Coming soon: WW100 Speaker Series – Glyn Harper

Our WW100 Speaker Series continues on Thursday 22nd October at 6pm when Professor Glyn Harper visits Central Library Peterborough to talk about his recent book Johnny Enzed: The New Zealand Soldier in the First World War 1914-1918.

Glyn is Professor of War studies at Massey University and has published extensively on New Zealand’s twentieth century military history, including a number of books on the First World War and children’s books.

Johnny Enzed is part of New Zealand’s official First World War Centenary History and is an in depth social history of our soldiers in the war. It takes a comprehensive look at what everyday life was like for them in Egypt and Gallipoli, on the Western Front and in Palestine, plus their experiences on voyages to the different fronts and during training in New Zealand and the UK. Many topics are covered including gas attacks and what happened to the wounded, food and smoking, and swearing.

In the talk Glyn will provide a flavour of the book, helping to bring to life the diverse experiences that New Zealanders went through during the war.

Twenty years of Darcy’s wet shirt

Believe it or not, Pride and Prejudice, the BBC television series that introduced us to the charms of Colin Firth, first hit TV screens 20 years ago.

Cover of The complete novels of Jane AustenOriginally airing in the UK between 24 September – 29 October 1995, it’s difficult to overstate just how phenomenally succesful it was. In just six episodes Pride and Prejudice turned Firth into a heart throb and reignited the public’s interest in both Jane Austen’s novels and their adaptations (films of Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion and Emma all came out within a year or so). Austen-mania was at its height.

And let’s not forget that without this television series and it’s massive popularity we would have no Bridget Jones books and movies.

Why was it so ridiculously popular? Much credit must go to the casting. While Firth is considered by many as “the perfect Darcy” – so much so he essentially played the role again in the Bridget Jones films – there are several other performances in the series that come together to make it a stand out.

And so, I humbly offer to you the following list.

The 5 best characters in Pride and Prejudice

  • Darcy. Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy fairly glowers up the place for the first few episodes before revealing his “vulnerability” by diving into a lake and emerging in a clingy linen shirt. Pedants everywhere scoffed that this was “not in the book” but they were rather drowned out by the sound of ladies everywhere squealing and fanning themselves.
  • Elizabeth Bennet. The perfect foil to Darcy’s dark looks and mono-syllables, Jennifer Ehle is all winsome grins, intelligence behind the eyes, and wry amusement while also pulling off the scenes where haughtiness is required with equal skill. Lizzie is a sympathetic character even as you’re desperate to grab her by the shoulders and yell at her to be a bit less stroppy with Darcy. He’s just misunderstood, okay?
  • Mrs Bennet. Alison Steadman’s performance as the mother of the five Bennet sisters is perhaps not a pleasant one but it’s masterful all the same. With a voice that could strip paint from a Regency chaise her plaintive cries of “Mr Bennet!” whenever perceived disaster struck are on a par with Bianca’s screams of “RICKY!” on Eastenders, or that noise that polystyrene makes when you rub it together.
  • Mr Bennet. Dimpled and jocular but mostly in his study reading. When Mr Bennet rolls his eyes, usually after Mrs Bennet has said something ludicrous, you know he really means it. If his wit were any drier it would be a fire risk.
  • Mr Collins. Played by David Bamber, Mr Collins is probably the most pompous, creepy, boorish clergyman in literature. If you don’t feel icky after every scene he’s in you must be made of sterner stuff than I.
  • Lydia Bennet. She’s irritating in that way that teenage girls specialise in. Flirty, flighty and self-obsessed, Lydia is the polar opposite of the other role that Julia Sawalha is famous for, that of bookish, put-upon Saffy from Absolutely Fabulous. With all her declarations of “Oh LORD” and begging to be allowed to go to dances, Lydia is basically the worst. But the best worst.

