths lessons, and the puzzle poet whose name has become a Sudoku-solving technique. Bellos has collected over 200 of their most ingenious puzzles, rated easy to excruciating, and introduces over 20 new types of addictive problems including Shakashaka and Marupeke. Arm yourself with pencil, eraser and laser-like focus. (Paperback, RM79.95)

Butter: A Rich History
By Elaine Khosrova
With news of a butter shortage making headlines recently, it is fitting to dive into the story of this ubiquitous ingredient by award-winning food writer and former pastry chef Elaine Khosrova. From its humble agrarian origins to its present-day artisanal glory, butter has a fascinating story to tell. With tales about the ancient butter bogs of Ireland, the pleasure dairies of France, and the sacred butter sculptures of Tibet, Khosrova details butter’s role in history, politics, economics, nutrition, and even spirituality and art. Included are also an essential collection of core butter recipes, including beurre manié, croissants, pâte brisée, and the only buttercream frosting anyone will ever need, as well as practical how-tos for making various types of butter at home – or shopping for the best. (Paperback RM79.95)

Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa
By Haruki Murakami, translated by Jay Rubin
Here’s a deeply personal, intimate conversation about music and writing between internationally acclaimed author Haruki Murakami and his friend Seiji Ozawa, the former conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Over the course of two years, Murakami and Ozawa discuss everything from Brahms to Beethoven, from Leonard Bernstein to Glenn Gould, from Bartók to Mahler, and from pop-up orchestras to opera. They listen to and dissect recordings of some of their favourite performances, and Murakami questions Ozawa about his career conducting orchestras around the world. Culminating in Murakami’s 10-day visit to the banks of Lake Geneva to observe Ozawa’s retreat for young musicians, the book is interspersed with ruminations on record collecting, jazz clubs, orchestra halls, film scores, and much more. This deep reflection on the essential nature of both music and writing affords an unprecedented glimpse into the minds of two maestros. (Paperback, RM56.50)

This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor
By Adam Kay
This award-winning debut book lets readers in on what’s it like to be a junior doctor. Scribbled in secret after endless days, sleepless nights and missed weekends, comedian and former junior doctor Adam Kay provides a no-holds-barred account of his time on the NHS front line. Hilarious, horrifying and heartbreaking by turns, these diaries are everything you wanted to know – and more than a few things you didn’t – about life on and off the hospital ward. (Paperback, RM82.90)

The White Book
By Han Kang
Han Kang’s latest work is a meditation on colour, beginning with a list of white things. It is a book about mourning, rebirth and the tenacity of the human spirit. It is a stunning investigation of the fragility, beauty and strangeness of life. (Paperback, RM58.90)

 

The Princess Diarist
By Carrie Fisher
When the late Carrie Fisher discovered the journals she kept during the filming of the first Star Wars movie, she was astonished to see what they had preserved – plaintive love poems, unbridled musings with youthful naiveté, and a vulnerability that she barely recognised. Today, her fame as an author, actress, and pop-culture icon is indisputable, but in 1977, Carrie Fisher was just a teenager with an all-consuming crush on her costar, Harrison Ford. With these excerpts from her handwritten notebooks, The Princess Diarist is Fisher’s intimate and revealing recollection of what happened on one of the most famous film sets of all time – and what developed behind the scenes. Fisher also ponders the joys and insanity of celebrity, and the absurdity of a life spawned by Hollywood royalty, only to be surpassed by her own outer-space royalty. Laugh-out-loud hilarious and endlessly quotable, The Princess Diarist brims with the candour and introspection of a diary while offering shrewd insight into the type of stardom that few will ever experience. (Paperback, RM55)

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