Welcome to the People & Places newsletter for June 2015! We have an exciting selection of biographies, history, travel and New Zealand-centric picks for you this month, featuring celebrities and much-loved destinations right through to some topics that may be completely new to you. We travel across seas to the Mediterranean, take a glimpse back in time to look at WWII and take a thrilling motorcycle trip. There’s lots to see in this month’s picks!
The great news this month is that Oliver Sacks, ground-breaking neurologist and popular author, has at last published his autobiography. Sacks, who has enhanced so many lives, has had a very difficult passage through his own. His memoir gives a frank account of this, and his emergence as a happy and balanced man who found his life partner at the age of seventy seven.
|The bird market of Paris : a memoir / Nikki Moustaki.
“An avian expert and author shares a true story of her remarkable grandfather and their shared passion for birds. After his death she fulfils his wish for her to go to Paris and visit the market and this leads to an astonishing redemption.” (Global Books summary)
|Born with teeth : a memoir / Kate Mulgrew.
“At 22, Kate Mulgrew gave birth to a daughter. Having already signed the adoption papers, she was allowed only a fleeting glimpse of her child. Three days later, she returned to work as the star of a popular soap opera. Twenty years later, she went in search of the daughter she had given away. We know Mulgrew for the strong women she’s played–Captain Janeway on Star Trek; “Red” on Orange Is the New Black. Now, in her memoir, we meet the most inspiring and lovable character of all: herself.” (Summary from Amazon.co.uk)
|On the move : a life / Oliver Sacks.
“Few people can claim to have made such a profound impact on the public understanding of the brain and its inner workings. In this book, Oliver Sacks describes his time at Oxford University, his time spent in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the early nineteen sixties, before moving on to chart his progression from young doctor to his public role as a neurologist and author. Here we see Sacks’s private passions – among them, motorcycling, weightlifting, travel, and botany – placed alongside his professional life. He will also explore his most formative relationships with those thinkers who have influenced his own work.” (Syndetics summary)
|One life : my mother’s story / Kate Grenville.
“Nance was a week short of her sixth birthday when she and Frank were roused out of bed in the dark and lifted into the buggy, squashed in with bedding, the cooking pots rattling around in the back, and her mother shouting back towards the house: Goodbye, Rothsay, I hope I never see you again! When Kate Grenville’s mother died she left behind many fragments of memoir. These were the starting point for One Life , the story of a woman whose life spanned a century of tumult and change.” (Syndetics summary)
|If you find this letter : my journey to find purpose through hundreds of letters to strangers : a memoir / Hannah Brencher.
“A heartwarming memoir of love and faith from Hannah Brencher–founder of The World Needs More Love Letters–who has dedicated her life to showing total strangers that they are not alone in the world.” (Global Books summary)
Travel stories & guides
This month features two books about walking journeys; one is Walking the Nile, and the other is Walking New Orleans. Other books describe the delights of escaping to the ‘Med.’, how to have an entertaining family trip to London, and a delightful book about the weekly dinner shared between four Italian women… with author Marlena de Blasi.
|Walking New Orleans : 30 tours exploring historic neighborhoods, waterfront districts, culinary and music corridors, and recreational wonderlands / Barri Bronston.
“From neighborhoods such as Lakeview and Mid-City to landmarks including the Saenger Theater and Mercedes Benz Superdome, from its restaurants and music clubs to its parks and museums, the Big Easy has regained the title of one of the world’s most fascinating cities. In Walking New Orleans , lifelong resident and writer Barri Bronston shares the love of her hometown through 30 self-guided tours that range from majestic St. Charles Avenue and funky Magazine Street to Bywater and Faubourg Marigny, two of the city’s “it” neighborhoods. Within each tour, she offers tips on where to eat, drink, dance, and play, for in addition to all the history, culture, and charm that New Orleans has to offer…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Great escapes : Mediterranean / compiled and edited by Angelika Taschen ; texts by Christiane Reiter.
“…Flanked by three continents and offering coastline to 21 countries, the Mediterranean is a mythical place, blessed with its fine climate, luxuriant fauna and flora, and the intense blues of its sea. In this revised edition, Angelika Taschen catalogs the best of this legendary region, scouring the most beautiful gardens, the most enchanting beaches, the little-known islands, the finest architecture, and the most gorgeous rooms, with the most breathtaking, and soul-soothing views. From the glamorous Eden-Roc on the Côte d’Azur to the tiny hotel on the small Croatian island of Lopud, this is the ultimate reference for any discerning traveller of the Med. Text in English, French, and German” (Syndetics summary)
|The Umbrian Thursday night supper club / Marlena de Blasi.
