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Ideas and Society Newsletter for March

You can now borrow brand new tablets from Wellington City Libraries for three weeks! This month’s Ideas and Society recent picks feature Katherine Mansfield’s poetry collection, a New Zealand home buyer’s guide, festivals in the southern hemisphere, and planet Vulcan.

Library News

Literature

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 cover The 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 cover The 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 cover Carry 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 cover Little 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)

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Popular Non-Fiction

The highlight of this months’ books is The Machine Stops, in which 12 artists write to E.M. Forster’s imaginary Machine. The story “The Machine Stops” is included, and the book makes for fascinating reading. Also important at the moment is What is a Refugee?, a very timely book, a touch of comedy in The Revenge of Anguished English, and a new edition of the well praised Prosperity without Growth rounds up our selection.

Syndetics book cover The machine stops / E.M. Forster; with contributions by Julieta Aranda, Fia Backström and R. Lyon … [et. al.] ; edited by Erik Wysocan.
“In 1909 E.M. Forster (1879-1970) wrote his one work of dystopian science fiction, The Machine Stops, which imagines the world in the aftermath of an ecological crisis, where humans live in underground chambers without physical contact. Here, 12 artists–Julieta Aranda, Fia Backstrom and R. Lyon, Ed Atkins, Ian Cheng, Melanie Gilligan, Pedro Neves Marques, Tobias Madison, Jeff Nagy, Rachel Rose, Bea Schlingelhoff and Mariana Silva–contribute texts addressing culture in the networked age.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover What is a refugee? / William Maley.
“Arguing that Western states are now reaping the consequences of policies aimed at blocking safe and ‘legal’ access to asylum, What is a Refugee? shows why many proposed solutions to the refugee ‘problem’ will exacerbate tension and risk fuelling the growth of extremism among people who have been denied all hope. This lucid book also tells of the families and individuals who have sought refuge, highlighting the suffering, separation and dislocation on their perilous journeys to safety.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Buyer beware : a New Zealand home buyer’s guide / Maria Slade.
“How to negotiate the minefield of buying a home in New Zealand today. Property prices going through the stratosphere, leaky buildings, P contamination, bullying body corporates – purchasing a house today can feel akin to entering a minefield. Written by a news journalist who has covered many of the horror stories, this book takes a no-holds-barred look at the challenges facing home buyers and offers savvy advice on how to navigate that minefield. It will appeal to all home buyers, from first-timers hoping for a small apartment to older people looking to downsize and everyone in between.” (Syndetics summary)

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Religion & Beliefs

If you’re looking for inspiration, challenge, or reflection, there’s some great holiday reading to begin the year. Two important recommended titles to note are The Little History Of Religion, and the latest biography of Samuel Marsden.

Syndetics book cover Talking God : philosophers on belief, edited by Gary Gutting.
Where does belief come from? This book features conversations with twelve skeptics, atheists, agnostics, and believers including challenges from evolution, cutting-edge physics and cosmology, and meditations on the value of secular humanism. Insights on Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, as well as Judaism and Christianity are offered.
Syndetics book cover A little history of religion, by Richard Holloway.
Richard Holloway begins at the dawn of religious belief and retells, quite succinctly, the history of religion to the twenty-first century. Suitable for those with faith and those without, he accentuates tolerance, mystery, and calmly restores a sense of the value of faith. The discussion covers all of the major religions, and is simple without being simplistic. Evil done in the name of religion is not overlooked. This is an important snapshot to aid understanding different beliefs.
Syndetics book cover Awakening from the daydream : reimagining the Buddha’s wheel of life, by David Nichtern.
“Although traditionally thought of as modes of reincarnation, Nichtern describes the realms as mental states that we move between, sometimes quite rapidly. He clearly and briefly describes how each blocks our path towards enlightenment but also contain unique possibilities. He also provides concise and easily implemented meditation practices for coping with the negative effects of each and includes a basic guide to karma and advice for finding a spiritual guide. …this is a clear, and current introduction to Buddhist thought and practice.” (drawn from Publisher Weekly, courtesy of Syndetics).
Syndetics book cover Festivals in the Southern Hemisphere : insights into cosmic and seasonal aspects of the whole earth, by Martin Samson.
Many festivals draw on northern hemisphere seasons. This has led some to suggest that some festivals in the southern hemisphere should be celebrated at opposite times of the year: for example, celebrating Christmas in June. Rudolf Steiner shared cosmic, spiritual imaginations for the northern hemisphere, and in this book Martin Samson develops a useful equivalent guide for the southern hemisphere.

