Who won the top Christmas Book?

First things first, and because I know the anticipation is killing you, Dan “Da Vinci” Brown squeaked into the UK top spot with The lost symbol  squeezing out the Guinness World Records 2010. Dan also triumphed in the US christmas fiction list beating James Patterson’s I, Alex Cross into second place.

We’ll have to wait until January 14th before Booksellers NZ releases New Zealand’s bestsellers for the period between December 19th 2009 and January 9th 2010 but it isn’t too great a stretch to imagine Dan recreating his triumph here. Love him or loathe him, the first print run for Dan’s latest “masterpiece” was 6.5 million copies and this tinsel triumph is his second UK festive number one, The Da Vinci code  climbed to the top of the christmas tree in 2004.

The  frenzied book-war for the UK’s Christmas title of 2009 began early this year with 800 new releases hitting the shelves on a single day, 1 October, or “Super Thursday” as journo-types have coined it. Book sales this year have been globally drab so the festive season run-up has been seen by many as pivotal to keeping the book industry afloat. Early hopefuls for the top bunk  included the second installment of the Peter Kay story Saturday Night Peter and memoirs from comedians Jo Brand, Jack Dee and Justin Lee Collins. New novels by Audrey Niffenegger, Kate Mosse, Martina Cole and  Cecelia Ahern kept the fiction flag flying. And of course there was the traditional turkey tussle between the chefs with Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver going head-to-head.

But more importantly what can we look forward to in 2010?

Committed : A sceptic makes peace with marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert.

The Swan Thieves by  Elizabeth Kostova.

Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

The Pregnant widow by Martin Amis

Blood men by Paul Cleave

Ape house by Sara Gruen

The unnamed by Johua Ferris

Message from an unknown Chinese mother : Stories of loss and love by Xinran

And many, many more ……yippeee

The Christmas Top 10 Uk books:

New Zealand’s Top Five Christmas sellers from Nielsen BookScan:

  • The lost symbol by Dan Brown
  • Ali’s book of tall tales by Ali Williams
  • The story of Danny Dunn by Bryce Courtenay
  • Guinness world records 2010
  • A song in the daylight by Paullina Simons

New Year’s Resolution Reading

I’m going to lose weight

Does this clutter make my butt look fat?: An Easy Plan for Losing Weight and Living More
Clutter expert Walsh believes that somehow the clutter in our lives is connected to the clutter (fat) in our bodies. I’m not convinced, but hopefully reading the book could at least get the house tidied.

Skinny bastard
Follow up to Skinny bitch, (made popular by Victoria Beckham). I wonder if David Beckham has read it?

The 6-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle: The Simple Plan to Flatten Your Belly Fast!
Shows you how to “regain in midlife the figure of sleek, flat-bellied youth”. What if you didn’t have a sleek flat bellied youth, will the book still work?

I’m going to look after my health

50 reasons to stop smoking / 50 reasons to keep smoking
Conventional self-help books and social ostracising haven’t always provided the solution, so perhaps a humorous approach will?

The Real Man’s Tool Box: A DIY Health Manual for Men
The book that partners and wives will read, and then summarise for the men in their lives.

I’m going to get fit

Brain Training for Runners: A Revolutionary New Training System to Improve Endurance, Speed, Health, and Results
Train the brain as well as the body.

Bikram Yoga: The Guru Behind Hot Yoga Shows the Way to Radiant Health and Personal Fulfillment
The yoga everyone who is anyone seems to be doing at the moment. Sweat your way to personal fulfilment, buy the yoga mat and get the gear

I will find love

“Relate” Guide to Finding Love
According to the publishers this book is filled with practical and sensible advice.

Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You
A very positive way to start the year!

The Chase: What I’ve learned from one million men on dating, sex and relationships
No, this woman hasn’t had relationships with 1 million men, but she is a well known Australian blogger who has heard it all.

I need a holiday

Picnic spots & camping sites : Christchurch and Canterbury : great places for families
Ideal guide book for fabulous places to visit around Canterbury.

