New eBooks – Poetry and Prose

If you’re anything like us, you’ll be missing the ‘new books’ displays in our libraries, and the feeling of picking up a glossy new title and deciding to take it home. While eBooks don’t provide that amazing new-book-smell, we’re still excited to introduce you to fresh content and help you find your next great read.

These literary picks cover a range of formats: poetry, author biographies, journalism, and even comics. Get amongst, pick something you like, and read it wherever you happen to be today.

Overdrive cover The Literature Book, DK (Audiobook)
Exploring more than 100 of the world’s most important literary works and the literary geniuses that created them, this book is the perfect introduction to the subject of literature and writing. The audiobook also offers a deeper look into the famed fiction of Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, and more, as in-depth literary criticism and interesting authorial biographies give each work of literature a new meaning. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover A Little History of Poetry, John Carey (ebook)
John Carey tells the stories behind the world’s greatest poems, from the oldest surviving one written nearly four thousand years ago to those being written today. Carey looks at poets whose works shape our views of the world, such as Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Whitman, and Yeats. He also looks at more recent poets, like Derek Walcott, and Maya Angelou, who have started to question what makes a poem “great” in the first place. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Recollections of My Non-Existence, Rebecca Solnit (Audiobook)
In 1981, Rebecca Solnit rented a studio apartment in San Francisco. There, she began to come to terms with the epidemic of violence against women around her, and the authority figures that routinely disbelieved her. Place and the growing culture of activism liberated her, as did the magical world of literature and books. Here is an electric account of the pauses and gains of feminism in the past forty years; and an extraordinary portrait of an artist, by a seminal American writer. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Unfinished Business, Vivian Gornick (ebook)
In nine stunning essays, the inimitable Vivian Gornick returns to the books that have shaped her. From a reporter in 1970s New York, to a feminist negotiating love and independence, to a writer in the jubilant sanctity of older age: Gornick’s life is compelling, and in the characters of literature she finds versions of herself through the years, each time she opens the page. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Spinoff Book, Toby Manhire (ebook)
Five years ago, The Spinoff burst onto New Zealand’s media scene with smart, screamingly funny and seriously relevant writing. Since then, it has enraged and inspired, respectably won Website of the Year at the 2019 Voyager Media Awards, and expanded into television, podcasts and now – shockingly – a book. Edited by Toby Manhire, it’s jam-packed with The Spinoff’s best work, along with artwork by Toby Morris, photography, collage, poetry and a clutch of new and exclusive essays. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Monster, She Wrote, Lisa Kröger (ebook)
From Gothic ghost stories to psychological horror to science fiction, women have been primary architects of speculative literature of all sorts. And their own life stories are as intriguing as their fiction. Part biography, part reader’s guide, the engaging write-ups and detailed reading lists will introduce you to more than a hundred authors and over two hundred of their mysterious and spooky novels, novellas, and stories. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Long Story Short, Lisa Brown (ebook)
Long Story Short offers 100 pithy and skewering three-panel literary summaries, from curriculum classics like Don Quixote, Lord of the Flies, and Jane Eyre to modern favorites like Beloved and Atonement. Lisa Brown’s Long Story Short is the perfect way to turn a traipse through what your English teacher called “the canon” into a frolic—or to happily cram for the next occasion that requires you to appear bookish and well-read. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Storyville!, John Dufresne (ebook)
Whether you are daunted by a blinking cursor or frustrated trying to get the people in your head onto the page, writing stories can be intimidating. A do-it-yourself manual for the apprentice fiction writer, Storyville! demystifies that process; its bold graphics take you inside the writer’s comfortingly chaotic mind and show you how stories are made. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong (ebook)
Steeped in war and cultural upheaval and wielding a fresh new language, Vuong writes about the most profound subjects – love and loss, conflict, grief, memory and desire – and attends to them all with lines that feel newly-minted, graceful in their cadences, passionate and hungry in their tender, close attention. This is an unusual, important book… its blend of humanity and power make it one of the best first collections of poetry to come out of America in years. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

New in Literature

New literature has arrived! Spanning local and international writers, this month we’ve got an abundance of fresh poetry, essays, and short story anthologies. Find out who’s writing what in New Zealand in Fresh Ink, or perhaps delve deep into the intricacies and ambiguities of Shakespeare’s works with This is Shakespeare. 

