New artwork surrounding Central Library

And only sea is the title of a new artwork on the hoarding surrounding Wellington Central Library, designed by Mata Aho Collective in collaboration with Andre Te Hira. The artwork celebrates the civic and literary life of poet J.C. Sturm, also known as Jacquie Baxter. Baxter worked as a librarian at the Central Library for over twenty years. She was one of the first Māori women to complete an undergraduate degree, the first Māori woman to attain an MA in Philosophy, and also one of the first Māori women to appear in print.

New artwork being installed at Central Library

The artists chose to render one of her poems On the building site for a new library (published 1996), as the work references the construction of the Central Library and also Wellington city’s land reclamation where Civic Square was once underwater. The artwork acknowledges the civic location and literary connection, tells a story about the history of the land and people – connects to the area’s Māori heritage and geography, and celebrates the importance of libraries to our cities as places of learning, refuge and relaxation.

The new artwork provides vibrancy to the area as the long term future of the building and Te Ngākau — Civic Precinct is worked through. There will be a blessing for the new artwork on Sunday 15 December.

To find out more about Jacquie’s life, library staff have compiled a biography, shown below.

The best of BBC audiobooks on Libby and OverDrive

In case you didn’t know, the BBC continues to add provocative, clever, funny shows on their various radio stations, only to then combine these complete seasons of unique, mostly-excellent content as audio books.

Over the last few years, we’ve added many of these daring, unique series on our OverDrive website, ready to be devoured in long and short sittings, or passively enjoyed whilst pruning the roses, and washing the car.

Below are recent BBC audio book favourites assembled to represent the many facets of the BBC comedy-template – original ghostly comic-dramas, expertly acted mockumentaries, intricately plotted true-life one-woman shows, panel shows devoted to the strange, curious and hilarious and small town comedy-monologues that reveal a regions very heart and soul.

Read further for brief reviews of these BBC-faves – good listening!

Overdrive cover The Hauntening, Tom Neenan (Audiobook)
Comic writer, Tom Neenan has authored a truly original combination of modern comic sitcom and Black Mirror-lite supernatural scenario. Demonic fridges threaten, dating apps haunt suddenly, and podcasts are inhabited by murderous spirits. Neenan adopts an awkward, self-obsessed persona lending an underlying vulnerability to spooky proceedings whilst the accomplished production is full of effective sound effects, ambience and sharp jokes. Expect the odd genuine scare, but more often a deep satisfying belly laugh.

Overdrive cover Sarah Kendall–Australian Tales, Sarah Kendall (Audiobook)
Each one of Kendall’s Australian Tales is a complete and compelling story in its own right, but all the tales together represent a significant achievement of comic-tragic story telling. Each tale leaps backwards and forwards and time, challenging your attention and grabbing it at the same time, whilst remembering difficult teenage years, ongoing family tensions and those awkward yet unforgettable moments that create change and form identity. Kendall’s natural, funny narration is suited to the candid subject matter, providing carefully judged pathos and comic timing to proceedings. Winner of the 2018 Writers’ Guild Award for Best radio Comedy and the Silver Aria Award for Best Storytelling.

‘A mini masterpiece of tragicomic storytelling’ **** – The Times.

Overdrive cover Alex Horne Presents the Horne Section, The Complete Series 1-3, Alex Horne (Audiobook)
Famously partly responsible for TV series Taskmaster and classy intermissions on 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Alex Horne and the Horne Section also produced silly, brilliantly played musical radio comedy shows through 2012 – 2014. The complete series is frantically performed in front of a receptive studio audience, also starring special comedy guests like Nick Helm, Sara Pascoe and Matt Lucas. Song titles include ‘Ode To Tash’s Fashion Sense,’ ‘Those were the days (of the week)’ and ‘Battleships! theme song.’ Expect hours of punishing puns, hit-and-miss novelty songs and surprisingly competent musicality.

Overdrive cover Susan Calman–Keep Calman Carry On, Susan Calman (Audiobook)
‘My name is Susan Calman and I am a very tense person.’ So begins episode one of Keep Calman carry on. Susan Calman then begins to find some way to cope with her tension through trying something new, designed to distract, help unwind and relax. Whether through viewing art with Phill Jupitus, gardening with Val McDermid, visiting a music festival with Robin Ince or hill walking with Muriel Gray, Calman gamely and enthusiastically embraces new experiences with an open spirit and genuineness, unrelated to conventional ideas of success and failure. In this case, if you try, you succeed. Listening to this excellent series may make you want to be a better person.

Overdrive cover The Museum of Curiosity–Series 9-12, John Lloyd (Audiobook)
Now well into its tenth year, The Museum of Curiosity has become a reliable and ingenious mainstay of the UK comedy radio scene. Through 14 series, famed comedy producer John Lloyd has hosted comedians, historians, scientists, politicians and more from across the world in a compelling chat show devoted to the quirky, unusual and surprising. Each season is hosted by Lloyd with a different comedian including Bill Bailey, Jo Brand, Sean Lock, Sarah Millican and each episode introduces three new guests willing to add a virtual exhibition to the ever-growing curious museum of oddities. Each season is renewed by its new comedian co-host and the list of carefully chosen guests provide an old-school intelligence and fresh chemistry to proceedings – a series built to last.

Overdrive cover Mark Steel’s In Town–Series 7 & 8, Mark Steel (Audiobook)
Everyone lives in a small town, in one way or another and Mark Steel’s warm evocation of village, seaside and country life has become a portrait of enduring everyday strangeness. From rampant goats and peacocks over-running small holdings, to inland ‘seaside’ towns with identity crises, Steel identifies cultural quirks whilst warmly roasting the expectant helpless towns he visits. The best episodes involve the towns-folk themselves questioning Steels humourous, often honest observations (and biases) on the Loch Ness monster, Hepton Bridge or Matlock Bath. The many episodes of Mark Steel’s in Town combined almost equate to a complete life-time of observations, worth experiencing.

More BBC Audiobooks well worth listening to!

Overdrive cover It’s a Fair Cop–Series 1-3, Alfie Moore (Audiobook)
Ever wondered what sort of a police officer you might make? Alfie Moore spent eighteen years on the Humberside police force before turning to stand-up comedy. In each episode of this live stand up show, he takes his audience through a scenario based on a real life case, and tasks them with deciding how they would have acted in the circumstances.

