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Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Category: Lists Page 1 of 6

Everything Orange!

All of us will surely know by now that we are in Orange, as we have been at this traffic light level for pretty much all of December so far. I’m sure that as avid library users you will already know all about visiting the library under Orange – wear your mask and scan your vaccine pass or exemption if you’re over twelve – but I feel there is more to be explored around the orangeness of Orange than mere alert levels.

In controversial Orange news, I have learned through this recent Spinoff article that while the Covid Traffic Light system uses the colours Red, Orange, and Green, the official colours of the literal physical traffic lights that are liberally spotted around our country are Red, Green, and Yellow.

Three traffic lights in a row. The left has a green light chosing, the centre has an orange light showing, and the right has a red light showing.

Image: Traffic Signals by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence

Look at these traffic lights! This is an instructional picture from the Waka Kotahi website accompanied by the instructional caption “A yellow signal means the lights will soon turn red”. This is very interesting since it is extremely clear that the coloured circle in the centre traffic light is so obviously orange. Like, they made the picture, if they’re calling it yellow why not make the picture yellow as well?

Anyway, while the certainty that orange is orange and yellow is yellow may be falling out from under our feet, let me return to my original subject of Orange in general.

I think Orange is an excellent colour. It’s such a happy colour, it’s the colour of the sun’s rays shining on the iconic Chelsea Golden Syrup Tin, and it’s great for hi-vis vests if you’re a cyclist, contractor, or builder.

Speaking of Golden Syrup, let me bring your attention to a rather orange book:

Edmonds cookery book.
The Edmonds cookbook is a classic, it fits right in here with that orange cover, and it contains a recipe for a Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding. What’s not to like?!

Golden Syrup Steamed Pudding is also a perfect Christmas pudding. Just saying.

In search of other Orange activities to keep you occupied over the summer, I’ve trawled through our vast selection of elibrary resources, but unfortunately not many of them really scream Orange.

We do have a fantastic language-learning service called Mango Languages, a name that just promises orangeness but in actual fact doesn’t deliver much Orange, even in the logo. Still, if you don’t let lack of actual orangeness get in the way of perceived orangeness you could give it a go!

We do have some other actually-orange things in the library that could get you excited…

…while you’re sitting back in the sun, enjoying your Golden Syrup pudding, what better thing to do than get into a good book?

Here’s a selection of books that I’ve grouped together simply based on the orange-ivity of their covers. There’s a wide range of genres here, from New Zealand fiction to romance to classic literature to adventure, but they’re all Orange! Which one are you most interested in?

Is underground / Aiken, Joan
“Bound to keep a promise to her dead uncle, Is travels to the mysterious north country to find two missing boys, one of them a prince, and to discover why so many children in London are disappearing.” (Catalogue)

Felix ever after / Callender, Kacen
“Felix Love has never been in love, painful irony that it is. He desperately wants to know why it seems so easy for everyone but him to find someone. He is proud of his identity, but fears that he’s one marginalization too many– Black, queer, and transgender. When an anonymous student begins sending him transphobic messages, Felix comes up with a plan for revenge. He didn’t count on his catfish scenario landing him in a quasi-love triangle.” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available as an eBook

Perfect on paper / Gonzales, S.
“Seventeen-year-old Darcy Phillips, a bisexual girl who gives anonymous love advice to her classmates, is hired by the “hot” guy at school to help him get his ex back. When Darcy is caught in the act of collecting letters from locker 89– out of which she has been running her advice service– she is blackmailed into becoming his personal dating coach. If word gets out that Darcy is behind the locker, some things she’s not proud of will come to light. What could go wrong?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Juggling with mandarins / Jones, V. M.
“Thirteen-year-old Pip finds a talent he never dreamed he had, and is determined it will remain one area of his life his domineering dad can’t touch. Somehow, Pip must find the courage to confront his father and claim the right to live his life on his own terms.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

And mandarins are basically smaller superior oranges anyway.

