Learning to love fiction

Search catalogueWhat is not to love about fiction…I am hoping to hear you ask…?

Horrifingly, several times in my library career I’ve been utterly dumbfounded to hear customers say they don’t read novels. What?!!! After several breathless squeaks  followed by a bout of dismayed spluttering, I’ve asked why ever not?

The puzzling reply has always been that they read for knowledge, want real facts and don’t have time to waste on make-believe or fantasy (I feel a panic attack coming on just writing these horrid words).

Search catalogueGoodness me, do real facts even exist? There has to be some room for doubt given all we’ve heard about fabricated memoirs ( Yeah, you James Frey), optimistically embellished science and medical research (Ben Goldacre) and if we accept history is written by the victors, the whole truth schtick is looking a bit shaky.

I am on a mission to convert non-fiction readers to fiction.  Throw away your computer manuals, biff  interpretative history and say adiós to self-help bibles, but I need you, our faithful blog readers, to provide the compelling and irrefutable reasons for why fiction does matter.

To get you started here is my 10 cents worth:

  • Novels are steeped in human truths, often with immaculately researched and detailed plots embedded in real events.
  • Good novelists provide the creative spark which can allow fact to take flight, taking readers into the interior lives of both real and imagined people.
  • And finally, isn’t it healthy to walk in other people’s shoes ( Jimmy Choos and Hush Puppies) and attempt to see life through other people’s eyes, or from another perspective?

Fiction lovers bring it on … why should we all read fiction?

More: Why I still love reading fiction Roberta

12:45pm 4.7.1963: The Government Life clock

Government life clock plan

50 years ago: the plans for the Government Life Building showing clock 12:45. 4 July 1963.

One of my favourite photos in our entire collection is this one of workers on top of Government Life. It is the Ōtautahi version of the famous Lunch atop a Skyscraper (New York Construction Workers Lunching on a Crossbeam).

View this photo

Just over a year later, on 17 July 1964 the Government Life Building opened in Cathedral Square.

That iconic clock has been a landmark of the central city – when it was turned off lots of us missed looking up to see the time (and the temperature).

Government Life clock

And more recently we have looked at it reflected as Mike Hewson’s artwork Government Life Suspension demonstrates.
Government life art by Mike Hewson

Te Kete Wānanga o Papanui – Papanui Library

How Papanui got its name:
Papanui is the Māori word for ‘a platform in a tree from which birds are snared’. This forest once boasted an abundance of forest birds that were regularly snared for kai.

An alternative meaning of Papanui is ‘big or large flat land’, where in 1856, there was a native bush of about 200 acres still standing. It seems this suburb sits on top of a large rock that pushes water out towards to some of the surrounding suburbs such as St Albans and Merivale.

Papanui Bush once boasted an abundance of forest birds that were regularly snared for kai in this region. This was at a time when the area was covered by a large stand of forest, dominated by tōtara, mataī, kahikatea and kānuka, similar to the smaller stand of bush that now remains in Riccarton, traditionally known as Pūtaringamotu or more commonly today known as Dean’s Bush.

Papanui Bush generated a thriving business for the timber industry in the early years of European settlement. Sadly, the milling of this area, and proximity to the planned Christchurch city location, in the 1850s it was rapidly demolished and the entire 30 hectares of bush that was left standing at the time was cut down and went towards building some the first homes, shops, government headquarters, schools churches and other structures around the city.

The site of Papanui Bush is the present day Papanui Domain, located off Sawyers Arms Road. A small native garden and a mural painted on the nearby community hall today commemorate the great forest trees that once dominated the area.

It is Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week and this year’s theme is Ngā ingoa Māori – Māori names – so we are bringing you some of the stories behind the Māori names of our libraries.