Cool stuff from the selectors. What more could you ask for? Food, Cats and Storytelling

CoverDavid Wiesner And The Art Of Wordless Storytelling
This is definitely a book for someone who has an interest in children’s illustration as it contains well-researched and far-reaching essays on the history and development of book illustration as an art form.

David Wiesner is of course the focus, and I enjoyed revisiting his wonderful illustrations. I remember sharing these books with my children, all of us having varying viewpoints about what was happening, delving deeper into each illustration with each reading. This is a beautifully produced book.

CoverFrom the sublime to the ridiculous! Crafting with Cat Hair is the sort of book you just have to have a look at because it is so unlikely. Taking itself completely seriously, this book gives you in-depth instructions on how to use your moggie’s fluff for felting crafting pleasure.  Perhaps if you are so inclined, it could be a way to immortalise your feline friend.

CoverFood Fights and Culture Wars
Chomping away on my couple of pieces of dark chocolate, it was interesting to read about the violent past of chocolate. The chocolate we eat today is barely recognisable as the cacao that was produced by the early Mayan people.

Cadbury (whose Dunedin factory is set to close next year) was founded by Quakers. Their desire to fend off slavery underpinned the chocolate trade. Filled with beautifully reproduced pictures from the British Library, this is a fascinating romp through history and food.

Cool stuff from the selectors: Children’s books

Egg9780062408730

This masterful and stylistically original picture book introduces young children to four eggs. One is blue, one is pink, one is yellow, and one is green. Three of the eggs hatch, revealing three baby birds who fly away. But the green egg does not hatch. Why not? When the three birds return to investigate, they re in for a big surprise! What will happen next?

Other Wordly

A lovely wee book of illustrated strange words from around the world such as : “Komorebi” from Japan which means the sunlight that filters through the leaves of the trees, or from English “Bibliothecary” meaning one who collects, maintains, or cares for books. I also like “Cwtch” which is Welsh for a hug or a cuddle but is also used for the space under the stairs.

Sniffer & Tinni9781454918707

Best friends who live in Norway. Sniffer is a wild fox and Tinni is a German Shepherd. In this simple non-fiction book, stunning photographs show how they spend their time together.

Illuminature9781847808868

Three images of different animal habitats on one page. Using the viewing lens you will see the daytime animals, the environment or the night animals jump out from the page. It also contains a species guide for each animal you discover.

Cool Stuff from the Selectors

9781770858084The Secret Life of Equations: The 50 greatest equations and how they work.

Before we go any further I need to come clean.  I have no interest in equations and I have no mathematical ability, but even I could appreciate this book!

l=Iω: Apparently this is useful for iceskaters and explains why when an iceskater pulls their arms in, they decrease “moments of inertia,” and the velocity or speed automatically increases.  Who would have thought there was actually an equation for this?  It would seem that there is an equation for everything. How to choose your next secretary? Try p( χ) = – χln(χ) .  Filled with pictures and set out in a way that you can dip into this could well be a good introduction to viewing the world from a different perspective.

Real Raw and Relatable: A Collection of Stories from the people of South Auckland.

This is a lovely book.  Humans of South Auckland was created out of the tragedy of suicide, and from that came this book, a gentle reminder of humanity and the power of story.

These are usually the words that follow when I tell someone I’m from South Auckland…

“So do you carry a knife with you, you know like…just in case?”

My answer is generally “yes, I do, but I carry a fork too, ’cause I never know who’s going to invite me to dinner.’

Hacksaw Ridge9781629131559

The book that inspired the movie.  This is the story of Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector, who served in the American Army’s 77th Infantry Division in World War II.  Desmond was a medic who refused to carry a weapon and, for this,  was often insulted by his fellow soldiers.  However, during the battle for Okinawa he rescued 75 soldiers and became the first and only conscientious objector to receive the Medal of honour.  The DVD is on due for release in March and is on order for the library.

