Latest Reader’s Choice Fiction selections

The Bight Edge of the World cover

Read something great, intriguing, surprising or satisfying? Want to let other people know about it?

The Readers’ Choice selections are books nominated by people who want to pass on their reading experience to the library community. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material.  You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

Shelter in place / Roberts, Nora
“Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide. It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived. The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “One word, ‘Brilliant’. There is a reason why Nora Roberts is an international bestseller, her books just keep getting better and better.” (no rating, but I guess it would be high!)

Ascendant / Campbell, Jack
“In the three years since former fleet officer Rob Geary and former Marine Mele Darcy led improvised forces to repel attacks on the newly settled world of Glenlyon, tensions have only gotten worse. When one of Glenlyon’s warships is blown apart trying to break the blockade that has isolated the world from the rest of human-colonized space, only the destroyer Saber remains to defend it from another attack. Geary’s decision to take Saber to the nearby star Kosatka to safeguard a diplomatic mission is a risky interpretation of his orders, to say the least.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A good entry in a good series, although you get more out of it if you’ve red the books that come before it. A more thoughtful approach to political issues than is usual for military science fiction.” (4/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tane’s war / Weir, Brendaniel
“One lifetime, two battles. It’s 1953 and Briar is a dreamer living with his father in Pukekohe. His behaviour sees him sent to a training farm to be “turned into a man”. But the plan backfires when his arrival awakens feelings in fellow shearer, Aussie. Tane is the farm foreman and his Maori heritage sets him apart. Briar and Aussie threaten the walls Tane has built around his own secret past; walls created in the trenches of WW1. Tane is confronted with a choice. He cannot change history but maybe he can help change the future.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was excellent. It was very cleverly constructed with different interweaving timeframes and connected characters… It was also a sad eye-opener of cruel homophobia. Luckily views in Aotearoa are more tolerant now… (review abridged)” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The boat runner : a novel / Murphy, Devin
“Epic in scope and featuring a thrilling narrative with precise, elegant language, The Boat Runner tells the little-known story of the young Dutch boys who were thrown into the Nazi campaign, as well as the brave boatmen who risked everything to give Jewish refugees safe passage to land abroad. Through one boy’s harrowing tale of personal redemption, here is a novel about the power of people’s stories and voices to shine light through our darkest days, until only love prevails.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was an excellent read for all mature readers… As an avid reader of books in the War genre I think this novel is among the very best with many unexpected twists and turns.  It certainly is thrilling” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Kompromat / Johnson, Stanley
Kompromat reveals how the devilishly cunning machinations of Russian President Igor Popov succeed in crucially influencing the electoral outcome on both sides of the Atlantic. Plot, counterplot and subplot are deftly woven into an “alternative” account of events which ends as Britain’s new Prime Minister, Mrs Mabel Killick, seeks her own mandate to deal with Brexit-related turbulence.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A different slant on political events made this book very entertaining but at times a bit confusing. It told a reasonably plausible story which while not deep was thought provoking. Bang up to date too!”. (4/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

To the bright edge of the world / Ivey, Eowyn
“Lieutenant Colonel Allen Forrester receives the commission of a lifetime when he is charged to navigate Alaska’s hitherto impassable Wolverine River, with only a small group of men. Forrester leaves behind his young wife, Sophie, newly pregnant with the child he had never expected to have. Adventurous in spirit, Sophie does not relish the prospect of a year in a military barracks while her husband carves a path through the wilderness. What she does not anticipate is that their year apart will demand every ounce of courage and fortitude of her that it does of her husband.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was great.  Brought an era to life with a present day contrast to a colonial era.” (5/5 stars) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

How films can lead you to comics

There’s nothing like a good explore of the library collection, but where to start? Recently a list of recommendations landed in Central’s graphic novel collection featuring movies as a jumping off point into some great graphic stories.

So lets dive in… with the very atmospheric Blade Runner 2049. There are tie-ins with tone, style, setting, the question of android ‘vs’ human, ethics, them ‘vs’ us, detective skills and unexpected empathy.


Chris Robertson and Robert Adler are part of a team that has created a six part sequence Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep: Dust to dust exploring the birth of the android hunters, a part of the Blade Runner universe.

Do androids dream of electric sheep? : dust to dust [1] / Roberson, Chris
“Who hunted androids before Dick Deckard? Taking place immediately after World War Terminus ends, the problems with artificial–androids–become apparent. The government decides they must become targets, hunted down, but who will do the dirty work? Two men are assigned: Malcolm Reed, a “special” human with the power to feel others’ emotions, and Charlie Victor. Meanwhile Samantha Wu, a Stanford biologist, fights to save the last of the living animals.” (Catalogue)

Trifecta : Judge Dredd / Ewing, Al
“Judge Dredd / created by John Wagner & Carlos Ezquerra — The simping detective / created by Simon Spurrier & Frazer Irving — Low life / created by Rob Williams & Henry Flint.” (Catalogue)
Compared to le Carre’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by some reviewers, this is a presentation of Judge Dredd’s world with machinations from clones, corporations and deeds gone wrong. Enjoy!

