Food, lust, war, art and wonder: Cool new stuff from our selectors

You can’t deny that war is brutal, but the aftereffects are just as profound. Year Zero: a History of 1945 by Ian Burma contains fascinating insight into the aftermath of World War II. It was more morally complicated than previously acknowledged. Burma’s investigations make fascinating reading. Here is a very good review in the New York Times

Cover of On a beam of lightOn a beam of light : a story of Albert Einstein  Jennifer Berne
A boy rides a bicycle down a dusty road. But in his mind, he envisions himself traveling at a speed beyond imagining, on a beam of light. This brilliant mind will one day offer up some of the most revolutionary ideas ever conceived. From a boy endlessly fascinated by the wonders around him, Albert Einstein ultimately grows into a man of genius recognized the world over for profoundly illuminating our understanding of the universe. Jennifer Berne and Vladimir Radunsky invite the reader to travel along with Einstein on a journey full of curiosity, laughter, and scientific discovery. Parents and children alike will appreciate this moving story of the powerful difference imagination can make in any life.

Cover of The Life and art of Lynley DoddLife and Art of Lynley Dodd by Finlay Macdonald.  Hairy MacLary has delighted children since the early 1980s and the popularity of these books is not fading. A timely book therefore about his author, Lynley Dodd filled with pages from the “ideas book” that Dodd used to sketch out her plans for Hairy Maclary and his friends, as well as early drawings from her time at art school and political cartoons. A beautifully produced book.

Generation of artists have been captivated by food – from Roy Lichtenstein’s roast fillet to Frida Kahlo’s red snapper. The Modern Art Cookbook by Mary Ann Caws includes the cuisines artists cooked, ate and depicted in their masterpieces, along with recipes, correspondence and diary entries.

The Mistress ContractCover of The Mistress Contract by She and He could be worth reading, if only to create a stir and spark some discussion. A woman and a married man become lovers. She draws up a contract which states she will provide “mistress services” (all “housekeeping duties” and “sexual acts” he requests, the latter “with suspension of historical, emotional, psychological disclaimers for the duration of time requested”) in return for “adequate accommodation and expenses accrued”. Sounds a tall order but the contact has apparently lasted for 30 years and shortly after the document was signed, she began (rather oddly I think) to tape their conversations which included candid discussions about marriage, inequality between the sexes, and feminism.

This week in Christchurch history (2 – 8 December)

Rehua Marae2 December 1960
Rehua meeting house opens, the first new meeting house in the South Island for over 100 years.

3 December 1867
Canterbury Museum (New Zealand’s first) opened to public in an upstairs room in the Canterbury Provincial Government Buildings. The collection had been assembled by Julius (later Sir Julius) Von Haast.

3 December 1924
Children’s Library opens in Hereford Street.

Christchurch chronology
A timeline of Christchurch events in
chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.

More December events in our Christchurch chronology.