Deconstruction and Reconstruction – New Personal Growth Books

These new books critically examine how dominant ideas and power dynamics have influenced our interpretation and application of shared concepts. They question established paradigms and power structures, offering a range of perspectives from sexual wellness and psychology to the history of emotions and the intersection of philosophy, politics, and drug use. They delve into how external forces, such as psychological studies or the experience of grief, can shape one’s sense of self. They also primarily challenge or reframe common beliefs, assumptions, and narratives around these subjects, encouraging us to think critically about the forces that shape our personal and societal narratives.

Come Together: The Science (and Art) of Creating Lasting Sexual Connections / Nagoski, Emily
“A leading sexual wellness educator, tackles the often misunderstood topic of sex in long-term relationships. Challenging conventional wisdom and harmful assumptions, she explores what truly fulfilling sex looks like through inclusive stories and examples. The book aims to help pairs overcome obstacles like relationship conflicts, gendered beliefs about sex, and body image issues. With insight, humor, and empathy, it offers a radically transformed approach to sex and desire, empowering readers to create lasting, fulfilling sexual connections in their long-term relationships.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Data Baby: My Life in a Psychological Experiment / Breslin, Susannah
“In Data Baby, Susannah Breslin recounts her extraordinary childhood as a research subject in a renowned 30-year study of personality development at UC Berkeley. Decades later, grappling with an abusive marriage and breast cancer, she investigates how being raised under scrutiny shaped her identity and choices. Her compelling, provocative quest uncovers long-buried secrets behind the study, raising profound questions about whether it truly understood her better than she knew herself. With brave honesty and wit, her universal story explores the tension between allowing technology to define us and discovering our authentic selves in an era of increasing data-driven self-optimization. Her life-changing journey as one of history’s most studied individuals illuminates why we turn out the way we do.” (Adapted from publisher and catalogue)

Grief is For People / Crosley, Sloane
“Sloane Crosley’s poignant memoir explores loss and the complexities of mourning after her closest friend’s death by suicide. With disarming wit and empathy, Crosley embarks on a quest to understand grief, upending conventional narratives and offering a category-defying elegy that resonates deeply in our grief-stricken times. Hailed as one of the most anticipated books of the year, it’s a suspenseful and moving portrait of friendship, family, and the struggle to hold on to the past without being consumed by it.” (Adapted from catalogue)

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What Have We Here? New Biographies in the Collection

There is something magical about delving into the life of a person who is so different to yourself, and finding out that despite their extraordinary lives, we all have much in common.  This month’s new crop of biographies in the collection showcases many amazing lives while also highlighting the shared humanity of us all.  Try these titles to get you started.

What have we here? : portraits of a life / Williams, Billy Dee
“Billy Dee Williams was born in Harlem in 1937 and grew up in a household of love and sophistication. He studied painting, before setting out to pursue acting with Herbert Berghoff, Stella Adler, and Sidney Poitier. He became a true pop culture icon when, as the first Black character in the Star Wars universe, he played Lando Calrissian in George Lucas’s The Empire Strikes Back.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Beyond hope : from an Auckland prison to changing lives in Afghanistan / Shah, Bariz
“At age 18, Bariz Shah ended up in an Auckland prison. As an Afghan migrant who was deeply affected by 9/11, Bariz spiralled from schoolyard fights into crime and drugs – until prison made him rethink the story of his life. Years later, in Christchurch, Bariz had turned everything around when a terrorist walked into the local mosque and took the lives of 51 people in his community. Driven by a new purpose, Bariz and his wife Saba raised money to return to Afghanistan and establish 51 small businesses in honour of those they lost. In this memoir about finding self-belief, belonging and positive change, Bariz’s story reminds us that we always have the power to change ourselves for the better.” (Catalogue)

Molly / Butler, Blake
“Blake Butler and Molly Brodak instantly connected, fell in love, married and built a life together. Nearly three years into their marriage, grappling with mental illness and a lifetime of trauma, Molly took her own life. In the days and weeks after Molly’s death, Blake discovered shocking secrets she had held back from the world, fundamentally altering his view of their relationship and who she was.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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Cartoons & Comics Curator Sam Orchard on the highlights of ComicFest 2024

Fast approaching is the wonderful, unmissable celebration of all things comic and graphic that is ComicFest 2024.

Join us on Saturday 4 May to explore the world of cartoons and comics at the National Library of New Zealand in Thorndon (cnr Molesworth and Aitken Street). From 9am – 4:30pm, we will be hosting a festival of workshops, talks, comic giveaways, live drawing, and even a children’s cosplay competition. Find more full details of the jam packed programme here.

Sam's self-portraitWe recently interviewed Curator for the Cartoons and Comics Archive at Alexander Turnbull Library, Sam Orchard, to quiz him about his involvement with ComicFest 2024 and also touched on a whole host of other comic and graphic related topics.