I’m telling the truth, but I’m lying : essays / Ikpi, Bassey
“Having emigrated from Nigeria to America at age four, Ikpi assimilated uneasily but became a spoken word artist with HBO’s Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam. Strong on the outside but crumbling on the inside, she was eventually hospitalized and diagnosed with Bipolar II. Viscerally raw and honest, the result is an exploration of the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of who we are–and the ways, as honest as we try to be, each of these stories can also be a lie.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Labels and Other Stories, Louis de Bernières (ebook)
Full of wit, warmth and charm, Louis de Bernières’ Labels and Other Stories features tales from throughout his career as a masterful storyteller and transports us around the globe, from the London Underground to Turkish ruins to the banks of the Amazon. In this worldly and entertaining collection of stories, we are equally enchanted by familiar and fantastical occurrences, by de Bernières’ wry sense of humour and powerful imagination. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Coventry : essays / Cusk, Rachel
“Lauded for the precision of her prose and the quality of her insight, Cusk is a writer of uncommon brilliance. Coventry encompasses memoir, cultural criticism, and writing about literature, with pieces on family life, gender, and politics. Named for an essay in Granta, this collection is pure Cusk and essential reading for our age: fearless, unrepentantly erudite, and dazzling to behold.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Fresh ink : a collection of voices from Aotearoa New Zealand, 2019.
“An anthology of short stories, extracts from novels, poetry and artwork, from established and respected New Zealand writers as well as some lively ‘fresh ink’ from previously unpublished literary voices.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Counting backwards : poems, 1975-2017 / Dunmore, Helen
“Winner of the Costa Book of the Year for her final collection, Inside the Wave, Helen Dunmore was as spellbinding storyteller in her poetry and in her prose.  Counting Backwards is a retrospective covering ten collections written over four decades, bringing together all the poems she included in her earlier selection, Out of the Blue (2001), with all those from her three later collections, Glad of These Times (2007), The Malarkey (2012) and Inside the Wave (2017), along with a number of earlier or previously uncollected poems.” (Catalogue)

This is Shakespeare / Smith, Emma
“This electrifying new book thrives on revealing, not resolving, the ambiguities of Shakespeare’s plays and their changing topicality. It introduces an intellectually, theatrically and ethically exciting writer who engages with intersectionality…  The Shakespeare in this book poses awkward questions rather than offering bland answers, always implicating us in working out what it might mean. This is Shakespeare. And he needs your attention.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover joinedupwriting, Roger McGough (ebook)
For fifty years, Roger McGough has delighted readers with poetry that is at once playful and poignant, intimate and universal. In his latest collection, he explores the whole gamut of the human experience, from forgotten friendships and family life, to the trauma of war and contemporary politics, wittily showing us who we are in all our shades of light and dark. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Mouth Full of Blood, Toni Morrison (Audiobook)
Spanning four decades, these essays, speeches are heart-stoppingly introduced by a prayer for the dead of 9/11, a meditation on Martin Luther King and a eulogy for James Baldwin. Morrison’s Nobel lecture, on the power of language, is accompanied by lectures to Amnesty International and the Newspaper Association of America. A Mouth Full of Blood is a powerful, erudite and essential gathering of ideas that speaks to us all. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

A booklist on books about books – recent literature titles

With an influx of new content coming in, we thought this month’s recent literature picks had a recurring theme. They discuss what makes a great story, how to write one, and perhaps most importantly, how to appreciate one. From libraries to publishers, from authors to classic novels, these titles give an insight into how we can write for an audience as well as truly enjoy literacy in our lives.

We’re mostly intrigued by the titles For the Love of Books and Faber & Faber, which give a new insight into the often-overlooked histories of writing and publishing.

Overdrive cover Words Fail Me, Patricia T. O’Conner (ebook)
“Whether you need to improve your skills for work or school, or aspire to the Great American Novel, a grounding in grammar, spelling, and punctuation is essential—not just to make you look like a professional but to communicate effectively in emails, essays, or anything you need to write. With these simple, straightforward tips, you can learn how to sort your thoughts and make sentences that make sense.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Faber & Faber, Toby Faber (ebook)
“Published to celebrate Faber’s 90th anniversary, this is the story of one of the world’s greatest publishing houses – a delight for all readers who are curious about the business of writing. The result is both a vibrant history and a hymn to the role of literature in all our lives.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Plotted, Daniel Harmon (ebook)
“This incredibly wide-ranging collection of maps—all inspired by literary classics—offers readers a new way of looking at their favorite fictional worlds.  Sure to reignite a love for old favorites and spark fresh interest in more recent works as well, Plotted provides a unique new way of appreciating the lands of the human imagination.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Anatomy of Story, John Truby (ebook)
“John Truby is one of the most respected and sought-after story consultants in the film industry. Based on the lessons in his award-winning class, Great Screenwriting, The Anatomy of Story draws on a broad range of philosophy and mythology, offering fresh techniques and insightful anecdotes alongside Truby’s own unique approach for how to build an effective, multifaceted narrative.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Library Book, Susan Orlean (ebook)
“After moving to Los Angeles, Susan Orlean became fascinated by a mysterious local crime that has gone unsolved since it was carried out on the morning of 29 April 1986: who set fire to the Los Angeles Public Library, ultimately destroying more than 400,000 books, and perhaps even more perplexing, why? Orlean uses this… as a lens through which to tell the story of all libraries – their history, their meaning and their uncertain future as they adapt and redefine themselves in a digital world.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The making of Jane Austen / Looser, Devoney
“Just how did Jane Austen become the celebrity author and the inspiration for generations of loyal fans she is today?  The Making of Jane Austen turns to the people, performances, activism, and images that fostered Austen’s early fame, laying the groundwork for the beloved author we think we know. Drawing from unexplored material, Looser examines how echoes of that work reverberate in our explanations of Austen’s literary and cultural power.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Finding true connections : how to learn and write about a family member’s history / Thomas, Gareth St. John
“The Emotional Inheritance division of Exisle Publishing works… to capture the life stories of elderly family members. This approach is intended to help these generations capture their stories so that they can leave a lasting, meaningful legacy. Now, Finding True Connections clearly and simply sets out the steps necessary for you to undertake this process yourself.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

