Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth!

You know sometimes when you see a book and instantly fall in love? I had one of those moments recently when I laid my eyes on Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman. I first saw this book on one of my favourite book websites, Love Reading 4 Kids and the cover really caught my eye. When I finally got my hands on a copy of the book from my library I fell in love.

Creaturepedia is a visually stunning book about creatures from all over the world. The book’s by-line is ‘Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth,’ and it’s not wrong.  Adrienne Barman introduces us to creatures great and small, huge and miniscule. Adrienne has split the book up into different sections, with names like ‘The Champion Breath-Holders,’ ‘The Masters of Camoflage,’ and ‘The Show-Offs.’

The beauty of this book though is that it is perfect for dipping in and out of. You could pick any page at random and it would make you go ‘Wow!’ Curious children could flick to ‘The Lilliputians’ and discover that the Bee Hummingbird is the world’s smallest bird at 5.7cm long or that the Dwarf Gecko is the world’s smallest reptile at 1.6cm long.

The text in the book is sparse, letting the reader focus on the gorgeous illustrations that portray these creatures. Children will discover creatures that they never knew existed and will want to find out more about them. Adrienne’s illustrations are vibrant, quirky and fun. Each of the creatures has its own unique personality. Take a look at just a couple of the page spreads from the book:

Artwork credit: This is an excerpt from Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman, published by Wide Eyed Editions.

Artwork credit: This is an excerpt from Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman, published by Wide Eyed Editions.

Before you even open the book you can tell you’re holding a work of art in your hands. The publisher of Creaturepedia, Wide Eyed Editions, clearly knows what makes a great book. The love that went into producing this book is evident, from the hardcover to the binding and the vibrant colours to the high-quality paper.

Get your hands on a copy of Creaturepedia by Adrienne Barman and fall in love with this stunning book!

Pocket money ready! It’s children’s book sale time.

The school holidays can be a “challenging” time for parents as we all know. How best to keep the little tikes entertained?

As usual Christchurch City Libraries is offering a range of holiday programmes and Kidsfest activities but we’ve also got a book sale this week that might offer up some gems to keep your kids occupied when the weather packs in.

Our Children’s book sale is on Thursday and Friday in the Boardroom at Fendalton Library and a range of reading material for youngsters will be on offer for the bargain, low price of $1 per item.

Fiction, non-fiction, picture and board books as well as young adult titles will be available so gather up that pocket money and grab a bargain!

Children's book sale poster

이 겨울이 따뜻할 수 있을까!

꽁꽁 얼어 버린 겨울은 세상의 모든 따뜻함을 찾아 나서게합니다. 몸을 데우는 일 뿐만 아니라, 마음이 따뜻해 질 수 있으면 참 좋겠습니다.

이 달에 소개할 책입니다.

IMG_0067July완전변태 – 2005년 장편소설 《장외인간》을 펴낸 이후 9년 만에 출간한 소설가 이외수의 매력을 다채롭게 느낄 수 있는 10 편의 단편소설로 구성되어 있습니다. 단순한 문장들이 단숨에 책 한 권을 다 읽게 하지만, 읽은 후의 울림은 이외수 특유의 감성을 느끼게하는 책입니다.  여러 부류의 직업군들을 등장시켜, 오늘을 살고 있는 우리들의 양심에 노크하는 신선한 충격이 있습니다.

복거일의 자유롭게 한걸음 – “사회의 보편적 합의에 대한 반성적 긴장과 구성원들의 지지 및 비판적 격려를 통해 성장한 지식인은, 자신의 사상적 자양이 되어준 당대에 자신의 지혜를 되돌려줄 의무를 지닌다. 그것은 사회와 지식인 사이에 체결된 일종의 계약이다. 우리 사회가 안고 있는 문제에 대한 지식인의 관심과 참여는 보다 나은 미래의 삶을 위한 가장 기본이 되는 동력이기 때문이다.”…우리시대 지식인에게 묻다 중에서

스캔들 세계사 –  저자 이주은은 책 읽기가 좋아 수 많은 책들 속에 살다 블로거 ‘눈숑눈숑 밀푀유’에 나누기 시작한 역사이야기를 책으로 펴낸 젊은 작가입니다. 인물과 에피소드를 중심으로 중세와 근세 유럽의 역사를 사람들이 살아간 이야기를 통해 쉽게 풀어낸 이야기책입니다.

