We have recently received new compilations of works from two French greats: Hector Berlioz and Claude Debussy. To accompany these, we found a selection of digitally remastered recordings of the great Maria Callas. We hope you enjoy them!
Les Trois Sonates: The Late Works, Debussy. Various performers.
“A century after his death on 25 March 1918, many Harmonia Mundi artists are eager to pay tribute to Claude Debussy, the magician of melody and timbre, the great ‘colourist’ and father of modern music. In the three chamber sonatas, here combined with the composer’s final pieces for solo piano, we attain the purity, the absolute concision, the distant and mysterious world that give these works a testamentary dimension.” (Cover)
Harold en Italie, Les Nuits d’été, Hector Berlioz. Performed by Les Siècles and François-Xavier Roth.
“A new aesthetic calls for new forms: such is the challenge the composer set for himself in the two works presented here. In Les Nuits d’été Berlioz pioneered, well before Mahler and Ravel, a song cycle for voice and orchestra. In Harold in Italy, scored for large orchestra and solo viola, he experimented with the symphonic genre. These period-instrument performances by Les Siècles, led by François-Xavier Roth, with violist Tabea Zimmermann, also feature Stéphane Degout in the vocal cycle, heard here in the composer’s own version for baritone. File under: out of the ordinary.” (Cover)
The New Sound of Maria Callas.
“Unforgettable arias sung by the most iconic diva of all time – for the first time remastered in high-definition sound from the original tapes, for an unprecedented sound quality that shines new light on the voice of Maria Callas.” (Cover)
Discover how to make the quilting process simple and enjoyable! Visit the world of embroidery and find useful ideas and tips how to make your projects come together!
Garden stitch life : 50 embroidery motifs & projects to grow your inspiration / Aoki, Kazuko
“In Garden Stitch Life, embroidery artist Kazuko Aoki invites you into her enchanting world of garden-themed embroidery. You’ll get a glimpse into her creative process, from sketching and selecting thread colors to stitching tips and techniques, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at her atelier, garden, and other inspiring locales. In addition to dozens of botanical motifs, you’ll also find designs based on the author’s favorite things in life: food, travel, and design. Projects include samplers, collages, patches, bags, table linens, and more!”-(Cover).
Mary Thomas’s dictionary of embroidery stitches : the classic guide / Eaton, Jan
”First published in 1934, this indispensable handbook has long been a well-loved favourite of novice and experienced embroiderers alike. This new, redesigned edition includes the internationally-renowned embroiderer Jan Eaton’s revisions to the original text, and a preface by famed embroiderer Mary Corbet.” – (Publisher’s description).
We had one of those too! / Barnett, Stephen
“We Had One of Those Too! celebrates even more motoring memories from New Zealand’s golden age of motoring. Filled with a beautifully illustrated collection of cars, from the 1950s through to the 1970s, that Kiwis loved and drove during that period, this book is literally a nostalgic drive down memory lane.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Electric motorcycles and bicycles : a history including scooters, tricycles, segways and monocycles / Desmond, Kevin
“Since 1881, isolated prototypes of electric tricycles and bicycles were patented and sometimes tested. Limited editions followed in the wartime 1940s, but it was not until the lithium-ion battery became available in the first decade of this century that urban pedelecs and more powerful open-road motorcycles became possible and increasingly popular. The author covers the lives of the innovative engineers who have developed these e-wheelers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Interplanetary robots : true stories of space exploration / Pyle, Rod
“Exploring the planets has been a goal of America’s space program since the dawn of the space race. This insider’s perspective examines incredible missions of robotic spacecraft to every corner of our solar system and beyond. Award-winning science writer Rod Pyle profiles both the remarkable spacecraft and the amazing scientists and engineers who made them possible.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The Kaikoura job : rebuilding KiwiRail’s main north line / Merrifield, A. L. R.
“The sea-level mountain railway has a long story of dramatic moments and events. The men who completed it in the 1930s and 1940s always referred to it as ‘The Kaikoura Job’. This is the story of the scenic coastal line, from its early beginnings through to the reconstruction efforts following the devastating 2016 earthquake.” (Catalogue)
Insane mode : how Elon Musk’s Tesla sparked an electric revolution to end the age of oil / McKenzie, Hamish
“Tesla is a car company that stood up against not only the might of the government-backed Detroit car manufacturers, but also the massive power of Big Oil and its benefactors, the infamous Koch brothers. The award-winning Tesla Model 3, a premium mass-market electric car that went on sale in 2018, has reconfigured the popular perception of Tesla and continues to transform the public’s relationship with motor vehicles.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Don’t make me pull over! : an informal history of the family road trip / Ratay, Richard
“In the days before cheap air travel, families didn’t so much take vacations as survive them. Between home and destination lay thousands of miles and dozens of annoyances, and with his family Richard Ratay experienced all of them–from being crowded into the backseat with noogie-happy older brothers, to picking out a souvenir only to find that a better one might have been had at the next attraction, to dealing with a dad who didn’t believe in bathroom breaks.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Wally Funk’s race for space : the extraordinary story of a female aviation pioneer / Sue Nelson.
