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non-fiction

"There is food within 3 metres of your front door," this book claims. Well, if you live in Berlin, you might think of a juicy falafel rather than wild herbs when you hear that sentence. Nevertheless, this is a fantastic guide for anyone who is fed up with the ever-same supermarket zucchini and aubergines. Eat Weeds will help you forage for wild foods and discover new tastes. From the forest to the sea, from the riverbank to your own garden.⁠ Buy...

This wonderfully shiny book teaches us how mushrooms can feed us, heal us, free us and save our world! Wait, what?!⁠ ⁠ Think about it, the kingdom of fungi has survived all five major extinction events! They are the so-called architects of the natural world, integral to all life. They sustain critical ecosystems, recycling nutrients and connecting plants across vast areas, and help to produce many staples of modern life, such as wine, chocolate, bread, detergent and penicillin. So let's take a moment and study what these little spores can teach us. Today, in the face of urgent ecological and societal crises, fungi are being engineered to grow meat alternatives, create new sources of medicine, produce sustainable biomaterials, remediate the environment and even expand our collective consciousness.⁠ ⁠ The Future is Fungi is a complete introduction to this hidden kingdom. Exploring their past, present and potential future impact in four key areas – food, medicine, psychedelics and mental health, and environmental remediation – this book not only reveals how fungi have formed the foundations of modern life but how they might help shape our future. Rich with informative texts, 3D digital art and tips on how to immerse yourself in the world of fungi, this is a manifesto for the future, an invitation into a deeper awareness of our relationship with the natural world, each other, and ourselves. Buy...

Media artist Hito Steyerl illuminates the power structures, inequalities and obscurities of the world. From surveillance, alienated labour, militarisation, protest culture, corporate domination and the art market, she exposes the systemic structures behind them. If one were to give her a title, it would probably be that of a network thinker. No wonder her texts and essays are as groundbreaking as her artistic works.⁠ ⁠ This interdisciplinary anthology analyses how Steyerl's work and writing influence and cross-fertilise each other.⁠ Buy...

What makes a good listener? Is it a skill that can be easily learned, or rather a personality trait or talent? And why do some people seem to be so much better at it than others? Uneasy Listening, written by a psychoanalyst and a violin maker, is a dialogue between two very different kinds of professional listeners: one works with speech, the other with musical instruments. Anouchka Grose and Robert Brewer Young, complete strangers at first, embark on an engaging, entertaining and intricate meditation on communication that makes wide-ranging references to psychoanalytic theory, philosophy, contemporary politics and culture. As they discuss the differences, similarities and resonances between their practices, they encounter some of the illuminating difficulties of dialogue itself. Buy...

Replacement, one could say, is at odds with individualism. If something is irreplaceable, then theoretically it has more value than something that can be easily replaced. So who wants to be replaceable? Amber Husain does! Disillusioned by her first real job, the kind that brings you a pay check that sustains a life, she realises that a permanent job is not automatically a guarantee for permanent relevancy. On the contrary, it "felt causally connected to my growing doubt about the beauty and meaningfulness of life."⁠ ⁠ Fun enough humans continue to build machines that replaces human labour. Starting with the washing machine. But instead of leaning back and enjoying all that free time, we compete with robots and create useless jobs are suppose to make us feel important and needed. ⁠ ⁠ Replace Me is a celebration of the possibilities for political transformation inherent in the act of embracing one's own replaceability.⁠   Buy...

