Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Search options

Teen Blog

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


Study Hacks to Avoid NCEA Panic Attacks

It’s almost time for summer holidays, but first the dreaded NCEA season is approaching. Have you barricaded yourself in your room with an ungodly amount of snacks yet? Have you spent the required 2.5 hours debating aesthetic highlighter choices for your study notes? Do you know when your exams are? These, and the list below, are all equally important things to consider when preparing for your exams.

Image of a collection of NCEA study books at He Matapihi Library

Controversial librarian take: I wish we could shelve these study guides by colour instead of by call number. [Editor’s note: HOW VERY DARE YOU! (also, yes). -SC]

1: Use the official study guides.

No shade to the NCEA system, but when I was a teen you would literally see questions in the study books that would then turn up, ALMOST VERBATIM, in the exam. This is because, though it can be hard to believe, the people that write your tests want you to succeed.  Making your way through these guides is therefore something you do not want to miss out on. If you don’t have a copy of the study guides, no worries, we have copies at most of our libraries. Click here to find ’em all.

2: Practice with past exams.

Following the previous tip, you can go to the official NCEA website and take past exams. You can them come print them off at the library if you like!

Extra for experts: Practice completing your exams within the time limit that you will have on the day, with no looking things up! The closer you can get to practicing in actual test conditions, the less stressed you’ll hopefully get on the day.

3: Don’t leave it to the last minute.

Trying to revise a whole year of work in a day is impossible. Saying “today I will study for 4 hours” is vague. Try setting specific and manageable goals. Make a plan that breaks down exactly what you intend to revise, and what day you will do it on. This means that, when you sit down to study, you won’t have to waste brain energy figuring out where you should start. You could pair this with a cute to-do list or calendar to track your progress. You could even incorporate cute stamps or stickers. You are never too old or cool for stickers. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you can find an excuse to go get some cute stationery, you should do it. I am not sponsored by Big Stationery, but gosh I wish I was. Anyway, back to studying, this leads me to my next tip…

4: Take breaks!

The fact is that, although it sounds very impressive to say “I’m going to study for 5 hours today”, most people need to take breaks. Exactly how long/how many will depend on your brain! I have looked briefly around at various resources and a common suggestion is 45 mins of work, then 15 mins of downtime to recharge, so maybe try that and then change it up to find what works best for you.

On this note, although it may be tempting to use that break time to zone out with your phone, I challenge you to give yourself a proper rest from your screen. Try going for a walk outside, making yourself a hot drink, eating a snack or lying in the sun listening to music. Find an activity that you enjoy that lets your mind wander, but that isn’t a procrastination trap.

5: Have a study group/buddy.

This could take many different forms! Are you more likely to study if you sit with a group of friends who are hard at work? Do you prefer learning facts if there’s a chance to get competitive about it? Do you find it easier to understand concepts if you talk them out with someone? There’s heaps of reasons to add a social aspect to your studying! Sidenote: you could also incorporate some mild hijinks into your study day. For example, me and my friends once all met for a library study session in Where’s Wally outfits. We then took breaks to play real life Where’s Wally in the library. Yes, we were studying for a theatre class. Yes, we were fully grown adults at university. Yes, I am still extremely cool.

6: Make it a e s t h e t i c .

Here’s where you get to use those fancy new highlighters. After revising a concept, condense what you have learned into a mind map/flow chart/summary page. This will then be a helpful tool for when you want to briefly look over a topic. It’s also a nice safety blanket for exam day.


Put your phone on silent, in a shoe box, and throw it into the ocean. Maybe not in the ocean, but keep that thing as far out of your study zone as possible.

Headphones can be really helpful if your study space isn’t very peaceful, os if you have annoying siblings you need help ignoring. I suggest playing ambient music or lo-fi hiphop beats, whatever helps you separate yourself from any distracting sounds. Related to this, the teen blog team here at WCL might be cooking up something very interesting for you. 

Extra for expert: Turn your Wi-Fi off. Don’t be online at all until you are finished studying. As an ancient person who sat my NCEA exams before it was common to have wi-fi at home, I can assure you it’s possible to study without constantly being online.