“In 1961, Wally Funk was among the Mercury 13, the first group of American pilots to pass the ‘Women in Space’ programme. Wally sailed through a series of rigorous physical and mental tests, her scores beating many of the male candidates’, including those of John Glenn, the first American in orbit. But just one week before she was due to enter the final phase of training, the programme was abruptly cancelled. A combination of politics and prejudice meant that none of the women ever flew into space.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Driven : the men who made Formula One / Eason, Kevin
“This colourful and compelling account of the extraordinary flourishing of Formula One explores the quirks and extravagances of the men who converged – in one generation – to shape their sport; disparate characters with a common impulse: they were racers – and they were driven.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
December and January saw the addition of all these great DVDs including the 2nd season of the hugely popular The Crown; book adaptations with Crazy Rich Asians, Ladies In Black & On Chesil Beach; as well as an acclaimed documentary, cold case crime, some Sci-Fi adventure & a classic NZ comedy.
“A personal look at the extraordinary life, career, and artistry of Alexander McQueen. Through exclusive interviews with his closest friends and family, recovered archives, exquisite visuals and music, it is an authentic celebration and thrilling portrait of an inspired yet tortured fashion visionary.” (Catalogue)
Ant-Man and the Wasp.
“Set after the events of Captain America: civil war, Ant-Man and the Wasp functions as an origin story. Dr. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, sends Scott Lang on a mission to run down information about Pym’s earliest exploits. Most importantly, Pym wants to know whether his original superhero partner, The Wasp, is still alive. At the same time, Lang, the current Ant-Man, has to make the life balance between being a superhero and a dad work.” (Catalogue)
Unforgotten. Series 2
“When the remnants of a body are found hidden in a river, DCI Cassie Stuart and DI Sunny Khan are faced with an impossible investigation. There are four suspects – they are the pieces of the jigsaw Cassie and Sunny must solve. But the harder they try to put this picture together, the more blurred it becomes. It’s a case that will test their relationship in unexpected ways, and question their assumptions about the most damaged and destructive in society. When a victim becomes a criminal, is punishment the same as justice?” (Catalogue)
The Crown. The complete second season.
“As a new era begins, Queen Elizabeth struggles to navigate her while preserving both the monarchy and her marriage. Beginning with soldiers in Her Majesty’s Armed Forces fighting an illegal war in Egypt, and ending with the downfall of her third Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan after a devastating scandal, the second season bears witness to the end of the age of deference, and ushers in the revolutionary era of the 1960s. This drama follows the political rivalries and romance of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign and the events that shaped the second half of the 20th century.” (Catalogue)
“Four friends’ lives are turned upside down to hilarious ends when their book club tackles the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey. From discovering new romance to rekindling old flames, they inspire each other to make their next chapter the best chapter.” (Catalogue)
Crazy Rich Asians.
“A native New Yorker Rachel Chu accompanies her longtime boyfriend, Nick Young, to his best friend’s wedding in Singapore. Excited about visiting Asia for the first time but nervous about meeting Nick’s family, Rachel is unprepared to learn that Nick has neglected to mention a few key details about his life. It turns out that he is not only the scion of one of the country’s wealthiest families but also one of its most sought-after bachelors.” (Catalogue)
“The young boy, who loved taking adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood with a gang of spirited and lovable stuffed animals, has grown up and lost his way. Now it is up to his childhood friends to venture into that world and help Christopher Robin remember the loving and playful boy who is still inside.” (Catalogue)
Ladies in Black.
“Set in the summer of 1959, when the impact of European migration and the rise of women’s liberation is about to change Australia forever, Lisa, aged sixteen, takes a holiday job at the prestigious Sydney department store, Goodes. There she meets the “ladies in black,” when she is assigned to assist sales ladies Patty and Fay. Beguiled and influenced by Magda, the vivacious manager of the high-fashion boutique Model Gowns, Lisa is awakened to a world of possibilities. As she grows from a bookish schoolgirl into a glamorous and positive young woman, the impact they have on each other will change all their lives.” (Catalogue)
The Breaker Upperers.
“Fifteen years ago, Mel and Jen discovered they were being two-timed by the same man. Bitter and cynical they became fast friends and formed’ The Breaker Upperers’, a small-time business breaking up couples for cash. Now they’re in their late-thirties and business is booming.” (Catalogue)
On Chesil Beach.
“It is summer 1962, when we first encounter Florence and Edward, a young couple in their early twenties, on their wedding day. Now on their honeymoon, they are dining in their room at a stuffy, sedate hotel near Chesil beach in Dorset. From a series of flashbacks, we learn about the differences between them–their attitudes, temperaments and their drastically different backgrounds. Out on the beach on their fateful wedding day, one of them makes a major decision that will utterly change both of their lives forever.” (Catalogue)
Star Trek Discovery. Season one.
“An odyssey that unfolds a decade before the era of Star Trek: The Original Series. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green – The Walking Dead), formerly one of Starfleet’s most respected first officers – and now its first mutineer. A human raised as a Vulcan, Burnham learned early that “all life is born from chaos”. Her defiance of a direct order resulted in an all-out war with the Klingon Empire and she was sentenced to life in prison – until Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs – Harry Potter) recruits her aboard the U.S.S. Discovery. Joining her on this dramatic, epic journey are First Officer Saru (Doug Jones – The Shape of Water), Chief of Security Ash Tyler (Shazad Latif – Penny Dreadful), Chief Engineer Paul Stamets (Anthony Rapp – Rent) and Cadet Sylvia Tilly (Mary Wiseman – Longmire). Together, their powers of logic, science and compassion will meld on their quest for victory, survival and ultimately, peace in the universe.” (Catalogue)
“Red, a lumberjack living in the depths of the woods, has sequestered himself and his doting girlfriend, Mandy, from the world. Though Mandy is a gentle woman who spends most of her time immersed in a book, she finds herself in a life-threatening situation after being kidnapped by an ill-intentioned cult leader. When stripped from her home by a group of malicious cult members, Red sets out to avenge Mandy’s abrupt and inexplicable disappearance.” (Catalogue)
A Simple Favour.
“A mommy vlogger seeks to uncover the truth behind her best friend Emily’s sudden disappearance from their small town.” (Catalogue)
This month’s history picks feature only ONE book about the United States, to make up for last month. We’re going everywhere else, to Chinese and Cuban revolutions in Making China Modern and Cuba Libre!, Viking-era England in Dragon Lords: The History and Legends of Viking England, South Sudan in A Rope From The Sky, and finally we have Afghanistan: A History from 1260 to the Present.
Chicago : From Vision to Metropolis
“Chicago has been called the “most American of cities” and the “great American city.” Not the biggest or the most powerful, nor the richest, prettiest, or best, but the most American. How did it become that? And what does it even mean? At its heart, Chicago is America’s great hub. Chicago magazine editor Whet Moser draws on Chicago’s social, urban, cultural, and often scandalous history to reveal how the city of stinky onions grew into the great American metropolis it is today. An affectionate, beautifully illustrated urban portrait, his book takes us from the very beginnings of Chicago as an idea to the global city it has become.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)
Making China modern : from the Great Qing to Xi Jinping / Klaus Muhlhahn.
“A panoramic survey of China’s rise and resilience through war and rebellion, disease and famine, that rewrites China’s history for a new generation. It is tempting to attribute China’s recent ascendance to changes in political leadership and economic policy. Making China Modern teaches otherwise. Moving beyond the standard framework of Cold War competition and national resurgence, Klaus Mühlhahn situates twenty-first-century China in the nation’s long history of creative adaptation.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)
Cuba libre! : Che, Fidel, and the improbable revolution that changed world history / Tony Perrottet.
“In this wildly entertaining and meticulously researched account, Tony Perrottet unravels the human drama behind history’s most improbable revolution: a scruffy handful of self-taught revolutionaries – many of them kids just out of college, literature majors, art students and young lawyers, and including a number of women – defeated 40,000 professional soldiers to overthrow the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. Cuba Libre is an entertaining look back at a liberation movement that captured the imagination of the world with its spectacular drama – and that set the stage for a build-up of Cold War tension that became a pivotal moment in history.” (Syndetics summary)
Dragon Lords : The History and Legends of Viking England
“Why did the Vikings sail to England? Were they indiscriminate raiders, motivated solely by bloodlust and plunder? One narrative, the stereotypical one, might have it so. But locked away in the buried history of the British Isles are other, far richer and more nuanced, stories; and these hidden tales paint a picture very different from the ferocious pillagers of popular repute. Eleanor Parker here unlocks secrets that point to more complex motivations within the marauding army that in the late ninth century voyaged to the shores of eastern England in its sleek, dragon-prowed longships.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)
Afghanistan : A History from 1260 to the Present
“Located at the intersection of Asia and the Middle East, Afghanistan has been strategically important for thousands of years. Its ancient routes and strategic position between India, Inner Asia, China, Persia, and beyond has meant the region has been subject to frequent invasions, both peaceful and military. In this magisterial illustrated history, Jonathan L. Lee tells the story of how a small tribal confederacy in a politically and culturally significant but volatile region became a modern nation state.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)
Code Name: Lise : the true story of World War II’s most highly decorated woman / Larry Loftis.