And from the Fiction Selector…

9781784297268The mystery and thriller genre leads the fiction and it shows little evidence of it tailing off. For a start, vast numbers of readers will be waiting for the new Paula Hawkins novel Into the water. For those who like the historical mystery, Lindsey Davis  is back in Ancient Rome with The third Nero. Two men on the trail of a woman on the run is the focus of the latest Mason Cross novel Don’t look for me. William Shaw is described as a crime writer with a social conscience  and his latest, Sympathy for the devil is worth waiting for.

Bestselling French writer Delphine de Vigan has an intriguing story of what happens when a close friend tries to steal her friend’s life. If the dark Scandinavian thriller is to your liking, there’s an interesting one, Quicksand, by Malin Persson Giolito. And if all these thrillers keep you up at night, why not try one of the many British Library Crime Classics which give you light thrills but not shudders.

Cool stuff from the selectors: How the other half lives

9780865653313Located near Palm Springs, Sunnylands was the palatial home of philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg. Created out of barren desert, Sunnylands is now a huge, palatial masterpiece of over the top opulence. No detail was too small – carpets, furniture, and china were all specially made, luscious gardens formed, and a golf course created.

Luckily for us all, aspects of the house and grounds are beautifully represented in this sumptuous book. But along with the fabulousness of the place was also the fabulousness of the people who visited. Guests were carefully chosen for each weekend. Once they arrived and were housed in the various rooms in the guest wing, where they would be provided with a written potted history of the other guests’ achievements and interests. Seating arrangements for the lavish dinners were carefully chosen so that conversation would flow smoothly. Activities for the weekend were outlined and a jolly time was had by all.

A magnificent book if you like to delve into life as you will never know it, beautifully photographed and enough written material and social history to make you feel a little less voyeuristic.

9781848221840Edward Bawden was an English painter, illustrator and graphic artist, known for his prints, book covers, posters, and garden metalwork furniture.

Scrapbooks – by the delightfully named Peyton Skipwith –  is a compendium of ephemera that Bawden has collected for more than 55 years.  There seems little rhyme or reason to most of it, drawings of stage design are interspersed with Christmas cards, newpaper cuttings, invitations and cigarette cards. The colour reproductions are quite beautiful, especially the drawings and graphic works of Bawden, and most pages have interesting notes about where the particular pieces may have originated and some background information to try and make sense of the seeming randomness of it all.  The is a lovely book to dip into and gives you a great insight into the life and times of a prolific and talented artist.

Cool stuff from the Selectors: Thinking about trends

When selecting stock for the library it is always important to think about trends and what might be the next ‘big thing’, and one area that always garners interest is health and wellbeing – that elusive food/exercise/natural remedy/mindset that will provide the magic elixir of anti aging/weight loss/fitness and a long life.
9781906417611978024129652397814892146219781849497749

Is Algae the new Kale?  Turmeric latte anyone? I was unfortunate enough to read that some are suggesting beetroot, charcoal or mushroom becoming your coffee substitute! Forget nose to tail eating, now it’s about root to stem.

If you have been struggling with Mindfulness then you can now rest easy with Mindset – the belief that basic abilities can be developed through hard work, a love and learning, and dare I say it – ‘resilience’. Breathing is also big – not surprising given we all need to do it, but are we doing in the right way? And last but not least, Neuroslimming, giving  you a “mind plan, not a meal plan”.

Tiny houses are still wildly popular, at least the pictures of them in the books are, but I do wonder how many people actually bite the bullet and live in the small but perfectly formed shed in the back yard? Travel stories are still very popular and I have it on good authority that Iceland is the next big thing (and I just happen to be going there in the middle of the year!)

I expect we will see a few more books on Donald Trump this year along with his good mate Putin.  There may be a few books on Fidel Castro and Cuba could become a more popular travel destination?

