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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Transgender Day of Visibility 2024

This Sunday March 31st we celebrate the International Transgender Day of Visibility.  A day in which we celebrate the lives and stories of transgender people, their contributions to society and highlight the discrimination faced by trans people worldwide.  Here are a selection of books by and about transgender people from all over the world.

Black boy out of time : a memoir / Ziyad, Hari
“One of nineteen children in a blended family, Hari Ziyad was raised by a Hindu Hare Krishna mother and a Muslim father. Through reframing their own coming-of-age story, Ziyad takes readers on a powerful journey of growing up queer and Black in Cleveland, Ohio, and of navigating the equally complex path toward finding their true self in New York City. Exploring childhood, gender, race, and the trust that is built, broken, and repaired through generations, Ziyad investigates what it means to live beyond the limited narratives Black children are given and challenges the irreconcilable binaries that restrict them. Heartwarming and heart-wrenching, radical and reflective, Hari Ziyad’s vital memoir is for the outcast, the unheard, the unborn, and the dead. It offers us a new way to think about survival and the necessary disruption of social norms.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Detransition, baby : a novel / Peters, Torrey
“Reese had what previous generations of trans women could only dream of; the only thing missing was a child. Then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Ames thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese, and losing her meant losing his only family. Then Ames’s boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she is pregnant with his baby– and is not sure whether she wants to keep it. Ames wonders: Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family, and raise the baby together?” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available in eBook format

Our work is everywhere : an illustrated oral history of queer & trans resistance / Rose, Syan
“Over the past ten years, we have witnessed the rise of queer and trans communities that have defied and challenged those who have historically opposed them. Through bold, symbolic imagery and surrealist, overlapping landscapes, queer illustrator and curator Syan Rose shines a light on the faces and voices of these diverse, amorphous, messy, real, and imagined queer and trans communities. The many themes include Black femme mental health, Pacific Islander authorship, fat queer performance art, disability and health care practice, sex worker activism, and much more.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available in eBook format

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Animals who help humans: Books from Te Pātaka

Have you heard the interesting, true story about the cow that saved its owner during a flood in the Manawatū? If you’d like more stories along the same theme, below we have books on remarkable dogs, pigeons, and horses helping and saving their human friends during war and peace times – and vice versa.

Animal heroes / Long, David
“The first recipients of the Dickin Medal in December 1943 were three pigeons serving with the Royal Air Force, all of whom contributed to the recovery of aircrew from ditched aircraft. And Treo, a black Labrador, was awarded for his ‘heroic actions as an arms and explosives search dog in Afghanistan’. Olga the courageous police horse, who bolted from the path of a flying bomb in World War II only to return to duty. These true tales of heartrending devotion and duty are told from first-hand accounts.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Alfie & me : what owls know, what humans believe / Safina, Carl
“A moving account of raising, then freeing, an orphaned screech owl, whose lasting friendship with the author illuminates humanity’s relationship with the world. When ecologist Carl Safina and his wife, Patricia, took in a near-death baby owl. Alfie’s feathers were not growing correctly, requiring prolonged care. As Alfie grew and gained strength, she became a part of the family, joining a menagerie of dogs and chickens and also braided Carl and Patricia into her world.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

The diggers’ menagerie : mates, mascots and marvels : true stories of animals who went to war / Stone, Barry
“From the Boer War to the conflict in Vietnam, from the Somme to Afghanistan, from beasts of burden and bomb detectors, animals have played a vital role and provided companionship in Australian military history. Dogs, cats, pigeons, camels and horses are documented by Barry Stone, through letters, journals, photographs and first-hand accounts. The stories of the myriad creatures added a poignant layer to Australia’s military history.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

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Graphic Classics

Among the graphic novels held at Wellington City Libraries are several adaptions of classic literary works. If you’re looking for a first step into these works, or simply want to experience them in a different way, here is a selection of what’s available!

