Books


Cover of Dining with the MaharajasI stalk books.

I usually spot my quarry in a library. I take it home – mine, all mine.  The library wants it back; I reluctantly return it. Next I do the equivalent of “the end of a relationship drive-by”: I stalk between the library shelves, pick up the book and stroke it a bit. If it is not easy to access, I’ll place the item on hold. Get it out again. Keep it for longer than a month (naughty, naughty). Return it. Give up. Buy it.

Some small children start young with this – you see them at Returns clinging to beloved picture books, with harried mothers explaining in weary tones – yet again – that library books must come back to the library. It is one of life’s first cruel lessons. Of course it is much cuter in a two year old than it is for senior citizens to be caught whimpering at Returns. But still I cannot help myself.

Cover of An illustrated lifeHere is a small selection of books that I have stalked, some of which I now own.

I think Dining with the Maharajas is one of the most beautiful books I have seen. It has a purple velvet cover and opens up to a life of luxury the like of which I am never going to experience. I put it on my Christmas wish list, but to no avail. I still track it down, just to stroke it, every now and then.

I took Danny Gregory’s An Illustrated Life out of the library three times before I finally purchased it. It is a “must own” book for anyone who nurtures a small but persistent little flicker of creativity. In this book fifty artists allow access to their private sketchbooks and give information about their favoured materials. I could not live without it. I now hold it in captivity.

Cover of HeartburnAnd then there is Nora Ephron. The titles of whose books trace the trajectory of my life: Wallflower at the Orgy; Heartburn; I Feel Bad about my Neck and I Remember Nothing. I wanted them all. Finally a compendium of her writing was published – The Most of Nora Ephron. I stalked once and quickly bought the book for myself. It is My Life on a Plate, also the name of a book by India Knight (which I’ve bought as well).

Authors worry about book sales. That people won’t read printed books because there are e-books; that only libraries will buy books. But they have not factored in the book stalkers.

Have you stalked books and then bought them? Please tell me I am not the only one!

The New Zealand International Film Festival is coming to Christchurch in August and we recently chatted to the Festival Director, Bill Gosden about cinematic books that inspired him.

Book cover of The new biographical dictionary of filmBill said he was indebted to Dunedin Public Libraries where he had his unofficial film education while at high school. Titles that helped spur his interest in film included:

Take a look at our collection of movie related resources to get some inspiration for your future-film-festival-directing endeavours. If you are more interested in watching films than curating them however, there are a bunch of films in the Festival that have literary connections. We’ve got a list of them on our website, as well as a list of upcoming film and TV adaptations  and a huge list of books that have previously been filmed. Here are some of the highlights:

There are a lot more titles on our list. Let us know in the comments if we have missed any literary connections in this years Festival.

 

Animal architecture by Ingo Arndt is a photographic tribute to animal nests and shelters which are functional, complex and beautiful, however this book is not just all about the pictures (stunning though they are) it also ticks all the boxes for containing scientific facts and insights into animal behaviour.

Our Fiction buyer has been busy this month and has noted that there are so many takes on literary classics that you might assume they’ve all been done. However, Tom Grass, whose background is in the film industry, has a debut novel coming out soon called Twist, with the title character Twist as a teenager on the run from the police and saved by the mysterious Dodge who introduces him to Cornelius Faginescu, described as an “art collector.” No songs in all this.

One of the literary greats of today would have to be Margaret Atwood and she has a new one – Stone mattress – coming out. It’s a volume of short stories.

Also taking the short story route is Man Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel and her collection has the intriguing title of The assassination of Margaret Thatcher. Fans of Hilary in her historical fiction hat might like to know that the television miniseries adaptation of Wolf Hall will be shown in Britain in 2015. It’s a six-parter and Cromwell is played by Mark Rylance with Damian Lewis as King Henry, Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn and Joanne Whalley as Catherine of Aragon.

Cover of Animal Architecture Cover of Stone Mattress Cover of The assassination of Margaret Thatcher

Cover of The Scraps BookOur children’s Non Fiction book buyer loved The scraps book.

The renowned Caldecott Honouree and illustrator provides a moving, intimate, and inspiring inside look at her colourful picture book career. Lois Ehlert always knew she was an artist. Her parents encouraged her from a young age by teaching her how to sew,  saw wood, pound nails, and by giving her colourful art supplies. Today, many years and many books later, Lois takes readers and aspiring artists on a delightful behind-the-scenes tour of her books and her book-making process. Part fascinating retrospective, part moving testament to the value of following your dreams, this richly illustrated picture book is sure to inspire children and adults alike to explore their own creativity.

Secrets of the National Archives: The stories behind the letters and documents of our past.

This book is on order so there is nothing to see yet but I was intrigued by the idea that the staff at the National Archives in Britain were given the opportunity to choose their favourite documents from out of 120 miles of papers that the Archives contain.  What would they choose and why?  The Magna Carta, a letter from Queen Elizabeth or a ships log by Captain Cook?  I think this could we a wee gem for those secret archivists amongst us.

And lastly some music to finish off.

Secrets of the National Archives

The Stories Behind the Letters and Documents of Our Past

- See more at: http://christchurch.bibliocommons.com/item/show/852359037_secrets_of_the_national_archives#sthash.tS9eLxuc.dpuf

Eventide
VOCES8 are an cappella octet from the United Kingdom, and our music buyer says:

Pure and meltingly mesmerising. Don’t expect a haka-boogie good time from this one

 

HNN (Hillmorton Network News) is a specialised schools programme run by South Learning Centre, an initiative being trialled in 2014.  It is a television venture run by Hillmorton Year 7 and 8 student group to ‘Celebrate Success‘.  Hillmorton’s new school Years 7 to 13 is showcased, student achievement celebrated in the classroom, on the field, in the art room and within the community.

Students  work alongside school staff to integrate H.N.N requirements within curriculum time to produce material for each broadcast. Students meet with South Learning staff for guidance  to learn production, scripting, technical skills and how to compile all features, reports and news into a production.

Student reporters report on weekend sport, local school news, community events and international news.  Library news, promotions and activities have regular slots within episodes.

SLC staff assist students learning how to conduct interviews, promotions and reviews for their broadcasts.  iMovie is used for final presentations, digital video cameras for recording interviews, green screen for backdrops and iPad apps to encourage public speaking. Check out our latest broadcast.

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In our Learning Centre, students experience e-learning programmes aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum document. These programmes provide learning in a technology-rich environment and the teaching within these programmes keep abreast with the latest teaching philosophies and strategies.

If you are interested in working with us to tailor an existing programme or work alongside us please contact us phone 941 5140 or email learningcentre@ccc.govt.nz

Book cover of Toe-up Socks for Every BodyD’you know what I wanted more than anything else when I was a kid? White, lace-topped socks. You know the kind I mean, right? I thought they were the prettiest things ever, and I never got any. Mum made most of our clothes, because it was actually cheaper then. While I loved the pretty dresses she made me, I did NOT love homemade socks! They were always bulky and itchy, and they were definitely not cool.

At some point in my youth, my homemade dresses became decidedly naff as well. I think “homemade” had connotations of dowdy, old crafts that only Nanas would make.

Book cover of Twisted StitchesWell, if the books in the library are anything to go by, “homemade” is not just for Nanas these days! Want to embroider a cheeky “Tweet this!” cell phone case? we’ve got you covered! Zombie amigurumi more your style? We can help you with that too!

As you may have guessed from my blog-handle, I love to craft, and I just love looking at the craft books in our collection.  I often take them home and drool over projects that I will probably never make. I’ve put together a list of some of my favourites – including the cute, the quirky, and the downright outrageous – so that you can drool over them too. We even have loads of sock books (but no, I’m not planning on making any!)

Mid-July is here already, how much more winter can you get? I spent a whole day this past weekend where I never left the house. Well, I did go down the drive to get the paper, but that was hardly adventurous.

Book cover of Soup

I quite like spending a day slouching about, not achieving much, not expecting to achieve much, but  relaxing and unwinding and trying to cast aside the thoughts that try to surface on a Sunday, thoughts such as, “I can’t believe the weekend is gone so fast AGAIN.”

So what did I do? Slept in until 10, then threw some ingredients into the slow cooker to make pumpkin soup.  A notion to eat Bacon Butties while reading the paper was satisfied as we had the crucial ingredients of bacon, bread and even the butty bit.

A check in on Facebook, my shameful addiction, took longer than I thought it should, along with the usual email mass deletion along with my background habit of randomly finding tunes on YouTube to listen to as I do other things.

I downloaded some songs I wanted to keep on Freegal, and checked my library holds, which seem to be stubbornly taking a lifetime to arrive. Librarians suffer from the same curse as many of our customers. You put a heap of items on reserve and then you wait and wait, then they all arrive at once!

I did a bit of reading; I’m almost finished I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore, which I suspect is not the author’s real name.Book Cover of I am Number Four

Lunch was pretty haphazard, then my husband and I settled in for a Breaking Bad fest. We are probably the only two people in the known world not to have seen this so far gripping series, and we have luckily avoided knowing what happens at the end of the sixth season.

I do enjoy looking out of the windows at the weather on a quiet weekend. If it is rainy and horrible, then I can feel cosy and grateful I have a warm house to settle into for the day. If it’s sunny and bright I look at the garden and try not to feel guilty for not being out sorting the garden.

The afternoon meandered on with not a lot of purpose. I made some scones in the afternoon, to keep our strength up, you understand, and for dinner we had some pumpkin soup.

And so the day was over… not much to show for it, but that’s OK with me, we felt relaxed and revived and ready for whatever the next week would throw at us…bring on next weekend.

Margaret Mahy displays

Two years ago, we lost “word witch” Margaret Mahy – a famous Canterbury local and a much loved children’s author.

Cover of The ChangeoverWhat better way to remember her legacy than with words. There is a session The Changeover: 30 Years On at the WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival on Saturday 30 August 2014. Join Stuart McKenzie, co-writer and producer of the forthcoming Changeover movie, and young adult writers Elizabeth Knox and Karen Healey, as they discuss with children’s literature specialist Bill Nagelkerke the importance of this great teen novel and its ongoing relevance.

Words are also for consumption. Search our catalogue for books by Margaret Mahy.

Margaret used to be a children’s librarian at Christchurch City Libraries and our Margaret Mahy pages are full of ideas about writing as well as info on Margaret and her stories:

If the ideas don’t come I go for a walk, listen to music, do a bit of gardening, but I have so much work, it is always easy to go onto something else for a while. If it is urgent I make something happen, even if I am not particularly satisfied with the level of invention, because I think as long as the story is moving something is going to happen, and so far I have been lucky.

We are also lucky to have online the poem Down the back of the chair, and The word-eater written by Margaret Mahy, and illustrated by Bob Kerr. You might recognise the setting of the Central Library in Gloucester Street.

The Word-eater - written by Margaret Mahy; Illustrated by Bob Kerr

More Margaret

Some picks from our July picture books newsletter:

Cover of I love you baby Cover of Snoring Beauty Cover of This is a moose Cover of If I had a raptor

And to celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori – and year round – here is a new list of modern classic picture books in Te Reo.

Cover of Te Anuhe Tino Hiakai  Cover of Te Mihini iti kowhai Cover of Kei te kihini o te po Cover of Te Tanguruhau Cover of Hairy Maclary Cover of E Kuri kino koe Flash

More Te Reo Māori booklists:

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight from your inbox.

Have you read any of these books? If so, we’d love your feedback!

When Mister Bishi, aka Dave, was a stripling, he and a friend left Sydney and travelled overland to the U.K. They were at a bookstall in Connaught Circus in the middle of New Delhi (along with goodness knows how many other thousands) when he overheard some English travellers with very distinctive Birmingham accents (Brummies to fellow Brits).

Being a Brummie himself, he soon found out they were heading to Sydney and offered to give them some names and addresses in Sydney where they could get a bed. Turns out they already had a few, and lo and behold, they were the same people whosw details Dave was about to pass on.  Much head shaking and “Would you read about it” and then… “Oh, and we have the names of a couple of brothers also. Do you know Dave and Trevor Bishi?”

Cover of The Coincidence AuthorityNow I call that a coincidence, but Dr Thomas Post, The Coincidence Authority, would disagree. Using mathematics he would have me believing the odds were quite high for this to happen. Regularly referred to as the Coincidence Man, Tom, a lecturer in Applied Philosophy at a large London University, is quite confident of his ability to explain logically why events others see as coincidences, just plain aren’t.

It could be said he is a tad arrogant. Until the “unlikely” event of a human pile up at the bottom of a long escalator in the depths of Euston Station. He breaks an arm and is entwined with a lovely young woman while they both wait to be rescued from under the mess of suitcases and bodies.

Tom would very much like to meet the lovely young woman again, but has no idea of her name or anything else. But of course this is a book about coincidences and Azalea Lewis comes to him for help as a coincidence expert. Her life from a Manx village to Uganda and to the present has been a series of extreme coincidences. She has tracked down the history of her birth mother and now knows that there are three men who might be her biological father. Azalea and Thomas’s lives become entwined as they try to make sense of what has happened and what she believes will happen.

The story moves at a good pace and frequently I was reluctant to put it down and finish my lunchtime reading. The coincidences are out of the ordinary, but I wanted to solve the mysteries of Azalea’s life as much as she did.

I picked up this book simply because of the cover.  Never heard of the author before and wasn’t really sure I wanted to be bothered reading it when I got it home. However, once started I was hooked. Hence this blog: I like ‘em, you hear about ‘em!

Cover of Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math JazzTo really get to the bottom of the odds or chances of something happening there is Coincidences, chaos and all that math jazz with the mathematical theories in a readable fashion. Helping to understand simple things deeply.

With chapter headings such as “Origami for the Origamically Challenged” (me) and “A Synergy Between Nature and Number” it covers all the title promises. And it’s readable for the scientifically challenged.

Where do you sit on the coincidence fence? How remarkable do you think Mr Bishi’s experience was?

Book Cover of Modern Art CookbookAre you in a wintry rut? Sitting in your little corner: fat, demotivated and glum. If you’ve given exercise its chance, and it’s too cold to diet, try Art.

That is correct, Art can make you slim. Here’s how:

Ease into this gently. First establish Art as a pleasurable activity. What makes you happy? Food. There is a beautiful book that connects Art and food  – The modern art cookbook by Mary Ann Caws. In this stunning book, you can relate to food (madeleines, red snapper, rare roast beef) as if you were already a famous artist like Monet or Salvador Dalí.

Next step, arm yourself with philosophical arguments that will put all the naysayers in their place. And who better to have on your side than Everyman’s Philosopher Alain de Botton with his academically entertaining Art as therapy. de Botton’s approach could satisfy your senses better than a plate of macaroni cheese. Or not.

Book Cover of Kitchen KitschShould Philosophy fail (as well it might), move on to a bit of aversion therapy. Take a trip back in time, before food photography became the art that it is to-day. There is some scary looking food on display in Kitchen kitsch: pictures of a nightmarish pie on page 15, overly shiny pineapple slices and sliced food trapped in lurid jello might help you lose your appetite.

But if you still just want to e-a-t, you will need to up your game and draw everything that you eat. This is what Danny Gregory in The creative license demands that you do. Every Day. It’s brilliant, you eat less because you are terrified of trying to draw that cheeseburger and fries. Or you are so busy sketching, you don’t have time to munch.

Oh, and you get really good at drawing. I like the look of this!

 

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