Unruly enclaves and Ruly dogs: Cool stuff from the selectors

Beyond the Map: Unruly Enclaves, Ghostly Places, Emerging Lands and Our Search for New Utopias

9781781316382Places that maps can’t confine or identify, Utopias, pieces of land in the middle of a highway, political places and cyberplaces. Written by the author of Off the Map, this book is hard to define but easy to read.  Each chapter is short, creative writing about places that defy definition in the normal scheme of things. Makes you look at the notion of Place in an entirely different way.

Better Homes and Gardens Decorating book

9781328944986Perhaps you are a child of the 50s and 60s, or you just love the design from this era? Better Homes and Gardens presents the new decorating bible for those favouring that wonderful mid-century design sensibility.  Crammed full of original designs, plans, colours, design and advertising. Great for ideas but also wonderful just to ponder times past.

 

Really Good Dog Photography

9781846149429I love cute dog photos, (I blame Facebook for this), and luckily Really Good Dog photography has plenty of them, but what has been surprising (and in a good way) is the depth of the photos and the accompanying essays.  These are no ordinary pictures, they tell a story both about the dog and the photographers. Many are startlingly beautiful, some fit the cute variety and others are just wonderful photographs with a dog almost there by chance. All tell a story and this is a great book for those who love dogs but also for those who are interested in photography.

Cool stuff from the selectors: An array of great children’s books

You can usually rely on children’s books to have interesting inviting covers. This month’s selection do not disappoint.  Designed for children – but equally enjoyed by adults –  there should be something here that appeals to all ages.

The World of Moominvalley by Philip Ardagh

9781509810017The ultimate guide for any Moomin fan, old and new. A 350 page introduction to the unique hippo-esque shaped world where the best use for gold nuggets is as flowerbed borders, and a lending paw is more important the even the largest of large rubies.

Filled with illustrated maps and family trees, facts about Moomintroll behaviour and habits, this gorgeous book contains all you could wish to know about the beloved characters from the original Moomin stories and the world in which they live.

The Ways of the Wolf by Smriti Prasadam-Hall

9781526360304A stunning tribute to the majestic and fierce, proud and strong wolf. Follow them as they hunt and roam through their lands. Find out how they communicate, where they live and who their enemy is.

Wildlife illustrator Jonathan Woodward brings these animals to life with breath-taking papercut collage artwork.

We travel so far by Laura Knowles

9781910277331Small stories of incredibly giant journeys. From the epic migration of the huge humpback to the unbelievable determination of the tiny hummingbird. Each tale is told by the migrating animal and is wonderfully brought to life by the glorious illustrations of Chris Madden.

Book of Bones : 10 record-breaking animals by Gabrielle Balkan

9780714875125There’s a lot going on in this book. First you examine animal skeletons and guess who they belong to.  The answers are revealed in vibrant, full-colour scenic habitats, with easily understood and humorous explanations. For example a reticulated python would need a row of 5 king-sized beds to stretch out on. (What a dreadful thought!)

This entertaining introduction to the connection between animal bones (anatomy) and behaviour is playful, relatable, and includes touch-and-feel finishes that bring the bones to life!

Sanitoriums and Dust Jackets: Cool Stuff from the Selectors

9780993191190Holidays in Soviet Sanitoriums

I couldn’t resist the title Holidays in Soviet Sanitoriums:

Holidays in the USSR were decidedly purposeful.  Their function was to provide rest and recreation, so citizens could return to work with renewed diligence and productivity

So, no lounging by the pool or sipping a pinacolada for these folk then?  The sanitoriums turned out to be a cross between a medical institution and a form of summer camp, complete with exercise regimes, edifying and educational talks, and strictly healthy but bland diets.

Many of these institutions have closed, some have become more like the western ideal of a spa complete with mud wraps and the like, while others have maintained their strict adherence to alternative forms of physical therapy.  For a fee, you can soak in crude oil, be wrapped in paraffin, wax, endure electrotherapy – or for the really adventurous, spend your summer vacation in a salt mine breathing in the pure minerals and sharing a curtained off dormitory area metres underground.

As well as the information about the therapies available, there is also fascinating insight into the architecture of the time with photographs alongside the interesting stories of the healing properties meted out in these unique institutions.