“Every week on a Thursday evening, a group of four Italian rural women gather in a derelict stone house in the hills above Italy’s Orvieto. There—along with their friend, Marlena—they cook together, sit down to a beautiful supper, drink their beloved local wines, and talk. Here, surrounded by candle light, good food and friendship, Miranda, Ninucia, Paolina, and Gilda tell their life stories of loves lost and found, of ageing and abandonment, of mafia grudges and family feuds, and of cherished ingredients and recipes whose secrets have been passed down through the generations. Around this table, these five friends share their food and all that life has offered them—the good and the bad.” (adapted from Amazon.com)
|Walking the Nile / Levison Wood.
“His journey is 4,250 miles long. He is walking every step of the way, camping in the wild, foraging for food, fending for himself against multiple dangers. He is passing through rainforest, savannah, swamp, desert and lush delta oasis. He will cross seven, very different countries. No one has ever made this journey on foot. In this detailed, thoughtful, inspiring and dramatic book, recounting Levison Wood’s walk the length of the Nile, he will come face to face with the great story of a modern Africa emerging out of the past. Exploration and Africa are two of his great passions – they drive him on and motivate his inquisitiveness and resolution not to fail, yet the challenges of the terrain, the climate, the animals, the people and his own psychological resolution will throw at him are immense. The dangers are very real, but so is the motivation for this ex-army officer.” (adapted from Amazon.co.uk)
|Landmarks / Robert Macfarlane.
“Haze-fire, smeuse, tarn, ghyll, hoarhusk, gruffy ground, af’rug… for years now, Robert Macfarlane has been collecting place-words: terms for aspects of landscape, nature and weather, drawn from dozens of languages and dialects of Britain and Ireland… In this, his fifth book, Macfarlane brilliantly explores the linguistic and literary terrain of our archipelago, from the Shetlands to Cornwall, and from Cumbria to Suffolk. Landmarks is a book about the power of language – ‘strong style, single words’ – to shape our sense of place…” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
|No room for watermelons : a man, his 1910 motorcycle and an epic journey across the world / Ron & Lynne Fellowes.
“In 2012, while others his age were enjoying quiet retirement, Ron Fellowes set off on the challenge of a lifetime. His dream to ride a 102 year-old FN motorcycle across the world – to the Belgian factory where the bike originated – had all the hallmarks of an epic adventure: one that was never going to be easy.” (Syndetics summary)
A small selection from a great diversity of fascinating books this month. On the light-hearted side, weaving through stories of national identity and culture, Louise Fili and Helen Russell unpack the idiosyncrasies of Italian and Danish life in Italianissimo and The Year of Living Danishly. From Eric Bogosian’s Operation Nemesis to Stephen Dando-Collins’ Operation Chowhound, chilling tactics and unsettling missions punctuate crucial periods in the 20th century.
|Italianissimo : the quintessential guide to what Italians do best / by Louise Fili & Lise Apatoff.
“What is it about Italy that inspires passion, fascination, and utter devotion? This quirky guide to the Italian way of life, with its fifty witty mini-essays on iconic Italian subjects, will answer that question as well as entertain and delight both real and armchair travellers […] This is a new kind of guidebook overflowing with enlightening and hilarious miscellaneous information, filled with luscious graphics and unforgettable photographs that will decode and enrich all trips to Italy-both real and imaginary.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
|The year of living Danishly : uncovering the secrets of the world’s happiest country / Helen Russell.
“When she was suddenly given the opportunity of a new life in rural Jutland, journalist and archetypal Londoner Helen Russell discovered a startling statistic: the happiest place on earth isn’t Disneyland, but Denmark, a land often thought of by foreigners as consisting entirely of long dark winters, cured herring, Lego and pastries. What is the secret to their success? Are happy Danes born, or made? Helen decides there is only one way to find out: she will give herself a year, trying to uncover the formula for Danish happiness. […]” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Operation Chowhound : the most risky, most glorious US bomber mission of WWII / Stephen Dando-Collins.
“Beginning with a crazy plan hatched by a suspect prince, and an even crazier reliance on the word of the Nazis, Operation Chowhound was devised. Between May 1 and May 8, 1945, 2,268 military units flown by the USAAF, dropped food to 3.5 million starving Dutch civilians in German-occupied Holland. […] In this gripping narrative, author Stephen Dando-Collins takes the reader into the rooms where Operation Chowhound was born, into the aircraft flying the mission, and onto the ground in the Netherlands with the civilians who so desperately needed help.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Operation Nemesis : the assassination plot that avenged the Armenian genocide / Eric Bogosian.