“Brilliantly funny, genuinely hilarious” – David Mitchell

(adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Incredible Women, Series 1-6, Rebecca Front (Audiobook)
Rebecca Front and Jeremy Front star in this series of spoof documentaries looking at the lives of some extraordinary and unforgettable characters. We meet some truly remarkable women, such as controversial children’s writer and wolf enthusiast Eleanor Fane-Gore; ‘Media Integrity Czar’ Valerie Panther; MI5 whistle-blower Helen McKee; fashion guru Tish Watts; child star Mandy Fenwick; Irina Stonkus, soon to be the first woman on Mars; and National Treasure Dame Cicely Leyland.

‘This is not just good, it’s excellent and shows that quality writing can transform radio comedy into something that’s laugh-out-loud funny.’ Radio Times

(adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Tim Key’s Late Night Poetry Programme–The Complete Series 1-4, Tim Key (Audiobook)
Ever wondered just how much of life you can understand through poetry? Tim Key is never far from stage and screen – from Peep Show to Alpha Papa to Taskmaster. But now he’s back doing what he does best – attempting to recite poetry whilst tormenting his friend and musician, the equally brilliant, and long suffering, Tom Basden. From ruminating on the meaning of family via his narrative poem The Godfather, attempting to get to the bottom of death via his poem The Boy Who Faked His Own Death, and also organising an impromptu stag party, Tim Key uses poetry to help him understand every situation.

‘In any other sphere apart from comedy, we’d probably class this way of looking at the world as certifiable. Here it feels like genius.’ The Telegraph

(adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Infinite Monkey Cage, Series 6-9, Brian Cox (Audiobook)
Brian Cox and Robin Ince present a witty, irreverent look at the world according to science. The Infinite Monkey Cage has become one of BBC Radio 4’s most popular science based programmes. In each episode physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince delve into a particular field of science, with the help of guests from the worlds of science, academia and entertainment.

(adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover It’s Not What You Know, Series 1-3, BBC Radio Comedy (Audiobook)
What would Jonathan Agnew do if he wasn’t a cricket commentator? Who would play Romesh Ranganathan in a film of his life? What’s the naughtiest thing Sara Pascoe did as a child? It’s not what you know, but who you know that matters… and indeed, how well you know them. The show is a bit like ‘Mr and Mrs’, except that it’s not played by husbands and wives. Instead, panellists can pick anyone they like: dad, cousin, best friend, mother-in-law. All these burning questions, and more, will be answered in this BBC comedy panel show hosted by Miles Jupp, and Joe Lycett where panellists are tested on how well they know their nearest and dearest.

(adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover My Teenage Diary, Various (Audiobook)
Forty-five episodes from Series 1-8 of the Sony Award-winning BBC Radio comedy show, hosted by Rufus Hound

(adapted from Overdrive description)

Broken Codes and Lost Youth – History Picks November

This month’s history picks feature way over our usual quota for World War material, with Paul Byrnes’s The Lost Boys, DJ Taylor’s Lost Girls and Ronald Rosbottom’s Sudden Courage looking through various lenses at the youth of the era and how they were impacted by the wars – going overseas from New Zealand to fight, losing their friends and family in England and how society changed along the way, or when the war showed up on their doorstep in occupied France.

Elsewhere, we’ve got Bletchley Park and D-Day looking at the famous codebreakers and their influence as an intelligence agency. It’s not just the good guys who were hard at work cracking ciphers – Christian Jennings’s The Third Reich is Listening covers German efforts in the field during World War II. To ensure this post isn’t just about that particular era of history, we’ve also got Marilyn Garson’s experiences in Gaza in 2014 and Marie Arana’s wider history of Latin America.

Still lives : a memoir of Gaza / Garson, Marilyn
“Marilyn Garson was an experienced aid professional who created jobs at the edge of war. In 2011, she was invited to move to the Gaza Strip. Marilyn became the Economic Director of a large NGO programme, leading an ambitious young Palestinian team. In 2014, Marilyn witnessed first-hand the impact of Israel’s urban assault and massive civilian displacement. The UN was prepared to shelter 35,000 displaced Gazans, but 293,000 arrived. Locked in beneath the bombs, they had nowhere safer to go, and nothing but the United Nations flag and international law to protect them.” (Catalogue)

Silver, sword and stone / Arana, Marie
Silver, Sword and Stone is a vibrant, sweeping history of Latin America, told through three compelling lenses. The first, precious metal, of which silver is an enormous part, is an obsession that burned brightly in pre-Columbian times, consumed Spain in its relentless conquest of America, drove a system of exploitation, and has morphed into Latin America’s hope for the future. The second, the ‘sword’, is the culture of violence: from the Aztec and Inca empires through the bloody nineteenth-century wars of independence to state terrorism, the Shining Path, and today’s drug wars. The third, embodied in temples, elaborate cathedrals, or simple piles of rock, is the region’s fervent adherence to religious institutions, built in stone. Vivid and impeccably researched, Silver, Sword and Stone is the definitive narrative history of a region with a tumultuous but little-understood present as well as past.” (Catalogue)

Sudden courage : youth in France confront the Germans, 1940-1945 / Rosbottom, Ronald C.
“On June 14, 1940, German tanks rolled into Paris. Eight days later, France accepted a humiliating defeat and foreign occupation. Most citizens adapted and many even allied themselves with the new fascist leadership. Yet others refused to capitulate; in answer to the ruthless violence, shortages, and curfews imposed by the Nazis, a resistance arose. Among this shadow army were Jews, immigrants, communists, workers, writers, police officers, shop owners, including many young people in their teens and twenties. Ronald Rosbottom tells the riveting story of how those brave and untested youth went from learning about literature to learning the art of sabotage, from figuring out how to solve an equation to how to stealthily avoid patrols, from passing notes to stealing secrets – and even learning how to kill. ” (Catalogue)

