Recent necrology, February 2015

Some well-known people who have died recently

  • Aldo Ciccolini, 1925-2015
    Virtuoso Italian-French pianist who brought dazzling Mediterranean tints to Satie, Mozart and Mussorgsky
  • Frank Glen, 1933-2015
    New Zealand Methodist minister, Army chaplain and historian
  • Louis Jourdan, 1921-2015
    French actor who epitomised Gallic charm in the Hollywood musicals Gigi and Can-can
  • Cover of I am SpockCelia Lashlie, 1953-2015
    New Zealand author and social justice advocate
  • John McCabe, 1939-2015
    Composer-pianist in the tradition of Bartok and Rachmaninov, who drew inspiration from art and literature
  • Oliver Rackham, 1939-2015
    Authority on woodland and leading historian of the British landscape

Science – not just for scientists

Cover of 365 More Simple Science ExperimentsScience is fun. Science is cool. Science is everywhere. Science is at your library.

Science Alive are free drop-in science sessions from 3:30pm – 4:30pm at your local library. This is an after school science programme presented by Science Alive. Excellent Science Alive educators lead children through interactive activities to stimulate their interest in science, and there is something to take home every week.

If you can’t wait for the next Science Alive session, we have a great collections of books and eResources that have science experiments and activities you can do at home.

At Science Alive, I have learnt that insects are very good at hiding. In buildings, triangles are stronger than squares. Some crystals are huge. Paper gliders can fly a long way if you make them properly. What have you learnt?

Programmes run during term time except the first week and no bookings are required.

Cover of  Science a children's encyclopedia Cover of Science Experiments Cover of 101 Cool Science Experiments

Love, Death and Art

Smoke gets in your eyesI love that libraries allow us to know more about topics that do not easily crop up in conversation. Topics that maybe make us feel a little uncomfortable, like these three books that were returned to a sunny suburban library near you.

The first book to plop into returns that day was: Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (& Other Lessons from the Crematory) by Caitlin Doughty. Just twenty something, Ms Doughty got a degree in Medieval History and took a job at a crematorium. She’s young, beautiful, clever and funny, and she becomes an intrepid explorer in the world of the dead.

Her book answers (amongst other things) all those questions about crematoria that you have ever wanted to ask, like: How many bodies can you fit in a Dodge van? According to the author we have cut ourselves off from death and this is a mistake. As Kafka famously said “The meaning of life is that it ends.”

the art of taxidermyI was fascinated and I did not want to relinquish Doughty’s book. But I did, because the second book to come through the returns slot was The Art of Taxidermy by Jane Bastoe. What are the odds? I gave it a quick flick through but I am not a big fan of taxidermy and some of these photos made me feel quite queasy.

The very next book to come back to us was a book on an extremely sensitive subject – beheadings. Entitled Severed: A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found the author is Frances Larson. The first sentence reads:

Josiah Wilkinson liked to take Oliver Cromwell’s head to breakfast parties.

This book provides research into mankind’s long relationship with beheading – which we are horrified to witness still happening to this very day. It is a well researched, serious book.

But readers are nothing if not variable – and I never thought I would say this, but I was relieved to see that the next five returned items were all Large Print Mills and Boons.

So far I haven’t mentioned the name of the library concerned because that really is totally irrelevant. But let’s just say that on a cold, dark, rainy winter’s night, when we  close up at 6pm, I will have parked my car as close as I can to Spreydon’s library building!