For Later: January 2017

For Later shelf is now more of a For Later library but somehow the Just Ordered list comes out and every week the shelves just grow.

These titles sneaked on recently:

Cover of Thug KitchenThug Kitchen (subtitle could cause offence). Gwyneth Paltrow loved it. Not sure if that’s a recommendation but I’m all for a bit of cursing with my cooking.

The Long Drop by Denise Mina. If Mina’s other books are anything to go by this stand-alone based on a real case in 1950s Glasgow should be good. Mina won the best-dressed and best hair competition held in my head at the Wellington Writers and Readers Week way back in 2012. I’ve followed her ever since and she’s never let me down.

England’s Dreaming by Jon Savage. Will one of the ultimate books on Punk be as good as it was in 1991? Or will it just be really sad? It’s fully updated and expanded so probably sad.

And there’s always room for a few “Friday night flickers”, good for a mindless page-through on a Friday night:

Cover of Fashion, art and rock and rollFashion, Art and Rock ‘n’ Roll by Jean-Charles De Castelbajac. Worth it for his name alone.

Domino Your Guide to a Stylish Home: Discovering your personal style and creating a space you love by Jessica Romm Perez. Sigh.

City House, Country House Contemporary New Zealand Homes by John Walsh.

Can I recommend …

CoverI’ve just found a new way to add to the ever-increasing list of book titles that I have great difficulty getting around to reading but have kept on my ‘For Later’ shelf in BiblioCommons. The cliché ‘better late than never’ springs to mind.

My shelf currently stands at a very respectable 17 (I’m sure there are people out there in ‘Library land’ openly gobsmacked at this paltry total BUT I have just had a cull. I was completely ruthless and it took only 2 minutes to cut it back from 27 to 17.

Oh the internal debating and agonising I didn’t put myself through! Most of these tomes have been on my ‘For Later’ shelf for an eternity and have either been recommended to me via colleagues and customers or I have read a favourable review in a magazine or newspaper and placed it onto the shelf before I forget the title.  Then I forget to look at the shelf and pick my next read from it – well nobody’s perfect!

Now I have another method by which I can add to this list – on the front page of the Christchurch City Libraries website right at the bottom of the page is a link called Books. This takes you to New in Books, Staff Picks, On Order and then Recent Comments.

ExampleRecent Comments deals with any comments or reviews of books from newspapers, library borrowers and library staff.  In a steady flow, these brief comments automatically move from one book to the next book that has been recently reviewed. Clicking on the cover will bring up a synopsis of the story line, publisher details followed by the heading OPINION where all the reviews appear.

Sometimes a certain sentence within a review personally resonates and is all that is needed to push you from apathy to action. Before you realise it, you’ve clicked on the book cover and are placing a hold OR adding to your ‘For Later’ Shelf.  If inclined you can even give the book a star rating.

Anyone out there enjoying the freedom of reviewing the books they read or feeling that they would like to give it a whirl?

“For Later” lately (5)

In an attempt to tame her ever-growing For Later list,  Robyn has decided to share with us on a regular basis the titles that she has recently added to her list. The theory being that, even if she doesn’t ever get round to reading them, she can perhaps do so vicariously through you… So please do share your opinions of her picks – are they worthy, do you think, of inclusion in that lofty list?

Added to the For Later shelf recently:

Pink Up Your Life: The World of Pink Design
Cover for Pink Up Your LifeEmbarrassing but irresistible. Who knew there was such a thing as Pink Design? I’m game though. “Pink for old and young. Pink for everyone!” Perhaps a pink feature wall is just what I need.

The Hollow of the Hand by P. J. Harvey
Polly’s poetry combines with the images of photographer/film-maker Seamus Murphy to tell the story of their travels around the world between 2011 and 2014. Harvey wanted to “smell the air, feel the soil and meet the people of the countries I was fascinated with”.  Should be interesting.

City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
Cover of City on FireOver 900 pages long – who am I kidding? But this highly hyped first novel is getting mentioned all over the show and the author looks to have good taste. He was in Vogue wearing a Comme de Garçons blazer; he likes Hilary Mantel and Patti Smith and he mentioned Philip Hensher‘s The Northern Clemency in an interview. And City on Fire has been called ‘a punk Bleak House‘.