The cult of Trump / Hassan, Steven
“In The Cult of Trump, mind-control and licensed mental health expert Steven Hassan draws parallels between our current president and people like Jim Jones, David Koresh, Ron Hubbard and Sun Myung Moon, arguing that this presidency is in many ways like a destructive cult. He specifically details the ways in which people are influenced through an array of social psychology methods and how they become fiercely loyal and obedient. Hassan was a former “Moonie” himself, and he draws on his forty years of personal and professional experience studying hypnosis and destructive cults, working as a deprogrammer, and a strategic communications interventionist. He emphasizes why it’s crucial that we recognize ways to identify and protect ourselves and our loved ones.” (Catalogue)

Bletchley Park and D-Day : the untold story of how the battle for Normandy was won / Kenyon, David
“Since the secret of Bletchley Park was revealed in the 1970s, the work of its codebreakers has become one of the most famous stories of the Second World War. But cracking the Nazis’ codes was only the start of the process. Thousands of secret intelligence workers were then involved in making crucial information available to the Allied leaders and commanders who desperately needed it. Using previously classified documents, David Kenyon casts the work of Bletchley Park in a new light, as not just a codebreaking establishment, but as a fully developed intelligence agency. This account reveals the true character of Bletchley’s vital contribution to success in Normandy, and ultimately, Allied victory.” (Catalogue)

The Third Reich is listening : inside German codebreaking 1939-45 / Jennings, Christian
“The success of the Allied codebreakers at Bletchley Park was one of the iconic intelligence achievements of World War II, immortalised in films such as The Imitation Game and Enigma. But cracking Enigma was only half of the story. Across the Channel, German intelligence agencies were hard at work breaking British and Allied codes. The Third Reich is Listening is a gripping blend of modern history and science, and describes the successes and failures of Germany’s codebreaking and signals intelligence operations from 1935 to 1945. The first mainstream book that takes an in-depth look at German cryptanalysis in the Second World War, it tells how the Third Reich broke the ciphers of Allied and neutral countries, including Great Britain, France, Russia and Switzerland.” (Catalogue)

Operation Swallow : American soldiers’ remarkable escape from Berga Concentration Camp / Felton, Mark
“In this little-known story from World War II, a group of American POW camp leaders risk everything to save hundreds of fellow servicemen from a diabolical Nazi concentration camp. Their story begins in the dark forests of the Ardennes during Christmas 1944 and ends at the Buchenwald Concentration Camp in the spring of 1945. Operation Swallow provides a historical, first person perspective of how American GIs stood up against their evil SS captors who were forcing them to work as slave laborers. Written from personal testimonies and official documents, Operation Swallow is a tale replete with high adventure, compelling characters, human drama, tragedy, and eventual salvation.” (Catalogue)

The lost boys : the untold stories of the under-age soldiers who fought in the First World War / Byrnes, Paul
“In the First World War of 1914-1918, thousands of boys across Australia and New Zealand lied about their age, forged a parent’s signature and left to fight on the other side of the world. Though some were as young as thirteen, they soon found they could die as well as any man. This extraordinary book captures the incredible and previously untold stories of forty Anzac boys who fought in the First World War, from Gallipoli to the Armistice. Featuring haunting images of the boys taken at training camps and behind the lines, these tales are both heartbreaking and rousing, full of daring, ingenuity, recklessness, random horror and capricious luck. A unique perspective on the First World War, The Lost Boys is military history made deeply personal, a powerful homage to youthful bravery and a poignant reminder of the sacrifice of war.” (Catalogue)

Lost girls : love, war and literature, 1939-51 / Taylor, D. J.
“Who were the Lost Girls? At least a dozen or so young women at large in Blitz-era London have a claim to this title. But Lost Girls concentrates on just four: Lys Lubbock, Sonia Brownell, Barbara Skelton and Janetta Parlade. Chic, glamorous and bohemian, as likely to be found living in a rat-haunted maisonette as dining at the Ritz, they cut a swathe through English literary and artistic life in the 1940s. They all had very different – and sometimes explosive personalities – but taken together they form a distinctive part of the war-time demographic: bright, beautiful, independent-minded women with tough upbringings behind them determined to make the most of their lives in a highly uncertain environment. However tiny their number, they are a genuine missing link between the first wave of newly-liberated young women of the post-Great War era and the Dionysiac free-for-all of the 1960s. Hectic, passionate and at times unexpectedly poignant, this is their story.” (Catalogue)

New Science fiction and fantasy: Epic conclusions and curious creations

New tales in science fiction and fantasy and delving into the vaults.  Wheel of time fans have a pre Wheel of time Robert Jordan, a.k.a. James Oliver Rigney, Jr. title to revel in. Becky Chamber’s new novella explores the potential for space exploration, boundaries expand as humans are adapted to their new environments before they arrive, but what is the fate of the homeworld they leave behind?

The confines of linear time and lifespan are challenged in Joe Abercrombie’s A little hatred and Tamsyn Muir’s Gideon the ninth. The Lightbringer series concludes with Brent Weeks’ The burning white. Nine years from start to finish this epic saga of magic, lies and betrayals has seen it’s characters transform as the world they know evolves around them. So who is the Lightbringer?

To be taught if fortunate / Chambers, Becky
“In the future, instead of terraforming planets to sustain human life, explorers of the galaxy transform themselves.  Ariadne and her fellow crewmates sleep while in transit, and wake each time with different features. But as they shift through both form and time, life back on Earth has also changed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the wonders and dangers of her journey, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Warrior of the Altaii / Jordan, Robert (print), (eBook)
“Draw near and listen, or else time is at an end. The watering holes of the Plain are drying up, the fearsome fanghorn grow more numerous, and bad omens abound. Wulfgar, a leader of the Altaii people, must contend with twin queens, warlords, prophets, and magic in hopes of protecting his people and securing their future. This is Robert Jordan’s never-before-published first novel, which he wrote before his well-known Wheel of Time series.” (Adapted from catalogue)

