In the third and final instalment of the Canvas summer book series – what to read in 2020 – we look at non-fiction books out this year
We've "Kondoed" our homes – now we might be doing the same at work. Should employers brace themselves for May and a deluge of resignations as many decide their job no longer brings them joy? Not quite.
Home organisational guru Marie Kondo follows the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up with Joy at Work, which promises to do for the workplace what her first book did for the home. It's more about cutting through the "mess and clutter" of pointless meetings, endless emails and disorganised paperwork rather than changing your life entirely. But it does come with a note: "Once you've found order in your work life, you can feel empowered to find confidence, energy and motivation to create the career you want and move on from negative working practices."
Joy at Work doesn't arrive until May; before then, there are rich pickings for those who enjoy inspirational true stories.
For years, former journalist Matt Calman turned to alcohol to deal with depression but he quit drinking when he decided he was no longer willing to put up with the dark side of his addiction. Facing panic attacks and thoughts of suicide, Calman decided to take on the toughest endurance race in New Zealand, the Coast to Coast Multisport World Championship. His The Longest Day is out next month.
We'll also be inspired by Ben Moon's Denali. In the best-selling tradition of Marley & Me, this story of a dog, his human and the friendship that saved both their lives started as a short film; now Denali and Moon's story is in print and out in March.
Back, by Tiger Woods promises to reveal fresh insights about the golfing star's tumultuous personal life. A Woods' memoir, Unprecedented: The Masters and Me came out in 2017 but he wrote that with journalist Lorne Rubenstein. Publishers HarperCollins say Back is the first and only account directly from Woods, with the full co-operation of his friends, family, and inner circle.
Casketeers, the story of star funeral directors Francis and Kaiora Tipene, is an award-winning screen hit. Now their story about a modest yet culturally rich Māori upbringing, the trials and tribulations of their love and marriage, raising five sons, and the dedication and mahi needed to succeed in business moves to the page with the March release of Life as a Casketeer.
The month also sees the release of what's bound to be one of the most moving New Zealand books of 2020. Husna's Story: My wife, the Christchurch massacre & my journey to forgiveness is written by Farid Ahmed, whose wife, Husna, was one of the 51 people killed in the Christchurch mosque attacks. She was shot while looking for her husband, who was in a wheelchair, having already led other women and children to safety. Farid says he forgives the alleged killer and shares a philosophy of forgiveness, peace and love.
Our House is On Fire, the March release from Greta Thunberg's family, is the story of how the family were led to confront a crisis when Greta, then 11, stopped eating and speaking, was diagnosed with autism and selective mutism and then confessed her fears about her "imperiled future on a rapidly heating planet".
Other titles with an activist bent include Bill Gates' How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, where the Microsoft founder surveys his 10-plus years of research into and investment in new environmental technologies. Although he acknowledges the seriousness of the issues facing humanity, and the complexity of the debate, Gates is ultimately convinced we can "come together" to avoid climate catastrophe.
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In Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back, veteran worrier and author Mark O'Connell meets the anarchists, environmentalists, far-right ideologists and the super-rich preparing for the end of days. Perhaps not surprisingly given we're regarded as a safe haven, there's lots of New Zealand content here.
In 2017, activist Miles McKenna came out on his YouTube channel documenting his transition to help other teens navigate identity politics and take charge of their own coming-out stories. McKenna's book Out is described as the ultimate coming-out survival guide for those exploring their identity or wanting to understand the experience of a queer person they know.
Best-selling author Lotta Dann releases in June The Wine O'Clock Myth, which tackles a modern social view – that women in New Zealand drink too much and are surrounded by a culture, fuelled by advertising and beverage companies, that actively encourages this.
June sees the release of Jordan Peterson's Beyond Mere Order: 12 More Rules For Life. The controversial Canadian clinical psychologist has already revealed, via video, the additional rules but says this second book will make a "complete set" with his 2018
12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
It's an election year and 2020 is packed with political biographies. Jacinda Ardern: A New Kind of Leader, by Madeleine Chapman, is perhaps the most eagerly awaited and hits the shelves at the end of March. Chapman, an award-winning journalist who co-authored Steven Adams' autobiography My Life, My Fight, searches for the "real Ardern" – the woman behind the headlines – but also asks questions to which NZ voters are wanting answers. Namely, is Ardern living up to her promise of a new kind of politics, what does this new style of leadership look like in practice and what can be learned from the world's reaction to the country's youngest Prime Minister.
Bill Birch: Minister of Everything, which looks at the "quiet achiever" of New Zealand politics and a trusted lieutenant to Prime Ministers Rob Muldoon, Jim Bolger and Jenny Shipley. Written by Birch's former press secretary Wellington-based communications consultant Brad Tattersfield, it considers 25 years of NZ politics through the eyes of one man.