Mango Languages를 알고 있으세요?  한국어를 포함해 중국어, 불어, 이탈리아어, 일본어등 60개db-Mango-CKEY754288 이상 언어를 스스로 공부할 수 있는 온라인 자료입니다. 영어 실력을 더 발전 시킬 수 있을 뿐만 아니라,  해외 에서의 휴가 계획을 하고 있으시다면  미리 그곳의 말과 문화를 살짝 익히고 떠나시면 어떨까요. 혹은 실질적인 외국어 실력을 향상 시킬 수 있는 완벽한 언어 학습자료입니다.  크라이스트쳐치 시립 도서관 카드비밀번호가 있으시면 지금 당장 시작하세요.

반가운 소식 하나 더.   Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre가 오는 11월에 문을 열 계획입니다. 수영장을 비롯한 많은 부대 시설들과 Halswell 도서관이 포함되어 있습니다. 이곳에서 일 해보고자 하시는 분은 지금 지원하세요.

Chapter and Verse New Order, Joy Division and Me – Bernard Sumner

Cover of Chapter and VerseMusician Bernard Sumner has been involved in lots of noteworthy things throughout his career. But perhaps his most significant role was in the British band New Order, who wrote that song “Blue Monday”, you know, that 80s song with the lyrics “how does it feel, to treat me like you do”?

According to the BBC, that song “is widely regarded as a crucial link between Seventies disco and the dance/house boom that took off at the end of the Eighties”. For anyone that’s heard it, it seems to have this timelessness because it’s a track always gets dance floors moving. Even well into the 21st century (feeling old now?).

Anyway, that’s just a bit of context. The Bernard Sumner autobiography has been very much anticipated as the two bands he was in –  the contentiously named Joy Division, and New Order, were seminal in their style and sound. Both were inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame.
Sumner has a reputation for being notoriously private, and never spoke much about his personal life or revealed his ruminations on the various events of his career. So this is what generated so much intrigue regarding his book.

Cover of Joy DivisionLike many autobiographical works it starts from the start: his childhood, teenage years, schoolyard and neighbourhood antics, along with all the pain and fun of his years growing up in Salford (a dodgy suburb of Manchester) – all in a somewhat nostalgic tone. Tales of crazy, violent neighbors are revisited and all the various social changes which took place in England due to social housing and economic circumstances. He recalls how large tenement apartment blocks going up dissolved community networks; he preferred his old substandard housing block with its rich tapestry of various social groups. Interestingly, many English musical autobiographies emerging from this era include these kind of sociological reflections – and readers are led to infer this is what drove the various pioneering sounds and lyrics …

Cover of Unknown PleasuresFamily life was rough, being raised primarily by his grandmother and grandfather. His single mother had cerebral palsy and wasn’t very mobile. To compound it all , there was more sickness in the family as the caring grandparents became very ill too. These experiences, along with the suicide of joy Division singer Ian Curtis, possibly caused a numbness over time, and I suspect this influenced his writing. To be honest, I was surprised the book didn’t involve longer and deeper reflections on singer Ian Curtis’s death, but then, Ian’s rough life is well known to anyone familiar with the band and such issues are sensitive.

Cover of New OrderThere are some outstanding omissions in this book which might frustrate some people, as the production of some New Order albums are not discussed in any detail for us at all. Which sucks because a lot of it was pioneering stuff. However, this really only annoys readers who are musicians themselves; some might not be as interested in the intricacies of digital drum machines and synthesizers.

