I’m late, I’m late for a very important date

Tim Burton is doing Alice in Wonderland in 3-D!

I love 3-D, it can even make post-George-of-the-Jungle Brendan Fraser watchable. The first pics to whet your appetite are here. It’s due to be released in May 2010.

See what else we have in 3-D.

Be a winner … prizes prizes prizes

Want to win $1000 of Booksellers Tokens? Booksellers New Zealand are giving you a chance to win this lovely booty – all you have to do is vote for your favourite finalist title to win the Readers’ Choice Award at the 2009 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Voting closes at 5pm on Friday 10 July. (Have a look at the finalists on our Literary Prizes page).

In terms of Library competitions, we have a couple on the go. Over at The Pulse 12 to 18 year olds can win a laptop – Send a review, article, original song or cartoon or music career question to The Pulse and if we publish it, you’re in the draw to win a Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop. There’s also heaps of The Pulse gear up for grabs – visit the site for terms and conditions.

On the Library 150 site you can find out about the YouTubing the Library competition. To be in to win unleash your inner-film director to make a stand out video, upload it to YouTube and send us your entry form – available from 1 July 2009. A host of prizes are up for grabs including a laptop computer, a Sony camcorder, an iPhone and hundreds of dollars worth of vouchers.

Image of the Week

Interior of a cave hut at Taylor’s Mistake, Christchurch, used by young men on weekend summer trips [1910]

Interior of a cave hut at Taylor's Mistake, Christchurch, used by young men on weekend summer trips


Like what you see? Complete this form to order an image. If you have any further information on any of the images, or if you would like to donate images to our collection please contact us. Want to see more? You can browse our collection here.

Book glut

Too much reading can also have this effect
Too much reading can also have this effect

It’s either a famine or a flood, innit?  At the moment I am verily drowning in highly readable books.  Worse than the fact that I have too much good, good reading to get done is the guilt.  Oh, the terrible, terrible guilt.  Every day I see Carrie Fisher’s latest, probably incredibly witty volume sitting there on the bookshelf dying to be picked up and read and every day I have to say “No Carrie.  Not today.  I’m not done with Remy yet”. 

The Remy in question would be one Remy Stern who has written a rather good book about a rather annoying thing, namely infomercials.  Everyone is familiar with the patter, the “how much would you expect to pay…” lines of cheese, the wondrous demonstrations of magic bullets and ab-flexes and miracle make-up, so you probably think you know infomercials pretty well.  So did I.  You don’t.

In But wait…there’s more! tighten your abs, make millions, and learn how the $100 billion infomercial industry sood us everything but the kitchen sink (phew, long title!) Stern fills us in on the history of how infomercials came to be (starting with boardwalk sales pitches in Atlantic City) and the tactics and psychology at work to get you to “Call now!”.  Why is it always “four easy payments of $19.99”? Why is that 30 day money-back guarantee such a good selling point? And why are there always so many “free” bonus extras with your toaster oven? All this and many other strategies are at work in the land of late night direct marketing. 

It’s a terrifically interesting book that I’m really enjoying (I do like to know exactly in what manner I’m being manipulated) but it is keeping me from Fool by Christopher Moore which I am sort of saving because he’s one of my favourite authors, not to mention Sex with the queen : nine hundred years of vile kings, virile lovers, and passionate politics which I think you’ll agree, sounds pretty titillating (and educational, of course).

And then of course, there’s the book that I “lost” and then had to pay for but found and which I still haven’t read (yes, it happens to librarians too, though it really shouldn’t).  So much book gluttony and guilt! How will I get all these read?  How do you manage with all those attractive books vying for your attention?