Pluto : Urasawa X Tezuka. 001 / Urasawa, Naoki
“In a distant future where sentient humanoid robots pass for human, someone or some thing is out to destroy the seven great robots of the world. Europol’s top detective Gesicht is assigned to investigate these mysterious robot serial murders—the only catch is that he himself is one of the seven targets.” (Catalogue)

Tokyo ghost. Volume one, The atomic garden / Remender, Rick
“The Isles of Los Angles 2089–Humanity is addicted to technology. Getting a virtual buzz is the only thing left to live for, and gangsters run it all. And who do these gangsters turn to when they need their rule enforced? Constables Led Dent and Debbie Decay are about to be given a job that will force them out of the familiar squalor of LA and into the last tech-less country on Earth: The Garden Nation of Tokyo.” (Catalogue)

Descender. Book one: Tin stars / Lemire, Jeff
“Young Robot boy TIM-21 and his companions struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet. A rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey, Descender pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling epic. Collecting issues #1-6 of Jeff Lemire (Sweet Tooth, Trillium) and Dustin Nguyen’s (Little Gotham) critically acclaimed, bestselling new science fiction series” (Catalogue)

Fiction to film: #NZIFF 2018

Disobedience book cover

The New Zealand International Film Festival 2018 is nearly here! Tickets are booked, cinemas mapped out and movies selected and re-selected! The festival has such a range of fantastic movies that you wonder where all the ideas come from! Some can be found between the covers of some popular, and some more obscure literary works.  If you really enjoy something at the festival and want to read the inspiration source, some of them can be found here in our libraries.


Disobedience, directed by Sebastián Lelio, based on:
Disobedience / Alderman, Naomi
Disobedience is a novel that illuminates a culture that has existed in Britain for centuries, yet remains almost entirely hidden. Naomi Alderman offers a contemporary take on the search for love, faith and understanding in a world filled with conflicting moral and sexual ideals.” (Catalogue)

Border, directed by Ali Abbasi, based on:
Let the old dreams die / Ajvide Lindqvist, John
This short story collection includes Burning adapted and expanded by Iranian-born Swedish filmmaker Ali Abbasi.
“A classic short story collection from the writer called Sweden’s Stephen King that continues the breathtaking story begun in the internationally acclaimed classic Let the Right One In, also in “Final Processing,” Lindqvist reveals the next chapter in the lives of the characters he created in Handling the Undead.” (Catalogue)

Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders, directed by Joe Berlinger, based on:
In cold blood / Capote, Truman
“Truman Capote’s masterpiece, In Cold Blood, created a sensation when it was first published, serially, in The New Yorker in 1965. The intensively researched, atmospheric narrative of the lives of the Clutter family of Holcomb, Kansas, and of the two men, Richard Eugene Hickock and Perry Edward Smith, who brutally killed them on the night of November 15, 1959, is the seminal work of the “new journalism.” Capote’s account is so detailed that the reader comes to feel almost like a participant in the events.” (Catalogue)

Piercing, directed by Nicolas Pesce, based on:
Piercing / Murakami, Ryū
“The follow up to In the Miso Soup, Piercing confirms Ryu Murakami as the master of the psycho-thriller.” (Catalogue)

Wildlife, directed by Paul Dano, based on:
Wildlife / Ford, Richard
“Ford’s fourth novel is set in the same Western landscape that so distinguished his acclaimed collection Rock Springs, and with it he extends his reputation as one of the most compelling and eloquent storytellers of his generation, providing us with both the pleasures of narrative and the sad wisdom of art. Wildlife is the story of coming out into the world as it resolutely is, never the world we hope it is.” (Catalogue)

Juliet, Naked, directed by Jesse Peretz, based on:
Juliet, naked / Hornby, Nick
“This novel is about the nature of creativity and obsession, and how two lonely people can gradually find each other.” (Catalogue)

Burning, directed by Lee Chang-dong, based on:
The Elephant vanishes / Murakami, Haruki
This collection includes Barn Burning which has been translated into the film Burning by Korean director Lee Chang-dong.
“By turns haunting and hilarious, The Elephant Vanishes is further proof of Murakami’s ability to cross the border between separate realities — and to come back bearing treasure.” (Catalogue)

No Shame, directed by Brendan Donovan, based on:
The lazy boys : a novel / Shuker, R. Carl
The film No Shame by directed by Brendan Donovan is one of the New Zealand’s Best short film finalists of 2018.
“Like a punch in the stomach or a sustained cry, Carl Shuker’s risky and harrowing first person narrative is as visceral as Fight Club and as brutal as A Clockwork Orange. On the surface Richey’s actions are unforgivable, but his unformed and distorted world is immediate and recognizable to a generation brought up in a society indifferent to its own nihilism.” (Catalogue)

