Librarians’ best books of 2015: Part 1

We read some good, great, even excellent books this year. Here are a few WCL librarian favourites that we read this year, maybe they’ll make it on to your 2016 reading list! Happy new year from Wellington City Libraries!

Miranda:
Syndetics book coverPen & ink : tattoos and the stories behind them / Isaac Fitzgerald, Wendy MacNaughton
A question like “what does your tattoo mean?” can be difficult to answer, especially if there is a deeply personal or painful reason behind it, and the people featured in this book tell stories that range from funny to heartbreaking. Reading this book feels like listening to ‘Desert Island Discs’ – oddly voyeuristic, and utterly engrossing and fascinating.

Dianne:
Syndetics book coverFinnikin of the rock / Melina Marchetta. (first in the Lumatere Chronicles)
Sometimes with teen fiction you can see where a story is heading, but I couldn’t with this one. The characters were layered and complex. I felt like the author revealed details about their pasts only after I had drawn my own (often incorrect) conclusions about them, so I was constantly rethinking my feelings about each character. A strong focus in the novel was the fate of refugees who cannot return home and this was thought provoking as well since I was reading it at the height of media coverage of the refugee crisis in Europe.

Syndetics book coverMr Penumbra’s 24-hour bookstore / Robin Sloan.
This is a mystery with a touch of fantasy and magic. It is narrated by Clay Jannon, the main character, and describes his discovery of a 2nd hand book store, his eventual employment there and his deepening suspicions of a mystery involving the store and its owner. The ultimate revelations and outcomes were totally unexpected but satisfying. Also, if you borrow the book, check out the cover in the dark – gave me quite a surprise one night after I had put it down and turned out the light

Neil:
Syndetics book coverA god in ruins : a novel / Kate Atkinson.
A sort of follow up to Life After Life but much more convincing. Follows the life of Teddy from age 11 to 98 and the effect his wartime experiences had on his philosophy and personality.

Syndetics book coverFuture days : Krautrock and the building of modern Germany / David Stubbs.
A brilliant history of not only the music but the cultural evolution of post-War Germany and its effect on music and Western civilisation.

I also enjoyed Yeah yeah yeah: the story of modern pop by Bob Stanley and Clothes, clothes, clothes, music, music, music, boys, boys, boys by Viv Albertine.

Axel:
Syndetics book coverWonderstruck : a novel in words and pictures / Brian Selznick.
One of the best graphic novels/chapter books I’ve read this year! Selznick smartly weaves 2 parallel stories –one in letters, the other one in drawings- which are neatly synchronized, so that both characters somehow live the same, though in different time periods. Impressive!

Syndetics book coverThe Z was zapped : a play in twenty-six acts / Chris Van Allsburg.
Amazing illustrations by one of the best: Chris Van Allsburg. This book – shelved under the “Sophisticated Picture Books” – will keep you guessing what is happening to each letter of the alphabet. We already know the Z was Zapped but it’s not as easy as you might think! Kids will surely learn some cool words in the process 😉

Jessica:
Syndetics book coverThis one summer / Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki.
A coming of age graphic novel. Has the dreamy-ist tones with a touch of mystery and concern for growing up.

Syndetics book coverThe edible woman / Margaret Atwood.
My first Atwood novel and it definitely lived up to expectation. The main character is almost too relatable in her confusing regarding her place in society. Though the things that were going on throughout the book could have been dramatic there was a calmness that made it a pleasure to read. I also enjoyed the little references to other books and authors scattered throughout.

Syndetics book coverThe wrong place & The making of / Brecht Evens.
Such incredible artwork! Not your typical graphic novel in terms of layout, with some images spanning both pages and a sense of Where’s Wally about them which finds you staring for hours (or minutes, but let’s over exaggerate!). Not to mention that the stories are fantastic. Of the two I favoured The Making Of for its night time forest scenes. It’s really something that has to be seen rather than described.

John:
Syndetics book coverStranger than we can imagine : making sense of the twentieth century / John Higgs.
Every once in a while a book comes along that can cause one to become a bit annoying to friends as it seems perfectly obvious that everyone should read it and it should be made required reading in schools worldwide immediately. John Higgs book struck me this way and all I can say is, if you want to know why we live in such befuddled, mixed up times then you may find out by reading this book.

Rachel:
Syndetics book coverSaga / Brian K. Vaughan, writer ; Fiona Staples, artist.
In 2015 I finally discovered Saga, one of the most incredible (and beautifully drawn) comic stories I’ve ever read. It follows a couple whose differing races are in an intergalactic war with one another, and the couple’s struggle to survive and keep their family together while on the run from the ruthless robot prince. We’ve got volumes 1-5 in our collection so you can gorge on it too, for a bit.

Syndetics book coverMore happy than not / Adam Silvera.
This is a young adult contemporary novel, but with a sci-fi twist. In this story, everything is as we know it, except that the technology to allow memory alterations exists. It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel – it’s extremely well written and gripping! I can’t wait to see what Adam Silvera writes next.

