From Wild to Manicured: new gardening books

Take a visual journey around the world- from England, to Japan, to Australia -where the latest contemporary gardening trends are being experimented with, and pushed to their limits, producing awe-inspiring and abundant results. You’ll find a big focus on sustainable, eco-friendly planting, where your local environment can help lead the way in creating a perfectly designed, harmonious outdoor space. There’s even a gardening guide for renters with budget friendly and time conscious options, for those whose greenspaces may have been long neglected and sparsely cared for. You needn’t be limited by lease lengths or lack of inspiration, this array of new non-fiction books have all your gardening needs covered.

Wild : the naturalistic garden / Kingsbury, Noël
“A stunning exploration of one of the hottest trends in garden design: nature-based planting with an eco-aware approach. Forget the mild, manicured gardens of the past: planting today is undergoing a revolution in taste and aesthetics. This is the first comprehensive overview of a new planting approach that is wild and natural by nature, reflecting the global turn towards sustainability and the current zeitgeist in garden design. Featuring over 40 gardens this stunning book is brought to life with beautiful photography and insightful text.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Adelaide Hills Gardens / McCabe, Christine
Adelaide Hills Gardens charts the evolution of gardening in Australia, that is anchored deeply in history, yet with sights set firmly on the future. Old oak, elm and ash trees, planted after memories of English gardens, live alongside stringybark eucalypts and native bush gullies, fruit-bearing orchards and wineries. Encompassing twenty gardens, taking in grand Victorian estates and repurposed municipal water tanks alike,  this book is a testament to the power of gardens to adapt, delight and restore.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Gardens for the soul : sustainable and stylish outdoor spaces / Bird, Sara
Gardens for the Soul shows how a sustainable and eco-friendly ethos can be at the heart of creating a beautiful garden, whatever its location or size. There are a multitude of different ways in which we use our outside spaces, Gardens for the Soul explores ways to create and style a haven that will suit your lifestyle. Visit real-life gardens of all sizes, to glean ideas, tips and inspiration, with a focus on sustainability and reclaimed materials.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Inside your Japanese garden / Yasumoro, Sadao
Inside Your Japanese Garden walks you through designing and creating your very own Japanese garden. From small projects like benches and gates, to larger undertakings like bridges and mud walls, this book provides a wide variety of ways to enhance the space around your home, no matter the size. This book features 20 gardens that author Sadao Yasumoro designed and built in Japan. From small tsuboniwa courtyard gardens to a large backyard stroll garden with water features, stairs and walls, these real-life inspirations will help spark your own garden plan.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Flea market garden style / McKenzie, Caroline
“With small space inspiration, details that wow, budget-friendly solutions, magical makeovers, or fresh ideas for old homes, you can bring new life to your yard! Welcome to Flea Market Garden Style, where a well-rooted, decidedly unstuffy approach to landscapes is taken. Firm believers that gardens look best when they are lush and layered–if not a smidge unkempt– where the more varied and abundant the flora and fauna, the better! Discover outdoor spaces brimming with old pieces that have been given new life.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Emerging Bookseller of the Year, Lisa Adler

The 2022 National Book Trade Industry Awards were announced recently in Auckland, to celebrate “…our best and brightest, our successes and our innovations, and to acknowledge the excellent work being done in the New Zealand book trade”.

Lisa Adler, of Vic Books
Lisa Adler, of Vic Books

On the winners list was a true Wellington gem, one of Vic Books’ long-standing staff members, Lisa Adler. Adler took out the top prize for the Emerging New Zealand Bookseller of the Year category, a true testament to her extensive service to Wellington’s thriving book community. Following the win, she generously shared some of her insights with us, answering questions about career progression, supporting local writers and working closely with community to enhance an experience with books.

Read our Q&A below to discover Lisa’s recent pick, an old favourite and just how many books a professional bookseller can own!

Q&A with Lisa Adler, 2022 Emerging New Zealand Bookseller of the Year

Q: Congratulations on winning the 2022 Emerging New Zealand Bookseller of the Year award! How did your nomination come about?

Thank you very much!  I didn’t know I had been nominated, so it was a complete surprise to win.  My general manager, Jessica Godfrey, did all the work behind the scenes. She says she was able to address every single criteria from the many testimonials that she asked people for – so I guess my nomination, and ultimate win, came from the many relationships one forms as a bookseller. And the strength of those relationships.

Q: Could you give us some context about your work: how you came to your current role and your future trajectory within the book industry?