Lean on Pete, directed by Andrew Haigh, based on:
Lean on Pete : a novel / Vlautin, Willy
“Fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson wants a home; food on the table; a high school he can attend for more than part of a year; and some structure to his life. But as the son of a single father working at warehouses across the Pacific Northwest, he’s been pretty much on his own for some time. Lean on Pete opens as he and his father arrive in Portland, Oregon and Charley takes a stables job, illegally, at the local race track. It’s there that Charley meets Pete, an old horse who becomes his companion as he’s forced to try to make his own way in the world. A portrait of a journey, Lean on Pete is also the unforgettable story of a friendship and of hope in dark times.” (Adapted from fishpond.co.nz)

Breath, directed by Simon Baker, based on:
Breath / Winton, Tim
“Bruce Pike, or ‘Pikelet’, has lived all his short life in a tiny sawmilling town from where the thundering sea can be heard at night. He longs to be down there on the beach, amidst the pounding waves, but for some reason his parents forbid him. It’s only when he befriends Loonie, the local wild boy, that he finally defies them. Intoxicated by the treacherous power of the sea and by their own youthful endurance, the two boys spurn all limits and rules, and fall into the company of adult mentors whose own addictions to risk take them to places they could never have imagined.” (Catalogue)

We also have to mention a documentary we’re very excited about seeing: Ex Libris: The New York Public Library. “Standing in for libraries everywhere, the magnificent New York Public Library is explored and extolled in the great Frederick Wiseman’s latest ode to the importance of essential institutions in politically tumultuous times.” We can’t wait! In the meantime, you might enjoy this book, featuring NYPL in its pages:

The public library : a photographic essay / Dawson, Robert
“Many of us have vivid recollections of childhood visits to a public library: the unmistakable musty scent, the excitement of checking out a stack of newly discovered books. Over the last eighteen years, photographer Robert Dawson has crisscrossed the country documenting hundreds of these endangered institutions. The Public Library presents a wide selection of Dawson’s photographs from the majestic reading room at the New York Public Library to Allensworth, California’s one-room Tulare County Free Library built by former slaves. Accompanying Dawson’s revealing photographs are essays, letters, and poetry by some of America’s most celebrated writers. A foreword by Bill Moyers and an afterword by Ann Patchett bookend this important survey of a treasured American institution.” (Catalogue)

Short stories at Central are on the move

Bibliomysteries book cover

Short stories at Wellington Central Library are being integrated into the general fiction collection. Authors’ short stories collections have always been a part of the browsing experience amidst the author’s other books on the fiction shelves; the anthologies and compilations are found by their title.

Here are some interesting fiction short story compilations, new and not so new, spanning a variety of subjects, themes, collections, countries and continents.  Closer to home, this year’s Matariki theme Te Ahi Ka – The Home Fires, relates to the title of our first anthology Te Korero Ahi Kā: To speak of the home fires burning. Great for the long winter evenings, these compilations will give readers something new to explore.


Te korero ahi kā : To speak of the home fires burning
Te Korero Ahi Kā: To speak of the home fires burning is an anthology of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, showcasing work from award-winning and emerging members Aotearoa/New Zealand authors, poets, artists of speculative fiction. Here, between the realms of the Sky Father and Earth Mother, hellhounds race, ghosts drift and the taniwha stalks. Home fires drive them back, sparking stories and poems that traverse seconds, eons, and parsecs.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bloody Scotland
“A collection of crime stories set in iconic Scottish structures.” (Catalogue)
Bloody Scotland is Scotland’s international crime writing festival. This year New Zealand writers Fiona Sussman and Paul Cleave distinguished in the Ngaio Marsh awards are taking part.

Cli-fi : Canadian tales of climate change
“With the world facing the greatest global crisis of all time – climate change – personal and political indifference has wrought a series of unfolding complications that are altering our planet, and threatening our very existence. These stories of Climate Fiction (Cli-fi) feature perspectives by culturally diverse Canadian writers of short fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and futurist works, and transcend traditional doomsday stories by inspiring us to overcome the bleak forecasted results of our current indifference.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Best British short stories
Best British Short Stories invites you to judge a book by its cover – or more accurately, by its title. This new series aims to reprint the best short stories published in the previous calendar year by British writers, whether based in the UK or elsewhere.” (Catalogue)

Australian short stories. No 66.
“After 65 issues of Australian Short Stories from 1982-2000 we are back with a sparkling new collection of stories. In this collection we feature Gillian Mears’ last story. We published Gillian’s first story when she was 23 and followed up with examples of her work for 16 years. There are also new stories by old favourites, Kim Scott, Carmel Bird and Barry Dickins plus a series of stories from writers in the early stages of their careers. Open at the first page and savour Australia.” (Catalogue)

Robots vs fairies
“It’s the ultimate death match between the mechanical and the magical! When the lasers cease firing and the fairy dust settles, who will triumph in these epic battles between the artificial and the supernatural? Choose a side…” (Catalogue)

Bibliomysteries : crime in the world of books and bookstores
“An anthology of specially commissioned stories set in literary venues includes contributions by such writers as Loren D. Estleman, Anne Perry, and Laura Lippman.” (Catalogue)

PEN America best debut short stories. 2017
Poets, Essayists and Novelists America promote literature and freedom of expression.  This collection features twelve authors from publications around the Unites States of America.  An interesting mix, with selection discussed by the editors behind their handpicked choices.


