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Sustainability and the Environment – Recent picks for September

New books this month include: making your own green cleaning products, New Zealand’s sanctuaries that are saving native creatures from extinction, and a book explaining about solar power being the best solution to our energy needs, and why we should embrace solar technology.

Syndetics book coverThe wastewater gardener : preserving the planet one flush at a time! / Mark Nelson ; foreword by Tony Juniper. “Part wake-up call, part memoir, this book is a humorous look at innovative ways for dealing with human waste that respect the water cycle-a wastewater garden is a trademarked method for using water-tolerant plants to process sewage as part of a septic system. Ecosystem engineer and researcher Nelson describes his career in detail, starting with desert farming in New Mexico and two years in the sustainability experiment of Biosphere 2. ” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverClean green : it won’t cost the earth! / Caroline Leslie. “Written in a fun, factual and easy-to-follow manner, Clean Green will not only teach you how to become more eco~friendly and chemical~aware, it will also help you to gain a great sense of achievement, contribution and satisfaction along the way. A fantastic, handy and practical guide that every home should have! Inside you’ll learn: exactly which toxic chemicals are in your “conventional” cleaners and what they are doing to you and your family’s health; why cleaning GREEN is better for you, your home and the environment; how to save $$$ by buying green cleaning ingredients and products; the “GREEN 14″ – 14 key ingredients to achieving your Green Cleaning status; and practical, eco-friendly tips and hints to maintain a thoroughly green home and lifestyle.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverGroundbreaking food gardens : 73 plans that will change the way you grow your garden / Niki Jabbour. “Vegetable gardens can be designed for flavor AND fun! Niki Jabbour, author of the best-selling The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener, has collected 73 plans for novel and inspiring food gardens from her favorite superstar gardeners. You’ll find a garden that provides salad greens 52 weeks a year, another that supplies your favorite cocktail ingredients, one that you plant on a balcony, one that encourages pollinators, one that grows 24 kinds of chile peppers, and dozens more. Each plan is fully illustrated and includes a profile of the contributor, the story behind the design, and a plant list.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPoisoned planet : how constant exposure to man-made chemicals is putting your life at risk / Julian Cribb. “Man-made chemicals are creating a silent epidemic. Our children are sicker; cancer, obesity, allergies and mental health issues are on the rise in adults; and, frighteningly, we may be less intelligent than previous generations. A poisoned planet is the price we are paying for our lifestyles, but Julian Cribb shows we have the tools to clean it up and create a healthier, safer future for us all.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverParadise saved : the remarkable story of New Zealand’s wildlife sanctuaries and how they are stemming the tide of extinction / David Buter, Tony Lindsay & Janet Hunt. “”Tells the gripping story of how we are turning back the tide of extinction. It is a celebration of pioneering science and a national survey of the sanctuaries, little and big, that are protecting native species and reintroducing them to areas where they had once been extinct. It covers over 130 sanctuaries, with up to date information on where to find them, how to visit and how to do your part”–Back cover.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverShrewdunnit : the nature files / Conor Mark Jameson. “”Conor Mark Jameson has spent most of his life exploring the natural environment and communicating his enthusiasm for it to family, friends and, more recently, readers of a range of newspapers and magazines. Shrewdunnit brings together the best of these dispatches, alongside unpublished essays, in a poetic and evocative journal that inspires and delights. Jameson’s prose is fresh and in places irreverent, with a hint of mischief and a dash of wit. From his back door to the peaks of New Zealand and the swamp forests of the Peruvian Amazon, he carries on the biogumentary style he perfected in his earlier books showing – never telling – how to bring nature and conservation home.”–Cover.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe burning answer : a user’s guide to the solar revolution / Keith Barnham. “Our civilisation faces a choice. In three generations we have consumed half the oil produced by photosynthesis over eight million generations. With threats from global warming, oil depletion and nuclear disaster, we are running out of options. Solar power, as Keith Barnham explains, is the solution. In THE BURNING ANSWER he uncovers the connections between physics and politics that have resulted in our dependence on a high-carbon lifestyle. Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2 led to the atomic bomb and the widespread use of nuclear energy. In a fascinating tour of recent scientific history, Keith Barnham reveals Einstein’s other, less famous equation, which provides the basis for solar technology. Some countries have harnessed this for their energy needs, and it is not too late for us to do the same.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAdventures in the Anthropocene : a journey to the heart of the planet we made / Gaia Vince. “Our planet is said to be crossing a geological boundary – from the Holocene into the Anthropocene, or Age of Man. Gaia Vince decided to quit her job at science journal Nature , and travel the world at the start of this new age to explore what these changes really mean… She found ordinary people solving severe crises in ingenious, effective ways. Take the retired railway worker who’s building artificial glaciers in the Himalayas, for example, or the Peruvian painting mountains white to retain snowfall…” (Book jacket)

Syndetics book coverEating wildly : foraging for life, love and the perfect meal / Ava Chin. “Chin, who writes the “Wild Edibles” column for the New York Times, goes looking for love, blackberries, and wild garlic in this wildly uneven, yet warmly exhilarating memoir. Trekking through Central Park and other urban beaten paths and backyards, Chin leads us on a journey of discovery as she searches for the tender shoots poking through cement cracks and hardy wild plants resisting winter’s bite.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMatt’s kitchen garden cookbook / Matt Moran ; photography by Rob Palmer. “With his characteristic light touch and elegant flavour combinations, it’s easy to see why Matt Moran is one of Australia’s most successful chefs. Here, he shares his passion for Australian produce and his admiration and appreciation of gardeners, whether they be commercial, hobby or student.” (Syndetics summary)

Classical music: new CDs for September

We’ve recently bought an interesting selection of albums recorded by some estimable women, and here is a small smattering:

Cover courtesy of Amazon.comBehind the Lines, Anna Prohaska
Soprano Anna Prohaska draws on the themes of war and peace in this compilation featuring composers ranging from Michael Cavendish through Beethoven and Schubert to Kurt Weill. The result is a moving and thought-provoking experience. Accompanied by pianist Eric Schneider.

Cover courtesy of Amazon.comHomecoming, Nicola Benedetti
Another timely addition to the collection is Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti’s Homecoming, a collection of favourite Scottish and Scottish-inspired music, including Loch Lomond, and Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy. “The nation’s favourite violinist Nicola Benedetti celebrates a huge year for Scotland with an album of its most famous and best loved music… the album… includes collaborations with leading Scottish folk musicians including well known folk singer Julie Fowlis whose voice can be heard on the Disney Pixar hit film Brave along with Bruch’s much loved Scottish Fantasy.” (amazon.co.uk)

Cover courtesy of Amazon.comViolin Concerto No. 2 by Prokofiev ; Violin Concerto No. 1 by Bruch, Guro Kleven Hagen
At the age of just 20, Guro Kleven Hagen is something of a prodigy. This is her first recording, in which she performs with the Oslo Philharmonic conducted by Bjarte Engeset – an all-Norwegian affair. “Max Bruch’s Violin Concerto No 1 was completed in 1868 and remains to this day his most famous piece. More ‘classic’ in layout than his first concerto, Sergei Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No 2 reflects his mature style and actually was the last big scale work he wrote before returning to USSR in 1934. Prokofiev himself drew attention to the way this concerto reflected his “nomadic” existence – the first theme was written in Paris, the slow movement in Voronezh, and the Concerto was completed on 16 August 1935 at Baku, on the Caspian Sea.” (amazon.co.uk)

Cover courtesy of Amazon.comRival Queens, Vivica Genaux & Simone Kermes
This looks like fun: a tribute to two legendary singers, Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni (their rivalry reached physical proportions when they fought on stage at London’s Haymarket Theatre in 1727 apparently). This album of world-premiere recordings features arias and duets from the period. We think Genaux and Kermes had fun posing for the cover. “A thrilling recording, in which Simone Kermes and Vivica Genaux sing arias and duets composed at the height of the rivalry between Eighteenth-Century singers Francesca Cuzzoni and Faustina Bordoni… Featuring music by Bononcini, Händel, Leo, Lotti, Pollarolo, Porpora, and Porta, most of which has not been heard since the careers of Bordoni and Cuzzoni, Rival Queens explores the artistic legacies of the two legendary singers and the heights of inspiration to which their much-fêted competition moved the important composers of the era.” (amazon.co.uk)

Coming soon: Recommendations from September’s issue of Gramophone magazine, including Semiramide – La Signora Regale, by Anna Bonitatibus, and Michèle Gurdal performing Scriabin etudes.

Kerry’s Fiction Picks

Hi everyone, just a recap for those who don’t know who or what my picks are.  I’m the fiction selector for Wellington City Libraries. I spend a lot of time reading about and choosing lovely new fiction for you to enjoy. I try to pick my favourites every week to share with you. These books aren’t ’shelf ready’, but they are due to be published in the next six months or so. And they are on the catalogue, available to reserve.

Syndetics book coverWolf in white van
Fans of the Mountain Goats may be excited to hear that John Darnielle has written a book.  He’s a great storyteller so this is bound to be good.  It has a complex plot that fits somewhere between science fiction and regular fiction. It centres around Sean and a mail-based strategy game where players search for a sanctuary in an apocalyptic landscape.  Amazon says “Beautifully written and unexpectedly moving, John Darnielle’s audacious and gripping debut novel is a marvel of storytelling brio and genuine literary delicacy”.

Syndetics book coverGetting colder
This is the second novel for Amanda Coe who had some success with her debut What they do in the dark It’s about two children, now adults, who were abandoned by their mother and are now looking for answers.  Sara left her family to start a relationship with Patrick, a celebrated playwright, in the 1980s.  When Sara dies 35 years later her children Louise and Nigel seek Patrick out to find out who really was the villain and victims in this situation.

Syndetics book coverIf I knew you were going to be this beautiful, I never would have let you go
For starters, what about that title?  It certainly had me intrigued and it’s possibly the longest I’ve seen.  It’s the debut novel for Judy Chicurel.  The story follows Katie, a young woman from Elephant Beach, a working class summer town on the verge of gentrification.  Katie’s on the verge of adulthood and she spends her time hanging out with friends, drinking, and pursuing her crush.  A pretty common topic, but as Amazon says the author “creates a haunting, vivid world, where conflicts between mothers and daughters, men and women, soldiers and civilians and haves and have-nots reverberate to our own time. She captures not only a time and place, but the universal experience of being poised between the past and the future.”

Syndetics book coverStory hour
This story’s about the friendship that forms between two women despite their differences and the discovery of secrets and a affair that jeopardise their lives.  Maggie is a psychotherapist who begins treating Lakshmi after her suicide attempt, and who is isolated, controlled and unloved by her husband.  A bond forms between the two women and they find connections in their lives - Maggie is married to an Indian man and Lakshmi is from an Indian village.  The complex characters are what makes this novel, “critically acclaimed Indian American writer Umrigar’s most recent novel explores cross-cultural friendships, troubled marriages, love, loss, and forgiveness with her characteristic wisdom, humor, and warmth” (Library Journal).

September Self-development

This month we explore the field of psychology since Freud and our windy path to self-realisation, fulfilment and enlightenment.

