Donation of Polish books to Christchurch City Libraries

On Saturday 9th December, Central Library Peterborough hosted Mr Zbigniew Gniatkowskted, the Polish Ambassador to New Zealand; Mrs Winsome Dormer, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland for the South Island; Anna Gruczyska, President of the Polish Association in Christchurch; and Krysia Wiek, member of the Polish community in Christchurch. The Polish Embassy kindly gifted books in Polish, and about Poland, to the library.

The Polish collection has been a part of the Christchurch City Libraries’ World languages collection for several years now, established after the original Polish Library at the Hereford Street Community House perished in the February 2011 earthquake, with the entire collection of books lost.

In addition to purchases made by the Christchurch City Libraries, the Polish collection contains book donations from members, and on this occasion from the Polish Embassy. In addition to a number of books in Polish, the donation includes several books on Poland and Polish history in English, for the Christchurch City Libraries collection.

View Polish language items in our collection.

After presenting the collection to the Christchurch City Libraries our guests stayed for a morning tea – delicious polish buns made by Krysia – and a chat with the Central Library Peterborough team.


Information and photos from:
Anna Gruczynska
President of the Polish Association in Christchurch
Annie M
Central Library Peterborough

Is this the real life?

Confession time. My reading tastes tend towards non-fiction. Not exclusively, but you’re far more likely to see me curled up with a good gardening book or a lush costume history than a weighty fantasy tome. This can make things slightly awkward when it comes to reader advisory (“You work in library – you must have read [insert novel/bestseller/literary worthy here]!”) All I can say is thank goodness for Novelist Plus and Fantastic Fiction for easing the stress of fiction read-alike queries!

I like to liberally sprinkle my reading fare with a good serving of memoirs, and this year has thrown up a few really good (and quite varied) reads. Often I pick up a memoir knowing absolutely nothing about the person concerned, just because that can be bizarrely fun. For instance, the first I’d ever heard of Russell Brand (some years ago now) was reading My Booky Wook – yes, I live in a hole. I just liked the title.

Cover of The girl with the lower back tattooAmongst this year’s finds, The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo wasn’t quite such a stone-cold intro. I’d seen some stand-up by Amy Schumer and had enjoyed it the point of snarfing my drink (always a sign of good comedy). I find her “oversharing” comedic style both endearing and fascinatingly horrifying, and her writing is much the same. I did find it a bit patchy, but her story has definitely gone on my list of female voices I’ve enjoyed hearing. I laughed a lot, I felt for her, and I admired her honesty.

Honesty (or the appearance of it) is I guess what we look for in a memoir. Reading memoirs can feel voyeuristic as a reader, sometimes to the point of discomfort but (unlike the nastiness of tabloid journalism) it is at least consensual voyeurism. I don’t mind that someone might only be telling what they want to tell (a somewhat odd criticism often levelled at autobiographists and memoir-writers, as though they are under an obligation to bare all). I’ve always figured that that is their right and I listen to their story knowing that the bias is part of the story.

I’ve just started Little Me: My life from A-Z by Matt Lucas, and I’m enjoying it very much. Again I knew little of the man other than some of his television appearances (I’ve particularly enjoyed his character on Doctor Who and his appearances on QI), but I saw the book go past in a transit crate, read a page or two, and was engaged enough by his friendly and straightforward writing style to place a hold.

Matt’s take on the whole “telling the truth but not the whole truth” thing is this: “I’m only forty-three. If I spill ALL the beans, then no one will trust me, no one will hire me and I’ll have no option but to go into the Celebrity Big Brother house.” More seriously, he talks about not breaking his promises to those he’s loved – which makes me like the guy.

In an about-turn sharp enough to cause whiplash, my other favourite memoir of the year is about a dog and his gardener. Nigel: My family and other dogs by Britain’s Gardeners’ World host (and one of my personal gardening heroes) Monty Don, is a delight.

Nigel, a gorgeous retriever, shot to fame as a result of his scene-stealing, haphazard appearances in Monty’s garden tutorials. He has his own social media sites and fan mail, and caused great concern amongst viewers recently when he disappeared off camera for some weeks due to a back injury. I have always loved Monty Don’s visible love of, and delight in, his garden.