To kill a mockingbird / Lee, Harper
“A young girl growing up in an Alabama town in the 1930s learns of injustice and violence when her father, a widowed lawyer, defends a black man falsely accused of rape.” (Catalogue)

Trash / Mulligan, Andy
“Three friends. Raphael, Gardo and Rat. Living on a heap of trash, a lifetime of sifting rubbish. One day they find something extraordinary – a deadly secret. From that moment they are hunted without mercy. With danger snatching at their heels, the boys are chased from the city’s dirty gutters to its wealthy avenues. But they can’t run for ever. They need a miracle.” (Catalogue)

Nice try, Jane Sinner / Oelke, Lianne
“Jane Sinner, a 17-year-old dropout, sets out to redefine herself through a series of schemes and stunts, including participating in a low-budget reality TV show at her local community college”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

First test / Pierce, Tamora
“Ten-year-old Keladry of Mindalen, daughter of nobles, serves as a page but must prove herself to the males around her if she is ever to fulfill her dream of becoming a knight.” (Catalogue)

A tyranny of petticoats : 15 stories of belles, bank robbers & other badass girls
“From pirate ships off the coast of the Carolinas to the peace, love, and protests of 1960s Chicago, take a thrill ride through history with American girls charting their own course. They are monsters and mediums, bodyguards and barkeeps, screenwriters and schoolteachers, heiresses and hobos.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Bridge of Clay / Zusak, Markus
“Upon their father’s return, the five Dunbar boys, who have raised themselves since their mother’s death, begin to learn family secrets, including that of fourth brother Clay, who will build a bridge for complex reasons, including his own redemption.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

And if you’ve made it this far, I hope that by now I’ve managed to remove or weaken the exclusive association of Orange with Covid. I’m sure that you’ll be simmering with rage over the officially-yellow traffic lights, off to bake a tasty snack, diving deep into an Orange read, or some other Orange-related activity!

Summer Reads + Things To Do With Your Friend/Crush

It’s Summer! School’s out and the world is your proverbial oyster. But maybe you’re not sure what to read over the break? Perhaps you’re feeling bored and have forgotten what to do with that mythical concept called free time? Look no further, we’ve got you covered! I’ve put together a list of some excellent books, and not only that, each book has an accompanying activity to invite your friend/crush to! Now go get some books, and have an excellent Summer break.

The way you make me feel / Goo, Maurene
“Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #1 : Take a Sunday walk down the waterfront to the Habourside Market for some food truck and dog-spotting galore!

Love & gelato / Welch, Jenna Evans
“Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, and she’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years?” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #2 : Go get some refreshing gelato/ice-cream.

Happily ever afters / Bryant, Elise
“Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing. When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just…gone. Tessa needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #3 : Go for a wander around Te Whanganui-a-Tara’s many second-hand bookstores and try to find the perfect/weirdest book. 

Leah on the offbeat / Albertalli, Becky
“Leah Burke is an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom; her life is decidedly less privileged. Even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends– not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. When her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways, it’s hard for Leah to strike the right note.  If only real life was as rhythmic as her drumming…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #4 : Take inspo from our music loving protagonist Leah and go see a band at Gardens Magic. Make sure to get there early to secure a good picnic spot, and don’t miss the light installations around the gardens.

Summer of salt / Leno, Katrina
“No one on the island of By-the-Sea would call the Fernweh women what they are, but if you need the odd bit of help, such as a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight, they are the ones to ask. Georgina Fernweh waits for the tingle of magic in her fingers– magic that has already touched her twin sister, Mary. But with her eighteenth birthday looming at the end of her last summer on the island, Georgina fears her gift will never come.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #5 :  Go to the beach! The beach is great! Just remember to be safe; use plenty of sunblock and NEVER LOOK A SEAGULL DIRECTLY IN THE EYES.

Keep my heart in San Francisco / Coombs, Amelia Diane
“Caroline “Chuck” Wilson has big plans for spring break—but her dad wrecks those plans when he asks her to spend vacation working the counter at Bigmouth’s Bowl, her family’s failing bowling alley. Making things astronomically worse, Chuck finds out her dad is way behind on back rent—meaning they might be losing Bigmouth’s, the only thing keeping Chuck’s family in San Francisco.things” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #6 : Go bowling! It’s a fun activity to do in your spare time. It might seem uncool, but personally that’s just how I roll. I wonder how many of these puns I can sneak into this blog post before Stephen asks me to spare you all from my jokes. I might be told to put a pin in it, but I will keep making puns forever until I am banned and if that happens…I will go on strike. Anyways, go bowling.

Editor’s note: Your pun quota is getting awfully close to being full, Alayne. I’m watching you. — SC

I think I love you / Desombre, Auriane
“A YA contemporary rom com about two girls who start as rivals but after a twist of events, end up falling for one another—at least they think so. A pitch perfect queer romance. Arch-nemeses Emma, a die-hard romantic, and more-practical minded Sophia find themselves competing against one another for a coveted first-prize trip to a film festival in Los Angeles . . . what happens if their rivalry turns into a romance?” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #7 : The easy offer here is that you simply go to a movie, but everyone goes to the movies. Why not have a go at making a movie? Lots of films are shot on phones these days and you can even checkout the filmmaking courses on LinkedIn Learning, free with your library card.

