My Life in Books

I was busy, as librarians often are, returning items one day and to my surprise, I noticed I had returned three DVDs, one right after the other, in the right order, which uncannily mirrored a pretty large chunk of my life so far – all in three movie titles!

We Bought a Zoo encapsulated the child raising years, where at times my kids were monkeys, other times brainless chickens, and the teenage years were more like herding rabid hyenas into a bag.

Look Back in Anger were the divorce years. Bitter and twisted times, I was a wronged woman who wasn’t always kind, nor brimming with forgiveness.

The Spectacular Now is my present life. Well, not always spectacular, but often filled with much fun, love, laughter and music and more than a little dollop of gratitude.

Book cover of the grapes of wrathIt made me think of other movies or book whose titles could encapsulate a life.

The Grapes of Wrath could document the mornings after when I should have known better, and perhaps Someday, Someday Maybe, would aptly sum up my exercise regimen. What I Know for Sure, is that I know very little, and The Hunger Games covers that time period between morning tea and lunch.

A Short History of Nearly Everything is what I will tell you over Three Cups of Tea.

So, are there books or movies that remind you of your life, or parts of it? Can you encapsulate your life so far in three titles?

Happy birthday Katherine Mansfield – born 14 October 1888

Katherine Mansfield at her work table, Villa Isola, Menton, France. Baker, Ida :Photographs of Katherine Mansfield. Ref: 1/2-011917-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
Katherine Mansfield at her work table, Villa Isola, Menton, France. Baker, Ida :Photographs of Katherine Mansfield. Ref: 1/2-011917-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

A New Zealand literary superstar was born on 14 October 1888 – Katherine Mansfield short-story writer, poet, critic, diarist, letter writer.

The first mention I could find of KM in Papers Past was in the Feilding Star, Volume VI, Issue 1669, 11 December 1911, Page 2:

New Zealanders will be, interested to hear of a new novel, called “In a German Pension,” by “Katherine Mansfield,” just published in London. Under her pen-name the writer will not perhaps be recognised, but she is the youngest daughter of Mr and Mrs Harold Beauchamp, of Wellington. Never before, it is remarked, have Germans, from a social standpoint, been written about with so much, insight, or their manners and habits described with such malicious naivete and minute skill as by this young Wellingtonian. “Miss Mansfield’s” style is almost French in its clearness. Her power of detailed observation is shown in numerous little touches of character-painting, which enable us (says a London critic) to realise almost as visibly as the authoress herself, the heart, mind, and soul of the quaint Bavarian people.

KM remains a fire to the imagination. Mansfield with monsters – a parody by Matt and Debbie Cowens, published by Steam Press – won the 2013 Sir Julius Vogel Awards for Best Collected Work.

Kirsty Gunn’s Katherine Mansfield Project has just been published. And gestating is the wonderful writer and cartoonist’s Sarah Laing’s new KM book. It will be “part-biography, part-memoir and part-fiction”  – you can follow its evolution, and see some of the beautiful illustrations –  by viewing Katherine Mansfield posts on her blog Let me be frank.

If you want to go further, NZETC – the New Zealand Electronic Text Collection – has a motherlode of Mansfield material – stories, diary entries, photos, commentary, and works that mention her.

More on KM

Rutherford Medallist – Dame Anne Salmond

Today, 14 October, is Ada Lovelace Day. Its aim is “Celebrating the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths”.

In New Zealand, Rutherford Medals are awarded annually to those making an exceptional contribution to science, mathematics, social science and technology. It is exciting to note that the last three winners have been women.

In 2013, the winner was social scientist Distinguished Professor Dame Anne Salmond FRSNZ, University of Auckland

for her eminent work on Maori social structures and interactions with the European world, and on European exploration and engagement in the Pacific.

Anne Salmond signing
Photo of Anne Salmond taken at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival 2010. Flickr CCL-AWRF2010-05-14-P1090291

Her page on the University of Auckland site shows the range of her research interests, and an impressive array of honours and awards:

Key areas of interest include Maori and Pacific philosophies and ways of living, past and present; Enlightenment science and philosophies, and their Pacific legacies; Experimental futures emerging out of the exchanges between these philosophies and cutting edge science, Exploration and voyaging; environmental issues; ecological restoration.

Dame Anne is a well-respected New Zealander well beyond the scientific community. She was named New Zealander of the Year in 2013.

She speaks out bravely and forthrightly on New Zealand issues such as dirty politics and democratic freedom.

Search the catalogue for works by Anne Salmond
Cover of Bligh Cover of Hui Cover of Between worlds

Previous Rutherford Medal winners

2012: Distinguished Professor Margaret Brimble CNZM FRSNZ

for her world-leading contributions to the synthesis of bioactive natural products, including a new drug for traumatic brain injury funded by the US army. Professor Brimble was also awarded the 2012 Hector Medal and the 2012 MacDiarmid Medal.

2011: Professor Christine Winterbourn FRSNZ

for her outstanding achievements and discoveries in free radical biology which have established her as a leading world authority in this field.

Our previous Ada Lovelace Day posts

More on New Zealand women scientists

For interesting reading on New Zealand women scientists, try:

There are some excellent biographies in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand including: