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:

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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!


Cover of the Film Festival brochureThe New Zealand International Film Festival programme has been released and we caught up with its Director, Bill Gosden, to discuss what Christchurch audiences should head out to see.

Bill says this year is the biggest so far for Christchurch Film Festival audiences with over 90 films screening at Hoyts cinemas. Nick Paris (Christchurch publicist for the Festival) described the programme as being filled with “contagious cinematic bling”.

The Festival has films for all ages, including children. The NZIFF received a harsh letter from some 7 year old festival-goers a few years ago who deemed the “Animation for Kids” programme “Animation for BABIES”. In light of that stinging criticism, the festival now provides two animated programmes for kids, one aimed at 3 – 6 year olds: Toons for Tots, and the other aimed at 7 – 10 year olds: Animation for Kids 2014Toons for Tots features adaptations of two popular children’s books: The legend of the golden snail by Australian master Graeme Base and the hilarious I want my hat back by Jon Klassen.

If you’ve been enjoying your movies for longer than 3 – 10 years though, Bill pointed out two movies that star modern cinema legends: Isabelle Huppert in Folies Bergère and Catherine Deneuve in In The Courtyard. If you like your stars more local or literary, here are some films that strike a literary or local chord include:

Book Cover of Selected Works of TS SpivetBill encourages Christchurch cinephiles to take on the Film Festival films. He and his team have spent months viewing over 800 films across the world in order to bring Film Festival audiences “the most interesting films of the year. One effect of being able to bring films digitally to the Festival is that there are quite a few films that viewers haven’t heard much about as they are so new.” Festival attendees have the opportunity to be the first in the world to check them out.

Tickets go on sale Friday 18 July and the Festival runs from 7 – 24 August. On the Film Festival website you can timetable in your viewing pleasures and make sure you don’t double-book yourself. Programmes are also available from our Libraries.

Cover: The sea the seaHappy Birthday, Iris Murdoch! She was pretty much up there with Doris Lessing for a while and was worthy of being played by Dame Judi Dench in the biopic about her tragic battle with Alzheimer’s. But then Lessing won the Nobel Prize and it seems Murdoch has gone out of fashion and few people read her now.

Fashion is just as fickle in books, or rather in writers, as it is in clothes. A movie or television adaptation can send a writer who has been ignored for years into the best seller lists, and a new biography, preferably with a few salacious details, can do the same.

Dickens keeps on keeping on and probably didn’t need a push from The Invisible Woman, but Trollope seems to have lost the impetus Barchester Towers gave him a few years ago. Swings and roundabouts – Anthony’s time may come again if a director with an eye for a great story decides to film The Eustace Diamonds.

Cover: The Fairy DollChildren’s books seem to ride the winds of fashion better, perhaps because they get a new set of readers every generation and parents and present-buyers hark back to what they loved when choosing.

A nice new cover helps, like the lovely Jane Ray illustration gracing Rumer Godden‘s The Fairy Doll, first published in 1956. Virago should have taught that lesson years ago when they single-handedly brought some unfairly ignored women writers back to readers’ attention.

Do you have a favourite who has dropped out of fashion, one you dream of bringing back?

Nadine Gordimer, the first South African author to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature, has died aged 90.

Cover of The ConservationistAnd what 90 years they were. She was the author of 15 novels, as well as numerous short stories, and essay collections. Her writing garnered her many awards, including the Booker Prize for The Conservationist, and she was praised as a “guerrilla of the imagination” by the poet Seamus Heaney, and a “magnificent epic writer” by the Nobel Prize committee.

She was just as famous for her role as an anti-apartheid activist. She became involved in the ANC (African National Congress) when it was still a banned organisation and she edited Nelson Mandela’s famous I Am Prepared To Die speech, which he gave as a defendant during his 1964 trial. Indeed she was one of the first people Mandela asked to see when he was released from prison in 1990.

Gordimer was also a campaigner in the HIV/AIDS movement and strongly anti-censorship. But, to me, her true passion as a writer is encapsulated in this beautiful quote:

Nothing factual that I write or say will be as truthful as my fiction.


Cover of The Lying Days Cover of No Time Like The Present Cover of Get a Life

ArtemisArtemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt and the wilderness which makes her a fitting namesake for our latest electronic arrival: Gale Artemis: Literary Sources! Artemis lets you cross search all of Gale Cengage’s literary resources in one search. Through Artemis you can search all of these at once:

  • LitFinder: full text poems, short stories, essays, speeches, plays and novels. LitFinder offers the written works of more than 80,000 authors;
  • Literature Resource Center: full text articles, critical essays and reviews and overviews of frequently studied works;
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library: access to a subset of electronic reference books that cover literature.

It is sort of like doing a  Google search on literature but you get more relevant and authoritative results all with proper punctuation. It doesn’t matter if you are searching because you have an assignment, or if you are trying to remember the rest of that poem you can only recall snatches of – there is something for everyone.

I will leave you with a beauty of a quote about literature by the American author F. Scott Fitzgerald…

That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.

Sigh! You can access this resource from any library or from home through the Source using your library card number and password/PIN.

Climate change in the 14th Century and how Shirley Temple fought the Great Depression; some picks from the July History and current events newsletter:

True American Book Cover Book Cover of The Third Horseman Book cover of Egypt-omania

Book Cover of The Little Who Fought The Depression Book Cover of The Rise of Rome Book Cover of The Long Shadow


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

A wide variety of Popular Culture titles in our July Popular Culture newsletter:

Book Cover of Face the Music Book cover of The Life Book cover of The Late Starters Orchestra

Book Cover of Sitcom Book cover of Card Games for Families Book Cover of Raising Bookworms

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

For more great reading suggestions, check out our booklists and recommended websites on our Literature page.

French women don’t get facelifts or get fat.
Their children don’t talk back, throw their food, and eat everything.
French parents don’t give in

We yearn for their food and their markets, and spend a year in a villa admiring their sense of interior design.

The guilty pleasure of buttery french pastry is now replaced with the Parisian diet, and A Skinny french kitchen.

We assume that French women know all about love, sex and other matters of heart, but also don’t mind sleeping alone!

Even the French cat and dog outclass the common kiwi moggie or hound.

It would seem that by putting French in the title you have an instant bestseller.  Substitute Kiwi, British or American and it not only doesn’t sound as good – probably no one would believe you either!

Cover of The French dog Cover of What French women knowCover of French parents don't give inCover of Why French children don't talk back


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