A little hatred / Abercrombie, Joe
“The age of the machine dawns, but the age of magic refuses to die. With the help of the Long Eye glimpsing the future is one thing, but with the guiding hand of the First of the Magi still pulling the strings, changing it will be quite another. Old scores run deep as ever. On the blood-soaked borders of Angland, Leo dan Brock struggles to win fame on the battlefield. Savine dan Glokta plans to claw her way to the top of the slag-heap of society by any means necessary and the slums boil over with a rage that all the money in the world cannot control.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Gideon the ninth / Muir, Tamsyn (print), (eBook)
“Brought up by unfriendly, ossifying nuns, ancient retainers, and countless skeletons, Gideon is ready to abandon a life of servitude and an afterlife as a reanimated corpse.  But her childhood nemesis won’t set her free. Harrowhark Nonagesimus, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House, has been summoned into action. If Harrowhark succeeds she will be become an immortal, all-powerful servant of the Resurrection, but no necromancer can ascend without their cavalier. Without Gideon’s sword, Harrow will fail, and the Ninth House will die. Of course, some things are better left dead.” (Adapted from catalogue)

The burning white / Weeks, Brent
“In the stunning conclusion to the epic, Lightbringer series by Brent Weeks, kingdoms clash as Kip must finally escape his family’s shadow in order to protect the land and people he loves. As the White King springs his great trap, and the Chromeria itself is threatened by treason and siege, Kip Guile and his companions will scramble to return for one impossible final stand. In the darkest hour, will the Lightbringer come? (Adapted from catalogue)

The cruel stars / Birmingham, John
“Centuries after their defeat, the Sturm have returned with an overwhelming attack on the fringes of human space.  Everybody thought the Sturm were dead, engulfed by the Dark. They were wrong. On the brink of annihilation, humankind’s only hope is a few brave souls who survived the initial onslaught. Five flawed, reluctant heroes must band together to prevail against a relentless enemy and near-impossible odds. For if they fail, the future itself is doomed.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Season of storms / Sapkowski, Andrzej
Translated from original Polish by David French
“Geralt of Rivia is a Witcher, one of the few capable of hunting the monsters that prey on humanity. A mutant who is tasked with killing unnatural beings. He uses magical signs, potions, and the pride of every Witcher – two swords, steel and silver. But a contract has gone wrong, and Geralt finds himself without his signature weapons. Now he needs them back, because sorcerers are scheming, and across the world the  season of storms is coming…” (Adapted from catalogue)

Knight / Zahn, Timothy (print, (eBook)
“Nicole Hammond was just trying to survive on the streets of Philidelphia, then she and her partner Bungie were abducted by a race of mysterious moth-like aliens and taken to a strange ship. Now she is a Sibyl, a special human that has the ability to communicate with the aliens and their ship. Competing factions control different parts of the ship with the humans and other sentient aliens caught in the middle. But Nicole has a plan to take control of the ship. She just has to outsmart war profiteers and slavers to do it.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Beloved polymath Clive James dies at 80

Latest readings / James, Clive (2015)A final flood of colours will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone
— From Japanese Maple, Clive James, 2014

The author and broadcaster Clive James died on Sunday at the age of 80.

James had grown up in Sydney and left for Britain in the early 1960s where he found success as a poet, critic, essayist, and broadcaster. As a member of Footlights at Cambridge University James cultivated his persona as a ‘funny guy’ and part of his popularity stemmed from his ability to move between the high and low brow worlds of academia, literature, popular culture, television, and the cult of celebrity.

A prolific author, Clive James wrote gorgeous poetry, acerbic (and funny) criticism, and evocative memoirs. His descriptions of growing up in Sydney in the forties and fifties were wonderful evocations of the love an ex-pat has for the homeland that they ‘escaped’ in younger years.

After starting as a TV critic for The Observer in 1972, James had a television career with shows such as Clive James on Television. Always aware of popular culture he also wrote about the pleasures of binge-watching as box-sets and streaming became popular.

In the 21st century, James embraced the Internet and had his own web series, Clive James Talking in the Library, where he interviewed cultural figures such as Stephen Fry, Nick Hornby, and Michael Frayn:

James’s publisher and editor, Don Paterson, noted of him in The Independent today: “Any encounter [with him], either in print or in person, left you desperate to go and open a book, watch a film or a TV show, or hunt down a recording.”

We have a selection of books by Clive James in our collections that we encourage you to ‘hunt down’ and enjoy.

In his own words:

“If you don’t know the exact moment when the lights will go out, you might as well read until they do”


Poetry notebook : 2006-2014 / James, Clive
“Clive James is one of our finest critics and best-loved cultural voices. He is also a prize-winning poet. Since he was first enthralled by the mysterious power of poetry, he has been a dedicated student. In fact, for Clive, poetry has been nothing less than the occupation of a lifetime, and in this book he presents a distillation of all he’s learned about the art form that matters to him most.” (From our catalogue)

The blaze of obscurity / James, Clive
Clive James on TV – and now in book form. Clive James will always be a TV presenter first and foremost, and a writer second – this despite the fact that his adventures with the written work took place before, during and after his time on the small screen. This book tells the inside story of his years in television.” (From our catalogue)

Cultural cohesion: the essential essays, 1968-2002 / James, Clive
“Following his much-heralded publication of Cultural Amnesia, Clive James presents here his “prequel”-forty-nine essays, which he has selected as representing the best of his half-century career. Cultural Cohesion examines the twisted cultural terrain of the twentieth century in a volume that is not only erudite but also endlessly entertaining. Dividing his book into four sections – “Poetry,” “Fiction and Literature,” “Culture and Criticism,” and ”Visual Images” – James comments on poets like W. H. Auden , novelists like Raymond Chandler, and filmmakers like Fellini .” (From our catalogue)

Latest readings / James, Clive
“In 2010, Clive James was diagnosed with terminal leukemia. Deciding that “if you don’t know the exact moment when the lights will go out, you might as well read until they do,” James moved his library to his house in Cambridge, where he would “live, read, and perhaps even write.” This volume contains his reflections on what may well be his last reading list. A look at some of his old favorites as well as some recent discoveries, this book also offers a revealing look at the author himself, sharing his evocative musings on literature and family, and on living and dying. This valediction to James’s lifelong engagement with the written word is a captivating valentine from one of the great literary minds of our time.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Play all : a bingewatcher’s notebook / James, Clive
“Since serving as television columnist for the London Observer from 1972 to 1982, James has witnessed a radical change in content, format, and programming, and in the very manner in which TV is watched. Here he examines this unique cultural revolution, providing a brilliant, eminently entertaining analysis of many of the medium’s most notable twenty-first-century accomplishments and their not always subtle impact on modern society–including such acclaimed serial dramas as Breaking Bad, and The Sopranos. With intelligence and wit, James explores a television landscape expanded by cable and broadband and profoundly altered by the advent of Netflix, Amazon, and other “cord-cutting” platforms that have helped to usher in a golden age of unabashed binge-watching.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