For the love of books : stories of literary lives, banned books, author feuds, extraordinary characters, and more / Tarrant, Graham
“A light-hearted book about books and the people who write them for all lovers of literature. A treasure trove of compelling facts, riveting anecdotes, and extraordinary characters, For the Love of Books is a book about books–and the inside stories about the people who write them. Learn how books evolved, what lies behind some of the greatest tales ever told, and who’s really who in the world of fiction.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Literary memoirs – new stories through essays and poetry

Our latest picks bring together a huge range of authors; some who are new to the game as well as some award-winning writers. Their stories bind together to show what it means to face adversity with resilience. These books, all of which are accessible digitally, bring humour and honesty, as well as an appreciation of what it means to share our stories.

Overdrive cover Common People, Kit de Waal (ebook)
Common People is a collection of essays, poems and memoir written in celebration, not apology: these are narratives rich in barbed humour, reflecting the depth and texture of working-class life, the joy and sorrow, the solidarity and the differences.. Here, Kit de Waal brings together thirty-three established and emerging writers who invite you to experience the world through their eyes(Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover A Burst of Light, Audre Lorde (ebook)
Winner of the 1988 Before Columbus Foundation National Book Award, this path-breaking collection of essays is a clarion call to build communities that nurture our spirit. “This was my first time reading Audre Lorde (finally!) and now I can’t wait to devour everything she ever wrote. This was the kind of book that you end up highlighting so many great quotes, words you want to memorize, apply, breathe. Empowering read.” — Litsy
(Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Places I Stopped on the Way Home, Meg Fee (ebook)
In Places I Stopped on the Way Home, Meg Fee plots a decade of her life in New York City… Weaving together her joys and sorrows, expectations and uncertainties, aspirations and realities, the result is an exhilarating collection of essays about love and friendship, failure and suffering, and above all hope. Join Meg on her heart-wrenching journey, as she cuts the difficult path to finding herself and finding home. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover A Certain Loneliness, Sandra Gail Lambert (ebook)
After contracting polio as a child, Sandra Gail Lambert progressed from braces and crutches to a manual wheelchair to a power wheelchair—but loneliness has remained a constant, from the wild claustrophobia of a child in body casts to just yesterday, trapped at home, gasping from pain. A Certain Loneliness is a meditative and engaging memoir-in-essays that explores the intersection of disability, queerness, and female desire with frankness and humor.  (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Show Them a Good Time, Nicole Flattery (ebook)
An urgent and unforgettable collection of stories, Show Them a Good Time explores types – men and women, their assigned roles and meanings – in modern society. The characters in these magnificently accomplished stories are haunted as much by the future as they are by their pasts. Exuberant, irreverent and loaded with dark humour, Show Them a Good Time marks the arrival of a strikingly original new Irish voice in fiction. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Science of Storytelling, Will Storr (ebook)
Stories mould who we are, from our character to our cultural identity. In this scalpel-sharp, thought-provoking book, Will Storr demonstrates how master storytellers manipulate and compel us… Applying dazzling psychological research and cutting-edge neuroscience to the foundations of our myths and archetypes, he shows how we can use these tools to tell better stories – and make sense of our chaotic modern world. (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About, Michele Filgate (ebook)
Fifteen brilliant writers explore what we don’t talk to our mothers about, and how it affects us, for better or for worse. While some of the writers in this book are estranged from their mothers, others are extremely close. André Aciman writes about what it was like to have a deaf mother. Melissa Febos uses mythology as a lens to look at her close-knit relationship with her psychotherapist mother. And Julianna Baggott talks about having a mom who tells her everything. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover White, Bret Easton Ellis (ebook)
Bret Easton Ellis has wrestled with the double-edged sword of fame and notoriety for more than thirty years now, since Less Than Zero catapulted him into the limelight in 1985, earning him devoted fans and, perhaps, even fiercer enemies. He encounters various positions and voices controversial opinions, more often than not fighting the status quo. (Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Fifty Things That Aren’t My Fault, Cathy Guisewite (ebook)
From the creator of the iconic “Cathy” comic strip comes her first collection of funny, wise, poignant, and incredibly honest essays about being a woman in what she lovingly calls “the panini generation.” Now Guisewite returns with her signature wit and warmth with this debut essay collection about another time of big transition, when everything starts changing and disappearing without permission: aging parents, aging children, aging self stuck in the middle. (Overdrive description)

Expressing and finding ourselves through storytelling: latest literature titles

Our newest non-fiction literature titles celebrate storytelling and humanity.
These books pull together writing and identity, entwining them in a way that makes for a pleasurable read but will also leave you thinking about what it means to live and be yourself. Check out essay compilations, an insightful read by Alex Johnson on the influence of books, and a recent addition to our RBdigital magazine catalogue, Popshot (which, incidentally, also had its latest issue centered around identity – we are taking this as a sign that we are doing something right here).


