Countries to visit, sample, and savour

China, also known as the Middle Kingdom, is one of the largest countries in the world and plays host to 1.3 billion souls – so no wonder Maarten Troost feels Lost on Planet China. Grab his book and share his adventures as he experiences a country where tradition collides with modernity. Also included in this month’s selection of travel books: the wanderings of a travel writer deep in the recesses of ex-USSR countries, a UK cook’s quest to find his roots in India, and a selection of New Zealand’s best pubs. And if you’re keen to revisit locations made famous by acclaimed authors, or if you plan a trip ‘gastronomique’¬†to Melbourne, don’t forget to check out this month’s Travel Recent Picks.

Cooking with condiments, spices and sentiment

“You attract flies with honey, not with vinegar “, and according to Perfect Recipes for Spicing Up Your Love Life, it works for prospective partners too! If you subscribe to the opinion that the way to a lover’s heart is through his/her stomach, you’ll want to read the tips and delicious recipes in this book. Other items in this month’s cooking recent picks include recipes from the Bibendum restaurant – an iconic part of the London restaurant scene for 25 years; and mouth-watering food from Morocco, Italy and Spain. Need an idea for a child’s birthday cake? Confetti Cakes for Kids comes to the rescue with an enchanting collection of cakes, cookies, and cupcakes for kids. And if you’re into seafood and the (currently very popular) occupation of cheese-making, check out this month’s Cooking Recent Picks.

Go mad about knitting!

If knitting is your passion and you need projects to keep you going, then make sure to check out this month’s selection of new craft books at Wellington City Libraries. Single-skein projects are popular at the moment because they’re portable, fun, quick to finish, and the perfect answer to that stash of orphan yarns. If you like to knit on the go with one-skein yarns and designs, then Luxury Yarn One-Skein Wonders is the book for you. Want to find out about the subversive, revolutionary and political aspects of knitting? Check out Betsy Greer’s Knitting for good!: a guide to creating personal, social & political change, stitch by stitch. And if you enjoy a good cup of tea and making things to use about the house, we have a book devoted entirely to tea cosy designs! Knitting makes you yawn? Don’t worry – this month’s selection also features DIY, and paper-crafting Japanese style. All in this month’s Craft Recent Picks.

An Audience with Kerry Ann Lee

What is it that makes the world of Zines so exciting, creative and diverse? It’s the people that make them! We decided to ask some of our favourite zine producers some questions in a new series.

First up we have Kerry Ann Lee, renowned zine maker, distro runner, artist, designer and all round amazing woman…

Describe an average day:

Average days are such a rarity. They tend to start off the same. I get up approximately half an hour after my alarm. I have three different alarm clocks next to my bed and choose which one to set depending on how I best feel like waking up. One sounds like a bull-horn, one sounds like the X-files theme tune and the other one is an androgynous 80’s talking robot voice. I will most likely have coffee and cereal and read something. I will then either go and teach an art class or answer emails and keep abreast of current affairs on the internet. I will have a project I’m working on. This will probably be design work, zine making or making something. I may be writing a letter or putting together a care package I need to post to the other side of the world – that’s if my friends don’t catch me accidentally online on the internet and we start chatting about the weather in Italy, the traffic in Beijing or gigs in New York. My day often involves some form of caffeinated socialising, maybe some curly fries, veggie sushi, or mock deep fried drumstick (and if I’m lucky a game of chinese checkers with Sam). All the while I will be crossing off things on my ever-growing ‘to-do’ list like returning comics, zines and music to the City Library or purchasing everyday household items. Evening times are filled with either lots more work, hang-outs or the occasional smelly punk show. The later also entails late night eats and lots more slang talk til the wee hours.

How did you first get into zines?

Reading DIY NZ comic zines and anarcho punk fanzines like Profane Existence as a surly teenager. My friends started making zines in the mid 90s and I wanted in.

Describe your work:

angular, scratchy, furry, bountiful and green.

What do you like about zines?

The fact that the artist/author is also the maker, that they can be made by anyone, for anyone about anything, anywhere and the materiality of these things made from scratch. I also like that although many zines share common themes or interests, they tend to be very individualistic and often tend to defy category or cliques.

Is there anything you don’t like about zines as a medium?

Cost is always a mitigating factor in production and distribution. Also having been making these things for over 11 years, it is sometimes tiring having to still explain what they are and their value. I find I’m doing less of this now due to having an amazing public zine library and lots of inspired and enthusiastic people involved. ūüôā

How do you get inspiration for a zine?

