Cool stuff from the Selectors: Musings on fiction

Fiction publishing  is very much trend and theme driven, and as Heidi Klum said “one day you’re in and the next day you’re out”.

There are always the bestseller authors, but in amongst their numbers are a few subjects and authors that can come out of left field.


Bookshops. Books and people who sell them, read in them, murder in them and fall in love, usually in old dusty quaint places – none of which resemble Whitcoulls or Paper Plus.  The recently released movie The bookshop might also create some interest in this area.


Librarians and Libraries

Librarians and libraries!  Well, not exactly a major trend, but for a generally under-represented group in books and films we seem to be featuring on a regular basis lately – usually there is a murder involved …which is um, interesting?



Bakeries.  Food has always been a feature in fiction, but just lately there has been the odd bakery/romance popping up, which seems like a nice mixture to me.


Bees and Beekeepers

Bees – and for some reason Beekeepers


Feminist Dystopias

Feminist dystopias – not surprising considering the dramatisation of The Handmaid’s tale. These books are not for the faint hearted.

Find more feminist dystopias in our collection.


Of course, fiction publishing is also affected by what is going on in the world, there have been more titles published in the last few years about refugees for example, plenty of titles about the economic crisis, climate change and a plethora of light easy reads for those of us who just want to escape.


Cool stuff from the Selectors: Thinking about trends

When selecting stock for the library it is always important to think about trends and what might be the next ‘big thing’, and one area that always garners interest is health and wellbeing – that elusive food/exercise/natural remedy/mindset that will provide the magic elixir of anti aging/weight loss/fitness and a long life.

Is Algae the new Kale?  Turmeric latte anyone? I was unfortunate enough to read that some are suggesting beetroot, charcoal or mushroom becoming your coffee substitute! Forget nose to tail eating, now it’s about root to stem.

If you have been struggling with Mindfulness then you can now rest easy with Mindset – the belief that basic abilities can be developed through hard work, a love and learning, and dare I say it – ‘resilience’. Breathing is also big – not surprising given we all need to do it, but are we doing in the right way? And last but not least, Neuroslimming, giving  you a “mind plan, not a meal plan”.

Tiny houses are still wildly popular, at least the pictures of them in the books are, but I do wonder how many people actually bite the bullet and live in the small but perfectly formed shed in the back yard? Travel stories are still very popular and I have it on good authority that Iceland is the next big thing (and I just happen to be going there in the middle of the year!)

I expect we will see a few more books on Donald Trump this year along with his good mate Putin.  There may be a few books on Fidel Castro and Cuba could become a more popular travel destination?


The craft area is dominated by a love of anything Nordic and the knitting, quilting and embroidery books are still as popular as ever.  Cooking is still raw, which is ironic considering it’s cooking.

Need some cheering up, then these two titles might help the optimism quotent.

Lock Up Your Daughters

The highly processed and idolised boy band One Direction is landing in our fair city next week, so here is a warning for one and all. I live over the fence from the venue, so I’ll be reminding my husband to turn down his hearing aids lest the squealing does even more damage to his old rocker ears. We’ll have a first aid station set up at our gate to assist the fainters as well.

Put together to appear on UK X Factor 2010, and placed third, they were snaffled by manufactured music mogul Simon Cowell and the rest, they say, is history. They have amassed a personal combined wealth of $25 million and cause a mass fluttering of tween and teen hearts around the globe.

cover of One Direction

Boy bands are not a new phenomenon. Think back to Frankie Vali and the Four Seasons, The Osmonds, The Beatles (OK, maybe not quite in the same vein, but they did get the screamers and fainters), The Monkees and The Jackson Five,  through to The Bay City Rollers, New Kids on the Block, Boyz ii Men, Westlife, ‘NSync, Jonas Brothers and who could forget The Hansons.

It’s all about repressed sexuality, unattainable perfection and being oh so ‘on trend’ it’s oozing out of their pores. I’ve heard young girls say their favourite 1D member is the best because “he really gets me and understands me!”

Baby you light up my world like nobody else. The way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed. And when you smile at the ground it ain’t hard to tell. You don’t know-oh-oh, you don’t know you’re beautiful. If only you saw what I can see, you’d understand why I want you so desperately. Right now I’m looking at you and I can’t believe, you don’t know-oh-oh, you don’t know you’re beautiful. That’s What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction Lyrics

The ability for young girls to attach themselves to complete strangers is what drives the sales, I must confess here to a major crush on Paul Stanley from Kiss in the seventies: those deep brown eyes and gorgeous curly hair… I bet he ‘got me’, sigh!

So, lock up your daughters, or at least check what they are wearing before they leave for the concert, so you can say “You’re not leaving the house in that.”

Did you have a boy (or girl band for that matter), that you loved, or still do? Confess, you won’t be judged.

Cookbooks and the confusing world of food

Trends in publishing are in a continual flux and cookery is a prime example of how quickly tastes can change.