Let’s go camping : 66 great places to pitch your tent or park your van and things to do when you get there
In depth reviews on campsites throughout New Zealand as well as hints and tips on how to best enjoy your holiday in the great outdoors

I’m going to learn to cook

The thrifty cookbook : 476 ways to eat well with leftovers
Need to use up those Christmas leftovers? The author tackles frequently asked questions such how much mould we can scrape off the jam, and how some well-chosen store cupboard basics can transform any leftover carrot or bacon rind into a satisfying meal.

Julie Biuso’s never-ending summer : stunning barbecue dishes to tempt you all year round
All recipes are designed for the BBQ, but can easily be cooked in-doors if the weather turns. Very handy for a Christchurch summer!

I need a new job

Balance your life and work : how to get the best from your job and still have a life
If you feel overwhelmed by the constant juggling of different areas of your life, this book can help. Containing a quiz, step-by-step guidance and action points, top tips to bear in mind for the future, common mistakes and advice on how to avoid them.

How to keep your cool if you lose your job : a workbook for surviving redundancy
The reader is introduced to ten crucial tips for surviving redundancy: keep your cool; don’t take it personally; get professional support; lay the foundations; get structured; take your time; get flexible; take action; tell people; stay positive.

See our page on New Year’s resolutions for more ideas of making changes in 2010 …


It’s always good to get bit of feverish anticipation going, and there are a lot of booky things to look forward to in 2010.  Women on Air are hosting some really big names in the first few months of the year; writers whose books have been top of the reserve lists, popular as book club selections and the subject of enthusiastic word of mouth among readers.

Marina Lewycka, whose books A short history of tractors in  Ukrainian and Two caravans are book club staples, will be visiting on the 19th of February. Lewycka is  married to a New Zealander but based in the UK.

Xinran always attracts deservedly large audiences at literary festivals and will be at Christchurch Girls’ High School at 7.30 on March 3rd. If you missed her at the 2008 Press Christchurch Writers Festival here’s another chance to see and hear an amazing woman.

Elizabeth Kostova wrote one of my favourite books ever, The historian. Not just because it features libraries and librarians, but because it’s scary and thrilling, literary and readable. She’s here on March  8th and I’m really looking forward to hearing what she thinks of those vampires-come-lately Edward Cullen and Bill Compton, although it might not be a very tactful question – is she bitter that she wrote a vampire story but hasn’t ended up richer than God?

Andrea Levy finishes up this stellar list on March 25th. Her books are the best kind of fiction, books that both reflect experience and expand understanding  Small Island won the Orange Prize and told the story of the migration of Levy’s family to London from Jamaica in the 1960’s. The fruit of the lemon is on a smaller scale but it’s my favourite, telling the story of a young woman’s journey back to her parent’s homeland.

The upside of down time

A cheery note on my broadband usage meter recently informed me that usage limits had been doubled until mid January. So while the servers and the towers may have been down recently, there was a definite upside!

You can guarantee that some of my bonus bandwidth will be spent on the most recent addition to the library’s  Christmas page – NZonScreen’s Christmas collection. There’s everything from Gliding on to Outrageous Fortune to Shortland Street – it’s quite a mix.

Remember, if you’re are worried about hitting your broadband limit, come and use the internet at your local library! There’s plenty of film resources in the collection as well. And while you’re at it, tell us your favourite end-of-year TV special. Is it something that gets you singing while you do the dishes, or a movie to fall asleep to?

New Brighton – Canterbury’s playground

cover image New Brighton is Canterbury’s playground is a sweetie of a pamphlet, see the delight Christchurch residents took in a trip to the seaside. To see more of this popular spot, take a peek at the way it was through our New Brighton image collection. New Brighton was actually one of the first lines to be converted from tram to buses, there was much excitement it is still a popular destination today.

The last tram travels from the New Brighton Post Office to the pier The first buses of the New Brighton run

In the more recent past I remember catching the Saturday shoppers bus to New Brighton with my high school friends when it was the only place to shop on Saturdays in Christchurch. It took half the day to get to the beach and back, which filled in time when our pockets where short of money. When hunger beckoned fish’n’chips on the beach was hard to beat.