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History

This month have a look at far-reaching histories on today’s nation-states both new and old in Tokyo: A Biography and A History of South Sudan. Leaf through the intimate notes of Lydia Ginzburg from St. Petersburg under siege, or the unpredictable encounters of Tom Lutz’ ramblings through every country in the world. Take a trip through past and future in Robert L. Kelly’s Fifth Beginning, or follow the indigenous footsteps that made it back to deal directly with empire, at the heart of London.

Syndetics book cover A history of South Sudan : from slavery to independence / Øystein H. Rolandsen, M. W. Daly.
“South Sudan is the world’s youngest independent country. Established in 2011 after two wars, South Sudan has since reverted to a state of devastating civil strife. This book provides a general history of the new country, from the arrival of Turco-Egyptian explorers in Upper Nile, […] to the Anglo-Egyptian colonial era. The book concludes with coverage of events since independence, with insights into what the future might hold.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Tokyo : a biography : disasters, destruction and renewal : the story of an indomitable city / Stephen Mansfield.
“The history of Tokyo is as eventful as it is long. In a whirlwind journey through Tokyo’s past from its earliest beginnings up to the present day, this Japanese history book demonstrates how the city’s response to everything from natural disasters to regime change has been to reinvent itself time and again. Readers see a city almost unrivalled in its uniqueness, a place that–despite its often tragic history–still shimmers as it prepares to face the future.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The Great War for New Zealand : Waikato 1800-2000 / Vincent O’Malley.
“A monumental new account of the defining conflict in New Zealand history. It was war in the Waikato in 1863-64 that shaped the nation in all kinds of ways: setting back Māori and Pākehā relations by several generations and allowing the government to begin to assert the kind of real control over the country that had eluded it since 1840. Vincent O’Malley focuses on the human impact of the war, its origins and aftermath.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)

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Science

This month’s selection features a myriad of stellar books discussing adventures to Mars, meteorites, the planet Vulcan, and telescopic advances, as well as popular authors such as Brian Cox and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Syndetics book cover Forces of nature, by Professor Brian Cox & Andrew Cohen.
Popular presenter Professor Brian Cox uncovers some of the most extraordinary natural events on Earth and in the Universe and beyond. The forces of nature shape everything we see and the results are astonishing. In seeking to understand the everyday world, the colours, structure, behaviour and history of our home, we develop the knowledge and techniques necessary to step beyond the everyday to understand the Universe beyond.
Syndetics book cover Mars : making contact, by Rod Pyle.
This book offers a visually stunning insider’s look at how Mars has been explored and the challenges facing future missions. The first 22 grainy closeups were in 1965, but the probes didn’t land until 1976. Today the two rovers Curiosity and Opportunity have allowed us to make even more discoveries of ancient rivers, lakes, ocean beds, and valleys. Plans for a manned mission to Mars, are discussed including the spacecraft design and surviving on the planet’s inhospitable surface. Another new book on Mars is Mars One, humanity’s next great adventure.
Syndetics book cover Meteorite, by Maria Golia.
‘Meteorite’ tells the long history of our engagement with these sky-born rocks, which are among the rarest things on earth. … This richly illustrated, wide-ranging account surveys the place of meteoric phenomena in science, myth, art, literature and popular culture.”(Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover The hunt for Vulcan : how Albert Einstein destroyed a planet and deciphered the universe, by Thomas Levenson.
In 1859, scientist Urbain LeVerrier discovered that the planet Mercury’s orbit shifts over time. His explanation was that there had to be an unseen planet Vulcan circling even closer to the sun. Astronomers of their generation began to seek out Vulcan and at least a dozen reports of discovery were filed. But a young Albert Einstein came up with a theory of gravity that also happened to prove that Mercury’s orbit could indeed be explained – not by Newton’s theories but by Einstein’s own theory of general relativity.

