Podcast – Exposing human rights through (citizen) media

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from New Zealand’s only specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia.

Exposing human rights through (citizen) media discusses topics as wide-ranging as satellite technology, the Arab Spring and the struggle for independence in West Papua.

Guests: Steven Livingston (The George Washington University, The Brookings Institution and Carr Center for Human Rights Policy), David Robie (Pacific Media Centre at Auckland University of Technology) and undercover journalist Jaya Mangalam Gibson (Quad Cowork etc)

 

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Trump vs Clinton

It’s on. Man vs woman. Republican vs Democrat. You may well be fed up with the whole thing by now but if not, we have plenty of reading material on the presidential hopefuls, including Trump’s The Art of the Deal.

Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of this immensely popular “memoir” of the real estate tycoon gave an astonishing interview with The New Yorker this week in which he expressed regret at having written it.

Cover of The art of the deal“I feel a deep sense of remorse that I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.” He went on, “I genuinely believe that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.”

Whoa.

But The Art of the Deal is by no means the only book about, or purportedly by, Trump in our collection.

Cover of Never enough Cover of Crippled America Cover of Trump never give up Cover of Trump University Real Estate 101

Find more titles about Donald J. Trump

But by sheer volume Hillary Rodham Clinton is in the lead…

Cover of H R C Cover of Hard choices Cover of Living history Cover of A woman in charge Cover of Her way Cover of Leadership secrets of Hillary Clinton Cover of The secretary Cover of Hillary

Find more titles about Hillary Rodham Clinton

Off the Shelf (4)

As followers of our blog will know, voracious reader Robyn has been sharing with us on a regular basis the titles that she has been adding to her For Later shelf. Here are some more titles that have recently graduated to her Completed shelf.

Cover for Maker & MuseMaker & Muse: Women and Early Twentieth Century Art Jewelry

This truly is a beauty. The pieces are breath-taking but the very best thing about it is the chance to read about  women as designers and makers as well as consumers.

Cover for Weeping BritanniaWeeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears by Thomas Dixon

Who knew that the British are actually quite emotional? Not me until I read this book. Turns out they’ve been giving free reign to their lachrymose tendencies for centuries, with a bit of time off for a more martial approach between 1870 and 1945. It’s full of fascinating facts such as Queen Elizabeth II crying in public (more accurately dabbing at the corners of her eyes) for the first time at the age of 71, when the royal yacht Britannia was  decommissioned . The author is the director of the Centre for the History of the Emotions at Queen Mary University of London so he knows what he’s talking about.

Industrial Vintage Interiors by Maria Eugenia SilvaCover for Industrial Vintage Interiors

A biggie and almost a beauty, this is probably one for the true enthusiasts who can pore over page after page of metal stools. It’s a world where your cat has to be grey to (mono) tone in with your colour scheme.

Aussie teen fiction

Cover for Looking for AlibrandiOh, Australia. Home of red dirt, too many snakes, and some super readable YA fiction. I picked up another one from the new book pile yesterday entirely due to the blurb quote by Melina Marchetta. Marchetta writes books about — brace yourselves — teens with issues (so, all teenagers, because who doesn’t have issues?), but they’re funny and sad and beautifully written. She’s probably best known for Looking for Alibrandi, which was made into a movie, but the one I return to most often is Saving Francesca (and sequel The Piper’s Son).

Cover for Feeling Sorry for CeliaAnother favourite writer from across the pond is Jaclyn Moriarty, author of Feeling Sorry for Celia and sequels. She writes quirky novels told through notes left on the fridge and letters from a character’s subconscious and other epistolary ephemera, which is a favourite trope of mine (see my Epistolary Novel list). Two of her sisters are also authors (I recommend Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies, currently being filmed as a TV series), albeit for adult readers — what a disgustingly talented family.

Cover of WildlifeFiona Wood rounds off my top three Aussie contemporary YA authors — a colleague wrote a lovely post about my favourite of hers, Wildlife, which covers grief and friendship and living out in the bush with a bunch of teenagers. She’s also written Six Beautiful Things, a modern genderswapped retelling of Cinderella, and Cloudwish, a super sweet story about Vietnamese-Australian Van Uoc Phan, wishes, and Jane Eyre.

Any other fans out there? I’ve been writing down Marchetta’s recommendations from her blog and adding them to my list of Aussie YA, so if you’re stuck for something to read do take a look. Or let me know if I’m missing someone amazing!

Cover for YellowCover of The Yearbook CommitteeCover of The First ThirdCover of The Flywheel

PressDisplay is evolving!

tablet and stack of newspapersThere can be no denying how popular PressDisplay is. Over 19,000 newspapers were read in June alone and if there is ever a delay from PressDisplay (based in Vancouver) in getting the latest edition of The Press up then the phones here at the library run hot with angst.

Like all things technical upgrades are necessary to keep pace with the environment around them. PressDisplay is no different and in the coming months will shed its old interface like a caterpillar sheds its cocoon to evolve into a butterfly or in this case PressReader. There will still be unlimited access to newspapers and magazines from around the World but PressReader will be much more mobile friendly and provide access to features like instant translation and social sharing.

You can even set up your own account and customize what you want to see when you first open it. Personally I have the local newspaper the Press set up as a favourite as well as the Southland Times and the magazine Healthy Food Guide. You also get to download publications for later reading online or offline so you will never be stuck for quality reading material again.

At the moment when entering PressDisplay you will have the option to either try PressReader or PressDisplay. Feel free to use this time to investigate the changes to come or even set up your own account. The permanent swap over from PressDisplay to PressReader will happen on the 30th of August.

You can also get a look at PressReader here

Press Reader electronic newspapers

Bibliotherapy

Do you ever wonder why a particular book seems to come along at just the right time?  I remember reading Armistead Maupin’s series Tales of the City at a time in my 20s when I was missing a close group of friends who had all moved away.  The friends in his books became my friends and helped fill a gap. Perhaps I was an early user of bibliotherapy?

Creative bibliotherapy utilizes imaginative literature—novels, short stories, poetry, plays, and biographies—to improve psychological well-being. Through the incorporation of carefully selected literary works, therapists can often guide people in treatment on a journey of self-discovery. This method is most beneficial when people are able to identify with a character, experience an emotional catharsis as a result of this identification, and then gain insight about their own life experiences.

9781922079350An organisation called The School of Life who are “devoted to developing emotional intelligence through the help of culture”, have produced a book called The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies.  In it you can find a book cure for every conceivable ailment from dealing with boredom – try Room by Emma Doneghue and you will never complain about boredom again –  or perhaps you have suffered abandonment and Kent Haruf’s Plainsong will show you how to reach out? There are suggestions for being in a bit of a jam – The Life of Pi by Yann Martel will show you that really you have nothing to be worried about.  There are also great book lists – the ten best novels to drown out snoring and the ten best novels for duvet days are my favourites.

If the thought of using books for therapy doesn’t interest you, then perhaps the quirky and interesting book reviews will open up new authors that might have passed you by.

Is there Life After Pi?

Life of Pi
Life of Pi

Author Yann Martel could be forgiven for wondering if there would be life after Pi, given the smash success of his book Life of Pi.

Almost everyone loved Life of Pi – it has even been made into a blockbuster film. I say almost everyone, as truth be told, I was not that much of a fan. And a shared rite of passage road trip with my husband (watching the film of the book on a tiny screen on a bus jolting from Pnomh Penh to Siem Riep in Cambodia) didn’t do it any favours either. It was a trip as far removed from cool waters and tigers as it was possible to be. To this day there are small pockets of Cambodian dust nestled in my luggage. I can picture us still, sitting jammed into seats designed for daintier people, with our individual thought bubbles whimpering “We should have flown. We should have flown”.

The High Mountains of Portugal
Life After Pi

So I was ready,  in a clean-slate kind of way, for Martel’s next offering The High Mountains of Portugal. Devoid of tigers, small boats and large oceans, Martel has instead turned his prodigious story-telling talents to include three interlocking tales, all set in Portugal and all involving love, loss and the meaning of life. It is at one and the same time an intricate, yet mesmerising read. If I do not allow myself to become too distracted by certain wierdnesses (take backward walking, the Jesus Christ/Agatha Christie connection and the Iberian Rhinoceros for example), I would sum it up as follows:

  • In any life, there will be some bad times of loss and heartbreak
  • You will need to be able to ask for help
  • You will need to be specific with your requests for said help
  • Help will also come from unexpected quarters
  • Always read the instruction manual carefully
  • A lot of your problems you will have brought upon yourself
  • While you yourself are hurting, you are still capable of inflicting great harm on others

One hundred years of solitude

It is such a rare read, that in the end you may find yourself falling back on prior reading connections to make any sense of it all. It reminded me of the magical realism of 100 Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) and the poem Kindness by my favourite poet Naomi Shahib Nye. But mostly what it did not remind me of was the author’s previous novel, Life of Pi.

And one final point – nowadays we are all keen to trumpet what great films certain books would make. I can tell you with absolute certainty that I do not believe The High Mountains of Portugal will ever be made into a film.

You are going to have to read it!

La Traviata

Last night I had my first ever opera experience. Although I generally enjoy live music and performance I wasn’t 100% if I would like opera, even with the excellent introduction to the operatic world I got from a bonafide opera singer. I mean, all that warbling and melodrama. Maybe it would be a bit OTT for me?

Violetta and Alfredo
Violetta and Alfredo, Photo by Neil MacKenzie.

But then I remembered that I love stuff that’s OTT. And opera, or at least this one, has it all. Gorgeous ladies in gorgeous costumes, an impressive set bedecked with chandeliers, protestations of love, sacrifice, longing, mortality, familial squabbles… there’s even a guy dressed as a matador at one point. And amazing voices joined together in song. Wow.

