Christmas Books for Christmas Time

Ah, Christmas. That busy time of the year when families come together, follow family traditions, and generally stay inside eating, sleeping, and watching television despite the gorgeous summer weather outside. If we did this on any other summer day people would think we were mad, but because it’s Christmas no-one bats an eyelid.

This year I’m heading away to house-sit at a friend’s place over the Christmas holiday. It will just be me by myself on the 25th, and so I have complete say over how festive I want the day to be… or not to be. At the moment I’m thinking of just having a relaxing day without too much Christmassy stuff – a sleep in, a walk along the beach, maybe check out a movie. Pure bliss!

But don’t worry, I’m not anti-Christmas. Over the past weeks I’ve been reading and listening to lots of Christmas stories to get in the festive spirit. I’ve read novels, short stories, kids’ books, and more, and here are some of my favourites to get you in the Christmas spirit.

Cover of Skipping ChristmasSkipping Christmas by John Grisham

What would you do if your daughter went travelling overseas, and you didn’t want to celebrate Christmas without her? Skip Christmas and book an overseas cruise, of course! At least, that’s what the Kranks have planned, and so they buy their tickets, get their tans, and start dieting to look their best on their tropical holiday. But even the best-laid plans can go awry, and the Kranks’ neighbours won’t let them off easily with not celebrating the Christmas season …

This is a fun, light read, and I bet you’ll see some of your own neighbours in the characters living in Hemlock Street.

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

I probably shouldn’t admit this, but until I’d read this, I’d always thought Truman Capote and Al Capone were the same person. I couldn’t wait to read about how an American gangster celebrated Christmas as a kid!  Needless to say, this wasn’t the book I expected it to be…

What this book was was a lovely stroll down memory lane. A beautifully-illustrated short story, it takes you back to a simpler time, when your biggest Christmas worry was whether 7-year-old you and your 60-something-year-old friend would have enough money to buy the secret ingredient to go in your Christmas fruitcake to send to the President. A lovely quick read that will leave you feeling sentimental about childhood Christmas memories.

Blackadder’s Christmas Carol by Richard Curtis

Hands up if you grew up with Blackadder and his friends Baldrick, Darling, Queenie, et al! If so, you don’t want to miss their take on Charles Dickens’ classic tale, A Christmas Carol.

It’s Victorian England, and when Queen Victoria and Prince Albert set out to reward the good and the generous, they come across Ebenezer Blackadder, ‘the nicest man in England’. While in Dicken’s story, the villain comes good after being visited by Christmas ghosts, this version has the opposite outcome – the lure of wealth and power can turn even the kindest of souls.

This has all the humour of the Blackadder shows you love, and is a highly enjoyable hour of audio. Plus, it’s written by the same Richard Curtis who brought us that other guilty Christmas treat, Love Actually, so what’s not to love?

Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders

Moment of truth – I’m not actually finished this book just yet, but that doesn’t matter. This book is fantastic, and I am loving every minute I’m reading it!

Detailing the traditions of Christmas, where they came from, and how they came to be in the form we recognise today. Christmas trees, yule logs, carollers at the front door – OK, it *is* a very British and Euro-centric book –  this book is a wealth of interesting tidbits that might help you out at a pub quiz some time in the future. Maybe it’s just because I’m a language geek, but the way this book uses excerpts of ‘ye olde English’ to illustrate the information is one of my favourite parts of this book. For example, did you know that Christmas carols were originally written as ‘macaronic carols’ (carols written in two different languages). I didn’t know that word – I had visions of sheet music made out of macaroni elbows!

A perfect read for the geek in your life.

The Best Christmas Present in the World by Michael Morpurgo

I’ve always been a fan of Michael Morpurgo – I remember reading My Friend Walter as a 10-year-old, and being struck by the way he told the story of a modern day girl and an Elizabethan ghost. I’ve read many more of his stories in the years since, and this short story has become one of my annual Christmas reads.