“The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing. Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission. It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill. In Code Name: Lise, Larry Loftis paints a portrait of true courage, patriotism, and love – of two incredibly heroic people who endured unimaginable horrors and degradations. ” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)
A Rope from the Sky : The Making and Unmaking of the World’s Newest State
“South Sudan’s historic independence was celebrated around the world–a triumph for global justice and an end to one of the world’s most devastating wars. But the party would not last long; South Sudan’s freedom fighters soon plunged their new nation into chaos, shattering the promise of liberation and exposing the hubris of their foreign backers. Chronicling extraordinary stories of hope, identity, and survival, A Rope from the Sky journeys inside an epic tale of paradise won and then lost.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)
Spitfire: Pilots’ Stories
“The Spitfire was perhaps the most successful fighter design of all time. It remained at the forefront of its genre from the biplane era until well into the jet age, a period including the Second World War, which saw a faster rate of technological advance than in any comparable period in history. Yet the Spitfire was more than just a superb flying machine. During the war it carved a unique place in the psyche of the British people, and many believe it played a major part in saving the nation from defeat during the grim days of 1940.” (Abridged from Syndetics summary)
Affordable interior design : high-end tips for any budget / Helmuth, Betsy
“Homeowners and renters of all means dream of having a beautiful home. The media makes it look so easy, but many of us have less to work with and still long to live in style. Affordable Interior Design makes luxury an affordable reality. In this DIY home decorating handbook, Helmuth reveals insider tips and her tried-and-tested methods for choosing colors, creating a gallery wall, how to use accent tables, entry benches, rugs, and more!” (Catalogue)
Outdoor woodworking : 20 inspiring projects to make from scratch.
“Outdoor Woodworking is an impressive new title containing a collection of projects, all ideal for the garden, patio or deck. There are some projects ideal for those just starting out in woodworking and others that will challenge even the experienced woodworker. All of the projects include clear guidance on how best to approach the construction of each piece…”–Amazon.com.” (adapted from Catalogue)
Brickwork projects for patio & garden : designs, instructions and 16 easy-to-build projects / Bridgewater, Alan
“From the decorative to the practical, Brickwork Projects for Patio & Garden offers a range of projects for all levels of expertise. Sixteen original projects range from a simple garden wall to a beautiful raised herringbone patio. Each project has been photographed step-by-step during construction and the finished piece is shown in its garden setting. Clear construction diagrams and concise text accompany every project.” (Abridged Catalogue)
The pallet book : DIY projects for the home, garden, and homestead / Peterson, Chris
“Author Chris Peterson presents everything the enterprising handyperson needs to know to reclaim and reuse pallets in innovative, useful ways. Just some of the projects included are: A handy vertical planter; Coffee table; Spice rack; Serving tray; Compost bin; Dog house; Bookshelves; Wine bottle rack; Side table; Adirondack chair. In addition to dozens of projects, the book includes a variety of pallet-specific knowledge. You’ll find a guide with the basic skills and tools needed to rework pallets, information on where to find and source pallets, a guide to decoding pallet markings, and important pallet-related safety.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The PVC pipe book : projects for the home, garden, and homestead / Peterson, Chris
“Whether you’re a homeowner, gardener, homesteader, prepper, or just a parent looking for some new toy ideas, the projects in The PVC Pipe Book give you plenty of options. For anyone who needs some insight and a few tips on working with PVC, Peterson covers all the basics, as well as finishing techniques.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Easy garden projects : 200+ simple ideas for your yard, garden & home.
“With its simple tutorials that anyone can do to enhance their space, Easy Garden Projects appeals to a wide swath of gardeners. Whether it’s a homemade faux-stone planter filled with succulents or a potting bench made from reclaimed wood, each design features a finished-project photo and step-by-step instructions to guide you on your gardening path. The look and feel of the book reflects the breezy, rustic, and organic style of the Country Gardens brand.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Building unique and useful kids furniture : 24 great do-it-yourself projects / Carlsen, Spike
“Easy-to-build, affordable, beautiful, durable, fun furniture projects kids will love. You don’t need advanced skills. You don’t need specialized tools. You don’t need expensive materials. All of these projects can be built using basic tools and materials from any home improvement store. Step-by-step instructions and color photos show you exactly what to do–and many projects are labeled “Kid Friendly,” so your child can safely help you build it, developing their skills and confidence.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Kia ora, let’s take a meander through the shelves to see what’s new in the New Zealand Collection this month.
There are numerous water issues being discussed around the country and there is a new book about efforts to save Te Waikoropupū Springs told with poetry and images.