Hearing crazy stories and bad jokes, reading lots of books and zines, watching old horror movies, meeting interesting people, encountering odd occurances. Wanting to learn more and share things to possibly amuse, educate and irritate others. I used to just hide away and emerge with a zine, but now I find I talk about it enough,involve other people through collaboration, submissions or interviews and then it has to happen.

Tell us about some of your favourite zines:

Radical! Cometbus, Scenery, Punk Planet, Doris, Dharma Punks, Child that Mind, Helter Skelter, Maximum RockNRoll, Thriftscore, Girlyhead, Flying Fox, Bamboo Girl, Keep in Touch, Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People, Hodgepodge, Choice Guy, Ladyfriend, I Hate this Part of Texas, Enobled Mind, Burn Collector, HeartattaCk, Foodgeek, Is Not Magazine, This is Not a Comic, Johnny America, the list goes on…

Draw (or collage or photograph) a picture of yourself:

John Updike, American writer dies

John Updike the celebrated, award winning American author has died of lung cancer aged 76. He was a prolific writer, having 27 novels published along with 14 short story collections, plays and numerous volumes of poetry, essays and criticism. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction twice, the first for Rabbit is Rich in 1981 and the second for Rabbit at Rest ten years later. His most recent novel, published in 2008 was The Widows of Eastwick. This was a sequel to his 1984 novel, The Witches of Eastwick made into a motion picture starring Jack Nicholson. He was on the staff of the New Yorker magazine for many years and later became a highly regarded art crtic and reviewer.

Carbon, whales, gravity and clouds

Our selection of science recent picks is full of interesting finds this month at Wellington City Libraries. The carbon age reviews the origin and history of carbon, an element we are made of but, which, ironically, is considered as a great threat to our world. Other items deal with modern threats (such as global warming)¬†seen through the lens of science, a vision of whales through time and society, and science in medieval Islam. If you are interested in topics such as the laws of the universe, gravity, the impact of humans on the Earth, and clouds and the planet’s climatic regulation – check out this month’s Science Recent Picks.

Arranged marriage and New Zealand lives

What would you do if you were a thirty-something single woman and had exhausted all possible ways of finding a life partner? Turn to your family and trust them to find you a match? Well that is exactly what Anita Jain¬† has done and you can read about her experience in Marrying Anita. We have other fascinating¬†biographies featured this month including the life and times of William Cecil – Elizabeth I’s trusted advisor, James Hector (scientist and adventurer who did so much for New Zealand), mirror portraits of Frank Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, a family take on Heath Ledger, and the autobiography of Sir Michael Parkinson.¬† If you are interested in local celebrities, check out the lives of New Zealanders such as Barbara Anderson, Brian Edwards, Suzanne Paul, Ngaio Marsh and Keith Hamish in this month’s Biography Recent Picks.

It’s Oscar time again!

The nominations for this year’s Oscar contenders have just been released. (Full list available here)
Although most of the nominated films are yet to be released on DVD, we do have The Dark Knight featuring Heath Ledger in his Oscar nominated role as the Joker.

While waiting for the current round of nominated films to be released to DVD, why not take advantage of the Libraries’ new 4 for 3 DVD offer and check out some previous Oscar winning films.

2009 : get the answers for the new year

January is the perfect opportunity for putting all those New Year’s resolutions to work for your business in 2009. Our selection of new management books this month can help.

On our list this month… Recommended by Stephen R. Covey, The answer, by John Assaraf and Murray Smith, will help you “grow any business, achieve financial freedom, and live an extraordinary life”. Plus, we have several items on environmental strategy that will help you to build a green, sustainable, successful organisation. Our selection this month also includes titles on improving your time management and entrepreneurial skills. So if customer service and business finance are areas of interest for you, make sure to check out this month’s Management Recent Picks.

The mysteries of the brain

This month our selection of new health books focuses on the mysteries of the brain and the human psyche…

Our first pick this month is by John Watkins – an internationally-known and respected counsellor and educator. In his book Hearing voices he details a wide variety of voice hearing experiences and gives an overview of the theories accounting for how and why this happens. Next on our list we have items dealing with autism spectrum disorders, the quality of life for people with dementia, and a memoir of one woman’s struggle with exercise bulimia. Plus, you’ll also find items about good nutrition, Reiki and meditation, water birth, and holistic medicine. Want to find out more about any of these topics? Make sure to check out this month’s Health Recent Picks.