When people get older, and move in to nursing homes and retirement villages, they leave behind furniture and other belongings that tell the stories of their life. In an abandoned desk, we find a letter telling the story of the great Christmas Day truce and football game between the British and German soldiers fighting each other in 1914. It’s a lovely story, and shows that even they we all have our differences, we have more in common. A beautiful book to share with children 8 years and up.

Whatever you choose to do this December, I hope you have a lovely summer break, and a Happy New Year, and remember to check out Christchurch City Libraries for more Christmas reads, watches, and music.

Ngā mihi o te Kirihimete – Christmas Greetings to you all, and see you all in 2019.

Holiday boredom-busters

The holiday season is upon us and it’s a great time to spend time with some quality books, movies, and music.

Here are some titles that will tantalise you with their mystery, entertain you with their storytelling, amaze you with their creativity, and leave you with a sense of satisfaction. We’ve got Fiction, Audiobooks, Graphic Novels, Music CDs, and DVDs, all just waiting for you at your local library.

Cover of An unwanted guestSo firstly, if you find yourself in the mood for a well crafted locked-room mystery in the style of an Agatha Christie murder mystery, get yourself a copy of An Unwanted Guest by mystery master Shari Lapena. It’s a group of strangers held captive by the elements in a secluded boutique hotel. When the guests begin to fall victim to murder the story weaves and wraps around in a classic whodunit style with a good twisty-turny plot. A perfect choice for a bit of summer escapism.

How about hearing some tales of the Norse Gods, written and read by Neil Gaiman – a self-confessed devotee of the classic sagas.

Cover of Norse mythology by Neil GaimanThese stories are fantastical, full of deceit and murder, trickery and beauty, and expertly read by the author in the audiobook edition available on our eResource BorrowBox. You’ll discover the strange relationship between Thor and his brother Loki, learn how the Gods came to be in possession of their most treasured artifacts like Thor’s hammer, named Mjolnir, or how Loki came to bear his children – a brilliant story of Loki’s trickery coming back to bite him. Amazing stories and a privilege to be able to listen to the author present them just as intended – casual and conversational storytelling.

What about music…? If you’re looking for some tunes this season then I would suggest you check out the award-winning new album from Kiwi contemporary music legend Eve De Castro RobinsonThe Gristle Of Knuckles. New Zealand’s contemporary music is in a fine state if this album is anything to go by. It’s from the hand/mind of one of the countries most respected music educators and composers and features many of our most celebrated musicians. It’s outstanding – dynamic, inventive, masterfully performed, and well worth a listen if you like jazz and contemporary music as an artform.

Cover of DemonAnd there’s always a Graphic Novel to help you while away an evening.

A darkly comedic tale of a man who wants to die but instead, whenever he tries to die, he just shifts over into whoever is around him. A brilliantly funny and darkly curious take of modern life by an expert artist. It’s simplistic artwork counterpoints the bleak nature of the subject matter – a comedy about suicide!? And what results is book of gravity and heart.

And finally, what to watch..? If you like twisted retellings of classic folktales then you’ll love Tale of Tales

A grown up fairytale from the legendary Giambattista Basile that is dark, twisted, and engrossing. Three kingdoms exist within the lands, each ruled by very different monarchs. Through the lives and demands of the people and the supernatural worlds, their stories intertwine to create a masterpiece of imaginative film making. A brilliant cast and a story that will stay with you long after.

Definitely some good options if you’re looking to enter our Summertime Reading Challenge!

Happy festive season and good reading to you,

^DevilStateDan

Dan recommends: The best recreational non-fiction of 2018

2018 has been a stunning year for me when we talk about books and reading, and here’s a selection of recreational non-fiction titles that I have enjoyed in the back half of 2018 and that you too can enjoy over the New Zealand summer season!