Samoan Queer lives are documented with story and portrait. Memoirs of musician Graeme Jefferies, whose career was spent with bands Nocturnal Projections, This Kind of Punishment and The Cakekitchen as well as being a solo artist, and one from poet and author Jeffrey Paparoa Holman.
A collection of recent plays in ‘The recent art of actually caring and other New Zealand plays‘ talks about how new theatre is capturing the stories of increasingly diverse New Zealanders.
There are new editions to the poetry shelf and of course beautiful scenery in ‘Wanaka: lake, mountain, adventure‘. Our last peek is at ‘Thorny encounters: a history of England v the All Blacks‘ about the first 4o rugby internationals between the All Blacks and England.
Time to pick your favourite new book and sit down to read!
Water protectors : the story of the campaign to save Te Waikoropupū Springs in poetry and images / Moran, Kevin
“The Story of the Campaign To Save Te Waikoropupu Springs in poetry and images. Te Waikoropupu Springs in Golden Bay New Zealand is a national treasure. Crystal clear waters surge to the surface to form a bubbling fount. Over 90,000 people flock to visit each year. Yet Te Waikoropupū is under deadly threat. Nitrate leaching from intensive dairy farms is the culprit. You will read of protests, passionate petitions and about the small Iwi battling to protect Te Waikoropupu through the implementation of a Water Conservation Order.” (Abridged Catalogue)
Samoan queer lives / McMullin, Dan Taulapapa
“Featuring 20 autobiographical stories from fa`afafine and LGBTIQ Samoans based in Samoa, Amerika Samoa, Australia, Aotearoa NZ, Hawai`i and USA. Includes a foreword and introduction by co-editors Yuki Kihara and Dan Taulapapa McMullin. Each story is accompanied by a portrait.” (Catalogue)
Time flowing backwards : a memoir / Jefferies, Graeme
“Time Flowing Backwards is the fascinating and revealing story of Graeme Jefferies–one of the most inventive and influential musicians to emerge from New Zealand’s vibrant independent music scene in the 1980s. This memoir spans over three decades of Jefferies’ career spent with bands Nocturnal Projections, This Kind of Punishment and The Cakekitchen as well as a solo artist.” (Abridged Catalogue)
The intricate art of actually caring, and other New Zealand plays
“Theater in New Zealand began as a tool of the British Empire, imported along with Christianity, seeds, and other commodities as a way of acculturating the indigenous Maori population. In the decades since, it has been turned to different ends, and is now a crucial outlet for the voices of the ever more diverse population of New Zealanders.” (Abridged Catalogue)
Now when it rains : a writer’s memoir / Holman, Jeffrey Paparoa
“Jeffrey Paparoa Holman examines a life lived over 70 years through rapid social changes and personal upheavals, from the 1950s to the 2000s, as he stumbles towards becoming the writer he believed he could be. Growing up on the West Coast in the shadow of his father’s war and later imprisonment, he drops out of university and learns too much about drugs & alcohol while working as a shearer, bin-man and fisherman. Later in life he learns te reo and publishes groundbreaking history and memoir. This is a vital chronicle of our times; a frank and compelling insight into the writer’s mind – and soul.” (Catalogue)
The edge of things / Powell, Anne
“Anne Powell’s poems reach from the soul-baring Waikanae River all the way across the earth to cascades of stars over cold desert sand. At times focusing on the wealth of wisdom nature imparts upon patient observation, at others on the daily realities of those people who live beyond our familiar trajectories, Anne Powell stays grounded in her ability to see the sacred in a world of both stillness and disturbance.” (Catalogue)
One hundred poems and a year / Orr, Bob
“Rucksack Consider this book of mine as if it were a rucksack containing what you might need if you were to step outside your door. There are poems heavily knitted as fishermen’s jerseys in case you should find yourself all at sea. others are like handkerchiefs you can put in your pocket – some of these poems are commonplace as soap – you can stand under the shower with them. Some are casual as jandals – one or two have soles tough as tramping boots. I wrote them while walking down a road with bare feet.” (Catalogue)
A traveller’s history of New Zealand and the South Pacific islands / Chambers, John H.