Syndetics book coverThe psychology book : from shamanism to cutting-edge neuroscience, 250 milestones in the history of psychology
“A leading historian in his field, Pickren assembles 250 milestones in psychology, from shamanism to the 2013 White House BRAIN Initiative (brain research through advancing innovate neuro-technologies). Each entry has a page of concise description and explanation opposite a portrait, document, or work of art. Milestones include Aristotle’s De Anima; London’s medieval Bedlam (Bethlem Hospital); Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy; Elizabeth Loftus on misinformation effect and false memories; and Bill Moyers’s “Mind-Body Medicine” on PBS. Some topics and pioneers, such as the brain, soul, tests, medications, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Jung, receive repeat attention. Suggested readings add to the value of this book for readers who wish to delve further into the milestones.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverMe, myself, and why : searching for the science of self
“Who are we? Who am I? Those are the questions science writer Ouellette (The Calculus Diaries, 2010) tackles in this elegant and very personal inquiry into identity and the science of the self. Ouellette examines the many aspects of the making of a self, including discussions on nature versus nurture. Ouellette leapfrogs through scientific, philosophical, and even pop history, which makes for fun reading as she expresses her views of an array of figures and artifacts, from Gregor Mendel to Francis Galton, John Locke to Kevin Bacon, Harry Potter movies to Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending sci-fi film, Inception. She discusses the so-called Prozac gene, brain scans, the hangover gene, avatars, sexual orientation and gender-atypical behaviours, the persistence and accuracy of memory, consciousness and the soul, and other provocative topics. An entertaining, insightful, and thoughtful reflection on our assumptions about ourselves and the mystery that is at the heart of the human story.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe good psychopath’s guide to success
“What is a good psychopath? And how can thinking like one help you to be the best that you can be? Dr Kevin Dutton has spent a lifetime studying psychopaths. He first met SAS hero Andy McNab during a research project. What he found surprised him, McNab is a diagnosed psychopath but he is a GOOD PSYCHOPATH. Unlike a BAD PSYCHOPATH, he is able to dial up or down qualities such as ruthlessness, fearlessness, decisiveness, conscience and empathy to get the very best out of himself – and others – in a wide range of situations. Together, they explore the ways in which a good psychopath thinks differently – and what that could mean for you. The Good Psychopath’s Guide to Success gives you an entertaining and thought provoking road-map to self-fulfilment, both in your personal life and in your career.” (Back cover)

Syndetics book coverHow to be alone
“Our fast-paced society does not approve of solitude; being alone is literally anti-social and some even find it sinister. Why is this so when autonomy, personal freedom and individualism are more highly prized than ever before? Sara Maitland answers this question by exploring changing attitudes throughout history. Offering experiments and strategies for overturning our fear of solitude, she helps us to practise it without anxiety and encourages us to see the benefits of spending time by ourselves. By indulging in the experience of being alone, we can be inspired to find our own rewards and ultimately lead more enriched, fuller lives.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverHow to deal with adversity
“No matter how insulated we are by wealth or friends we can all expect to undergo some form of loss, failure or disappointment. The common reaction is to bear it as best we can – some do this better than others – and move on with life. Christopher Hamilton proposes a different response to adversity. Focusing on the arenas of family, love, illness and death, he explores constructive ways to deal with adversity and embrace it to derive unique insight into our condition. Offering examples from history, literature and science, he suggests how we might recognize it as a precious source of enlightenment, shaping our very existence.”(Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverConstructive wallowing : how to beat bad feelings by letting yourself have them
“If you’ve ever ignored difficult feelings or if your inner critic has been riding you to be constructive every minute of the day, psychotherapist Gilbertson has written a counterintuitive self-help book that offers constructive advice for boosting self-compassion by wallowing in negative feelings. She begins with an easy premise: letting yourself experience both positive and negative emotions allows your body to have a healthy balance, which helps you to make informed, rounded decisions. Alternatively, ignoring healthy wallowing is a recipe for escalating problems as well as sustained depression and unresolved emotions. Although it’s a simple premise, it’s certainly not easy to change ingrained habits.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverWhy mindfulness is better than chocolate : your guide to inner peace, enhanced focus and deep happiness
“Mindfulness practice can help you reduce stress, improve performance, manage pain and increase wellbeing. These are the reasons why elite athletes, performing artists and business leaders are taking up the practice, and why it is being introduced into the world’s most successful companies, banks, business schools – even the US Army…David Michie introduces mindfulness practice and offers innovative solutions to common obstacles. Written with warmth and good humour, Why Mindfulness is Better than Chocolate is the ultimate guide to self-discovery. It will make chocolate taste better too!” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverCalming your angry mind : how mindfulness & compassion can free you from anger & bring peace to your life / Jeffrey Brantley, MD.
“Chronically angry people suffer loneliness, isolation, shame, and regret; experience dysfunctional interpersonal relationships; and are at increased risk for stress-related illnesses. Brantley’s primer recommends meditation based in mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom so those crippled by anger can eventually “enjoy a happier, kinder, life.” Borrowing broadly from Buddhist tradition and modern Zen master Thich Nhat Han, mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zin, emotional intelligence expert Daniel Goleman, and others, the author shows that the best way to learn “to uncouple the ‘thought train’ that carries anger” is to be present in the moment and make a commitment to a daily mindfulness meditation practice. Brantley employs the three basic mindfulness skills of intention, attention, and attitude, and the seven core elements of mindfulness practice-non-judging, non-striving, trust, patience, acceptance, a beginner’s mind, and letting go- as initiation into a personal meditation habit. In time, fear (usually the source of anger) dissipates and self-compassion and understanding emerge. Guided meditations appear throughout, in addition to individual stories, and data from studies on the benefits of mindfulness.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverBecoming Freud : the making of a psychoanalyst / Adam Phillips.
“Renowned psychoanalyst Phillips (One Way and Another) conjures up a vibrant portrait of Sigmund Freud, examining psychiatry’s most famous figure as it contends with the difficulties of placing his life in biographic form. In contrast to the more popular focus on an older Freud, Phillips introduces us to a younger version: the eldest son of Jewish immigrants, gifted but troubled by childhood trauma, whose future ideas were founded upon these aspects of his upbringing. And so the emergence of psychoanalysis comes at the end of this story, implying that the widely influential school of thought is merely one aspect of Freud’s larger story. Much like psychoanalysis itself, this book does not seek to claim and advance any singular sense of truth; instead, it encourages us to relish in the illuminations, indeed the very uncertainties of the process. As such, it’s a biography that might even have received the approval of Freud himself.” (Syndetics)