Notes to self : essays / Pine, Emilie
“In this vivid and powerful collection of essays, Emilie Pine boldly confronts the past to better understand herself, her relationships and her role in society. Courageous, humane and uncompromising, devastatingly poignant and yet never self-pitying, these pieces investigate and challenge society’s assumptions around pain, strength, resilience and identity, ultimately embracing joy and hope in the business of living.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bookends : collected intros and outros / Chabon, Michael
“In Bookends, Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon offers a compilation of pieces about literature-age-old classics as well as his own-that presents a unique look into his literary origins and influences, the books that shaped his taste and formed his ideas about writing and reading. Ultimately, this thought-provoking compendium is a series of love letters and thank-you notes, unified by the simple theme of the shared pleasure of discovery ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Human relations and other difficulties / Wilmers, Mary-Kay
“Mary-Kay Wilmers has been a giant of the English literary world for decades. She was integral in the founding of LRB in 1979 during the year-long lock-out at The Times and has served as its editor in chief since 1992. This collection of Mary-Kay Wilmers’ essays, book reviews, short articles and obituaries handles subjects from mistresses to marketing, and seduction to psychoanalysts, all with Wilmers’ trademark insightful wit.  This creates a portrait of a particular slice of English culture in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.” (Catalogue)

The coolest monsters / Baxter, Megan
“Grounded in personal experience these essays ask through narrative what it means to be a rebel girl, a rebel teenager, and a rebel woman in a world that seems to offer no real alternative to traditional roles. The essays travel with the narrator from a summer camp in Maine, to opal mining in Nevada, to the story of a deadly thunderstorm in Vermont, to hunting for ginseng, asking the questions about belonging, expectation and, ultimately, if there is a chance for real happiness.” (Catalogue)

So here I am : speeches by great women to empower and inspire / Russell, Anna
So here I am is a celebration of empowering speeches by women throughout history and today. ‘History has many themes, one of them is that women should be quiet’; for too long, the female voice has not been part of the public sphere, perhaps with rare exceptions. Dip into this curated selection of women’s voices who need to be heard, now. This shot of inspiration serves as a reminder that despite all adversity, nevertheless, she persisted.” (Catalogue)

Shelf life : writers on books and reading / Johnson, Alex
“‘Books; reading, collecting and the physical housing of them has brought the book-lover joy – and stress – for centuries. Enjoy serious speculations on the psychological implications of reading from a 19th century philosopher, and less serious ones concerning the predicament of dispensing with unwanted volumes or the danger of letting children (the ‘enemies of books’) near your collection.” (Catalogue)

Salt on your tongue : women and the sea / Runcie, Charlotte
“In Salt On Your Tongue Charlotte explores what the sea means to us, and particularly what it has meant to women through the ages. This book is a walk on the beach with Turner, with Shakespeare, with the Romantic Poets and shanty-singers. In mesmerising prose, Charlotte Runcie explores how the sea has inspired, fascinated and terrified us… Navigating through ancient Greek myths, poetry, shipwrecks and Scottish folktales, Salt On Your Tongue is about how the wild untameable waves can help us understand what it means to be human.” (Catalogue)

Popshot Magazine
Popshot is an illustrated literary magazine that publishes short stories, flash fiction, and poetry from the literary new blood.

 

 

 

 

In the beginning was the book: New literature picks

In this wonderful new world we can read books in many electronic formats – on PCs, eReaders, iPads and smartphones – but we should never forget the comfort and inspiration given by the first hand-held device. Several of this month’s picks celebrate the book.