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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)

New eBook Fiction in September

This month’s titles from Overdrive are set across the globe, from the sand hills of Nebraska to a Swedish caravan park. And we haven’t forgotten the Pacific: Breaking Connections by Albert Wendt takes place in both New Zealand and Hawaii. So have your map, compass and e-reader at the ready, and enjoy!

Overdrive cover Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, by Barney Norris
“One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard and a widower. As one of those lives hangs in the balance, the stories of all five unwind, drawn together by connection and coincidence into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that perfectly represents the joys and tragedies of small town life.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberly McCreight
“Single mother Kate is in the meeting of her career when she is interrupted by a call to say her teenaged daughter Amelia has been suspended from school. Torn between her head and her heart, Kate eventually arrives at St Grace’s, only to find her daughter has jumped off the roof of the school, apparently in shame. A grieving Kate can’t accept that her daughter would kill herself: Amelia would never leave her alone like this. So begins an investigation into Amelia’s troubled world.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Work Like Any Other, by Virginia Reeves
“Roscoe T. Martin sets his sights on a new type of power spreading at the start of the 20th century: electricity. But when his wife inherits her father’s farm, Roscoe has to give it up, with great cost to his pride, marriage and family. Realising he might lose it all, he decides to siphon energy from the state, ushering in a period of bounty and happiness. Then a young man is electrocuted on their land. Roscoe is arrested for manslaughter and must now carve out a place in a violent new world.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Black Water, by Louise Doughty
“Harper wakes every night, terrified of the sounds outside his hut in Bali. He is afraid that his past as a mercenary has caught up with him. Then he meets Rita, a woman with her own tragedies, and begins a passionate affair. Their relationship makes Harper realise that exile comes in many forms – but can Rita and Harper save each other while also putting themselves at risk? Black Water turns around the 1965 Indonesian massacres, one of the great untold tragedies of the 20th century.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover I Am Behind You, by John Ajvide Lindqvist
“Four families wake up one morning in their caravans on an ordinary campsite in southern Sweden. However, during the night something strange has happened: everything else has disappeared. The sky is blue, but there is no sign of the sun; there are no trees, no flowers, no birds. As the holiday-makers try to come to terms with what has happened, they are forced to confront their deepest fears. Can any of them find a way back to reality?” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Vile Bodies, by Evelyn Waugh
“The Bright Young Things of 1920s Mayfair, including struggling writer Adam Fenwick-Symes and the aristocratic Nina Blount exercise their inventive minds and vile bodies in every kind of capricious escapade, whether it is promiscuity, dancing or sports cars. But in the distance, war looms again… Evelyn Waugh’s 1930 satire shows a new generation emerging in the years after the First World War, revealing the darkness and vulnerability beneath the glittering surface of the high life.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover Breaking Connections, by Albert Wendt
“A dynamic group has emerged in Auckland whose members refer to themselves as the Tribe. Mainly Polynesian, they grow up together and become successful professionals, bound by the self-destructive Aaron. But when Daniel receives a call in Hawaii telling him Aaron has been killed, he must return to New Zealand and step into the most dangerous crisis he has ever faced. What has the Tribe become?” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Overdrive cover The Bones of Paradise, by Jonis Agee
“Ten years after the Seventh Cavalry massacred more than two hundred Lakota men, women and children at Wounded Knee, J.B. Bennett, a white rancher, and Star, a young Native American woman, are murdered on J.B.’s land. The deaths bring together the Bennett family: J.B.’s cunning father, Drum; his estranged wife, Dulcinea; and his teenage sons. As the mystery of these twin deaths unfolds, the secrets of the dysfunctional Bennetts are revealed, exposing the conflicted heart of a nation.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

A literary miscellany – Recent Literature picks

There is no connecting thread in this month’s picks – just a jolly good mix. You will absolutely love our outside pick, a modern version of The taming of the Shrew by Anne Tyler.