Wintery crime: Nordic Noir

The Man Who Died book cover

Exposing the shadowy side of Scandinavian life, these dark tales are gritty and unpredictable. This selection of recent titles from Scandinavia has authors from: Denmark, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.  Some are translated from the original, a couple feature writing partnerships that have created award winning television series, authors who have inspired movies and adaptations of classics in a modern setting.


The scarred woman / Jussi Adler-Olsen (from Denmark)
“The body of an elderly woman is found in a Copenhagen park, and since this book features Detective Carl Morck of Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division, you can bet the case bears resemblance to an unsolved murder dating back a decade. The race is on, and if Morck doesn’t win this one, Department Q will be closed.” (Catalogue)

The silent girl : a Sebastian Bergman thriller /Michael Hjorth (from Sweden)
“An idyllic white, two-storey, beautiful house in Sweden. Inside, a family has been brutally murdered – mother, father and two young children all shot in broad daylight. And the killer has got away. Sebastian Bergman is at a dead end until he discovers a young girl saw it all happen has disappeared.  Bergman has to track the young girl down before it’s too late. But the killer is chasing her too – and he is determined to finish what he started.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The reckoning / Yrsa Sigurdardottir (from Iceland)
“In 2016 the following people are going to die: K, S, BT, JJ, OV and I. Nobody will miss them. Least of all me. I can’t wait. This is the chilling message found in a school’s time capsule, ten years after it was buried. But surely, if a thirteen-year-old wrote it, it can’t be a real threat… Huldar suspects he’s been given the investigation simply to keep him busy and away from real police work. He turns to Freyja to help with the psychology of the child who hid the note. Soon, however, they find themselves at the heart of another shocking case.” (Catalogue)

Three minutes / Anders Roslund  (from Sweden)
Roslund & Hellstrom are a writing team consisting of Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom. Follow the link to discover Roslund’s links to Aotearoa/ New Zealand.
“One-time Swedish government agent Piet Hoffmann is on the run: both from the life prison sentence, and from the Polish mafia. In order to survive, he ends up as bodyguard and hit man for the Colombian mafia, and is approached by the US DEA to infiltrate the same cartel.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The man who died / Antti Tuomainen  (Finland)
“A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, markinng a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Macbeth / Nesbø, Jo (from Norway)
Adapted from the classic as part of the Hogarth Press Shakespeare series.  This grim retelling uses place as well as character to evoke the struggle of flawed individuals under the influence of the headiest of drugs, power. Macbeth is cast as an inspector unexpectedly finding himself in a place foretold by potion brewing sisters. ‘The Lady’ has her own designs on power both have laid out a path of disastrous consequences.

The girl in the woods / Camilla Läckberg  (from Sweden)
Popular author Camilla Lackberg has a series of books based in Fjllbacka as one of her creative pursuits.
“When a four-year-old girl disappears in the woods just outside Fjllbacka, the community is horror-struck. Thirty years ago, a young girl went missing from the exact same spot, and was later discovered, murdered. Detective Patrik Hedstrm starts investigating, with his wife, bestselling crime writer Erica Falck, by his side.” (Catalogue)

The ice swimmer / Kjell Ola Dahl  (from Norway)
“When a dead man is lifted from the freezing waters of Oslo Harbour just before Christmas, Detective Lena Stigersand’s stressful life suddenly becomes even more complicated.  Dark, complex and nail-bitingly tense, The Ice Swimmer is the latest and most unforgettable instalment in the critically acclaimed Oslo Detective series, by the godfather of Nordic Noir.” (Catalogue)

The shadow district / Arnaldur Indriðason (from Iceland)
“A 90-year-old man is found dead in his bed, smothered with his own pillow. On his desk the police find newspaper cuttings about a murder case dating from the Second World War, when a young woman was found strangled behind Reykjavik’s National Theatre. Konrad, a former detective, is bored with retirement, he grew up in “the shadow district” and remembers the crime. Why would someone be interested in that crime now? He starts his own unofficial enquiry.” (Catalogue)

Make it your Māori New Year’s resolution to learn more about Matariki and Puanga!

Wellington City Library starts Māori New Year 2018 with this updated selection of books about Matariki and Puanga. We have also included some useful links that will take you to informative websites and digital resources. As Matariki continues its resurgence, and becomes an increasingly important part of New Zealand’s calendar, make it your Māori New Year’s resolution to learn more about Matariki and Puanga!

