The Scandinavian way

The interest in all things Scandinavian does not seem to be waning.  There has long been interest in the Scandinavian crafts but one of the more unusual titles:  The gentle art of Swedish death cleaning : how to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter is the last in long line in art of Scandi living to arrive at the library.

Not only do Scandinavians have The happiest kids in the world they also know how to stack wood and whittle. Belly fat is dealt to with The Scandinavian belly fat program : 12 weeks to get healthy, boost your energy and lose weight and if you want to look younger there is The Nordic guide to living 10 years longer : 10 easy tips to live a healthier, happier life.

If you are interested in more aspects of Scandinavian life then check out these lists on our website:

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Cool stuff from the selectors – from emojis to gardens

9781783963508What’s Your Bias? The surprising science of why we vote the way we do Lee De-Wit
This is a timely book considering some of the surprising election results of recent years.  We may take for granted that people vote the same way as their parents, but it turns out that this is not so much to do with upbringing,  but because of our genetic similarities.  However there is so much more that influences the way we vote – or indeed if we vote! With chapter headings such as “Why do you always think you are right”, “What’s in a face” and “Faking it”, De-Wit offers an easy to read and fascinating look at the psychology behind our political preferences.

9781250129062The Emoji Code: the linguists behind smiley faces and scaredy cats Vyvyan Evans
A positive look at the way our language has evolved rather than a  bemoaning of the imminent loss of the written language.  The author argues that emojis enrich our ability to communicate, they ” allow us to express our emotions and induce empathy – ultimately making us better communicators”.  When we communicate digitally (every day 41.5 billion texts are sent) our non verbal cues are missed, the emoji can express these nuances.  Perhaps after reading this book I will be able to evolve, and move on from  the smiley face.

9780711236332Children’s Garden: Loads of things to make and grow Matthew Appleby
Many of us want our children to get off the computer and enjoy the outdoors.  The beauty of this book is there is no need to travel to the high country, you can introduce your children via your own garden, however big or small.  The book is divided by the seasons and includes craft projects, cooking your produce, games, keeping animals etc.  It shows that a garden can be full of creativity and fun, whatever the season.

9780714874609Vitamin C: Clay  + ceramic in contemporary art
Ceramics have left behind their image of rather nasty shaped pots created in night-school, and have now been accepted into the hallowed folds of “Art”. Each page has full colour plates ranging from the small and delicate to large monstrosities  and installations.  There is colour, detail, a dash of ‘goodness my three year old could have made that’, and plenty to be challenged by.

Cool stuff from the selectors: Children’s books

Nadiya’s Bake me a story by Nadiya Hussain
Winner of the 2015 Great British Bake Off combines traditional tales and recipes for all the family. She also has a new Christmas title Bake me a Festive Story arriving in October.

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Fish girl by Donna Jo Napoli
Napoli teams with Caldecott winner David Wiesner in this Graphic Novel about a young mermaid who is the main attraction in an aquarium. She can’t talk and she can’t walk but she can make friends with a girl named Livia. Can she find a new life on land?  Like all David Wiesner’s books the pictures in this book are outstanding.

Celebration of Beatrix Potter : art and letters by more than 30 of today’s book illustrators
Wonderful re-imaginations of some of Beatrix Potter’s famous tales by artists like Jon Agee, Tommie dePaola, Brian Pinkney and Rosemary Wells, the fabulous David Wiesner makes another appearance here also.  Each illustration is accompanied by text from the artist explaining what that character means to them, making this a true celebration of Beatrix Potter.

