Relief from snoring and sleep apnoeaSleep was something that I never had to think about, I went to bed and I went to sleep – end of story.  Those days are sadly gone, I go to bed … I lie awake, or I sleep and wake up … and then lie awake! Thankfully, at this stage I am not a snorer and I don’t have Sleep Apnoea. This is where you wake up feeling like you haven’t been asleep, your partner has possibly moved to another room with ear plugs, and worryingly your snoring and sleep apnoea is affecting your health.

South Library is hosting Tess Graham, a physiotherapist and author of Relief from snoring and sleep apnoea : a step-by-step guide to restful sleep and better health through changing the way you breathe, on Thursday 5 March. The library has her book plus a number of other titles that could prove useful. 

The only other time in my life where sleep evaded me was when I had wakeful babies. There is so much advice about the best way to get your baby to sleep and as you can imagine many a book has been written on the subject.  When I had my children the common belief was to leave them to cry. Those days have gone, and books on the subject now talk about being guided by your child, establishing routines and trusting your instincts.

Black MoonHowever feel grateful that there isn’t an epidemic as in Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun which causes people to completely lose the plot when they are infected with a bug that causes permanent insomnia.  This book will make you feel grateful for the occasional sleep loss and is a good dystopian read with plenty of action.



Cover of The Taliban Cricket ClubWorld Cup Cricket has us in its grip. Some of us are bowled over; some of us are going in to bat for the team and the rest of us thought we’d just read a novel where the dull thwack of bat against ball forms an integral part of the plot.

Bowled for a maiden. No such good novel exists. Well maybe one that isn’t too dire: The Taliban Cricket Club.

If we widen the search to include other team sports, like rugby, there’s Lloyd Jones’ novel about the 1905 All Blacks – The Book of Fame. And soccer/football has Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch in its line-up. But it’s slim pickings. There isn’t even very much in the way of mediocre/rubbish team sport fiction writing, which is weird.

Cover of Running the riftBut sports where individuals take part have generated many more novels. Want a novel about running? Award winning Running the Rift is set in Rwanda and is an uplifting  book about  genocide and running and healing. And if that doesn’t appeal, you can choose from 88 other novels on running, and I include Haruko Murakami’s What I Talk About when I Talk About Running because even when Murakami writes non-fiction, it reads like poetry.

Swimmers have quite a good choice as well: Herman Koch and Summer House with Swimming Pool, Alan Hollinghurst and The Swimming Pool Library and The J.M. Barrie Ladies’ Swimming Society with its link to the author of Peter Pan. And cyclists have a large range of novels related to their sport. Gold by Chris Cleave is probably the pick of Goldthe bunch, but for a gentle read there is the popular A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar.

Multitudes of people play (and support) team sports, and just as many people are avid fiction readers. Why then are there so few novels with a team sport theme? Am I missing something here?

Truth to tell, the only cricketing reference that I remember from all my years of reading, is the dull thwack of bat on ball drifting up  from the gently sloping lawn in front of the homestead in Mary Wesley’s novel The Camomile Lawn.

And that will do very nicely for me.

Book cover of Relief from SnoringSleeping should be easy, but as every newborn shows, it isn’t always child’s play.

Tess Graham, author of Relief from Snoring and Sleep Apnoea, thinks she can help us have a more restful sleep and more energy by changing the way we breathe. Tess is based in Australia but is visiting Christchurch to share her expertise.

Come along to South Library on Thursday March 5  from 11 am to 12 pm to hear Tess talk about healthy breathing habits. To find out more information and book your place, look at our events page.

Library resources to help with sleep

Books about sleep disorders
Books about helping your baby sleep
Music for relaxation
Articles about sleeping in Health & Wellness Resource Center
Fact sheets, articles and videos about sleep in Consumer Health Complete

One of Canterbury’s most popular voluntary organisations, the Canterbury WEA, turns 100 this year, and celebrations are most definitely in order!

Photo of WEA Centenary placardThe CWEA, or, if we want to be formal, the Canterbury Workers’ Educational Association, was the first WEA to be set up in New Zealand. Like the English WEA, which was founded in 1903, the CWEA aimed to provide university level education to working men and women.

In the subsequent century, many changes have, not surprisingly, taken place; however the CWEA remains the ‘People’s University’. Offering as it does some 130 courses each year as well as hosting special interest clubs, such as mah-jong, bridge, and sketching, the WEA has been and continues to be a part of life for many Cantabrians.

The centenary celebrations are therefore guaranteed to be popular – make sure to contact the Association as soon as possible to avoid missing out.