This time will be different / Sugiura, Misa
“Katsuyamas never quit — but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop. She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of. Then her mom decides to sell the shop — to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #8 : Do you know about Wellington’s Hidden Gardens? Until December 15th, you can discover seven hidden gardens across Pōneke. There will be secret events happening at every garden, and each is designed to a specific theme. For more information, check out the Wellington City Council website here.

8 reasons why you should check out our updated Teen book lists! (Number 3 will shock you)

Hopefully the excitingly click-bait-y title has managed to grab your attention. Let’s get into it!

We are always in the process of updating our Teen book lists. You can find them by clicking that link I just gave you, or by clicking on the “Book lists” tab under the “Teen Blog” header. And I am here to tell you about all the exciting reasons you should go read them!

1. New booklists = new books
When we update our book lists, we make sure we include recently released titles to give you something fresh and exciting to read. Maybe you’re a romance reader who’s read their way through every YA romance published before 2018 and desperately needs to find something new. Well never fear, because in our new-and-improved Romantic fiction book list you will find titles such as The Henna Wars (published in 2020), and Love in English (published in 2021)!

2. We’ve got your genre

Whatever genre you’re into, we’ll have something for you. We have many different lists of individual titles for you, as well as a list of the all the languages other than English we have books in and which libraries you can find them at.

Whether you’re into Horror, Dystopia, or Manga, we’ve got you covered!

3. They can help with your NCEA independent reading

If you’re looking for things to read for school, we can help! Our lists will definitely have something new to you, and you’ve got a lot to choose from. Choosing a book award winner or classic novel will almost certainly impress your teacher, or you could read a Māori author or a book from around the world.

We’ve also got a list specially tailored to those of you who are new to high school which covers many different genres

4. We pay attention to what you’re looking at

Over here on the Teen Blog, we pay attention to what you’re reading (as part of our mission to overtake the Kids Blog readership numbers!). And we noticed that quite a few of you have been browsing the “New Zealand Books” tag. So you didn’t ask, but we have listened and we have created a brand new New Zealand fiction book list just for you!

Yes, you.

5. Get recommendations from the best

While it may be a little proudful to claim that we are the best, this is our job and I think we’re doing pretty well. We work with books, we read a lot of books, and we know books. If there’s a book on one of our lists there’s a high chance it has been read and loved by one of your librarians (like The long way to a small, angry planet. Ugh, so good). So you can trust us! Or at least know that we’re doing our best.

And that leads me towards the next reason which is…

6. We’ve put a lot of work into these

As I’ve said, we try our best to make these lists the best they can be. The best example here is the Books from around the world list. This list features authors who write works set in their own countries, and it is one of our longest lists because our goal is to have at least one book for every country in the world! And what’s more, we’re not just picking books willy-nilly, no, we’re making sure that each book on this list (even if it’s not in the Young Adult collection) features kids or teens in prominent places in the story!

So it’s not that I’m begging you to look at our lists, but we did a useful thing – look at it please?

7. We’re always waiting for your recommendations

While we do rely on our own knowledge and reading preferences, we love hearing from you about what you’re reading and what you think. Whether you’re chatting with the librarian at your local branch or submitting a book review for the Teen Blog, we do want to hear what you think! And maybe your recommendations will make their way onto a list…

And that’s the end of my list of reasons why you should check out our Teen book lists. Like every clickbait article, I have made sure to promise more reasons than I have actually delivered, and I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not number 3 shocked you.

So go forth! Investigate, issue, reserve, and read!

Books About Stuff and Other Things: New Non-fiction for Teens

Librarians spend a good deal of time scouring publication lists and trawling through horrifying numbers (like, you have no idea) of online reviews to settle on which books we should buy for our collection. Among the comics, fantasy epics, dystopian hellscapes, romantic comedies, and other fictional titles that routinely land on our desks, are analysed, and then purchased in their hundreds every month, we also seek out books about ~shock of all shocks~ reality. Stuff, things, and other such delights. Our non-fiction collections comprise books on just about every topic under the sun (and even some topics beyond the sun, but that’s a conversation for another day.)

Today, for your delectation, we are serving up some brand new books about nerdy stuff, hip-hop, jobs and careers, sex and sexuality, neurodivergence, and the environment — head down to your local library (or smash that handy and convenient “Reserve Now” button) and dig in!