8: …it’s like a reward.

End your study session with a treat. Have some Tiktok or video game time to reward yourself for a hard day of studying. You could also plan a fun hang-out with your friends later in the day, that way you have a set time where you have to be done studying by. Deadlines can be very helpful!

~Extra hard mode~: You can only text your crush back once you finish studying. Honestly, I would not be surprised if this helps a person learn a concept faster.

Helpful books!

Learning how to learn : how to succeed in school without spending all your time studying / Oakley, Barbara A.
“A surprisingly simple way for students to master any subject… “Learning How to Learn” have empowered more than two million learners of all ages from around the world to master subjects that they once struggled with. Now in this new book for kids and teens, the authors reveal how to make the most of time spent studying. — Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

How to be a knowledge ninja : study smarter, focus better, achieve more / Allcott, Graham
“Paralysed by procrastination? Harness some Ninja Focus to get things started. Overwhelmed by exam nerves? You need some Zen-like Calm to turn those butterflies into steely focus. Surrounded by too many scrappy notes and unfinished to-do lists? Get Weapon-savvy with the latest organizational technology.” (Catalogue)

The study skills handbook / Cottrell, Stella
“Your essential companion for succeeding with your studies. Bestselling author Stella Cottrell equips you with the skills you need to improve your grades, build your confidence and plan for the future you want. Recognising that we each have a unique formula for success, her tried and trusted approach helps you find the key to unlock your potential.” (Catalogue)

How to study / Fry, Ronald W
“Best-selling HOW TO STUDY, SEVENTH EDITION reveals the study skills that all students need to know in order to be successful, whether the goal is landing a top scholarship or excelling in school. This edition includes information on how to create an effective work environment, stand out in class, use the library, conduct research online, and much more. Plus, author Ron Fry covers all the traditional elements of a winning study strategy, such as reading, writing, time-management, memory, and test-taking skills. HOW TO STUDY, SEVENTH EDITION introduces a revolutionary study system, along with examples, that gives students the edge in any learning environment.” (Catalogue)

Happy Death Day, William Shakespeare!

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. Well, that was certainly the case during William Shakespeare’s life. This year marks Shakespeare’s, or the Bard of Avon, (assumed) 457th birthday on the 26th of April and 405th death anniversary on the 23rd April.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

And pray tell, who was William Shakespeare?

Well, he was an English poet, playwright and actor who is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. People all over the world have come to recognise the image of William Shakespeare and would heard of his plays, but what do we know about the man himself, or even what went on behind the scenes during the performance of his plays, or even who his plays were being performed for?

How dost thou celebrate?

In addition to the traditional birthday party, cake and presents, why not read all about his life, from his early and humble beginnings in Stratford upon Avon, England to conquering the stage in Queen Elizabeth’s court and the Globe Theatre.

image courtesy of syndetics30-second Shakespeare : 50 key aspects of his works, life and legacy, each explained in half a minute.

’30-second Shakespeare’ features 50 of the key moments, works and lasting influences of the Bard, all explained clearly and without the clutter. Each entry is summarized in just 3 seconds – using nothing more than two pages, 300 words and one picture. Leading Shakespeare scholars present an expert guide to his life and works.

image courtesy of syndeticsWill in the world : how Shakespeare became Shakespeare.

Read all about the real-world sources of Shakespeare’s language – of his fantasies, passions, fears, and desires – lie outside the scope of these earlier books. Will in the World will set out to recover the links between Shakespeare and his world and with them to construct a full and vital portrait of the man.

image courtesy of syndeticsShakespeare : the world as stage.

Bill Bryson explores the life and work of Shakespeare as a travelogue of sorts, narrating his quest for the Bard: his conversations with Shakespearean actors, with the curator of Shakespeare’s birthplace, with academics who have dedicated their lives to studying the plays and poems, and of course, reporting on his own exploits in Stratford-upon-Avon.

image courtesy of syndeticsA year in the life of William Shakespeare.

In 1599, an epochal year for Shakespeare and England, Shakespeare wrote four of his most famous plays while Elizabethans sent off an army to crush an Irish rebellion, weathered an Armada threat from Spain, and gambled on a fledgling East India Company. Shapiro brings together the news and the intrigue of the times in this gripping account of an inspiring moment in history.