Sam also writes comics and creates art that celebrates difference. His  comics explore the themes of mental health, fat embodiment, nerd culture and trans lives. Sam’s comics and resources about sexuality, sex and gender have been used internationally by SOGI advocates. Sam is currently working on his first full-length graphic novel.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Sam for doing this interview, which was done in conjunction with Radioactive FM’s Caffeine and Aspirin arts and entertainment review show. The interview was conducted by Neil Johnstone.

And below is the podcast of that interview for your enjoyment:

Win tickets to local family film ‘The Mountain’, in cinemas now

From the Producers of Hunt for the Wilderpeople & Jojo Rabbit and directed by Rachel House, ‘The Mountain’ is a heartfelt drama about three children on a mission to find healing under the watchful eye of Taranaki Maunga, and discover friendship in the spirit of adventure. A childhood cancer narrative is explored in this film, so we encourage you to view gently, especially for those with childhood cancer stories close to their hearts.

The Mountain is now showing at these cinema locations.

Win double passes to The Mountain over on our Facebook page.

Feijoa Fever: New Popular Non-Fic

Feijoa season is upon us! This abundant little fruit is everywhere in autumn – falling off trees and filling up bags and containers, ready to share. But how exactly did a South American fruit nestle itself so neatly into the hearts of people all across Aotearoa? Kate Evans asks that question and more in her book Feijoa: A Story of Obsession & Belonging. 

Explorations of culture and history through the lens of one specific type of food are not unusual: there have been books written about milk, salt, sugar, bread, olive oil, the general concept of breakfast, and even two on cod – and that’s only scraping the surface. Whether you love them or hate them, it’s about time feijoas made the list, because this back-garden fruit has a global story, and a fascinating one at that. Click below to place a reserve, and browse the rest of our non-fiction picks for the month.

Feijoa : a story of obsession & belonging / Evans, Kate
“The feijoa comes from the highlands of Southern Brazil and the valleys of Uruguay, where it was woven into indigenous and Afro-Brazilian cultures. Today, it is celebrated by one small town in the Colombian Andes, and has become an icon of community and nationhood in New Zealand. Feijoas are among only a handful of plants that have made the journey from the wild to the orchard in the last few generations, providing a rare opportunity to watch, up close, the myriad ways plants seduce us. Feijoa is a book about connection: between people and plants, between individuals, between cultures, across disciplines, celebrating the ways our lives and loves intersect in surprising ways.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Material world : the six raw materials that shape modern civilization / Conway, Ed
“Sand, iron, salt, oil, copper and lithium: the struggle for these fundamental materials has created empires, razed civilizations, and fed our ingenuity and our greed for thousands of years. Though we are told we now live in a weightless world of information, we dug more stuff out of the earth in 2017 than in all of human history before 1950. And it’s getting exponentially worse. Even as we pare back our consumption of fossil fuels we continue to redouble our consumption of everything else. Why? Because these ingredients are the basis for everything. Our modern world would not exist without them, and the hidden battle to control them will shape our future. This is a story of our past and future, from the ground up.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A day in the life of Abed Salama : a Palestine story / Thrall, Nathan
“Milad is five years old and excited for his school trip to a theme park on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but tragedy awaits – his bus is involved in a horrific accident. His father, Abed, rushes to the chaotic site, only to find Milad has already been taken away. Abed sets off on a journey to learn Milad’s fate, navigating a maze of physical, emotional, and bureaucratic obstacles he must face as a Palestinian. Interwoven with Abed’s odyssey are the stories of Jewish and Palestinian characters whose lives and pasts unexpectedly converge. A Day in the Life of Abed Salama is a deeply immersive, stunningly detailed portrait of life in Israel and Palestine, and an illumination of the reality of one of the most contested places on earth.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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New online resource: the Wellington Provincial Council Gazette, 1854-1876

Digitised for the first time is the complete collection of the weekly gazette of the Wellington Provincial Council, which offers a fascinating insight into the city and region’s early colonial history.

From 1853 through to 1876, New Zealand operated a quasi-federal system of provincial government where each province had its own mini-parliament to manage local affairs. Initially six provinces were established. The Wellington Province extended above Whanganui in the west and to Wairoa in east (though Hawke’s Bay would later split off to form its own province in 1858) but for much of the council’s existence, its focus was often concentrated in and around Port Nicholson.

Sheep graze outside the Wellington Provincial Council chambers once located on the site of the current parliamentary library. ATL Ref: B-079-008

Operating from a building constructed on what was later to become the parliamentary grounds, members were chosen in regular elections which were open to men aged 21 years or older who owned freehold property worth at least £50. Voters also got to elect a ‘superintendent’ who was not a Council member but acted as a quasi-chief executive for the province. For most of its 23-year existence, the dominant superintendent was Isaac Featherston after whom both the central Wellington street and the south Wairarapa township were named. From September 1854 the Wellington Provincial Council published a near-weekly ‘gazette’, an official magazine that reported on a huge variety of different administrative concerns. For its first decade it was printed on blue paper stock by The New Zealand Spectator, a weekly newspaper based in Manners Street which had been contracted by the Council to produce the magazine. The colour chosen directly referenced that used by the British House of Commons which had all its sessional publications (known as the ‘Blue Books’) printed in this manner.

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