Book Titles: Why Not Catch-21?

Quirky Titles Display at Bishopdale Library
“Quirky Titles” Display at Bishopdale Library

There are 211 different books in Christchurch City Libraries to help you name your future offspring, but only one to guide the choice of title for your soon-to-be-published book. And that is the cunningly titled Why Not Catch-21? The Stories Behind the Titles.

I am fascinated by book titles, especially the zany “what were they thinking” offerings. Here is a selection of some of my current favourites.

Huffington Post lists a New Zealand book as having one of their top fifteen most ridiculous titles: the wonderfully rhythmic Come Onshore and We Will Kill and Eat You All. It’s a love story caught in the middle of the cultural collision between Westerners and Maori. Having nailed a great title though, the publishers went all lily-livered and opted for a dreadfully bland blue cover which does nothing at all for the book.

Knitting with Dog Hair is an old favourite of mine – billed as Better a sweater from a dog you know and love than a sheep you’ll never meet. If you love dogs and have a vacuum cleaner, you are well ahead of the pack in this. I’ve missed years of Scottish Terrier sheddings which would, according to the author, have yielded a slightly coarse but spinnable undercoat. I think this activity would have driven me to drink. In which case I could have rejigged the title and called my book Hair of the Dog.

I still wonder at the appeal of British Mousetraps and Their Makers, but this book is regularly borrowed. The cover shows several complicated, scary, medieval looking traps. It makes me wonder if mice of other nationalities would also fall prey to these Proudly British devices.

Cover of Traditional Molvanian baby namesFinally, when you and your partner tire of the sweetness of the whole baby naming thing, have a palate cleansing look at the outrageous Traditional Molvanian Baby Names. This title sounds normal until you realise that Molvania doesn’t exist (the blurb describes it as just north of Bulgaria and downwind from Chernobyl). This book will provide you with much needed comic ammunition for when the in-laws become antsy about your name choice for their grandchild. Just shove a few of these XYZ and K mouthfuls into the mix and they are sure to get back in line.

Imagine then my delight that this interest in wacky titles is more widespread than I had thought. Bishopdale Library has a running display of some of these offerings. It is great to see rare books getting an airing – and apparently they do attract a lot of attention. At Bishopdale, team members are constantly on the look-out for weird and wacky titles to add to their display. If you’d like to help this darling little Community Library – just add your suggestions below!


Bishopdale is back!

I can, I can, I know I can!

Bishopdale, the little library that could, is back.

In the same spirit as The Little Engine That Could: I can, I can , I know I can, Bishopdale did.

If you were about in those life altering months after the 22nd February 2011, you might remember Bishopdale as the glue that held the northern suburbs together. It was the first library to open after the quake and one of only two libraries open in the whole of Christchurch. It was a pulsating hive of activity. Think overjoyed customers, accompanied by  recently unleashed children, attended to by chocolate-biscuit fuelled staff,  knee deep in a gazillion returns and you have just about got the stereophonic measure of it.

And then it all stopped on the 4th November 2011: the premises did not meet the building code.

But now it is back, just down from where it was before, and what a great little space it is. Not just open, but open and welcoming and trialling several new initiatives that will keep the Bishopdale customers ahead of the pack.

Yet when you stand in the new space, you can’t help but think back to the Bishopdale that was: the maze-like arrangement of the non-fiction section – where it really was possible to become quite seriously disoriented, the lone public computer at the back of the library (the choice of those of furtive intent), the lovely little posies of flowers on the issues desk, the staff toilet door that could be locked from the outside – and thereby hangs a tale or two….

Not everything has changed though. There’s still the same lovely library staff, the same excellent service from Christchurch Libraries, the same neat selection of items and the same beautiful art work on the walls.

Photo of Kaitiakitanga - art work by Gavin Britt

Bishopdale is back , ready to create new memories. Can’t wait to see you there!

Art at work

Image of Kaitiakitanga
Created By Gavin Britt, July 2008

I don’t think e-readers are ever going to have the same aesthetic appeal as books. I like the look of books. More than that, I like the look of rooms full of books interspersed with some art .

There are times when I forget to really look at my surroundings, but I do have fond memories of the artworks in Christchurch libraries: the beautiful art deco mirror at New Brighton (by Maureen J. Stewart), the stunning circular carving that graced Bishopdale (pictured right) and the lovely print behind the membership desk at Redwood (Tangaroa: The Fishing Man by Michael Tuffery).

But it is the art at Central that I miss most of all. Which is why I am so taken aback that there aren’t any large glossy tomes on Art in Libraries. It is a book that is crying out to be written.

However you can make a start on exploring this topic with the beautiful Living with books. Move on to look at our library art collection and maybe take a trip down memory lane to visit our Tukutuku panels. You could even treat yourself  to a road trip that takes in cool little art galleries around New Zealand. Or you could just pop along to the staff art exhibition at New Brighton this month where you get to see library art by librarians.

How about  you, do you too still haunt the corridors of long-gone public spaces – glancing from side to side at the art work you maybe took for granted?

The Displaced Reader: If you like trees visit Bishopdale Library

I’d heard that Bishopdale Library and the mall it is part of had been very busy since it reopened. I wondered how I would get on for parking but found no problems as I used the Farrington Avenue car park which has two entrances. I was immediately struck by how many enormous and beautiful trees there were in the vicinity. Many were going through their autumn colours and they definitely soften the otherwise ugly mall. (Is there a beautiful mall anywhere?)

The library shares its digs with a community centre. You go in through a shared foyer and then suddenly you are in a very busy space. The library was humming when I arrived with people using computers and poring intently over their book choices. The colour scheme features orange and blue and this distinctive carving on the wall. The librarians were kept pretty busy but I noticed that they still had time for a chat with customers. There was plenty to choose from and a spacious children’s area.

After my visit I had a quick cruise around the shops in the mall which include a real butcher, fish shop and fruit and vege shop as well as a supermarket. Best buys – lamb shanks and the winning lotto ticket (Tui moment). I’m told there is good coffee in the area – just ask the librarians.

I found getting to Bishopdale via Harewood Road pretty straightforward. Traffic was brisk but the roads were ok. The whole mall is surrounded by a number of carparks so it would be easy to come from another direction too.

Find out which libraries are open and learn more about Bishopdale Library.

Next stop on the library tour is Redwood, a bright little octagonal building on the north side of the city. Keep following the Displaced Reader on her travels.