Cover of A collection of conversations with Richard Fidler, Volume 3First up; an audiobook! A Collection of Conversations With Richard Fidler Volume 3

Volume 3 is another outstanding collection of conversations with Australian ABC Arts journalist and author Richard Fidler. His genius with interviewing technique unwraps some amazing stories from people who have done amazing things with their lives. The common thread among all of these interviewees is their passion for continued learning, their curiosity about the world, and their passion for life. In this volume we hear from a blind woman who navigates by sonar, a Bundjalung woman who rose to become one of Australia’s brightest lights, a man who spent 10 years alone in the bush before gaining a doctorate while being homeless, the animalistic life of comedian Bill Bailey, and many more fascinating stories. A great summer’s day listening at the bach, maybe with a glass of something refreshing…

Cover of Leviathan, or the whaleNext we have the soon-to-be-considered-classic work of Philip Hoare Leviathan, Or, The Whale

I was lucky enough to see/hear Philip Hoare speak at this year’s Word Christchurch festival, and it was the realisation of a dream that I didn’t know I had – to meet the man who has had me mesmerised with his writing about the sea and natural science too often to count. Philip Hoare writes of the sea in such powerful and beautiful language. This particular book is his own graceful exploration of whales, their place in our world, our human history interacting with them, and the perils that they face at the hands of humanity and environmental changes. A book to read slowly, embracing every sentence for its beauty and poetic brilliance.

Cover of Wisconsin death tripIn completely the other direction, 2018 was the year I discovered this book from long ago – Wisconsin Death Trip

This book is a surreal journey about the real events surrounding the town of Black River Falls, Wisconsin way back in the 1890s. Over a decade or so the townsfolk underwent what can only be called a mass-mania with incidents of murder, arson, infanticide, institutionalisation, and all manner of other horrors. These stories are told through archival newspaper reports and the most astonishing images taken from glass-plate negatives taken during the time. Haunting images and crazy stories… an amazing piece of captured history.

Cover of 11 Explorations into life on EarthAnd perhaps in the lead up to Christmas you could indulge in a British custom and read about the history of the Royal Institute’s Christmas Lectures 11 Explorations Into Life on Earth

A very compelling volume of short accounts of the sessions delivered by many noted British scientists including Richards Dawkins and the great David Attenborough himself. These lectures were aimed to get kids excited about science and they are very entertaining and informative – you’ll love them too!

And the last title I’ll share with you is a micro-history. A micro-history is a work which focuses on one very specific piece of human or natural history. In the past I’ve enjoyed brilliant micro-histories like Salt by Mark Kurlansky – the amazing story of the most popular food seasoning in the world, or The Surgeon of Crowthorne by Simon Winchester (a repeat offender when it comes to micro-histories!) – an account of a madman who made the most significant contribution to the English language dictionary. I may one day write a blog just about the amazing world of micro-histories (Alina has done a very good microhistories list to start with) but for this time it’s all about Krill in The Curious Life of Krill.

Cover of The curious life of krillThis is a fascinating read about one of the most bountiful and important food sources in the Earth’s oceans. Written with an expert’s mind and a writer’s sense of storytelling this is a most enlightening read. Krill; they’re not as small as you think, and they are almost definitely the most important link in the food chain for life on Earth. Great read. Cool creatures. Think of them when you’re BBQ-ing your prawns this Christmas! 🙂

And that’s the back half of my 2018 reading in recreational non-fiction. These are not all the titles that crossed my path but definitely the most interesting and the ones I would like to share the most.

Happy Christmas season to y’all and happy reading for the rest of 2018!

^DevilStateDan

Overdrive Libby for travelling families 方便旅行家庭的电子书

旅行的季节又到了!很多华人朋友都利用孩子假期、圣诞节和春节回国探亲或出国旅游。有时在图书馆遇到华人顾客因出国前忘记还书需交超期罚款很是同情。自己也曾在回国时为找孩子的英文阅读材料煞费苦心。其实,这些问题都可以用图书馆的电子资源eResources 解决。OverDrive Libby尤其适合在外旅行的家庭,因为每一家庭成员都能从中找到所需要的资源。