The Face of Britain: The Nation Through Its Portraits by Simon Schama
Cover of The Face of BritainPortraits and Simon Schama seem like a good match; Schama has a lovely light touch with art and history. This book has been produced to accompany an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London where Schama considers what makes a successful portrait, grouping portraits from the gallery’s amazing collection into themes: Power, Love, Fame, Self and People. According to The Times reviewer Schama’s approach here is “not systematic but wonderfully compelling” and the book is “entertaining and idiosyncratic”. Let’s see about that.

Off the shelf (2)

As followers of our blog will know, voracious reader Robyn has been sharing with us on a regular basis the titles that she has been adding to her For Later shelf. This time she reports back on some of the titles that have graduated to her Completed shelf.

An art theme to some books that came off the For Later shelf recently.

Gothic Wonder by Paul Binski
Cover of Gothic WonderA beautiful book. All the images are lovely to look at but my best ones are the gargoyles and the manuscripts. Favourite chapter is called the Pleasures of Unruling, featuring the unforgettable phrase ‘genitalia in marginalia’.  Gothic Churches were so expensive the monks were “very eager to highlight any financially winning miraculous or semi-miraculous events”. Finding a cache of coins was popular – a sure sign that God would provide and it was O.K. to just keep building.

Everything Is Happening by Michael Jacobs
Cover of Everything is HappeningIt’s good to look at things in detail sometimes, but lots of words on lots of pages on one work of art can be very daunting. This look at Velásquez’s painting Las Meninas (‘the maids of honour’ in Spanish) is both detailed and short. But it still manages to say some fresh things about a work that has been analyzed more than most.

Francis Bacon in Your Blood by Michael Peppiatt
Francis Bacon is a great and terrifying artist. He is also reputed to have said: “Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends”. Two reasons to read a book about him.

What books have moved off your For Later shelf recently?

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.

Off (and on) the shelf

One of my many tragic New Year’s resolutions is to end 2015 with a smaller For Later shelf than I began it with. I’m starting as I mean to go on by shortening For Later to F. L.

Cover of Hockney Volume 1: the BiographyThe futility of this endeavor was immediately evident when I read Volumes One and Two of a new biography of David Hockney. It’s a brilliant and compelling portrait of the artist as a young man and as an older one still as passionate about his work as he ever was. Seemingly two off the shelf, but then a new book came out about Ron Kitaj, a friend and contemporary of Hockney’s, so that had to be added to the F. L. shelf.

The whole Zenny Zennishness of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying was thought-provoking, inspiring and amusing. Perhaps more amusing than inspiring – I laughed out loud in some parts, but I did not start talking to my clothes.

It was also satisfying to have this one off the shelf after a long wait on the Holds list. I did learn that photographs are the hardest things to get rid of. And adult children please note – storing stuff at your parents’ houses is not tidying. It is transferring. Obviously my life was not changed because I had to add the Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide and Organize & Create Discipline to the F. L. shelf. Hope springs eternal.

Cover of 33 Artists in Three Acts33 Artists in 3 Acts was one of my best reads of 2014 and I cannot recommend it highly enough. You don’t read writing like this every day. However Sarah Thornton is so good she got me all excited about art again and I had to add at least two books: Jeff Koons and When Marina Abramović Dies.

Then there are the F. L. books I haven’t even read yet, just sitting there breeding new items. 10.04 by Ben Lerner has had great reviews. One mentioned that Harriet Lerner is his mother so then I had to add The Dance of Deception, having enjoyed The Dance of Anger years ago. One not off, one on.

Must do better.

“For Later” lately (4)

In an attempt to tame her ever-growing For Later list,  Robyn has decided to share with us on a regular basis the titles that she has recently added to her list. The theory being that, even if she doesn’t ever get round to reading them, she can perhaps do so vicariously through you… So please do share your opinions of her picks – are they worthy, do you think, of inclusion in that lofty list?

