What were you reading when …?

Britt Marie was hereWhat were you reading when all the events of 2016 took place? Looking back on my reading year, here’s what brought me a bit of comfort in those weird and wonderful times:

Brexit – well I never saw that one coming. The book on hand was Britt-Marie Was Here – another winner from Fredrik Backman, the author of the sensationally successful A Man Called Ove. This novel is set in small town Sweden (still a member of the EU by the way), so a bit of a geographic link there.

The election build-up in America – would it never end? I got through a whole heap of reads like The Portable Veblen. Nothing like an American novel on squirrels and dysfunctional families to get one through the voting road show.

 Leonard Cohen died. I took solace in a murder mystery The Lewis Man by Peter May. All grey skies and peaty remains and the odd bird on a wire. Perfect.

The satanic mechanic Trump got elected – I was on holiday in Cape Town and indulging in a very South African read The Satanic Mechanic by Sally Andrew. One of those Alexander McCall Smith type reads – with recipes thrown into the mix as well. I just buried my head in the sand, something like the ostriches in the book.

When the Kaikoura quakes hit, I was still on holiday. It was a weird feeling to be so far away from New Zealand at that time. I’d moved on to a short, whimsical read that I picked up in an independent bookstore – The Reader on the 6.27. Translated from the French, this is an enchanting novel about the love of books and reading. It served me very well at that time.

John Key resigned while I was reading The Muse. This is a great novel to immerse yourself in by the author who wrote The Miniaturist. I preferred this second book (and the first was not bad The Reader on the 6.27at all either). If you are an art lover and would like a change of scene to Spain, this should go onto your list.

Finally what was I reading at the end of the year? One of those crumbling mansion, upstairs downstairs, governess novels – The Shadow Hour by Kate Riordan. And dipping in to the silliest book I found all year Knit Your own Moustache. No I am not making this up!

How about you? What books sustained you last year? What books are carrying you gently into 2017?

Holiday reading recommendations for the famous

Every year Grattan Institute releases a summer reading list for the Prime Minister. It recommends books and articles that the Prime Minister, or any Australian interested in public debate, will find both stimulating and cracking good reads.

I read this and thought the library could help other well-known people choose good holiday reading.

Cover Cover Cover Cover Cover

The Queen

The Complete Guide to Practically Perfect Grandparenting.  With the arrival of Charlotte she is certainly going to have her hands full, ideas for crafts and fun activities.

I know I am Rude But its Fun: The Royals and the Rest of Us as Seen by Prince Philip Just so she can really see what that husband of hers is up to.

Cover Cover

The Kardashians

Natural Beauty Solution.  Well it’s worth a try?

Celebrity: How Entertainers took over the world and why we need an exit strategy. An attack on stars who abuse their fame – take note.

Reality Bites Back 

Pozner exposes the commercial and political agendas behind the genre, revealing how the shows negatively impact women, people of color, and future generations.

Cover Cover Cover

Donald Trump

Politics in Minutes: 200 key concepts explained in an instant.  Simple, concise easy to read.  Maybe it will help…

CoverLearning to be kind and Understand Differences. Empathy skills for kids with ADHD.  Geared for children, but still…?

When you build your empathy skills you will get along better with other people – and feel good about yourself, too!

John Key (The Prime Minister)

Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii.  Just some light reading for the holiday

Hair Romance: How to create 82 Fabulous Hairstyles.  The pictures are nice.

Cover

Richie McCaw

How to Retire Happy Wild and Free.  Retirement is not all about financial freedom, here are some ideas for creative pursuits and physical and mental wellbeing. Good luck!

Born to fly

Cover Cover

And for those who want to know what libraries do for their communities …

CoverPublic Libraries and Resilient Cities  Just to reinforce what you already know!

Public libraries are keystone public institutions for any thriving community, and as such can be leaders in making cities better places to work, play, and live. Here, Dudley shows how public libraries can contribute to ‘placemaking’, or the creation and nurturing of vital and unique communities for their residents.

Meri Kirihimete!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us at Christchurch City Libraries to you and your whanau and friends.

T. Armstrong & Co's Christmas float outside their High Street store [ca. 1930] View more information File Reference CCL PhotoCD 16, IMG0052
T. Armstrong & Co’s Christmas float outside their High Street store [ca. 1930] CCL PhotoCD 16, IMG0052

Ngā mihi o te wā.

A Yuletide wish

A Yuletide wish from AshburtonA Happy New YearChristmas greetingSincere regards from GeraldineA volume of good wishesMay all that is bright on earth smile upon youNew Year greetingsA very happy Christmas and a bright new year

These images come from Heney family album, a private collection including a selection of photographs and postcards from the Heney family album.

Explore more Christchurch Christmas images.

Christmas 2015 from Zinio for Libraries

Cover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover imageCover image

This Christmas and all year round access hundreds of popular eMagazines with Zinio for Libraries.

Happy Holiday Reads!