If all this talk of Pride and Prejudice has got you itching to revisit “Austen-mania” you can rewatch the original or you try one of the many versions, unofficial sequels, reimaginings and books based on the novel –

Cover of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice - An annotated editionCover of Pride, Prejudice and popcornCover of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice graphic novelCover of Flirting With Pride & Prejudice Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-lit Masterpiece

What are your Pride and Prejudice memories? Are you similarly shocked that 20 years has passed since it came out?

Paul Cleave wins the 2015 Ngaio Marsh Award

Cover of Five Minutes AloneCongratulations to Paul Cleave who on Sunday 4 October was revealed as the winner of the 2015 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel for his book Five Minutes Alone.

Cleave beat a strong field of 4 other finalists – Barbara EwingPaddy RichardsonTina Shaw, and Paul Thomas – and is a fitting winner in many ways:

  • he is a Christchurch local; what could be more appropriate for a prize named after Christchurch’s own Queen of Crime?
  • his books have sold over a million copies worldwide and have been translated in several languages;
  • he is the first author to have won the gong twice. He first won in 2011 for his book Blood Men and has been shortlisted every year since;
  • he has the perfect name for a crime writer. Proof? Check out the title of the post on the Kiwi Crime Watch blog: “Contenders get Cleave-d in historic Ngaio Marsh victory“.

Yet, interestingly, Cleave was apparently surprised to win and has been reported as having said in his acceptance speech that New Zealanders hold Kiwi writers to a higher standard than they do international authors.

As a lily-livered reader of only the coziest of mysteries (Mma Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is my Goldilocks measure), I have not been brave enough to sample any of Cleave’s nine novels. Therefore I would really love to hear your opinions. Do you think that Kiwi crime writing, and Cleave’s specifically, is on a par with the best in the field internationally? What attracts you or puts you off reading New Zealand crime novels?

Previous winners of the Ngaio Marsh Award:

Cover of Cut and Run Cover of Blood Men Cover of Luther The Calling Cover of Death on Demand Cover of Where the Dead Men Go

The (very) long list

Cover of Every Time a Friend Succeeds Something Inside Me DiesBooks I couldn’t resist adding to the For Later shelf this week.

Every Time a Friend Succeeds Something Inside Me Dies: The Life of Gore Vidal by Jay Parini
Because the title is a deathless quote, because the cover features Gore Vidal with a cat on his shoulder, because the author has written a biography of William Faulkner.

Cover of Vintage Paua Shell JewelleryVintage Paua Shell Jewellery: Art Souvenir, Tourist Kitsch, Kiwi Icon by Elly van de Wijdeven
Because the words vintage, paua shell, art, souvenir, tourist, kitsch and kiwi are irrestistible. Icon is overused. Now where did I store all those collectible fern leaf brooches?

4 Real & True 2: Landscapes, Photographs by Wim Wenders
The great German director turned 70 in August. What better way to celebrate his birthday than by looking at some of the landscapes and images he has chosen to record with his analog camera?

Cover of The Memory of TimeThe Memory of Time: Contemporary Photographs at the National Gallery of Art by Sarah Greenough
Photography’s relationship to time, memory and history investigated by contemporary photographers. The main attraction is Sally Mann, whose Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs is one of my reads of 2015.

Cover of Diversity in Disney FilmsDiversity in Disney Films: Critical Essays on Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality and Disability
This should be interesting: Disney films explored with perspectives from critical whiteness studies and masculinity studies as well as old style race and gender.

Read my previous posts about the comings and goings on my For Later shelf.

Guts and Girls and other matters

Cover of GutGut: the inside story of our body’s most underrated organ has apparently taken Europe by storm and it is way up the nonfiction bestseller lists in Spain (as La digestion es la cuestion) and France, where they have paraphrased the title of the Luis Bunuel classic film, calling it Le charme discret de l’intestin. The book was originally German, where it was a huge hit under its original title Darm mit charme  (which translates as Charming bowels ). In Europe this fragrant title has even knocked the Pope off the top three.