True Colours – wandering through the spectrum

It’s a rainbow out there! from  Cut Copy – In Ghost colours – one of the most delicious bands in the wave of new 80s influenced synthy electronic music (and like much of the best new dance music, it comes from Aussie). Sparkling stuff with a soupcon of New Order …

to Kevin Mccloud’s colour now:
 … Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud has taken all the hard work out of home decorating by researching, selecting and combining over 120 particular colours into 70 tried-and-tested palettes that are guaranteed to transform your home.

then on to Mauve – how one man invented a colour that changed the world

In 1856 18-year-old English chemist William Perkin accidentally discovered a way to mass-produce colour. Simon Garfield explains how the experimental mishap that produced an odd shade of purple revolutionised fashion …

to the inimitable Diana Vreeland who proclaimed ‘Shocking pink is the navy blue of India’, and then to The Shocking Pinks – a band featuring local muso Nick Harte & crew (they played at CHARTFEST last month).

… and finally we reach Shades of grey by Jasper Fforde:

Imagine a black and white world where colour is a commodity … Eddie Russett lives in a world where fortune, career and ultimate destiny are rigidly dictated by the colours you can see, with Violet at the top, and Red at the bottom. Below the Colours are the Grey underclass who can only see tones of black and white. It is also a world of rules and regulations – a place of merits and demerits, prefects, bullies, snitches, sports days and over-boiled cabbage. Eddie is pretty happy – he thinks he can see over 70% Red, so will be able to marry up-spectrum. But then he meets Jane, a Grey: alluring, exciting – and dangerous …

To infinity and beyond


To all those who got excited about our post a couple of weeks ago on retrospective displays at Central, a big thanks, and wow!  You guys are a little scary in your fandom.  You will be pleased to know that we now have a table full of sci-fi goodies just waiting to be browsed over and borrowed.  Next on the menu is Adventure – we’ll be digging up armfuls of McLean, le Carre, Wilbur Smith and assorted other stories featuring rugged middle-aged soldiers/scientists/archaeologists marooned in the desert/Arctic/South American jungle, who find mysterious artifacts/enemy spies/deadly germs, and who save the world with the help of exotic young and beautiful Russian professors of linguistics.  Oh, and a gun.

Once again, please overwhelm us with suggestions of authors and titles, and we will do our best to track them down for you!

The rediscovered art of walking

FootprintSome time ago I suffered a sports injury that rendered me incapable of one the most basic of human activities…walking.  So it was with no small degree of irony that I put a reserve on a book titled The lost art of walking: the history, science, philosophy and literature of pedestrianismI had no particular expectations as to what the book might be like, I just saw it as an opportunity to blow a raspberry at the universe.  I’m funny like that.

Anyway, in due course my injury healed and some way through that process Geoff Nicholson‘s tome on the art of perambulation turned up for me on the holds shelf.  There really is nothing like losing the ability to confidently stride about on two fully functioning pins to make you appreciate the wonders and joys of walking so I suppose I was a very receptive audience to this book.  I’m delighted to say that I really enjoyed it.

Transplanted Englishman Nicholson is a walker who lives in Los Angeles, world-renowned as a city of non-walking drivers.  In this book he investigates everything from the spiritual benefits of walking (religious/meditative walking is more common than you might imagine) to the creative (street photographers get their own chapter and the author feels that walking is a good cure for writer’s block) to the “competitive walkers” of the Victorian period.

It’s a highly personal book in which he discusses everything from the family dynamics of holidays at Blackpool (including interminable walks along the “Prom”) to the steep hill walk that may or may not have led to his mother’s heart failure.  In every chapter an anecdote or part of Nicholson’s walking history is revealed.  Some chapters interested me more than others but all of them unveiled some previously unknown (by me) fact about that most mundane and ordinary of activities.  I’d never really thought of a “walker” as being a particular “kind” of person but then I am one.

Read this and you’ll never think of  “going for a walk” in quite the same way again.

Sexy Avocados and Shocking Books


So many supposedly scandalous books just aren’t. American Psycho was one exception – I told my sister “Don’t read this, it’s shocking” (of course this was just the spur she needed to do the exact opposite).

At last another book has left me shocked and speechless. It is called Wetlands. If you are at all prudish or squeamish, go no further and certainly don’t read it. As the author Charlotte Roche says in an interview ‘It should make you blush’. Cor blimey, it does that. People have even fainted at public readings.  