Can’t stop won’t stop : a hip-hop history / Chang, Jeff
“From award-winning author Jeff Chang, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop is the story of hip-hop, a generation-defining movement and the music that transformed American politics and culture forever. Hip hop is one of the most dominant and influential cultures in America, giving new voice to the younger generation. It defines a generation’s worldview. Exploring hip hop’s beginnings up to the present day, Jeff Chang and Dave “Davey D” Cook provide a provocative look into the new world that the hip hop generation has created. Based on original interviews with DJs, b-boys, rappers, activists, and gang members, with unforgettable portraits of many of hip hop’s forebears, founders, mavericks, and present day icons, this book chronicles the epic events, ideas and the music that marked the hip hop generation’s rise.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Depression : insights and tips for teenagers / Cognevich, Christie
“This book offers relatable situations and strategies to guide teens struggling with mental health–including identifying signs of struggle, recognizing stress factors, and offering strategies to escape harmful mental habits which can leave individuals feeling vulnerable, helpless, or in despair.” (Catalogue)

Queerly autistic : the ultimate guide for LGBTQIA+ teens on the spectrum / Ekins, Erin
“From coming out to friends and family through to relationships, self-care and coping with bullying, being out and about in the LGBTQIA+ community and undergoing gender transition, this book is filled with essential information, advice, support and resources to help you on your journey, and also works as a primer on all things LGBTQIA+ for non-autistic teens just figuring it all out.” (Catalogue)

Coming out : insights and tips for teenagers / Endsley, Kezia
“This book addresses the hows and whys of coming out, as well as potential concerns teenagers may have–including how to know when you’re ready to come out, who to tell first, and how to deal with unsupportive people. First-hand accounts from teenagers provide personal insight throughout.” (Catalogue)

Marvel monsters : creatures of the Marvel universe explored / Knox, Kelly
“All Super Heroes need a monster to fight, or a monstrous sidekick to help them. Some are even monsters themselves. This comprehensive field guide to Marvel flora, fauna, and beasts great and small shows off claws, teeth, tails, and wings in sumptuous, never-seen-before detail. From tyrannosaurus rexes from alternative worlds and genetically modified deinonychuses from the future, to purple cat-sized dragons and swamp monsters, the Marvel multiverse is brimming with creatures both heroic and villainous. Explore swamps and the Savage Lands and more. Discover aerial beasts, artificially created creatures, and even monster team ups. This anthology is a beautifully curated guide to the best and the worst and ensures you will never get Fin Fang Foom and Tim Boom Ba mixed up again! © 2021 MARVEL” (Catalogue)

Hothouse Earth : the climate crisis and the importance of carbon neutrality / McPherson, Stephanie Sammartino
“As hurricanes, droughts, floods, and wildfires are increasing in regularity and intensity, climate change can no longer be ignored. Melting permafrost, forest dieback, ocean acidification, and other processes are creating positive feedback loops which could, if not aggressively and quickly addressed, spiral out of control and take global warming past the point of no return. Hothouse Earth examines how science, politics, and social justice must all be part of the equation to counteract climate change.” (Catalogue)

The world of Critical Role : the history behind the epic fantasy / Marsham, Liz
“A guide to the massively popular fantasy RPG livestream offers previously unreleased photos and artwork, sharing cast insights into its origins and storylines as well as the diverse array of art and cosplay that Critical Role inspires.” (Catalogue)

Let’s talk about it : the teen’s guide to sex, relationships, and being a human / Moen, Erika
“Growing up is complicated. How do you find the answers to all the questions you have about yourself, about your identity, and about your body? Let’s Talk About It provides a comprehensive, thoughtful, well-researched graphic novel guide to everything you need to know. Covering relationships, friendships, gender, sexuality, anatomy, body image, safe sex, sexting, jealousy, rejection, sex education, and more, Let’s Talk About It is the go-to handbook for every teen, and the first in graphic novel form.” (Catalogue)

Love your career from the start : making decisions for your future – a guide for young adults / Sandford, Caroline
“This practical book for 15-25-year-olds introduces the four key stages involved in making good decisions for your future. It contains easy exercises that will help you: understand who you are and who you want to become, explore the options that are right for you, create an action plan that ensures you have what you need to realise your goals, identify the strategies your need to create the future that YOU want.” (Catalogue)

Cool Books from Booktok

Kia ora koutou!