Cover: Anger Is An EnergyAnger is an Energy: My Life Uncensored by John Lydon.
He should know; he must be one of the angriest men ever.

The Queen’s Houses by Alan Titchmarsh.
How would John Lydon feel about sharing a shelf with Her Majesty the Queen? Angry probably.

The Unexpected Professor by John Carey.
This has had great reviews and I love a book about Oxford.

Cover: As You WishPeter Levi: Oxford Romantic by Brigid Allen. As above.

Londonopolis: A Curious History of London by Martin Latham.
I also love a book about London.

As You Wish by Cary Elwes.
Let’s face it, I pretty much love a book about anything. This one is about one of my favourite films, The Princess Bride. I’m hoping to add to the three things I know about one of its stars, Andre the Giant: he was a giant, he was a wrestler and Samuel Beckett used to drive him to school.

Off the shelf

As followers of our blog will know, voracious reader Robyn has been sharing with us on a regular basis the titles that she has been adding to her For Later list. This time she reports back on some of the titles that have graduated to her Completed shelf.

Cover: History of 20th Century FashionSome things that recently moved from my For Later shelf to my Completed shelf. A veil shall be drawn over those items that moved from my For Later shelf to my list of Books That I Took Out in 2014 But Did Not Read Or Use.

History of 20th Century Fashion – the cover is wonderful but the book disappointed me a bit  – more for a serious student than a frivolous flicker of pages.

The First World War Galleries –  fascinating. Objects speak louder than words. And clothing louder than that – the jacket with one arm missing that features on the cover positively shouts.

New Zealand’s Historic Samplers  – See above. “A sampler may be the only words of a woman which survive” says the author, and these surviving pieces of fabric and thread provide a glimpse into the lives of women and girls from the earliest of colonial days. They truly are stitched stories.

Craftivism: The Art of Craft and Activisim – a great introduction to the world-wide movement of Craftivism. Lots of lovely pictures and just the right amount of words. Inspirational.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

“For Later” lately (3)

In an attempt to tame her ever-growing For Later list,  Robyn has decided to share with us on a regular basis the titles that she has recently added to her list. The theory being that, even if she doesn’t ever get round to reading them, she can perhaps do so vicariously through you… So please do share your opinions of her picks – are they worthy, do you think, of inclusion in that lofty list?

Some things I have put on my For Later list recently:

Cover: Virginia Woolf's GardenAltman by Kathryn Altman because Robert Altman made some of the most interesting films of the 20th century.

Nora Webster because it’s by Colm Toibin and a new book by Colm Toibin is a major event.

Virginia Woolf’s Garden because it’s fascinating how the last drop is being squeezed out of the Bloomsberries.

The First World War Galleries by Paul Cornish because it has a picture of a uniform with one sleeve missing on the cover.

History of 20th Century Fashion by Elizabeth Ewing because no fashion book can be allowed to escape my attention.

Secrets of the National Archives because archives are anything but dusty.

The Scraps Book by Lois Ehlert because I’m hoping it will have some real scraps featured.

Thinking in the Garden – WORD Christchurch

Cover of Philosophy in the GardenIn the last three and a half years I’ve spent more time reading books on gardens than I ever did when I owned one. I’ve done even more thinking about gardens since attending the Philosophy in the Gardens session at WORD, where philosopher Damon Young talked about authors and their gardens.

Highlights included Jane Austen – lover of apricots and syringas, although one cynic in the audience was moved to ask “was she a gardener or a pointer?” A gardener it seems, along with George Orwell, Emily Dickinson, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Nietzsche, Voltaire and Colette. Even Proust, a man who barely left his cork-lined room, owned a bonsai or three.

And is Young a gardener? Yes, but not a good one. He claimed he could recite a list of the plants he has killed in much the same way as the warriors in The Iliad who, preparatory to killing a man, recite a list of those they have killed before. Ah, the perfectly placed classical reference – one of the things you go to a book festival for.

Virginia Woolf’s Garden was on my For Later list before the session, but according to Young it was Leonard Woolf who won the prizes. Now it’s to be joined by Philosophy in the Garden.

WORD Christchurch: