People & Places Newsletter – September 2014

Welcome to our September 2014 People & Places newsletter. As always, we’ve picked a mixture of history, New Zealand material, travel stories (we quite love the idea of ‘micro-adventures’, or exploring close to home!), and biographies for you to enjoy.

You may also notice that this newsletter looks a bit different — we’ve switched our newsletters over to Mailchimp, but other than the engine powering them, nothing else has changed! These newsletters are still put together by our librarians, and we hope you enjoy our picks of the new books! If for any reason you would like to stop receiving these emails, you can find a link to unsubscribe at the bottom of this email.

Have a browse, and we hope you enjoy our picks!

Library News


This month we’re on another literary jaunt. We take a look at Virginia Woolf, quite literally this time, as this book focuses on the importance of painting in her life and its place in the cultural and intellectual life of Bloomsbury. Plus, another literary figure (J. D. Salinger); a food memoir — this time based in Russia; the intriguing story of Dido Belle; Hilary Clinton’s latest memoir; and a story of taking a book shop afloat on England’s canals. Enjoy!

Syndetics book cover Virginia Woolf : art, life and vision / Frances Spalding.
“”Words are an impure medium… better far to have been born into the silent kingdom of paint” – Virginia Woolf. Virginia Woolf’s many novels, notably Night and Day (1919), Jacob’s Room (1922), Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and The Waves (1931), transformed ideas about structure, plot and characterisation. The third child of Leslie and Julia Stephen, and sister of Vanessa (later Bell), Woolf was a central figure in the Bloomsbury Group: that union of friends who revolutionised British culture with their innovative approach to art, design and society.” (Drawn from Global Books summary).
Syndetics book cover My Salinger year / Joanna Rakoff.
“1996. Joanna Rakoff takes a job at one of New York’s oldest literary agencies. On her first day, her boss gives her a stern talk about someone named ‘Jerry’. She is never to give out Jerry’s address or phone number, or talk to reporters about Jerry, or to call him with questions. It is only then she notices an entire wall of books containing myriad editions of the works of J.D. Salinger. Filled with titanic personalities and legendary authors, ‘My Salinger Year’ is a vivid, funny and charming coming of age story about a young woman trying to find her feet, and her voice” (Drawn from Global Books)
Syndetics book cover Mastering the art of Soviet cooking : a memoir of love and longing / Anya von Bremzen.
“While the title suggests a massive volume of recipes, this work is actually a memoir of life in Soviet Russia. The book is subdivided by decade, and von Bremzen (contributing editor, Travel + Leisure; The New Spanish Table) weaves her own memories together with stories from her grandmother and mother, beginning in 1910. The common denominator-and recurring touchstone-is food. The author vividly describes foods such as the kulebiaka, a towering pastry of fish, rice, and mushrooms, and salat Olivier, a French chef’s extravagant creation that underwent a Soviet reformation, swapping carrots for crayfish and chicken for grouse and putting potatoes and canned peas at the forefront before the entire dish was smothered in mass-produced mayonnaise.” (Library Journal)
Syndetics book cover Hard choices / Hillary Rodham Clinton.
“The once and possibly future Democratic presidential candidate looks back on her adventures as Secretary of State in this diplomatically phrased memoir. Clinton (Living History) recounts her handling of four years of world crises and conflicts, including nuclear negotiations with Iran and North Korea, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the Arab Spring, the attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi that killed four Americans, countless joustings with the Chinese, the Russians, and Congressional Republicans and journeys stumping for human rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights.” (Publisher Weekly).
Syndetics book cover Belle : the true story of Dido Belle / Paula Byrne.
“This is the story of Dido Belle, whose adoption by an aristocratic family challenged the conventions of 18th century England Dido Belle was the illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy captain and a slave woman, adopted by the Earl of Mansfield. As Lord Chief Justice of England he would preside over the drowning of 142 slaves by a shipping company. This is the story of a family that defied convention, the legal trial that exposed the cruelties of slavery and the woman who challenged notions of race at the highest rank.” (Drawn from Global Books)
Syndetics book cover The bookshop that floated away / Sarah Henshaw.
“This title follows the ebbs and flows of Sarah Henshaw’s journey as she sought to make her vision of a floating bookshop, The Book Barge, a reality. Business wasn’t always easy, so one May morning she set off for six months chugging the length and breadth of the country. Books were bartered for food, accommodation, bathroom facilities and cake. During the journey, the barge suffered a flooded engine, went out to sea, got banned from Bristol and, on several occasions, floated away altogether.” (Library Catalogue)

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Travel stories & guides

Travel from your armchair with new popular Travel books this month. We have walking and biking adventures for you, and if you really want to get out and do something, check out Microadventures which teaches you to explore the place you already live in. Plus, lost spaces, invisible cities, and forgotten islands…

Syndetics book cover Microadventures : local discoveries for great escapes / Alastair Humphreys.
“Adventure is a loose word, a spirit of trying something new, trying something difficult. Going somewhere different, leaving your comfort zone. Above all, adventure is about enthusiasm, ambition, open-mindedness and curiosity. Adventure is all around us, at all times. Even during hard financial times such as these. Times when getting out into the wild is more enjoyable, invigorating and important than ever. It is in this inspirational spirit that Alastair Humphreys introduces us to the exciting world of microadventures — adventures that are close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover From Crystal Palace to Red Square : a hapless biker’s road to Russia / [Kevin Turner].
“This hilarious travel guide follows critically acclaimed author Kevin Turner (Bonjour! Is This Italy? A Hapless Biker’s Guide to Europe) on another ill-thought out adventure, as he aims his heavily laden Kawasaki northwards towards the towering waterfalls of Norway. Waterfalls done, Turner heads east on a long and treacherous 1700km journey towards St. Petersburg, passing through Sweden and Finland on route. With his sights firmly set on the Nürburgring at the end of his journey, Turner then heads westwards, crossing most of Poland and much of Germany on the long ride home. The author’s observations and anecdotes transform this motorcycle guidebook into a laugh-a-minute page turner, which inspires and entertains in equal measure.” (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Life cycles : a London bike courier decided to cycle around the globe, 169 days later, he came back with a world record / Julian Sayarer.
“Julian Sayarer is an author, journalist, and is often called an adventurer, although normally by other people. He has cycled six times across Europe, and in 2009 broke the 18,000-mile world record for a circumnavigation by bicycle. He has spent three years working as a cycle courier on the streets of London, hitchhiked from New York to San Francisco, and worked on books and documentary projects along the way. A politics graduate, Julian’s writing has appeared in the London Review of Books, New Statesman, Aeon Magazine, and many others, including a host of cycling publications. He writes slow travel, his writing from the roadside a 12mph view of the world in passing.” (Product description from
Syndetics book cover Walking the literary landscape : 20 classic walks for book-lovers in Northern England / Ian Hamilton, Diane Roberts.
“Literature and a love of the English countryside are natural companions. Walking the Literary Landscape brings the two together in a collection of 20 circular routes in the north of England, all between 3 and 9 miles (5 and 15 kilometres) in length. …Walk in the footsteps of writers like Arthur Ransome, who drew inspiration from the Lake District for his classic children’s adventure Swallows and Amazons, or the Brontë sisters whose love of the moors around Haworth echoes through the centuries. See Chatsworth, the Peak District house that thrilled Jane Austen, and tread carefully in Whitby, the Yorkshire seaside town where Bram Stoker set his most famous creation Dracula.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Off the map : lost spaces, invisible cities, forgotten islands, feral places, and what they tell us about the world / Alastair Bonnett.
“Whether it is Sealand, an abandoned gun platform off the English coast that a British citizen claimed as his own sovereign nation, making his wife his princess, or Baarle, a patchwork of Dutch and Flemish enclaves where crossing the road can involve traversing multiple national borders; or moving villages, unclaimed deserts, secret cities or underground labyrinths, fully illustrated with original maps and drawing Off the Map shows the modern world from surprising new vantage points that will inspire urban explorers, and armchair travellers alike to consider a new way of understanding the world we live in.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Hello, NY : an illustrated love letter to the five boroughs / Julia Rothman.
“From beloved author, illustrator, and New Yorker Julia Rothman comes this visual homage to the city she calls home. With humor and tenderness, Rothman offers an eclectic assortment of quirky historical tidbits (how the lion sculptures in front of the New York Public Library got their names), expertise on idiosyncratic places to visit (where to find the tennis courts at Grand Central Station), interviews with locals (thoughts on love and life from a Hasidic Jewish landlord), and personal recollections from growing up in the Bronx (eating fried fish at Johnny’s Reef)–all illustrated in her signature whimsical, hand-drawn style. An illustrated city guide that’s as entertaining as it is informative, this is a treasure for anyone who hearts New York.” (Syndetics summary)

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This month, read about the unlikely story of the discovery of the remains of Richard III in a car park in Leceister, the history of the Women’s Institute in the Second World War, the American Wars of Reconstruction, and more.

Syndetics book cover Digging for Richard III : how archaeology found the king / Mike Pitts.
“The events of Richard IIIs reign and his death in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth are known worldwide through Shakespeares most performed, filmed and translated history play. Digging for Richard III is the page-turning story of how his grave was found, the people behind the discovery and what it tells us. It is the first complete narrative of a project that blended passion, science, luck and detection. Told by a noted archaeologist with access to all the parties involved, it follows the quest from an idea born in an Edinburgh bookshop to the day, fourteen years later, when two archaeologists carefully raised the bones from a car park in Leicester, and the scientific studies that resulted. The vivid tale of a king, his demise and now his rediscovery, this is also an insider’s gripping account of how modern archaeology really works, of how clues meticulously assembled and forensically examined are pieced together to create a narrative worthy of the finest detective fiction.” (
Syndetics book cover Jambusters : the story of the Women’s Institute in the Second World War / Julie Summers.
“The Second World War was the Women’s Institute’s finest hour. The whole of its previous history – two decades of educating, entertaining and supporting women and campaigning on women’s issues – culminated in the enormous collective responsibility felt by the members to ‘do their bit’ for Britain. With all the vigour, energy and enthusiasm at their disposal, a third of a million country women set out to make their lives and the lives of those around them more bearable in what they described as ‘a period of insanity’. Jambusters tells the story of the minute and idiosyncratic details of everyday life during the Second World War. Making jam, making do and mending, gathering rosehips, keeping pigs and rabbits, housing evacuees, setting up canteens for the troops, knitting, singing and campaigning for a better Britain after the war: all these activities played a crucial role in war time.” (Library Catalogue)
Syndetics book cover The wars of Reconstruction : the brief, violent history of America’s most progressive era / Douglas R. Egerton.
“A history of the Reconstruction years, which marked the United States’ most progressive moment prior to the Civil Rights movement, tells the stories of the African-American activists and officeholders who risked their lives for equality after the Civil War.” (Library Catalogue)
Syndetics book cover India : a short history / Andrew Robinson.
“In ten incisive chapters Andrew Robinson provides a clear focus to each segment of the unfolding story of Indian history, from the remarkable cities of the Indus Valley civilization four millennia ago to the Hindu dynasties, from the Mughal Empire to the British Raj, and from Indian independence to the nations emergence as the worlds largest democracy and one of its fastest growing economies in the modern era.” (
Syndetics book cover Mandela : my prisoner, my friend / Christo Brand with Barbara Jones.
“Christo Brand was a South African farm boy, born into the Afrikaans culture which had created apartheid to persecute black people and claim superiority for whites. Nelson Mandela, also raised in a rural village, was the black son of a tribal chief. He trained as a lawyer to take up the fight against apartheid on behalf of a whole nation. Their opposing worlds collided when Christo, a raw recruit from the country’s prison service, was sent to Robben Island to guard the notoriously dangerous terrorists there. Mandela was their undisputed leader. The two of them, a boy of 18 and a long-suffering freedom fighter then aged 60, could well have become bitter enemies. Instead, they formed an extraordinary friendship through small human kindnesses. […] This book tells the story of their friendship in Christo’s words for the first time.” (

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New Zealand

The past stories and history of New Zealand are not only the domain of the rich and famous. This month in the New Zealand collection we feature some stories of early pioneers whose names are not famous or well known but who played their part in the history of New Zealand.

Syndetics book cover Our stories : the way we used to be : the New Zealand that time forgot… / edited by Ian Wishart.
Every day, thousands of news stories are published in New Zealand, chronicling the big events and the small. Most of these stories are long forgotten by the time historians get around to compiling the ‘official record’ of our country. Discover the heroes and villains of our past through long forgotten news stories, and find out how life really was in pioneer New Zealand. (Adapted from back cover)
Syndetics book cover Working lives c. 1900 : a photographic essay / Erik Olssen.
For the men and women of the skilled trades in the early 20th century, the skills and knowledge of their respective crafts were a source of identity and pride. Together with the so-called unskilled, who built the infrastructure for the new society, these workers laid the cultural and social foundations of a new and fairer society. This book uses photographs to show two processes fundamental to creating a new society: the transformation of swamp into farmland then city-scape, and the transplantation of the knowledge and skill required in the Old World that were essential to building a new world. (Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover Vertical living : the Architectural Centre and the remaking of Wellington / Julia Gatley and Paul Walker.
“… we of this Architectural Centre in Wellington are a group of architects and draughtsmen and wood engravers and other people whose greatest claim to affiliation is an overriding enthusiasm for good design” – Design Review, 1948. In 1946, just as the Group was being established in Auckland, Wellington established the Architectural Centre. Members of both were young and idealistic, and they shared common beliefs – in the transformative potential of modern architecture, in need for urban development to be carefully controlled, in the desirability of planning for a better future. This book recovers the powerful history, politics and architecture of the Architectural Centre to return us to a vision of a modernist city, partially realised in Wellington New Zealand. Gatley and Walker begin writing the city back into the history of architecture in this country. (Adapted from Syndetics summary)
Syndetics book cover How we remember : New Zealanders and the First World War / edited by Charles Ferrall and Harry Ricketts.
“Essays by a raft of historians, writers and other prominent figures reflect on our different forms of remembering and re-membering, what we have cherished and valued, forgotten and ignored, constructed and reframed” (Publisher information)
Syndetics book cover Beyond the state : New Zealand state houses from modest to modern / text, Bill McKay and Andrea Stevens ; photography Simon Devitt.
“A full colour illustrated history of New Zealand’s state housing traditions featuring modern-day examples of 14 state houses located around the country, ranging from original to dramatically renovated.” (Publisher’s description)
Syndetics book cover Flying Kiwis : a history of the OE / Jude Wilson.
“Leaving home to see the world is something that succeeding generations of young New Zealanders have done in ever-increasing numbers. The ‘overseas experience,’ or the ‘OE,’ has been the topic of countless individual travel accounts, and has provided subject matter for plays, films, and novels. Until now, there hasn’t been a history of the OE. Based on the oral accounts of several hundred travelers across all seven decades of the OE, this vibrant history shows how the OE has changed over time. Well illustrated with the ephemera of popular culture surrounding youth travel, Flying Kiwis traces the emergence of the OE, as well as the transport, media, and other networks that have supported it. Laced with humor and entertaining anecdotes, Flying Kiwis is an essential read for anyone who has arrived in a foreign city with only a few dollars and the address of a friend’s cousin.” (Back cover)

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