Somewhere Becoming Rain: Collected Writings On Philip Larkin / James, Clive
“This book gathers all of James’s writing on this towering literary figure, together with material now published for the first time. James writes about Larkin’s poems, his novels, his jazz and literary criticism; he also considers the two major biographies, Larkin’s letters and even his portrayal on stage in order to chart the extreme and, he argues, largely misguided equivocations about Larkin’s reputation in the years since his death. Through this joyous and perceptive book, Larkin’s genius is delineated and celebrated. James argues that Larkin’s poems, adored by discriminating readers for over half a century, could only have been the product of his reticent, diffident, flawed, and all-too-human personality. Erudite and entertaining in equal measure, Somewhere Becoming Rain is a love letter from one of the world’s best living writers to one of its most cherished poets.” (Adapted from our catalogue)

The Octavius Hadfield Collection

Wellington City Libraries is proud to launch an online, digitised collection of correspondence from one of New Zealand’s most significant missionaries and supporters of Māori rights, Octavius Hadfield.

Octavius Hadfield Papers on Recollect

These original letters and diary extracts were gifted to Wellington City Libraries by his daughter, Amelia Caroline Hadfield, in 1951 and are now easily available to read for the first time as part of our heritage database, Wellington City Recollect.

Hadfield arrived in New Zealand shortly before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi and soon made his way to Kāpiti. There he befriended Te Rauparaha and was able to prevent the great warrior making a retalitory attack on Wellington following the Wairau ‘Affray’ of 1843. Te Rauparaha and his son Tāmihana later encouraged Hadfield to establish the Rangiātea church in Otaki. He worked closely with Māori communities, introducing them to farming to allow them to engage with the settler economy and became a fierce critic of the NZ Government because of their actions in causing the NZ Wars. Despite many Europeans turning against him and even accusing him of treason, in 1870 Hadfield became the second Bishop of Wellington and then in 1890 he was elected to head the Anglican Church as Primate of New Zealand.

These letters are amoung our most valuable taonga and offer a fascinating insight into the mind and thinking of one of the greatest New Zealanders of the colonial period. Each document includes a full transcription.

Discover these taonga and more on Recollect .

Festive Cooking 2019

It’s that time of the year again. Sample a few out of the many books available in our libraries to help you celebrate a stress-free festive season with a minimum of fuss.


Christmas : The Complete Collection
“If you’ve always wanted all the recipes for Christmas that you’ll ever need, than this is the book for you! It’s a massive collection of best-ever festive recipes to help you celebrate the Christmas season.” (Catalogue)

Christmas Basics : Simple Easy to Follow Recipes for the Festive Season
“A lot of home cooks come up with wondrous feasts year after year at Christmas gatherings. This cookbook will teach you all the tricks for producing just about every recipe you’ve ever dreamed of that’s suitable for the holiday season. Included are tips, hints, accompaniments, time lines to follow with step by step photos to guide you through the many fabulous recipes.” (Catalogue)

The Christmas Book
“Discover a simpler, greener Christmas with hand-crafted gifts and cards, natural decorations and traditional recipes. Escape the modern-day commercial Christmas and enjoy a simpler, greener and craftier way of celebrating. Decorate the Christmas tree with homemade gingerbread men, craft a simple wreath from fallen leaves, make gift labels and cards from vintage fabrics, and fill hampers with locally sourced organic food. Sheherazade Goldsmith and a team of crafters give you over 80-90 wonderful ideas and projects for a more creative and sustainable Christmas.” (Catalogue)

The 12 Days of Christmas
“This beautifully designed book…. brings you the food of the Christmas and New Year season. There’s fabulous food for the big three days: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, but there’s also food for the days in between. We all have leftovers on Boxing Day and here are recipes for using them in interesting and delicious ways. There’s picnic food, barbecues, beach, pool and boat food. There’s food to take to the cricket or for watching it on TV as well as travelling food for the big car trip up the coast. As a bonus there are a few pages of table and tree decorations.” (Catalogue)

Nigella Christmas : Food, Family, Friends, Festivities / Lawson, Nigella
“‘Nigella Christmas’ comprises reliable, practical, easy-to-follow recipes and reassuring advice about planning and cooking ahead, which will make this a great gift to yourself and for family and friends.” (Catalogue)

Primrose Bakery Christmas / Swift, Martha
“A lavish Christmas cookbook from the Primrose Bakery, full of scrumptious seasonal treats. Christmas time is all about tradition….The Primrose Bakery has been bringing an extra bit of twinkle to their Christmas baking for over a decade and in this book reveal their unique twists and exciting reinventions of traditional Christmas treats, as well as all-new recipes to breathe fresh life into your festive baking repertoire…. this book offers wonderfully festive recipes to make your Christmas baking a triumph.” (Catalogue)

Festive Table
“Christmas can be a stressful holiday, particularly for the host who feels the pressure to prepare and cook beautiful and delicious food. With these simple easy-to-follow recipes plus clever tricks and quality shortcuts, we show you how to create spectacular festive dishes with minimum fuss. There are also menu ideas, time plans and a countdown guide to help you get organised, making this book the perfect gift for those who love all the trimmings but not the time it takes to pull it off.” (Catalogue)

Delicious Gifts : Give, Love, Bake / Kirby, Rob
“Delicious Gifts celebrates the best, beautifully styled, handcrafted food gifts for all occasions, direct from Rob and Amber Kirby’s family kitchen. Eighty delightful recipes are accompanied by stunning photography from Jodi Hinds, along with inspiration, guidance and ideas for how best to wrap and package these thoughtful gifts. In chapters dedicated to specific themes – including cookies, deli treats, sweets, outdoors and holidays – whether you’re looking for a unique Christmas present, something romantic or a healthy treat for loved ones, Delicious Gifts has plenty of ideas to inspire you.” (Catalogue)