9780500519134The Illustrated Dust Jacket 1920-1970

I nearly always judge a book by its cover, it is an enticement…a taste of things to come, but I sometimes find myself  wondering if I have read a particular book as so many of the more recent book covers look very alike.

The covers in the era 1920-1970 were works of art in their own right.   Representing a variety of art styles from Art Deco, Modernism, postwar neo-romanticism and the intriguingly named Kitchen Sink School (Wikipedia tells me a form of social realism depicting the situations of the British working class), this book includes over 50 artists mainly from the US and the UK.  It is beautifully put together by the publishers Thames and Hudson and is a lovely book to dip into, both to read about the artists and to admire the beauty and detail of the covers.

Cool stuff from the selectors: Designer dogs, Dickens and decluttering

9781910552773The Art of Winnie-the-Pooh: How E.H. Shepard Illustrated an Icon.  By James Campbell

The collaboration between the writer A.A Milne and illustrator  E.H. Shepard was unheard of at the time, and led to an iconic series of books where story and illustration became synonymous with our enjoyment of Pooh, Piglet, Christopher Robin, Eeyore, Tigger, Rabbit, owl, Kanga and Roo.  This is a lovely book of whimsy and memory, including examples of how the illustrations developed, descriptions of the life and family of Shepard and his relationship with A.A. Milne.

9781910636107The Scottish Bothy Bible: The complete guide to Scotland’s Bothies and How to Reach them. by Geoff Allan

Bothies were originally built as rudimentary accommodation for bachelor farm workers, and the vast majority of them were abandoned but have now been renovated by the Scottish Bothies Association.  They are randomly found across Scotland, are free, and often nowhere near attractions or national parks, however the nature of their existence and local make them an attraction in themselves.  These are not luxury 5 star huts, they are basic…”the two low benches can be edged towards the hearth, but there is a strange absence of chairs”. “Not available during stag stalking”. “No stove or fireplace” or “bring your own fuel”.  The views, landscape and the sheer out-of-the-way nature of these places however make up for the lack of home comforts.  Detailed descriptions of how to find them are included along with beautiful photographs of the hut and surrounding areas.

9780847860906At Home with Dogs and Their Designers: Sharing a stylish life  by Susanna Stalk

Coal, a yellow Labrador retriever is owned by Interior Designer Jeffrey Alan Marks.

“Coal travels with me a great deal, so her things are held in a navy leather tote bag that matches not only the car but also the navy leash I designed for her”

The dogs in this books live a charmed life, surrounded by opulent furniture, luxurious soft coverings and well clad owners.  They generally tone in well with surroundings and exude a certain smugness as they lounge beside their owners.  If you have a love of dogs and good interior design then this book will certainly not disappoint.

9781925322330The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to free yourself and your family from a lifetime of clutter  By Margareta Magnusson

The author puts herself somewhere between the age of 80 and 100, so death is not an abstract idea, but she stresses that this is not a sad book.  Certainly clearing away all that clutter accumulated over a long life, alongside making decisions about the precious to alleviate family arguments, and perhaps dealing with things that you would rather people didn’t pore over after your demise is not a bad idea.  These are all practical suggestions, but this odd little book is as much about ideas on how to declutter as a memory of a life well lived.

9781910463338A Passion for China: A little book about the objects we ear from, live with and love by Molly Hatch

In complete contrast to decluttering is an ode to the past, a collection of beautiful objects with memories attached, this little book is a celebration of the everyday.  It is a mixture of history and art with beautifully painted renditions of old china and ceramics that the author remembers from her childhood, alongside family stories and interesting detail about some of the history behind these beloved pieces.

9781782494492Dinner with Dickens: Recipies inspired by the life and work of Charles Dickens by Pen Vogler

This is a book that celebrates the food of nineteenth century England and includes many of the dishes described in the books of Charles Dickens, including recipes and detail about the history of the time. Pete Evans of Paleo fame would no doubt enjoy Bone Marrow pudding, (apparently Queen Victoria had bone marrow every day so he is in good company), however French plums appealed more to me, alongside a good Leicestershire pork pie featured in Great Expectations. Many of the recipes are surprisingly appealing and are made even more interesting with a good dash of history and an even measure of literature.

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:

97808575238539781743368909978034941540697818499444039780857052551978192532233097817824904639781849757591

 

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.