  • What is your favourite beach trip memory?
  • Do you have any beach photos from our more recent past to share with us?

New Brighton PierWhy not grab your togs and catch the bus for a day at the beach and take a stroll down the Pier. Compare the old pier with the new or check out the construction process with Peter Seymour’s photographs take the virtual tour.

Want to check what the weather is like at the beach before your trip take a peek at Pier webcam A and B. If the wind picks up visit the lovely surrounds of the New Brighton Library, take a look at their gorgeous tukutuku panel and explore their local history resources.

If you are taking a dip this summer check out the water quality at your favourite swimming spot from Environment Canterbury. Later you can check out other beaches to visit, or if the salt spray isn’t for you take a picnic to on of our many parks and reserves.

So go take a day trip and let the children run a little wild while you read a book in a peaceful corner try these two for starters:
Cover image Cover image: Rocking horse road

Summer Beach Reads

With the cool sea temperatures so far this year it may be more inviting to dip into a book at the sea-side than dip in your tootises. A good beach read needs grab your attention and be quick enough to read before the sunscreen wears off and drag you off to a summer idyll. For a haul of books to take down to the beach try our selection of beach themed reads and get some sand between their covers :

Cover image book cover of   The Sand Castle    (Runnymede, book 4)  by  Rita Mae Brown Cover image

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Cover image Cover image The Deep Blue Sea for Beginners (Paperback) ~ Luanne Rice (Author) Cover Art

Cover image The Edge of the World by Kevin J. Anderson

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If you’re not sure what to read next subscribe to our e-lists subscribe now to be in the know of hot new titles coming into the library.

And tell us what you like to read at the beach …

Summer camping holidays

Summer beach holidays are a classic part of Kiwi family life. Each year we get the obligatory television news interview with campers evacuated from camping grounds or visits to classic camping ground destinations, yet each year more close as land becomes more valuable for development. Families are finding themselves shorter on cash, going back to basics at DOC camp grounds, spending their summer holidays in the same way they would have with their own parents.

Do you remember when camping was a white and green canvas tent with the wind flapping round the poles, water heated over the fire in a thermette, Alison’s camping blog entry shows what it was all about. Christmas dinner was cold mutton ham hung up in a safe under the nearest tree with Edmonds Christmas pud and custard heated over the fire for dessert. Trifle for Boxing Day if you where lucky and Mum managed to get the jelly to set. Cake tins of Christmas cake and shortbread had to be filled to feed the hordes of hungry children who always multiplied at meal times!

Today’s families are no different with a resurgence of families returning to camping holidays at the beach and lakes. Here’s some tips on finding camping destinations for todays families:

Try our Camp site directories to find your camping destination and make your preparations with our Camping handbooks.

Follow the links on our New Zealand Travel and tourism webpages, Jasons Camping and Holiday parks guide and the AA’s database of Holiday Parks and Camping Grounds. or try the Department of Conservation’s Places to stay pages for freedom camp sites.

Do share with us your favourite summer family camping spot.

Here’s a list beach ideas to fill those endless summer days when they come!

  • Beach volleyball – All you need is a net to enjoy yourselves.
  • Cricket – Beach cricket go and bowl them over.
  • Touch rugby – Grab a ball and hit the sand for a game.
  • Frisbee – This classic is fun for all the family.
  • Surfing – or catch a wave on the boogie board.
  • Sand sculpture – Let the beach inspire you.
  • Fishing –Trail a line and see what is biting or chase cocklebullies in the lagoon.

Should you need more inspiration try our Family recreation and Children’s outdoor recreation books for all sorts of activities to fill the summer months or the The outdoor handy book : for playground, field, and forest for father son bonding. Once you’re exhausted from the swimming and walking then it’s time to read in the shade try these sandcastle books, beach stories and camping tales for the kids.