Christchurch – Our Underground  Story by Phil Wilkins
If you have a child who has been fascinated by all the trucks, bulldozers, diggers and construction going on around Christchurch then this rather quirky book could be a hit.  Designed as a large board book with lift the flaps it contains everything you did (or perhaps didn’t want to know) about what has been going on under our feet.
Read our post on Christchurch – Our underground story

A look inside Christchurch: Our underground story by Phil Wilkins and Martin Coates

Cool stuff from the Selectors – Nature

9781472152244As Kingfishers Catch Fire: Birds and books by Alex Preston
Having kept notebooks over many, many years, Preston has collected the words of dozens of writers. Each chapter is arranged around a bird, each bird illustrated by Neil Gower. The Guardian gives this book a rave review:

Memoir, or rather memory, gilds the narrative. The most moving chapter describes Preston’s father, bedbound with lymphoma, as he watches a family of collared doves on the rooftop opposite his window. He is woken by a fledgling dove on the windowsill inside the bedroom and tries to rescue the bird. Describing himself in the third person, Preston’s father writes: “Placid and accepting, she allows his right hand to embrace her body… while he emanates all he can in telepathic sedation. It, or something like it, must be working, for her wings remain static and spread, her breast neither heaving nor fluttering … How warm to the touch. He wants to stretch the moment to eternity.” This, perhaps, is the essence of the book, this longing for communion, for connection with things other than ourselves.

CoverBritain’s Wild Flowers: A Treasury of traditions, superstitions, remedies and literature by Rosamond Richardson
Keeping with the literary/nature bent, Richardson traces the history of wild flowers and celebrates the important role they have played in literature as well as their uses in food, medicine and their place in history and myth.  A very beautiful book that is ideal to dip into.

9781473651975Basic Mathematics: An Introduction by Alan Graham
I reserved this book on a whim…I am not known for my mathematical ability and thought that it was about time I tackled what could almost be called a phobia. I must confess to scanning this book and promptly returned it, obviously I will need some more indepth counselling before I can tackle my “issues”. However, in the brief time that this book held my attention I did think it was very user-friendly, tackled basic concepts, and would be especially useful if you were struggling with keeping up with your school age children’s maths.

9780714873527Honar: The Arkhami Collection of Modern and Contemporary Iranian Art
A very disappointing cover hides a luscious book documenting the Afkhami collection of Iranian art. The art in the collection is incredibly varied and at times surprising. Each artist has their own essay, plus there are well written and interesting chapters devoted to the collection itself and to Iranian art history.

9781783963508What’s Your Bias? The Surprising science of why we vote the way we do by Lee De-Wit
We may think that we make rational decisions when it comes to voting but apparently we are just as much affected by our personality traits and unconscious biases as we are by what the news media and political debates are telling us. Perhaps you want to know more about why you think Jacinda is just the ticket or what it is about Bill that makes him irresistible? Apparently you will get to know more about yourself and the bigger political picture!

Library memories

9781452145402Having been a librarian for longer than I care to remember, the card catalogue holds a place dear to my heart. I remember as a library assistant filing new cards — one for the author, the title and the subject entries. A tedious job, but vital for the smooth running of the library. You can imagine the dismay when someone broke into a community library I worked in and dumped the whole lot on the floor! It took days to put in order.

These cards represented the hand writing of various cataloguers through the years. The advent of typewriting skills and twink was the next exciting venture, to be followed by a large and cumbersome computer system that saw the end of those beautiful cards and the glorious cataloguing drawers that are so fashionable today.

The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures is a chance to revel in the glory days — photographs of huge rooms filled with librarians filing cards at the mammoth Library of Congress, hundreds of images of original cards, and early edition book covers accompanied by engaging text and stories of the stacks! Not just for librarians, this will appeal to anyone who enjoys artifacts and stories from time past.

 

Regretting Motherhood

Cover of Regretting motherhoodHow would you answer these questions?

“If you could go back, with the knowledge and experience you have now, would you still become a mother?” 

“From your point of view, are there advantages to motherhood?”. 

The Particpants who were interviewed for the Regretting Motherhood: A Study by Orna Doanth responded with a resounding NO!  Not surprisingly most participants wanted to keep their identities private, and the author acknowledges that this sort of admission is not at all socially acceptable. Any mother can recount those times when the stress, worry and tiredness make the whole experience a waking nightmare, but to face up to major regret is, in my mind anyway, huge.