Designers’ Edit: new fashion and beauty books for September

This month, we have a special edit for budding fashion designers. We have guides to putting together your own all-important fashion portfolio, insights into designing costumes for film and theatre, a beautiful book of fashion swatches, as well as an insider’s view of the iconic Parsons fashion school, home to Project Runway. Or if fashion consumption rather than fashion study is more your thing, check out our other selections – a glossy volume on international men’s street style, a biography on the driving force behind Avon and a limited-edition volume all about the fashion collection of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Syndetics book coverMen in this town : London, Tokyo, Sydney, Milan, New York / Giuseppe Santamaria.
“From the streets of the leading fashion cities around the world, photographer, art director and blogger Giuseppe Santamaria brings together a striking photographic collection showcasing the styles of the modern man. In each city he visits, Giuseppe seeks out the man whose dress sense speaks volumes about who he is, sharing looks that will be a source of inspiration to readers. Alongside the varied sartorial tastes captured on the streets, Giuseppe chooses a handful of men from each city who have particularly caught his attention, photographing them in various attires and interviewing them on their individual approach to fashion. With cutting-edge, street style photography, Men in This Town is an exploration of the current menswear scene across the world’s most fashionable cities.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBeauty queen : inside the reign of Avon’s Andrea Jung / Deborrah Himsel.
“Himsel (Leadership Sopranos Style), former vice-president of global organization effectiveness at Avon, takes on the story of former Avon CEO Andrea Jung, who resigned in 2011 in a blaze of scandal. At her peak, Jung was considered one of the finest leaders of the early 21st century; former colleague Himsel believes that her career constitutes the perfect leadership case study. Using her own experience and interviews with those who knew her, Himsel narrates Jung’s rise at Avon at a time when the direct sales channel model was viewed as old-fashioned. She then covers Jung’s initial success, her reshaping of the company’s image and mission, difficulties that arose, and her ultimate downfall. ” (Publisher Weekly)

Syndetics book coverThe school of fashion : 30 Parsons designers / Simon Collins.
“For over a century, Parsons The new school for design has been synonymous with the best in American fashion, fostering creative talent and pushing the boundaries of style around the world. The staggering influence of the schools many successful alumni has created a legacy that has only grown in scale and scope over the decades. This illustrated volume explores that legacy through the testimony of its brightest stars, with interviews and exclusive archival sketches from Donna Karan, Alexander Wang, Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, and many others.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFashion portfolio : design and presentation / Anna Kiper.
“From finding inspiration to creating the final collection, this is the complete guide to putting together an attention-grabbing fashion portfolio. It follows the entire design process, covering research, quick sketches, silhouettes, mood boards, garment details, textiles, fabric manipulation, and draping experimentation. In addition to samples from professional sketchbooks, established fashion and accessories designers offer their personal insights on the job’s highlights and challenges. A beautiful and practical book that helps readers get inside the designer’s mind” – amazon.com

Syndetics book coverThe fashion swatch book / Marnie Fogg.
“This exhaustive sourcebook book presents the most eye-catching and important pieces from an array of more than 100 of the world’s fashion designers. Covering both contemporary and classic designs, it sets a new benchmark in the world of fabric design. Alphabetically arranged by designer, around 1,300 images illustrate the huge variety of swatches. Marnie Fogg introduces each fashion house and guides the reader through their particular approach to textile design and production. With unprecedented access behind the scenes of some of the most important manufacturers, the final section of the book displays informative step-by-step photographs of the working techniques behind both modern and classic fabric manufacturing.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDesigning costume for stage and screen / Deirdre Clancy.
“In this comprehensive and beautifully illustrated volume, accomplished costume designer Deirdre Clancy draws from over-40 years of experience to show how to design costume for stage and screen. All budgets and practicalities are considered, so whether you are a student, or a designer for the stage or screen, this book has advice from one of the best in the business. The entire design process is explained, with drawings and tips throughout starting with how you go about researching and designing, to communicating with the audience, designing on paper and with Photoshop or on an iPad, and how best to share your ideas. All the different strands of costume design from period costume through to contemporary clothes are covered with authenticity and feasibility in mind, so that the final costume is the perfect fit for the actor’s role.” – amazon.com

Syndetics book coverFashion designers : the collection of the Museum at FIT / text by Valerie Steele ; foreword by Suzy Menkes ; with contributions by Fred Dennis… [et al.] ; and illustrations by Robert Nippoldt.
“From Azzedine Alaïa, Cristóbal Balenciaga, and Coco Chanel, to Alexander McQueen, Yves Saint Laurent, and Vivienne Westwood, a century’s worth of fashion greats from the permanent collection of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology are celebrated in this limited-edition volume. Photographs of over 500 garments selected from the Museum’s permanent collection illuminate each of the featured designers, while texts by the curators explain why each designer is important in fashion history and what is special about the individual pieces featured.” – adapted from amazon.com

New Popular non-fiction books for September

Some fairly serious topics in our non-fiction picks for September. A warning about AI to us all in Our final invention, the interesting story of spy Morten Storm in Agent Storm, and some light relief in Rock breaks scissors.

Syndetics book coverGospel of freedom : Martin Luther King, Jr.’s letter from Birmingham Jail and the struggle that changed a nation / Jonathan Rieder.
“In this study of King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Barnard College sociologist Rieder (The Word of the Lord Is Upon Me: The Righteous Performance of Martin Luther King, Jr.) places the Civil Rights leader’s important work in its historical and literary context. Rieder devotes a full 40 pages to setting the tumultuous scene in 1963. The meat of the book, however, is Rieder’s detailed analysis of the letter itself. Rieder meticulously identifies both subtle and overt shifts in King’s tone and intent, ranging from diplomacy to anger; by the second half of the letter, King “[is] mainly finished with explaining himself to his white critics. He is now ready to reprimand them.”” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe end of progress : how modern economics has failed us / Graeme P. Maxton.
“We live in an Age of Endarkenment. Our economic, social and political systems have failed us. Modern economics has not done what it promised. It has widened the gap between rich and poor. It has not allocated the world’s resources fairly. It has brought the West to the brink of financial ruin. It has valued short-term gain more than long-term progress. It has made us focus on the individual, not society. The social consequences are easy to see. Much of the world is laden with debt. Our planet is being scraped clean of the resources needed by future generations. Science and technology are exploited for profit, not social advancement. The cult of celebrity, rise in global greed and belief that information is knowledge are limiting our imaginations. …Without a rethink, we face many unwelcome changes. …We need to examine our values. We need to work out what humankind really wants. If it is not just about money and Twitter and Oprah, what is it? In this thought-provoking, lively and entertaining book, Graeme Maxton looks at what brought us to this state and what we can do about it.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe rise and fall of Australia : how a great nation lost its way / Nick Bryant.
“In The Rise and Fall of Australia, BBC correspondent and author Nick Bryant offers an outsider’s take on the great paradox of modern-day Australian life: of how the country has got richer at a time when its politics have become more impoverished. In this thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking book, dealing with politics, racism, sexism, the country’s place in the region and the world, culture and sport, the author argues that Australia needs to discard the out-dated language used to describe itself, to push back against Lucky Country thinking, to celebrate how the cultural creep has replaced the cultural cringe and to stop negatively typecasting itself. Rejecting most of the national stereotypes, Nick Bryant sets out to describe the new Australia rather than the mythic country so often misunderstood not just by foreigners but Australians themselves.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe deepest human life : an introduction to philosophy for everyone / Scott Samuelson.
“Iowa City-based Samuelson (philosophy, Kirkwood Community Coll.) sets out to prove that philosophy is not only for academics who specialize in the discipline but instead is approachable to anyone looking for answers to life’s difficult questions. He asserts that “this book is about the journey of philosophy itself, an intensely personal journey that has become the journey of human civilization.” Samuelson uses the stories of nontraditional students he taught at Kirkwood Community College along with his own experience to prove his claim that the subject is accessible and useful.”(adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFuture cities / Camilla Ween.
“In Future Cities: All that Matters Camilla Ween will outline the challenges of meeting the anticipated growth of world cities over the next few decades. By 2030 it is predicted that between 80-90% of the world’s population will be living in cities, in several countries this will be 100%; Singapore is already classified as having a 100% urban population. There will be many cities with populations of over 20 million. The infrastructure required to support these cities will be a massive challenge for city planners and governments… Tackling the challenges will be further complicated by pressure to develop solutions that are sustainable and include climate change mitigation measures.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRock breaks scissors : a practical guide to outguessing and outwitting almost everybody / William Poundstone.
” …a smart, engagingly written account of how to capitalize on other peoples’ predictability (while at the same time, if we’re paying attention, minimize our own predictability). With the smooth readability of John Allen Paulos, whose Innumeracy (1988) has some thematic similarities, Poundstone explores how our tendencies toward uniformity and simplicity, even when we think we’re being random and complex, leave us open to exploitation by people who know more than we do, like the fact that, when asked to pick one object out of five lined up in a row, most people will pick the second or fourth, or that, in the game rock/paper/scissors, most men choose rock, and scissors is the least popular choice by both genders…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAgent Storm : my life inside al-Qaeda / Morten Storm with Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister.
“Morten Storm was an unlikely Jihadist. A 6’1′ red-haired Dane, Storm spent his teens with a biker gang or in jail. But after converting to Islam he embarked on a transformation that led from a militant madrassa in Yemen to a close friendship with Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric who would emerge as al-Qaeda’s greatest threat to the West. Then Storm’s story took another dramatic twist. He lost his faith and was recruited by the CIA, MI6 and MI5, becoming a double agent. His ultimate mission: to bring down his mentor al-Awlaki. This is the searing memoir of a man who sought purpose in a community of believers before rejecting their extremist ideology. In a quest for atonement he lived undercover for five years, travelling the world to complete high profile missions…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOur final invention : artificial intelligence and the end of the human era / James Barrat.
“…documentary filmmaker Barrat synthesizes a complex array of theories and models of artificial intelligence (AI) into an engaging and very timely text. Topics range from Alan Turing’s 1950 development of a human-level intelligence test for machines to contemporary applications developed by “stealth” arms of corporations such as Apple, which developed Siri… Barrat interviewed a large number of computational experts to support his argument against the commonly held “wait-and-see approach” toward AI. He adroitly counters that in actuality, there are no economic or technical hurdles that curtail the progression from narrow (or weak) AI, to artificial general intelligence (self-aware), to artificial super intelligence (self-improving). …Barrat argues for more awareness of AI research by government, organizations, and the general public. His thesis essentially is that in regard to awareness of artificial intelligence, ignorance is not bliss.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe power of knowledge : how information and technology made the modern world / Jeremy Black.
“Examining issues as disparate as the Mongol Empire and the Large Hadron Collider, Black (Univ. of Exeter, UK) has made an ambitious effort to analyze the role of information in ushering in and shaping the modern age over the past several centuries. Tracing key developments in the creation, understanding, and dissemination of information–and, crucially, its relationship to power–Black argues that the West’s divergence in information and power from much of the rest of the world, which helped to effect its rise as global hegemon, occurred relatively late (closer to the 19th century than the 15th), was far from inevitable, and is already being challenged…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe punisher’s brain : the evolution of judge and jury / Morris B. Hoffman.
“Hoffman (law, Univ. of Colorado, Univ. of Denver), a trial judge for the Second Judicial District of the Colorado state court system, has stellar credentials for positing theories about the law, but, perhaps surprisingly, he also invokes science to explore the nature of punishment and its relation to the legal system. This fascinating book transcends categorization. Melding neuroscience, biology, primatology, anthropology, evolutionary psychology, philosophy, history, and, of course, law, Hoffman promulgates a treatise on the evolution of punishment, arguing that it has evolved along with us. Indeed, our notions of punishment and judgment are hardwired in our brains, subject to shifting evolutionary trends…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