Also search our catalogue for more biographies about Shakespeare and his remarkable life.

Read Shakespeare’s plays… and novels based on Shakespeare’s plays!

image courtesy of syndeticsThe plays of Shakespeare : a thematic guide.

Read and relive your favourite Shakespeare plays. Wellington City Libraries holds a huge array of plays and teen novels adapted from Shakespeare’s plays. Identifies the core topics of Shakespeare’s plays and allows students to compare and contrast the thematic connections that recur throughout the canon.

image courtesy of syndeticsThe complete works by William Shakespeare.

A compact edition of the complete works of William Shakespeare. It combines impeccable scholarship with beautifully written editorial material and a user-friendly layout of the text. Also included is a foreword, list of contents, general introduction, essay on language, contemporary allusions to Shakespeare, glossary, consolidated bibliography and index of first lines of Sonnets.

Plays from the Royal Shakespeare Company

This Shakespeare series has titles such as Much ado about Nothing, Macbeth, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to excite Shakespearian fans of all ages. This exciting series, produced in partnership with the RSC, is designed to introduce students to Shakespeare’s plays. Using trusted and established RSC approaches and vibrant RSC performance photographs, the series brings Shakespeare’s plays to life in the classroom and establishes a deeper understanding and lasting appreciation of his work.
image courtesy of syndeticsimage courtesy of syndeticsimage courtesy of syndetics

Plays from the Cambridge School Shakespeare

image courtesy of syndeticsHamlet.

A new edition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in accordance with the work of the Shakespeare and Schools Project and the national curriculum for English.

image courtesy of syndeticsRomeo and Juliet.

A new edition of Romeo and Juliet in the Cambridge School Shakepeare series.

image courtesy of syndeticsOthello.

A prose retelling of Shakespeare’s play in which a jealous general is duped into thinking that his wife has been unfaithful, with tragic consequences.

Novels adapted from Shakespeare’s Plays

image courtesy of syndeticsThe diary of William Shakespeare, gentleman.

Part comedy, part love story, this book threads together Shakespeare’s life drawn from his plays. Could the world’s greatest writer truly put down his pen forever to become a gentleman? Based on new documentary evidence, as well as textual examination of his plays, this fascinating book gives a tantalising glimpse at what might have been: the other hands that helped craft those plays, the secrets that must ever be hidden but – just possibly – may now be told.

image courtesy of syndeticsHamlet.

This wonderful book, by one of Australia’s most loved and most read writers, takes Shakespeare’s famous play and makes it into a moving and full-blooded novel. John Marsden follows the contours of the original but powerfully re-imagines its characters and story lines, rather as Shakespeare treated his sources. We are aware not only of the strength of Marsden’s own writing but the sensitivity of his insight into Shakespeare. Hamlet, A Novel will be adored by adults whether young or old.

image courtesy of syndeticsThird Witch.

A searing story of passion, betrayal, battles and love, this is Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’ stripped of superstition, and its power and beauty refined into fewer words where good balances the evil and there is a happy ending – for some. Following on from OPHELIA, QUEEN OF DENMARK and I AM JULIET, this is the third title in the series for young people that focuses on the reinterpretation of Shakespeare’s classic and enduring plays.

image courtesy of syndeticsThese Violent Delights.

A retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in 1926 Shanghai, China. 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.– Provided by Publisher.

OMG Shakespeare!

image courtesy of syndeticsimage courtesy of syndeticsimage courtesy of syndetics

Also search our catalogue for more plays.

Ace your exams and homework!

Read the CliffsNotes on Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets that will help ease your homework headaches and help you score high on exams. Check out the following CliffNotes which includes As You Like it, Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet:

image courtesy of syndetics

image courtesy of syndetics

image courtesy of syndetics

You can search our catalogue for more CliffNotes. Also, check out more Shakespeare on the CliffNotes website.