Syndetics book coverMatariki : the star of the year / Rangi Matamua.
“In mid-winter, Matariki rises in the pre-dawn sky. Based on research and interviews with Maori experts, this book seeks answers to questions such as What is Matariki? Why did Maori observe Matariki? How did Maori traditionally celebrate Matariki? When and how should Matariki be celebrated?and explores what Matariki was in a traditional sense so it can be understood and celebrated in our modern society.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPuanga, star of the Māori New Year: Ko Puanga-nui-ā-rangi te whetū mātāmua o te tau hou Māori: nānā i ārahi i ā Matariki tana tuahine tō muri iho / by Sam T. Rerekura. B.Ed., Dip. Tchg, Dip. Film & TV, Cert. Tertiary Teaching.
“Most of the tribes of the Maori people in Aotearoa observed Puanga to mark the beginning of the Maori New Year. Through the study of the oral literature we are able to gaze into the past to understand how Maori perceived the star Puanga in ancient times.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Image from FishpondMatariki : the Māori New Year / Libby Hakaraia.
“A general introduction to Matariki looking at: mythology, Maori and western perspectives; around the world – ancient constellation recognised in Greece (Pleiades) and in the Pacific (Matali’i, Mataliki, etc); celebrations; navigation;  planting and harvesting; and Matariki today – ways to celebrate.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCelebrating the southern seasons : rituals for Aotearoa / Juliet Batten.
“In the tenth anniversary edition of this unique work, author Juliet Batten sheds more light on customs, symbols and meanings attached to seasonal changes. She reports on Matariki and other forms of celebration that New Zealanders have inherited, found, devised and adapted. She also suggests readings, myths and stories to enrich our holidays.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNight skies above New Zealand / Vicki Hyde.
“From the Matariki celebrations of the Maori new year to Captain Cook’s search for accurate longitude, people in Aotearoa/New Zealand have always looked to the skies. Night Skies Above New Zealand tells of our astronomical heritage from the early voyagers to the research being undertaken today. The book provides a thorough yet readable introduction to the skies of the southern hemisphere and current astronomical knowledge, from the formation of our solar system to the violent death of giant stars.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Image from FishpondTātai arorangi, Māori astronomy : Work of the gods / Kay Leather and Richard Hall. Kay Leather and Richard Hall explore astronomy through a Maōri lens.  Myth cycles are discussed and star charts are included along with a comprehensive glossary.

Syndetics book coverTe kāhui o Matariki : contemporary Māori art of Matariki / edited by Libby Hakaraia and Colleen Waata Urlich ; photography by Norman Heke.
“This beautifulbook contains contemporary artwork, photography, poetry and short writings including personal experiences of Matariki – the Maori New Year. It also contains an introduction and background to Matariki. The artists include painters, sculptors, photographers, weavers, and carvers.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA concise encyclopedia of Maori myth and legend / Margaret Orbell.
“Based on The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Maori Myth and Legend this is a concise guide to Maori myths and legends, religious beliefs, folklore and history. More than 300 entries, arranged alphabetically, reveal the subtlety and complexity of the traditional Maori view of the world, and a large index provides cross-referencing.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTe taiao: Māori and the natural world.
“In this richly illustrated book, Maori scholars and writers share the traditional knowledge passed down the generations by word of mouth. It provides a unique window on the relationship of the people of this land with their environment, as well as the profound knowledge and necessary skills they needed to survive here.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe seven sisters of the Pleiades : stories from around the world / Munya Andrews.
“The legends of the Seven Sisters of the Pleiades that poets, priests, prophets, shamans, storytellers, artists, singers, and historians have told throughout time are retold in this compilation of the stories that have found their inspiration in nine beautiful stars clustered together in the night sky. Serious astronomical research complements the variety of mythological explanations for the stars’ existence by providing the modern world’s scientific understanding of them.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Te mahi māra hua parakore : a Māori food sovereignty handbook / nā Jessica Hutchings.
“Jessica Hutchings (hua parakore gardener, activist, academic and certified Te Waka Kai Ora grower) explains the political implications of the decisions that we make about growing and eating kai. She encourages us to take control over the food security of our whanau, providing practical advice on how to grow kai in accordance with the kaupapa of hua parakore, inspiring us with stories of hua parakore heroes and reassuring us that becoming a hua parakore gardener is a journey that anyone can embark on.”(Syndetics summary)

Further books to explore:

The illustrated encyclopedia of Maori myth and legend / Margaret Orbell.

The astronomical knowledge of the Māori genuine and empirical : including data concerning their systems of astrogeny, astrolatry, and natural astrology, with notes on certain other natural phenomena / by Elsdon Best.

Māori agriculture : the cultivated food plants of the natives of New Zealand : with some account of native methods of agriculture, its ritual and origin myths / by Elsdon Best.

Matariki : te whetũ o te tau=Aotearoa Pacific New Year.

Useful websites:

Te Ara: The Encylopaedia of New Zealand: Matariki

Ministry for Culture and Heritage: Matariki

Te Papa: Matariki

NASA: The Pleiades

Readers Choice fiction selections

Reviews from library patrons are a great way to find out what people have loved reading from the new additions to the fiction collection. These selections are highlighted with Reader’s Choice stickers so that others can find great reading material.  You can find slips for Reader’s Choice reviews in new books, or ask staff for one if you have a review or recommendation to embellish the library collection.