WIN a copy of J by Howard Jacobson!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe have TWO copies of the new Man-Booker-longlisted novel J by Howard Jacobson to give away! To be in to win, just answer the following question correctly:

In what year did Howard Jacobson win the Man Booker prize for his novel The Finkler Question?

To enter, email your answer along with your library card number to enquiries@wcl.govt.nz . Please also include your preferred library branch to pick up your prize from, if you should win!

You must be a Wellington City Libraries member to enter the competition. Winners will be drawn at 5pm on September 19th, 2014.

In the meantime, you can check out Howard Jacobson’s back catalogue in the WCL collection here.

J: Set in the future, a world where the past is a dangerous country, not to be talked about or visited, J is a love story of incomparable strangeness, both tender and terrifying. Two people fall in love, not yet knowing where they have come from or where they are going. Kevern doesn’t know why his father always drew two fingers across his lips when he said a world starting with a J. It wasn’t then, and isn’t now, the time or place to be asking questions. Ailinn too has grown up in the dark about who she was or where she came from. On their first date Kevern kisses the bruises under her eyes. He doesn’t ask who hurt her. Brutality has grown commonplace. They aren’t sure if they have fallen in love of their own accord, or whether they’ve been pushed into each other’s arms. But who would have pushed them, and why? Hanging over the lives of all the characters in this novel is a momentous catastrophe – a past event shrouded in suspicion, denial and apology, now referred to as What Happened, If It Happened. J is a novel to be talked about in the same breath as Nineteen Eighty Four and Brave New World, thought provoking and life changing. (Syndetics summary)

Thank you to Random House for supplying us with these books!

Māori and the Great World War

Maori Pioneer Battalion aboard ship before their departure

Maori Pioneer Battalion aboard ship before their departure. Ref: 1/2-091150-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22298860

Whilst many Māori were eager to join the war effort overseas, others, especially those from Waikato, Taranaki and Urewera districts were reluctant to be involved.

There were several reasons for this reluctance, one being the wholesale confiscation of large areas of Māori land in Waikato following the land wars of the 1860s, and another falling from the belief that, as followers of Te Whiti and Tohu, Māori should not enter into direct conflict, but continue to uphold a position of passive resistance.

Because of a rule of Imperial Government that “no native race should be used in hostilities between European races”[1], Maori were not immediately sent to war.  But on learning that Indian troops were in France, and African troops were to assist France, Maori, with the help of their MPs were permitted to send 250 men, as a Native Contingent, to Egypt.

This first Native Contingent, (Te Hokowhitu a Tu) left Wellington on 14 February, 1915.

Cowan says “That the young Maori  was no degenerate, softened by the peaceful life, was quickly manifest when the First Contingent went into action at Gallipoli in 1915 … They were as grim and thorough as any Highland regiment in attack work with the bayonet, and they proved themselves equal to the tremendous nerve-test of sustained shellfire, the greatest test of all. They were the only native troops who hung out the whole of the bitter trench work in France in 1916-18.  They were fully the equal of their forefathers in fortitude and endurance as in dash and energy. They were most willing workers.”[2]

Pioneer Battalion making a road, France

Pioneer Battalion making a road, France. Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association :New Zealand official negatives, World War 1914-1918. Ref: 1/2-013793-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22690164

The Maori Contingent reached Gallipoli, via Malta around 2 July, 1915.  They were involved in the Battle of Sari Bair, and Chunuk Bair, August of 1915.

Read, James Cornelius, 1871-1968. No 1 Outpost, Gallipoli, Turkey. Read, J C :Images of the Gallipoli campaign. Ref: 1/4-058067-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23156899

‘Badges of Maori units in the First World War’, URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/badges-of-maori-units, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 15-Jul-2013

On 20 February 1916, the remnants of the Native Contingent, plus Māori reinforcements, Otago Mounted Rifles, Niue Islanders and Rarotongan recruits became known as the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion.
In February 1916, Godley reorganised the New Zealand Expeditionary Force into the New Zealand Division and reunited Māori troops in the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion.