I don’t know about you all, but during lockdown I spent a lot of hours on Tiktok. Specifically, I found myself taking a deep-dive into Booktok, the side of Tiktok where people share what books they’re reading. I am someone who always has about 20 books on reserve, a Goodreads list so long that it has probably developed its own personal anxiety disorder and an indecent amount of books TAKING UP ANY FREE SPACE IN MY ROOM THAT I CAN FIND. The last thing a person like me needs is a limitless supply of MORE RECOMMENDATIONS. Will I continue to create an irresponsibly long to-read list? Yes. Will I encourage you to do the same? Of course. 

.

Real footage of me every time I have to move houses and I discover just how many books I have.

If you have found yourself on Booktok, and want to read some trending books, check out this list! Here are some Booktok favs that we have at Wellington City Libraries!

Remember, reserves are free and you can request a book to be sent to any of our branches. Comment below with more books we should add to this list!

Blood heir / Zhao, Amélie Wen
“A fugitive princess with a deadly Affinity and a charismatic crime lord forge an unlikely alliance in order to save themselves, each other, and the kingdom.” (Catalogue)

A good girl’s guide to murder / Jackson, Holly
“The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final-year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

House of salt and sorrows / Craig, Erin A
“In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed. Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor with her sisters and their father and stepmother. Once there were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last…and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

One of us is lying / McManus, Karen M.
“When the creator of a high school gossip app mysteriously dies in front of four high-profile students, all four become suspects. It’s up to them to solve the case” (Catalogue)

We were liars / Lockhart, E
“Each summer the wealthy, seemingly perfect Sinclair family meets on their private island. Cadence, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat are a unit, especially during “summer 15,” marking their fifteenth year on Beechwood– the summer that Cady and Gat fall in love. Cady became involved in a mysterious accident, in which she sustained a blow to the head, and now suffers from debilitating migraines and memory loss. When she returns to Beechwood during summer 17 issues of guilt and blame, love and truth all come into play.” (Catalogue)

They both die at the end / Silvera, Adam
“In a near-future New York City where a service alerts people on the day they will die, teenagers Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio meet using the Last Friend app and are faced with the challenge of living a lifetime on their End Day.” (Catalogue)

These violent delights / Gong, Chloe
“In 1926 Shanghai, eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, heir of the Scarlet Gang, and her first love-turned-rival Roma Montagov, leader of the White Flowers, must work together when mysterious deaths threaten their city.” (Catalogue)

The Selection / Cass, Kiera
“Sixteen-year-old America Singer is living in the caste-divided nation of Illea, which formed after the war that destroyed the United States. America is chosen to compete in the Selection–a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illea’s prince–but all she really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, Aspen, who is a caste below her”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

The Book Was Better – You Decide!

I’m sure you have heard these words before, and maybe even said them yourself! I know I have. I have very fond memories of Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series. I read them all, I knew the prophetic poems in them off by heart, and I loved the way more and more complex situations, villains, and magics were introduced as the books went on. And then in 2007 they released a movie based on the books! Exciting, right?

Wrong.

The Seeker: The Dark is Rising was NOT as good as the book. (In my personal opinion, this is not the exclusive opinion of Wellington City Libraries!)

First of all, why make a movie of the second book in a series and completely leave out the first? Then they made Will’s family an American one who has only just moved into the small English village. Ridiculous. And there was all this extra action added, and so much left out, and Merriman acted completely different and everything just seemed oversimplified.

Humph. The book was better.

Anyway. There are many other books that have been made into movies and TV shows. Some are classics that have been out for a while, some are new TV shows that are only just starting, and some became multi-million dollar film franchises that everyone has heard of. And with so many screen adaptations of books that already exist, that are coming out, and that are in the works I just feel the need to help facilitate outraged conversations about these adaptations – the book was better! Or was it?

I won’t be writing about the big ones here. I’m sure that you’ve already discussed the nuances of Divergent, or The Hunger Games, or (dare I say it) Twilight to your heart’s content. And I will only be writing about titles that we actually have available here at Wellington City Libraries. Shadow and Bone came out this year but it ain’t on DVD so we don’t have it. Though we do of course have Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy! But that will be my only mention of it because I don’t want to tantalise your TV taste-buds with something we can’t actually provide for you to watch.

Here I present to you a carefully selected list of films and TV shows, all adapted from books, and all available to be borrowed (as both book or DVD!) right here in our libraries.

So read on friends! And I hope to inspire ferocious debate amongst you, or maybe even the need to watch a new movie or check out a new book!

Read More

From the Vaults V: Books Around the World

This next piece in our From the Vaults series, being an exploration of some of the hidden gems of the library’s vast collections, is a personal favourite of mine. Whether you’re looking for books to add to your reading list for your Connections internal in English, or are just hungering for a range of cultural perspectives and experiences to add to the pile of books waiting to be read on your bedside table, don’t worry folks — we got you. Our Books From Around the World booklist has just undergone its most comprehensive update in *checks notes* a whole decade, and our ambition is for it to contain at least one book by an author from every country in the world. No biggie.

 Just as Lisa doesn't wish to eat solely at Americatown, we don't want to read solely from Aotearoatown all the time either! (Okay yeah it's a stretch but look this is the best I've got)

So anyway, we’re gonna be straight up with you — though our ambitions are great, we haven’t yet lived up to them. There are around 40 countries (Andorra, Azerbaijan, etc.) that, despite our best research, we just can’t find books from — at least, not books that have been translated into English (if you find a book from a country we’ve missed, let us know!). But the vast majority of countries around the world have representation in our master list — from Bolivia and Uruguay, Vanuatu and Kiribati, Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti, to Albania and Ukraine, Yemen and the UAE, the Philippines and Kazakhstan, Uganda and Angola; and many more besides. We’re pretty chuffed with it, if we’re being honest, and really recommend you check out the full list!

Some of the books we have tracked down are among the first books written by an author from that country to have ever been translated into English — for example, Return to the enchanted island by Johary Ravaloson from Madagascar, published in 2019. Others are part of a long-standing tradition of literary translation that dates back decades or centuries — The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (France, 1844) for example, or I am fifteen and I don’t want to die by Christine Arnothy (Hungary, 1955). Others, like Consuming Ocean Island by Katerina Martina Teaiwa (Kiribati, 2015) or Legends, traditions and tales of Nauru by Timothy Detudamo (Nauru, 2008) are collections of stories drawn from the world’s various oral traditions, written down with permission from indigenous storytellers.

‘But,’ you may ask, ‘what sets your list apart from the myriad of other such lists I can find online?’ Well, for starters, these are all books that you can actually get your mitts on from your local library — just click the title, then ‘Place Reserve,’ then choose the library closest to your house, and the book will soon be yours! But beyond that, there is something else that makes this list special — you! Not you you, but teens in general — we’ve done our best to try and make sure that every book that makes it onto our list is in some way, shape or form about the experiences and lives of teenagers and young people. Taken together, you could see this list as a pretty comprehensive repository of stories about what it means and has meant to be a young person around the world and through history. And we reckon that’s pretty cool.

Anyway, here are some of my favourite books from the list — but don’t forget to check out the whole list (currently sitting at about 250 books!) for the complete picture.

Here the whole time / Martins, Vitor
Country of origin: Brazil
Setting: Metro Brazil; contemporary
Original language: Portuguese
Format: Novel
Themes: body positivity, bullying, coming-of-age, LGBTQ+, single-parent families, school, self-esteem

Year of the rabbit / Tian
Country of origin: Cambodia
Setting: Phnom Penh, Cambodia; 1970s
Original language: French
Format: Graphic novel
Themes: family, government and society, history, political refugees, war

Aya / Abouet, Marguerite
Country: Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
Setting: Yopougon (Yop City), Côte d’Ivoire; 1978
Original language: French
Format: Graphic novel
Themes: adventure, community, family, friendship, neighbourhoods 

The field guide to the North American teenager / Philippe, Ben
Country of origin: Haiti/Canada
Setting: Montreal, Canada – Austin, Texas; contemporary
Original language: English
Format: Novel
Themes: coming-of-age, culture shock, friendship, moving countries, relationships, school, single-parent families

Moonstone : the boy who never was / Sjón
Country of origin: Iceland
Setting: Reykjavík, Iceland; 1918-19
Original language: Icelandic
Format: Novel
Themes: coming-of-age, epidemics, globalisation, history, LGBTQ+, masculinity

The forest of wool and steel / Miyashita, Natsu
Country of origin: Japan
Setting: Hokkaido, Japan; contemporary
Original language: Japanese
Format: Novel
Themes: careers, coming-of-age, music, small-town vs. big-city

Things fall apart / Achebe, Chinua
Country of origin: Nigeria
Setting: Àlà Ị̀gbò, Southeastern Nigeria; 1890s
Original language: English
Format: Novel
Themes: British imperialism, colonisation, government and society, history, justice, masculinity

Afakasi woman / Young, Lani Wendt
Country of origin: Samoa/New Zealand
Setting: Samoa (various)
Original language: English
Format: Short stories
Themes: community, everyday life, folklore, Pasifika culture, people and society, relationships, womanhood

It’s Seaweek!