Here are some recent reviews featuring an interesting mix of subjects and genres: mysteries, historical novels, science fiction, humour, psychological fiction, thrillers and New Zealand environmental activism.

The changeling : a novel / LaValle, Victor D.Book Jacket for: The changeling : a novel
“This captivating retelling of a classic fairy tale imaginatively explores parental obsession, spousal love, and the secrets that make strangers out of the people we love the most. It’s a thrilling and emotionally devastating journey through the gruesome legacies that threaten to devour us and the homely, messy magic that saves us, if we’re lucky.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Excellent. An unusual voice, but marvellous blend of modernity and fairy-tale, with powerful themes and insight.  Very Satisfying.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: Stranded

Stranded / MacLeod, Bracken
“Badly battered by an apocalyptic storm, the crew of the Arctic Promise find themselves in increasingly dire circumstances as they sail blindly into unfamiliar waters and an ominously thickening fog.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was suspenseful, gripping and well researched. Doesn’t lean on the numerous clichés of the horror genre which makes it so engaging.  A great read!” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: Hanna who fell from the skyHanna who fell from the sky / Meades, Christopher
“With lush, evocative prose, award-winning author Christopher Meades takes readers on an emotional journey into a fascinating, unknown world–and, along the way, brilliantly illuminates complexities of faith, identity and how our origins shape who we are.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “What a well written novel, thoroughly enjoyed it, well worth reading. Never read any of Meades novels before would love to read more of his material.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: The last hoursThe last hours / Walters, Minette
“When the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe in Dorseteshire in June 1348, no one knows what manner of sickness it is or how it spreads and kills so quickly.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Well written, engaging, couldn’t put down – read all night. Can’t wait for the sequel this year.” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: EurekaEureka / Quinn, Anthony
“Summer, 1967. As London shimmers in a heat haze and swoons to the sound of Sergeant Pepper, a mystery film – Eureka – is being shot by German wunderkind Reiner Kloss. The screenwriter, Nat Fane, would do anything for a hit but can’t see straight for all the acid he’s dropping.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “Was an enjoyable read, especially in it’s evocation of London in the ‘swinging sixties’.” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐

Book Jacket for: KrusoKruso / Seiler, Lutz
“It is 1989, and a young literature student named Ed, fleeing unspeakable tragedy, travels to the Baltic island of Hiddensee. Long shrouded in myth, the island is a notorious destination for hippies, idealists, and those at odds with the East German state.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was compelling.  Via fantasy and fact Seiler deftly weaves a story about East German idealists, refugees and escapists told through the perspective of a challenged young man” (5/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Eye of the songbird / Munro, Michael
“What happens when a New Zealand team of scientists find one of the world’s largest flawless diamonds on the last piece of sovereign-less land, Antarctica?” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “A highly relevant New Zealand thriller with it’s plot centred on one of the big issues of the day; climate change.  Highly recommended” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The miranda : a novel / Nicholson, G. J.
“The Miranda is at turns a biting satire about the secrets we keep from our neighbors, and about the invisible and unceasing state of war in which most Westerners unconsciously live.” (Catalogue)

Reader’s review: “I thought this book was like a Coen Brothers movie: darkly satirical. The detachment of the protagonist is key to this novel – he was a psychologist turned government agent training operatives to withstand torture. He is not disaffected, quite the reverse, but he is clinical , perceptive and interesting. A good dark read.” (4/5 stars)
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Classic rock songs inspired by books

It’s been a long established way of working in the creative world to look at other artistic spheres for inspiration, and this has very much been the case with musicians and literature. So with that fact in mind, we have compiled 20 songs or albums that have been inspired by novels. And in true music chart style we are going to post them as a double two-part gatefold blog. One with classic stars of rock and pop and one alternative and indie. So, pop pickers, our first cross over top ten is the classic artists!

Syndetics book coverAnimal farm ; 1984 / George Orwell.
David Bowie’s classic Diamond Dogs album was originally supposed to be the soundtrack for a musical based on George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece 1984, but the Orwell estate had different ideas and soon put a stop to that.

Syndetics book coverThe fellowship of the ring : being the first part of the Lord of the Rings / by J.R.R. Tolkien.
Mega-decadent 70s rockers Led Zeppelin had a big interest in the occult and all things relating to J.R.R. Tolkien, with references to The Lord of the Rings in many of their songs. Perhaps the most obvious was ‘Ramble On’ from their 1969 album Led Zeppelin II which was their musical take on The Fellowship of the Ring. Seemingly Robert Plant was later very embarrassed by the lyrics.

Syndetics book coverWuthering heights / Emily Brontë ; with an introduction by Katherine Frank.
‘Wuthering Heights’ was Kate Bush’s debut single, released in 1978. Kate Bush was only 18 when she wrote her career starting smash hit single after watching the last ten minutes of a BBC miniseries of Wuthering Heights.

Syndetics book coverFrankenstein,or The modern Prometheus / Mary Shelley.
Mega smash hit ‘China in Your Hand’ by eighties soft rockers T’Pau was inspired by Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Incidentally, T’Pau took their band name from a Vulcan elder of the same name in the sci-fi series Star Trek.