I went back to university after being a full-time parent for ten years, to study English Literature and Classics, after re-igniting my love of reading with my children.  I wanted to work closely with books: promoting the value of reading, encouraging people to read, sharing the joy of the worlds that books send you to and being surrounded by others who are passionate and committed to books and reading also. I decided to approach Vic Books to see if there were any jobs available, and luckily for me there was an opening at their Pipitea store.

Q: What do you find is the most fulfilling part about helping connect people to literature?

Knowing that it is more than just reading words on a page; that engagement with the narrative means many things for the reader.  A book can help you imagine lives other than your own, find similarities with your life, take you to worlds you hadn’t imagined, give you perspective…  To hear that someone has had a meaningful experience with a book is what makes it all worthwhile.

Q: You also co-host a RadioActive FM show ‘Vic Books for Breakfast’ every Thursday morning. Could you tell us a little about it, and how it ties into your bookselling?

I meet with Maggie Tweedie to talk about a book (of my choosing): usually it is a recent release, or it may be one that has won an award, or that is being spoken about in literary spaces – the overall belief being that others will find it worth the time to read.  I will review fiction and non-fiction, adult and children’s.  I really enjoy the challenge, as I will try hard to choose genres that I may not always gravitate to.  I hope to not just cover the plot of the book, but to discuss how well the author writes and crafts their story.

Q: The store is a benchmark in so many local writers’ development, particularly in their early years due to its connection to Victoria University Te Herenga Waka. In your opinion how does it contribute to, nurture and foster emerging voices? Do you have any pearls of wisdom for young or emerging writers who are just starting out?

Vic Books has always valued its commitment to literature in all its forms and works hard to foster relationships with the university staff, the International Institute of Modern Letters and Te Herenga Waka University Press.  We write a journal that showcases writers and their publications as well as those working in publishing.  We host book launches, special literature days (National Poetry Day coming up August 26th with an in-store event!) and readings by New Zealand authors.  For those new writers (of any age!) I say “stick with it” – join writing groups, get peer reviews, read voraciously to learn about craft and language and find others that can understand what you are doing.  There are courses run through Continuing Education and of course, the IIML, that provide excellent groundwork for emerging writers.

Q: In your eyes, what value do independent booksellers provide for the community, that online sellers / conglomerates cannot match?

We provide independent, engaging advice and expertise.  Time is spent discussing what a reader likes and grasping how they relate to differing authors and genres.  We can get a sense of whether a reader would like to try something different and encourage them to try something new.  Independent booksellers know their books and curate for readers; we will often choose a title knowing we have a readership for it.  We build relationships with customers that encourage them to see our shop as an interested and curious space, where we learn as much from them as they do from us.  Online sellers can’t form those relationships, and their choices for what books you might like are only based on what you have already read: they are unable to be creative.

We work hard at providing a ‘bricks and mortar’ venue, knowing that it is important for humans to connect in the real world. People who enjoy reading, enjoy the passion that comes with discussing their latest book and getting to connect with other like-minded people.  Hence, author events, reading days, book launches that keep people connected to their community.

Q: Is there a single piece of writing that has left a particularly significant mark for you? Could you explain why?

The Iliad:  the story encompasses all of what it means to be human. The characters display those emotions that are both enhancing and those that show their shortcomings – the reader gets deep anger, jealousy, a sense of injustice, love in all its forms, brutal aggression, redemption.  The plot is driven by lots of action, but also by its quieter moments, when reflection will determine the next scene.  I loved the Gods as an ‘audience’ and the rationale behind their interventions, or not, in the face of a human war. 

Q: Over your lifetime, how have libraries played a role in developing and shaping your passion for books? Has your relationship to libraries changed over time?

Libraries have played a huge role in my life.  Our family visited them frequently and as a teenager I would read the books my mum got out! I made libraries my home in the UK when I nannied there for a while and on return to NZ took my children there weekly. I still use the library service – have a list of books on reserve all the time.  I often go to pick up books I have ordered, but still browse the shelves looking for something that piques my interest.

Q: Could you tell us about a recent title you loved and why it captured you?

I have just finished ‘Eddy, Eddy’ by Kate de Goldi and it has truly captured my heart because of its encapsulation of love, loss, trying to find one’s self, and make sense of the world against a backdrop of constant loss.  It never falls into a trope of grief, and always maintains humour, with marvellous wordplay and quirky characters.  The ending is one of the best, although immensely poignant, that I have read.  I think de Goldi is masterful in the way she constructs a world so easy to inhabit and I would love to meet Eddy’s family in real life.

Q: And finally, ballpark, how many books do you think you own?

I had to do a quick calculation on looking at my shelves…  and think it is probably about 2000, counting the children’s books that are in the attic, packed away for if I ever have grandchildren!