Beyond all this are testimonies about the monumental fallout Sumner had with Peter Hook – long-time bassist of Joy Division and New Order. Peter Hook addresses this in interviews after reading Sumner’s book. It really seems like you can’t have an autobiography about musicians and bands without some massive acrimonious fallout or legal dispute between band members.

Cover ot The HaciendaAnyway, if you’re of the generation who grew up with the New Order/Joy division sounds, or you like music, have a read. It’s quite a light read and is great to read alongside  Morrissey’s Autobiography and Peter Hook’s book titled The Hacienda: How Not To Run A Club (which I will review soon). All these titles read alongside each other provide some really interesting insights into the raw pioneering British music scene of the 80s. Happy reading!

Find in our collection

Mockingbird Songs

There are very few books that I would give five stars to in a review, however Mockingbird Songs is one.

Cover of Mockingbird SongsR. J. Ellory is one of my favourite authors and I have enjoyed many of his award winning novels. However with his latest novel Mockingbird Songs I felt he had taken his writing to a different level due to the descriptive prose and the depth of characterisation.

This novel is set in a small town in West Texas and is essentially a tale about two brothers, Ethan and Carson, who have had a complex relationship from early childhood because of one parent favouring one brother over the other. The ill feeling that comes from this one-sided relationship simmers throughout their teenage years  and is further complicated as a result of their ongoing rivalry for their childhood sweetheart.

A powerful story unfolds, about keeping a promise no matter the outcome because of loyalty to a friend. A very dark tale, a tale of  revenge, hidden secrets of a lost daughter. At times it felt like a very long journey, a saga as well as a mystery.

Cover of I Know This Much Is TrueCompelling reading. R. J. Ellory hooked me in from the very beginning. I found this to be a ‘can’t put down’ novel and was very fortunate to be able to read it when I had time on my hands; otherwise there may not have been much done around the house for a few days and takeaways may have been on the menu!

Another absorbing read about two brothers is I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb. This story is about twin brothers, with one brother feeling totally responsible for the other and how that affects his life. I would rate I Know This Much Is True as a four star novel.

Are there any novels about siblings that you’d particularly recommend?

Giddying up

Cover for PurityAvid readers know that nervous start you get when you find out a favourite author has written a new book but you didn’t know about it. Or perhaps that’s just me. Addiction is the a-word that applies, not avid.

Anyway imagine my dismay when I noticed that Jonathan Franzen has a new book and I did not know about it. Which means there are four people ahead of me on the Holds list for Purity

So in order to help my fellow addicts (I mean avid readers) I am alerting you to the following books by popular authors on order at Christchurch City Libraries. Get your name down now and avoid disappointment. You’ll never be higher on the list.

Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell. Fiction or thinly veiled fact about Sex and the City? “If you think that you’re just cray-cray” says Bushnell. You be the judge.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Eat Pray Love. And Read.

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman. Paris, Pissaro, passion. Good old Alice.

The story of the lost child by Elena Ferrante. The fourth in the Neapolitan novels.

Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash. He’s not as popular as he should be. Now is the time to redress that.

Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs. Her 18th outing. She must be doing something right.

All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani. Adriana’s take on the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Cover of Killing MonicaCover of The marriage of oppositesCover for Speaking in BonesCover of Above the waterfall

Heard of Persephone Books?

Some Persephone titles

Ladies in grey

You may not have come across these elegant, unassuming ladies in our library shelves, well groomed in dove-grey covers and creamy-white spine labels. Don’t be misled by their quiet twinset and pearls demeanour. Take a chance and have a browse! You might be seduced by their petticoats, their gorgeous end papers.

Who are Persephone Books and what have they to say for themselves? Let me have the pleasure of introducing you.

The name is a clue. In Greek mythology Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, being rather beautiful, is stolen away by her Uncle Hades to become his wife and queen of the underworld. She emerges only in spring, thus becoming goddess of Spring and Vegetation.