Do you know the work of Forensic Architecture? If not, then be prepared to get your mind blown! Connecting real cases of human rights and environmental violations with the tools used in architecture and design, this studio creates a Wolpertinger of art and real evidence which is then used in some of the biggest court cases and tribunals of recent years. ⁠ ⁠ Forensic Architecture is often challenged by voices declaring in an exhibition “This is evidence, not art!” or in a trial “This is art, not evidence!”. Truth is, that exhibiting their work in art exhibitions draws international attention to cases that States or big corporations would only too gladly keep unnoticed. It helps victims be heard and get access to a public stage. It also sheds light on injustices, corruption and failures of our political systems. ⁠ ⁠ This is the first installation of Forensic Architecture Reports, a series of books each dedicated to a single Forensic Architecture investigation:⁠ ⁠ On the evening of 4 August 2011, Mark Duggan was shot and killed by the police in the north London neighbourhood of Tottenham after the minicab in which he was traveling was pulled over by a team of undercover officers. The team had begun following Duggan shortly after receiving intelligence that he was in possession of a gun, and the officer who shot him testified that he had seen, for a ‘split second’, Duggan aiming the gun at him after he had exited the minicab. However, the gun was not found next to Duggan’s body on the pavement. According to the police, they discovered it in a patch of grass some seven meters away. The Duggan family’s legal team commissioned Forensic Architecture to conduct an investigation into the critical question at the heart of the case: How did the gun end up in the grass? With no video footage of the shooting itself, Forensic Architecture had to rely primarily on the written and oral testimony of the officers involved to develop a spatial investigation designed to test the plausibility of the police’s narrative and to examine whether the officers themselves could have planted the gun.⁠   Buy...

On 10 June 2020, the scholar James Nwoye Adichie died suddenly in Nigeria. In this tender and powerful essay, expanded from the original New Yorker text, his daughter, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the bestselling author of Americanah and Half of a Yellow Sun and a self-confessed daddy’s girl, remembers her beloved father. Notes on Grief is at once a tribute to a long life of grace and wisdom, the story of a daughter’s fierce love for a parent, and a revealing examination of the layers of loss and the nature of grief. ⁠ ⁠ ‘Grief is a cruel kind of education. You learn how ungentle mourning can be, how full of anger. You learn how glib condolences can feel. You learn how much grief is about language, the failure of language and the grasping for language’   Buy...

Among the many disturbing aspects of our time, the most shocking may be our passivity, our willingness to become spectators in a disaster from which we ourselves will be unable to escape. In response, philosopher Frédéric Gros examines the roots of disobedience. He draws on sources from Socrates to Thoreau, uncovering evidence from events as diverse as the Eichmann trial and the experiments of Stanley Milgram. Gros claims that philosophy itself is inherently disobedient. It asks us never to give in to the obvious or the commonplace, and forces us to rediscover a sense of political responsibility. Disobey is a call for critical democracy and ethical resistance.   Buy...

From min-min, the sound of air screaming, to jin-jin, the sound of being touched for the very first time, from hi’sori, the sound of harbouring masochist tendencies, to mote-mote, the sound of becoming a small-town movie star, Fifty Sounds is a personal dictionary of the Japanese language. Polly Barton recounting her obsession with the country she moved to at the age of 21 - Japan. Irreverent, humane, witty and wise, Fifty Sounds is an exceptional debut about the quietly revolutionary act of learning, speaking, and living in another language.⁠   Buy...

"Das letzte Jahr", German for "the last year" does not refer to our last year 2020, which is fortunate because we already have had enough of that. The year meant is 1990, a rather important year in Germany because it was the year in which the reunification of West and East Germany was hastily accomplished. And yet it fell into a collective oblivion. Everyone remembers 1989, when we danced on the Wall. But 1990 seems too scattered to grasp. ⁠ ⁠ The author Martin Gross tried at the time. He had an intuition of the significance of the year that marked the downfall and reshaping of the country. Living in the GDR for a year, he described how people made the transition from the old to the new system. He portrayed people as diverse as the guard of a former Stasi prison, the store manager of one of the new supermarkets, the stokers of a power station, the bodyguards of a minister and the cleaners of a government building.⁠ ⁠ The book was first published in 1992, but was soon forgotten. In 2019, Jan Wenzel came across it while researching for his book "1990 Freilegen" and took many of its notes. With a distance of 30 years, these notes were now perceived by critics as "clear-sighted", "precise", "stylistically brilliant" observations of the turning year. But the author himself could not be found. Fortunately, contact was finally made in June 2020 and a new edition of the title was planned.⁠ ⁠ And so here it is again, a book that describes a historical event, not through political steps, but through the impact it had on people's daily lives. Buy...