Eddy, Eddy / De Goldi, Kate
“Eddy Smallbone (orphan) is grappling with identity, love, loss, and religion. It’s two years since he blew up his school life and the earthquakes felled his city. Home life is maddening. His pet-minding job is expanding in peculiar directions. And now the past and the future have come calling, in unexpected form. As Eddy navigates his way through the Christchurch suburbs to Christmas, juggling competing responsibilities and an increasingly noisy interior world, he moves closer and closer to an overdue personal reckoning.” (Catalogue)

The Iliad / Homer
“An epic tale of love and betrayal, war and hope The Iliad is the first of two legendary ancient poems attributed to the Greek bard Homer. Typically dated between the 8th and 7th centuries BC it is believed by many to be the earliest extant piece of European literature. The poem deals with the exploits of Agamemnon, Odysseus, Achilles, Ajax and their comrades in the final year of their siege of the city of Troy.” (Catalogue)

We would like to thank Lisa for generously taking the time to answer our questions. Listen to her latest RadioActive Book Review, and explore the full archive online. To hear more about Lisa, listen to her recent interview with RNZ. Thanks to Jennifer at Vic Books for providing the photograph used in this post.

New interiors books to reinvigorate your home

Spend these chilly winter days envisioning ways you can transform your interior space, to become its most eco-friendly, comforting and beautiful this winter. These new release non-fiction books are centered around how you can alter your interior world to reflect your personality, by embracing a healthy mix of creativity and design, that maintains a sustainable sensitivity.

Find artistic inspiration in Sarah Andrews’s aesthetic wonderland Principles of Style, that has reached cult-status around the world following the success of her iconic, unpretentious Tasmanian cabin Captain’s Rest. Andrews’s unconventional, raw and honest personal journey is expressed in her unique interiors styling, and has been adapted into an approachable and practical guide, that can be applied to any space for a deeply personal outcome. Then, delve deeper into the creative approach in The Life Eclectic and The New Naturalists, that showcase a wide array of eclectic artists homes from around the globe. 

Experience the breath of fresh air that is Probably This Housewarming. A new release that humorously fills the rarely accommodated space of interior improvements for rental homes. You’ll find fun and easy temporary alterations, DIY’s and entertaining tips in this inclusive, enthusiastic and realistic rental home improvement guide. And explore the multiple new titles featuring sustainable homes, that will help you embrace greener ways of living, decorating and designing your interior space, to foster an eco-conscious spirit at home. These visually exciting and informative new releases will fulfill all your interior design needs, and help you revitalise your love for your own home.

Principles of style / Andrews, Sarah
Principles of Style aims to be a timeless learning tool for readers, no matter their own personal style. Andrews examines some of her key projects and favourite rooms, as well as by focusing on her ten rules of styling, formulated both through hands-on experience and studies in the science of design. Andrews believes that everyone has the ability to create interiors that are right for them; in this inspiring and eminently practical book, she aims to demonstrate just how to do so.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The life eclectic / Breeze, Alexander
“Featuring homes of the world’s most well-respected creatives, The Life Eclectic is a celebration of individuality, and embracing the joy that fluidity in taste can bring. Ever wondered how you might be able to recreate the eclectic, joyful and chic style of famed designers? The Life Eclectic is an interiors book that shows how highly regarded designers, artists, film directors and musicians curate their treasured (and varied) possessions to glorious effect.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Wonderland : adventures in decorating / Thornton, Summer
“Interior decorator Summer Thornton believes in designing with the wildest abandon: her world is one of nickel tubs, marble fireplaces, whimsical textiles, surprising patterns, and secret gardens. Often described as maximalist with a modern, fresh sensibility, Thornton manages to achieve highly polished, sophisticated interiors that indulge in a lighthearted, almost irreverent sense of whimsy. In her first book, she inspires readers to follow their creative impulses and make their own rules.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The new naturalists : inside the homes of creative collectors : with over 300 illustrations / Bingham, Claire
“Collectors open their homes to reveal the weird and wonderful world of natural objects. This new generation of naturalists use their collections to craft creative careers and decorate their homes, providing a wealth of inspiration for celebrating the beauty of the world around us more sustainably. From cabinets of curiosity to foraged decorations, these obsessive and eclectic creatives reveal the stories behind their collections and how they celebrate their love of nature in their everyday spaces.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Housewarming : a guide to creating a home you adore / Ciolino, Beau
“A no-nonsense, comprehensive guide to living comfortably and beautifully on the cheap by and for millennials. This fun guide shows you how to live your best, fullest, most beautiful life while dealing with all of the limitations that come with renting, working full-time, and having little-to-no disposable income. Organized into three sections–Design, DIY, and Entertain– the guide is all about embracing your true self in your home design, to create a space that reflects your personality and fits your individual needs.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Green living : a sustainable guide to a more intentional life / Chillingsworth, Jen
“This book is a collection of changes you can make to your home and lifestyle over the course of a year. Jen Chillingsworth offers up achievable advice and tips for anyone and everyone, no matter where you live or what job you do. From making your own cleaning products, soy candles, buying vintage, giving up plastic to celebrating simply – discover how to get the most out of living a more modest, meaningful life. Learn to live and enjoy the little things.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Embracing natural design : inspired living / Gonzalez, Stephanie Kienle
“Through beautifully photographed residences, which have an exquisite layering of classic and modern furnishings, Stephanie Kienle Gonzalez discusses how to bring sustainable elements into your living space. She employs organic forms, stone and wood pieces, and natural weaves with texture, such as seagrass, caning, bamboo, and rattan. Full of design and entertaining ideas, Embracing Natural Design is for those who are interested in achieving an environmentally conscious lifestyle.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Women In Sport