This is not a book about making life easier for mothers, it’s not about more access to childcare or the ability to have a career…

Thus even though there are conditions that can alleviate the hardships of motherhood, this does not necessarily mean that difficult conditions accompanying motherhood, or rigid social dictates determining how women must mother, can completely account for suffering or lack of satisfaction in motherhood

The women interviewed felt that they were good mothers and that their children would not be aware of their regret. They did a good job, but it gave them absolutely no satisfaction. Many felt that they were pushed into becoming mothers, it was expected, and they wished they made other choices.

This is an honest and at times confronting book.  There are a number of books that deal with the subject of not wanting children, but this is the first one that I am aware of that deals with regret after the fact. The interviewees are honest and compelling, the writing easy to read and the subject is incredibly thought provoking.

Cool stuff from the Selectors: Fiction news

Who isn’t writing crime and mystery novels these days? If Dickens, Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope were around now, they’d be making sure that murder and detection was the place to be.

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Interesting authors in this field doing the murder route include Jessica Fellowes, (niece of the man who gave the world Downton Abbey), with The Mitford murders,  John Gordon Sinclair (the actor from the much loved comedy Gregory’s girl), has a mystery coming up called Walk in silence and Lottie Moggach, daughter of Deborah, has Under the sun.

Aside from promising crime there is a new novel by Salman Rushdie, The golden house, which deals with Obama and Trump America.

A former Booker winner Roddy Doyle has a new novel called Smile.

And don’t forget the Film Festival coming up. One of the most interesting films is an adaptation of the Thomas Cullinan novel The beguiled. Originally made as a vehicle for Clint Eastwood, the novel now gets a feminist makeover by Sofia Coppola with Nicole Kidman leading the cast. We have the reprint of the novel on order.

Cool stuff from the Selectors: from the 1960s to pink cakes and beyond…

9780473382797Caves : exploring New Zealand’s subterranean wilderness by Marcus Thomas

The idea of venturing into a cave leaves me with clammy hands, thankfully I can now enjoy the beauty and danger of caving without having to get my feet wet.

This book takes readers on a journey into New Zealand’s longest and deepest caves, through one of the world’s most dangerous cave dives, and prospecting for a totally new kind of cave on a South Island glacier

I’m just here for the dessert9781743368824 by Caroline Khoo

If you love pink and love food then you will love this book!  Any food that is not naturally pink — i.e. chocolate — is bound to be decorated with a pink flower, at the very least.

Australian Caroline Khoo, of Nectar and Stone, has a large Instagram following. She recently posted a photo after coming home to a birthday cake made for her by her husband (only his 2nd cake ever) using this cookbook.

Charm of goldfinches 9781785033889by Matt Sewell

A Lounge of Lizards, a Parliament of Owls, A Gaze of Raccoons…we may well have heard of these collective nouns before but Matt Sewell’s beautifully rendered drawings bring the animals and their nouns alive.  The author is an avid ornithologist and best-selling author so his words add a richness to the pictures. This is a book that would also work well with animal loving children.

Summer of Love: Art, Fashion and Rock and Roll 9780520294820by Jill D’Alessandro

The book that chronicles an exhibition at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco that in turn chronicles the 1960s counterculture. Summer of Love covers all aspects of this heady time in a beautifully exuberant book, full of colour, fashion, politics, music and psychedelia. Not just for children of the 60s, this will appeal to a wide range of ages and interests.

The Photo Ark: One man’s quest to document the world’s animals9781426217777 by Joel Sartore

Joel Sartore had worked for 25 years as a photographer for National Geographic, leaving home for months at a time and becoming increasingly aware of the plight of species around the world. When his wife became ill he knew he had to stay closer to home, yet his desire to photograph and somehow make a difference to these endangered animals compelled him to seek out animals in captivity, starting at his local zoo.