“A traveller’s history of New Zealand and the South Pacific islands gives the curious tourist not only a modern day portrait of New Zealand and the far flung islands, their political systems and economic diversity, but also looks at the early settling of this massive area which covers about a fifth of the entire surface of the earth. The story of the peopling of the South Pacific Islands and NZ is one of the world’s great epics which the author conveys.” (Abridged Catalogue)
Wanaka : lake, mountain, adventure / Peat, Neville
“Neville Peat describes the scenic splendour of Wanaka and the myriad activities and attractions for visitors in this updated edition of a book that serves as both a guide to one of New Zealand’s tourism hotspots, and as a souvenir.The book covers the history of the Wanaka area and its progress into a contemporary centre renowned for an exciting range of outdoor activities and regular events, including the internationally recognized Warbirds Over Wanaka air show. Further material offers a guide to local walking and cycling tracks, local flora and fauna, and Mt Aspiring National Park.” (Catalogue)
Thorny encounters : a history of England v the All Blacks / Elliott, Matt
“In 1905, Vic Cartwright’s England rugby team lined up against Dave Gallaher’s touring All Blacks at Crystal Palace–the first ever meeting of two national teams. Ensuing matches, in both the amateur and professional eras, have been dramatic and controversial, steeped in the historical rivalry of the traditional home of the game for the nation that has claimed rugby as its own. Thorny Encounters chronicles the first 40 rugby internationals between England and New Zealand, spanning 1905 to 2014. Historic encounters between men in white and black have been dramatic, controversial, and steeped in historical rivalry.” (Abridged Catalogue)
How is writing informed by the place in which we live? Where does the boundary lie between non-fiction and fiction, and how do writers tread that fine line between who they are, and what they write?
If you’re interested at all in the inner life of the writer, come along to Karori library on February the 28th of February between 6 – 7:30 p.m. and listen to three of Wellington finest writers — Sarah Laing, Rajorshi Chakraborti and Leah McFall — discuss their celebrated written works, inspirations and writing process.
Food and drink will be provided, and Marsden Books will be selling books on the night.
Leah McFall is an award-winning columnist for Sunday magazine and published her first collection, Karori Confidential, last year.
Rajorshi Chakraborti is an Indian-born novelist and short story writer whose latest novel, The Man Who Would Not See, takes place largely in Wellington and Karori.
Sarah Laing is a cartoonist, novelist and short story writer. Her most recent book, Mansfield and Me, is a graphic memoir about Karori’s most famous writer.
We look forward to seeing you on the night!
Need more information? Contact Karori library on 476-8413, or email Monty.
Our most popular books for non-fiction is full of diversity. It goes from an analysis on truth and facts on “A Matter of Fact: talking truth in a post-truth world”, passing through the fun and scientific “Breakfast with Einstein: the exotic physics of everyday objects” to the quite interesting “Chromatopia: an illustrated history of colour”.
A matter of fact : talking truth in a post-truth world / Berentson-Shaw, Jess
“…in the time of fake news and post-truth politics, it seems that conspiracy and rumour spread faster than ever and are even harder to debunk. Battling over facts can be exhausting and polarising. For those committed to distinguishing misinformation from good information how do we convincingly explain the difference? Jess Berentson-Shaw tackles these questions head-on. In A Matter of Fact she explores the science of communicating and presents innovative ways to talk effectively (and empathetically) about contentious information…” (adapted from Catalogue)
How to invent everything : a survival guide for the stranded time traveler / North, Ryan
“…This guide contains all the science, engineering, mathematics, art, music, philosophy, facts, and figures required for even the most clueless time traveler to build a civilization from the ground up. Your new world will be one in which humanity matured quickly and efficiently, instead of doing what we did… And, on the off chance you don’t one day find yourself stranded in time, this fascinating guide to the ideas and technologies that made us who we are today will at least allow you to make some really interesting cocktail-party small talk with a complete stranger.” (adapted from Catalogue)
Confessions of a rogue nuclear regulator / Jaczko, Gregory B.
“As former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), physicist Jaczko found the NRC dominated by the industry it was supposed to regulate and spoke out-particularly with the refusal to make the changes that would prevent another catastrophe like Fukushima… Never before has the chairman of the world’s foremost nuclear regulatory agency challenged the nuclear industry to expose how these companies put us at risk. Because if we (and they) don’t act now, there will be another Fukushima. Only this time, it could happen here.” (adapted from Catalogue)
Breakfast with Einstein : the exotic physics of everyday objects / Orzel, Chad
“Just beneath the surface of our ordinary lives, strange phenomena lurk. Exciting physics doesn’t only show up in the Big Bang, or a black hole, or in the guts of giant particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider it ‘s all around us… In Breakfast with Einstein, the ordinary becomes extraordinary, everything is possible and the day’s end will find us dazzled.” (Catalogue)
Bolder : making the most of our longer lives / Honoré, Carl
“…Carl Honoré captured the zeitgeist with his international sensation, In Praise of Slow. In Bolder, he introduces us to another rising movement: a revolution in our approach to ageing….Having travelled the globe to meet the pioneers who are redefining ageing, Carl Honoré explores the cultural, medical and technological trends that will help us make the most of our longer lives. ” (adapted from Catalogue)
