Book launch: All the Other Days by Jack Hartley

Cover of All the Other DaysIt’s not often you get to attend the launch of a book written both by a local debut author but also by someone barely into their twenties. Book publishing is a competitive business and the path to publication can be slow and dispiriting (for those that make it there at all), so it’s an impressive achievement at any age.

All the Other Days is a book for teens, first written when Hartley was still a teenager himself. He was encouraged in this by his Shirley Boys’ form (and English) teacher who spoke at the launch, as well as by his family. While there were many subsequent years of hard work on the manuscript, interrupted by a degree in Psychology and a foray into teaching, it’s a testament to the positive influence the right teacher at the right time can have for many people — and also how the work of one author is built with the support of the community around them. A glance at the acknowledgements at the back of a book can give an idea of just how big this community can be.

Hartley is clearly passionate about bringing an authentic voice to Young Adult literature, particularly an authentic male voice which he struggled to find in his youth. (Should’ve asked a librarian.)

Many teens struggle with mental health during adolescence, on top of the usual mix of first love, dealing with school, and potentially problems at home, so being able to connect with characters having a similar experience can be a lifesaver. I have yet to read All the Other Days so can’t speak to the validity of the comparison, but the themes remind me of Will Kostakis (by coincidence another author who broke into publishing very young). If you’re looking for an exciting new addition to YA fiction then put yourself on the waiting list, because it’s looking like All the Other Days is already shaping up to be a big hit.

More blog posts about All the Other Days:

Author Jack Hartley at his book launch

World Languages Collection at Tūranga receives warm welcome

“It is my first time to see Korean books in a library!” an elated Donggi Jun said when he saw the shelves of books in his native Korean, a part of the World Languages Collection Ngā Reo o te Ao / World Languages, Auahatanga | Creativity, Level 4 of Tūranga.

Jun hails from South Korea but has been a Christchurch resident for years. “I’m so happy to see lots of popular authors. A lot of us miss our country. These books will be a source of comfort,” added the 58-year-old who also renewed his library membership card so he can start borrowing Korean books “as often as I can”.

Jun is only one of many migrants who were delighted to see the World Languages Collection since Tūranga opened on Friday 12 October. The collection aimed to reflect the thriving cultural diversity of Christchurch. It enables migrant communities to maintain a connection with their language and culture, as well as provide study materials for English language learners.

At present, the World Languages Collection at Tūranga comprises of books in 13 languages including Afrikaans, Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and Thai. In addition, it has magazines and periodicals in Afrikaans, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese and Russian. It also includes an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) section for English language learners.

Customer browsing the World Languages Collection, Auahatanga | Creativity, Level 4, Opening day, Tūranga, Flickr TU-2018-10-12-136

Olivier Hoel, who left France to work in Christchurch a year ago, was thankful to find his beloved French titles housed at Tūranga:

“It was a great surprise when I saw them first at Peterborough Library and now, they’re here, more accessible in a such a lovely place.”

CoverVisitors to the city were equally impressed. “We are in the wrong city! How come you have this!?” a South African visiting from Wellington exclaimed while lifting an edition of the Afrikaans magazine Rooi rose from the rack. She was also able to find a book in the Afrikaans section written by a friend, quickly getting a snapshot for Instagram.

German tourist Horst Schnidt was also pleased. Looking up from reading the pages of German periodical Der Spiegel, he commented, “This new library is in itself amazing. But having items in various languages like German makes it more special.”

The collection has been well-used. An average of 30 items are being marked “used” every day, at times peaking up at 50. This doesn’t include the many more being borrowed. Many customers also joined the library or renewed their membership (like Jun) just to access the collection.

ESOL tours have proven to be quite popular as well. Over 350 individuals from various cultural backgrounds have been toured around Tūranga since its opening and shown World Languages materials (adult and children’s) including the eResources they can access from the library website. Among them were students from Hagley Community College, Papanui High School (Adult ESOL Department), and Wilkinson’s English School.

“The ESOL items are a big help to me,” said Chinese student Rita Xu who was also thrilled to see the Chinese books section, the most extensive in the collection. “My friends will be happy. I will tell them about it.”

The collection, however, is not only popular with English language learners but also with students of other languages. For instance, German language students from Hagley College were keen on the German books and magazines that could aid them master German.

No doubt, the World Languages Collection in Tūranga is a hit.  As Anne Scorgie from South Africa puts it, “Having this collection shows that Christchurch is really now recognising its growing diversity. It’s a great step.”

Hayley Concepcion and Crystal Betito
Auahatanga | Creativity, Level 4, Tūranga

Dan recommends: The best of fiction

Another year is coming to a close and it gives me pause to think about what an amazing year it has been for fiction! We’ve been bestowed with such a wealth of quality new releases, from longstanding authors continuing to deliver, debuts of such genius it boggles the mind, sequels that have been waiting more than a century, and a bold author new takes on an old classic.