It doesn’t take long for you to realise you ain’t in Kansas, Dorothy. Wetlands (in German it’s Feuchtgebiete, translated as Wetlands, or Moist Patches) starts with the line “As far back as I remember, I’ve had hemorrhoids”. The narrator 18 year old Helen Memel is lying in hospital after an operation on the said piles.  She reflects on the life of her body. In microscopic detail that will leave the squeamish on the floor.

The book has been called pornographic  – but the revelatory discussions on hygiene are too coolly explicit to be titillating. It’s physically dirty rather than naughty sexy dirty.

It is new, it is brutal and am reading it aghast (but unable to stop).  

By the by, the avocado image on the cover reminded me of Christine Leov-Lealand’s book Avocado : an erotic adventure of spirit and sensuality. Leov-Lealand became popular and a tad controversial for her steamy New Zealand erotic novels (one of the few times when you’ll find the words NZ and erotic spliced together in unholy matrimony). Who could resist a book tagged as a  “hot wet novel that simmers on the edge of reality – full of secrets and seductions, dreadlocks and drums”.

Have you read anything that has shocked or surprised you enough to stop reading? Or are you utterly unflappable?

Don’t miss Matariki at the marae

A unique event on the Christchurch calendar, Matariki at the marae is a celebration akin to an open home at New Year’s.

For the next two weeks, Ngā Hau e Wha invites all-comers to experience a national marae, hear guest speakers, learn about aspects of Mā0ri culture and the stars above and have some soup in celebration of the beginning of a new year on the Māori calendar.

I spoke with Christchurch City Libraries kaitakawaenga Aurelia Arona about the programme for schools and the opportunities the public have to participate and experience Māori culture.

The open community evenings on Tuesday and Thursday nights include star-gazing and cultural performances. Guest speakers, including Rakiihia Tau, Ranui Ngarimu, Dr. Rawiri Taonui, Iaean Cranwell and Te Rita Papesch. Stone carving, soap carving, a weaver’s demonstration, weave a star, computer-based whakapapa research and soup are also part of the evening programme .

Nga Hau e Wha is a national Marae – take this opportunity to experience the heritage and the hospitality on offer – it would be rude not to! Learn more about Matariki, and see other Matariki events at Christchurch City Libraries.

The event is supported by Christchurch City Council and Christchurch City Libraries, who deliver Matariki learning programmes and matariki storytimes. Many other government agenices and community organisations make the event possible.


June 16 is Bloomsday – a day when fans around the world celebrate the the life and works of Irish writer James Joyce, author of the novel Ulysses. The day is named after Leopold Bloom, a central character in Ulysses and the date on which all the events in the novel occur. June 16 was also the date of Joyce’s first outing with his future wife, Nora Barnacle. Love that name – it would fit a great character in a novel!

Ulysses has been surrounded by controversy over the years – it was banned in America from 1921 until 1933. The 1967 film directed by Joseph Strick was controversial in part because of the use of the “f word” and in New Zealand was shown only to gender segregated audiences! (It’s all true folks – I was there as bright eyed varsity student). I seem to have survived unscathed and managed to read my way through both Ulysses and the slighter (in size), but no less linguistically challenging, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Ulysses weighs in at over 600 pages.

The British Board of Film Classification also had problems with the film and demanded 29 cuts to remove the strong language and crude sexual references from Molly’s final soliloquy. Joseph Strick replaced all the offending footage with a blank screen and a high pitched shrieking sound. The Board relented and passed the film intact.

What makes Ulysses a challenge and a reward to read is the stream of consciousness style of writing and the richly complex language – puns, allusions, parodies – you have to keep your wits about you!

Joyce lived an interesting and peripatetic life in Europe and the library has a number of biographies and critical works.

Dublin is the centre of Bloomsday celebrations – in fact they stretch the day out to a week – find out more on the Dublin Tourism website.