And even with the “please don’t leave me!” and “oh, I’m dying of consumption!” histrionics, it was still very moving. I was surprised by that, but shouldn’t have been, because in addition to the singing there is actual acting that goes on too, and I got rather pleasantly swept up in it all.

La Traviata means “The fallen woman” and the plot revolves around Violetta, a French courtesan, a party girl who after resisting for a time, realises that actually the party can’t go on forever. She moves with her lover, Alfredo, to the country and everything’s rosy (literally, the set was covered in roses at this point)…until it’s not. There is heartbreak and anger, shame, and remorse – basically every terrible break-up you’ve ever had.

Verdi’s opera is based on the play The Lady of the Camellias which was itself adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas fils (the son of the Alexandre Dumas who wrote The Three Musketeers). Also known as Camille in the English speaking world, it has been adapted numerous times on stage and film, including a 1984 movie starring Greta Scacchi, Ben Kingsley and Colin Firth. It’s certainly a story that has legs (and some rather annoying gender politics but sometimes you just have to note these things, wish they were otherwise, and move on).

My takeaways from the evening were –

  • I’m a sucker for love stories
  • I didn’t fully appreciate just what a properly trained human voice was capable of. Crikey!
  • I really need a spangled gold bolero jacket
Incredible costumes
Incredible costumes, Photo by Neil MacKenzie

More for fans of La Traviata

 

Beat those Winter Blues

Are you finding the gloomy days and cold nights are getting you down? I’ve come up with some blue-busting winter warmers to drag you out of the doldrums:

Exercise

There. I said it. It’s essential. Yes, I can hear you moan! Nothing warms the body up and produces happy brain chemicals like moving. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, a gentle stroll can do it. Christchurch City Council’s Sport and Recreation page has walks, fitness centres, bike, beaches and boating, activities, leisure clubs for older adults pages full of info and contacts.

Find a local club in CINCH or simply walk the dog, dance around the house to some cheerful tunes or get exercising with friends.

Get out of the house

Now this is a simple one. Withdrawing from day to day social contact with your fellow humans can have a negative effect on your mood. Yes, it’s cold out but there are warm places to go such as your local library! Ensure that you socialise with your friends and family regularly or find a social group on CINCH.

Brighten up your house

Let more light in by opening curtains and trimming trees. Ensure your body gets light by sitting by the window. Less light in winter can affect your mood.

Help others

Volunteer your time. Helping others is great for our own mental health. It gets you out of the house, socialising and you may even get some exercise too.

I just can’t do it!

Is depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress stopping you from having a positive outlook and fulfilling life? Visit your doctor/counsellor and these organisations to get help getting your life back.

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Hagley Park and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens

Woodland bridge in Christchurch Botanic Gardens : on the right is the Bandsmens Memorial rotunda. [196-?] File Reference CCL PhotoCD 16, IMG0071
Woodland bridge in Christchurch Botanic Gardens : on the right is the Bandsmens Memorial rotunda. [196-?] File Reference CCL PhotoCD 16, IMG0071
If you like trees then Hagley Park probably rates as one of your favourite “Go-To” places, just as it is mine. With 164 hectares to wonder around in, and 5000 trees in Hagley Park and the Botanic Gardens there is always something new to see and enjoy, regardless of the weather, and it’s never crowded despite the 1 million plus annual visitors. On a sunny afternoon it can be very restful just to sit and watch the people go past ….

One of the best sights in Canterbury is when the blossom trees on Harper Avenue burst into flower – roll on Spring! The daffodils! Then there’s the Heritage Rose Garden (which I finally found near the hospital) as well as the main rose garden which is a joy to nose and eye alike.  And don’t forget the conservatories – they’ve been repaired and re-opened for a while now, so if you haven’t ventured into Cuningham House (or the other four Houses) post-quake, then it really is time to take a wonder through.

Cuningham House
Cuningham House, Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Sunday 27 July 2014. File Reference: 2014-07-27-IMG_0811

With KidsFest and the school holidays upon us, the Botanic Gardens are running a Planet Gnome promotion – the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre will give you a passport and all you need to know to join in.

Botanic D’Lights on 3-7 August for the second year running – I didn’t go last year, and kicked myself for it, because it sounded amazing, and so much fun.  The event listing describes it as:

this five-night winter spectacle engages NZ’s leading lighting artists, designers and creative thinkers. When darkness falls, you’ll explore an illuminated pathway which turns the Gardens’ vast collection of plants and grand conservatories into a glittering winter wonderland. All to the beat of exciting soundscapes and special performances.

Botanic dlight
The peacock fountain during Botanic D’lights 2015

So looking forward to it! Note to self: bring hat, coat, gloves, torch and cash for hot drinks and food as well as the gold coin donation for the Children’s Garden renewal project. See you there!

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Looking at the Botanic Gardens

Looking at Hagley Park

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