Solo: Backcountry Adventuring in Aotearoa New Zealand

By Hazel Phillips
Massey University Press / RRP $39.99

Solo by Hazel Phillips

Journalist Hazel Phillips did something many of us have dreamed of: threw in the towel on her office job and headed for the hills. For three years, Hazel tramped and climbed around the country alone, mostly living in mountain huts.

Solo chronicles this intrepid journey, with all its highs (like having some of the country’s most incredible landscapes to herself) and lows (including a near-death experience being swept away in a flooded river).

Hazel pays tribute to the female adventurers who came before her and looks at the sometimes unpleasant reality of being a woman alone in the outdoors.

Small Things Like These

By Claire Keegan
Faber & Faber / RRP $24.99

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

This is a small novel and its language is often sparse, but there is always a deeper meaning swirling underneath Claire Keegan’s words. Sweet, sentimental Bill Furlong has been hauled out of a turbulent childhood and become a successful coal merchant in an Irish town, but a current of unease runs through his life.

Set in the lead-up to Christmas in 1985, Bill is busy with festive season deliveries. When he meets a distressed young woman on a delivery at a convent, he’s forced to confront his simmering unease. Bill must decide whether to act against the Catholic Church while protecting his wife and daughters and examining his own troubled past. The antithesis to a sunny Kiwi Christmas, Small Things Like These is a poignant reminder that power can be found in gentleness.

The Bookseller at the End of the World

By Ruth Shaw
Allen & Unwin / RRP $36.99

The bookseller at the end of the world by Ruth Shaw

At first, you think this is going to be a charming look at Ruth Shaw’s tiny, remote bookshops in Manapōuri, with plenty of quirky characters and heartwarming moments. And while there is some of that, it’s interspersed with stories from Ruth’s youth that are in stark contrast to the settled life she now leads.

The chapters cover rape, a broken engagement, the death of her child, poverty, legal trouble, lost love and a lot of grief, with all of these propelling Ruth to run further and further from home. This journey has given her a knack for selecting books that will help guide her customers, and this lovely read reinforces how literature can help us untangle our own lives.

Science Friction Podcast

Science Friction

Created by the Australian national broadcaster ABC, Science Friction sits at the intersection of science and culture. This is a jargon-free podcast that humanises data and facts. Recent episodes include an interview with a neuroscientist who writes romance novels inspired by the difficult power dynamics in science, a look at far-right nationalist proponents of ‘eco-fascism’ and an exploration of the political battleground of biological sex vs gender.

Alice Snedden's Bad News

Alice Snedden Bad News Web SeriesComedian Alice Snedden is back with another glut of bad news. This docu-comedy web series wrestles with some of the hard questions plaguing Aotearoa New Zealand today. Why do we struggle to use the word ‘fat’? Why is our wealth gap so significant? And is our prison system really making us safer and reducing reoffending? Alice’s relentless humour and wry self-reflection make this series both deeply personal and irrepressibly funny. Watch it at

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