Neighbourhood Week 2015

Neighbourhood Week 2015 PosterNeighbourhood Week is happening again this year from Friday 23 October to Sunday 1 November, and it is a fantastic opportunity to bring people together, build stronger communities and get to know those around you. It is also a perfect excuse for a party!

In this day and age it is a bit hard to keep track of the people around you. We all work or have too many commitments and, before you know it, you are surrounded by strangers! This is the perfect time to go and meet your neighbours without them thinking you are a bit strange. 😉

There are many ways you can participate, from organising a street party to hosting a dinner or a sports day to just going and introducing yourself to your neighbours.

There are heaps of tips and ideas on the Neighbourhood Week page, from how to organise a party to how to ask for a grant for one (although applications for this year have closed, it’s never too early to start planning for next year) and you can even print invitations for your event.

We also have some wonderful books at Christchurch City Libraries that will give you ideas. You can

You can also find out about what’s happening in your library by browsing our events calendar. Chances are you’ll meet people that live in your area and that have similar interests to you
 win win!

Cover of Tiny Food Party Cover of Game Night Parties Cover of The Everything Big Book of Party Games Cover of Barefoot Contessa Parties

Read NZ during NZ Book Week 2015

There is no New Zealand Book Month again this year but the New Zealand Society of Authors has taken the initiative and are running New Zealand Book Week instead. It’s on next week – from 26 October 26 until 1 November – and it will also include the inaugural New Zealand Bookshop Day being held on Saturday 31 October.

NZ Book Week

I always loved New Zealand Book Month so I’m really pleased that the NZ Society of Authors has started this small celebration of New Zealand books, authors and illustrators.

There are a few events happening throughout the country to celebrate New Zealand Book Week and you can find out what is happening on the New Zealand Society of Authors website. For families, The Original Children’s Bookshop in Christchurch has a special celebration on Saturday 31 October for NZ Bookshop Day. Illustrators Jenny Cooper and Helen Taylor will be in the store creating some illustrations, reading and signing books, and everyone in the family can enter the colouring competition.Check out The Original Children’s Bookshop website for more information and to download the colouring competition form.

Local illustrator Jenny Cooper will be instore from 11.00am – 2.00 pm and Helen Taylor will join her at noon and be here until 3.00pm. They will read stories if you ask nicely, sign books and they may even draw a picture or two. At 2.30pm community librarian Zac McCallum will be here for story telling.

The best way that you can celebrate New Zealand Book Week is to read New Zealand books, and we certainly have plenty of them in the library. We have some wonderful authors (and illustrators) in New Zealand who write all sorts of stories. Personally I love a story set in New Zealand, whether it’s in a place that I’ve visited or not. As a librarian with a passion for children’s literature, I love the fantastic children’s literature community that we have here in New Zealand. As the big publishing houses have disappeared from New Zealand, more and more of our authors are having to publish their stories independently, at their own cost. Therefore it is even more important that we support our local authors so that they can keep writing and doing what they love.

So, my challenge to you is to come to your library (or browse or great selection of Kiwi eBooks through Wheelers from the comfort of your home) and select some local books to read next week during New Zealand Book Week. If you’re a parent or teacher, choose New Zealand books to read to your children.

Check out some of our New Zealand fiction titles for adults, kids and teens:

Around the Book Groups: September

Had Goldilocks been a bit less piggy and slothful, she might have raised her eyes to the bookshelves of the three bears, grabbed a read, and initiated a discussion with them when they returned – thereby founding the first book group in history.

But she did not, leaving us instead with the Holy Trinity of comparisons: too hard; too soft; just right. Here’s how my five book groups responded to some of our reads in September:

Cover of PlainsongThe Orchardist by Amanda Coplin tells the story of a lone bachelor on an isolated farm, whose peace is disturbed by the arrival of two feral, pregnant teenage girls. It was described by one Book Group member as “like reading a silent movie”. It is tonal, descriptive and almost dialogue free. I can’t help but compare it with the (in my opinion) superior Plainsong by Kent Haruf. A book that also explores the theme of lone bachelors and (in this case) a single pregnant teenage girl. Don’t read them one after the other.

Cover of Rich Man RoadRich Man Road by Ann Glamuzina is a New Zealand novel set in Auckland. The title is a play on the words Richmond Road, which the two main characters – both new immigrants – have difficulty in pronouncing. This book is proving to be very popular in one of my book groups. I however, stopped reading it after 50 pages. I blame the fact that it is a book that starts at the end of the story – thereby subjecting the reader to a further 250 pages of explanation. I will mention here that both main characters are nuns. It has been a bit of a nunnish month, as you will see.

Two further nun books have crossed my path in the past couple of months – and not any old nuns I will have you know – Anchoresses. I enjoyed The Anchoress by Robyn Cadwallader. A novel about a spiritual young woman who chose incarceration in a cell attached to a church to avoid marriage  may not be everyone’s idea of fun, but it is a well done piece of fiction.

Cover of IlluminationsBut nuns were not finished with me yet, as a completely separate book group had as their read of the month – Illuminations by Mary Sharratt which tells the fictionalised, but authentic tale of Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179), who was tithed to the church as an Anchoress when she was 8 years old. We blew very hot and icy cold on this book. Comments ranged from “It has changed my life” to “An atrocious read“. Hildegard is a fascinating character, but I did not complete this book either. In my bones I feel that this is a case of a book about a great person, but this, unfortunately, does not make it a great book.

Cover of Up Against the nightFinally, a distinctly mannish change of direction with Justin Cartwright‘s latest novel: Up Against the Night. I am a huge Cartwright fan and have read every book he has written. He is an intelligent author who can tackle serious themes (in this case the complexity that is South Africa today) in an accessible and entertaining way.

This is not his best book. Reading, in parts,  like a travelogue of the beauties of the Cape, it details a looming act of violence told from the viewpoint of a character who just has to be based on Cartwright himself. All the interesting stuff comes from the least well-adjusted character (who speaks in broken South African English – not sure how that is going to fly). I was bored witless by Nellie the partner of the main character. So perfect, so beautiful, so nice, so accomplished. Give Me A Break. Despite the foreboding violence, parts of this book are laugh out loud funny. But do you have to be South African to get it? That is the question.

I can’t remember when last we all agreed on a book in any book group I have ever belonged to, but A Man Called Ove must come pretty close. We all loved it.

Or as Goldilocks would say: Just Right!