His goal is to document every one of the world’s 12,000 plus captive species.  All the animals have been photographed in front of a black or white background.  The images are beautiful, uncluttered and affecting. The story behind the project and the people involved is fascinating and I look forward to hearing more from this author.

Cool stuff from the selectors: Fashion, architecture and insects

9780714873343On Eating Insects

In theory I like the idea of eating insects, it makes sense in a world where food could become scarce – it would seem that we are unlikely to run out of insects or plagues of locusts, but what about putting this into practice? “Bee Lave Taco or Moth Mousse” anyone?

On Eating Insects is not just about exotic sounding recipes, it gives us a holistic view of the subject with thought-provoking essays and fascinating stories of field trips into the world of the people who have eaten insects for centuries.  The political, cultural and ecological aspect of eating insects is also examined, creating a book that will leave you thinking, and perhaps looking at that ant nest in your garden in a slightly different light.

9780847858521The Art of Dressing: Ageless, timeless, original style

Style icon Tziporah Salamon profiles the chicest and most celebrated older women of today, while imparting practical tips on how to put together beautiful outfits

With headings such as “Good shoes and a good handbag are a must”, “Consider the whole effect: you are creating a work of art, a painting”, and “Enlist the services of a good seamstress and tailor” you would be forgiven for thinking that this book is not for the average middle-aged woman – and you would probably be right. However if you love to pore over books that include colour, style and a touch of whimsy then this is definitely the one for you.

As an aside, what is it with older women and hats?

9781614282273The big book of the Hamptons

Another book to peruse, salivate over, and wonder how some people have all the luck. I have been obsessed with the Hamptons and their general surrounds since I started reading fiction set in this location. The Hamptons are always depicted as full of beautiful but comfortable homes nestled near the beach, eccentric but lovable families, arty types, romantics….wealthy but not pushy.  This book does not disappoint.  It’s big and it’s full of photos.

There’s a reason why artists and writers, movie stars and moguls, musicians and composers, fashion designers and decorators, architects and craftsmen, fisherman and farmers have flocked to the Hamptons for all these years.  They are drawn by the glorious landscape, the extraordinary light, and the promise of pleasure.

9780714873497Mobitecture: Architecture on the move

The Camper Kart – a pop top in a shopping cart, the QTvan, a camper for mobilty scooters or the A47 mobile library – all the buildings in this book are designed to move.  Some are practical and actually work, some are purely experimental, and others are art installations.  There is sure to be plenty of inspiration for anyone interested in the idea of small houses, camping ideas or houses of the future.

Cool stuff from the selectors. What more could you ask for? Food, Cats and Storytelling

CoverDavid Wiesner And The Art Of Wordless Storytelling
This is definitely a book for someone who has an interest in children’s illustration as it contains well-researched and far-reaching essays on the history and development of book illustration as an art form.

David Wiesner is of course the focus, and I enjoyed revisiting his wonderful illustrations. I remember sharing these books with my children, all of us having varying viewpoints about what was happening, delving deeper into each illustration with each reading. This is a beautifully produced book.

CoverFrom the sublime to the ridiculous! Crafting with Cat Hair is the sort of book you just have to have a look at because it is so unlikely. Taking itself completely seriously, this book gives you in-depth instructions on how to use your moggie’s fluff for felting crafting pleasure.  Perhaps if you are so inclined, it could be a way to immortalise your feline friend.

CoverFood Fights and Culture Wars
Chomping away on my couple of pieces of dark chocolate, it was interesting to read about the violent past of chocolate. The chocolate we eat today is barely recognisable as the cacao that was produced by the early Mayan people.

Cadbury (whose Dunedin factory is set to close next year) was founded by Quakers. Their desire to fend off slavery underpinned the chocolate trade. Filled with beautifully reproduced pictures from the British Library, this is a fascinating romp through history and food.