Happy Vegan Christmas / Jönsson, Karoline
“Plant-based recipes for festive Scandinavian feasts. Roasted nuts and vegetables, fragrant citrus and cloves, jewelled lingonberries and cardamom buns fresh from the oven. In Happy Vegan Christmas, Karoline Jonsson presents a merry smorgasbord of plant-based Christmas dishes guaranteed to enchant friends and family…. included are some crafty ideas to try out during the holiday…. as well as seasonal dishes from around the world, this is an indispensable treasure trove for the vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian foodie.” (Catalogue)

Maggie’s Christmas / Beer, Maggie
“Christmas is Maggie Beer’s favorite time of year, a time for everything she loves–for hugs from the grandchildren, for giving, and for creating special memories. But most of all, it is a time for family and friends to gather around a table groaning with delicious food. With her hallmark generosity and warmth, Maggie invites you to join her Christmas celebrations in South Australia’s beautiful Barossa Valley. From roasting the perfect turkey and transforming leftovers into fabulous meals, to turning ripe summer fruits into luscious desserts, and creating a glamorous formal dinner to welcome in the New Year in style, Maggie shares her most cherished recipes. With plenty of advice for stress-free entertaining, Maggie shows you how to celebrate this special time of year with panache and joy.” (Catalogue)

Christmas with Good housekeeping : Tried, Tested, Trusted.
“The ultimate Christmas cookery companion for every household from Britain’s most trusted kitchen. Christmas with Good Housekeeping provides every recipe you need for the most delicious festive season with family and friends. With over 140 recipes for jovial perfection, chapters offer mouth-watering ideas for canapes, starters, vegan & vegetarian options, baked goods, showstopper desserts, edible gifts, and not to forget Christmas lunch with all the trimmings! Accompanied with stunning photography, specially curated to answer key questions for readers surrounding Christmas cookery, Good Housekeeping reveals not only their tried and tested recipes, but also their tips for getting ahead, saving time, loving your leftovers, and making the most out of your festive gatherings.” (Catalogue)

Better Than a Bought One : Clever Recipes and Ideas for Home-Grown Celebrations / Seagar, Jo
“In this fabulous book, Jo shows ordinary Kiwis how they can put on great celebration events with minimum effort and maximum effect. That’s what Jo does best. From a baby shower to a 21st, an office shout to a winter dinner party, from a high tea to a wedding, Jo gives great recipes and tips so you can celebrate in style, without breaking the bank. There’s even a chapter on holding a winter bonfire party for Matariki, and no celebrations book would be complete without Christmas – but this one is a Kiwi Christmas at the beach!” (Catalogue)

Butter Celebrates! : Delicious Recipes for Special Occasions / Daykin, Rosie
“What’s a celebration without something delicious that’s been baked with love? Rosie Daykin, author of Butter Baked Goods and owner of the Vancouver bakery of the same name, believes that celebrating is….a chance to spend time with your family and friends, to laugh really hard, to let things get a little chaotic, and to eat lots of delicious baked goods. Rosie’s straightforward recipes are easy to follow and will produce irresistible results.” (Catalogue)

Holiday Cakes and Cupcakes [electronic resource] / Deacon, Carol
“The magic of the holidays comes alive all year long with these delightful and delicious decorated cakes! Professional cake decorator Carol Deacon’s incredible cake designs run the gamut of seasonal holidays to provide that special touch that only a personally baked and decorated cake brings to the table. Deacon shows you how to create 21 fabulous cakes, including Christmas cakes, Halloween cakes, Valentine’s Day cakes, Easter cakes, and cakes to fit any other occasion. Deacon also shares sugarcraft tips and tricks along with her winning cake baking recipes so that your holiday cakes will taste as wonderful as they look. So make the most of your…. holiday by creating a cake that will impress and delight your family and friends.” (Catalogue)

60th Anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty

On December 1st 1969 New Zealand signed the Antarctic Treaty with the primary aim that Antarctica is to be used exclusively for science and other peaceful purposes. The NZ Antarctic Society is marking the 50th anniversary with the launch of a new map of Antarctica at the National Library of New Zealand on the 21st of November and an exhibition of previous maps. If you are visiting the “Mapping Antarctica – the frozen continent revealed” three week mini-exhibition at the National Library here at He Matapihi Molesworth Library, our Wellington City Libraries branch inside the National Library, we are pleased to put on display these titles and others featuring Antarctica and the New Zealanders associated with this region from our He Matapihi collection.


A wise adventure. II, New Zealand and Antarctica after 1960 / Templeton, Malcolm
Since the adoption of the Antarctic Treaty in 1959, Antarctica has been governed through a unique system of international collaboration.  This book is an important chronicle of New Zealand’s engagement in Antarctica and a detailed and fascinating window on the complex negotiations arounf governance in this remarkable part of the planet. (Back cover abridged)

Mapping Antarctica : a five hundred year record of discovery / Clancy, Robert
“This volume tells the story of Antarctica through original maps.  These maps, many very rare, have been re-produced in high resolution and represent all major events, from the discovery and exploration of Antarctica to the scientific exploration of glaciers. This volume tells the story of Antarctica through original maps. These maps, many very rare, have been re-produced in high resolution and represent all major events, from the discovery and exploration of Antarctica to the scientific exploration of glaciers.” (Catalogue)

Antarctic Tragedy

We can’t talk about Antarctica without mentioning the Erebus disaster.  New Zealanders have a long relationship and fascination with Antarctica.  Air New Zealand started running sightseeing flights to Antarctica in February 1977 and between 1977 and 1979 they had carried approximately 10,000 passengers to Antarctica. This month we especially remember as we approach the 40th anniversary of the tragic scenic flight that crashed into Mount Erebus becoming our worst air disaster. November 28th 1979 was a dark day in New Zealand’s history and part of the national psyche for most New Zealanders. At the time there were only one or two degrees of separation with so many either knowing a victim of the Erebus disaster or knowing people that knew them. This year there is a new publication Toward the mountain: a story of grief and hope forty years on from Erebus written by one of the affected families.