Scheduled events:

  • Cover of The People's UniversityWednesday 4 March, 6pm: launch of The People’s University: A Centennial History of the CWEA by Ian Dougherty, published by Canterbury University Press. The book will be officially launched by Mayor Lianne Dalziel at the WEA. Numbers are limited so please let the Association know if you’d like to receive an invitation to this event.
  • Thursday 5 March, 7 – 9 pm: Community Night with presentations from groups that use the CWEA rooms. All are welcome.
  • Friday 6 March, 12 – 2pm: shared lunch and items from CWEA classes. All are welcome.
  • Saturday 7 March: 6.30 pm: dinner at Hagley Community College, BYO. Cost $35. After dinner Speaker: Garry Moore. Numbers limited to 100 so early booking is advised.

To let the CWEA know that you’d like to attend any of these events, you can

Cover of Girls standing on lawnsGirls Standing on Lawns

Our selector noticed that this interesting and rather odd little book kept getting good reviews so she decided it was worth purchasing. Once she read it cover to cover (which only took less than 5 minutes) she agreed that this was quite a delightful wee book after all.

It is exactly what the title says, photos and paintings of girls standing on lawns with the author pondering and reflecting on the moment caught…

Marae: Te Tatau Pounamu: A Journey around New Zealands Meeting Houses

Bishop Muru Walters is a very well known Anglican minister. He is also a master carver, poet, broadcaster and former Māori All Black. His son Robin is a photographer and filmmaker who is director at Curious Films. Sam Walters, Robin’s wife, is a photographer.

Cover of MaraeTogether the Walters spent three years visiting some of this country’s major meeting houses as well as many of the more humble ones – houses that serve smaller hapū and iwi – to bring together a beautiful photographic book on the meeting house. They are intensively photographed, with detailed shots of their carvings, kōwhaiwhai panels, tukutuku panels and much more. Many are photographed during an event, the images conveying a rich sense of life and activity.

From north to south, from the east coast to the west, and from ancient wharenui to bold new designs, this handsome book, with its engaging personal text, captures the huge variety of New Zealand’s original architecture. It’s a book for all New Zealanders to treasure.

When Books Went to War

Learning that the US government, along with librarians and publishers, decided to dispatch millions of books to American GIs, sailors, and fliers in the Second World War is sure to warm any book reader’s heart.  For many soldiers this was the first time they had come in contact with literature; some were so moved they wrote to the authors!  These books helped ease boredom, alleviated stress and gave a sense of purpose. By the number of starred reviews it has received, this book of books should be a good read.

Cover of The Wellness SyndromeThe Wellness Syndrome

Feeling like you don’t exercise enough, or eat the right foods? You are not alone! The Wellness Syndrome follows people who go to extremes to find the perfect diet, corporate athletes who start the day with a dance party, and the self-trackers who monitor everything, including their own toilet habits.

This is a world where feeling good has become indistinguishable from being good. Visions of social change have been reduced to dreams of individual transformation, political debate has been replaced by insipid moralising, and scientific evidence has been traded for new-age delusions. A lively and humorous diagnosis of the cult of wellness, this book is an indispensable guide for everyone suspicious of our relentless quest to be happier and healthier.

If you like…








then you will want to read…

Meet Theodore Finch and Violet Markey in this poignant story about life, death, wanderings, and Post-It notes.

The story begins with Finch talking Violet down from the ledge of the school’s bell tower where she is frozen with fear. The year before Violet lost her sister and best friend in a car crash on an icy road. She has been overcome with the grief and lost her way in the world.  By lunchtime everyone thinks Violet talked Finch off the ledge as he is the one who talks about death, is on probation at school, and is known as the school freak.

For a school project they team up to discover the natural wonders of their local area and so begin the “wanderings”. As Violet gets to know Finch her world finally begins to grow again. Whilst Finch feels alive in Violet’s company his own world seems to be diminishing, his mind full of racing and dark thoughts.

This is unique storytelling as it deals with suicide and depression in a sensitive and open way. The book is full of hidden gems which lighten and create humorous moments along the way. Both characters love to read and there are many book references which bring a smile. Finch plays the guitar, loves music, and Split Enz is referenced as a favourite band. The Post-It notes are clever and witty and add another layer to understanding. The wanderings draw Finch and Violet closer and can make for a teary read at times. A small annoyance is the plot centres exclusively round the two main characters with friends and family less developed than expected.

The best thing about All the Bright Places is that the story connects with the heart and lingers there. It’s an insightful book. Near the end Finch sends a heartfelt message to Violet which captures the essence of this read.