Watch movies inspired by Shakespeare’s plays:

A midsummer night’s dream.

image courtesy of amazon.com

When two pairs of star-crossed lovers, a feuding pair of supernatural sprites and a love potion gone awry all come together in an enchanted moonlit forest, the result is a delightful mix of merriment and magic. Shakespeare’s romantic comedy is brought to life.


image courtesy of amazon.com

In this first-ever full-text film of William Shakespeare’s work, the Prince of Denmark, Hamlet, returns home to find his father murdered and his mother remarrying the murderer. Meanwhile, war is brewing.

Love Labour’s Lost.

image courtesy of amazon.com

The King of Navarre (Alessandro Nivola) and his friends think that they cannot love again. When the Princess of France (Alicia Silverstone) and her attendants arrive for a visit, their plans are completely turned upside down in this 1930s-musical-style version of Shakespeare’s comedy featuring Berlin, Gershwin, Kern, and Porter song numbers.

Double dose of Much ado about Nothing (1993) and Much ado about Nothing (2013).

image courtesy of amazon.comimage courtesy of amazon.com

Two different retellings of  Shakespeare’s classic comedy about the story of sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick offers a sensual, tragic and occasionally absurd view of the intricate game that is love.

image courtesy of amazon.com image courtesy of amazon.com

Double dose of Romeo and Juliet (1968) and Romeo and Juliet (1996) .

Two different retellings of Shakespeare’s classic of star crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet. The 1996 version staring a very young and impressionable Leonardo Dicaprio is a modern adaptation of the classic love story, moved to the futuristic urban backdrop of Verona Beach.

Also search our catalogue for more DVDs adapted from Shakespeare’s plays. 

Where to find more information?

NCEA Time!

Good luck to all senior secondary students currently sitting NCEA exams.

Here are a few links to help you out:


Study Stop

The all important exam timetable and info about the exam rules and etiquette

Past exam papers and exemplars from NZQA (click on a subject to find the papers and what’s required to pass). Study Time also has these.

Study tips and advice can be found on Study It, NZQA, Study Time (filmed in the Central Library!).

Subject help can be found on Study It.

Cliffs Notes is where you’ll find literature guides for those novels you’ve read this year.

Find lots of subject info in our selection of databases. Encyclopaedia Britannica is a good place to start.

Need a break? Procrastinate here with these awesome links.


You are welcome to study in our libraries. They are warm, dry, have wifi, and you can bring in your coffee and a nibble. The librarians will help you find any info you need.

Good luck!


Avoid A Study Apocalypse: An NCEA Survival Kit

The 2013 NCEA exams are looming. For some that means late nights and long hours of cramming – for any day walker it’s a fast-track recipe for becoming a zombie. No one wants a zombie apocalypse to happen so we’ve slapped this survival kit together. It puts all the useful links on the interweb together in one spot so you don’t have to waste your precious time finding them.

Firstly, do you have the exam timetable? Print it out and put it everywhere! If you know when your exams are you can prioritise your study order.

Here’s the NZQA subject resource page; inside you will find useful resources like past examination papers. If you need access to a printer our librarians will gladly help you. Ask them to visit this page and print the exam papers off for you.

AnyQuestions and ManyAnswers are great resources, run by real kiwi librarians. The AQ service will connect you to a real librarian online between 1 & 6pm Monday to Friday, they’re like an internet tour guide and will help you find quality information to answer your sticky questions. Many Answers is like a FAQ page filled with tips for finding information on hundreds of topics.

Studyit for NCEA students is an online learning environment for NCEA science, maths, and English students. The site has been designed with input from secondary students, and content has been written by subject specialists and checked by student editors, to keep it student focused.

This post on Stuff.co.nz will give you top-secret tips from exam markers across a wide range of subjects.

Our mates at Christchurch City Libraries compiled this page with every imaginable study link needed.

Then there’s us – we have 12 libraries ready and waiting to accomodate your study needs with computer facilities, books, study space, and of course real-life librarians. There’s also the magic 13th branch that’s open 24/7 – WCL online will guide you to a variety of eResources and let you search the shelves and order texts from home.

We really don’t recommend it but it’s a given that 21st century study involves a certain amount of online procrastination too – we’ll be delivering respite and tips on our social media platforms throughout and beyond exam season. Facebook & Twitter

Good luck!