Noticeable trends at the moment are for all things baking and often goes hand in hand with vintage. See Vintage Cakes: Tremendously Good Cakes for Sharing and Giving

Cover of Find it, Eat it  Cover of Vintage cakes  Cover of Offal the fifth quarter

Organic is still popular but now we have the added thrill of foraging and sourcing local food Find it, eat it : cooking foraged food gathered around New Zealand

Sugar is a no-no, The guilt-free gourmet : indulgent recipes without sugar, wheat, or dairy but struggles when it is associated with baking or vintage.

Cover of The food policeI have also rather frighteningly noticed upsurge in the use of offal: Offal: The Fifth quarter.

How to make you own cheese and bread is still hot, and is now expanding into other areas as well. Food DIY: How to Make your Own Everything: Sausages to Smoked Salmon, Sourdough to Sloe Gin, Bacon to Buns and you could also do a bit of backyard butchering if you are so inclined: The Ultimate guide to home butchering.

As with all trends there is often a backlash. The Food Police: A well-fed manifesto about the politics on your plate proclaims that organic food is not necessarily healthier or tastier, that genetically modified food has not sickened a single person and that fascist food snobbery and the food elite are doing more damage than good!

You aren’t what you eat is less belligerent but is no less concerned with our obsession with food, celebrity culture and our loss of basic instincts. The author suggests that we “throw away the colour supplements and open a can of beans”.

Homeward bound: why women are embracing the new domesticity has a chapter titled “Cupcake feminists, hipster jam canners, and “femivores”: the rise of the DIY food culture” and looks at how this movement has brought together the strange bedfellows of liberals, conservatives, atheists, evangelicals, rural poor and urban rich.

It was a book just waiting to be written and I have been debating for a while if all of this homemade renaissance is a good or bad thing for women.

Read it for yourself and find out!

What’s big in 2009: A stab in the dark.

At this time of the year you often find articles about what the most popular books or trends were for 2008, as well as the first ruminations about what might be the big sellers for 2009.  The Guardian Weekly, who are always up with the play, has a link to some publishers predictions.  They seem to be making stabs in the dark about what might be big, and so I thought there should be  no reason why I couldn’t have a go as well.

Obama – we can’t seem to get enough of him.  His inaugural speech was for sale the day after the event, which I thought was pretty impressive.  Books on his wife Michelle are also starting to emerge, and I’m sure that there will be a big pictorial of her “style” within the next few months.

Books about Iraq and Afghanistan are still very popular, and especially anything that concentrates on America’s role. By his own rules: the story of Donald Rumsfeld has obviously been sitting on a publishers desk waiting for a good opportunity to get the widest coverage, and what better publicity than a new President and a possible new approach to the Middle East?

Craft books are always popular, and personally I couldn’t be happier.  Emphasis seems to be on making do, using up those old scraps, creating masterpieces from junk and generally indulging ourselves in creativity.  What better way to cope with the doom and gloom by creating something that only your mother could like?

No longer are we getting the business books on how to be a millionaire in two weeks.  What happens to all these titles?  Should we keep them until there’s a turn around in the economy, or start using them for fire starters?  You can either choose to be an eternal optimist and read A Millionaires options: Unlocking the secrets of successful options investment, or perhaps  Sophie Greys’ ( The Destitute Gourmets ) new book,  Live well, spend less is more realistic.

Dieting books are still being churned out by the dozen. Fat: An appreciation of a misunderstood ingredient goes against everything we have been taught to believe in the last ten years, and The Writing diet: write yourself right-size has great possibilities for bloggers, I can feel the pounds disappearing already!

So don’t miss the opportunity for your say in what’s going to be big this year.  Any ideas for Fiction perhaps?  I’m going for more of the feel good genre, escapism, and less of the misery.  Perhaps even Science Fiction?

Embrace the age of the cupcake

The Crabtree Bakery cupcake cookbook
The Crabtree Bakery cupcake cookbook

You’re not imagining it. Cupcakes ARE the treat du jour. Ever since Carrie and the gals munched on beautifully iced drops of spongey goodness in Sex and the city, the rise of the cupcake as a teatime supremo has been set in frosting.

The cupcake phenom started in New York, and it’s slowly made its way around the world, advancing like a mini-cake “icing age” and spawning many a brightly coloured, gorgeous illustrated cookbook. Look, you know that something’s a fully fledged craze when things start “specialising”. With titles like Vegan cupcakes take over the world : 75 dairy-free recipes for cupcakes that rule hitting the shelves it’s pretty safe to say that the reign of the cupcake is far from over. They’re just so darn pretty!

Other pastel coloured homages to the art of the cupcake that you might also find enticing are –

Bake me Im yours
Bake me I'm yours

But don’t worry, if the idea of donning a pinny and getting all fiddly with paper cups and icing seems like too much hard work, you’ll find that Christchurch is now home to not one, but two specialty purveyors of cupcakes, in the form of The Cupcake Parlour, and The Cupcake Collection so there really is no need to get to get your hands dirty, or sticky for that matter…