Labour Day is a New Zealand public holiday that celebrates the eight-hour working day. It is observed on the fourth Monday in October. The eight-hour working day and the 48-hour working week became law in New Zealand in 1899. Later, the working week was further reduced to 40 hours. All our libraries are closed on Monday 27 October.

Working on the Isaac Theatre Royal Technicians at work in the service department of the television section at Philips Electrical Industries Ltd.

Photo of A small goods factory in Cashel Street, Christchurch : employees of the Christchurch Meat Co. Ltd. dicing meat and making sausages. [1905] Wongi's art work - Smile for Christchurch

For more images of people at work, see our page Christchurch at work.

Book cover of An Astronaut's guide to lifeGround Control to Major Tom…Ground Control to Major Tom…some sentences are impossible to say just once and thanks to David Bowie, Ground Control to Major Tom is one of them.

David Bowie isn’t the reason that song has been in my head recently though, it’s all thanks to Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.

Chris’s performances of songs in the International Space Station, beamed back to Earth culminated in a performance of Space Oddity in May 2013. Now he has released his autobiography – An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything.

Chris mixes details of life on the International Space Station and his training as an astronaut with life lessons he believes have helped him achieve success in life and space.

Book cover of postcards from spaceThere has also been a simplified version of his biography published for kids – Postcards from space, which features a lot of beautiful photographs taken by Chris while he was in space.

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth was featured in our October Science and Nature Newsletter, along with a lot of other great space reads including Neil deGrasse Tyson and Red Rover: inside the story of robotic space exploration.

 

How many times do you read a book and like it, then hear that it is being made into a movie? It seems that a really good book may have qualities that don’t translate to a good movie.

Cover of Gone GirlIt was said once – and I can’t remember who said it – that more bad books make good films rather than the other way round. Mario Puzo’s The Godfather is a good yarn, but a long way from being a great piece of literature. The film version, however, is one of the great American movies of all time with the bad bits – especially the sex scenes that even Harold Robbins might laugh at – jettisoned.

What can make a book fall over when it hits the screen? Reviews have been less than enthusiastic for the film version of S. J. Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep and it may be that gimmick-style revelations at the end can’t work when the many readers of the novel know them. Will this make the film version of Gone Girl, expected soon, go the same way?

Cover of Z for ZachariahThere are, however, some interesting adaptations coming up and they may work well on the screen. The film of Z for Zachariah, the classic YA novel by Robert C. O’Brien, may be the first major movie filmed on location in Port Levy and a cast that includes Chris Pine, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Margot Robbie sounds promising.

Further up the island, in the Marlborough Sounds, filming has begun on an adaptation of the excellent novel by M. L. Stedman, The Light Between Oceans, the story of a lighthouse keeper and his wife who find a boat washed ashore with a dead man and an infant on board. Their decision to raise the child as their own drives the plot of the novel which is actually set in Australia. The film has Michael Fassbender, Rachel Weisz and Swedish actress Alicia Vikander in the cast.

Cover of A Hologram for the KingOne of my favourite writers –if you like state of the nation novels – is Dave Eggers and the film version of A Hologram for the King is an interesting choice for a big American film in that it’s about a middle class man trying to hold himself and his family together as the world economy falters by trying to sell himself and his ideas to the burgeoning Arabian world. Tom Hanks is in the lead.

The dystopian world of J. G. Ballard is perfectly captured in his High Rise which is set in a luxury high rise building where things start to go wrong, leading to a major social breakdown. The novel, firmly set in the Thatcher era, has been on the cards for decades and is only now coming to film with Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Luke Evans and Sienna Miller in the cast.

Cover of The Family FangNicole Kidman’s career may be faltering at the moment, but good on her for buying the rights to one of the most outrageous and funny novels, around, Kevin Wilson’s The Family Fang, featuring the worst parents imaginable, a couple of performance artists and their children who live in permanent embarrassment at the idiotic performances their parents dream up. Kidman and Jason Bateman play the parents with Bateman directing. (more…)

Prime Minister at Labour Day Picnic, 1946, campaigning for re-election (successfully!). My father designed the “Honest Peter” outfit and my sister and I spent a hot day under cover. (I was the backend!) Mr Fraser looked underneath and said “Hot in there, girlie?” and I said “What do you think?” I was roundly told off by Dad for being cheeky. My young brother was the jockey. 29 October 1946. Entry in the 2012 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Kete Christchurch. CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ

Get ready for the Christchurch Big Band Festival this weekend by downloading some Big Band tracks for free from FreegalFreegal lets you download three free music MP3s (or one video and one MP3) every week with your library card number and PIN.

