Ada Wells : Picturing Canterbury

Ada Wells was a school teacher, notably at St. Albans. She was the right-hand woman of Kate Sheppard in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union struggle for women to get the vote in parliamentary elections and, later, was the first woman on the Christchurch City Council, 1917-1919.


RIP P.D. James

Cover of Time to be in EarnestP.D. James,  Baroness James of Holland Park, (OBE, FRSA, FRSL) has died aged 94.

Phyllis Dorothy James was the author of over 20 crime novels, most of them featuring Detective Adam Dalgliesh. She published her (Fragment of an) autobiography Time to be in Earnest in 1999 and many of her works were adapted for television.

Her most recent book was Death Comes to Pemberley (2011) a continuation of the events in Pride and Prejudice framed as a murder-mystery. It was one of those ideas that intrigued almost everyone and was made into a successful mini-series in 2013.

My favourite PD James title is The Maul and the Pear Tree (1971). Co-written with T.A. Critchley, it is a non-fiction examination of The Ratcliffe Highway Murders of 1811.

Cover of The Maul and the Pear Tree Cover of An Adam Dalgliesh Omnibus Cover of Original Sin Book cover of Death comes to Pemberley Cover of Talking about detective fiction Cover of The skull beneath the skin

Korean Day is back!

Korean Day is coming back again this year. It will take place in Cathedral Square between 11am and 4pm on Saturday 29th November 2014.

Korean Day 2013 - Dancer
Performer at Korean Day 2013.
Christchurch City Libraries, CCL-2013-11-30-Korean-Day-2013 IMG_8266.JPG.

This special day first started in 2013, when it had the distinction of being the first public event held in Cathedral Square after the February 2011 earthquake. This was an important milestone in the reintegration of Cathedral Square in the cultural life of the city.

Korean Day has quickly become an important cultural event on the Christchurch calendar, as well as being the biggest event for the Korean community in the whole South Island.

The organisers of the day, the Korean Society in Christchurch, see the event as an opportunity to help build strong ties with other local communities through collaborative performances.

The day promises to be a unique showcase of shared artistic values. You can look forward to traditional Korean dancing, as well as music and pieces by guest performers. A special guest will be Park Choon-Hee, Mayor of Songpa-gu, Christchurch’s Korean Sister City. And of course there will be lots of delicious food to sample, and plenty of entertainment for the whole family.

Korean Day Display
Korean Day display at Upper Riccarton Library

So make sure you don’t miss out this fun opportunity to let go of the daily stresses and to recharge your batteries – come along and get a chance to experience Korean culture!

Hope to see you there!

Jo Yang
Network Library Assistant

Kids’ Books – picks from our November newsletter

Some great new titles and staff picks in our November Kids’ Books newsletter, including When Lunch Fights Back – “An awesomely gross book about weird wildlife”.

Cover of When Lunch Fights Back Cover of Dragons at Crumnling Castle Cover of The Iron Trial Cover of Colour Illusions Cover of How They Choked Cover of Space Case Cover of Teddy One-Eye Cover of Out of My Mind Cover of El Deafo

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight to your inbox.

For more great reads for kids, check out our Fun to Read page – it links you to reading lists, if you likes, interactive quizzes and lots more.

Best reads 2014

What books have you loved this year? The following lists bring together the cream of the crop of 2014’s books – from the picks of our staff and customers, to the lists published by magazines, newspapers and booksellers.

Have your say – add a link to your booklist, or add your picks in the comments field.

Cover of The Goldfinch  Cover of The Virgin and the Whale  Cover of Dirty Politics

Christchurch City Libraries staff and customer picks

Cover of A place of greater safetyI know it’s been around for a while but one of the most fascinating and chilling books I’ve read this year was Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety. Mantel writes the best execution scenes – they stay in your head for weeks afterwards. I’ve also enjoyed science fiction from Charles Stross and Hannu Rajaniemi, and am currently working my way through James Treadwell’s Advent trilogy for young adults.
Annette, CCL

I have to nominate the Game Of Thrones series this year … while they’re not new, they do still stand out in the fantasy field. Also for sheer reading pleasure, I put a spell on you by John Burnside. It’s a coming of age memoir, and written so well it’s like stepping into a warm room on a cold day. And it made me go and listen to I put a spell on you by Nina Simone, which was also a revelation.
Cover of An appetite for wonderColin, CCL

A few that stick out this year – How Google Works (Eric Schmidt); An Appetite for Wonder; the making of a scientist (Richard Dawkins); The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy). Mostly re-reading new copies of old books this year as I refill my library…Kurt Vonnegut Jr, John Updike, Philip K. Dick, Roald Dahl, Aldous Huxley. You’re never alone with a good book!
Michael, CCC

Goldfinch – Donna Tartt, and Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike is a very likeable anti-hero.

