You don’t need to be big to be good. Small is beautiful. New Zealand is a small country so it seems appropriate that it has produced two great series of “small” books. Some how it seems wrong to say small because some of them have been huge sellers and all have great writing. They are showcasing some of the best writing in New Zealand.
First up is the Ginger series from Awa Press. Probably the most well known is Justin Paton’s How to look at painting. (Actually now I want him to write the followup – how to look at conceptual art – perfect for Christchurch these days). This book has been through several reprints. It’s companions include How to watch a bird by Steve Braunias and others on how to watch rugby or cricket, drink wine, pick a winner at the races, listen to pop music and so on. The writers are some of NZeds finest – Kevin Ireland, Nick Bollinger, Harry Ricketts to name a few.
An older (and physically smaller series) was the Montana Estates essay series. Again some fantastic writing by great Kiwi writers. Gems include Notes of a bag lady by Margaret Mahy, On kissing by Kate Camp and Biography of a local palate by David Burton.
And now Bridget Williams Books has come up with a new digital series BWB Texts which includes Starting with Paul Callaghan: Luminous Moments, Maurice Gee’s Creeks & Kitchens: A Childhood Memoir, Rebecca Macfie’s Report from Christchurch (in association with the New Zealand Listener), Kathleen Jones’s ‘I think … I am going to die.’: Katherine Mansfield at Fontainebleau, Hamish Campbell’s The Zealandia Drowning Hypothesis and Sir Tipene O’Regan’s New Myths and Old Politics.
What could be better in New Zealand Book Month than to sample some of these.