Exams: don’t panic!

It’s exam time again, but never fear! Come to the library to study. Also, here’s some useful stuff:

Past Exam Papers. You can download these off the NZQA website here (you can print exam papers out at the library – printing costs 20c for an A4 black and white page).

The 2012 Exam Timetable. Here’s a link to the timetable (PDF).

NCEA Study Guides. You can borrow these from the library (for one week). If someone’s got the one you want, there are reference copies at the central library. Just bring your library card to the children’s enquiries desk.

Forum for students. Ask advice and talk to teachers and other students at studyit.

Revision tools for NCEA Science. At No Brain Too Small.

Exam tips from the good people at NZQA here.

Online Databases. The library’s got a wealth of information available through MyGateway. The Study and Homework page has got a collection of all-round useful websites and databases, but also have a look at Science, History, or Books & Reading, for example.

Exam Info Alerts. Find out the latest information from NZQA via Twitter.

Studystop Pages. Useful links and hints are here.

WCL Teens at Facebook. While you’re on a study break, like us on Facebook to waste some time.

The teen blog wishes you all the best for your exams!

Exams: the final hurdle

Tis the season. If you’ve got exams coming up, don’t worry! Come to the library to study. Also, here’s some useful stuff:

Past Exam Papers. You can download these off the NZQA website here (you can print exam papers out at the library – printing costs 20c for an A4 black and white page).

NCEA Study Guides. You can borrow these from the library (for one week). If someone’s got the one you want, there are reference copies at the central library. Just bring your library card to the children’s enquiries desk.

Forum for students. Ask advice and talk to teachers and other students at studyit.

Online Databases. The library’s got a wealth of information available through MyGateway. The Study and Homework page has got a collection of all-round useful websites and databases, but also have a look at Science, History, or Books & Reading, for example.

Exam Info Alerts. Find out the latest information from NZQA via Twitter.

Studystop Pages. Useful links and hints are here.

WCL Teens at Facebook. While you’re on a study break, like us on Facebook (we have a timewasting tab).

Spiderrzz. Because it’s almost exam time, and Halloween in fact, it’s time once again to point you towards a horribly realistic virtual spider.

NCEA results online today

Yes, it’s true, you can find out your NCEA results right now. Teen Blog wishes everyone the best of luck.

For those of you who are now finished with your secondary education, congratulations! Everyone else going back to school later on this year should note that the YA section of your local library has all the relevant study guides and that the Central Library has past exam papers. Note that down in your diaries for the next study period, or get a ridiculously large jump start on it now.


Yup, it’s that time.

We can’t sit your exams (and you probably wouldn’t want my French mark) but we would like to help, so:

We have old exam papers, if you would like to use them in your study. Just ask one of the librarians at the desk. (In Central ask at the children’s desk or on the second floor.)

We’ve collected some tips and sites that might help you here

When you need a break, you might like our facebook page which has some fine ways to use your time.

And lastly if any old people are being too noisy and disturbing you,  please ask a librarian to shush them. It’s only fair.

Good Luck!

The Oh Yay It’s Almost Exam Time Blog Post

KitKatNearly time to study for exams? Never fear, here are some links and stuff that will help you:

Rather than shutting yourself in your room to study, you could also consider the library as a venue: we’ve got copies of NCEA study guides, and some past exam papers (or you could download from the NZQA site at the library), tables, chairs, and ambience.

If you’re needing to procrastinate take a small micropause, here are some non-study related links that may interest you:

About an Author: Sarah Dessen

We recently-ish did a post about a Top 100 YA fiction list, in which Sarah Dessen featured strongly. So what about Sarah Dessen then? Who is she and why is she so popular? Here’s a very brief summary.

Sarah Dessen is the writer of (currently) nine novels for young adults, all of them stand-alone (which is unusual, since it seems everyone thinks you have to write series to be popular). We have them all! She studied creative writing in college (lucky her) and her first book, That Summer, was completed while she was waitressing (good job for writers: write during the day, wait at night).