The stories of these soldiers are told in
[Medium bookjacket]Te Hokowhitu a Tu : the Maori Pioneer Battalion in the First World War / Christopher Pugsley

Syndetics book coverMaori in the great war / James Cowan.
“Maori form a significant proportion of the modern New Zealand Army, and Maori officers have achieved the very highest commands, Their unique culture is deeply embedded in its tradition and daily routines; celebrated by Maori (indigenous) and pakeha (non-indigenous) soldiers alike. The exploits of the 28th (Maori) Battalion in WWll – peerless in attack – are well-remembered. Not so well known is the major Maori contribution to the Allied cause in the Great War. Maori were quick to respond in 1914. Over five times as many as the specified contingent of 500 men volunteered, and that number of places was allocated on a tribal basis. As the centennial of the start of WWl approaches, it is timely to revise and republish Cowans 1926 work.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverThe last Maopo : the life and First World War sacrifice of Wiremu Maopo Letters from the First World War by Wiremu Tanai Kaihau Maopo (1886-1929) ; narrative by his great-granddaughter Tania Te Rangingangana Simpson (1965-).

The nzhistory.net.nz website has excellent information:

Here is the story of the native contingent leaving in 1915:

A brief story of the New Zealand Pioneer Battalion is here:

Other information held at Wellington City Libraries:

Syndetics book coverGallipoli : the New Zealand story / Christopher Pugsley.

syndetics-lcOn the fringe of hell/ Christopher Pugsley

Journal articles:

O’Connor, P. S.   The recruitment of Maori soldiers 1914-1918,  in,  Political science ; vol. XIX, no. 2 (1967) pp.48-83

Pugsley, Christopher.   The Maori Battalion in France in the First World War,  in,  The French and the Maori edited by John Dunmore.   Heritage Press, 1992.

The Wellington City Libraries Ratings Project #4

Why does it take so long for things to be released on DVD? Why are some TV shows not released here at all, even though they are available in Australia?

New Zealand has its own ratings system that is different than Australia’s. Films & TV Shows that are rated ‘M’ in Australia can be cross-rated here at the same rating level. However anything that is rated an ‘M+’ in Australia has to be submitted to the Office of Film and Literature Classification for re-classification for the NZ market. Unfortunately since New Zealand’s DVD zone is at the end of the release market for a lot of material and, faced with such a small market, procedural costs then often become prohibitive to warrant general release by a commercial distributor.

We love TV shows at Wellington City Libraries, and we know you do too. Which is why we have initiated ‘The Ratings Project’, an ongoing mission to bring you the shows that you want to watch by submitting titles to the Film & Video Labeling Body, and the OFLC for classification.

With ‘The Ratings Project’ we aim to give you the complete ‘TV’ experience, whether we provide you with full run of your favourite TV shows, or surprise you with something new & different. We hope you find something you enjoy and feel free to send us any feedback and suggestions…

The majority of this month’s titles have not yet screened on NZ Television…

Cover imageWhite collar. The complete third season.
With his high cheekbones and piercing blue eyes, Matt Bomer plays con man Neal Caffrey with a smooth, handsome gloss. White Collar follows Caffrey’s adventures as a sort of indentured servant to the FBI, under the watchful eye of Agent Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). At the end of the previous season, Caffrey found himself in possession of a trove of classical art recovered from a sunken Nazi U-boat. His moral quandary–whether or not to sell the art and run–is the thread woven throughout the season, tying together assorted single-episode high jinks about stolen objects like an Egyptian scarab amulet or a Stradivarius violin, a forged will that turns out to be a treasure map, and speed dating with a possible black widow murderess. Another element recurring over the course of the season: Both Peter and Neal are deviled by figures from their respective pasts–Peter’s former mentor (Beau Bridges) and Neal’s former partner (Ross McCall). Lies, false identities, and shifting allegiances are the bread and butter for White Collar…(Abridged from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageRake. The complete third series.
“The bar has been lowered … again. Criminal barrister, Cleaver Greene, is back, as reckless, brilliant, self destructive, funny and bloody minded as ever – and that’s just his private life. In Series Three, Cleaver languishes in prison, facing the consequences of his crimes and misbehaviours, while he awaits the outcome of his appeal. When the conviction is quashed at last, he discovers his world has grown even more chaotic in his absence. The proliferation of Royal Commissions, inquiries and corruption trials requires so many barristers, even Cleaver can find work. Over the series, Cleaver Greene finds himself inadvertently at the heart of a billion dollar moral, political and criminal dilemma…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageBlue bloods. The third season.
“All 23 episodes from the third season of the US drama following a family of New York cops headed by Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck). As well as the head of the family, Frank is the New York City Police Commissioner, following in the footsteps of his father, Henry (Len Cariou). Frank’s children also share his passion for law and order: Danny (Donnie Wahlberg) is an NYC detective whose enthusiasm for justice often sees him bend the law himself, while Erin (Bridget Moynahan) works in the District Attorney’s office. Frank’s youngest child Jamie (Will Estes) is perhaps his favourite, but when Jamie enters the law and finds himself working on an investigation so secret even his father knows little about it, the celebrated name of the family in New York law and order circles could be threatened…” (Publishers’ description from Fishpond.co.nz)