OverDrive Libby 基本信息

OverDrive是世界领先的电子阅读平台,为超过70个国家的图书馆和学校提供电子书、电子有声书和其它多媒体资源。基督城图书馆的Overdrive拥有几千小说类和非小说电子书和电子有声书。有基督城图书馆借书证的顾客可免费借阅。您可在任何时间借阅和预定各十本书,下载后线下阅读。使用OverDrive Libby最大的优点是您可将下载到电子设备的书随身携带到任何地方,所借阅的书到期会自动归还,不用担心超期罚款。

下载Libby插件

Libby是OverDrive新开发的插件,可下载到手机(iPhone 和Android)、电脑、iPad、平板电脑tablet和除Kindle以外的电子阅读器eReader。下载步骤如下:

  1. 用您的设备在谷歌Google上查找Christchurch City Libraries,进入网站主页在,在主菜单上找到eResources。
  2. 点击Featured标题下的Overdrive eAudio & eBooks,进入OverDrive说明网页。滚动到下方,在App Information标题下,根据您使用的设备点击Libby—Apple App Store(苹果设备),Libby—Google play(安卓Android设备),或点击Meet Libby 图标(见下图标)进入Libby插件安装网站在App Store, Google play 和Microsoft中选择点击与您的设备相关的图标进入新网页。
  3. 在新的网页上点击install,下载安装Libby插件。安装完成后,您会在您的设备上看到Libby的图标。
  4. 双击您设备上的Libby图标打开Libby插件,用借书证号和密码注册您的账号。注册完毕方可进入Libby阅读平台借书。

Libby 电子书阅读平台

所有准备工作完成后,您将进入Libby电子阅读平台选择并借阅您心意的作品。有大量适合成年人阅读的电子英文书,其中的旅行指南类书籍是旅行的好帮手。希望读中文书的顾客可点击页面左上端collection图标旁的下拉箭头,在eBook标题下找到并点击Chinese eBooks链接进入中文书网页。您可以同样方式浏览青少年电子书 和儿童电子书(包括少量中文儿童读物)。

您如果在使用中遇到任何问题可到各图书馆获得帮助。祝大家旅行季节愉快!带着“掌上图书馆”读万卷书,行万里路。

Hong Wang
Network Library Assistant

Dead Men’s WORDs

WORD Christchurch is back for 2018 and once again we have a programme chock full of amazing opportunities to revel in the goodness of the creative use of words.

There’s such a wide array of interesting stuff to highlight too…

Perhaps the biggest for me is the conversation with Irvine Welsh on Friday 31 August at the Isaac Theatre Royal (6pm-7pm). Welsh debuted in 1993 with the now-modern-classic Trainspotting, the story of a group of heroin users negotiating life in Leith, Scotland in the early 1990s.

He’s revisited these characters often with his 2016 book The Blade Artist focusing on Francis Begbie and his new life as a contemporary artist in California – a great read! And his new book, Dead Men’s Trousers, brings the whole crew back together in a more substantial way. There’s betrayal and payback, drug use and abuse, and of course a high level of coarse language and violence.

And with mixed feelings I realise that there’s some events in Dead Men’s Trousers too that, without giving any spoilers, makes me think that this might be the last we’ll see of these characters. There’s some loose ends tied off and some revelations about the future for some of them, and if it is to be the last then it’s a great way to send them off – here’s hoping that they will come back as ageing and maladjusted senior citizens at some point though, that’d be a hoot!

Scottish author Irvine Welsh (image supplied).

It will be great to hear Irvine Welsh’s take on the happenings of Britain recently; he has strong opinions and regularly shares them through his twitter account @IrvineWelsh

His 2018 WORD Christchurch talk does have a cost of $34/32 and it is only for an hour but I’m dead keen!