Syndetics book coverWriting your legacy : the step-by-step guide to crafting your life story / Richard Campbell M.Ed., Cheryl Svensson, Ph.D.
“Craft a meaningful life story! A written legacy of your life–one that encompasses experiences, lessons learned, failures and triumphs–is a gift your family and friends will cherish for years to come. Writing this story may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Writing Your Legacy is a step-by-step guide to chronicling a life story that reflects your true self. Leave an eloquent record of your life for future generations.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe hatred of poetry / Ben Lerner.
“No art has been denounced as often as poetry. It’s even bemoaned by poets: “I, too, dislike it,” wrote Marianne Moore. “Many more people agree they hate poetry,” Ben Lerner writes, “than can agree what poetry is. I, too, dislike it and have largely organized my life around it and do not experience that as a contradiction because poetry and the hatred of poetry are inextricable in ways it is my purpose to explore.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverJay to Bee : Janet Frame’s letters to William (Bill) Theophilus Brown, 1969-1971 / edited by Denis Harold.
“This moving and enlightening correspondence opens up the hopes, fears, joys, and inner machinations of one of New Zealand’s most renowned authors, and offers a side of her dramatic personal history often ignored or misunderstood by the public.” (Provided by publisher)

Syndetics book coverBarbara Pym : a passionate force / Ann Allestree.
A Passionate Force is a fine portrait of an intriguing woman. In this book Ann Allestree delves into Barbara Pym’s life and her works with zeal. From the acknowledged early classic Excellent Women to the universally rejected (and later resurrected) An Unsuitable Attachment, so out of kilter with the gritty social realism of the 1960s, all are held up to an affectionate scrutiny.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIn search of Anne Brontë / Nick Holland.
“Anne Brontë, the youngest and most enigmatic of the Brontë sisters, remains a bestselling author nearly two centuries after her death. The brilliance of her two novels and her poetry belies the quiet, truthful girl who often lived in the shadow of her more outgoing sisters. Yet her writing was the most revolutionary of all the Brontës, pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable. This revealing new biography opens Anne’s most private life to a new audience.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverBellow’s people : how Saul Bellow made life into art / David Mikics.
“Saul Bellow was the most lauded American writer of the twentieth century–the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, and the only novelist to be awarded the National Book Award in Fiction three times.Literary historian and critic David Mikics explores Bellow’s life and work through the real-life relationships and friendships that Bellow transmuted into the genius of his art.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverEnglish voices : lives, landscapes, laments, 1985-2015 / Ferdinand Mount.
“Ferdinand Mount has spent many years writing articles, columns and reviews for prestigious magazines, newspapers and journals. Whether reviewing great published works by some of England’s finest authors and poets (both alive and dead) including Kingsley Amis, John Osborne, John le Carré, Rudyard Kipling, E.M. Forster and Alan Bennett.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book cover¡No pasarán! : writings from the Spanish Civil War / chosen and introduced by Pete Ayrton.
“Hope, resignation, despair, sadness, humour, confusion, ruthlessness, compassion, kindness, generosity and love inhabit Pete Ayrton’s anthology of writings from the Spanish Civil War: there is little sense of certainty and still less of triumphalism among the bewilderingly diverse Republican and Nationalist coalitions, all shades of which are represented here.” (Syndetics summary)

And a good one in another part of the library:

Syndetics book coverVinegar girl : The taming of the shrew retold / Anne Tyler.
“Pulitzer Prize winner and American master Anne Tyler brings us an inspired, witty and irresistible contemporary take on one of Shakespeare’s most beloved comedies. Kate Battista feels stuck. How did she end up running house and home for her eccentric scientist father and uppity, pretty younger sister Bunny? Plus, she’s always in trouble at work – her pre-school charges adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner.” (Syndetics summary)

Shakespeare in Swahililand – Recent Literature picks

As we all know so well, this year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, which is being commemorated all over the world. No book could better illustrate his influence than this month’s top pick Shakespeare in Swahililand: adventures with the ever-living poet. Also featured are two volumes of  New Zealand  poetry, a book on the importance of reading even when time-pressed, and two graduation speeches which attracted world-wide attention.

