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)

Language is a living thing – November literature picks

We all know that language is evolving all the time. We are concerned about changes to the English language – the French and the Germans are equally concerned about changes to theirs. But it is an irresistible force and we cannot afford to be too purist about it. In fact the inventiveness and ingenuity involved make it rather fun. Read this month’s top pick to find out more about it.

Syndetics book coverWords on the move : why English won’t – and can’t – sit still (like, literally) / John McWhorter.
“Language changes because of people, maintains McWhorter (English and comparative literature, Columbia Univ.; Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue). We understand a new word such as hangry to be a blend of “hungry” and “angry,” or hunger-induced anger. We also understand that someone using the word hangry wants to be viewed as modern or “in the know.” These transitions in language involve strong alterations in how we pronounce and construct language itself.”(Library Journal).

Syndetics book coverWhat I know for sure / Oprah Winfrey.
“”You lead life; it doesn’t lead you” is the motivating message behind media super star Winfrey’s life, career, and latest book-a compilation from the past 14 years of her monthly column in O, the Oprah Magazine. Divided into topics including resilience, clarity, gratitude, and awe, each essay provides a brief encouraging and thought-provoking reading moment. Winfrey writes calmly and conversationally. Among many other topics, she addresses personal strength, spirituality, clutter, and debt”. (Publisher Weekly).

Syndetics book coverSoul at the white heat : inspiration, obsession, and the writing life / Joyce Carol Oates.
“This collection of essays from the award-winning author Oates ranges from observations on the writing life to critical reviews of classic and contemporary works. Additional pieces include commentary on the film The Fighter and details of a visit to San Quentin prison. The selection of 33 previously published essays encompasses a wide range of topics with Oates’s pinpoint focus” (Library Journal).

Syndetics book coverOde to childhood : poetry to celebrate the child / edited by Lucy Gray.
“Celebrate children! Featuring work by some of the world’s great poets, this beautifully illustrated anthology captures all the charms, beauty, and love of childhood. The selections include William Blake’s gentle “A Cradle Song,” Walt Whitman’s “There Was a Child Went Forth,” and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “The Children’s Hour,” as well as verses by Milton, Wordsworth, Christina Rossetti, and more.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe new torchlight list : in search of the best modern authors / Jim Flynn.“Writers’ festivals, TV book shows, radio interviews, book clubs, TED Talks—today’s novelists are a travelling roadshow. New books and their authors are thrown to the wolves, aka reviewers, to be savaged, praised to the skies, or sadly just ignored. In the midst of all this, how can the bewildered booklover decide what to read? Jim Flynn tackles the question head-on in this racy, funny, no-holds-barred book, the sequel to his bestseller The Torchlight List”.-Publisher’s note.

AND ON A LIGHTER NOTE :

Syndetics book coverWould I lie to you? presents the 100 most popular lies of all time / Peter Holmes, Ben Caudell and Saul Wordsworth with interjections from Rob Brydon, Lee Mack & David Mitchell.
“Like the deliriously funny contributions of Rob Brydon, Lee Mack and David Mitchell in the hugely successful panel game, here is a delightful collection of 100 fibs that all of us can recognise… Written in the same warm, witty and inspired tone that’s made the TV show such a hit, the book uncovers the little deceptions that strike a chord with all of us. ” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI think I can see where you’re going wrong and other wise and witty comments from Guardian readers / edited by Marc Burrows ; with illustrations by Tom Gauld ; with a foreword by John Crace.
“The Guardian publishes over forty thousand reader comments a day below the line. This is a miscellany of the best and most baffling thoughts from their witty, well-meaning readers.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy grammar and I (or should that be ‘me’?) : old-school ways to sharpen your English / Caroline Taggart and J.A. Wines.My Grammar and I (Or Should That Be): Old-School Ways to Sharpen Your English
“A runaway hit and Sunday Times bestseller in 2008, My Grammar and I has continued to grow in popularity, becoming the go-to guide for grammar. Repackaged with a fresh jacket design, this much-loved gift title is now available in paperback, for new readers and fans of the series alike. My Grammar and I offers amusing examples of awful grammar, while steering you in the direction of grammatical greatness.”(Syndetics summary)

AND A GOOD ONE TO LOOK FORWARD TO :
(BESTSELLER COPY AVAILABLE NOW)
Syndetics book coverKeeping on keeping on / Alan Bennett.
“‘I seem to have banged on this year rather more than usual. I make no apology for that, nor am I nervous that it will it make a jot of difference. I shall still be thought to be kindly, cosy and essentially harmless. I am in the pigeon-hole marked ‘no threat’ and did I stab Judi Dench with a pitchfork I should still be a teddy bear.” (Syndetics summary).

Bloomsbury South – Recent Literature picks

“Bloomsbury South” is the appellation given by the authors to the Christchurch of the two decades between 1933 and 1953, a time of unique fusion between artists, writers, musicians, the establishment of a new new literary magazines and a specialist printing press. A true flowering of the arts in the antipodes. Also making waves this month is a new collection of essays entitled Extraordinary Anywhere. Read these lovely books and be a proud Kiwi.