 Cover of Artie ShawBook cover of Jazz Band Cover of I found a million dollar babyCover of Jamil Sheriff Big Band Book cover of Dont get lost Cover of Carnegie Hall

  1. Artie Shaw and His Orchestra
  2. Doug Hamilton – Jazz Band
  3. I Found a Million Dollar Baby
  4. Jamil Sheriff – Ichthyology
  5. Chico Hamilton – Don’t Get Lost
  6. Benny Goodman & Glenn Miller – Live at Carnegie Hall

In an attempt to tame her ever-growing For Later list,  Robyn has decided to share with us on a regular basis the titles that she has recently added to her list. The theory being that, even if she doesn’t ever get round to reading them, she can perhaps do so vicariously through you… So please do share your opinions of her picks – are they worthy, do you think, of inclusion in that lofty list?

Cover: Anger Is An EnergyAnger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored by John Lydon.
He should know; he must be one of the angriest men ever.

The Queen’s Houses by Alan Titchmarsh.
How would John Lydon feel about sharing a shelf with Her Majesty the Queen? Angry probably.

The Unexpected Professor by John Carey.
This has had great reviews and I love a book about Oxford.

Cover: As You WishPeter Levi: Oxford Romantic by Brigid Allen. As above.

Londonopolis: A Curious History of London by Martin Latham.
I also love a book about London.

As You Wish by Cary Elwes.
Let’s face it, I pretty much love a book about anything. This one is about one of my favourite films, The Princess Bride. I’m hoping to add to the three things I know about one of its stars, Andre the Giant: he was a giant, he was a wrestler and Samuel Beckett used to drive him to school.

Cover of WylieI love dogs, I have two of the little beggars and they demand a huge amount of attention and love which I am happy to give. That said I have been rather amazed lately at the number of books published about these canine friends. A while ago it was all about Dewey the Library cat – there were huge waiting lists for this book which seemed to come out of nowhere, but  now we have Buster the dog who saved a thousand lives, Wylie the brave street dog who never gave up, and Divinity dogs to name but a few.

Why dogs, why now? Are we looking for something heartwarming and positive amongst all the angst perhaps? Certainly there is nothing quite like lying next to your dog, feeling their warmth and companionship when life gets  a bit tough, but these dogs are something else. They change lives, they save lives!  All mine do is eat, sleep and chase the occasional cat.

The centenary of World War I has also brought with it tales of doggy heroism, especially in the realm of children’s books. Stubby the war dog : the true story of World War I ‘s bravest dog, Dogs on duty : soldiers’ best friends on the battlefield and beyond, Dog in no-man’s-land and The ANZAC puppy cover all areas from non fiction to picture book.

Don’t miss out on photography books either, Harlow and Sage apparently “took Instagram by storm”, and the delightful  Life and Love of dogs, declares rather fulsomely that it is a:

surprising analysis of the qualities that make a dog attractive in our eyes, a detailed look at how the breeds we see today are a product of our own needs and desires, and more – it sheds original light on this great love affair.

Cover of The life and love of dogs Cover of Stubby Cover of The ANZAC Puppy

 

Quirky Titles Display at Bishopdale Library

“Quirky Titles” Display at Bishopdale Library

There are 211 different books in Christchurch City Libraries to help you name your future offspring, but only one to guide the choice of title for your soon-to-be-published book. And that is the cunningly titled Why Not Catch-21? The Stories Behind the Titles.

I am fascinated by book titles, especially the zany “what were they thinking” offerings. Here is a selection of some of my current favourites.

Huffington Post lists a New Zealand book as having one of their top fifteen most ridiculous titles: the wonderfully rhythmic Come Onshore and We Will Kill and Eat You All. It’s a love story caught in the middle of the cultural collision between Westerners and Maori. Having nailed a great title though, the publishers went all lily-livered and opted for a dreadfully bland blue cover which does nothing at all for the book.

Knitting with Dog Hair is an old favourite of mine – billed as Better a sweater from a dog you know and love than a sheep you’ll never meet. If you love dogs and have a vacuum cleaner, you are well ahead of the pack in this. I’ve missed years of Scottish Terrier sheddings which would, according to the author, have yielded a slightly coarse but spinnable undercoat. I think this activity would have driven me to drink. In which case I could have rejigged the title and called my book Hair of the Dog.

I still wonder at the appeal of British Mousetraps and Their Makers, but this book is regularly borrowed. The cover shows several complicated, scary, medieval looking traps. It makes me wonder if mice of other nationalities would also fall prey to these Proudly British devices.

Cover of Traditional Molvanian baby namesFinally, when you and your partner tire of the sweetness of the whole baby naming thing, have a palate cleansing look at the outrageous Traditional Molvanian Baby Names. This title sounds normal until you realise that Molvania doesn’t exist (the blurb describes it as just north of Bulgaria and downwind from Chernobyl). This book will provide you with much needed comic ammunition for when the in-laws become antsy about your name choice for their grandchild. Just shove a few of these XYZ and K mouthfuls into the mix and they are sure to get back in line.

Imagine then my delight that this interest in wacky titles is more widespread than I had thought. Bishopdale Library has a running display of some of these offerings. It is great to see rare books getting an airing – and apparently they do attract a lot of attention. At Bishopdale, team members are constantly on the look-out for weird and wacky titles to add to their display. If you’d like to help this darling little Community Library – just add your suggestions below!

 

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