This week celebrations began in cities across Aotearoa and Australia, as the one-year countdown to the  2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup began. As Aotearoa ramps up to co-host the biggest competition in women’s sport, we take a look into our collection to highlight and celebrate the personal journeys, and storied histories of the women who achieve at the highest sporting levels.This curated collection of books and eBooks celebrates the visibility and empowerment of women, who set the benchmark ever-higher in their sporting professions. Learn about the extraordinary leadership, resilience and strengths exhibited by these women, who are driven to succeed and thrive in a predominantly male-oriented arena. Explore how women in sport are challenging gender-norms, defying harmful stereotypes, and inspiring the next generation of athletes to continue to reshape the changing landscape of popular sports.

Kicking off : how women in sport are changing the game / Shephard, Sarah
“There’s a battle being fought. It’s raging on the sports fields, in the newsrooms and behind the scenes at every major broadcaster. Women in sport are fighting for equality with more vigour than ever, but are they breaking down the barriers that stand in their way? Sarah Shephard looks behind the headlines to see whether progress is really being made and tells the stories that can no longer be ignored, to reveal the personal experiences of being at the top of the game.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Under the Lights and In the Dark, Gwendolyn Oxenham (ebook)
“From precarious positions in underfunded teams and leagues, to sold-out stadiums, Oxenham tells the stories of the phenoms, underdogs, and nobodies of women’s football – players willing to follow the game wherever it takes them. Whether you’re a newcomer to the sport or a die-hard fan, this is an inspiring book about stars’ beginnings and adventures, struggles and hardship, and, above all, the time-honored romance of the game.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

Running hot / Tamati, Lisa
“Lisa Tamati was the first New Zealand woman to compete in the The Badwater ultramarathon through Death Valley in the United States, one of the world’s toughest races. But Lisa’s story is so much more than that one race. At the age of 19 she suffered a crippling back injury and was told she should give up running. She took that as a challenge and went on to run an unassisted crossing of the Libyan Desert. What happened in that desert would change the course of Lisa’s life and instill in her a love of desert running. Running Hot is a story of a life lived to the max – a story of challenges, setbacks, heartbreaks and triumph.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Game On, Sue Anstiss (ebook)
“Sport has an extraordinary, unique capacity to challenge and change society – to bring joy and hope; to improve physical and mental health, reduce loneliness and build self-esteem and happiness. In recent years, the landscape for women’s sport has finally begun to shift – we are now witnessing positive change as never before. Game On is a celebration of the trailblazing women opening doors for others and a manifesto for women’s sport – a rallying cry to ensure the progress we are currently seeing goes from strength to strength.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)

The warm sun on my face : the story of women’s cricket in New Zealand / Auger, Trevor
“This is the story of women’s cricket in New Zealand, from its earliest humble origins to its glory days on the international stage. It is also the story of the women who have come to be recognised amongst the very best in the world at their sport. It is the story of a game played for the sheer love of it, and of the hard work of the dedicated souls who built and sustained women’s cricket, often in the face of challenge and adversity.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Overdrive cover Strong Like Her, Haley Shapley (ebook)
“Beautiful and powerful, Strong Like Her presents the awe-inspiring account of women’s athleticism throughout history. Part group biography, part cultural history, Shapley delves into the fascinating stories of our muscular foremothers, to celebrate strength in all its forms. Illuminating the lives and accomplish­ments of storied female sports stars, whose con­tributions to society go far beyond their entries in record books, Shapley challenges us to rethink everything we thought we knew about the power of women.” (Adapted from Overdrive description)