Persephone publishers chose this imagery for their mission of rescuing twentieth century works published over 60 years ago, largely by women, which have been neglected and in danger of falling into obscurity. Intelligent, thought provoking and beautifully written fiction and non-fiction, focusing on women’s lives in the difficult and changing world of the first half of the last century. They talk about relationships, sexual politics, domesticity, war, separation, austerity,  single women, work, social comedy. They are often subversive but in a quiet way; feminist before Women’s Lib kicked in.

Colleen Mondor writing for Bookslut blog says

These are books written about people and places and a way of life that no one seems to write about nearly as well anymore. The kicker, of course, is that they are all just flat out great to read.

Attractive endpapers
Attractive endpapers

The collection currently stands at 110 titles. Christchurch City Libraries have 13 of them. Personally I’d push for more. A further mention of their petticoats! For the lovely endpapers Persephone have cleverly chosen prints of fabrics current in the era of the books’ original publication and which complement the emotional tone of the books. For me these greatly add to the retro appeal and sensual pleasure of these publications.

Meet just a few of the ladies at your library.

Mollie Panter-Downes wrote a weekly London Newsletter for The New Yorker during WW11 and twenty-one of these appear as stories in Good Evening, Mrs. Craven Lightly handled and sometimes poignantly comic.

In her mother’s day a pregnant woman spent a good deal of time on a sofa, thinking beautiful thoughts and resolutely avoiding unpleasant ones; people took care not to speak of anything shocking or violent in front of her.  Nowadays shocking things turned up on the doorstep with the morning paper; violence was likely to crash out of a summer sky on a woman who could move only slowly and who was not as spry as usual at throwing herself on her face in the gutter.

The stories portray the lives of Londoners, mostly women without men, who have normal, day to day human concerns while coping with the deep anxieties of living through the continual bombing, with gas masks, blackouts, lack of sleep, food shortages, the evacuation of their children, fear for their menfolk overseas. The “stiff upper lip” was their way of handling such a ghastly time. Did you know that the death toll for British civilians in WWII reached 62,000?

In Daddy’s Gone A-hunting (1958) predating Revolutionary Road  by three years, Penelope Mortimer (more famous for The Pumpkin Eater) writes honestly about the depression experienced by many housewives in the fifties.

Ruth is a housewife trapped in a commuter suburb, and heading quietly for a nervous breakdown while her husband, sons at boarding school, and daughter at university live their lives elsewhere. The women around her are…

Like little icebergs, each [wife] keeps a bright and shining face above water; below the surface, submerged in fathoms of leisure, each keeps her own isolated personality.  Some are happy, some poisoned with boredom; some drink too much and some, below the demarcation line, are slightly crazy; some love their husbands and some are dying from lack of love; a few have talent, as useless to them as a paralysed limb.”

Dorothy Whipple in “They were Sisters” They Were Sisters (1943) explores the very different marriages of three sisters (shades of Chekhov) Lucy, Charlotte and Vera. On the surface a gentle read but lurking underneath is the shadow of domestic violence.

Others titles are much more light hearted and fun. I especially enjoyed romping through Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day by Winifred Watson (1938). Miss Pettigrew, a staid middle aged, recently laid off governess, is mistakenly sent to work for night club singer, Delysia Lafosse, glamorous, ditzy but generous hearted, and in the course of 24 hours finds her life transformed. A truly “ripping” read full of comedy, poignancy and loose living 1930s-style.

In  Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (1932) Julia Strachey writes about truly awful things that can happen in the last hours leading up to a wedding. The bride-to-be fearing she has made a dreadful mistake, drinking a lot of rum, her ex boyfriend arriving, her mother constantly praising the weather, peculiar relations abounding and who knows what’s going to happen next!

Both of these have recently been made into films, which shows the extent of their contemporary appeal.

I’m hoping, Dear Reader, that something here piques your curiosity and you have a real good winter read.

