We All Want Impossible Things

By Catherine Newman
Doubleday / RRP $37

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Ash and Edi have been best friends for more than four decades. They know each other better than they know themselves. But now Edi is facing an experience all by herself. She is dying of cancer and spending her last days in hospice. Ash is by her side every day while also trying to live her own messy life. We All Want Impossible Things manages the impossible. While its subject matter is inherently tragic and sad, it’s a book that will make you laugh more than it will make you cry. It avoids sentimentality and celebrates life in all its complexities. It reminds us that grief is the price we pay for love.

Am I normal?

By Sarah Chaney
Hatchett / RRP $39.99

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Normal was once only used in geometry. Right angle triangles were described as normal, not people. However, over the past two centuries, we have become obsessed with the idea of normal – of comparing ourselves to others based on the binary idea of whether we are physiologically and mentally normal or abnormal. Sarah Chaney argues the idea of normal is in itself abnormal. Most measurements are based on WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic), a group that make up just 12% of the world’s population but 96% of the subjects of psychology studies and 80% in medicine.

Chaney tracks the evolution of the idea of ‘normal’ since the 1830s, when a proliferation of tests of our mental and physical health took off across Europe and North America. It explores why we have become so anxiety ridden through the use and misuse of this term. It challenges readers to question the unspoken norms and perceptions that have shaped our lives, to explore our ideas of normality and abnormality with more nuance.

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Small changes can have big impacts, and in this book, Dr Michael Mosely lays out some of the simple changes we can make to benefit our health. From standing on one leg to switching to cold water for the last few seconds of our shower, each idea in this book is simple and backed up by science. The book is based on the popular BBC programme of the same name. In it, Michael talks to experts, road-tests all his tips and enlists the help of some very special guests to show how simple changes can really make a difference to how you feel every day. You can also hear Michael explain some of his simple tips on his podcast. Visit bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09by3yy or download on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Daisy Jones and the Six 2

Fans of Fleetwood Mac will like this limited series from Prime Video based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Taylor Jenkins Reid. In the late 1970s, rock band Daisy Jones & The Six were on top of the world, but after a sold-out show, the band members decided to call it quits. The story picks up decades later when the band members agree to speak to a journalist and retell the story of how the band rose from obscurity to the heights of fame, then imploded at the peak of its success. The musical drama features 24 original songs written exclusively for the series and recorded by the cast, headed up by Riley Keough, granddaughter of Elvis Presley.

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Many of New Zealand’s public libraries (including Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hamilton) are available on the Libby app, an easy way to borrow audiobooks, e-books and more directly from your mobile phone or tablet for free. Signing up is as easy as selecting your local library and adding your library card, and from there, you will have access to your library’s catalogue – much faster and easier than visiting your local library. From there, your loans can sync across multiple devices, you can access your loans offline and if you don’t get through a book in time, it will remember where you left off the next time you download. Libraries that are not on Libby will probably have their own version such as BorrowBox, Wheelers or Ulverscroft.

The Sound podcast

From 2016, US diplomatic staff posted in the Havana, Cuba embassy began reporting a mysterious and debilitating illness. They claimed it started with an incessant buzzing sound and it caused headaches, nausea, problems with memory and vision and hearing loss. Reported and hosted by Nicky Wolf, The Sound: Mystery of Havana Syndrome explores how this puzzling medical mystery unravelled. It looks at the various theories of the cause of what was dubbed Havana Syndrome: was it sonic warfare, the sound of mating crickets or mass psychogenic illness – or something else entirely? You can access this fascinating story on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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