^DevilStateDan

Find out more

Staff picks for the Winter Reading Challenge (for ages 13 to 18)

How are you going with the Winter Reading Challenge? We have highlighted some of the fab books picked by teens, now here are some staff picks to help you tick off some challenges:

The first book in a series

Truly Devious Maureen Johnson
Unsolved mysteries, kidnapping, murder, and super smart teenagers at an isolated boarding school in Vermont. Alina

The Raven Boys Maggie Stiefvater
The story of Blue, the only non-psychic in her family of fantastic women, and the Raven Boys – four boys from a private school on a quest for a dead Welsh King. Full of humour, teen angst, almost-kisses and magic. (Also available as an audiobook.) Alina

Chaos Walking trilogy Patrick Ness
Todd Hewitt is the last man on the planet. All the females are gone, you can read everyone’s thoughts, and nothing is quite as it seems. A brilliant series, fantastic as an audiobook, and coming out as a movie in 2019. Kate

Find more:

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A book that was made into a movie

The Hate U Give Angie Thomas
When Starr witnesses the death of her childhood friend at the hands of a police officer, she struggles to decide what to do — speak up against injustice, or keep her family safe? (Read it before the movie comes out in October!) Alina

Everything Everything Nicola Yoon
What do you do when you literally can’t leave the house, and the thing you want most in the world is just outside the front door? Kate

Every Day David Levithan (picked by Saskia, Cashmere High Library)

The Book Thief Markus Zuzak (picked by Saskia, Cashmere High Library)

The Maze Runner James Dashner

The Fifth Wave Rick Yancey

Ready Player One Ernest Cline

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A book with non-human characters

Year of the Griffin Diana Wynne Jones
When Elda, the griffin daughter of the great Wizard Derk, arrives for schooling at the Wizards’ University, she encounters new friends, pirates, assassins, worry, sabotage, bloodshed, and magic misused. Alina

Find books about:

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A graphic novel/comic book

Nimona Noelle Stevenson
Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Alina

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Ryan North
She’s part squirrel, part girl – she’s Squirrel Girl! Lots of fun, lots of laughs. Kate

One punch man

Spill Zone Scott Westerfeld

Find more:

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A love story

The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You Lily Anderson
A loose retelling of Much Ado About Nothing featuring fandom, extra-smart teens and a lot of snark. Alina

Autoboyography Christina Lauren
It can be hard enough being a gay teenager when you live somewhere liberal and progressive. It’s even harder in the middle of Mormon Utah. Kate

Eleanor & Park Rainbow Rowell (picked by Kim)

Emergency Contact Mary H.K. Choi (picked by Alina)

Pieces of You Eileen Merriman (picked by Rachel from Scorpio Books) [NEW ZEALAND]

Find more:

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Listen to a podcast or audiobook

Nation Terry Pratchett
Finding himself alone on a desert island when everything and everyone he knows and loved has been washed away in a huge storm, Mau is the last surviving member of his nation. He’s also completely alone – or so he thinks until he finds the ghost girl. Narrated by Tony Robinson (don’t worry, he doesn’t sound like Baldrick from Blackadder in this). Alina

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Benjamin Alire Saenz
Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before. Superbly narrated by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Alina

Find more:

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A book about identity

Lies We Tell Ourselves Robin Talley
In 1959 Virginia, Sarah, a black student who is one of the first to attend a newly integrated school, forces Linda, a white integration opponent’s daughter, to confront harsh truths when they work together on a school project. Alina

I am Thunder Muhammad Khan
Muzna is a regular British teenager, so how does she end up involved with Islamic radicals? Kate

A quiet kind of thunder Sarah Barnard
Being a teenager is hard. Being a teenager with anxiety is even harder. And being a teenager with anxiety who doesn’t speak is even harder again… especially when love’s involved. Kate

Girl mans up M-E. Girard
Pen doesn’t want to be a boy – she just wants to look like one, and that confuses people. This is her look at frenemies, love, and teen pregnancy. An awesome read – I wish it had been written when I was a teenager! Kate

Juniper Lemon’s Happiness Index Julie Israel (picked by Rachel from Scorpio Books)

Girl Missing Sophie McKenzie (picked by Saskia, Cashmere High Library)

You’re welcome, universe Whitney Gardner

Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda Becky Albertalli

Find more:

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A dystopian novel

Chaos Walking trilogy Patrick Ness
Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run. (First in a series and also available as an audiobook.) Alina