Catalogue link to Flames by Robbie ArnottMy highlights for this year start with not only the best book I’ve read this year but possibly the best I will ever read, ever!

I’m talking it up, I know but here’s some of the reasons why… Flames is a tribute to nature, the environment, our place in it, the unseen elements, the powers that rule, and the lives of all things. It weaves myths and small gods into the fabric of the environment, masters of unseen systems which shape lives unbeknownst to the humans inhabiting their land. This is an astonishingly good book. It’s elemental, blurs the lines between reality and mythology, sweeps you up in atmosphere and the sense of place, and the use of language is sublime. The story is set in Tasmania and centres around a family with deep connections to the land and environment. A young woman sets out south, alone to the wilderness of ancient Tasmania, while her brother sets out to build her a coffin and sends a private detective to track down his sister and bring her home.Through the course we discover an ageless world, gods of nature, young people coming of age, and what it is to engage with your world. Superb effort and the best thing I’ve read this year – quite an effort given the next titles I’ll share with you!

Catalogue link to Macbeth by Jo NesboWhen Hogarth Shakespeare set out to create modern retellings of the great works of Shakespeare, they were inspired by their choice of Jo Nesbo to retell Macbeth. Macbeth The master of noir violence and mystery has done an absolutely brilliant job of turning Macbeth (the man) into a Scottish police officer, wracked with guilt of the past, plagued with addiction, and hungry for power. It’s so obvious to me now that Macbeth was MADE for the Scandi-Noir genre treatment. It’s gritty, dark, violent. Full of power, betrayal, and characters walking the fine line between sanity and madness. For this story Macbeth is head of SWAT in a dangerous and corrupt town and together with his mistress, Lady, the rags-to-riches casino entrepreneur, they embark on a powerplay to seize control of the city. But Macbeth has a sketchy past full of drug abuse and violence and as he relapses things get out of control, people get killed, lines get blurred… A great read and a must if you like Scandi Crime!

Catalogue record for The shepherd's hut by Tim WintonThe next two I’d like to share are by two of the most important authors of our contemporary world right now – in my humble opinion. The first is the Australian writer Tim Winton and his newest book The Shepherd’s Hut. It’s the very colourful and memorable account of a young man forced by circumstance to take to the outback roads of rural Western Australia. Such brilliant descriptive writing will have you smelling the eucalyptus in the air, and hearing the crispy arid saltlands crunching underfoot. Jaxie is running and he’s got a vague destination in mind – north. And he’s got to survive the perils of rural Australia, criminals, and the very land that seems to want to kill him from heat, thirst or animal attack. An outstanding book from a great Australian author and written in vernacular language too, strengthening characters and adding some lightness!

Catalogue record for Don't skip out on me by Willy VlautinThe other amazing offering comes from an American author; Don’t Skip Out on Me

Willy Vlautin is one of my favourite authors writing today and his works just keep getting better and better. He writes of contemporary everyday life and he tells the stories of working class Americans and the very real struggles faced by ordinary people in the America of today. This one is concerning a young American Indian man who passionately desires to be a champion boxer. He begins his journey on a ranch in Nevada where an ageing couple has adopted him, and follows him to Arizona as he sets his mind to a life of pugilism. Beautifully written and full of the heart and pathos that Willy Vlautin is famous for. A stellar effort and worthy of much praise.

Catalogue record for Only killers and thieves by Paul HowarthAnd now for the fans of gritty Historical Fiction and WesternsOnly Killers and Thieves

Another great debut from Australia that really captures the Australian Gothic story. It’s the story of two young men, not boys but barely men, after a traumatic family event that sees them on a journey not of their choosing. The book describes the brutality of life in 1800’s Australia, the treatment of the indigenous population, and the rigourous adherence to the ‘old ways’ in this vastly alien and seemingly lawless world. If you like your reading to be vivid, violent, confronting, and troublesome then you’ll sure like this one!

Catalogue record for Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. BarkerI was originally going to keep this list of highlights to five titles but there’s another one that came to my attention recently. It’s the sequel (a prequel to be more precise) that’s taken over a century to come into existence. Dracul

The official prequel to the great work, this one penned by none other than Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew and authorised by his estate. It’s told in the familiar form of diary entries and personal notes, and tells the story of Bram himself who along with his siblings encounter some serious evil and a creature so powerful and unknowable that it threatens their very souls. So well written and very readable, good pace (bit of a page turner), and language that would please the original author. A great read for fans of horror, mystery/suspense, or the classics. Definitely one of my best picks for 2018 and a worthy inclusion to this highlights package (and my colleague Fee loved it too)!

Now I look at the titles that missed out on inclusion to this list with some sadness – like I say, it was a remarkable year for quality fiction! Here at least you have a selection for your holiday reading this summer. Grab one at your local library, settle in with a cup o’tea (or something else), and get some amazing stories in for the hols.

Happy reading,

^DevilStateDan