Karen W.
Parklands Library

A rollickin’ good yarn

Cover of The Fair FightAfter reading two bleak stories I needed a complete change. For this reason I chose an historical first novel by Anna Freeman titled The Fair Fight. It turned out to be a rollickin’ good yarn from beginning to end.

When I read historical fiction I want to be transported to another time and place. I want true characters that I can commit to and stories I can believe in. I want real voices and language that evokes the period of the time. I was lucky as Anna Freeman skilfully and naturally blends these elements to create a story that comes alive.

From the first pages I was immersed in 18th century Bristol where pugilists, brothels, brawling and gambling rule the day. I enjoyed discovering and absorbing new/old words like “mollies”, “pugs”, “cullies”, and “swells”.

Three of the main characters, Ruth, Charlotte and George, are the storytellers with each voice adding suspense and vibrancy to the drama. This is a well realised and oftentimes brutal tale.

elizabeth stokesBy the end I wanted to know more about women and boxing during these times so turned to the 17th – 18th Century Burney Collection of Historical Newspapers available from the library.

I found an advertisement from Oct 1st, 1726, about a Mary Welch and Elizabeth Stokes. They talk up their fighting skills to excite readers and announce they will “mount at Four” and “fight in cloth Jackets, short Petticoats coming just below the Knee, Holland Drawers, white Stockings, and Pumps”. Cor blimey!

A fascinating account that all started with historical fiction.

New Zealand International Film Festival 2015

Every year the New Zealand International Film Festival screens a range of films over a two week period. The 2015 Christchurch festival runs from 7 August to 23 August.

Literary films at the Festival

Several of the films at the Festival are based on books, or are on the subject of writers. Portions of the following list have been kindly supplied by the Festival organisers. Continue reading


Just five hours after a horrendous dental procedure and three hours after the loss of my beloved 2015 diary, I sought solace in a bit of Facebook therapy and I noticed that I was one friend down. I had been unfriended.

Say what you will, but it is not many people who lose a tooth (OK, a part of a tooth), a diary and a friend all in the space of a mere five hours. I did what any teenager would do: I trawled the list of remaining die-hards (still bravely hanging in there in my hour of need, thanks guys), in order to work out who had dumped me. My adolescent self and my aging self forged new bonds. It was not pretty.

Cover of UnfriendedI needed help, but would there be books on topics as diverse as social networking, teeth and lost diaries? Amazingly enough, the answer is Yes and right now I will share this bounty with you (and my remaining 126 Facebook friends!)

Being unfriended, if it’s done nothing else, has got me to read my first ever Young Adult book, Unfriended by Rachel Vail. I have resisted YA fiction despite the recommendations of some truly lovely colleagues who swear that it is better than adult fiction. Let’s just say I started reading it as an unbeliever and ended up, after 282 silly pages, yearning to be beaten over the head by a superficiality of adolescents armed with selfie sticks. I think we can safely say that the YA boat has sailed for me. Lesson learned.

Cover of The Story of My TeethIf it is true that every bad day has a silver lining then The Story of My Teeth was my bookish equivalent. It is a joyful romp of a read by Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli (named as one of the 20 best Mexican writers under 40), in which Gustavo Sanchez extracts and sells all his teeth at auctions, spinning improbable stories about them. This is a scam that requires talents like this:

He can imitate Janis Joplin after two rums, he can interpret Chinese fortune cookies, he can stand an egg upright on a table, and he can float on his back.

I feel better already!

Cover of The Red Leather DiaryStill I yearned for my lost diary. Was there a suitable read to help me with my loss? The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal looked promising to me. The discovery of a long lost journal rescued from a dumpster in New York brings to life the story of the writer, Florence Wolfson: an extraordinary woman from a glamorous, forgotten time. I fantasise that my beloved diary will share a similar fate and the full fascination of the life of a Network Library Assistant will finally be revealed in all its glory!

All in all these three reads were therapeutic. Next time you are a hit by a string of seemingly unrelated crises, have faith. There will a book or three for you!