Syndetics book coverBloomsbury South : the arts in Christchurch, 1933-1953 / Peter Simpson.
“For two decades in Christchurch, New Zealand, a cast of extraordinary men and women remade the arts. Variously between 1933 and 1953, Christchurch was the home of Angus and Bensemann and McCahon, Curnow and Glover and Baxter, the Group, the Caxton Press and the Little Theatre, Landfall and Tomorrow, Ngaio Marsh and Douglas Lilburn. It was a city in which painters lived with writers, writers promoted musicians, in which the arts and artists from different forms were deeply intertwined.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverTumult and tears : the story of the Great War through the eyes and lives of its women poets / Vivien Newman.
“During the First World War and its immediate aftermath, hundreds of women wrote thousands of poems on multiple themes and for many different purposes. Women’s poetry was published, sold (sometimes to raise funds for charities as diverse as ‘Beef Tea for Troops’ or ‘The Blue Cross Fund for Warhorses’), read, preserved, awarded prizes and often critically acclaimed. Tumult and Tears will demonstrate how women’s war poetry, like that of their male counterparts, was largely based upon their day-to-day lives and contemporary beliefs.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe prose factory : literary life in England since 1918 / D. J. Taylor.
“Gossipy journalists, revolutionary poets, political novelists and influential professors: take a tour of twentieth century literary culture. The book DJ Taylor was born to write: award-winning literary biographer (won Whitbread Prize for biography of George Orwell), esteemed journalist and novelist (longlisted for Booker for Derby Day) is the expert on 20th century literary culture: he’s lived and worked through half of it! Insight into our world: shines a light on readers, writers, publishers, booksellers and magazine editors – and holds them up for scrutiny.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverOn cats / Charles Bukowski ; edited by Abel Debritto.
“A raw and tenderly funny look at the human-cat relationship, from one of our most treasured and transgressive writers. “The cat is the beautiful devil.” Felines touched a vulnerable spot in Charles Bukowski’s crusty soul. For the writer, there was something majestic and elemental about these inscrutable creatures he admired, sentient beings whose searing gaze could penetrate deep into our being. Bukowski considered cats to be unique forces of nature, elusive emissaries of beauty and love.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSalt river songs / Sam Hunt.
Salt River Songs is Sam Hunt’s latest collection of poems, written over the last few years in his house that sits amongst a grove of totara trees on the Arapaoa, one of the five main salt rivers of the Kaipara Harbour. As always, his unflinchingly honest, elegiac and moving poems roam around familiar themes of family, friends and lovers, and the challenges of ageing and mortality. Salt River Songs will also have an introduction from writer and journalist Colin Hogg, an old friend of Sam’s and, appropriately, will be published to mark Sam’s 70th birthday.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhile wandering : words on walking / edited and with an introduction by Duncan Minshull ; foreword by Robert Macfarlane.
“An anthology of literary walks–from Austen, Woolf, and Bronte to Colm Toibin, Bruce Chatwin, and Werner Herzog. This is the ultimate companion for readersnbsp;and walkers looking to take inspiration from poems, novels, plays, and journals. Walking is a fundamental act, often taken for granted, yet through the centuries it has inspired a fascinating literature. This, the first comprehensive anthology on the subject, delves into why we walk and how we walk, the differences between the country hike and the city stroll, walking and wooing, walking into trouble and marching out.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverExtraordinary anywhere : essays on place from Aotearoa New Zealand / editors Ingrid Horrocks & Cherie Lacey.
“This collection of personal essays, a first of its kind, re-imagines the idea of place for an emerging generation of readers and writers. It offers glimpses into where we are now and how that feels, and opens up the range and kinds of stories we can conceive of telling about living here. Contributors include Tony Ballantyne, Sally Blundell, Alex Calder, Annabel Cooper, Tim Corballis, Martin Edmond, Ingrid Horrocks, Lynn Jenner, Cherie Lacey, Tina Makereti, Harry Ricketts, Jack Ross, Alice Te Punga Somerville, Giovanni Tiso, Ian Wedde, Lydia Wevers, and Ashleigh Young.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe private life of the diary : from Pepys to tweets / Sally Bayley.
“Diaries keep secrets, harbouring our fantasies and fictional histories. They are substitute boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses and friends. But in this age of social media, the role of the diary as a private confidante has been replaced by a culture of public self-disclosure. The Private Life of the Diary: from Pepys to Tweets is an elegantly-told story of the evolution – and perhaps death – of the diary.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSix facets of light / Ann Wroe.
“Meditiations on the mystery of light. Goethe claimed to know what light was. Galileo and Einstein both confessed they didn’t. On the essential nature of light, and how it operates, the scientific jury is still out. There is still time, therefore, to listen to painters and poets on the subject. They, after all, spend their lives pursuing light and trying to tie it down. Six Facets of Light is a series of meditations on this most elusive and alluring feature of human life.” (Syndetics summary)

And a good one in another part of the library:

Syndetics book coverSavoir faire : 1000+ foreign words & phrases you should know to sound smart / Laura Lee.
“Add hundreds of foreign phrases to your daily lexicon and learn about their quirky, fascinating origins! Some foreign phrases are so good they become a sort of lingua franca. They capture the true zeitgeist, where the English translation is just comme ci, comme ca. If you’re a linguistics geek or language lover with a curiosity about the origins of the foreign phrases, you need this book on your shelf.” (Syndetics summary)