Cover image
Winners & losers. Season 3.
“In season 3, the girls struggle to come to grips with the life-changing events that have befallen them. Bec must deal with the painful reality of Matt’s death, Frances’s sense of security is deeply affected following a terrifying episode, Jenny is adjusting to a new life in the wake of a bombshell secret shaking the Gross family to the core, and Sophie discovers her feelings for Doug re-emerging after she returns from a traumatic trip to Nairobi…” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageBurn notice. Season seven.
“It all comes down to this—the thrilling final season of one of television’s hottest shows, where everything is finally revealed. Separated from his friends and family, and on the verge of losing it all, Michael Westen goes deep undercover, joining forces with a mysterious woman and infiltrating a sinister terrorist network. With time running out, Michael must do whatever it takes to stay alive and protect his loved ones; but now, he may be forced to go too far. Packed with explosive action and exciting plot twists, Burn Notice Season Seven comes fully equipped with exclusive bonus features available only on DVD…” (Publishers’ description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe adventures of Merlin. Series five.
“The fifth season of The Adventures of Merlin brings this spin on the Arthurian mythos to a richly satisfying conclusion. Previous seasons have sometimes veered toward portentousness or camp, but these 13 episodes hit the right note of gravitas without too much pomp, and the final episode is genuinely moving–with particular kudos to Bradley James as Arthur, whose portrait of an arrogant snob becoming a gracious and just king culminates in this last season. Merlin (Colin Morgan, still gawkily handsome) continues to keep his magic powers hidden while using them to bring Arthur’s vision of Camelot to fruition; Morgana (Katie McGrath, still lusciously imperious) burns more furiously with hatred and lust for revenge after having been imprisoned and tormented; Guinevere (Angel Coulby, striking a nice balance of regal and down-to-earth) is now the queen but undergoes her own dark trials. The fifth season achieves an epic sweep thanks to the dense storylines and the CGI-enhanced landscape, packed with gorgeously designed castles and ominous forests…Fortunately, the writers and directors have taken care to balance these big-picture elements with human details and intimacy…” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageCase histories. Series 2.
“Jackson Brodie (Jason Isaacs – The Patriot; Harry Potter; Awake) returns with his unique brand of detective work in three new episodes of Case Histories set in the historic city of Edinburgh, Scotland. Based on Kate Atkinson’s fourth novel Started Early, Took My Dog, Jackson Brodie delves into more dark tragedies of the past that continue to resonate in the present, as he brings optimism and resolution to the lost and bereaved. In this series, Jackson’s life doesn’t get any simpler. Unable to turn down anyone in distress but also dealing with problems in his own life, Brodie struggles with his assistant playing detective; his complicated relationship with DI Louise Monroe; a surprising new girlfriend; and coping with being a father to a growing young woman. Series 2 also sees the return of Case Histories regulars Amanda Abbington (Open Doors, Being Human), Millie Innes (Single Father) and Zawe Ashton (Misfits)…” (Publishers’ description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe Dresden files. The complete series.
“The Dresden Files is about a wizard named Harry. “Good marketing,” a cynical observer notes in one episode from the Sci-Fi Channel’s one-season wonder based on the books by Jim Butcher. “Couldn’t you come up with something a little more original?” Actually, this series manages to be plenty original despite echoes of The X-Files and the 1970s cult classic The Night Stalker. Paul Blackthorne stars as Harry Dresden, a scruffy Chicago private eye whose gift comes in handy for children menaced by skinwalkers, or for offering Lt. Murphy (Valerie Cruz) of the Chicago police “an unconventional point of view” concerning grisly, bizarre cases involving werewolves, vampires, and other decidedly unfriendly spirits. The Dresden Files is a paranormal noir (para-noir?) that deftly balances genuine scares, hard-boiled moxie, and tongue-in-cheek humor, delivered with panache by “Bob” (Terrance Mann), an ancient English spirit who resides in a skull and gives.Harry supernatural assistance. Harry’s backstory–magician father, wizard mother, treacherous uncle–is revealed over the course of these 12 episodes…But even those who are unfamiliar with Butcher’s books or are not on the Sci-Fi Channel’s wavelength will be charmed…” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageHu$tle. Series five.
“One of the BBC’s most enduring and rightly-popular drama series, it’s to the credit of the writing team of Hustle that they continue to generate so many intriguing set-ups for its team of confidence tricksters to tackle. The core set-up of Hustle is the same as before. There’s a gang of con artists, who continually get tempted by new scams and tricks, and are willing to travel the world to tackle them. Led by the likes of Adrian Lester (who returns after missing series four), Robert Glenister, the wonderful Robert Vaughn and new addition Kelly Adams, the Hustle crew also attract some welcome guest stars this time round. Bill Bailey, Tim McInnerny and Patrick Bergin are among the familiar faces that pop up. The real stars of Hustle, though, are the tightly-plotted scams themselves, and there are some corkers in series five. We get, for instance, some malarkey with an MP, a bullion heist, a spider’s web and the weaker entry, involving a diamond necklace. For the bulk of the series, though, it’s great fun waiting for the rug to be pulled, and the run ends on a terrific high to lead us neatly towards the already-commissioned sixth season. Given the standards that Hustle predominantly maintains for series five, of which all six episodes are on this disc, that’s a very good thing…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Spring Poetry Evening on 1 October

spring Celebrate Spring’s arrival with inspirational poetry read in both Chinese and English on 1 October at the Central Library. Come and listen to poets Madeleine Slavick and Rhondda Greig read and share their thoughts on Spring; Diana Bridge’s fine selection of translations of classical Chinese poetry and her own work; and Luo Hui rounding up with bilingual readings and a few pieces of prose. The much-loved modern poems by Xu Zhimo and Gu Cheng will be juxtaposed with classic poems from the Tang dynasty.

There will also be a chance for you to read your poems, please send them to enquiries@wcl.govt.nz before 24 September.

This Chinese-themed poetry reading is jointly organised by the Confucius Institute at Victoria University of Wellington and Wellington City Libraries.

Wednesday 1 October
Central Library



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