Syndetics book coverShakespeare in Swahililand : adventures with the ever-living poet / Edward Wilson-Lee.
Shakespeare in Swahihiland explores the Bard’s global legacy like no other book before it. In these pages explorers stagger through Africa’s interior accompanied by Shakespeare; eccentrics live out their dreams on the African savannah with Shakespeare by their side; decadent emigres, railway labourers, Indian settler communities, all turned to Shakespeare and adapted his plays to fit their needs. The book examines how Shakespeare influenced the first African leaders of independent nations, Cold War intrigues and even Che Guevara.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPoems that make grown women cry / edited by Anthony and Ben Holden.
“Following the success of their anthology Poems That Make Grown Men Cry, father-and-son team Anthony and Ben Holden, working with Amnesty International, have asked the same revealing question of 100 remarkable women. What poem has moved you to tears? The poems chosen range from the eighth century to today, from Rumi and Shakespeare to Sylvia Plath, W.H. Auden to Carol Ann Duffy, Pablo Neruda and Derek Walcott to Imtiaz Dharker and Warsan Shire. Their themes range from love and loss, through mortality and mystery, war and peace, to the beauty and variety of nature.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverPleasures of nature : a literary anthology / selected by Christina Hardyment.
“From Leonardo da Vinci on the shifting colors of the sky to Charlotte Brontë on the wild moors of Yorkshire, and from DH Lawrence inhabiting the mind of the indomitable tortoise to the intrepid Isabella Bird climbing a Hawaiian volcano, the anthology showcases many voices–lyrical, awestruck, often deeply reflective. The texts gathered here, many accompanied by rarely seen artwork from early editions, are all grounded in close observation and real love of the landscape, and reveal the tradition of nature writing to be deep-rooted and infinitely varied.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe Penguin book of English song : seven centuries of poetry from Chaucer to Auden / Richard Stokes.
The Penguin Book of English Song anthologizes the work of 100 English poets who have inspired a host of different composers (some English, some not) to write vocal music. Each of the chapters, arranged chronologically from Chaucer to Auden, opens with a precis of the poet’s life, work and, often, approach to music. Richard Stokes’s notes and commentaries constantly illuminate the language and themes of the poems and their settings in unexpected ways. An awareness of how Ben Jonson based his famous poem ‘Drinke to me, only, with thine eyes’ on a Greek original, for example, increases our enjoyment of both the poem and the traditional song.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe year of reading dangerously : how fifty great books (and two not-so-great ones) saved my life / Andy Miller.
“A working father whose life no longer feels like his own discovers the transforming powers of great (and downright terrible) literature in this laugh-out-loud memoir. Andy Miller had a job he quite liked, a family he loved and no time at all for reading. Or so he kept telling himself. But, no matter how busy or tired he was, something kept niggling at him. Books. Books he’d always wanted to read. Books he’d said he’d read, when he hadn’t. Books that whispered the promise of escape from the 6.44.”  (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThis change in the light : a collection of poems / Fiona Kidman.
“Fiona Kidman’s exquisite and adroit poetry invites the reader into her life, introducing us to her family, friends and places she has loved. In turn it touches our own experiences, offering universal relevance and insight.” (Publisher information)

Syndetics book coverShow me a story! : why picture books matter : conversations with 21 of the world’s most celebrated illustrators / compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus ; with a foreword by David Wiesner.
“In compelling interviews by the acclaimed Leonard S. Marcus, twenty-one top authors and illustrators reveal their inside stories on the art of creating picture books. Max and Mickey; Miss Nelson; Pack, Quack, and Mrs. Mallard; Pigeon; Sylvester; John Henry; and a very hungry caterpillar — these are just a few of the beloved picture book characters discussed in Show Me a Story.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverAnd so it is : new poems / Vincent O’Sullivan.
“Hot on the heels of Being Here, O’Sullivan’s capacious selected poems, which many chose as one of the poetry highlights of the year, comes a collection of 75 new poems. They show a mature poet, full of experience, still with the capacity to dazzle.” (Syndetics summary)

And two inspirational speeches:

Syndetics book coverVery good lives : the fringe benefits of failure and the importance of imagination / J. K. Rowling.
“In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a deeply affecting commencement speech at Harvard University. Now published for the first time in book form, VERY GOOD LIVES presents J.K. Rowling’s words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life. How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others? Drawing from stories of her own post-graduate years, the world famous author addresses some of life’s most important questions with acuity and emotional force.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverNow go out there (and get curious) / Mary Karr.
“Being smart and rich are lucky, but being curious & compassionate will save your ass.” Every year there are one or two commencement speeches that strike a chord with audiences far greater than the student bodies for which they are intended. In 2015 Mary Karr’s speech to the graduating class of Syracuse University caught fire, hailed across the Internet as one of the most memorable in recent years, and lighting up the Twittersphere.” (Syndetics summary)

Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf ? Recent literature picks

Many people it would seem. While widely admired for her beautiful writing style, her work puzzles a lot of people – it is complex and open to liberal interpretation. Virginia Woolf thought she could involve her readers in the creative process, but not all have felt equal to the task. This interesting new book should make things easier for them.
Also on offer this month is an unexpected collection of love poems by Charles Bukowski, a humorous new play about the succession of King Charles 111, a new study of Maya Angelou and an anthology of writing about walking.

Syndetics book coverWoolf : a guide for the perplexed / Kathryn Simpson.“Virginia Woolf is one of the best-known and most influential modernist writers; an iconic figure, her image and reference to her work and life appear in the most varied of cultural sites. Her writing is, however, in many ways kaleidoscopic and has given rise to a diverse and, sometimes, conflicting body of critical work.There is much to perplex any reader approaching her writing, especially for the first time. This guide untangles some of the difficulties and perplexities that can prove a barrier to understanding the work”.(Wellington City Libraries’ catalogue note).

Syndetics book coverKing Charles III / Mike Bartlett.“Mike Bartlett’s provocative ‘future history play’ explores the people beneath the crowns, the unwritten rules of our democracy, and the conscience of Britain’s most famous family.
Queen Elizabeth II is dead. After a lifetime of waiting, her son ascends the throne. A future of power. But how to rule? The play draws on the style and structure of a Shakespearean history play, with much of the dialogue written in blank verse, a comic subplot, and even the occasional appearance of a significant ghost.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverOn love / Charles Bukowski ; edited by Abel Debritto.“Bukowski is brilliant on love–often amusing, sometimes playful, and fleetingly sweet. On Love offers deep insight into Bukowski the man and the artist; whether writing about his daughter, his lover, his friends, or his work, he is piercingly honest and poignantly reflective, using love as a prism to see the world in all its beauty and cruelty, and his own fragile place in it.”Brutally honest, flecked with humor and pathos, On Love reveals Bukowski at his most candid and affecting.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverThe goshawk / T.H. White ; with a foreword by Helen Macdonald.“First published in 1951, T.H. White’s memoir describes with searing honesty his attempt to train a wild goshawk, a notoriously difficult bird to master. With no previous experience and only a few hopelessly out-of-date books on falconry as a guide, he set about trying to bend the will of his young bird Gos to his own. Suffering setback after setback, the solitary and troubled White nonetheless found himself obsessively attached to the animal he hoped would one day set him free.”(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverA bus pass named desire / Christopher Matthew ; illustrations by Tony Ross.“A Bus Pass Named Desire is book of warm, witty and charming poems about everything from negotiating Tinder in your sixties to the dubious flattery of being stalked on the Internet by your old flame from the 1970s; from the dangers of the Bridge party invitation to the joys of the Senior Citizen City Break.All life – and love – is here!” (Syndetics summary).

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 coverM train / Patti Smith.Proxy Error“An unforgettable odyssey of a legendary artist. It begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft and on artistic creation. Here, too, are singular memories of Smith’s life in Michigan and the irremediable loss of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith”.(Wellington City Libraries’ catalogue note).

Syndetics book coverThe walker’s anthology / compiled by Deborah Manley.The Walker’s Anthology“Several millennia ago two people – possibly an adult and a child – walked in soft, muddy ground in the Olduvai Gorge in present day Kenya, leaving their footprints for archaeologists to discover. And, still walking, the descendants of people like these two went on to walk right across our world. Walking is as natural to us as breathing and almost every author who has ever written has had something to say on the subject.
In this fascinating anthology, Deborah Manley has drawn on writings of more than 50 literary figures from around the world.” (Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverArtful / Ali Smith.
“Adapted from four lectures given by Ali Smith at Oxford University, Artful is a tidal wave of ideas in four thematically organised bursts of thought: ‘On Time’, ‘On Form’, ‘On Edge’ and ‘On Offer and On Reflection’.Refusing to be tied down to either fiction or the essay form, Artful is narrated by a character who is haunted – literally – by a former lover, the writer of a series of lectures about art and literature”.(Syndetics summary).