Cover of The Girl on the trainAnd what has this to do with girls? It’s all about The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. The top fiction in France is La fille du train and in Italy it’s La ragazza del treno  with La chica del tren in Spain. It’s everywhere else as well (way up the list in Britain and the U.S., and presumably if there is life on Mars, it will be up there as well).

The film version will be underway with British Rail soon and Emily Blunt is the girl. Tate Taylor, who directed the adaptation of that other big bestseller The Help is on this one. It is interesting that film rights were sold well before publication of the book, which implies that it was a train that was on schedule from the beginning.

Fiction selector

Cool stuff from the Selectors

Art, fashion, religion, sport with a touch of history and death thrown in for good measure.  Check out some cool stuff from the selectors this month.

Art and Fashion: Collaborations and Connections Between Icons

Cover of Art and Fashion: Collaborations and Connections Between Icons

Spanning numerous eras, men and women’s fashion, and a wide range of art mediums, these 25 collaborative projects reveal the astonishing work that results when luminaries from the art world (such as Pollock, Haring, and Hirst) come together with icons of the fashion world (including Saint Laurent, Westwood, McQueen).  A good book for flicking through admiring the pictures, but also includes thoughtful essays for those of you who like a bit more detail.

Art and religion in the 21st Century

Cover of Art and Religion in the 21st CenturyThis book shows how religious themes and images continue to permeate the work of contemporary artists from across the globe.  Some exploit the shock potential of religious imagery, but many also reflect deeply on spiritual matters. Each of the ten chapters opens by introducing a theme, followed by a selection of works of art that develop that theme. The book encompasses a wide range of media and genres, from sculpture to street art, and considers faith in its broadest sense from Islam and Christianity to Aboriginal mythology and meditation.

Old Sparky: The Electric Chair and the History of the Death Penalty

Cover of Old Sparky: The electric Chair and the History of the Death PenaltyOld Sparky covers the history of capital punishment in America and the “current wars” between Edison and Westinghouse which led to the development of the electric chair. It examines how the electric chair became the most popular method of execution in America, before being superseded by lethal injection. Famous executions are explored, alongside quirky last meals and poignant last words.

The Rugby World Cup: The Definitive Photographic History

Cover of The Rugby World Cup the definitive photographic historyA visual history of rugby’s greatest sporting event, this beautiful photographic book is a chronological exploration of the matches, teams, heroes and surrounding stories of the tournament. Each chapter covers a Rugby World Cup, starting with the inaugural competition in 1987,  the historical 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa after the end of apartheid, through to England’s win in 2003 breaking the southern hemisphere’s dominance and up to the 2015 qualifiers.  A handy reference guide to keep you awake for those early morning starts!

All creatures great and small – celebrate World Animal Day 2015

Cover of Brother Sun, Sister MoonWorld Animal Day is an international day of animal rights. It is held annually on 4th October, on the feast day of St Francis of Assisi.

On this day, some churches have the blessing of the animals. I don’t have any experience with this, but if the Vicar of Dibley is anything to go by, it’s a bit chaotic.

On a more serious note, it is good to know that (even in 13th century Italy) someone was sticking up for the animals. Animals need our help and protection, whether they be family pets, farm animals, zoo animals, or animals living in the great-out-doors.

Organizations such as SPCA, Cats Protection League, Department of Conservation, Forest and Bird and our own Christchurch City Council all champion the right for animals to have a good life.

For those who want more, we have a selection of books on animal rights. If you are a pet owner, check out our books on pet care. If your interest is wild animals, our collection of books on wildlife conservation will be of interest.

To get involved with other animal lovers, search for the specific animal you are interested in in our CINCH directory.

Cover of Why Animals Matter Cover of A New Zealand Book of Beasts Cover of All Creatures Great and Small Cover of The Ten Trusts

Anzacs and the Battle of Britain: author interview with Adam Claasen

Running from early July to the end of October, the Battle of Britain ended in the failure of the Luftwaffe to gain air supremacy over the UK. The German invasion of Britain was called off and Hitler turned his attention to the Soviet Union instead.