Primate change : how the world we made is remaking us / Cregan-Reid, Vybarr
“…PRIMATE CHANGE is a wide-ranging, polemical look at how and why the human body has changed since humankind first got up on two feet. Spanning the entirety of human history – from primate to transhuman – Vybarr Cregan-Reid’s book investigates where we came from, who we are today and how modern technology will change us beyond recognition.” adapted from (Catalogue)
Turned on : science, sex and robots / Devlin, Kate
“The idea of the seductive sex robot is the stuff of myth, legend and science fiction. From the ancient Greeks to twenty-first century movies, robots in human form have captured our imagination, our hopes and our fears. But beyond the fantasies there are real and fundamental questions about our relationship with technology as it moves into the realm of robotics… ” (adapted from Catalogue)
Not all dead white men : classics and misogyny in the digital age / Zuckerberg, Donna
“Some of the most controversial and consequential debates about the legacy of the ancients are raging not in universities but online, where alt-right men’s groups deploy ancient sources to justify misogyny and a return of antifeminist masculinity. Donna Zuckerberg dives deep to take a look at this unexpected reanimation of the Classical tradition…” (adapted from Catalogue)
Democratization and social movements in South Korea : defiant institutionalization / Kim, Sun-Chul
“South Korea provides an intellectual challenge in the fields of social movements and democracy in that intense mobilization and the strong influence of social movements have accompanied steady democratization for more than two decades, despite major theories having predicted otherwise. This book examines how social movements in previously authoritarian contexts evolve after democratic transition, using South Korea as a case study…” (adapted from Catalogue)
Chromatopia : an illustrated history of colour / Coles, David
“This origin story of history’smost vivid color pigmentsis perfect for artists, history buffs, science lovers, and design fanatics. …Spanning from the ancient world to modern leaps in technology, and vibrantly illustrated throughout, this book will add a little chroma to anyone’s understanding of the history of colors.” (adapted from Catalogue)
The mother of all jobs : how to have children and a career and stay sane(ish) / Armstrong, Christine
“…When Christine Armstrong became a mother, it never occurred to her that she would want to give up her job. But the truth is, combining work and small kids is hard, and when Christine tried it, she found herself desolate with misery. Determined to find a way forward, she looked for answers by interviewing other working mums and found that she wasn’t alone. The Mother of All Jobs brings together the wisdom of the women who opened up about everything (and we mean everything) into a manifesto for happy professional families. Ignoring the glossy lives presented on social media, this book shows that, while it’s not always pretty, working parents can thrive if they have the knowledge others learnt the hard way.” (adapted from Catalogue)
Win bigly : persuasion in a world where facts don’t matter / Adams, Scott
“Soon after Donald Trump declared his presidential candidacy, when most experts dismissed him as a joke who’d be gone before Iowa Scott Adams called Trump a master communicator in the same league as Abraham Lincoln and Steve Jobs. As a student of the art and science of persuasion, Adams recognized Trump’s deep toolbox for persuasion. On his popular blog, Adams predicted that Trump could go all the way…” (adapted from Catalogue)
Central Library recently had the unexpected pleasure of a visit from the hugely popular Scottish crime writer, Alex Gray. Alex has published fifteen novels featuring DCI Lorimer, and his psychological profiler Solomon Brightman, and are mainly set on the gritty streets of Glasgow. Alex is also one of the co-founders (with Lin Anderson) of the renown Bloody Scotland festival — Scotland’s biggest crime festival. Alex had been visiting New Zealand for Rotorua Noir: New Zealand’s first crime festival, so we took the golden opportunity to ask Alex about her life and work. This is what she had to say for herself…
Q: Were there any major differences between Rotorua Noir (the New Zealand crime writing festival you’ve just been at) and Bloody Scotland the Scottish crime festival you organize and run?
A: Yes, there were major differences between Rotorua Noir and Bloody Scotland, mainly due to scale. In Stirling, where Bloody Scotland is held, we have the Albert Halls, a theatre holding an audience of around 800 plus the ballroom in The Golden Lion Hotel and a church hall that seats about 100. At most times of the programme three events run concurrently whereas Rotorua Noir had one at a time over two days. One thing the two festivals do have in common, though, is a desire to promote budding writers and on the Friday of each respective weekend masterclasses are held. We normally attract about 55 students for that full day.
Q: Are there any new upcoming crime writers whose works that you were particularly excited about? And why? You mentioned Call Me Evie by J.P. Pomare.
A: I chair an event each year that is billed as ‘Alex Gray’s new blood’ and at this time of year I am reading lots of debut novels. I did attend J.P. Pomare’s debut launch and had that lovely shivery feeling of being in at the start of something that was going to be really special. I intend to read his novel once I return to Scotland so watch this space!
Q: We feel Glasgow exists as a character in your novels. How do you go about creating a place as a character? And are we likely to see any places in New Zealand turning up in this context ?
A: Glasgow as a character really owes much to its people, folk who are blessed with natural good humour, friendliness and energy. Sometimes that energy is channeled into not such good places: our crime stats are nothing to be proud of. Yet it is a city with a warm heart, both cultured and couthy. In some ways it sums up the Scottish psyche; a split personality that has light and dark growing together. I would love to return to NZ but as yet there are no thoughts of using it in a future novel. Never say never, though.