Dracula / Bess, Georges
“Bram Stoker’s original novel about the world-renowned vampire, Dracula, is adapted into a beautiful graphic novel by the renowned artist Georges Bess. This volume includes an epilogue adapting Stoker’s short story “Dracula’s Guest” (believed to be the original novel’s first draft chapter before later revived for publication two years after the author’s passing).” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Watership down : the graphic novel / Sturm, James
” Watership Down is a classic tale of survival, hope, courage, and friendship that has delighted and inspired readers around the world for more than fifty years. Masterfully adapted by award-winning author James Sturm and gorgeously illustrated by bestselling artist Joe Sutphin, this spectacular graphic novel will delight old fans and inspire new ones, bringing the joy of Watership Down to a new generation of readers.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Macbeth : a tale of horror / Ascari, Stefano
“Deep within the walls of Castle Dunsinane, a seed of madness begins to bloom. Spurred on by the prophesies of witches, and the whispers of his scheming wife, Lord Macbeth plots the death of his friend, King Duncan. This one cruel act soon spirals out of control, and murder after murder erupt into a wave of chaos and violence that threatens to consume all of Scotland.” (Catalogue)

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Astronomer’s Stories- Books from Te Pataka

The sky is no longer the limit, with people’s endless exploration. This blog collects books about the lives of astronomers and scientists, whose imagination and research lead to space. Some of these books are witty and funny, while some records the challenge they had to face, whether personally or academically.

An astronomer’s tale : a life under the stars / Fildes, Gary
“Gary Fildes left school at sixteen, got a trade like most of his mates and was soon married with four kids. He practised a secret with a few like-minded friends. Then one day, middle age approaching alarmingly, he acted on his lifelong passion, to be an astronomer. Today, Gary is the founder and lead astronomer of Kielder Observatory, world’s top ten stargazing sites. Situated within Europe’s largest protected dark sky park, it offers some of the UK’s most spectacular views of stars, planets and galaxies.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

Star-craving mad : tales from a travelling astronomer / Watson, F.
“Most people world harbor the romantic notion that astronomers spend every night with their eyes clapped to giant telescopes. Members of the public normally ask astronomer Fred Watson whether he’s recently found anything? Sadly, astronomers normally spend huge amount of time investigating things they already know about. Fred Watson takes us on a witty, funny, and knowledgeable ride through space, ruminating on Pluto’s demotion from planetary status and Peru’s ancient sky watchers.” (Adapted from Amazon.com)

Celestial geometry : understanding the astronomical meanings of ancient sites / Taylor, Ken
“Since the dawn of civilization, humans have sought inspiration and guidance in the night sky. “Celestial Geometry” explores the remarkable achievements of ancient astronomers at over 60 archaeological sites, from European stone circles like Stonehenge to the pyramids of Egypt and Central America, the medicine wheels of North America, the carved monoliths of Easter Island, and the sun clock of Goseck.” (Adapted from the Catalogue)

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When once you have tasted flight: New fiction

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When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.

– Leonardo DaVinci

Welcome to this month’s selection of recently acquired fiction titles. To make this month’s choices we have employed a broad and panoramic approach, picking titles that convey the wide variety of subject matters, literary styles and approaches present in all our new intake books.

This month’s collection of titles includes a new historical fiction novel by Sara Ackerman called The uncharted flight of Olivia West, inspired by the Dole Air Race of 1927. This is a gripping story, based on true events, about a young pioneering aviator participating in the race. Literary legend Isabel Allende has released a new novel, called The wind knows my name. We have two highlights from Aotearoa, an outstanding collection of new short stories from the iconic Aotearoa author Patricia Grace, titled Bird child & other stories, and the much-anticipated debut novel from Olive Nuttall called Kitten. There’s also The Tearsmith by Erin Doom, which is currently being adapted into a Netflix series. To round things off in style, we have the Booker shortlisted and winner of the An Post Irish Book of the Year, The Bee Sting by Paul Murray.

Links to all these titles, and a few others, can be found below.

The uncharted flight of Olivia West / Ackerman, Sara
“This extraordinary novel, inspired by real events, tells the story of a female aviator who defies the odds to embark on a daring air race across the Pacific. 1927. Olivia “Livy” West is a fearless young pilot with a love of adventure. She yearns to cross oceans and travel the skies. When she learns of the Dole Air Race–a high-stakes contest to be the first to make the 2,400 mile Pacific crossing from the West Coast to Hawai’i–she sets her sights on qualifying. But it soon becomes clear that only men will make the cut. In a last-ditch effort to take part, Livy manages to be picked as a navigator for one of the pilots, before setting out on a harrowing journey that some will not survive.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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