Breathe in – twenty fifteen. Breathe out – twenty fourteen

Cover of Breathing LessonsWhat better time of the year than the very start of a new one to reassess who we are and who we would very much prefer to be. This year I am throwing my focus onto things that I am not doing right, in the hope that this will be the year when I finally get myself sorted.

Let’s start with breathing. Can you believe it – something this basic and I got it all wrong.  Turns out it’s not as simple as inhale/exhale, and if you do it properly, good breathing can sort out all your life problems. You can read about how to breathe although it does feel a tiny bit silly. On a more practical note, The Press (December 16th 2014, p. A14) informs of a breathing course in Christchurch, and it may well come to that. But if all else fails, you could just immerse yourself in a good fiction book like Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler or Breath by Tim Winton.

Cover of I'll Have What She's HavingWhat’s more, I have also been eating incorrectly, but it’s not strictly speaking my fault. Oh, the conflicting instructions I have been given: eat butter, don’t eat butter, eat margarine, don’t touch margarine – eat butter again. Watch out for sugar, go vegan, lower your salt, up your roughage, eat 5 days a week, fast two, never fast, eat small meals all day, eat Ancient Grains (whatever they may be). The library has an amazing array of food books: here’s a selection already published in 2015. I’m so worn down by it all though, that I’m falling back on the Taoist option of Winnie the Pooh and eating whatever I like.

The final indignity is that I’m apparently not blogging correctly either. An entire issue of Mollie Makes (Blogging: The guide to Creative Content*) is devoted to this topic and I fail on most counts – possibly because blogging is one of the few things I don’t over think. I can summarise blogging in 50 words: get an idea that has your brain wired – this usually happens at 2am. Make the naive leap of faith that if it interests you it will also captivate others. Write the entire thing in your head. Go back to sleep, wake up, bash out a draft, submit it. Move on. Mollie Makes, on the other hand, takes 178 pages packed full of admittedly very good tips.

So here’s what I’m going to do: take a deep breath, eat exactly what I like, and blog on. That’s my 2015 – all done and dusted.


*To find Mollie Makes: Blogging: The guide to Creative Content in the catalogue, click on View subscription and availability details and look for call number 745.5 MOL BLOGGING 2014.

The Thirteenth Tale

Cover of The Thirteenth TaleRecently, I have found that my book choices have been a little disappointing – in fact I could categorically state that they have not captured my imagination at all! A sad state of affairs. But that was before I came across The Thirteenth Tale… During my short Christmas holiday I spent any free time actively seeking out a quiet ‘nook or cranny’ where I could sit down and catch up with the action going on at Angelfield House

the imposing home of the March family – fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, Charlie, her brutal and dangerous brother, and the wild, untamed twins

YES, a Gothic mystery that has got me page-turning with great speed. Oh, I love a good Gothic novel – Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Henry James’s Turn of the Screw, and Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black to name but a few.

Cover of Bellman & BlackWritten by Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale has received a 4-star-rating in our catalogue and has elicited around 60+ positive comments by readers. I’ve started to look at ratings and comments in earnest, although I like to think that I am not swayed too much by opinion – I don’t want to miss something that I might enjoy. Setterfield’s latest offering, Bellman & Black, sounds promising and I might be persuaded to give it a whirl.

What ‘haunting’ reads would you recommend? And, tell me, do you read the comments in the catalogue? If so, do you let them guide your selections?

RIP Jean Aunty

Author Jean Watson, who was recently featured in the  documentary Aunty and the Star People, died in Wellington yesterday 28 December 2014.

Ms Watson wrote several novels. Stand in the Rain, which was published in 1965 and which was partly based on her marriage to writer Barry Crump, was her first and most well-known.

However, in the last 28 years or so, her focus was split between writing and philanthropic work in Tamil Nadu in Southern India, where she set up, funded and helped run a home for disadvantaged children. It was there that she acquired the affectionate name of Jean Aunty.  She wrote about the experience in Karunai Illam: The Story of an Orphanage.

My colleague Lisa was lucky enough to see Jean Watson at the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival in August. Lisa’s blog post about the session is fascinating. While the focus of the talk was on Watson’s involvement in Karunai Illam, as depicted in Aunty and the Star People, I particularly enjoyed reading Jean’s comments on a number of New Zealand luminaries, including her description of Dennis Glover as a “very sort of sarcastic, open person”. He apparently called her a “middle-aged Ophelia”.

Jean Watson at WORD
Jean Watson in conversation with Gerard Smyth (director of Aunty and the Star People) at the WORD Festival, 29 August 2014,


This week in Christchurch history (29 December to 4 January)

30 December 1988
Water restrictions in force for first time in City’s history as water tables dropped to record low levels.

Cover of Nimrod by Beau Riffenburgh31 December 1984
“Kiwi House” opened at Orana Park (first chick born in captivity in South Island, November 1989).