9783037682029978157687780797817437929959781610397391

The craft area is dominated by a love of anything Nordic and the knitting, quilting and embroidery books are still as popular as ever.  Cooking is still raw, which is ironic considering it’s cooking.

Need some cheering up, then these two titles might help the optimism quotent.

Improbable places and improbable food

9781781315323Atlas of Improbable Places: A Journey to the World’s Most Unusual Corners hides interesting gems of information behind a unprepossessing cover and layout.  I was somewhat disappointed that the photos were in black and white, but as I explored the book I realised that this just adds to the general sense of abandonment and improbability.

Each place is devoted a couple of pages and includes a map and photos. I was fascinated by Slab City located in California.  It is described as “the last free place in America” and occupies 640 acres of concrete and debris-littered land.  People live rent free in makeshift homes that over the years have attracted the dispossessed, the lost, plus plenty of libertarians and eccentrics.  After the 2008 financial crash some people ended up there out of total necessity as their homes were foreclosed.

Another Californian oddity is Colma, with a small population of only 1,400, the dead on the other hand – close to 2 million – occupy seventeen cemeteries.  Gives a whole new meaning to the “dead centre of town”.

An abandoned tourist resort in Cyprus also piqued my interest.  Once a mecca for the wealthy and famous, it was abandoned after Turkish troops occupied the part of the island where it was located, and tourists and residents alike fled.  For forty years Turkish soldiers were the only ones to benefit from the resorts high-end hotels but it has now been left to Mother Nature.  It remains out-of-bounds but word has it that the ghost resort is still full of once fashionable cars and, more excitingly, 1970s clothes!

Aquafaba: Sweet and Savory Vegan Recipes Made Egg-Free With the Magic of Bean Water
Really … have you ever heard of anything more unappetising!? Apparently the name comes from a combination of the Latin root words for water and bean.  Aquafaba mimics the properties of eggs and can even be whipped up into a tasty pavlova, although I have my doubts.

There is a good news story around it however, with the online vegan community getting right behind the idea. A host of people are trying out recipes and ideas to get the ideal Aquafaba experience, and this is replicated in this book.  Certainly the pictures look quite appetising and range from the savoury to sweet, including a rather lovely looking lemon meringue pie.

Someone else give it a go and let me know the verdict!

Something for the coffee table

CoverBitten by Witch Fever: Wallpaper and Arsenic in the Victorian House by Lucinda Hawksley

This is the sort of book that you can just meander through, looking at the pretty pictures and picking up a bit of information here and there –  exactly my sort of non-fiction!

Arsenic is of course a poison, prevalent in whodunnits. What I didn’t realise was that it is also a wonderful enhancer of colour, and was used extensively in wallpaper.  Not only were these papers poisonous to those unfortunate enough to work in the factories that produced them, but a gas was produced when they became damp. This was not an unusual situation when many houses had little heating and cold damp conditions.

A lovely – if slightly chilling – book to flick through with fascinating anecdotes, luscious illustrations of the wallpapers and stories that flesh out the history of arsenic and its victims.

CoverGreat Houses Modern Aristocrats by James Reginato

This is another wonderful book to dip into. The author is a writer-at-large for Vanity Fair, and I really enjoyed the way he brings the homes – and the people in them – to life.

We are introduced to Patricia, Countess Mountbatten of Burma who sits in the chair with a steady, suspicious and steely gaze, while her sister (standing) describes her older sister as “the personification of the stiff upper lip”.  Patricia apparently has more titles than any woman in England and Queen Elizabeth reportedly gets a bit flustered in her company:

She was Colonel-in-Chief of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry for thirty-three years, until she retired in 2004.  “When I turned eighty, I said, ‘for goodness sake, I can’t drive a tank any longer'” she explains.

Many of these homes are impossibly expensive to keep up. Some have been turned into variations of a Disney theme park, but many of the occupants have developed clever and surprisingly interesting ways of making a bob or two.