Former Māori Party co-leader Sir Pita Sharples releases a revealing landmark memoir in April. Raised in small-town Hawke's Bay and educated at Te Aute College, Sir Pita was the first in his family to go to university and he didn't disappoint. After a stellar academic career, he served as New Zealand's Race Relations Commissioner and later, a politician who brought about historic legislation and change, both as co-leader of the Māori Party and Māori Affairs Minister under the 2008 National Party coalition. A fierce advocate for Māori, Sir Pita helped establish kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa, in part spurring on the resurgence in Māori language and culture we see today.
From the other side of the political spectrum, Golriz Ghahraman's Know Your Place is out in May and billed as a powerful story of an Iranian-Kiwi asylum seeker who became a defence lawyer and New Zealand's first refugee elected to Parliament.
Judith "Crusher" Collins releases a "revealing and surprising" memoir in July; Jim Bolger's is out in August. (Across the Ditch they'll be awaiting the April release of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's A Bigger Picture.)
The deep dive into what New Zealand looks like – and could look like - continues with The New New Zealand by renowned academic Paul Spoonley on how different the country will be in 2030 and how poorly prepared for it we are. Watch out, too, later in the year for a major New Zealand history book, by Professor Michael Belgrave and, in July, the release of Claudia Orange's revised The Treaty of Waitangi/Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Originally published in 1990, this is a fully revised and updated edition that includes a new chapter recounting the Treaty history of the 21st century along with full-colour photographs, maps and illustrations.
In May, Alison Jones, who co-authored with Kuni Kaa Jenkins the award-winning Tuai, publishes a memoir about becoming and being Pākehā: "Every Pākehā becomes a Pākehā in their own way, finding her or his own meaning for that Māori word," writes Jones in the as-yet-unnamed book. "This is the story of what it means to me. I have written this book for Pākehā – and other New Zealanders – curious about their sense of identity and about the ambivalences we Pākehā often experience in our relationships with Māori."
Te Papa Press' major 2020 releases include Brad Haami's exploration of the ancient connections between Māori and whales, an eye-catching book about 19th-century dress, drawn from collections across the country, and the graphic tours de force of the famed Railways Studios.
Writers, performers and artists are well represented in this year's biographies and memoirs. C K Stead – dubbed New Zealand's most extraordinary literary everyman – releases his second volume of his memoirs. From leaving New Zealand in his early 20s through studying abroad, writing and launching a university career before becoming a full-time writer aged 53, it's described as a tumultuous story of literary friends and foes (Curnow and Baxter, A S Byatt and Barry Humphries) and of navigating a personal and political life through the social change of the 1960s and 1970s.
A memoir by actress and novelist Barbara Ewing, One Minute Crying Time, is out in April. It delves into her tumultuous childhood and young adult years in the 1950s and 60s. Ewing writes about her struggles with depression, her difficult relationship with her mother and how learning te reo Māori in the 1960s introduced her to a world few Pākehā had access. Scheduled to appear at the Auckland Writers Festival in May, Ewing's book is bound to be an eye-opener read.
Also in April, look out for a collaboration between writer Lloyd Jones and painter Euan Macleod and a book of the King Country photographs, Observations of a Rural Nurse, by Sara McIntyre, daughter of the famous artist Peter. Sara was just 9 years old when, in 1960, her family came to Kākahi, 20km from Taumarunui. Fifty years later, she found herself back in Kākahi as a district nurse and began to explore the area as a photographer. The Sarjeant Gallery, in Whanganui, will exhibit her photos in May.
Two major art books also appear in April/May. Colin McCahon: Is This The Promised Land? Volume 2, 1960–1987 continues Peter Simpson's definitive account of our most important artist, Colin McCahon. From 1960, when he returns to Auckland, McCahon moves in bold new directions, engaging with Tūhoe and New Zealand's Māori traditions, increasingly making words central to his painting and moving from landscape toward abstraction. This volume tells the story of McCahon's artistic and personal journey as well as the afterlife of his work at home and abroad.
In May, art writer Anthony Byrt's The Mirror Steamed Over: Love and Pop in London, 1962 is released. That year, at the Royal College of Art in London, three extraordinary personalities collided: New Zealander Barrie Bates, now better known as pop artist Billy Apple; fellow pop art pioneer David Hockney – young, Northern and openly gay – and Ann Quin, sleeping with Bates, ghost-writing his thesis, soon to publish her experimental novel Berg and then commit suicide. Byrt asks, "how did a group of outsiders transform British contemporary art?"
Writer Gordon McLauchlan's Stop the Clock is out in May. Here the well-known writer and social commentator concludes that the only way to learn how to manage growing old is by growing old. McLauchlan traces his "ascent" into his golden years, insisting that it is an ascent and not a descent as so many would have us believe.
"It will make you not only stop and smell the roses, but consider Shakespeare and the homeless in the process." Speaking of Shakespeare, James Shapiro's Shakespeare in a Divided America, a close analysis of why Shakespeare – the most quintessential of English writers – holds such sway in the USA is out in April.
As we start heading toward Christmas, and peak book-buying season, look out for Ten Steps to Nanette by Emmy award-winning comedian Hannah Gadsby. The September release is touted as a "deeply personal, astutely observed, sometimes devastating but frequently hysterically funny" memoir.