In Nigel we learn of his love for the generations of dogs that have been a part of his life, in all its highs and lows. Ostensibly a piece about the special place dogs can hold in our lives, the book is also an open and honest look at Monty’s personal and business highs and lows, his struggles with depression and how his garden and his dogs help him through.

I’m not sure what 2018 will throw in front of me in the way of memoirs, but I hope they continue to be refreshingly random and varied. Peering into other lives life might seem a bit voyeuristic, but on the whole I think being invited to take a look makes for an enriching and more empathetic view of the world.

Are you a fan of memoirs too? Subscribe to our monthly Biographies and Memoirs newsletter.

Summertime Reading Club is for the littlies too

Don’t forgot to drop in a great board or picture book into the picnic basket or backpack as you head to the park this summer. They are a great way to entertain and engage with your kids as you lounge in this glorious weather.

Reading a book with tamariki provides awesome opportunities to explore, laugh and build bonds that come from conspiring over the antics of Hairy Maclary or Spot the dog. Maggie and I are looking at cheeky bears, foxes and chicks in this board book at Upper Riccarton Library.

Christchurch City Libraries Summertime Reading Club – Kōrero pukapuka ā te wā o raumati this year is for newborns to teens, covering ages from zero to 13 year olds. Developing language, a curious wonder of the world and love of reading – all come from the books we share right from when our children are babies. Plus there are great prizes to be won!

We will be here at the library all summer, so pop on down and grab a great book. Don’t forget to let us know which books made your day.

If you want some ideas, our Holiday Reading lists are highlight the best books of 2017, including picture books.

Podcast – Issues affecting men

Speak Up Kōrerotia logoChristchurch City Libraries blog hosts a series of regular podcasts from specialist human rights radio show Speak up – Kōrerotia. This show is created by Sally Carlton.

Sally talks with Donald Pettitt (Canterbury Men’s Centre), Iain Fergusson and Steve Carter (mental health advocates) about issues affecting men.
Part I: Campaigns to raise awareness of men’s issues; Why are men’s issues not often explicitly singled out in rights discussions?
Part II: Issues affecting men and their mental health outcomes
Part III: Systems that support men’s rights, and what is still needed

Transcript – Issues affecting men

Find out more about:

Find out more in our collection

Cover of How not to be a boy Cover of The new manhood Cover of Building a better bloke Cover of Man up Cover of Now that you're out Cover of The mask of masculinity Cover of The stressed sex Cover of A-Z guide to men's health & wellbeing Cover of Man up Cover of Misframing menCover of What men don't talk about Cover of the life of Brian Cover of Suicide and Mental health Access Video logo Cover of The prostate Cover of Understanding the Family Court

More about Speak up – Kōrerotia

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The World’s Best David Walliams

David Walliams came into the Christchurch Boys High auditorium through the crowd – a real rock star entrance.  And in kid books circles (and tv entertainment ones) he really is that level of famous. There were about 700 kids and 400 adults here to see Mr Walliams.

Rachael King, WORD Christchurch literary director asked him about the 20 million books he has sold – “All bought and burnt by Simon Cowell”, he said. David had the audience in the palm of his hand from the get go, with stories, heaps of audience participation, and his trademark naughty wit. Even the obligatory Australia diss – The World’s Worst Children?:

Well, I’ve just been in Australia and met a lot of the children …

He read us the tragic tale of Windy Mindy whose farting into wind instruments leads to a galactic end.

The kids in the audience served up stories about why their siblings are so bad. One answer had the crowd in stitches (beautifully conveyed in this tweet):

CoverBad Dad is his latest bestseller, and tells the story of Frank, whose Dad is a banger driver who ends up in jail after being a getaway driver. David read for us a rather splendid excerpt about how one might get the dreadful medical condition Bottom Freeze (including cryogenically freezing your bottom for posterity). 

CoverDavid’s favourite of his own books is Gangsta Granny (my kid’s fave too), and it came from listening to his own Gran’s stories about the Blitz:

Every old person has a story to tell.

He read Gangsta Granny’s famous naked yoga scene (and see Tony Ross’s brilliant illustration came up on the big screen). David gave a big shoutout to his illustrators Tony Ross and Quentin Blake – both in their 80s.