Little Brother Cory Doctorow
A standalone cyber-thriller packed full of teen hackers, revolution, terrorism, a police state, and an awesome romance. Alina

The Giver Lois Lowry (picked by Julianne)

Replica Lauren Oliver

Flawed Cecelia Ahern

Find more:

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Inspirational biographies

Hope in a Ballet Shoe Michaela DePrince
Adopted in the United States, a young girl from Sierra Leone dreams of becoming a professional ballet dancer. A great read, even if you’re not a dancer. Kate

In the sea there are crocodiles: The story of Enaiatollah Akbar Fabio Geda
Based on the true story of 10-year-old Enaiatollah’s escape from Afghanistan, and his journey across the mountains and seas to safety in Italy. Kate

In order to live Yeonmi Park (picked by Saskia, Cashmere High Library)

Being Jazz Jazz Jennings

Never fall down Patricia McCormick (a work of fiction based on the true story of a Cambodian child soldier).

Find more:

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More recommendations

Personal recommended reads from librarians – from classics to new publications!

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Rachel from Scorpio Books recommended these books for teens:

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Saskia from Cashmere High’s library recommendeds the following good reads:

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More reading ideas

Enter the Winter Read Challenge and win prizes!

In a world of ‘fake news’, how do you know what’s real? Try eDS

If you’re for searching for information and want to be sure of meaningful and relevant results, try the eResources Discovery Search (eDS). From finding out if the earth is flat to information about vaccinations, eDS gives you a single entry point where you can search multiple Christchurch City Libraries eResources. Feel confident that you’re getting quality results as all sources are reliable vetted resources including peer reviewed articles. Other types of places that eDS will search includes:

  • Encyclopaedias
  • eBooks/eAudiobooks
  • Magazines and Journals
  • Newspapers
  • Primary sources
  • Educational videos
  • Photographs
  • Kete (our community repository)

Big Library Read: Flat Broke with Two Goats

When life gets your goat, use your library card. Jennifer McGaha’s debut memoir, Flat Broke with Two Goats, is the Big Library Read, the world’s largest digital book club. From 2 to 16 April, Christchurch City Library users can borrow the eBook or eAudiobook with no wait lists or holds.

Readers can take part in the two-week program by visiting Christchurch City Libraries OverDrive or by downloading the Libby app. Big Library Read is facilitated by OverDrive, the leading platform for eBooks and eAudiobooks from the library. Use #BigLibraryRead on social media for a chance to win a Kobo Aura ONE from OverDrive.

Flat Broke with Two Goats – Jennifer McGaha never expected to own a goat named Merle. Or to be setting Merle up on dates and naming his doeling Merlene. She didn’t expect to be buying organic yogurt for her chickens. She never thought she would be pulling camouflage carpet off her ceiling or rescuing opossums from her barn and calling it “date night.” Most importantly, Jennifer never thought she would only have $4.57 in her bank account.

When Jennifer discovered that she and her husband owed back taxes—a lot of back taxes—her world changed. Now desperate to save money, they foreclosed on their beloved suburban home and moved their family to a one-hundred-year-old cabin in a North Carolina holler. Soon enough, Jennifer’s life began to more closely resemble her Appalachian ancestors than her upper-middle-class upbringing. But what started as a last-ditch effort to settle debts became a journey that revealed both the joys and challenges of living close to the land.

Told with bold wit, unflinching honesty, and a firm foot in the traditions of Appalachia, Flat Broke with Two Goats blends stories of homesteading with the journey of two people rediscovering the true meaning of home.

Great eAudiobooks to listen to on your next Road Trip

Got a summer holiday planned? Does it involve a long road trip? If you answered yes to these questions, then an eAudiobook could be the perfect solution. We have heaps to choose from, from OverDrive or Borrowbox with excellent titles suitable for the whole family.

eAudiobooks for Family Road Trips

List created by ChristchurchLib

eAudiobooks are the perfect listening for long car trips this summer. Stop the backseat questions of “How much further?” or “Are we there yet?”