The Readers of Broken Wheel RecommendThis year I’m choosing Happy Holiday Reads with jaunty yellow and orange covers. It’s as good a starting place as any. The kind of book that, when you pick it up, screams out: Sun, Barbies, Vitamin D, Cherries and Margaritas! Just looking at these books is going to put the spring in your step that you need in order to make your way to the nearest pool lounger.

Hard as it may be to believe, my first choice is a sunny book written by a Swedish author: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. Set in Iowa, it has a death in the very first chapter. Sarah arrives in a small derelict Iowan town on an extended visit to a penfriend who is as fascinated by books as she is. The friend has just upped and died and Sarah knows no one else in the town at all. Enter a fascinating array of characters, disarmingly introduced much-loved reads and a bit of romance. Kick back with that margarita and enjoy the ride!

Cover of One Hundred Days of HappinessMoving right along with the theme of sunny covers, happiness and… death, my next choice is One Hundred Days of Happiness. No spoiler alert necessary here, because you are told on the very first page of the book that Lucio Battistini is going to die, and the book is structured into one hundred chapterettes, one for each of his remaining days. These turn out to be the happiest one hundred days of his life. This book will make you savour the sweetness of holiday times with the poignant awareness that nothing lasts forever.

Cover of There will be bearsPretty soon I’m going to be winging my way to visit grandchildren in South Africa – my book of choice for the flight is There Will Be Bears – a Young Adult novel. That is correct. My first YA book. Ever. The last time a colleague recommended a YA book to me and I issued it to my account, within ten minutes the February earthquake struck. I took it as a sign. I borrowed There Will Be Bears a week ago, and so far so good. It has as its theme the closeness of relationships between grandchildren and their grandparents (tick). It is a small light read (tick). It has a very yellow cover (tick).

And finally, I am going to sneak in Bill Bryson’s The Road to Little Dribbling – despite the absence of either yellow or orange on the cover. Retracing the route he took in Notes From a Small Island, Bryson returns to England to see what, if anything, has changed on what he calls “The Bryson Line”. This is a guaranteed feel-good holiday read. But should none of these appeal, maybe have a look at my Best Reads of 2015 list.

But don’t give up on colour-coded reading yet, now could be your time. Go Team Yellow!

Stormy weather

Cover of Caribou IslandWe had two hours of sunshine over a six day Christmas holiday in a Catlins bach. Small wonder my mind turned to thoughts of the weather in fiction.

And I’m not talking about your everyday gentle Mediterranean breeze here. I’m talking about weather with attitude. The sort of unwanted bad stuff that pulls out a chair at the table and settles in for the long haul. The sort of weather that drives couples in enclosed spaces to the edge of their tolerance, when even a good argument seems preferable to scanning the skies, yet again, for a tiny patch of blue.

And, indeed, there are novels where the weather is like an additional character in the plot, where you feel that the weather is partly responsible for everything that goes wrong and a few of the things that go right. Here’s my selection of great weather reads:

  • Caribou Island – David Vann’s novel about the dangers of attempting to fulfil someone else’s obsession, set in a bitterly cold climate.
  • Cover of The Sheltering SkyThe Shipping News – Annie Proulx. The 1994 Pulitzer prizewinning novel in which unpredictable weather plays a key role.
  • Smilla’s Sense of Snow – Peter Hoeg. A detective’s “visceral feeling for snow” makes for a chilling Danish thriller.
  • Atonement – Ian McEwan. Read this review in The Guardian on the effect of weather on the characters in this novel.
  • The Sheltering Sky – Paul Bowles’ novel reveals the effect that strange environments and great heat can have on relationships.

Four out of five of these books have been made into films. Which begs the question: is extreme weather an asset, visually and atmospherically, in both novels and films? But don’t take my word for it, here’s Ernest Hemingway on the subject:

Remember to get the weather into your god damned book – weather is very important.

As far as our little Catlins trip went, in the end we did not have a marital spat, instead opting for a drive in the pouring rain to Gore, for a cappuccino. And in that one sentence resides everything you need to know as to why a film will never be made of my life!

Happy New Year!

Piping in the new year
Piping in the New Year – New Year’s Eve 1960

Christchurch City Libraries wish you and yours all the best for 2014.
We are closed on the 1st and 2nd of January. Check out our holiday opening hours for more details.

Find out more about New Years in New Zealand and around the world.

The Digital Library is open – why not have a look around. Our latest addition is Zinio – e-magazines for your computer, smartphone, or tablet. And the holidays are a great time to read some mags!

Economist  Cover of Games master   Cover of Marie claire

On the beach: Picturing Canterbury

Photo of New Brighton beach at Christmas [1927]
New Brighton beach at Christmas [1927]
Explore our sampler of Christmas photographs from our collection. We also have images of the Hay’s Christmas Parade.

Browse DigitalNZ sets of images:

More images

You want weapons? We’re in a library. Books! The best weapons in the world!

Cover image

Cover image

Cover image
Cover image Cover image Cover image
Cover image Cover image Cover image