Sarah Dessen fans (wittily called dessenites) love her for her realism, her focus on interpersonal relationships (the catch-all subject for fiction), and, yes, her books are a little bit romantic. Of Just Listen, possibly her most critically well received novel, one reviewer wrote, “Annabel and Owen’s finely limned connection alone gives this novel staying power”.

If you’re wanting to make a serious study of Sarah Dessen’s works then the place to go is the Literature Resource Centre. This is one of the online databases you can get at through MyGateway.info. The Literature Resource Centre is a fantastic resource: there are reviews (separated into reviews and more highbrow literary criticism), biographical articles and interviews, plus much more. Great for your NCEA reading log.

Sarah Dessen on t’internet:
Website | TwitterBlog | Facebook

New Book List: Award Winners


To help with your NCEA reading requirements, we’ve produced a list of award winning books (24 in all, mostly young adult books but also a small handful from the general collection). It’s an impressive looking line up, so have a look!

Also, have a look at some of our other lists; there’s classic books (with haiku summaries), Maori writers, and books from around the world, for example.

Genesis wins French prize

Genesis, Bernard Beckett’s multi award winning book, has won another prize, this time the young adult section of the 2010 Prix Sorcières, a French literary award. Genesis has done super well since it was published in 2006, and was published in the United States last year and was one of Amazon’s best books of the month last April (although they don’t get the edition with the cool orang on the cover).

So, if you read Genesis then you can cross off “New Zealand author” and “award winning book” from your reading list for school maybe?

The Carnegie Medal Shortlist 2010

So what’s the Carnegie Medal then? Kind of like the BAFTAs for young adults’ writing. This year there is an interesting collection of shortlisted novels, and you can see the book covers in a gallery here. This is them, with catalogue links:

  • Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson – “After being sold to a cruel couple in New York City, a slave named Isabel spies for the rebels during the Revolutionary War.” (catalogue)
  • The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman – Bod’s raised by ghosts in one of those cool church cemeteries after his family is murdered. Is the murderer going to attempt to finish the job?
  • The Vanishing of Katharina Linden, Helen Grant – Pia is the last person to see Katharina Linden alive, and she wants to know what happened, but then another girl goes missing…
  • Rowan the Strange, Julie Hearn – the story of a boy living during World War II who has a mental illness (in the time of asylums and experimental surgeries – scary).
  • The Ask and the Answer, Patrick Ness – the second, award-winning book in the Chaos Walking trilogy, told alternately between Todd and Viola’s perspectives.
  • Nation, Terry Pratchett – an island boy and an English aristrocrat set about building a community after a devastating tsunami.
  • Fever Crumb, Philip Reeve – set in the Mortal Engines world, but before Tom and Hester (and in that sense, a prequel).
  • Revolver, Marcus Sedgwick – in the Arctic Circle, Sig is alone with his father who has just been shot dead, then a stranger arrives on his doorstep saying he’s his father’s former business partner…

If you have to read an award-winning novel for school, then the Carnegie Medalists are an excellent place to start.

Help, I’m Doing Music

If you have the excellent fortune of studying music at school you might like to use MyGateway databases when you’re doing some research or analysing a piece of music in its historical context.

1) Oxford Music Online
This is a database bristling with the most well-respected music reference titles, including The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, The New Grove Dictionary of OperaThe New Grove Dictionary of JazzThe Oxford Companion to Music and The Oxford Dictionary of Music. Apart from a huge collection of articles and biographical entries, tools also include timelines,  topical guides and research resources. You need to enter your library card number and surname to access the database.

2) Naxos Music Library and Naxos Jazz Library
Wanting to listen to what you’re studying? Whether it’s the Brandenburg concerto in D Major, or Keith Jarrett, you should find what you’re looking for. Again, these databases require your library card number and surname.

3) Allmusic.com
Heaps of info on popular music, including bios, discographies, reviews, recommendations. Definitely more information than you could possibly want, organised in a very easy to use format.

Also have a look at the popular topics classical page; it’s got links to other websites, recommended journals and lots of advice on how to find classical stuff in the library (since it can be a bit of a mission).

ps: totally confused about the difference between an acciaccatura and an appoggiatura? Don’t laugh, these can be important little things. Music theory books are to be found here on the catalogue.