Syndetics book coverScribbles in the margins : 50 eternal delights of books / Daniel Gray.
“We lead increasingly time-poor lifestyles, bombarded 24/7 by petrifying news bulletins, internet trolls and endless noises. Where has the joy and relaxation gone from our daily lives? Scribbles in the Margins offers a glorious antidote to that relentless modern-day information churn. It is here to remind you that books and bookshops can still sing to your heart.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWoman’s hour : words from wise, witty and wonderful women / foreword by Jenni Murray.
“For the last 70 years, the guests of Woman’s Hour have been entertaining listeners with their compelling combination of wit, warmth, insight, and humor. Woman’s Hour has interviewed many of the biggest female names from entertainment, politics, the arts, and beyond.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRedEdits / Geoff Cochrane.
‘Poets disimprove with age and should die young. Should resemble shooting stars. Should trace short arcs of fizz and fire and then disappear.’ –What I Told Bernie’s Class. In his new collection, Geoff Cochrane defies his own advice to disappear. Instead, he traces wry, darkly glittering lines from odd fragments, encounters, overheard conversations, and moments of absurdity and revelation. RedEdits is the work of one of the most memorable voices in New Zealand poetry.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA secret sisterhood : the literary friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot & Virginia Woolf / Emily Midorikawa & Emma Claire Sweeney ; foreword by Margaret Atwood.
“Male literary friendships are the stuff of legend, from Byron and Shelley to Fitzgerald and Hemingway. But the world’s most celebrated female authors are usually mythologized as solitary eccentrics or isolated geniuses. Friends Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney prove this wrong, thanks to their investigations into a wealth of surprising collaborations.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOn reading / Steve McCurry ; foreword by Paul Theroux.
“A celebration of the timeless act of reading – as seen through the lens of one of the world’s most beloved photographers.Young or old, rich or poor, engaged in the sacred or the secular, people everywhere read. This homage to the beauty and seductiveness of reading brings together a collection of photographs taken by Steve McCurry over his nearly four decades of travel and is introduced by award-winning writer, Paul Theroux.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAt home in the world : women writers and public life, from Austen to the present / Maria DiBattista and Deborah Epstein Nord.
“In this new literary history, Maria DiBattista and Deborah Epstein Nord contend that even the most seemingly traditional works by British, American, and other English-language women writers redefine the domestic sphere in ways that incorporate the concerns of public life, allowing characters and authors alike to forge new, emancipatory narratives.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverRooms of one’s own : 50 places that made literary history / Adrian Mourby.
“Award-winning BBC drama producer Adrian Mourby follows his literary heroes around the world, exploring 50 places where great works of literature first saw the light of day.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMorningstar : growing up with books / Ann Hood.
“In her admired works of fiction, including the recent The Book That Matters Most, Ann Hood explores the transformative power of literature. Now, with warmth and honesty, Hood reveals the personal story behind these beloved novels. Growing up in a mill town in Rhode Island, in a household that didn’t foster a love of literature, Hood discovered nonetheless the transformative power of books.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe book of forgotten authors / Christopher Fowler.
“Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes people think you’re dead. So begins Christopher Fowler’s foray into the back catalogues and backstories of 99 authors who, once hugely popular, have all but disappeared from our shelves.” (Syndetics summary)

Vive la France! Literature picks for August

This month the focus is on French authors – Flaubert, Jules Verne, Emile Zola. A little bit late for Bastille Day, but a tribute the great literature of a great country. And in the bicentennial year of Jane Austen’s death we celebrate the reissue of a book on her association with theatre and film by the very readable British writer Paula Byrne.

Syndetics book coverGoethe : life as a work of art / Rüdiger Safranski ; translated by David Dollenmayer.
“Goethe was writing in the midst of a dramatic and bloody time for Europe: the revolutions in France and America overturned the old regimes and introduced new ways of thinking about the world. Set against this backdrop, Goethe’s life and work serve as an essential touchstone for the birth of the modern age. But as Safranski ultimately shows, Goethe’s greatest creation was not only his literary masterpieces but his very life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWinning words : inspiring poems for everyday life / chosen and introduced by William Sieghart ; [with a foreword by Sebastian Faulks].
“Faster, higher, stronger: winning words are those that inspire you on to Olympian goals. From falling in love to overcoming adversity, celebrating a new born or learning to live with dignity: here is a book to inspire and to thrill through life’s most magical moments. From William Shakespeare to Carol Ann Duffy, our most popular and best loved poets and poems are gathered in one essential collection.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe genius of Jane Austen : her love of theatre and why she works in Hollywood / Paula Byrne.
“Perfect for fans of Jane Austen, this updated edition of Paula Byrne’s debut book includes new material that explores the history of Austen stage adaptations, why her books work so well on screen, and what that reveals about one of the world’s most beloved author.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnimals strike curious poses : essays / Elena Passarello.
“Beginning with Yuka, a 39,000 year old mummified woolly mammoth recently found in the Siberian permafrost, each of the 16 essays in Animals Strike Curious Poses investigates a different famous animal named and immortalized by humans. Modeled loosely after a medieval bestiary, these witty, playful, whipsmart essays traverse history, myth, science, and more, bringing each beast vibrantly to life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJules Verne : the definitive biography / William Butcher.
“Highly readable narrative of a writing phenomenon. The world’s most translated best-selling writer.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverInjury time / Clive James.
“Injury Time finds James in a similar mood [as that displayed in Keen] to capture and cherish moments of beauty and love; thinking about how best to live in his remaining days; and casting his mind forward to when he will be gone and how he might be remembered.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverMetaphors be with you : an A-to-Z dictionary of history’s greatest metaphorical quotations / Dr. Mardy Grothe.
“If you’ve ever tried to describe a broken heart, a thankless child, or a glorious triumph, you know how valuable–and compelling–the perfect metaphor can be.”(Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe disappearance of Zola : love, literature and the Dreyfus case / Michael Rosen.
“It is the evening of 18 July 1898 and the world-renowned novelist Zola is on the run. His crime? Taking on the highest powers in the land with his open letter ‘J’accuse’ and losing. Forced to leave Paris, with nothing but the clothes he is standing in and a nightshirt wrapped in newspaper, Zola flees to England with no idea when he will return.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverForever words : the unknown poems / Johnny Cash ; edited and introduced by Paul Muldoon ; forward by John Carter Cash.
“Since his first recordings in 1955, Johnny Cash has been an icon in the music world. In his newly discovered poems and song lyrics, we see the world through his eyes. The poetry reveals his depth of understanding, both of the world around him and within – his frailties and his strengths alike.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFlaubert in the ruins of Paris : the story of a friendship, a novel, and a terrible year / Peter Brooks.
“From the summer of 1870 through the spring of 1871, France suffered a humiliating defeat in its war against Prussia and witnessed bloody class warfare that culminated in the crushing of the Paris Commune. In Flaubert in the Ruins of Paris, Peter Brooks examines why Flaubert thought his recently published novel, Sentimental Education, was prophetic of the upheavals in France during this “terrible year,” and how Flaubert’s life and that of his compatriots were changed forever.” (Syndetics summary)