Alison:
Syndetics book coverThe conductor / Sarah Quigley.
New Zealand author Sarah Quigley gives a great insight into the gruelling reality of daily life during the brutal Siege of Leningrad, in 1941-2. The novel centres on conductor Karl Eliasberg, his love/hate relationship with composer Dmitri Shostakovich and the musical elite of Leningrad, and the way extraordinary circumstances change people for better or worse. One of the book’s themes is Shostakovich’s struggle to complete his Seventh (Leningrad) Symphony during the Siege and a CD is included so you can listen to this powerful symphony as you read.

Xavier:
Syndetics book coverHow to thrive in the next economy : designing tomorrow’s world today / John Thackara.
A fascinating and easy read examining the ‘ecocidal’ practices of western/global systems and the contemporary initiatives that are actively reshaping them.
One of the few design perspectives out there that considers the health of our soils, forests, rivers and oceans as the backbone of quality of life, which urgently helps lead the way into a new economic age built around existing ecosystems.

Star Wars at the library

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has opened in movie theatres today, so we thought we’d round up some of the Star Wars items we have on our catalogue.

Star Wars: The Complete Saga Star wars. The complete saga
“Relive the exhilarating action, spectacular battles and ultimate triumph of good over evil that make Star Wars the greatest space fantasy adventure of all time – and the ultimate entertainment experience for every family. The Star Wars original trilogy episodes continue the saga with Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Han Solo leading the rebel Alliance to claim victory over the Empire and win freedom for the galaxy.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWilliam Shakespeare’s Star Wars : verily, a new hope / by Ian Doescher ; inspired by the work of George Lucas and William Shakespeare.
“Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ‘Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearstome Stormtroopers, signifying…pretty much everything.
Reimagined in glorious iambic pentameter — and complete with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations — William Shakespeare’s Star Wars will astound and edify Rebels and Imperials alike. Zounds! This is the book you’re looking for.” (Syndetics summary) Also available as an eBook through Overdrive.

Syndetics book coverPath of Destruction [electronic resource] / Drew Karpyshyn
“Once the Sith order teemed with followers. But their rivalries divided them in endless battles for supremacy. Until one dark lord at last united the Sith in the quest to enslave the galaxy-and exterminate the Jedi. Yet it would fall to another, far more powerful than the entire Brotherhood of Darkness, to ultimately realize the full potential of the Sith, and wield the awesome power of the dark side as never before!” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverStar Wars. Dark empire trilogy / [script, Tom Veitch ; art, Cam Kennedy].
“Six years after the fall of the Empire in Return of the Jedi, the battle for the galaxy’s freedom rages on. The Empire has been mysteriously reborn under an unknown leader, wielding a new weapon of great power. Princess Leia and Han Solo struggle to hold together the New Republic while the galaxy’s savior, Luke Skywalker, fights an inner battle as he is drawn to the dark side, just as his father was.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverI, Jedi / Michael A. Stackpole
“From New York Times bestselling author Michael A. Stackpole, one of the acclaimed masters of imaginative fiction, comes a stirring new tale set in the Star Wars universe, the story of Corran Horn, a heroic X-wing pilot who faces the greatest challenge of his life: trying to come to terms with his Jedi heritage and learning to use the Force–without succumbing to the dark side. Corran Horn was an officer in the Corellian Security Force before casting his lot with the New Republic. As the grandson of a legendary Jedi hero, he has latent Force powers that have yet to be developed. But he has managed to distinguish himself with Rogue Squadron, the X-wing fighter force that has become the scourge of the Empire and of the pirates that prey on Republic shipping.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

Empire Dec 2015Or you can keep up with all the Star Wars news through our movie magazines Empire (in print or through Zinio) or Total Film.

From Print to Screen: The New Zealand International Film Festival

The annual international film festival is almost here (July 29 to August 14): time to read or re-read some books that will be making the leap to the big screen. Here are some film festival films based on books, or inspired by books:

Guilty Pleasures. A documentary about the wonders of Mills & Boon! Perfect, since Wellington City Libraries has recently launched its Mills & Boon collection (complete with competition to win a Sony E-Reader – winner announced soon!). Incidentally, the Mills & Boons are fair flying off the shelves: browse for them on the library catalogue here.

Norwegian Wood. Murakami fans take note! Haruki Murakami’s masterpiece, Norwegian Wood, has been made into a film that has caused critics everywhere to wax lyrical. It also features music by Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood!

Submarine. Based on the novel of the same name by Welsh poet Joe Dunthorne.

The Duel. Based on a novella by Anton Chekov and filmed on location in Croatia.

The Solitude of Prime Numbers. Based on the best selling Italian novel (La solitudine dei numeri primi – which, incidentally, we also have in traditional Chinese) by Paolo Giordano (also incidentally, the author is a particle physicist according to The Guardian).

It looks wonderfully eclectic and interesting! There will of course be much much more in due course. We will let you know when the brochures are out!