Walliams explained a bit about why he loves a villain:

Without Voldemort, Harry Potter would just be having a lovely day at school.

Burt, the Ratburger villain, was inspired by a contestant in Britain’s got talent who ate cockroaches. Ergh. Miss Trunchbull (from Roald Dahl’s Matilda) is one of his fave villains. It’s that combo of funny and evil,  and who wouldn’t want to be a villain (for a day).

We got to see sneak preview clips of Ratburger (Walliams himself is unrecognisable as the grotty villain), and Grandpa’s Great Escape (Jennifer Saunders is the Matron in that, and veteran actor Tom Courtenay is Grandpa.) He is that rarest of beasts – an author who gets to see his creations come to life first hand, because he stars in the adaptations.

David admits he was a reluctant reader. He went to the library with his family every couple of weeks, and would pick books on the solar system, space travel, and dinosaurs. And then he discovered Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It got him into reading, and to writing.

Roald Dahl is his “gold standard”. When he visited Dahl’s Gypsy Cottage and met his widow, she said kids still ring the doorbell and ask to meet the author. David has visited the Roald Dahl Story Museum and looked at the handwritten manuscripts. He clearly loved the writing set up of Roald Dahl – sitting in armchair, a picture of his much-missed daughter nearby, with a big ball of rolled up choccie wrappers to add to, and a telephone (to put a sly bet on the gee gees).

And David loves his fan mail, and who wouldn’t when kids are so honest:

Little Britain fans – he thinks the funniest thing he’s ever written is this:

10 lucky kids got to ask a question, and got a fab box set of Walliams’ books. A ripper of a prize I reckon. Thanks to David Walliams, WORD Christchurch, HarperCollins New Zealand, Merivale Paper Plus, and the crew involved in the event – and to everyone who came along, you rocked and made it a fun whānau night. It was especially awesome to get to get your book signed and a picture taken. Ka rawe!

The 12 sounds of Christmas

December is here and it’s time to make merry!

Pohutukawa and music notes

Break out the ugly Christmas shirts, decorate the house and surrounds, start thinking about that all-conquering Christmas lunch, and sing a happy tune – but which tune…?

Here are some ideas to give you the soundtrack of seasonal festivity that you deserve! 🙂

The 12 Sounds of Christmas

List created by DevilStateDan

The merry season is finally upon us so let’s kick start our festive cheer with some suitably Christmassy tunes to accompany you through the month of merry-making!

Felice navidad, joyeaux noel, and meri kirihimete!!

  • The Absolute Best Christmas Album in the World– Ever! Well this album is talking some BIG festive talk! What a collection of songs and artists though and it’ll surely set you up in the right merry spirit.
  • The Ultimate Classical Christmas Or maybe you prefer a classical kind of Christmas…!? Here’s a beaut collection of orchestral merriment.
  • Christmas Duets Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without ol’Elvis belting out some suitably festive crooning – don’t have a blue Christmas, get some Elvis!
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll Christmas From Chuck Berry to Brenda Lee – you can’t go wrong when you’re rockin’ out your Christmas with these tunes.
  • A Country Christmas Another star studded compilation and is it just me or does Christmas music really lend itself beautifully to the country genre…!?
  • This Christmas Who knew!?!? The legend of John Travolta, along with some of his friends (including jazz legend Chick Corea!) sharing the merriment with us.
  • Putumayo presents Latin Christmas A world view here with some Latin Christmas rhythms and vibes, a good one for a lively Christmas gathering!
  • Merry Christmas, Baby Rockin’ Rod Stewart giving it the Christmas treatment..?? What’s not to love!?
  • James Taylor at Christmas Some mellow Christmas vibes from the great James Taylor, for a nice cruisey Christmas.
  • Christmas The big sounds of Celtic Thunder doing Christmas. Expect some matinee cabaret gold!
  • Christmas in the Heart How does Bob Dylan do Christmas!? Very nicely as it turns out!
  • The Christmas Album Frank Sinatra is a December constant in my family – no-one does Christmas better then Frank!

View Full List »

Prefer to get your music online? See Simone’s recommendations for Christmas playlists from our online streaming services.

New eMagazines from RBDigital

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Find over 500 other eMagazines from RBDigital, or check out the top 20 monthly or top 20 weekly eMagazines titles.