You might have seen the recent publicity about a newly discovered short story by Katherine Mansfield – the first one she ever had published. It was found by Redmer Yska, who has written about the Wellington of her childhood.

Syndetics book coverA strange beautiful excitement : Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington, 1888-1903 / Redmer Yska.
A Strange Beautiful Excitement is a wild ride through the Wellington of Katherine Mansfield’s childhood. From the grubby, wind-blasted streets of Thorndon to the hushed green valley of Karori, author Redmer Yska, himself raised in Karori, retraces Mansfield’s old ground: the sights, sounds and smells of the rickety colonial capital.” (Syndetics summary)

Poetry and plays – Recent Literature picks

Poetry and plays are the focus of this month’s picks, including the much anticipated Poetry 17, the New Zealand poetry yearbook. A newly-published notebook of a road trip undertaken in the American South by Joan Didion and a novel study of the powerful attraction of Sylvia Plath complement the list.

Syndetics book coverA girl walks into a book : what the Brontës taught me about life, love, and women’s work / Miranda K. Pennington.
“How many times have you heard readers argue about which is better, Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights? The works of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne continue to provoke passionate fandom over a century after their deaths. Brontë enthusiasts, as well as those of us who never made it further than those oft-cited classics, will devour Miranda Pennington’s delightful literary memoir.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA to Z great modern writers / Andy Tuohy ; with text by Caroline Taggart.
“Artist and graphic designer Andy Tuohy turns his hand to the world of modern literature in this new instalment of the A-Z series. Rendered in his distinctive style, this new book features portraits of 52 key modern writers significant for their contribution to literature, with a whole host of names from across the world.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover100 greatest American plays / Thomas S. Hischak.
“In 100 Greatest American Plays, Thomas S. Hischak provides an engaging discussion of the best stage productions to come out of the United States. Each play is discussed in the context of its original presentation as well as its legacy. Arranged alphabetically, the entries for these plays include: plot details, production history, biography of the playwright, literary aspects of the drama, critical reaction to the play and major awards.” (Library catalogue)

Syndetics book coverPoetry New Zealand yearbook. 2017 / edited by Jack Ross.
“Continually in print since 1951, when it was established by leading poet Louis Johnson, this annual collection of new poetry, reviews and essays is the ideal way to catch up with the latest poetry from established and emerging New Zealand poets. Issue #51 features 128 new poems by writers including featured poet Elizabeth Morton, Riemke Ensing, Mohamed Hassan, Michele Leggott, Kiri Piahana-Wong and Elizabeth Smither.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSouth and West : from a notebook / Joan Didion ; foreword by Nathaniel Rich.
“From the best-selling author of the National Book Award-winning The Year of Magical Thinking: two extended excerpts from her never-before-seen notebooks–writings that offer an illuminating glimpse into the mind and process of a legendary writer. Joan Didion has always kept notebooks: of overheard dialogue, observations, interviews, drafts of essays and articles–and here is one such draft that traces a road trip she took in June 1970.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHamlet : Globe to globe : two years, 190,000 miles, 197 countries, one play / Dominic Dromgoole.
“Two years, 190,000 miles, 197 countries, one play. For the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth the Globe Theatre in London undertook an unparalleled journey to share Hamlet with the entire world. The tour was the brainchild of Dominic Dromgoole, artistic director of the Globe, and in Hamlet Globe to Globe , he takes readers along with him on this wildly ambitious expedition.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFalstaff : give me life / Harold Bloom.
“From Harold Bloom, one of the greatest Shakespeare scholars of our time comes “a timely reminder of the power and possibility of words [and] the last love letter to the shaping spirit of Bloom’s imagination” (front page, The New York Times Book Review ) and an intimate, wise, deeply compelling portrait of Falstaff–Shakespeare’s greatest enduring and complex comedic characters.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe haunted reader and Sylvia Plath / Gail Crowther.
The Haunted Reader & Sylvia Plath takes an unusual approach to Sylvia Plath studies focusing on the readers of Sylvia Plath rather than the historical figure herself. Working from the premise that Plath is a highly visible cultural figure, this book explores why her readers become so attached to her. Why does she have such a large and devoted following? What is it about her that attracts people, and once they are drawn in, how does this fandom manifest itself?” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverScorn : the wittiest and wickedest insults in human history / Matthew Parris.
“‘He’s 100% political herpes. Back in six months whatever you do. Or three days, like last time.’ Camilla Long on Nigel Farage. ‘You’re as ugly as a salad.’ Bulgarian insult. ‘I’m going to beat him so bad he’ll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.’ Muhammed Ali. There’s no pleasure like a perfectly-turned put-down (when it’s directed at somebody else, of course) but Matthew Parris’s Scorn is sharply different from the standard collections.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMolly Keane : a life / Sally Phipps.
“Molly Keane (1904 – 96) was an Irish novelist and playwright (born in County Kildare) most famous for Good Behaviour which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Hailed as the Irish Nancy Mitford in her day; as well as writing books she was the leading playwright of the ’30s, her work directed by John Gielgud. Between 1928 and 1956, she wrote eleven novels, and some of her earlier plays, under the pseudonym M.J. Farrell.” (Syndetics summary)