Cover of TudorTudor, The Family Story by Leanda de Lisle – covers well trodden ground from a new perspective, and sheds a lot of light on the motivations of the principal Tudors. These motivations are often best understood by looking at what less important members of the family were doing. And very readable! For the Scottish side, Crown of Thistles (Linda Porter) is amazingly good but I think it was 2013.

I can remember what I didn’t read. I gave up on The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (such good writing that I couldn’t cope with the sadness of the young boy), The Dinner by  Herman Koch, (just couldn’t get to grips with any of the characters and what on earth it was all about); Wake by Elizabeth Knox (I should actually give up on trying to read her novels, I think my brain is differently wired); How to Build a Girl by  Caitlin Moran ( I didn’t enjoy her other books but thought perhaps her novel would tickle my fancy – it didn’t).

However thankfully I did really enjoy The Circle by Dave Eggers, so much in fact that I blogged about it. We are all completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Fowler also managed to get me past the first chapter and well and truly hooked by the 3rd when the identity of the missing sister (a chimpanzee) was revealed.

The Martian by Andy Weir, a story of a man abandoned and left for dead when a trip to Mars goeswrong. The technical details of how he survived were either amazingly clever or just plain stupid, but either way it kept me hooked.
Jane, CCL

Cover of The Circle Cover of We are all completely beside ourselves Cover of The Martian

Cover of The King's CurseI became totally engrossed in Philippa Gregory’s ‘The Cousins’ War’ series this year. The author recreates historical events so skillfully you can smell the lavender-scented reeds on the floors and the hear the swish of petticoats on the flagstones. Generally written in the first person, each title explores the life of a key female historical figure. The writing is so good I felt empathy for Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth Woodville, Anne Neville et al regardless of their political point of view and sometimes brutal actions. Reading Philippa Gregory is like taking your history with a large spoonful of creative sugar.

Another excellent read came to me via my book group – Riding the Bus with my Sister – A True Life Journey. Cover of Riding the bus with my sisterIn this autobiography, Rachel Simon explores her relationship with her intellectually disabled sister, Beth. The humility of the author and her determination to understand and care for her willful younger sibling who won’t live life by anyone else’s rules but her own, is deeply moving and the book raises issues about how our fast paced, success driven society defines ‘mental health’.

I finally got round to reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and loved every page of it. I also enjoyed The Luminaries for its Victorian sensibilities and fabulous use of language.
Rachel, CCL

I seem to listen to more books than I actually read at the moment. I’ve listened to some that I enjoyed but probably would not have picked up to read. I just finished The Crocodile Bird by Ruth Rendell which isn’t a mystery but the suspense does build. Two others that stand out are People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks and Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult.
Marcia, CCL

Two books published this year which really stood out for me were Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier and The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth.

I was initially attracted to Razorhurst by the striking cover, which sets the scene for a story of 1920s gangs in the slums of Sydney. Set over the course of a day, orphan Kelpie and gangster’s moll Dymphna witness a murder. The book follows their attempts to evade the attentions of the gangs involved. There are minor supernatural elements to the story which add to the atmosphere and add to the main characters’ sense of alienation. This is a young adult book with a cracking narrative and a real sense of history.

The Wake is another historical novel, also with a memorable cover. It is set in the late 1060s and examines the aftermath of the Norman Conquest in 1066. What sets it apart is the way it is written – to tell his story Kingsnorth has created a version of Old English, the language that was spoken in those days. There’s almost no punctuation, several letters of the alphabet aren’t used and some word are spelled unusually. It is a book that you read carefully and it didn’t take me too long to get into the text. For example ‘knights’ are ‘cnihts’. This language helps to convey the otherness of life one thousand years ago. This book appealed to me as it deals with a little-known period of British history when the Anglo-Saxon / Danish was of life was totally changed by the invading Normans.

Two other books I have to give honourable mentions to are the deeply moving We are all completely besides ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, which considers the complexity of family relationships, and We need new names by NoViolet Bulawayo. I’m only a third of the way through the latter but the vivid portrait of life in Zimbabwe has me gripped so far.
Kat, CCL

2014 best book lists

New Zealand


See also

Biography and Memoir: picks from our November newsletter

Our November Biography and Memoir newsletter brings you a bumper crop of biographies and memoirs for your reading delectation.

Cover of Fatherland Cover of Born into The Children of God Cover of Daring Cover of Henare Wiremu Taratoa Cover of Carsick Cover of Love My Rifle More Than You Cover of Duchamp Cover of My Grandfather's Gallery Cover of Wild Westie

Subscribe to our newsletters and get our latest titles and best picks straight in your inbox.