The sea. There’s a lot of it. There are many things in it. Some things, unfortunately, should not really be in there. And there are many things lurking deep down that we only have the slightest inkling of. Which is pretty cool when you think about it!

But anyway, you may be wondering why I am writing about the deep, dark, insurmountable ocean that encircles and embraces our tiny islands down here at the bottom of the world. That’s easy to answer. It’s Seaweek!

Seaweek is an annual week-long celebration of marine science, of sustainable practices (check out our very own page on the environment), and (of course!) the sea. There are a whole lot of exciting events being run all over the country this week, and you’re encouraged to get out there and do your own thing as well.

You could go check out a marine ecology lab, organise your own beach clean-up, or just take some time out of your week to go connect with the sea.

It may now be officially autumn, but only just! I’d advise you to take advantage of what sun we have left to dive off one of the pontoons at Oriental Bay or just swim at your local beach. Or, you know, a not so local beach would do as well. And there are quite a few scattered around the Wellington coast.

Go swimming, or walk along a beach and count the seagulls, or collect a handful of seashells then realise that you have no reason to keep them and leave them behind on the sand. Take a kayak out, go sit on a rock along the south coast and watch the waves, or channel your inner artist and draw, write, or create something inspired by the ocean.

If you’d rather just sit inside away from the blustery sea-breeze (plenty of those in Wellington!) then here are some sea-themed titles to inspire you:

Children of the Sea / Daisuke Igarashi 

“Three sea-touched children are the only ones who can understand the strange message the oceans are sending.

When Ruka was younger, she saw a ghost in the water at the aquarium where her dad works. Now she feels drawn toward the aquarium and the two mysterious boys she meets there, Umi and Sora. They were raised by dugongs and hear the same strange calls from the sea that she does. Ruka’s dad and the other adults who work at the aquarium are only distantly aware of what the children are experiencing as they get caught up in the mystery of the worldwide disappearance of the ocean’s fish.” (Catalogue)

Ingo Series / Helen Dunmore  

“As they search for their missing father near their Cornwall home, Sapphy and her brother Conor learn about their family’s connection to the domains of air and of water.” (Catalogue)

Alone on a wide, wide sea / Michael Morpurgo  

“How far would you go to find yourself? When Arthur is shipped to Australia after WWII he loses his sister and his home, but he is saved by his love of the sea. Years later, Arthur’s daughter Allie has a boat her father built her that will take her back to England to search for her long-lost aunt. The lyrical, life-affirming new novel from the bestselling author of Private Peaceful.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Into the Drowning Deep / Mira Grant  

“Seven years ago Atagaris set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy. Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost. Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves.” (Catalogue)

The Tricksters / Margaret Mahy  

“The Hamiltons look forward to their annual Christmas holiday on the New Zealand coast. Jack and Naomi, their five children and their guests are settling in to the chaotic family atmosphere at the sprawling home known as Carnival’s Hide when the world is thrown out of order by the unexpected arrival of three visitors. Charming, enigmatic and sinister, the three brothers have come to stay. Only 17-year-old Harry questions their strange ways, but even she isn’t sure what is real anymore: are they really related to Teddy Carnival, said to have drowned on that beach many years ago, or are they tricksters – conjured by her overactive imagination? This will be a Christmas to be remembered, where long-buried secrets will be revealed and no one will ever be quite the same.” (Catalogue)

Red Rocks / Rachael King  

“While holidaying at his father’s house, Jake explores Wellington’s wild south coast, with its high cliffs, biting winds, and its fierce seals. When he stumbles upon a perfectly preserved sealskin, hidden in a crevice at Red Rocks, he’s compelled to take it home and hide it under his bed, setting off a chain of events that threatens to destroy his family. Red Rocks takes the Celtic myth of the selkies, or seal people, and transplants it into the New Zealand landscape, throwing an ordinary boy into an adventure tinged with magic.” (Catalogue)

New Non-fiction for People Who Care About the World

Dear readers, we understand that you are people who care about things. We are also  people who care about things — things like racism, climate change, the environment, mental health, LGBTQ+ rights, art and poetry. The absolute wizards who buy books for our collections — those to whom we humble blog administrators must show all due deference — have certainly not stopped buying the good stuff during this whole pandemic situation. Here’s a selection of recently-added non-fiction for you to really sink your teeth into.

Stamped : racism, antiracism, and you. / Reynolds, Jason
“A book about race. The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.” (Catalogue)

Stuff that’s loud : a teen’s guide to unspiralling when OCD gets noisy. / Sedley, Ben
“Do you have thoughts that seem loud? Do your worries spiral out of control and then suck you in? Do intrusive thoughts show up and make you scared of doing certain things – or not doing things – a certain way? Do you ever get a feeling like something bad might happen? Does this loud stuff make you feel alone, or worse, crazy?

First, you aren’t alone – even if it sometimes feels that way. And second, you are not crazy. But you might be struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). And while OCD can be difficult, you don’t have to let it have power over you. Instead, you can live a life full of meaning, great relationships and joy with the help of this book. Life doesn’t have to stay stuck any longer.” (Catalogue)

Pandemic : how climate, the environment, and superbugs increase the risk / Goldsmith, Connie
“How close are we to having another worldwide health crisis? Pandemic epidemiologists have identified one they believe is likely to happen in the next couple decades: the flu. Learn about factors that contribute to the spread of disease by examining past pandemics and epidemics, including the Bubonic Plague, smallpox Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and Zika. Examine case studies of potential pandemic diseases, like SARS and cholera, and find out how pathogens and antibiotics work. See how human activities such as global air travel and the disruption of animal habitats contribute to the risk of a new pandemic. And discover how scientists are striving to contain and control the spread of disease, both locally and globally.” (Catalogue)

Have pride : an inspirational history of the LGBTQ+ movement / Caldwell, S. A.
“Have Pride gives an honest, chronological account of how life has changed for LGBTQ+ people and sheds light on the people that brought about this change. The heartfelt stories of LGBTQ+ revolutionaries are better understood as you realise what a revolutionary act it was to live openly as an LGBTQ+ person. In this book there is no hiding from the dark chapters of history and the persecution people faced for being true to who they were. But like Fred Rogers’ mother suggested, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people helping”, Have Pride highlights the LGBTQ+ heroes who ‘helped’ others, pushed for change and inspire pride in ourselves and our history.” (Extract from publisher review)

Hypnopompia: the thoughts of dawning minds : Re-draft’s 19th collection of writing by New Zealand’s young adults
The 19th in the brilliant Re-Draft series, Hypnopompia brings together New Zealand’s very best young writers in yet another dazzling collection. Wake up to the new world as seen by the most talented of our post-millennial writers. The 80 young writers featured in the collection have grown up with the century and Hypnopompia is their very woke report card on its perplexities, perils, passions and never ending variety. At times funny, at times dark, always engaging, their stories and poems are never less than perceptive and open-eyed. (Publisher summary)

Imaginary borders / Martinez, Xiuhtezcatl
“Pocket Change Collective is a series of small books with big ideas from today’s leading activists and artists. In this installment, Earth Guardians Youth Director and hip-hop artist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez shows us how his music feeds his environmental activism and vice versa. Martinez visualizes a future that allows us to direct our anger, fear, and passion toward creating change. Because, at the end of the day, we all have a part to play.” (Catalogue)

Trans+ : love, sex, romance, and being you / Gonzales, Kathryn
Trans+ is a growing-up guide for teens who are transgender, nonbinary, gender-nonconforming, or gender-fluid. This book explores gender identity, gender expression, gender roles, and how these all combine and play out as gender in the world. Includes chapters on medical, health, and legal issues as well as relationships, family, and sex.” (Catalogue)

Wellington Pride!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHooray! Wellington Pride Week starts tomorrow and goes for a full two weeks. We’ve got an amazing selection of Queer YA fiction (check out our awesome display at Central) but I think the Non Fiction needs a bit more love.

Telling your own, authentic story is a central part of Queer culture. So we’re lucky to have a cool selection of memoirs: Finding Nevo : how I confused everyone by Nevo Zisin describes their own unique journey towards their understanding of their own place in the world. We also have Some assembly required : the not-so-secret life of a transgender teen by Arin Andrews with Joshua Lyon and Being Jazz : my life as a (transgender) teen by Jazz Jennings. A particular favourite is The full spectrum : a new generation of writing about gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and other identities. It’s edited by David Levithan and Billy Merrell, whose names you probably recognise from their own writing.

There’s also a great collection of “big” names in Queer history, called (appropriately) Queer, there, and everywhere : 23 people who changed the world. I’d also recommend Queer: a graphic history.

Sometimes everyone needs a little bit of help and we’ve got some books that (hopefully) will help. Queer : the ultimate LGBT guide for teens by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke and The Trans teen survival guide by Owl and Fox Fisher are just two.

Stay safe, be kind, and have a wonderful Pride.

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