The play’s the thing – Literature picks for March

Well so said Hamlet, and this month’s picks certainly seem to reflect this. We feature two collections of New Zealand plays and the prize -winning playscript on which the Oscar winning film “Fences” was based. Also on offer are books about Alice Munro, Maya Angelou, Jan Morris and Jonathan Swift – a rich harvest indeed.

Syndetics book coverMaya Angelou : adventurous spirit / Linda Wagner-Martin.
“A comprehensive biographical and critical reading of the works of American poet and memoirist Maya Angelou (1928-2014). Linda Wagner-Martin covers all six of Angelou’s autobiographies, as well as her essay and poetry collections, while also exploring Angelou’s life as an African American in the United States, her career as stage and film performer, her thoughtful participation in the Civil Rights actions of the 1960s, and her travels abroad in Egypt, Africa, and Europe.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe map and the clock : a laureate’s choice of the poetry of Britain and Ireland / edited by Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke.
The Map and the Clock is a celebration of the most scintillating poems ever composed on our islands. Curated by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and by Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales, this anthology gathers fourteen centuries of extraordinary verse – beginning with the first writings from the old languages of England and Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and culminating in some of our most recent poets.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverDeaths of the poets / Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts.
“From Chatterton’s Pre-Raphaelite demise to Keats’ death warrant in a smudge of arterial blood; from Dylan Thomas’s eighteen straight whiskies to Sylvia Plath’s desperate suicide in the gas oven of her Primrose Hill kitchen or John Berryman’s leap from a bridge onto the frozen Mississippi, the deaths of poets have often cast a backward shadow on their work.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA double sorrow : Troilus and Criseyde / Lavinia Greenlaw.
“When Chaucer composed Troilus and Criseyde he gave us, some say, his finest poem, and with it one of the most captivating love stories ever written. A Double Sorrow, Lavinia Greenlaw’s new work, takes its title from the opening line of that poem in a fresh telling of this most tortured of love affairs.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAlice Munro : Hateship, friendship, courtship, loveship, marriage ; Runaway ; Dear life / edited by Robert Thacker.
“The awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to the Canadian writer Alice Munro in 2013 confirmed her position as a master of the short story form. This book explores Munro’s work from a full range of critical perspectives, focussing on three of her most popular and important published collections: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage (2001), Runaway (2004), and her final collection Dear Life (2012).” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBats plays / Ken Duncum & Rebecca Rodden.
“Six seminal plays from Ken Duncum and Rebecca Rodden, whose playwriting partnership powered the vibrant theatre scene round Wellington’s BATS Theatre in the 1980s and 90s. These collected plays are boldly inventive, darkly comic and ceaselessly imaginative.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAriel : a literary life of Jan Morris / Derek Johns ; drawings by Jan Morris.
“Jan Morris is one of the great British writers of the post-war era. Soldier, journalist, writer about places (rather than ‘travel writer’), elegist of the British Empire, novelist, she has fashioned a distinctive prose style that is elegant, fastidious, supple, and sometimes gloriously gaudy.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverFences / a play by August Wilson ; introduction by Lloyd Richards.
“Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Tony Award for Best Play. In his work, Mr. Wilson depicted the struggles of black Americans with uncommon lyrical richness, theatrical density and emotional heft, in plays that give vivid voices to people on the frayed margins of life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJonathan Swift : the reluctant rebel / John Stubbs.
“Born in Ireland in 1667, Jonathan Swift defiantly clung to his Englishness. He refused to relinquish this attachment even as corruption and injustice gradually led him to turn against the English government. In a long life, Swift proved a reluctant rebel, though one with a relish for the fight, and implacable when provoked – a voice of withering disenchantment unrivalled and a conscientious Anglican minister.” (Syndetics summary)

Image from Amazon.comStage journeys : 10 short plays from New Zealand / by Paula Crimmens, Tim Hambleton, Richard Prevett, Kerrie Anne Spicer, Rex McGregor, Richard Bull, June Allen, Richard C. Harris, Nataliya Oryshchuk.
Stage Journeys is a collection of 10 award-winning New Zealand plays, each 10 minutes long with no more than 3 onstage characters. This collaboration, written by 9 talented New Zealand playwrights, offers a tantalising selection of genres and styles, suitable for all audiences. Each writer promises to take you on a rollercoaster ride of theatrical delight-from comedy through to drama and beyond.” (Syndetics summary)