For more great biographies and memoirs, check out our lists of winners of  the Costa Biography Award.

Advice on your eBook device

db-OverDrive-CKEY685249So it is nearly Christmas, which according to retailers actually started in October. In anticipation of rampant present buying I am getting in early with some “advice on your device”!

My advice is to do a bit of research if you want to use our three free eBook services! What? That’s right your library has three amazing eBook platforms which are spellbindingly good. They include:

  • OverDrive (20,000 eBooks and downloadable eAudiobooks),
  • Askews (British eBook content)
  • and Wheelers (NZ eBook content).

Our eBook platforms will pretty much work with any device – except Kindle eReaders which are designed by Amazon to work only with Amazons eBooks i.e. stuff you will have to pay for.

In the United States they are working on getting these two to talk but chances are this will not translate into changes in New Zealand any time soon. There is also the Kindle Fire tablet which does work with OverDrive – but if you want to keep it simple there are a multitude of tablets, eReaders and other portable devices that work just fine – buy those my peeps and avoid disappointment!

To help out we provide a list of approved devices from us and OverDrive.

Happy shopping.

Te Kupu o te Wiki – The Word of the Week

Kia ora. To celebrate Te Reo Māori we are publishing kupu (words).

Kīwaha (colloquialism)

Tēnā kimikimi, āe
You don’t know!

Kupu (word)


Kei Te Whanganui-ā-Tara te pāremata o Aotearoa.
New Zealand’s Parliament is in Wellington.

Browse our Te Reo Māori resources.

Commemorating the contribution of the Pacific Islands to the First World War

Talofa lava, Kia orana, Malo e lelei, Fakaalofa lahi atu

On Friday 28th of November from 11am – 1pm, Va Pasifika and the team at Aranui Library will join the Pacific community of Christchurch in acknowledging and commemorating the contribution of the Pacific Island British Colonies to World War 1.

There were around 1700 Pacific Islanders directly involved in the war effort (including medical personnel), and those that were unable to serve overseas formed groups to raise funds and donated goods, money, labour and services. Niue, Cook Islands, Fiji, Rotuma, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau, Tahiti, Hawai’i and as far East as Kiribati or Gilbert Islands are all recorded as having men that served during the First World War. The Great War was both a huge opportunity for these small island colonies to prove their loyalty to the British Empire, but also planted the seed of the move toward independence for the larger island nations – which is so crucial to the diverse make-up of the Pacific Islands we know today.

Our Pasifika Talanoa (or storytelling) on the 28th of November will give our Pasifika elders an opportunity to share the stories of family members, and highlight the contributions of their homelands. We are hoping to also, record their stories and make these available for the public to access. The Talanoa will also be an opportunity for our elders to have a preview of the research and Pasifika World War 100 material that we have been gathering and will be exhibited at Aranui.

The event will run from 11am until 1pm, with light refreshment provided.

Jan-Hai TeRatana
Aranui Library

This week in Christchurch history (24 – 30 November)

24 November 1881
St Albans Borough formed.

25 November 1940
“Holmwood”, en route from the Chathams to Lyttelton, sunk by German raiders. Passengers and crew were taken aboard the German ships, and eventually made their way home 2 months later.

25 November 1980
Totem Pole placed in new location at Christchurch Airport.

26 November 1857
Opening of the first building (long since demolished) on the present Christ’s College site. The school’s original planned site was in Cathedral Square, but the land had been exchanged for the present Hagley Park site to allow room for expansion.

26 November 1910
The ill-fated second Scott expedition leaves Lyttelton on the “Terra Nova”, bound for Antarctica. See 1988.

26 November 1959
Memorial Avenue (a memorial to airmen killed in W.W.II) officially opens.

Photo of Memorial Avenue, Christchurch  [ca. 1959]
Photo of Memorial Avenue, Christchurch [ca. 1959] Christchurch City Libraries, CCL PhotoCD 10, IMG0032

27 November 1985
Remains of swimming pool uncovered when excavating behind No 1 stand at Lancaster Park. Pool used as venue for 1907 Australian and New Zealand Swimming Championships.

Photo of Cashin Quay under construction [ca. 1963]
Cashin Quay under construction [ca. 1963] Christchurch City Libraries, CCL PhotoCD 11, IMG0057
28 November 1893
Women vote for the first time in parliamentary elections.

28 November 1908
Work begins on the Summit Road, the first part of Harry Ell’s obsessional dream.

28 November 1964
Opening of Cashin Quay, Lyttelton Harbour. The engineering techniques used in reclaiming this area were unique in the world.

29 November 1901
Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s first Antarctic expedition arrives at Lyttelton in “Discovery”.

29 November 1978
Concert at Q.E.II Park by rock singer David Bowie.

More November events in the Chronology.