Syndetics book coverThe master and Margarita / by Mikhail Bulgakov ; translated from the Russian by Mirra Ginsburg.
‘Sympathy for the Devil’ by The Rolling Stones was inspired by Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. Reportedly the book was given to Mick Jagger by Marianne Faithfull, with the song previously called ‘The Devil is My Name’ and ‘Fallen Angels’ in earlier versions.

Syndetics book coverSelected poems / Robert Burns ; edited by Carol McGuirk.
‘One Brown Mouse’ by Jethro Tull was inspired by the poem ‘To A Mouse’ by Robert Burns. ‘One Brown Mouse’ appeared on Blackpool rock band Jethro Tull’s Heavy Horses album.

Syndetics book coverThe hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy : a trilogy in four parts / Douglas Adams.
‘Paranoid Android’, a darkly humorous single from Radiohead’s OK Computer, was inspired by The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The android in question was Marvin, the original paranoid android.

Syndetics book coverThe Wizard of Oz / L. Frank Baum ; illustrated by David McKee.
‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ by Elton John was written by Elton John’s long-term song writer Bernie Taupin. Taupin said The Wizard of Oz was the first film he ever saw, and in the lyrics he wanted to reflect on his need to “get back to his roots”. It is regarded by many as one of Elton John’s finest songs.

Syndetics book coverThe essential Paradise lost / [abridged, compiled and with supplementary content by] John Carey.
‘Red Right Hand’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, from their 1994 album Let Love In, was inspired by Paradise Lost by Milton. The hand in question refers to the vengeful hand of God. The song has subsequently been much covered by the likes of by Iggy Pop, PJ Harvey, Jarvis Cocker, Arctic Monkeys and many others.

Syndetics book coverThe invisible man / by H.G. Wells ; adapted by Rick Geary.
‘The Invisible Man’ from the album The Miracle by Queen, was inspired by The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells, written by drummer Roger Taylor and credited to the band. It has the curious fact of being the only Queen song in which all the members of the band are mentioned by name in the track.

Modern Bodies: The Best of Dance Biographies

No art form better captures the passion and politics of humanity than dance. From the Soviet-American ballet rivalry of the Cold War to the rise of Lindy Hop in 1920s Harlem to the emergence of waacking from the LGBTQI clubs of 1970s LA, dance explores—and occasionally crosses—boundaries of nation, culture, gender and sexuality. New Zealand is no exception, and as part this year’s Dance Week we’ve got Dancing Through the Pages, a series of talks and performances by Wellington-based dancers and artists. And if you can’t wait until then, we’ve also got some great dance biographies, from Vaslav Nijinsky to Michael Jackson and beyond!


Syndetics book coverNijinsky / Lucy Moore.
“The first major biography for forty years tells the tragic story of ballet’s great revolutionary, Nijinsky. ‘He achieves the miraculous,’ the sculptor Auguste Rodin wrote of Vaslav Nijinsky. He embodies all the beauty of classical frescoes and statues. Like so many since, Rodin recognised that in Nijinsky classical ballet had one of the greatest and most original artists of the twentieth century, in any genre.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverModern bodies : dance and American modernism from Martha Graham to Alvin Ailey / Julia L. Foulkes.
“In 1930, dancer and choreographer Martha Graham proclaimed the arrival of “dance as an art of and from America.” Through their art, modern dancers challenged conventional roles and images of gender, sexuality, race, class and regionalism. Modern Bodies exposes the social dynamics that moved modern dance to the edges of society, a place both provocative and perilous.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverJosephine Baker / written by José-Louis Bocquet ; art by Catel Muller ; historical consultant, Jean-Claude Bouillon-Baker.
“Josephine Baker was 19 years old when she found herself in Paris for the first time. Overnight, the young American dancer became the idol of the Roaring Twenties, captivating Picasso, Cocteau, Le Corbusier and Simenon. After World War II, Baker devoted herself to the struggle against racial segregation, battling the humiliations she had for so long suffered. She would sing of love and liberty until the day she died.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverHe’s got rhythm : the life and career of Gene Kelly / Cynthia Brideson & Sara Brideson.
“He sang and danced in the rain, proclaimed New York to be a wonderful town and convinced a group of Parisian children that they had rhythm. One of the most influential and respected entertainers of Hollywood’s golden age, Gene Kelly revolutionized film musicals with his innovative and timeless choreography.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverDarcey Bussell / Darcey Bussell.
“Darcey Bussell is widely considered to be one of the greatest English ballerinas of all time. Her stellar career spanned two decades of magnificent dance where she worked with Dame Margot Fonteyn, observed an aging Nureyev, crossed swords with rival prima ballerina Sylvie Guillem, argued the finer points of technique with Sir Kenneth MacMillan and danced for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverMoonwalk / Michael Jackson.
Moonwalk is the only book about his life that Michael Jackson ever wrote. It chronicles his humble beginnings in the Midwest, his early days with the Jackson 5 and his unprecedented solo success.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverAmerica dancing : from the cakewalk to the moonwalk / Megan Pugh.
“An exuberant history of American dance, told through the lives of virtuoso performers who have defined the art. The history of American dance reflects the nation’s tangled culture. Dancers from wildly different backgrounds learned, imitated and stole from one another. Audiences everywhere embraced the result as deeply American.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