Together Australian and New Zealand airmen made up the second largest Allied foreign contingent in the battle. Their story has been told fully for this first time in Dogfight by Adam Claasen, Senior Lecturer in History at Massey University. In recognition of the 75th anniversary of the battle we spoke to Adam about its Anzac connections.

134 New Zealanders and 37 Australians fought in the Battle of Britain. How do their experiences add to the overall story of this pivotal event of the Second World War?

It’s a story that has never been brought together before. There has been the odd book either side of the Tasman but this is the first time the New Zealand and Australian experience has been combined and told within the four phases of the Battle of Britain.

What I discovered was that the Anzacs had a significant part to play in combat and a larger role in leadership. The Anzacs nearly made up a third of the top ten aces of the campaign and became widely known: Colin Gray and Brian Carbury from New Zealand and Pat Hughes for the Australians. Gray, Carbury and Hughes knocked out close to fifty machines in total over some four months.

Air Marshal Keith Park performed magnificently under very difficult conditions, notably a lack of trained airmen. His leadership and strategy at the time is widely seen as instrumental in the eventual success of Fighter Command the failure of Hitler to gain air ascendancy as a perquisite to an invasion of Britain.

A number of these Anzacs flew Boulton Paul Defiants with 141 and 264 Squadrons. How did this two seater fighter aircraft compare with the with the famous Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane?

The Boulton Paul Defiant was a strange beast. Officially it was know as an ‘interceptor aircraft’ but popularly known as a ‘turret-fighter.’ It looked very much like the Hurricane but with the important addition, directly behind the pilot, of a powered turret armed with four Browning machine guns. In a way, it harked back to the successful two-man fighters of the Great War, for example, the Bristol F.2 Fighter.

Boulton Paul Defiant Mk I. Date [circa 1940]
Boulton Paul Defiant Mk I. [circa 1940], Wikipedia

However, the Defiant was no match for the Luftwaffe single engine fighter, the Messerschmitt Bf 109, because it suffered from two principle impediments: first, a lack-luster climb rate and poor maneuverability due to the added weight of the turret; and, second, it was not equipped with forward firing guns. Once Luftwaffe airman had gotten over the initial surprise of a backward-firing fighter they simply attacked it from below or head on.

Eventually they were withdrawn from the frontline of the Battle of Britain, but not before a number of men were killed in these ill-fated machines, including the youngest New Zealander to lose his life in the battle, eighteen year old Lauritz Rasmussen, a Defiant gunner. In the pre-war period, Winston Churchill had strongly advocated that Fighter Command to be equipped with large numbers of Defiants but mercifully wiser heads prevailed and only two squadrons saw the light of day.

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아이들과 함께 할 10월의 이야기

곧 아이들 학교 방학이 시작되네요. 온 가족이함께 할 수 있는 신나는 정보를 소개 할까 합니다.

Fun PalacesFun Palaces 2015라고 들어 보셨나요? Fun Palaces는 1960년  영국 연극 연출가 Joan Littlewood 와 건축가 Cedric Price에의해  ‘신나는 실험실’ 과 ‘거리의 우주’라는 상상의 이야기가  그 시작이 었답니다. 이러한 시도는 2014년 Stella Duffy를 중심으로한 여러사람들에 의해 현실화 되었답>니다. 그리고 세계 최초로 크라이스트쳐치 에서 시작을 하게 되었습니다. 10월 3일 부터 4일까지 City Centre 여러 곳에서 누구나 참여 하여 즐길 수 있는 여러 행사가 준비 되어 있습니다. 예술, 과학 그리고 다양한 문화 행사를 직접 경험하고 배울 수 있는 유익한 프로그램을 시내 곳 곳에서 만날 수 있답니다.  시내에 위치한 Central Library Peterborough에도 이 행사와 연결된 여러 가지 프로그램들을 준비했답니다. 아이들과 함께 방문해 보세요.

이 달의 책입니다.