If you’re not sure what to read next subscribe to our e-lists subscribe now to be in the know of hot new titles coming into the library.

A Māori Christmas Experience

“I remember the days leading up to Christmas when all the whanau would arrive from the four corners of the world to celebrate this wonderful occasion with our Nan. We’d all stay in her two-bedroom stone house in Whanganui and claim what floor-space we could. Hopefully we chose well because this was our sleeping area for the next week or so. Then began the numerous preparations for the festive day and the allocation of jobs.

The aunties, sisters, nieces and grand daughters, were kitchen-bound, cooking and creating all the delicious Christmas meals with all the trimmings. Aunty Olly’s famous rewana bread, Cousin Ema’s beautiful steam pudding and Nans famous sponges were amongst the delicacies.

The uncles, brothers, nephews and grandsons were set about their task to hunt the wildest pork, dive for the fattest paua and bring back the biggest eels they could!

Christmas Eve was a time for wrapping the presents and singing our favourite Christmas carols in both Te Reo Māori and Pākehā. ‘Whakarongo ki te reo’, ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘Pō Mārie-Silent Night’ were among the timeless tunes!

Christmas Day lunch was always eventful and yummy!! Eventful in the sense that us young ones would have to wait for everybody else to get their meal before we could even get a spoonful of the creamed paua. “Tuakana-Teina principle will forever rule our lives we’d remind ourselves.”

Finally we’d make it to the kai table and load our plates up with the yummy wild pork, delicious raw fish and succulent smoked eel. 

Up until this point everything was go, go, go, however once that last spoonful of pudding went down the hatch, everybody turned into potatoes! Lounging about on the mattresses, uncles snoring up a storm and aunties having a quiet game of cards.

Those are my favourite memories of a Māori Christmas…how do you spend yours?”

Whaea Haneta’s Kirihimete memories

My memories of a Māori Christmas are seen through the eyes of a nana. Whanau gather from far and wide – usually  at my whare (house). A call goes out for spare mattresses and bedding and there’s a quick check to make sure we have a enough of everything else. My mokopuna all squabble about who is going to sleep in nan’s bed and poua (granddad) declares he is sleeping in another room. Lists  of  who is bringing what or who is making what are  decided on via  numerous email messages.

All the Aunties (my sisters) suddenly  remember a favourite dish of kai they must make for the big day and send husbands, nieces, nephews (and anyone else they can boss around), out to find a  special ingredient. There is always loads of  delicious kai moana to be shared gathered and  prepared by our tane.

I can still  remember the delicious smells of dad’s smoke house  burning away full of  eel, and patiki (flounder) and mum growling because the smoke is  going all over her washing line. Uncle George on the Chatham’s always sent us  a couple of crates of koura (crayfish) and tins of  titi (mutton birds) would arrive form the deep south. Swan eggs would make the most sumptuous sponges and mum’s raspberry jam would  be piled on the top with great dollops of thick clotted  cream that dad would bring home from the shearing shed.

One of my favourite dishes was  Uncle Mick’s creamed paua with chunks of koura … tino reka. Of course there was always the pot on the stove full of  pork bones water cress or puha and dad’s new spuds. this was constantly topped up ready for  unexpected visitors.

One of my other  favourite memories is the whanau singalongs. The guitars would  come out and  all the tamariki would be  lined up to sing the waiata they had learned at  kapahaka. Lots of toe tapping and swaying of  the Aunties well-rounded hips would  accompany the waiata with giggles from the moko about nana’s fat bum or poua’s pot belly.

Christmas  this year won’t be as  busy  as lots of our whanau are now spread all over the world but where ever you are  Ngā mihi mo te  wā me te Tau hou mo 2010.

Whaea Haneta Pierce, Kaiwhakahaere Ratonga Māori

There are lots of  kai books available  in the library  to show you how to lay down a hangi or make some Māori bread. Try a few of them:

Image of the week

Father Christmas at T. Armstrong & Co. premises. circa 1930.

Father Christmas at T. Armstrong & Co. premises

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