Towards the mountain: a story of grief and hope forty years on from Erebus / Myles, Sarah
“Marking the 40th anniversary of the Erebus disaster, this is the first book on that tragedy written by one of the affected families.” (Catalogue)

Daughters of Erebus / Holmes, Paul
“The technical side of what happened on Mt Erebus on that fateful November day back in 1979 has been brilliantly explained by Justice Mahon, the Royal Commissioner appointed to investigate the crash of the Air New Zealand DC 10. Daughters of Erebus is the story of five people who were left behind and how the whole tragedy affected their lives.  This is a New Zealand story told by one of the great New Zealand storytellers. It literally drips with pathos and is a must-read story.” (Catalogue)

Our fascination  with Antarctica

Our library collection reflects our fascination with Antarctica.  For further points of interest, we feature heroic exploits of New Zealand explorers, photographic studies of nature and the relics of early exploration, scientific expeditions, works of fiction and children’s non-fiction all, of course, featuring Antarctica.

Sir Edmund Hillary : an extraordinary life / Johnston, Alexa
“Around the world Sir Edmund Hillary is a legendary figure – climber, bold adventurer, practical philanthropist and one of the most widely respected persons of our time. He has survived extremes of human experience – from historic triumphs to crushing personal loss ? but he sees himself as an ordinary man, persistent rather than heroic. This lavishly illustrated book focuses on the highlights of his life, including: Conquering Everest; Journeying to the South Pole by tractor; Himalayan adventures; Philanthropist to the Sherpa people. This beautiful book is profusely illustrated, using fascinating material, such as letters, cards, diary pages, and ephemera, from his personal archive. It is a magnificent tribute to one of the greatest climbers and explorers of all time.” (Catalogue)

Frank Worsley: Shackleton’s fearless captain / Thomson, John
“This book is a biography of Frank Worsley, without doubt one of New Zealand’s greatest, but largely unsung adventuring heroes. Born in Akaroa he went to sea as a teenager in 1888 on the sailing ships plying their trade between New Zealand and England. But the greatest adventure of his life began when he became the captain of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance, which was trapped in pack ice on the 1914-1916 Antarctic expedition and slowly crushed. The crew of 28 spent over a year camped on the Antarctic ice before Shackleton, Worsley and four others sailed a tiny lifeboat across the wild Southern Ocean to South Georgia to summon help for the rest of the men, who were all eventually rescued.” (Catalogue)

With Hillary at Scott Base: a Kiwi among the penguins / Gerard, V. B. This account of the early days at the New Zealand Antarctic Base, known as Scott Base, was first written over half a century ago from the author’s diary and memory. The book is about the establishment of the base. (Back Cover abridged)

Still life : inside the Antarctic huts of Scott and Shackleton / Ussher, Jane
“A magnificent, hauntingly beautiful photographic study of the Antarctic huts that served as expedition bases for explorations led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Sir Ernest Shackleton the turn of the 20th century Antarctic explorers set off from their huts in search of adventure, science, and glory, while the huts were left as time capsules of Edwardian life. The executive director of the Trust provides a fascinating introduction to the history and atmosphere of each hut and detailed photographic captions. Diary excerpts from the explorers bring their time in the huts to life.” (Catalogue)

Post marks : the way we were : early New Zealand postcards, 1897-1922 / Haks, Leo
“The way we were between 1897-1922 is revealed in more than 500 postcards that highlight New Zealand’s pioneer beginnings and the development of a unique cultural identity.” (Catalogue)

White silence : Grahame Sydney’s Antarctica. / Sydney, Grahame
“This outstanding collection of photographs from one of New Zealand’s most pre-eminent artists, Grahame Sydney, pays homage to the Antarctic landscape. At the invitation of Antarctica New Zealand, Sydney travelled to Antarctica in November-December 2003, and again in October 2006. His photographs reveal an extraordinary terrain that is solemn, sparse and poised with a magnificent stillness. Exploring a continent that appears at first glance to be devoid of colour, warmth or comfort, each image celebrates the rare flashes of astonishing beauty that can be found in the bleakest, most inhospitable region of Earth.” (Catalogue)

Fifteen million years in Antarctica / Priestley, Rebecca
“Rebecca Priestley longs to be in Antarctica. But it is also the last place on Earth she wants to go. In 2011 Priestley visited the wide white continent for the first time, on a trip that coincided with the centenary of Robert Falcon Scott’s fateful trek to the South Pole. For Priestley, 2011 was the fulfilment of a dream that took root in a childhood full of books, art and science and grew stronger during her time as a geology student in the 1980s. Priestley reflects on what Antarctica can tell us about Earth’s future and asks: do people even belong in this fragile, otherworldly place?” (Catalogue)

Call of the ice : fifty years of New Zealand in Antarctica / Harrowfield, David L.
“This book is a celebration not only of Antarctica, and more specifically the Ross Sea region, but also of the many men and women who have contributed to our understanding of this unique environment and its impact on our world.” (Catalogue)

Innocents in the Dry Valleys : an account of the Victoria University of Wellington Antarctic Expedition, 1958-59 / Bull, Colin
“In 1958-59 a physicist, a biologist and two undergraduate geology students from Victoria University of Wellington spent a summer examining the Dry Valleys of Victoria Land, Antarctica. This expedition, known as VUWAE 2, began what was to become an annual and very fruitful Antarctic research programme for the university over the next fifty years. With wry humour, Bull recounts the adventures of these four hardy and resourceful scientists, who seemed to thrive on the adverse conditions, lack of funding and battles with bureaucracy.” (Catalogue)

Melt / Murray, Jeff
“This novel is an urgent, crushing observation of adaptation and exclusion amidst preparation to settle Antarctica as climate destruction starts to bite. New Zealand in 2048, gateway to the melting continent, is thrust into the centre of the climate crises. Vai Shuster, the Advocate of a tiny, broken island, must find a place for her community in a world that’s not sure it needs the poor.” (Catalogue)

Antarctic journeys / Werry, Philippa
“Antarctica is a fascinating place: it has no native inhabitants, and it’s very remote, which means everyone who goes there today or in the past has a special reason for wanting to go. It’s a place that children can only imagine, because they can’t go there. This book is about the journeys (historic and contemporary, human and animal, large and small) that centre around Antarctica, using that theme to build up an overall picture of Antarctic history, geography, science and wildlife.” (Catalogue)

Johnsonville Library is moving to Waitohi this Saturday!