The joy of Christmas food

Christmas to me means many things. Food, classical music, family and friends, frantic gift shopping and many consecutive days off work.

Food commands a great deal of consideration on Christmas day. It brings people together and will become a part of your Christmas memories. In years to come you may still be reminiscing over mother’s legendary Christmas turkey come December. Whether a BBQ at the beach, a big family dinner at home or a picnic in the gardens, the nostalgic properties of food are seldom more potent than at Christmastime.

Christmas Dinner 1962. Image from Flickr. File Reference: HWC08-UR-027.

When I was younger Christmas meant scoffing the chocolate from our Christmas stockings by noon. A mid-afternoon smorgasbord of breads, crackers and brie with dips, and finally moving on to whatever fattening banquet my mother had concocted for dinner. Common items included macaroni and cheese, garlic bread, potatoes in various forms, bacon and egg pie, salads piled high with eggs and leafy greens… sparkling grape juice for the children. Everyone was there.

This year, my siblings and I have grown up and we have our own Christmas plans. I’ll spend my first Christmas with my soon to be in-laws. I’ll bring a huge dish of macaroni and cheese and a more grown-up form of sparkling grape juice. They key elements will be there: family, good food and this time, I’ll be helping out in the kitchen. The men can clean up though.

The library has plenty of new and old Christmas Cooking titles to explore:

Cover of Cute Christmas cookiescover of Christmas: The complete collectionCover of Nigella ChristmasCover of Christmas cooking

You can flick through the digital Christmas issue of your favourite magazine through RBDigital Magazines or PressReader. Good ones to look out for include:

Cover of Recipes+Cover of FoodCover of good foodCover of Super food ideas

There are also lots of Christmas events happening this month at libraries around Christchurch.

And finally, I couldn’t help but include some cute photos of Archie in his Christmas best.

Archie the Reindeer
Santa’s Little Helper

What dish do you just have to make every year come Christmas?

A Christmas parade passes along Colombo Street, Christchurch: Picturing Canterbury

A Christmas parade passes along Colombo Street, Christchurch [ca. 1930]. File Reference CCL PhotoCD 17, IMG0001.
An elephant carrying Father Christmas is T.J. Armstrong & Co’s contribution to a Christmas parade. It is shown passing the Colombo Street store. The Market Hotel is pictured on the left.

Do you have any photographs of Christmas parades in Canterbury? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Fiona’s Christmas picks from the new book box

Looking for holiday reading? There are some wonderful books in our New Titles list.

Cover of Limit part twoLimit (part two) – This great science fiction novel by Frank Schatzing is the second part of the story, begun in Limit. The Chinese and Americans are competing for helium-3, an element to solve the World’s energy crisis…

The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night – This book by Jen Campbell is packed to the brim with magical and spooky short stories. Fairy tales in the true sense of the word. Perfect for Christmas reading!

The Rest of Their Lives – This is touted as an unlikely love story. Unlikely because the lovers are in their eighties! Brought together by the necessity of a road-trip to Switzerland, (I love road trip stories), the pair find there is still “life in their eyes”…

Cover of The stolen bicycleThe Stolen Bicycle – This beautiful book is by Wu Ming-Yi , a Taiwanese author and environmental activist famous for his books on butterflies. The Stolen Bicycle revolves around a writer, convinced that if he finds his errant father’s bicycle, he will find him. Entwined in this story are stories from the ‘oldest elephant that ever lived,’ and from soldiers who fought in the jungles of South-East Asia during World War II. And yes, there are butterflies!

Sleeping Beauties – This new offering by Stephen King and his son Owen might keep you awake at night. Affected by a strange virus, all the women in Dooling have fallen asleep. All except one. Meanwhile, the men have gone feral… My favourite author, always a go-to for the festive season.

And while we are waiting with bated breath for the new Ms Dr Who, how about this gem?

Cover of Dr Tenth Christmas surprise!Dr. Tenth – Part of a series of Dr Who Mr Men books, this is a real charmer. Also featuring my favourite Dr Who (David Tennant!). Our catalogue calls this ‘the greatest mashup in the Whoniverse. Woo!

Merry Christmas reading, folks!