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non-fiction

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...

In the age of Trump and Brexit, every crisis is immediately replaced by the next one. The turbulent political weather of the twenty-first century creates anxiety and makes it difficult to look into an uncertain future. How should we react? Olivia Laing provides a brilliant, inspiring argument for why art is more important than ever as a force for resistance and repair. Art, she argues, is changing the way we see the world. It reveals inequalities, exposes, criticises and offers alternative paths.⁠ ⁠ Funny Weather brings together a career’s worth of Laing’s writing about art and culture, and their role in our political and emotional lives. She profiles Jean-Michel Basquiat and Georgia O’Keeffe, interviews Hilary Mantel and Ali Smith, writes love letters to David Bowie and Wolfgang Tillmans, and explores loneliness and technology, women and alcohol, sex and the body. With characteristic originality and compassion, Funny Weather celebrates art as an antidote to a frightening political time. The collection of short essays, articles, and columns that immerse you in an analysis, a stream of thought, or an emotional interpretation makes this book feel like spending an afternoon with one of your brainiest friends.⁠   Buy...

Nach gerade mal 10 Jahren ist es wieder soweit! Der legendäre deutsche Unternehmer, Designer und Sachbuchautor Rafael Horzon legt noch eins drauf. Das Neue Buch steht seinem einmaligen (weil) autobiographischen Erstlingswerk, Das weiße Buch, in keinster Weise nach. Zwischen dem faszinierend gestaltetem Hologramm-Effekt-Papier-Einband verbirgt sich ein Geniestreich, der bewegt, berührt und neben erfolgreichen Businessstrategien tiefe und noch nie zu lesende Einblicke in das private Leben eines Mannes und sein kreatives Schaffen gibt. Und die dazugehörigen Blaupausen. Eine Art perfektioniertes Prokrastinieren. In Dauerschleife. Also das Leben. Dieses Buch ist geeignet für alle in allen Lebenslagen und wärmstens zu empfehlen. P.S.: Lieber Freund, you made our days! Buy...

So Harry says, "You don't like me anymore. Why not?" And he says, "Because you've got so terribly pretentious." And Harry says, "Pretentious, moi?" - Fawlty Towers⁠ ⁠ What is pretentiousness? Why do we despise it? And more controversially: why is it vital to a thriving culture? In this brilliant, passionate essay, Dan Fox argues that it has always been an essential mechanism of the arts, from the most wildly successful pop music and fashion through to the most recondite avenues of literature and the visual arts. Pretentiousness: Why it Matters unpacks the uses and abuses of the term, tracing its connections to theatre, politics and class. From method acting to vogueing balls in Harlem, from Brian Eno to normcore, Fox draws on a wide range of references in advocating critical imagination and open-mindedness over knee-jerk accusations of elitism or simple fear of the new and the different. Drawing on his own experiences growing up and working at the more radical edges of the arts, this book is a timely defence of pretentiousness as a necessity for innovation and diversity in our culture.⁠ ⁠...

Digitalisation has come under suspicion through the rise of surveillance, manipulation, and fake news. ⁠At the same time, it also offers opportunities for renewing our democracy. In their pamphlet "Power to the People", Georg Diez and Emanuel Heisenberg argue for a different approach to the new technologies. They describe how identity, autonomy and co-determination can be achieved by digital means, for example through citizens' meetings and new forms of voting. Using Barcelona as an example, they show how problems such as gentrification and climate change can be controlled with a completely new data policy. Technology, if we think of it in terms of a digital civil society instead as of the devil, could enable a new form of power and emancipation that grows from below: a digital democratic revolution. Maybe.⁠ Even though the title might suggest otherwise, this book is in German only.⁠ Buy...

Eighteen international writers respond to the open-ended period of social distancing, closures, and illness caused by Covid-19. Meditating on notions of distance and closeness, sameness and alterity, extinguishing and kindling, Tools for Extinction considers how a common pause might give rise to new modes of domesticity and shift experiences of time. What gestures and actions are we willing to perform to make ourselves, and each other, feel at ease – or at work? What tools and objects are useful, or unprecedentedly useless, to us in the process? And as our species’ trademark proclivity for projecting ourselves into the future is disrupted, might we come to see the buildings, animals, and plants around us in a new light? The anthology takes its name from Steven Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog, a 1960s counterculture compendium of product reviews, essays, and articles on the themes of self-sufficiency, ecology, and alternative education. By giving “access to tools”, a new social order and a more sustainable Earth was imagined. Buy...

Die BRD existiert nicht. Angela Merkel ist Hitlers Tochter. Und Chemtrails sollen uns vergiften. Es ist leicht in der ganzen post-truth Debatte auf die USA zu zeigen und belächelnd den Kopf zu schütteln, wenn mal wieder eine abstruse Verschwörungstheorie auftaucht. Das wir aber gar nicht bis über den Ozean schauen müssen um das Gruseln zu bekommen, zeigen Christian Alt und Christian Schiffer.⁠ Auf ihrer Reise durch ein paranoides Land (es ist tatsächlich Deutschland) treffen sie Verschwörungstheoretiker, Aussteiger und Opfer. Sie decken die psychologischen Mechanismen auf, die zu Verschwörungstheorien führen, erklären, warum das Internet nur zum Teil Schuld hat und tragen 23 goldene Regeln zusammen, mit denen wir den Wahnsinn endlich aufhalten können. Ein aufklärerisches Manifest und ein furioser Road Trip – auf dem sie dann aber einen großen Fehler machen: Sie erfinden eine eigene Verschwörungstheorie. Buy ...

Even though it feels kind of weird that a book about bookstores around the world is inspired by our little shop, it's also kind of cool ; )⁠ And while we still can't believe that we've been in business for more than ten years and perhaps played our part in giving independent publishing a voice, we really want to thank this rich world of print for being part of it and for surprising and inspiring us every day a new. With digital media alone, we would all quickly drown in our own bubble of algorithmic repetition.⁠ But fortunately there are tons of publications that deal with subculture, explore unpopular topics, show visual diversity, make people think, and push the boundaries of print. And fortunately there are independent publishers who are bold and courageous. And fortunately there are independent bookstores that dig through the thousands and thousands of new publications and pick out the unparalleled highlights to bring them to you. And fortunately there are you, too, who are hungry to be surprised and stimulated and astonished and inspired and enthralled.⁠ Happy to be part of this! Buy...

In Morocco, the only acceptable sexual activity is between a woman and her husband. Where all forms of extra-marital sex, homosexuality and prostitution are not only socially frowned upon but also punishable by law, women appear to have two options: be a virgin or be a wife.⁠ The first work of non-fiction in English from the prize-winning and internationally bestselling author Leila Slimani gives voice to young Moroccan women who are grappling with a conservative Arab culture that at once condemns and commodifies sex. By telling their intimate stories, by breaking taboos, by letting us into their thoughts and struggles, these women do not just break the silence, they also show that their lives and their lust matters. Which makes this book political and a vibrant appeal for the universal freedom to be, to love and to desire. ⁠ Buy...