1 January 1862
New Zealand’s first rowing regatta held on Lyttelton Harbour.

1 January 1908
Shackleton expedition sails for Antarctica in “Nimrod”. A crowd estimated as high as 50,000 watched the departure – probably the largest in Lyttelton’s history.

2 January 1896
Australasian Amateur Athletic and Cycling Championships held at Lancaster Park.

3 January 1883
Graving dock in Lyttelton Harbour officially opens.

More December and January events in the Chronology.

Boxing day outing : Picturing Canterbury

Boxing Day outing, 1950s. My relatives – Aunt Dossie and Uncle Bill; Aunt Agnes and Uncle Ted and their son (top). My mum with my eldest brother Keith and my Nana (bottom). Going to North Beach for a Boxing Day outing. My dad presumably taking the photo. 26 December 1950. Entry in the 2014 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ. Kete Christchurch PH14-300.jpg

Merry Christmas!

Ngā mihi o te wā!  We wish you and yours all the best for Christmas and the New Year from Christchurch City Libraries.

We are closed on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (Thursday 25 and Friday 26 December). Check out our holiday opening hours for more details.

Christmas in the Re:START, Cashel Street

Some Christmassy information:

View images of Christmas and pictures of the Hay’s Christmas Parade from our collection.

What was popular in 2014

Cover of Modern classicsKia ora and welcome to our annual popularity contest – these are the titles in our library collection that were most popular in 2014.

New Zealand dominated the non-fiction section, with Modern classics by Simon Gault taking out top spot.

In the fiction forum, Life after life by Kate Atkinson was numero uno (it was in 4th place in 2013). Last year’s winner The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton taking top spot for New Zealand fiction (coming in at a highly respectable number 16) as well as being the most popular eBook in our Wheelers collection.

Cover of Life after lifeInterestingly, while Dirty Politics didn’t gain a spot in our non-fiction list, it was the 2nd most popular Wheelers eBook.

James Patterson was the most popular author for adults, ahead of Nora Roberts.

Many classic authors and titles rated highly in all categories. Nancy Drew and the clue crew by Carolyn Keene was the winner for kids, with Daisy Meadows as author number one. Joy Cowley, Lynley Dodd, and Margaret Mahy rated highly too.

Manga and graphic novels were hugely popular with teens, and series like The Hunger Games also dominated the teen list.

Top of the top titles

The most popular items in our collection

See our most popular stuff in previous years.

Holiday hours

Hannah - 2nd prize in the Summertime Reading Club photo competition
Hannah – 2nd prize in the Summertime Reading Club photo competition. Flickr: CCL-2013-01-18008

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

Here are our holiday opening hours – so you know when you can stock up on most excellent holiday reading, watching, and listening from your local library.

All libraries will be closed 25 December, 26 December, 1 January and 2 January.

Little River will close 24 December at 4.30pm and reopen 5 January 2015 at 8.30am. Akaroa and Diamond Harbour libraries will retain their usual earlier closing times. All other Christchurch City Libraries will close at 6pm on Wednesday 24 December.

The Library2Go vans will follow their usual weekly timetable.

The Archives and Research collection will be closed from Wednesday December 24 to Tuesday January 9.


Wednesday 24 December All libraries close at 6pm except Akaroa, Little River and Diamond Harbour Libraries which close at usual time.
Thursday 25 December All libraries closed.
Friday 26 December All libraries closed.
Saturday 27 December Normal weekend opening hours. Little River closed.
Sunday 28 December Normal weekend opening hours. Little River closed.
Monday 29 December All libraries close at 6pm except Akaroa and Diamond Harbour Libraries which close at usual time. Little River closed.
Tuesday 30 December All libraries close at 6pm except Akaroa Library which closes at usual time. Little River closed.
Wednesday 31 December All libraries close at 6pm except Akaroa and Diamond Harbour Libraries which close at usual time. Little River closed.
Thursday 1 January 2015 All libraries closed.
Friday 2 January All libraries closed.
Saturday 3 January Normal hours resume except Little River remains closed (it will reopen on Monday 5 January).
Botanics Gardens Christmas tree
Botanics Gardens Christmas tree. Flickr: 2014-12-21-IMG_4155


Joe Cocker RIP

00000000000026345867-250x250_72dpi_RGB_100QI had a tape called Cocker Happy. Joe Cocker’s superdistinctive groove and that gravellicious voice made new wonders out of classic tracks. He did a stonking version of The Beatles’ She came in through the bathroom window. I was just a little kid, but I have loved and played that tape all my life.

RIP Joe Cocker.

Te Kupu o te Wiki – The Word of the Week

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

Kīwaha (colloquialism)

Ka nama au ki a koe
I owe you

Kupu (word)


Āhea tātou whakatā ai?
When are we having a rest?

Browse our Te Reo Māori resources.

Te Kupu o te wiki will be back in January. Ngā mihi o te wā (Season’s greetings).