NZ Bookshop Day 2018

Saturday 27th October is New Zealand Bookshop Day. Hurrah for the bookshop! There will be events, great deals on books and competitions too.

Events

Scorpio Books

What: Author talks and readings, as well as an evening literary quiz.
Author talk with Dr Simon Pollard at 10.30am (Simon is a spider biologist and award-winning author of The Genius of Bugs). Free event, activity sheets provided.
The Great Scorpio Lit Quiz at 6.30pm ($80 per table, bookings required).

When: Check Scorpio’s events page

Scorpio Books will also be running a campaign to encourage customers who make a purchase on NZ Bookshop Day to nominate a Christchurch school of their choice. Nominated schools will receive a copy of Aotearoa, Gavin Bishop’s multiple-award-winning, richly illustrated visual history of New Zealand. Scorpio Books will be donating 15% of their sales on the day towards this campaign. All nominated schools will also go in the draw to win a prize pack of New Zealand children’s books, specially selected by Scorpio staff. With support from RDU98.5FM.

Piccadilly Books

What: Childrens Book Reading 

When: Saturday 27 October, 11am to 11.30am, 2pm to 2.30pm

<h2>All about NZ Bookshop Day

Simpson & Williams, 238 High Street, Christchurch [1925] CCL PhotoCD 6, IMG0007
Simpson & Williams, 238 High Street, Christchurch [1925] CCL PhotoCD 6, IMG0007

Now I love working in a library. For just under forty hours a week I am surrounded by books: what more could a bibliophile want? Books have existed in one form or another since the advent of the written word. These were the days of the clay tablet, in the 3000’s BC. And we have them in abundance (books, not clay tablets).

A History of the Book in 100 Books

So it follows that I also have a tender spot for the old bookshop. For whilst I relish bringing books home from the library, there are some that I don’t much want to take back. The library may frown upon me keeping their books indefinitely, but if I’ve really fallen for one, I simply must own my own copy. I put this down to nostalgia, wanting to show off to house guests how well read I am and financial impulsivity…I’m woman so naturally when that magical word ‘SALE’ pops up out comes the credit card. That week when Scorpio Books upped sticks and had their big moving sale was a good week for me and my bookshelf.

Thankfully we do have plenty of exceptional, local, well established bookshops here in Christchurch. They come in all sorts. Old, modern, cosy, expansive, dusty, sterile…

There are the chain bookshops (seem more like gift shops to me), the independent and specialist bookshops, and of course the beloved secondhand bookshops where you can find all manner of out-of-print, sentimental gems. I still cherish my older editions of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five; I get a lot more enjoyment from seeing them on my bookshelf than if they were sparkling and new (or, god forbid, those treacherous 21st Century-ified editions). Oh, and there’s the online bookshop too. A bottomless pit where a person like me can inexplicably lose hours of life.

Aside: There was one aforementioned chain bookshop I did very much enjoy spending time in – Borders – but we know how that turned out. I could spend hours in Borders with my dad, perusing the ancient history/mythology section. Alas.

Mythology offering: witty Stephen Fry’s latest, Mythos

Canterbury Bookshops

Here are a few of the local Canterbury bookshops – new and secondhand – where you might just find your inner peace, and something to add to your permanent collection.

Local Christchurch Bookshops

  • Scorpio Books – after residing on Riccarton Road for a while, plus a stint at the container mall, they have now settled at the BNZ Centre in the CBD. They are a friendly bunch, and if they don’t have exactly what you’re after then they seem happy enough to order it in. Scorpio Books is a place where I must always take my time. Great range!
  • UBS – University of Canterbury Bookshop. Anyone can shop here! They have a good selection of books, at surprisingly palatable prices (excluding textbooks, eek). While you are there, be sure to visit one of the University libraries. They are trialing free membership to Canterbury residents until the end of the year (and hopefully beyond).
  • Piccadilly Books – situated in Avonhead Mall, they have an impressive magazine selection and friendly staff.
  • Christian Superstore – oh boy, I might need a good dousing in holy water before stepping here. They are a large bookshop with an expansive array of Christian material. They supply churches around the country and in the Cook Islands too.

Secondhand Bookshops That are Far From Second Rate

  • Smith’s Bookshop – Their old shop was destroyed in the earthquakes but they have a new permanent home in the Tannery (a very hip place where, by the way, you may also find some amazing pastries). They stock rare books; antiquarian books; secondhand books; new books; magazines and art supplies! My kind of place. Here you will find plenty of local content and first editions. Just you try not to sneeze.
  • Dove Bookshop – in Bishopdale Mall, New Brighton Mall and Harewood Road. I have unearthed some nice pre-loved finds in here.

  • The Chertsey Bookbarn – it’s a bookshop in a barn and it’s in the middle of nowhere…well in Chertsey, just after the Rakaia River and right before you hit Ashburton. But you will not regret the petrol spent. Imagine: you arrive to find a dimly lit, relatively secluded barn. You step inside – tall shelves tower above, brimming with books- and as you move forward the narrow passage closes in and you find yourself amidst a veritable labyrinth…of books. Where was the exit again? You don’t know and don’t care. Are those footsteps you hear from behind? Is it a scene from a horror film? A dream?

My Pick of the Online Bookshops

  • The Children’s Bookshop – a smaller online bookstore with material aimed at children and young adults. There is also a handy learning resources section with books on foreign languages, te reo, language, vocabulary and maths.
  • Mighty Ape – a NZ owned online bookshop operating out of their distribution centre in Auckland, with really fast shipping (same day shipping offered to most of the major cities).
  • Bookhaven – another NZ online bookshop, selling used books. They do have a small shop in Wellington but most of their stock is contained in warehouses around the country.
  • Abebooks – but you must be patient. Sourced from somewhat further afield, your order will likely be coming from the US or UK! Abebooks searches the catalogues of independent bookshops worldwide, to find great deals. I have often found exactly what I want on here, and at good prices too. They list both new and used titles, and some shops offer free shipping. In fact this is a great place to get textbooks from, just be somewhat organised about it and don’t wait until the last minute.
  • Book Depository – an international online bookshop, with free delivery and oftentimes great discounts.

And should all else fail, your local library could probably get a copy 😉

Digital Images

Here are some photographs of Christchurch bookshops gone by, for reminiscences.

Second Hand Books, 390 Colombo Street. Kete Christchurch Colombo_Street_390.jpg
Second Hand Books, 390 Colombo Street. Kete Christchurch Colombo_Street_390.jpg
Arnold Books. Kete Christchurch New_Regent_Street_-_6_June_2006__DSCN3794.JPG
Arnold Books. Kete Christchurch New_Regent_Street_-_6_June_2006__DSCN3794.JPG
Smith’s Bookshop 127 to 139 Manchester Street. Kete Christchurch Manchester_Street_127_to_139_Corner.jpg

These images are from Kete Christchurch, our online local history resource.

Books About Bookshops

Cover

Are there any Christchurch bookshops you love that I have missed? Any online book-shopping secrets you wish to divulge? Happy NZ Bookshop Day!

Rewind at Ferrymead Sunday 14 October: Women and War

Immerse yourself in Rewind at Ferrymead Heritage Park, 10am to 4pm on Sunday 14 October. This FREE family-friendly Beca Heritage Week event, jam-packed with entertainment from times past at Ferrymead Heritage Park. It’s 125 years since New Zealand women achieved the right to vote and 100 years since the end of World War I.

What’s On?

Mobile Discovery Wall: Christchurch City Libraries will be at Rewind with the Mobile Discovery Wall – the smaller sibling of the digital touchwall in Tūranga. You can view historical Christchurch images, interact with them, and upload your own photos.

Suffrage Art Workshop: Take part in this national workshop creating a banner section filled with art referencing suffrage and its connection to significant local heritage buildings, historic figures and ideas.

Exhibition: See the archaeology exhibition, Women Breaking the Rules

There will also be live music, street art, food and craft stalls, steam trains, trams and more!

Getting there

Parking is available at Ferrymead Heritage Park if you enter Ferrymead Park Drive off Bridle Path Road.

Find out more, including details of special bus trips from 9.30am to 4.30pm.

Books

More BECA Heritage Week events

Beca Heritage Week will run from 12 to 22 October 2018. The theme is “Strength from Struggle – Remembering our courageous communities.”

Christchurch Photo Hunt

During the month of October Christchurch City Libraries will run its annual heritage image photo competition. Entries will be added to our digital collection.

Library events

When Death Jumped Ship – Remembering the 1918 Influenza Pandemic Lyttelton Library and Lyttelton Museum – 12 to 27 October

It’s 100 years since New Zealand’s worst-ever public health disaster – what happened? How did we cope? Lyttelton Museum and Lyttelton Library are commemorating the anniversary with an exhibition and ‘Medicine Depot’. Come see some powerful images and find out what an inhalation chamber was like.

FREE public talks at Lyttelton Library 7pm to 8pm

Tuesday 16 October: Anna Rogers, who has written about WW I nursing, will discuss the pandemic and New Zealand’s military medical contribution.
Wednesday 17 October: Emeritus Professor Geoffrey Rice will look at the question: Could it happen again?

World Animal Day – 4 October 2018

What did the Bison say when his son left for College?

“Bison.”

World Animal Day is on Thursday 4 October 2018. It is important to recognise our furry friends of the animal kingdom, and World Animal Day is all about raising awareness to improve animal welfare standards across the world. 

World Animal Day was a concept originating with German writer and publisher Heinrich Zimmermann. He coordinated the first World Animal Day event in Berlin on 24 March 1925, and held it in the Sport Palace (Berlin Sportpalast) where over 5,000 people attended. Aside: Incidentally, the Berlin Sportspalast later proved a popular venue for party rallies and speeches during the rise of the Third Reich. 

Four years later, in 1929, World Animal Day migrated to its current date of 4 October. Whilst involvement was initially limited to Germany, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia and Austria, Zimmermann lobbied hard to have World Animal Day recognised universally. In 1931 he achieved this goal when his proposal was unanimously accepted at a congress of the world’s animal protection organisations in Italy, and World Animal Day became recognised globally as it is today.  

What is the significance of 4 October? This is the day of Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint of ecology. Two days before my birthday too, just in case husband is reading this (lol) and wants a birthday gift idea

Endangered Species

Endangered species are those plants or animals considered to be at risk of extinction. Contributing factors include loss of habitat (e.g. through deforestation), hunting, poaching, disease and climate change. 

The critically endangered Gorilla (photo not of real thing). Bosca by Chris Meder Ellerslie International Flower Show 2010. Flickr CCL-CHCH-2010-03-09-DSC-02997.

At present, critically endangered species include: 

  • Black Rhinoceros – which is in fact grey, and has been poached to the point of near decimation. The black rhinoceros is sought after for its horn, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine and in the making of traditional dagger handles in Yemen. 
  • Both the Eastern and Western Gorilla – the largest of the apes. The decline of the Western Gorilla is attributable to loss of habitat through deforestation and the Ebola virus, which wiped out a third of their population between 1992-2007. Eastern Gorillas – situated in the Virunga Volcanoes region, the Democratic Republic of Congo and parts of Uganda – face the poaching of their young, and are often caught in the crossfire of armed conflict occurring in and around their habitat. 
  • The Northern Hairy-Nosed Wombat of Australia. One of the worlds rarest critters, these wombats declined due to drought and the introduction of livestock, decreasing their access to food. Recovery plans are in place, but the plight of the animal is grave. 
  • Red Wolf – The red wolf roams the USA, and is threatened by loss of habitat due to agriculture, and being hunted to near extinction.  

Sadly, this is merely the tip of the iceberg, and many of the world’s beautiful and exotic creatures are in imminent danger of slipping away forever. Just to think that in my lifetime we may bid adieu to the majestic tiger, is a terrible thought. And it’s not only animals who are heading for extinction, many of the earth’s plants, algae and fungi are also disappearing. 

You can find information on the status of any animal on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and Arkive also has some in depth coverage on conservation issues and the endangered species of plants and animals. 

Quick Animal Facts

On a lighter note, here are some rather riveting animal facts in honour of World Animal Day:

  • An elephant creates around a tonne of poo every week. No more said. 
  • Caterpillars have 12 eyes. That’s four more than a spider. How creepy of them. 
  • Mosquitoes are attracted to feet that smell. Explains a lot. 

Explore more fun facts on National Geographic Kids

Animal eResources: Students & Adults

Find out all you need to know about animals and the natural world through Christchurch City Libraries’ impressive selection of eResources. Here are just a few, click on the links to find out all about your favourite animals 🙂 :

National Geographic Virtual Library & Britannica Library for Adults
Here you will find in-depth reference material, articles, photos and books on animals.

NZ Geo TV
NZ Geo TV contains documentaries on the natural world –  New Zealand and global.

Student Resources in Context
Focused reference material and images targeted at students.

Smithsonian Global Sound for Libraries
If you prefer your music to be of the natural variety, check out this eResource which has access to thousands of music tracks, both animal and human made. Like this birdsong.

Explore these and much, much more on our eResource A-Z page. All you need is your library card and PIN

Animal eResources: Kids & Teens

New Zealand Birds and Animals, Dogs & Frogs
Informative pages put together for our website, by our librarians.

Britannica Library for Kids & World Book Kids
Encyclopedia and reference material aimed at school aged kids.

National Geographic Kids
Archives from the popular kids magazine- all sorts of fun images, maps and articles on the natural world around us.

All of our other eResources for Kids can be found on our website.

Web Resources 

Books & Magazines

I would recommend Adventures of A Young Naturalist, the exploits of British broadcaster David Attenborough, and any of his groundbreaking and educational documentaries about the natural world which you can borrow for FREE at Christchurch City Libraries (in case you hadn’t heard, documentaries are now free at our libraries!). 

Some of our latest animal titles: 

You will also find animal mags online through our eMagazine resource RBdigital:

Browse for other books about animals through our catalogue.

Programming: Reading With Our Furry Friends

Jock the dog at Christchurch City Libraries. Flickr 2015-07-02-9429.

What kind of monster could resist that face? Reading to Dogs sessions are designed to provide a relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere in which children may practice their reading skills and develop a love of reading. Our dogs are the beloved pets of the Christchurch City Council Animal Management team, and have all been trained and tested for health, safety and temperament. Our dogs:

  • Can increase a child’s relaxation while reading
  • Listen attentively
  • Do not laugh, judge or criticise
  • Allow children to proceed at their own pace
  • Can be less intimidating than a child’s peers

Library staff and a dog handler will be present at all times to help facilitate the sessions. 

See our online calendar for dates and times

How Can You Help? NZ Organisations Helping Animals

Animal Shelters, Rescues and Adoption Agencies

Animal Rights Organisations

Zoos & Educational Facilities

As always, more information can be found in our community directory CINCH: Community Information Christchurch.

Hello springtime

Spring has almost arrived – depending on which definition you use*  – and the weather is certainly reflecting this.

It is easy to be inspired by nature. When I was younger I used to take every opportunity to make something out of whatever I could find in the garden. Daisy chains, bouquets, weavings, dried flowers that just looked dead…couldn’t have anything nice in the garden with me around. Those lovely red roses would soon find themselves dangling from my bedroom door frame in a preserved state of shrivelled brown decay.

Christchurch City Libraries has a wealth of books that are full of ideas for the nature loving craftarians out there. Here are just a few:

Helen Ahpornsiri creates beautiful artwork out of pressed flowers. Her book, Helen Ahpornsiri’s A Year in the Wild, is a beautifully illustrated (with her pressed flower art – no paint in sight) account of the four seasons of the natural world. I will commission husband to make me a flower press at once. Or just use a heavy book.

For fans of both Shakespeare and the natural world, I introduce you to: Botanical Shakespeare, exquisitely illustrated with the flora and fauna cited in the works of the most famous playwright Shakespeare, alongside accompanying verses.

Though a British guide, Margaret Wilson’s Wild Flowers of Britain is so beautiful to look at that it really transports me to a scene straight out of English romance novel. The author was a keen botanist and documented, in watercolour, (over the course of a number of years!) a thousand British and Irish plants.

As a huge Tolkien fan, no way could I pass up on Flora of Middle-Earth. This book is a catalog of each and every plant found in Tolkien’s fictional world, Middle-Earth. Nerdy bliss.

The Great Library Seed and Plant Swap

Where & When: At a library near you

About: The seed swap has proved wildly successful over the years, just bring in your leftover seeds and we’ll put them out to share (though don’t worry if you don’t have any this year, you can always bring some next year 🙂 ). We welcome vegetable, herb, flower, native, and heritage seeds. You can also bring any spare potted-up seedlings. Yay gardening.

Check out our gardening page for gardening information and resources.

A Naturalist’s Bookshelf

Now about that spring cleaning…

*The astrological/solar beginning of spring takes place at the vernal equinox on Sunday, 23 September. The meteorological reckoning has the beginning of spring as 1 September.

Ed Husain: WORD Christchurch Festival 2018

Ed Husain has an interesting past; he is a self-described former Islamic radical, having spent five years between the ages of 16 to 21 immersed in radical Islam. He has become one of those rare  individuals to have retracted from his extremist past, to share his narrative and speak out about one of the more secretive and misunderstood religions.

Ed Husain. Image supplied

Today he spoke with journalist Donna Miles-Mojab at the WORD Christchurch Festival. I happily braved the blustery-ness and the coldness and toddled along to witness the discussion at The Piano. The large auditorium was close to packed, with most of the audience being a half century older (and no doubt a good deal wiser and more knowledgeable) than I.

As I set off, it was with an eye to dispel some of the uncertainties surrounding Islam, in my mind anyway, and try to gain some level of insight into a religion that has always piqued my curiosity.

The Talk

CoverThe focus was around Ed Husain’s latest book The House of Islam which is an intriguing historical account and firsthand glimpse in to the world of Islam, addressing some of the major issues it faces today and throughout history. Not being religious myself, I am nonetheless intrigued by the complexities of Islam. Surrounded as we are by media reports of terrorism and violence perpetrated by extremist Muslims in the 21st century, how could one not be confused and wary of the very religion such extremists follow and cite as their inspiration? 

The scene of today’s discussion was set with a quick overview of the political environment. The persecution and Islamophobia that exists in many countries (including Europe); forced migration; the internment, high level surveillance and loss of rights of many Muslims in China; refugees flooding into Europe and the issues that is causing; and the general atmosphere of fear and suspicion surrounding Muslims in many parts of the world.

My attention was then further aroused by the announcement that this would be more ‘debate’ than ‘discussion.’ Debate indeed it was, with journalist and author disagreeing on several fronts.

Here are some of the more interesting points that were raised:

That there is currently a “civil war of ideas” occurring in the world of Islam. Ed Husain seeks, through much of his book, to remind Muslims today that traditional Islam upholds values of peace, freedom and free thought. Islam extremists have forgotten (or ignored) this tradition, and have deviated from the path of true Islam. Ed Husain identified three key groups who are responsible for inciting this civil war; the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi salafism and the current Iranian government. (Note: this suggestion provoked some rather entertaining antagonism from his Iranian host, who then tried to steer the discussion away from politics…and prompted Husain to retort: “You don’t want to talk politics when you don’t like the answer!” Indeed.)

That Islam is not so different from other religions such as Judaism and Christianity. In fact Husain likened Islam to an “outgrowth of the mothership” that is Judaism.

Ed Husain does not buy in to the clash between the West and East. Points out that we all pursue our interests, and have done so throughout history.

There was mention of the decline faced by Europe during the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages were marked by the end of free thought, with one brand of Christianity dominating for a long period of time. Husain posited that Islam is now entering its own ‘Dark Age’, and that there has not been, until very recently, a shut down of free spirit and reason such as we are seeing today.

An interesting point was raised that Muslims too have a long history of slavery and conquest; such transgressions are not limited only to the West with its colonialist past. The world would not be what it is today without conquest.

There was then some lively discussion around what motivates Jihadists: Husain suggested that it arose from the desire to bring Islam back the former glory of the Ottoman Empire; for Islam to become once more a dominating power – a stark return to an imperialist mindset. He went on to talk about how the Islamic belief in an afterlife where you are rewarded in death is a damaging and dangerous idea: it makes the real world, and the humans in it seem dispensable. Husain posits that the suicidal tendencies of Islamist extremists is one of the deadliest problems we face. In this issue, Husain and Miles-Mojab depart somewhat. Miles-Mojab points out that most jihadists/Islamic radicals are young men who are unemployed and have a critical lack of understanding of their faith; so that rather than being faith driven they are motivated by other external factors. She points out the growing violence exhibited by alt-right groups and individuals in the US, which are not faith driven; and that more Americans were killed last year by American alt-right violence than Americans were killed by Islamic terrorism. Husain disagrees, believing that faith is the primary driver in radical Islam (but with other factors being additional), and that Islamic extremists are utterly convinced that they will die and enter a new world as martyrs of their faith. He also states that if Jihadists could kill more Americans they would. It is only because of the preventative measures in place, that they are not able to do more damage.

A parting Ed Husain quote:

Those of you who are uncomfortable with a US led world, I invite you to consider a China led world, because that is where we are heading at the moment.

After listening to all of this (and, admittedly, a few historical lessons which somewhat went over my head), I am positively determined to get my hands on a copy of Ed Husain’s book. Christchurch City Libraries has a copy of The House of Islam. He has also written another book about his experiences, The Islamist

If you missed out on today’s talk, Ed Husain will also be at WORD tomorrow (Saturday 1st September; 1-2pm; The Piano) as part of the Disunited Kingdom? talk where he will join forces with author and BBC presenter Denise Mina and columnist David Slack to discuss Brexit and its various consequences.

And there are still two more days of WORD to enjoy!! Many of the events are free, check out the programme.

Enjoy!

Further Reading

Celebrating the men in our lives: Father’s Day

Father’s Day; celebrated on the first Sunday of every September.

“…father (Gus Watts) and Ralph, fixing our troublesome car.” File Reference: HWC08-SO109CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 NZ

Father’s Day seems a good time to reflect upon what dad has done for you over the years. Perhaps his crowning achievement is simply to have survived having you as a child. Sure, you didn’t ask to be born…but I for one am somewhat glad I was. And I was not a particularly pleasant child if stories are to be believed.

“Tarts!” toddler me shrieked and pointed at the tights-clad ladies walking down the street. And that was just the beginning.

In view of my tumultuous childhood (my behaviour, not my parent’s parenting) I have been trying harder to practice the art of gratitude – with varying levels of success – as gratitude is an integral part of any healthy relationship and just as important for your own happiness as it is to that of those around you. Thankfully it doesn’t have to be a grand or expensive gesture; sometimes the little things say so much. And what better day than Father’s Day to pour a little energy in to this endeavour, and let your father know how grateful you are to have him in your life.

  • Here are some ways you could show that, this September:
    • Pay back that ‘loan’ you have been owing him for years
    • Invite him over (or out) for dinner
    • A voucher for his favourite bookstore perhaps
    • A card with a nice message
    • Family tickets to the Canterbury Astronomical Society public open nights
    • Tickets to one of the WORD Festival events
    • Let him whatever kind of man he is that he’ll always be “Manly As”. (All Right have some cute posters and postcards that might do the trick)

Or if your budget is a little higher, Christchurch also offers some unique, unusual and out there options: try sensory deprivation float tanks, suspending him high in the air at Adrenalin Forest, hot air ballooning or an east-west coast (and back!) scenic train ride.

My go-to Father’s Day/Father’s Birthday present of the last decade has been a bit less inspired; the unique coffee related contraption. So far we’ve cycled through the Vietnamese coffee brewer, rude coffee cups, several travel coffee mugs, chocolate coated coffee beans…

Father’s Day cardmaking at Shirley Library, 2016. Photo from Flickr.

Here are some books from our collection to help you get started and perhaps provide some much needed inspiration.

DIY Father’s Day Gifts

A Father’s Bookshelf

Images of Fathers Doing Their Thing

Here are a couple of photos of fathers from our digital image collection on Kete Christchurch. Kete Christchurch is an online resource bringing together records of local events, people and places – current and historical. You are welcome to contribute your own images to the collection, for the enjoyment of all Cantabrians 🙂 To do so, register an account.

The Farm Bloke

Jack, Jill, Neville (father) & Trevor Holt on tarmac machine borrowed from Burnside Engineering to lay driveway at Holt residence, 36 Brighton Rd Green Island, Dunedin. c. 1953, Kete Christchurch. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ

The City Bloke

My father at Bridge of Remembrance, Christchurch ca 1923, after returning from 1st World war.” Photo from Kete Christchurch. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 NZ

Happy Father’s Day!

Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki

On the 6th of August 1945, at 8:16am (Japan time), an American B-29 bomber let loose ‘Little Boy.’ The first atomic bomb to be used in warfare, Little Boy descended upon the Japanese city of Hiroshima and detonated with around thirteen kilotons of force. This is the equivalent of 13,000 tonnes of TNT. In an instant, tens of thousands of people were killed as a direct result of the blast. Many more would succumb to radiation sickness within the year.

As we know the attack on Hiroshima was followed, three days later on August 9th in the early hours of the morning, by a second attack: this time upon the city of Nagasaki. ‘Fat Man’ killed at least 40,000 people, a figure which would also climb as the year wore on.

Hiroshima after the bomb drops, August 1945. Photograph courtesy of the Imperial War Museums website, UK. © IWM (Q (HS) 833)

Cover of Sadako and the thousand paper cranes

I was lucky enough to visit Japan with some friends in 2016. We spent a few days in Hiroshima. We were eager and curious to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum and see the flamboyant chains of 1000 paper cranes displayed in honour of Sadako Sasaki, sent in from around the world. Sadako Sasaki was a young Japanese girl living in Hiroshima at the time of the bombings, who died a few years later from consequential leukaemia. (Read more about Sadako Sasaki’s poignant story)

Yet for me the most moving exhibition of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial was seeing the Atomic (Genbaku) Dome up close, so perfectly preserved in all its horror. Knowing what occurred there, and seeing the once beautiful structure in ruins serves as a powerful testament to the destructive power that humans are capable of. As our trip was in the middle of the Japanese winter, it soon began to snow. The snow fell into the exposed insides of the Genbaku Dome and the atmosphere was sad and eerie. If you head for Japan, make Hiroshima one of your stops. It is well worth a visit.

One Thousand Paper Cranes

The paper crane is probably the most recognisable piece of origami across the world. For something so exquisite, it is really not that difficult to make. Here is a video showing how to fold an origami crane.

Who knows, perhaps you (with some help, hopefully) might fold a thousand paper cranes in honour of Sadako Sasaki to send to the Children’s Peace Monument in Japan, like students from Wairarapa College did earlier this year.

Books in our Collection

eResources

Research the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through Christchurch City Libraries’ collection of reference eResources. You may need to log in with your library card and PIN/password. Here are just a few ideas to start:

I found a fantastically informative article on World History in Context. What a great resource for a student writing a speech or an essay, or for anyone interested in the issues and the context:

Browse through the rest of our online encyclopedias, dictionaries and general resources.

Digital Images and Video Footage

The following image is from our local Christchurch resource Kete Christchurch. It is a memorial plaque to the victims of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima & Nagasaki by the Untied States, at the end of World War II. Inscriptions are in Japanese, Māori and English. The plaque can be found on the riverbank reserve, Cambridge Terrace, between Cashel and Hereford Streets.

Atomic Bomb Memorial plaque Cambridge Terrace
Atomic Bomb Memorial plaque Cambridge Terrace by D M Robertson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License

Here is archival footage taken from the air, showing the Hiroshima bombing in action

And here is footage surveying damage from the aftermath of the bombing

Find more educational film resources on our eResource Access Video, including this two part BBC documentary on the Hiroshima disaster

Web Resources

Bigger is Better (and just what your coffee table needs)

Yes, you could shell out over $100 to buy that enormous, spectacularly illustrated coffee-table-worthy publication you saw at Whitcoulls. Alternatively, you could use your free library membership to borrow one of Christchurch City Libraries’ own gorgeous, larger-than-life tomes. What is more, your coffee table can play proud host to a different book each month! Paris this week, Hieronymus Bosch the next…never again will you have to stare at the same photographs of wild bears for years on end because you were a poor student and could only afford the one, heavily discounted, over-sized ‘Spirit of the Bears’ from Borders (RIP).

A thoughtfully selected coffee table book can add that much needed pop of colour to a room. It can also provide an excellent conversation reviver, or swiftly become an effective weapon. There is a coffee table publication for you, whatever your requirements.

Here are some of our biggest and best (click on an image to find out more).

Just be sure to clear out some room in your boot first.

Harry Potter’s Birthday Celebrations

On Tuesday 31 July at Parklands Library and Fendalton Library (and a bit earlier on Friday 13 July at Shirley Library) Christchurch City Libraries will be celebrating Harry Potter Day. This is a day to recognise our enjoyment of J.K. Rowling’s literary creation Harry Potter, fittingly on his birthday. Lovable, bespectacled Harry and his friends stormed into our collective minds over two decades ago. Hard to believe!

You are invited to come along to our family friendly Harry Potter Day events. See our calendar for dates and times. Personally, I don’t think I want to get too close to Dobby’s lost sock…but there will also be a storytimes, potions class and wand-making craft along with other marvellous activities.

Harry Potter display
Harry Potter display. South Library. Tuesday 26 July 2016. Flickr 2016-07-26- IMG_5247

What was Harry up to on the 31st of July? Well:

  • 1980 Harry was born to James and Lily Potter.
  • 1991 Rubeus Hagrid came to the hut-on-the-rock where the Dursleys were hiding out, to hand deliver Harry his Hogwarts acceptance letter.
  • 1992 The Dursley family had dinner with Mr and Mrs Mason while Dobby and Harry argued in the background- prompting Dobby to cast a hover charm over a giant pudding – which was then unceremoniously deposited on top of Mrs Mason. This resulted in the Ministry of Magic sending Harry (unjustly) a warning letter rebuking the use of underage magic.
  • 1996 Harry celebrated his 16th birthday at the Burrow.
  • 1997 Harry turned 17 and received a birthday kiss from Ginny Weasley, much to the revulsion of her brother Ron.

Every HP fan has the books proudly lined up on their bookcase. My copies of The Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban are hard-backed, beautifully illustrated by Jim Kay and reside in a shelf all of their own. I have given husband a strict Christmas/birthday present list covering the next three years. This will take care of the remaining volumes.

CoverCoverCover

You will find the complete Harry Potter series on our catalogue. Readwatchlisten or download Harry.

I first discovered that I love reading fantasy when I picked up The Lord of the Rings as an almost teenager. As I broadened my fantasy horizons, I eventually ceased to read anything else, and wondered what it was that drew me in. When I would read these books or watch the films it was as though I was dead to the outside world. I was so entranced, and remained so long after I’d put down the book. They left me spellbound and strangely nostalgic, for something I couldn’t grasp.

I think it must be pure escapism. I like to dwell on the element of setting when I am reading  having no qualms about toiling through pages upon pages of lavish, descriptive world building – the foundations of any fantasy tome. Themes and values which underpin fantasy also captivate me: the pull between good and evil: and values such as friendship, loyalty, perseverance or fighting and suffering for something greater than yourself. These things are nice to believe in – and being packaged in such a pleasing way with none of the bothers or constraints of reality – of course I would be drawn in like so many others.

Reading a good fantasy novel always ends with me underlining compelling passages every few pages (not on any library copy, of course). I do love quotes. Here is an excellent Harry Potter passage which always makes me chuckle:

“Non-magic people (more commonly known as Muggles) were particularly afraid of magic in medieval times, but not very good at recognizing it. On the rare occasion that they did catch a real witch or wizard, burning had no effect whatsoever. The witch or wizard would perform a basic Flame Freezing Charm and then pretend to shriek with pain while enjoying a gentle, tickling sensation. Indeed, Wendelin the Weird enjoyed being burned so much that she allowed herself to be caught no less than forty seven times in various disguises.” 

Wendelin the Weird sounded like a bit of a fetishist.

So I hope you have read Harry Potter. If not, shame on you. Join the library it’s free and you can borrow Harry. If you have and are wondering “what can I read next, that is Harry Potter, but at the same time not?”, then we subscribe to some fantastic eResources. Our reading advisory eResources – Novelist Plus, Novelist K8 (Novelist Plus for kids) and Books & Authors are designed for librarians and library patrons to assist with finding your next read. They will help you ferret out exactly what you liked about a book, and recommend material based on this input.

Of course, you could always turn to the walking reading advisory resource – your local librarian.

To conclude, here is a short list of fantasy reads I believe anyone interested in the genre should tick off. In no particular order:

Flash me that fiction – Friday 22 June

National Flash Fiction Day is on Friday 22 June.

Here are the details for the Christchurch event Flash in the Pan:

Come along and celebrate the smallest fictions on the shortest day. National Flash Fiction Day! Flash in the Pan is a FREE event to celebrate all things flash and brings together Canterbury’s best flash fiction writers for an unexpected literary evening and award presentations.

  • When: 6pm to 8pm Friday 22 June 2018
  • Where: Space Academy, 371 St Asaph Street
  • What: Flash fiction readings, competition announcements, beer on tap and spot prizes from Scorpio Books and the University Bookshop
  • Subscribe to the Flash in the Pan Facebook event.

What is flash fiction? Well, as defined by the Collins English online dictionary, flash fiction is “a genre of fiction in which stories are characterized by extreme brevity.”

So in short; a short, short story.

I refused to read short stories growing up. I felt cheated. They didn’t count. Could only be explained through sheer laziness on the author’s part. I now understand the unique challenge they pose: how each word must be weighed with the gravest importance, each sentence propelling the narrative forward. No easy feat does it present. When words are scarce, each one must prove its value, must hint at something beyond what appears on the surface.

For the past seven years, New Zealand has celebrated flash fiction through an annual competition, culminating in New Zealand Flash Fiction Day (NZFFD). There are three categories you can enter: adult, youth and Te Reo Māori. If you were hoping to throw your writing skills in the ring this year you’re out of luck as competition entries ran February through April…but despair not, for that leaves nine months to motivate yourself for next year’s competition. In 2017 there were 404 adult competition entries – sounds migraine inducing for those on the judging panel – though entries for the NZFFD competition are limited to a rather manageable 300 words. Tempted? You can read winning entries from previous years online, or even attend the Christchurch Flash Fiction event next week.

My research into flash fiction has, if anything, further muddied the waters as nobody can seem to agree upon the preferred word count (or indeed the very name) of flash fiction. Varying wildly dependent on who is asked, word counts range from the modest six word variety made famous by Ernest Hemingway to the decidedly more generous 1500 limit. Last year, 25-word flash fiction was publicised by The New Yorker, appearing in the “Summer of Flash Fiction” series. The term of Flash Fiction has adopted many different guises also: there is, for instance, the intriguing sounding “twitterature,” and of course the commonly referred to “short story.”

But at the end of the day, short and sweet is what Flash Fiction day (incidentally, held on the shortest day of the year) is all about.

Here I have gathered together some of Christchurch City Libraries’ short story/flash fiction collection – or whatever you want to call it – for your perusal.

View Full List

Check out more stories of the short variety on our catalogue.

If you are looking to develop your own skills as a writer- or if, like me, you have zero visual art skills and simply find writing to be a nice alternative, therapeutic and creative endeavour – Linwood Library host a Creative Writing group weekly on a Wednesday. You’ll also find guides and inspiration on our catalogue, and check out our page on writing for tips, competitions and courses.

There are many more classes and programmes in your community, some of them free, some with a cost. For further information, see CINCH: Community Information Christchurch for programming in your wider community.