You are all the colours in one, at full brightness

P. S. In case you have to wait for All the Bright Places, why not try one of the books suggested in our If You Like… The Fault in Our Stars list?


pete03Peter Hart has been Oral Historian at the Imperial War Museum since 1981. He has written a number of books about various aspects of the First World War, including Gallipoli and aerial warfare. His latest book is Fire and Movement, which takes a fresh look at the British Expeditionary Force in August 1914.

In this book you look at some of the myths that have grown up around the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in 1914. How far do you feel that anything new can be said about the First World War?

It is not so much that anything new can be said – it is that ideas and concepts hitherto largely the province of historians and academics can be presented to a wider audience in a manner which is readable and entertaining. This is greatly helped by using carefully sieved personal experience accounts to bring the mingled drama, horrors and dark humour of the battlefield home to the reader. Popular histories often merely regurgitate myths based on wishful thinking and wartime propaganda. This is especially the case early in the war where we have the legend of the ‘Old Contemptibles’ of the BEF on the Western Front in 1914. Sheer nonsense that ignores what the Germans and French Armies – the main fighting forces during the huge Battle of the Frontiers and the Battle of the Marne – were doing in favour of nationalistic breast-beating myths. The real story of the BEF is far more believable and interesting. We should take pride in what people actually achieved – not in popular myths.

You mention that the British had prepared for war ‘but not for the type of war that faced them in 1914′. Why was the actual war different to what was expected?

There are a variety of reasons. It is always difficult to prepare for the unknown, armies nearly always reach back to their last major conflict for inspiration and a tactical guideline. In the British case this was the Boer War which proved sadly misleading. Little could be gained in preparing for a continental war with armies counted in millions, by analysing skirmishes with Boer guerrillas. The eventual British success based on fast-moving columns and blockhouse bases, led to a fixation with mounted infantry (later overthrown) and light artillery. Officers were thinking, developing their tactics and bringing in new weapons, but Britain had no large-scale training grounds on which to have full-scale realistic exercises. Budgetary constraints imposed by the government also meant that identified needs – such as more machine guns – were refused on financial grounds. Britain was not alone in this problem, but her situation was far worse as she had allotted most of the defence/war budget to the Royal Navy the force on which the whole British Empire depended. The army was a small afterthought, deployed with little strategical analysis to bolster the French Army. Thus the BEF was thrust into a continental war for which it was not prepared.

You’ve now written many books about the First World War, what is it about this conflict that keeps you coming back for more? What First World War books have inspired you?

I have always been fascinated in the Great War since I saw the television series in the 1960s and began reading the veterans published memoirs as a young bespectacled geek. Of these I particularly remember the Joseph Murray book Gallipoli As I saw it and the John Terraine masterpiece, Douglas Haig: The Educated Soldier. When I began to work as the oral historian at the Imperial War Museum back in the 1980s I had the pleasure of interviewing over 150 veterans in great detail – of which one was Joe Murray who recorded over 20 hours – wow! The synthesised results are finally being published in August of 2015 – in some ways the culmination of my professional work. I think I was attracted to the war because we all wonder how we would have coped with those nightmarish conditions and the hell of ‘going over the top’. At first I was filled with a fury at the ‘stupidity’ of the generals.

Later on, I was taught the reality by a combination of the veterans, my colleagues and some brilliant historians like John Terraine. Now I find the sheer complexity of the war mindboggling, there was no ‘easy way’ to victory and if you engage in continental warfare with a major power then hundreds of thousands of men will die. Put bluntly: to beat the German Army you have to kill 2-3 million of the best trained and equipped soldiers in the world. This is a murderous business however you look at it.

Do you have any thoughts around how public libraries can engage with the First World War centenary?

I think the Great War is not something to be celebrated. Personally I am interested in the war as a historical event to be studied and understood as widely as possible – the sentimental centenary side of it passes me by a bit. Yet I fully accept that we should never forget all those on all sides who died or had their lives ruined in that terrible conflict. I just think their memory is best served by establishing what really happened to them and why. Having said all that then Canterbury Library seems to be on the right track! Making historical resources freely available so that people can look up relatives/local people and see what they wore, how they lived and where/why/how they fought. Small on-site displays can be very effective in sucking in interest. Online exhibitions are great and the use of social media including Blogs, Facebook and Twitter feeds can help increase awareness of our subject. Booklists are great in leading people towards a new world of learning – as long as they are not merely a list of books spouting mythologised nationalistic rubbish. The centenary could be an opportunity to gain a realistic perspective; but it could be a disaster if we fail to challenge historical untruths – or as some would call them – lies.

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