Syndetics book coverRemembering Nureyev : the trail of a comet / Rudi van Dantzig ; translation by Katie de Haan.
“Famously volatile, fickle in his passions for people, but with astonishing charisma onstage and off, Rudolf Nureyev is regarded as one of the greatest male ballet dancers of the twentieth century. This is a book balletomanes cannot miss, with an eagle-eyed sharpness that never dissolves into hagiography or gossip.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary.)

April’s Most Wanted

Want to know what the most popular reads are in Wellington? Then this is the list for you! Fiction, non-fiction, children’s books, you name it. Place your reserves and get in line because these were the top 10 most reserved books this month!

10. Syndetics book coverLullaby / Leïla Slimani ; translated from the French by Sam Taylor
“When Myriam, decides to return to work after having children, she and her husband look for the perfect caretaker for their two young children. They never dreamed they would find Louise: a quiet, polite and devoted woman who sings to their children, cleans the family’s chic apartment, stays late without complaint and is able to host enviable birthday parties.The couple and nanny become more dependent on each other. But as jealousy, resentment and suspicions increase, their  idyllic tableau is shattered.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

9. Syndetics book coverSalt, fat, acid, heat : mastering the elements of good cooking / by Samin Nosrat 
“With charming narrative, illustrated walkthroughs, and a lighthearted approach to kitchen science, Samin demystifies the four elements of good cooking for everyone. Featuring illustrations and infographics that reveal an atlas to the world of flavor, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat will be your compass in the kitchen. Destined to be a classic, it just might be the last cookbook you’ll ever need.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

8. Syndetics book coverPriestdaddy / Patricia Lockwood.Priestdaddy: A Memoir
“Interviewing emblematic moments from her childhood and adolescence, from an ill-fated family trip and an abortion clinic, to her involvement in a cult-like youth group, with scenes that chronicle the eight-month adventure in her parents’ household after a decade of living on their own. She pivots from the raunchy to the sublime, from the comic to the deeply serious, exploring issues of belief, belonging, and personhood.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

7. Syndetics book coverLost connections : uncovering the real causes of depression– and the unexpected solutions / Johann Hari.
“Award-winning journalist Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and was told that his problems were caused by a chemical imbalance in his brain. As an adult, trained in the social sciences, he began to investigate and learned that almost everything we have been told is wrong. His TED talk has been viewed more than 8 million times and revolutionized the global debate. This book will do the same.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

6. Syndetics book coverThe subtle art of not giving a fuck : a counterintuitive approach to living a good life / Mark Manson.
“In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people. For decades, we’ve been told that positive thinking is the key to a happy, rich life. “F**k positivity,” Manson says. He tells it like it is–a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

5. Syndetics book coverEducated : a memoir / Tara Westover
“Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, her quest for knowledge took her, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. An account of the struggle for self-invention, fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing one’s closest ties, she has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers. The perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

4. Syndetics book coverDrawn out : a seriously funny memoir / Tom Scott.
“Tom Scott is a political commentator, cartoonist, satirist, scriptwriter, playwright, raconteur and funny man. He’s been drawing political cartoons for Wellington’s Dominion Post since 1988, was in the Press Gallery and was famously banned by PM Muldoon. His memoir covers his childhood – a tragi-comedy of a poor Irish Catholic family, his uni days when he was editor of the student newspaper and sued for blasphemous libel, his parliamentary career, his work with Ed Hillary and more.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

3. Syndetics book cover12 rules for life : an antidote to chaos / Jordan B. Peterson ; foreword by Norman Doidge ; illustrations by Ethan Van Scriver
“Humorous, surprising and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street. 12 Rules for Life shatters the modern commonplaces of science, faith and human nature, while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its readers.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

2. Syndetics book coverDriving to Treblinka : a long search for a lost father / Diana Wichtel.
“Raised in Canada, her mother a Catholic New Zealander and her father a Polish Jew who miraculously survived the Holocaust. When she’s thirteen, her life changes dramatically as her mother whisks her and her sister and brother away to New Zealand. Their father is to follow but she never sees him again. This unforgettable narrative of her search for answers, is also a deep reflection on the meaning of family, the trauma of loss, and the insistence of memory.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

1. Syndetics book coverThe diary of a bookseller / Shaun Bythell.
“Shaun Bythell owns The Bookshop, Wigtown – Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop. In these wry and hilarious diaries, Shaun provides an inside look at the trials and tribulations of life in the book trade, from struggles with eccentric customers to wrangles with his own staff. He takes us with him on buying trips to old estates and auction houses, recommends books, introduces us to the thrill of the unexpected find, and evokes the rhythms and charms of small-town life, always with a sharp and sympathetic eye.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)