We’re excited to announce that Johnsonville Library is moving to its new home at the Waitohi Community Hub very soon. To give us time to transfer the books, Johnsonville Library doors will close at 4pm on Saturday 30 November.

The library will reopen at the new Waitohi Community Hub at 9am on Saturday 14 December.

In the meantime you can use your Wellington library card at our other Wellington City libraries. You can however still return your books through the after hours slot at the old Johnsonville library. This will be open 24/7.

We can’t wait to see you in our new home – come and join us on the 14th for a fun-filled day of opening celebration!

New Sport & Fitness books

This month’s blog titles featured take a nostalgic look (almost philosophical approach) at what it means to be a sports person, how to eat for performance enhancement, endurance, and a gentler way to approach fitness through Yoga.

Relax into Yoga for Seniors : a six-week program for strength, balance, flexibility, and pain relief / Carson, Kimberly
Relax into Yoga for Seniors presents twelve principles of yoga practice for seniors, including those with limited mobility. This evidence-based workbook will guide you safely—step-by-step, and with posture illustrations—on a six-week program for improved balance, flexibility, and overall well-being.”(adapted from Catalogue)

Eat Like an Athlete : boost your energy and performance through nutrition / Austin, Simone
“In Eat Like an Athlete, sports dietitian Simone Austin shares practical tips and suggestions on how to boost your energy and performance through nutrition, derived from her years of experience advising elite athletes. Simone’s hands-on manual allows people of all ages, from weekend warriors to professional players, to give their bodies optimal nourishment for training, competition and recovery.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Endure : mind, body, and the curiously elastic limits of human performance / Hutchinson, Alex
“In Endure Alex Hutchinson, Ph.D., reveals why our individual limits may be determined as much by our head and heart, as by our muscles. An elite distance runner himself, Hutchinson takes us to the forefront of the new sports psychology – brain electrode jolts, computer-based training, subliminal messaging – and presents startling new discoveries enhancing the performance of athletes today, showing us how anyone can utilize these tactics to bolster their own performance – and get the most out of their bodies.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Sport and the New Zealanders : a history / Ryan, Greg
“Sport has played a central part in the social and cultural history of New Zealand throughout its history. This book tells the story of sport in New Zealand for the first time, from the Maori world to today’s professional athletes. Through rugby and netball, bodybuilding and surf lifesaving, the book introduces readers to the history of the codes, the organisations and the players. Viewing New Zealand sport as activity and as imagination, Sport and the New Zealanders is a major history of a central strand of New Zealand life.” adapted from (Catalogue)

Epic : a 30-year search for the soul of sport / Barnes, Simon
“The greatest sporting moments of the last 30-plus years, as seen through the eyes of Simon Barnes, one of the very best sports writers. This is an autobiography from which the author, award-winning writer Simon Barnes, has been surgically removed. He has reported on six World Cups, seven Olympic Games, cricket on five continents and more than 20 Wimbledons, watching Diego Maradona, Usain Bolt, Sachin Tendulkar and Roger Federer at their peak. This is sport unplugged. Speaking for itself. Allowing the reader to understand sport with more clarity and depth than ever before.”(adapted from Catalogue)

Unleashing Greatness : in sport and life through the pathway of courage / Galbraith, David
“Everyone is capable of greatness sadly, not everybody finds it. Many peoples’ lives are ripped apart by self-doubt and destroyed by fear of failing. This results in never fully unleashing their true selves and always settling for second best in the job they apply for, the course of study they pursue, the person they ask out to coffee or to marry them! What makes it worse is that deep down they know they are capable of so much more and it tears them apart inside! If you are sick and tired of settling for second best or want to achieve the greatness you know is just there in front of you, then this book is for you!”–Back cover.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The Wind at My Back : a cycling life / Maunder, Paul
“A beautifully written exploration of the links between cycling, creativity, and the landscape. In The Wind on Your Back, Maunder takes a journey from the most dense centres of population to the wild places; starting from cycling in a major city, then moving through suburbia, the edgelands at the periphery of the city, then into the managed and pastoral farmland, and beyond to the sublime mountains. Played out against the backdrop of the British countryside, and drawing of elements of psychogeography and human geography, Maunder seeks to understand the way the outside world interacts with the creative mind, and the way our surroundings help to shape who we are.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Rugby : the afterlife : former All Blacks tell their stories / Gray, Wynne
“Way back when there was a clear distinction between work and rugby, great names of the game spent their time working in an office or at a trade or out on the farm, all the while fitting in training and then playing at the weekends. How did a lifetime in rugby protect or prepare them for experiences after the game and how and why did they make the choices they did? Rugby — The Afterlife explores in great detail how a number of All Blacks coped with that transition and came out the other side.” (Catalogue)

Leap In : a woman, some waves and the will to swim / Heminsley, Alexandra
“At once inspiring, hilarious, and honest, Leap In chronicles Alexandra Heminsley’s endeavor to tackle a whole new element, and the ensuing challenges and joys of open water swimming. Alexandra Heminsley thought she could swim. As it turns out, the water is never as frightening once you’re in, and really, everything is better when you remember to exhale.” (adapted from Catalogue)

Federer : Portrait of a tennis legend / Spragg, Iain
“This biography, filled with photographs from his sensational career, follows Roger Federer from his first steps in tennis in the junior tournaments right through to the main professional circuit. It is an illustrated biography of a man who has graced the world of tennis for more than two decades, playing with grace, panache, and magnificent sportsmanship. He who has transcended tennis to become one of the greatest sportsmen of the 21st century.” (adapted from Catalogue)

The Long and Winding Aotearoa / Lockyer, G. A.
“Driving a car you’re always on the way to somewhere. On a bike, you’re already there in the landscape, in the moment. And sometimes there’s literally nowhere else you’d rather be. In George Lockyer’s new book, The Long and Winding Aotearoa, we find him riding his Triumph Bonneville around the country, from Kaitaia to Invercargill, and seeing his often humorous take on life from under a crash helmet. On the way round our magnificent country he stops to interview some fascinating characters, all with a story to tell. We meet not just motorcyclists, but a wide variety of kiwis, from craftsmen, artists and firefighters, to rugby coaches, quakers and architects.” (adapted from Catalogue)