Korean books
Korean books, Flickr Korean-Oct-2015-2.jpg

재명훈 작가의 SF소설 가마틀 스타일 – 우리는 어떻게 태어났을까? 세상에 태어나 문득 스스로를 바라보게 된 순간 어떻게 생긴 자아와 어떻게 생긴 몸이 ‘나’의 많은 부분을 구성하고 있었던가. 또한 그 두 가지가 내 기대와 맞지 않았을 때, 세상은 우리에게 어떤 모험을 제시했던가. 맨 처음 그 모험의 길이 펼쳐졌던 우리 인생의 어느 순간에 우리는 과연 그 여정을 감당할 만큼의 용기와 적당한 정도의 위대함, 그리고 인간성을 갖추고 있었던가. 이 책이 던지는 질문은 그런 것들이다.— 「작가의 말」중에서

김탁환 작가의 역사 추리 소설 목격자들을 소개합니다. “방각본 살인 사건”, “열녀문의 비밀”, “열하광인”으로 이어지는 김탁환 작가의 백탑파 시리즈의 또 다른 이야기입니다.

Children's books
Children’s books, Flickr Korean-Oct-2015-1.jpg

유다의 별 – 2014 한국 추리 문학대상을 수상한 도진기 작가의 작품으로 1920~1930년대에 실존하며 340여명을 죽음으로 이끌었던 사이비 종교 집단 백백교와 현대에서 벌어지는 연쇄 살인사건을 접목시켜 흥미진진하게 이야기로 풀어낸 추리 소설입니다.

이번에 소개할 읽는 어린이 그림책은 천미진선생님의 산골짜기 연이네 비빔밥입니다.

Fendalton Library Children’s Book Sale도 잊지마세요

I like big books and I cannot lie

Cover of Into the Wilderness“I’ve chosen the book for August” the email said, “It’s Into the Wilderness by Sara Donati

With tablet in hand, and the bing-bong of the email hitting my inbox still ringing in the air, I searched the catalogue to place a hold. I started reading the comments…

Fans of “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon will enjoy this series…


As a huge fan of the Outlander series I was so happy to find this book…

were top of the list. *Sigh* I hated the Outlander series!

A few days later, the book turns up–all 876 pages of it. …Mutter, mutter…fat books…never reads anyone else’s choice…gets us to read a blimmin’ 900 page book…*groan*…

Cover of The Memoirs of CleopatraNeedless to say, I wasn’t looking forward to reading this big, fat, Outlander-esque  book for my book-club. I used to like fat books. A good, long read that would keep you going for weeks — so long you’d have to take it out three times maybe, like I did when I read Memoirs of Cleopatra. Books with plenty of pithy plot and scope for real character development. Books so heavy that reading in bed is a real workout.

But then I had kids,  and got a job* too, and life just got too busy for fat books.

I turned the book over in my hands. Just because the cover is emblazoned with Diana Gabladon’s words of praise, that doesn’t mean I’ll hate it, right? Just because Outlander fans love it, that doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy it.  Better not put off starting too long, or I’ll never get it finished in time. I cracked it open.

Cover of The Gilded HourAnd I started to enjoy it. Right from the first chapter. Elizabeth was just a great character, so feisty! I couldn’t help but like her. And that was the general feeling from my book group too.  We (almost) all managed to (almost) finish it, despite the 876 pages. And we all quite liked it, though most of us aren’t going to rush out and read the rest of the series.

This morning, a bright, shiny new copy of The Gilded Hour arrived here at Spreydon Library for a hold, and I think I’ll add myself to the hold list.

I might even read the rest of the Wilderness series. Maybe. After all, once upon a time, I liked big books, and I cannot lie.

I put together a list of some of my favourite big books, perhaps you’ll like them too, they’re definitely worth the effort!

If you (unlike me) like Diana Gabaldon, you might like this If you like… list

Do you like fat books, or do you prefer a slim read?  do you have a fat book to recommend?

*At the library. I know, ironic right? No time to read fat books now that I work at the library