Ratburger – Will Zoe be able to save her pet rat from the evil Burt from Burt’s Burgers. Brilliantly read by the author David Walliams.

The Bad Beginning – The first in the Series of Unfortunate Events about the three Baudelaire children wonderfully narrated by Tim Curry.

Matilda – The classic story about the child genius Matilda Wormwood with the not so clever parents and the terrifying headmistress Miss Trunchbull, read by award-winning actress Kate Winslet.

Just Annoying! – Is this the right eAudiobook for your road trip? Take the annoying test and find out. Do you ask ‘Are we there yet?’ over and over on long car trips?

The Haunting – Classic gripping thriller by New Zealand author Margaret Mahy.

View Full List »


eAudiobooks for a Road Trip

List created by ChristchurchLib

eAudiobooks to make a long road trip enjoyable. Tick a book off your list before you even reach your destination.

Heartburn – Sidesplitting novel about the break up of the perfect marriage. Read by Meryl Streep.

Lincoln in the Bardo – Man Booker prize winner 2017, this book is read by a full cast of award-winning actors and musicians.

Ready Player One – Sci-fi adventure in a virtual reality environment, jam-packed with ‘80s nostalgia for popular culture and a treasure hunt.

One Summer – Take a look at the summer of 1927 in America, read by Bill Bryson.

Furiously Happy – A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

View Full List

My Library – Robyn Chandler, Manager of Literacy Christchurch

Literacy Christchurch (formerly known as ARAS – Adult Reading Assistance Scheme) celebrates its 40th birthday today.  ARAS began on 13 December 1977 as a pilot scheme initiated by the Canterbury WEA (Workers Educational Association), with 8 volunteer tutors and 8 students.

Robyn Chandler, manager of Literacy Christchurch, talked to Jan Orme, Senior Library Assistant, Outreach and Learning Team for the sixth issue of our magazine uncover – huraina.

Professionally, what does the library mean to you?

So many things – university, education, nurturing, empowerment, research, choice, access to knowledge – the library is a place of instruction and delight, and such a key feature of a free society. It’s a world of information and cultural richness rather than a set of walls. Libraries have provided both education and entertainment for me.

And personally – what’s your favourite part of the library?

CoverDo I have to pick only one? I love the displays of artwork and artefacts, the children’s section and its sense of potential. I tend to focus on one area of a collection for a while – mountaineering, gardening, local history, music, art… recently the graphic novel collection (loved Northern Lights). But if I had to focus on just the one area because I had a time limit it would be the new books – there’s always something to find.

Would you please share some highlights of your own literacy journey?

CoverI remember sitting outside the University library on a bleak winter’s day reading the 19th century novel Wuthering Heights, the words collapsing the distances of history, space, and culture. I was there, on that “bleak hill-top,” lost in the “atmospheric tumult.”

On a professional level, it would have to be becoming a volunteer literacy tutor and having the privilege of meeting people from all walks of life and sharing their literacy journey for a time.

What would you say to your learners who are new to using the library?

I would want them to know that they are in charge of their library experience and that there are people available to support them with their library choices and needs. I would advise them to not be intimidated and to be aware of the resources available to them and that library staff are more than happy to help. The library is there for everybody; the library belongs to us all.

We’d love to see more of your learners in our libraries, what would be your best advice to help us achieve that?

The most important thing new library users need to see is a friendly face and to feel welcomed, to see proof that the library is there for them and their community. Some of our learners have English as an additional language and it would be nice to see more welcome signs in other languages. I’m really pleased to see that families are going to be able to take part in the Summer Reading challenges this year, this kind of activity encourages novice library users to participate in what’s going on in the library. Doing things with whānau can feel more natural than doing things alone.

What would be the one book you would take to a desert island?

I’m going to cheat – my desert island will have WiFi and I will be accessing the library’s great and growing collection of eResources. Me, my device, and more media than I’ll ever be able to get through … a whole world at my fingertips.

Read online in uncover- huraina issue 6, p 16