Q: Have you read a lot of New Zealand crime fiction? If so do you feel it is different Scottish crime fiction? Is it that different from Scottish crime fiction? Does it have a distinctive national flavour for example?
A: I haven’t read a lot of contemporary NZ crime fiction. Reading mostly Liam McIlvanney recently. However Ngaio Marsh was one of my favourite crime writers when I was younger. Sorry, no real basis to compare Scottish and NZ crime but have to say our writers are pretty similar in outlook. We are the pussycats of the literary world!
Q: Could you perhaps go way back and tell us about the creative origins of your main protagonists Chief Inspector Lorimer and Solomon Brightman? Where did the roots of their characters originate.
A: How did Lorimer and Solly come to be? Well, Lorimer began as a very tall, rather remote person, very seriously involved in a major case. He was always dedicated and driven but I deliberately wanted to portray him as a normal man, so no hang ups, no chip on the shoulder, alcoholism etc and happily married (as I am). I think he owes a lot to a real life senior detective who helped me a lot in the early days called Ronnie Beattie. A nice, normal guy with exceptional talent and who commanded the respect of his fellow officers. Lorimer grew as a character over the books, unlike Solomon Brightman. I used to hear some writers claim their characters just appeared in a flash and I was derisory about this… till it happened to me! Solly did come fully formed in appearance, character and back story, much to my amazement. Years later I analysed where his name came from and I figured out Solomon the wise, bright man! I love them both dearly but am not above throwing some terrible things at them both. Kind of like real life, eh?
Q: How do you use social media to promote yourself, your work and Bloody Scotland.
A: Social media just Twitter @alexincrimeland and Facebook under my married name, Sandra McGruther. My middle name really is Gray and my late mother wanted me called Alexandra so it is shortened to Sandra for everyday use and Alex when I am being a book person. I do love Alex in crimeland as it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland, another character that plunged down into a rabbit hole full of interesting characters! I don’t have a blog but I do some blogspots to promote books, particularly my US titles. I love it when readers get in touch to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed a particular book: it makes all the hard work of writing so worthwhile.
P.S. promoting Bloody Scotland is mainly by Twitter but I talk about it a lot and have ‘trained’ audiences to say “hurrah!” henever I mention Bloody Scotland out loud. I love them for that!
Q: Who are your favourite authors and why? Crime or otherwise.
A: Favourite authors include Louise Penny, Ann Cleeves, Chris Brookmyre, Alexander McCall Smith. I do enjoy the latter’s sense of humour plus his refreshing take on life. Reading any of Sandy’s books is a tonic. Please spread the word about Louise Penny: begin with Still Life and read the books in chronological order since there is an overarching plot to them. Beautiful writer! Ann’s two series are great but I have to confess to a very soft spot for her Shetland series especially after driving through the island with her! Chris Brookmyre is a genius, simple as that! First of his books that I read, One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night, had me laughing so hard at his black humour that I literally fell off my sunbed onto the grass. That incident made him two other fans: my late Mum and my husband who wanted to know for themselves what made me crease myself with laughter! Incidentally my Mum was nursed in her final days by Chris’s aunt. Small world indeed. Nowadays I am really happy to call these four writers my pals! A privilege indeed.
Q: What did you enjoy most about your visit to New Zealand.
A: Most enjoyable aspect of visiting NZ is the people. What a nice, friendly bunch you are! Highlights include the Powhiri at Rotorua Noir, seeing lots of dolphins in the Bay of Islands, spending time in the nicest B&B’s in Coromandel and Lake Taupo. And, of course, all the wildlife and scenery. I so want to come back!
Q: What did you like best about Wellington Central Library and how do you think public libraries and authors can work best together to build a mutual reading community?
A: Wellington City library is perfectly located right at the Civic Square. I loved the user friendly displays of books, so easy to find titles. And of course it was a joy to find my books. Yippee! Meeting Neil Johnstone was great of course!
All of Alex’s fifteen works are available to borrow from the library. Below is a review of just one of her terrific books.
Thank you Alex.
Still dark / Alex Gray.
“‘Alex Gray brings Glasgow to life in the same way Ian Rankin evokes Edinburgh’ Daily Mail New Year’s Eve should be a time for celebrating. But for Detective Superintendent William Lorimer, this is one night he will never forget… Called to a house after gunshots are reported, the carnage Lorimer finds there leaves him traumatised and questioning his future with Police Scotland. Meanwhile, the body count is rising on Glasgow’s streets. A number of known addicts are dying from accidental overdoses, but something’s not adding up. Where would the city’s poorest residents get hold of high-quality morphine?” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)