“A masterful account of the assassins who hunted down the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide. […] Eric Bogosian goes beyond simply telling the story of this cadre of Armenian assassins by setting the killings in the context of Ottoman and Armenian history, as well as showing in vivid color the era’s history, rife with political fighting and massacres. Casting fresh light on one of the great crimes of the twentieth century and one of history’s most remarkable acts of vengeance, Bogosian draws upon years of research and newly uncovered evidence. Operation Nemesis is the result–both a riveting read and a profound examination of evil, revenge, and the costs of violence.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
|Rescue at Los Baños : the most daring prison camp raid of World War II / Bruce Henderson.
“From the bestselling author of Hero Found comes the incredible true story of one of the greatest military rescues of all time, the 1945 World War II prison camp raid at Los Baños in the Philippines–a tale of daring, courage, and heroism that joins the ranks of Ghost Soldiers, Unbroken, and The Boys of Pointe du Hoc. In February 1945, as the U.S. victory in the Pacific drew nearer, the Japanese army grew desperate, and its soldiers guarding U.S. and Allied POWs more sadistic… Rescue at Los Baños tells the story of a remarkable group of prisoners–whose courage and fortitude helped them overcome hardship, deprivation, and cruelty–and of the young American soldiers and Filipino guerrillas who risked their lives to save them.” (Syndetics summary)
|Secret warriors : the spies, scientists and code breakers of World War I / Taylor Downing.
“World War I is often viewed as a war fought by armies of millions living and fighting in trenches, aided by brutal machinery that cost the lives of many. But behind all of this an intellectual war was also being fought between engineers, chemists, code-breakers, physicists, doctors, mathematicians, and intelligence gatherers… Told in a lively and colorful narrative style, Secret Warriors reveals the unknown side of this tragic conflict.” (Syndetics summary)
Roses are red, violets are blue, here’s some New Zealand poetry and some other topics too! A mixture of poetry, caravans, horses, New Zealand Women, exploration, jewellery and murder cover some of the variety of topics of the recent arrivals in the New Zealand Collection this month.
|Being here : selected poems / Vincent O’Sullivan.
“BEING HERE is the first book to survey the entire span of Vincent O’Sullivan’s poetry, from Bearings (1973) to new poems first published in this volume. On display is the full range of the wit, intellectual agility and arresting beauty of one of New Zealand literature’s finest poets. Hardback, Cover painting by Karl Maughan Vincent O’Sullivan is one of New Zealand’s leading writers, author of the biography of John Mulgan, Long Journey to the Border, the novels Let the River Stand and Believers to the Bright Coast, and many plays and collections of short stories and poems. He is joint editor of the five-volume Letters of Katherine Mansfield and has edited a number of major anthologies. He lives in Dunedin.” (Abridged Syndetics summary)
|Jerusalem sonnets, love, Wellington Zoo / David Beach.
“In his fourth collection David Beach tackles a subject inescapable for any New Zealander writing sonnets; a subject inescapable for any writer of sonnets at all; and a subject which is just inescapable.” (Syndetics summary)
|A great indoors for the great outdoors : the story of Liteweight caravans / Don Jessen.
“In 1946, a practical-minded New Zealander became interested in caravans as a way of holidaying and decided to build one for his family in his garage. From this humble beginning a story of Kiwi ingenuity emerged, with Liteweight Caravans growing to become an iconic New Zealand brand, which for over four decades led the country, and sometimes the world, in technical design and innovation. Liteweight produced more caravans than any other caravan manufacturer in New Zealand and, today, more than 25 years after the factory closed, the majority of its caravans are still in use. This is a story as much about people as it is of caravans, and the person at the heart of the story is Tek Jessen, Liteweight¿s founder.” (Syndetics summary)
|Kobi Bosshard : goldsmith / Damian Skinner.
“A survey of the work and ideas of a leading New Zealand jeweller who has been critical to the development of studio craft in Aotearoa. Born in Switzerland, Kobi Bosshard came to New Zealand in 1961. His expertise as a traditionally trained goldsmith is centre stage in this beautifully illustrated book, which is published as part of Objectspace’s Masters of Craft series. Written by art historian Damian Skinner, it provides a perceptive and informative discussion of Bosshard’s life and work, describing over five decades of contemporary jewellery that explores the possibilities of the craftsperson’s role in creating sophisticated and unique objects for people to wear and own.” (Inside front cover)