Help for New Year health promises!

We all start out with the best intentions – then the reality of a plate full of vegetables gets in the way!   Yet let us not admit defeat before we even start! Like many of you out there I intend to lose 5kgs this year (just like last year).  The library has a large selection of print resources to help us on our way to remove those rolls you can rest your arm on and these great electronic health resources that are accessible 24/7 :        

Health Source

Health and Wellness Resource Center

 Unlike a lot of health information on the internet, that will have you diagnosed with the plague, all information is derived from trusted medical sources.  These easy to use resources cover all health and wellness topics.  Yet please note the information provided in this database should not be viewed as a mean for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment or diagnosis.

You can access  many other useful premium websites from home with your library card number and PIN, or at our community libraries.

New Year Resolutions

Made to be broken, the stuff of underachievement but still we make them. There is one I can make which I think I can achieve – read more books!

I searched our catalogue for the keyword resolutions and this jumped out at me – The happiness project. Hmmm I might resolve to read it.

Are you making resolutions? Is 2011 going to be the year you read War and Peace, Proust or the collected work of Jane Austen?

Last year librarians set themselves some reading challenges that took them out of their comfort zone – Christian fiction and cyberpunk for example.

What challenges have you got in mind this coming year?

Denis Dutton

Professor Denis Dutton – philosopher, academic, skeptic and creator of intelligence on the web ( Arts and Letters Daily) has died in Christchurch.

Denis made an enormous contribution to the intellectual and cultural life of Christchurch and internationally. He had a critical success with his 2009 book The art instinct: beauty, pleasure and human evolution . He was also involved in founding Climate Debate Daily.

My personal experience of Arts and Letters Daily when it first began was overwhelming. I found such online riches that I had to give up reading it because I would never get anything else done. When there is so much dross on the internet and other media it was refreshing to find the best written, most intelligent news and reviews laid out from around the world.

Go to Arts and Letters Daily now and you will see the most tanatalising array of story teasers – “Martin Peretz is a born belligerent.”, “Fat Kat had a knack for guns, drugs, and gangs; also, it turned out, for being a prison librarian” , “Happy birthday to the suit, now 150 years old. The uniform of capitalism was born out of revolution, warfare and pestilence.” and so on.

Appropriately Denis Dutton lives on via the internet – you can view his talk at the famous TED conference in February 2010.

Spend your holidays with Dash and Lily

Imagine this:

You’re in your favourite bookshop, scanning the shelves.  You get to the section where your favourite author’s books reside, and there, nestled in comfortably between the incredibly familiar spines, sits a red notebook.
What do you do?
The choice, I think, is obvious:
You take down the red notebook and open it.
And then you do whatever it tells you to do.

From these opening sentences of Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares I was hooked.  Set in New York in the days leading up to Christmas, and a few days after, the story alternates between the characters of Dash (written by David Levithan) and Lily (written by Rachel Cohn).  Lily is the girl who left the notebook in the bookshop for just the right guy to come along and accept the challenges found inside.  Dash accepts the first challenge and leaves the notebook for Lily to collect.  The notebook continues to be passed back and forth between them, with the help (and sometimes hindrance) of their friends and family members.   They decide to meet each other, but will the boy and the girl in the notebook measure up to the boy and the girl in reality?

I loved everything about Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares.  Dash and Lily are great characters with lots of personality, and  their family and friends that help them complete their dares are hilarious.  The authors have created a real sense of time and place and I really wanted to be there with Dash and Lily, celebrating Christmas in New York.  It’s the perfect book for this time of the year, whether you love Christmas (like Lily) or loath it (like Dash).


Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all our readers and bloggers.

Best reads vs worst reads

I don’t know anything about the author of Stevereads blog, ( I found his blog quite by chance after reading Literary Saloon’s blog) but he has certainly put together an interesting list of his worst reads for 2010, including some of the titles that have been praised here.  It is always interesting to see what others love, but equally enjoyable to see what others have loathed.  The Privileges has been enjoyed by a few of us this year, but this it what Steve has to say about it.

Not one sentence of this novel is energetic; not one paragraph was profitably revised, not one ounce of heart is present throughout this whole exercise of socially-relevant ‘topical’ fiction reduced to the mindless driving of cap-and-piston.

Now that is what I call scathing!  Have a look at his list and see if you agree.

Christmas on New Brighton Beach- Image of the Week

New Brighton beach at Christmas, 1927.

New Brighton beach at Christmas

Do you have photos of Christchurch? We love donations.

Also contact us if you have any further information on any of the images. Want to see more? You can browse our collection.

Christmas Feasts

This year I’m cooking Christmas dinner and I’m turning to Nigella Lawson for help. I used Nigella Christmas as a reference last year. The turkey recipe is brilliant and my family, which includes three trained chefs, said it was the best they’d ever eaten. High praise indeed!

Nigella’s wonderful book is full of baking, great ways to prepare veges and recipes for left-overs. She also provides a schedule for Christmas day to ensure you stay on track and don’t cook the peas before you put the potatoes on (which becomes increasingly likely after you’ve indulged in some festive champers, darling).

Many celebrity chefs bring out a Christmas recipe collection: Jamie Oliver, the Hairy Bikers, Delia Smith and chocolate connoisseur, Marcel Desaulniers, to name a few.  If the hold lists are long on the book you want, check the internet for recipes. There are plenty available. Add a twist of your own, strawberries, pavlova and ice-cold chardonnay and you’ve got a unique Christchurch Christmas. Bon Appetit!

Trespass – holiday reading at its best

Trespass is the latest novel by multi-award winning author, Rose Tremain. She earned a place on the Man Booker long list for this book and this fan is not surprised.

Set in the rural Cevenol region of France, where the author spent time in her childhood, the story vividly describes the land where the grapes and onions grow and the Mistral blows.

The plot centres around Mas Lunel, a homestead falling into ruin in the hands of alcoholic Aramon Lunel. His fraught relationship with his younger sister reaches crisis point when Aramon decides to sell the family home. The interested buyer is Anthony Verey, a hedonistic London antiques dealer, for whom life has lost its sweetness. His sister, V, is distraught when Anthony disappears and her partner, Kitty Meadows, plays detective in the quest to find the man who threatens to break up her relationship.

I couldn’t put the book down. Rose Tremain is an astute and perceptive author. Her characters are deftly drawn and intriguing. The author explores issues of love and betrayal and, underlying it all, is concern for a beautiful part of the world that is being carved up by rich individuals seeking romantic retreats with no understanding of the land or the communities that dwell there.

Collecting Fashion

One of my family’s Christmas traditions revolved around watching a peculiar musical version of the Cinderella story, set in about the mid eighteenth century. I suspect that has something to do with my ongoing interest in historical clothing which has recently been piqued by a couple of new arrivals in our collection.

Book cover: Historical fashion in detail : the 17th and 18th centuries For those of us with the costume bug, everything up to the middle of the sixteenth century is largely guesswork – based on a very small selection of existing pieces, archaeology, artworks, documents and literature.  However from roughly the seventeenth century on, there is a growing supply of surviving pieces of all kinds and these frequently survive in museums such as London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Kyoto’s Costume Institute and The Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

Luckily for those of us without large travel budgets, some of these publish books that allow us to ogle the extravagant (and more restrained) fashions of the past. The Victoria and Albert have published a series of books of Fashion in Detail, our latest arrival being Underwear in Detail. What I particularly like about these books is that, as their title suggests, they look at the details of garments – focusing down on seams, buttons, gathers and other details that make up the artistry of the whole. Each chapter focuses on one element, so a garment might show up in more than one chapter, but showing different elements.

Of course the flip-side of this is that the whole garment is rarely shown except in a line drawing. Search their online collection for images of entire pieces.

Cover: 100 dressesThe Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute have just released a book of 100 Dresses, with another follow-up book promised already. Being a book of dresses, it is all women’s fashion. But we’ll forgive them that, as it is full of beautiful gowns from the late seventeenth century to the early twenty-first (2005-2006 winter season). The selection is acknowledged as being eclectic but I found myself wanting to start re-constructing them one after another. I couldn’t name a favourite, although Dior’s Junon of 1949-50 is definitely up there along with Louise Carnegie’s wedding ensemble of 1887.

100 Dresses is a little light on the details, especially with regards materials and construction and a visit to their collection database is warranted to find out more.  The Metropolitan Museum website has an excellent “my collections” feature which allows you to save your favourite items to a personal list which is a nice feature for regular users. In 2009 the Brooklyn Museum collection was integrated into the Costume Institute  which will result in “the single largest and most comprehensive costume collection in the world” so there is plenty there of interest.

cover: FashionFinally, from the Collection of the Kyoto Costume Institute we have Fashion: A History from the 18th to the 20th Century. This is easily the biggest of all these books as it is chock-full of photos, details and history of both the individual items and the styles in general. It weighs more than two and a half kilos, so might not be too comfortable to read on the bus. Despite that it is still very browsable and it is enhanced with the occasional pattern, artwork and short sections on accessories which make it a more complete history of fashion than the books above.

Almost half the book covers the 20th century so if more recent fashion is your thing you’ll be well catered for. It’s a good thing that the book is so complete as there is little available on their website apart from a quite nice timeline of 200 of their objects.

These are only a selection of our books on historical fashion and costume. If you’re interested in more try searching our catalogue for costume or fashion or browse the shelves around 391 (historical & cultural costume) and 746.92 (fashion design).