Syndetics book coverPlaying with books : a study of the reader as child / John Morgenstern.“This ambitious study of the textual characteristics of children’s literature examines its history and stylistics, analyzes the modern conception of childhood, and dissects the rhetoric of selected children’s novels. Underlying it all is the author’s interest in children’s play and what it reveals about their nature and the literature intended for them.” (Syndetics summary.)

It’s all about me – Recent Literature picks

This month’s picks feature two books about memoir writing, a genre which has grown exponentially in the last few years. British novelist and critic David Lodge has produced an excellent collection of essays on the topic by prominent writers, and American academic Mary Karr examines what fuels the impulse to reveal all. We also feature a seminal biography on Maurice Gee and a fascinating look at famous writers at the end of their lives.

Syndetics book coverLives in writing : essays / David Lodge.
“This thoughtful and enlightening collection by one of our best-loved and most highly respected novelists and critics includes essays on Graham Greene, Kingsley Amis, Terry Eagleton, Muriel Spark and Alan Bennett, as well as pieces on John Boorman and the death of Princess Diana. It also gives insight into Lodge’s own writing processes and novels. Full of anecdotes and wonderful observations, Lives in Writing is the perfect literary companion.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe seasons.
“An anthology of poems that moves with the seasons, following the turning year from John Clare’s ‘Early buttercups’ and Wendy Cope’s ‘Festive tree’ to John Keat’s ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ and Larkin’s ‘Young leafed June’.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverWhy we write about ourselves : twenty memoirists on why they expose themselves (and others) in the name of literature / edited by Meredith Maran.
“Why are memoirs so popular? And why write one? Indeed, who are these tell-alls, and what makes them tell? This collection reporting why writers write about themselves hops from the fascinating to the clarifying to the downright inspirational.” (Booklist)

Syndetics book coverThe violet hour : great writers at the end / Katie Roiphe.
“From one of our most perceptive and provocative voices comes a deeply researched account of the last days of Susan Sontag, Sigmund Freud, John Updike, Dylan Thomas, Maurice Sendak, and James Salter–an arresting and wholly original meditation on mortality.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe art of memoir / Mary Karr.
“Credited with sparking the current memoir explosion, Mary Karr’s The Liars’ Club spent more than a year at the top of the New York Times list. She followed with two other smash bestsellers: Cherry and Lit, which were critical hits as well. For thirty years Karr has also taught the form, winning teaching prizes at Syracuse University.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThen it was now again : selected critical writing / Murray Edmond ; introduction by Scott Hamilton.
Then It Was Now Again: selected critical writing tells the story of a range of controversies, innovations, revolutions and disputes in New Zealand poetry, theatre and drama over the 40 years between 1973 and 2013. To do this 24 individual pieces from Murray Edmond’s critical writings have been selected and arranged.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMoranifesto / Caitlin Moran.
I’ve lived through ten iOS upgrades on my Mac and that’s just something I use to muck about on Twitter. Surely capitalism is due an upgrade or two?
When Caitlin Moran sat down to choose her favourite pieces for her new book she realised that they all seemed to join up. This is Caitlin’s engaging and amusing rallying call for our times.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMaurice Gee : life and work / Rachel Barrowman.
“Maurice Gee is one of New Zealand’s greatest fiction writers. His long literary career began in the 1950s and includes seventeen adult novels, thirteen novels for children, a short story collection, and screenplays for television and film. His work is loved by generations of readers and has earned him many awards. [This is] a revelatory new work, by an acclaimed biographer.” (Syndetics summary)

And a good one in another part of the library:

Syndetics book coverUnpacking my library : architects and their books / edited by Jo Steffens ; featuring an essay by Walter Benjamin.
“What does a library say about the mind of its owner? How do books map the intellectual interests, curiosities, tastes, and personalities of their readers? What does the collecting of books have in common with the practice of architecture? Unpacking My Library provides an intimate look at the personal libraries of twelve of the world’s leading architects, alongside conversations about the significance of books to their careers and lives.” (Syndetics summary)


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