Our Katherine was a poet too – Recent Literature picks

Katherine Mansfield is New Zealand’s best known writer, but it’s for her short stories we remember her. It now emerges that she was a significant poet too. Claire Davison has arranged the poems chronologically in a beautiful little book so that we can chart her development, her experimentation with different forms and see the themes which preoccupied her throughout her writing life.
At the other end of the spectrum are two amusing little books, one of limericks written by Michael Palin and the other an imaginary look at what celebrities might carry in their handbags.

Syndetics book coverThe collected poems of Katherine Mansfield / edited by Gerri Kimber & Claire Davison.
“This edition is made up of 217 poems, ordered chronologically, so that the reader can follow Mansfield’s development as a poet and her experiments with different forms, as well as tracing the themes – love and death, the natural world and the seasons, childhood and friendship, music and song – that preoccupied her throughout her writing life.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA sackful of limericks / Michael Palin ; illustrated by Tony Ross.
“If you’ve ever wondered what happened to the young fellow from Malta who bought his grandfather an altar … If you’re concerned about the camper called Jack who found a huge snake in his pack … And if you suspect that an eccentric landowner called Grey spent Christmas a very strange way but aren’t sure precisely what that entailed … Then a dip into Michael Palin’s Sackful of Limericks will provide all the answers – and a lot of fun besides.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWords are my matter : writings about life and books, 2000-2016 with a journal of a writer’s week / Ursula K. Le Guin.
Words Are My Matter collects talks, essays, introductions to beloved books, and book reviews by Ursula K. Le Guin, one of our foremost public literary intellectuals. Words Are My Matter is essential reading. It is a manual for investigating the depth and breadth of contemporary fiction — and, through the lens of deep considerations of contemporary writing, a way of exploring the world we are all living in.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOne thousand things worth knowing / Paul Muldoon.
“Paul Muldoon’s new book, his twelfth collection of poems, is wide-ranging in its subject matter yet is everywhere concerned with watchfulness. Heedful, hard won, head-turning, heartfelt, these poems attempt to bring scrutiny to bear on everything, including scrutiny itself. One Thousand Things Worth Knowing confirms Nick Laird’s assessment, in the New York Review of Books, that Paul Muldoon is ‘the most formally ambitious and technically innovative of modern poets, [who] writes poems like no one else.'” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe man who invented fiction : how Cervantes ushered in the modern world / William Egginton.
“In the early seventeenth century, a crippled, graying, almost toothless veteran of Spain’s wars against the Ottoman Empire published a book. It was the story of a poor nobleman, his brain addled from reading too many books of chivalry, who deludes himself that he is a knight errant and sets off on hilarious adventures. That book, Don Quixote , went on to sell more copies than any other book beside the Bible, making its author, Miguel de Cervantes, the single most-read author in human history.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverCarry this book / Abbi Jacobson.
“With bright, quirky, and colourful line drawings, Jacobson brings to life actual and imagined items found in the pockets and purses, bags and glove compartments of real and fantastical people-whether it’s the contents of Oprah’s favorite purse, Amelia Earhart’s pencil case, or Bernie Madoff’s suitcase. Carry This Book provides a humorous and insightful look into how the things we carry around every day can make up who we are.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLittle grey cells : the quotable Poirot / Agatha Christie ; edited by David Brawn.
“A charming, beautifully designed collection of bite-sized wisdom from Agatha Christie’s beloved detective Hercule Poirot–delightful, witty, and perceptive quotations and bon mots to stimulate every fan’s little grey cells.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverHow to be idle : a loafer’s manifesto / Tom Hodgkinson.
“From the founding editor of The Idler, the celebrated magazine about the freedom and fine art of doing nothing, comes not simply a book, but an antidote to our work-obsessed culture. In How to Be Idle, Tom Hodgkinson presents his learned yet whimsical argument for a new universal standard of living: being happy doing nothing. He covers a whole spectrum of issues affecting the modern idler–sleep, work, pleasure, relationships–while reflecting on the writing of such famous apologists for it.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA woman looking at men looking at women : essays on art, sex, and the mind / Siri Hustvedt.
“As well as being a prize-winning, bestselling novelist, Siri Hustvedt is widely regarded as a leading thinker in the fields of neurology, feminism, art criticism and philosophy. She believes passionately that art and science are too often kept separate and that conversations across disciplines are vital to increasing our knowledge of the human mind and body, how they connect and how we think, feel and see.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverA poet’s Dublin / Eavan Boland ; edited by Paula Meehan and Jody Allen Randolph ; with photographs by Eavan Boland.
“Written over years, the transcendent and moving poems in A Poet’s Dublin seek out shadows and impressions of a powerful, historic city, studying how it forms and alters language, memory, and selfhood.” (Syndetics summary)