The Honourable Garech Browne of Luggala in Ireland has been a champion of Irish music, forming Claddagh Records and sponsoring the Chieftains.  The Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava specialises in prize cows and artisanal yoghurt. When asked what supermarket she would prefer stocked the yoghurt she replied that she “hadn’t a clue” because she had never been to a supermarket!

Even the cover intrigues me, a young aristocratic couple and their son – mother and son perched on top of an ornate ladder (as you do) and the young father leaning nonchalantly, dressed in what looks like his grandfather’s military jacket, surrounded by old books and paintings.  All very otherwordly.

Cool stuff from the Selectors

Remarkable Birds Mark Avery
We share the earth with more than 10,000 species of birds, so here is your chance to find out everything you didn’t know about the avian world: a fascinating compendium showcasing the extraordinary wonders of birds, illuminated with exquisite ornithological illustrations, prints, and drawings.

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I am Brian Wilson : a memoir Brian Wilson
Good Vibrations : My Life as a Beach Boy Mike Love
I’m showing my age by vividly remember going to the Beach Boys at QEII.  These two excellent memoirs tell the story of the Beach Boys from opposite perspective.  According to the Rolling Stone, both of these books are a must and sure to be good argument-starters.

Footnotes trom the world’s greatest bookstores Bob Eckstein
A collection of seventy-five of the most cherished bookstores from around the world featuring evocative paintings by Eckstein and paired with colourful anecdotes about each shop.  Each store has is quirks, charms and legendary stories with legendary patrons.

Celebrate Everything Darcy Miller
Just in time for the Christmas bash, Celebrate Everything is bursting with advice, inspiration, ideas, crafty projects, and recipes.  Darcy Miller, the founder and editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings—and one of the world’s most influential celebrations experts—provides the ultimate compilation of party ideas and resource lists to help people plan their parties from beginning to end.  Personally it all looks a bit much for me, but I enjoy looking at the pictures and fantasizing that I could ever find the energy to create such gatherings!

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The Secret Lives of Colour Kassia St Clair
If you love colour and you love history then this could be the ideal book.  Take the colour Dutch Orange for example…

The House of Orange are proof that personal branding isn’t new.  In portrait after portrait, its members are gilded in shades of orange.

Then there is shocking pink as described by Elsa Schiaparelli

The colour flashed in front of my eyes … Bright, impossible, impudent, becoming, life giving, like all the lights and the birds and the fish in the world together, a colour of China and Peru but not the West – a shocking colour, pure and undiluted.

 

Cool stuff from the Selectors: Children’s and adult fiction

CoverWild animals of the North by Dieter Braun
A children’s book about the animals who live across the 3 regions of North America, Europe and Asia. This book has been getting a lot of good reviews. The illustrations are stars. They are bright, stunning and show the animals as full of life and personality. This is the first in a series that will cover the animals of the world.

The Guardian has great examples of the illustrations.

CoverAnother animal book, this time from the always superb husband and wife team of Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. (They have produced 16 books together): Flying Frogs and Walking Fish : Leaping Lemurs, Tumbling Toads, Jet-propelled Jellyfish, and More Surprising Ways That Animals Move. 46 creatures in the typical paper collages against crisp white background style, showing  how they might march, stroll, tiptoe or perhaps glide soar or coast.

Fiction

On the fiction front there are promising titles such Days Without End by the Irish writer Sebastian Barry, which is a kind of literary western along the lines of that terrific novel The Sisters Brothers. Barry’s earlier novel  The Secret Scripture has been filmed (with Rooney Mara, Vanessa Redgrave and Eric Bana) and is expected to bring more publicity to this very talented writer.

Other titles coming up from first rate novelists include Michael Chabon Moonglow, Alice Hoffman Faithful,  Alan Moore Jerusalem,  Ron Rash The Risen,  Zadie Smith Swing Time Stephenie Meyer The Chemist.

So … something for everyone

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