Into Photography?

Are you studying Photography or just keen and naturally talented? We asked Françoise, library staff member and photographer, about photography books and resources and she’s given us a list (yay, list) of recommended reading and viewing.

1 The Genius of Photography, by Gerry Badger (770.9 BAD)
This landmark book explores the key events and images that have marked the development of photography. What is it that makes a photograph by Nan Goldin or Henri Cartier Bresson stand out among the millions of others taken by all of us every single day? The Genius of Photography examines the evolution of photography in its wider context: social, political, economic, technological and artistic. A great reference book on this evermore influential artform.

2 A Century of Colour Photography, by Pamela Roberts (770.9 ROB)
This comprehensive collection offers fine examples of the art of colour photography, covering every major technical and artistic development in colour photography over the last 100 years, since the Lumière brothers made the autochrome process commercially available in June 1907.

3 Contemporary New Zealand Photographers, by Hannah Holm & Lara Strongman (770.9931 CON)
Designed to accompany the exhibition that toured New Zealand in 2006, this book is a must for anybody interested in photography today in New Zealand. All the major contemporary photographers of the country are featured here with text and some key images. An essential reference.

4 Magnum (779 MAG)
Founded in 1947 by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa and other eminent photographers, Magnum is an agency of elected photojournalists who independently photograph what they choose rather than what they are assigned. Regarded as the best of their profession, their images can have a lasting impact on viewers and be truly inspirational. Magnumdegree is a book about history and humanity, journalism and art, offering a vision of the contemporary world at the beginning of the new millennium. It contains over 600 colour and black-and-white photographs by 69 Magnum photographers, including original contributions from Cartier-Bresson.

5 Street & Studio: An Urban History of Photography, by Ute Eskilden, Florian Ebner and Bettina Kaufmann (779.2 STR)
The street allows photographers to conceal cameras and catch subjects unaware, in informal settings. By contrast, the studio permits both photographers and subjects to present carefully composed images to the world through elaborate staging and technical tricks. Street and Studio provides a revealing look at the history of photography through the contrasts and tensions between these two traditions.

6 The Polaroid Book, by Steve Crist and Barbara Hitchcock (779 POL)
In existence for over 50 years, the Polaroid Corporation’s photography collection is the greatest collection of Polaroid images in the world. Begun by Polaroid founder Edwin Land and photographer Ansel Adams, the collection now includes images by hundreds of photographers throughout the world and contains important pieces by artists such as David Hockney, Helmut Newton, Jeanloup Sieff and Robert Rauschenberg. The Polaroid Book, a survey of this remarkable collection, pays tribute to a medium that defies the digital age and remains a favourite among artists for its quirky look and instantly gratifying, one-of-a-kind images.

7 Digital Photography Masterclass, by Tom Ang (775 ANG)
One of Britain’s best-known photographers, Ang has hosted a popular BBC TV series called A Digital Picture of Britain and won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. In this book, the author teaches how to look at the world with a photographer’s eye and offers tutorials, photographic assignments, and step-by-step image-manipulation exercises. A perfect introduction for budding photographers.

8 Fashion & Advertising, by Magdalene Keaney (778.92 KEA)
In these workshops, World’s Top Photographers discuss and explore the technical and artistic aspects of photographer: lighting, composition, colour, tone and imaging. Stunning images and in-depth interviews plus checklists and tips-and-hints panels make this book a beautiful and practical manual.

9 Henri Cartier-Bresson in India, by Henri Cartier-Bresson (779.9954)
From 1947 through the 1980s, founder of Magnum, Henri Cartier-Bresson photographed all aspects of India’s multi-facetted society, from refugee camps to the Maharaja of Barodea’s birthday celebration. His gift of observation and connections infuse all these photos, revealing the essence of a country that has captured the world’s imagination.

10 Handboek: Ans Westra Photographs, by Ans Westra, Luit Bieringa and Cushla Parekowhai (770.92 WES)
Born in the Netherlands, Ans Westra came to New Zealand in 1957. In a few short years she was to embark on her life-long photographic journey documenting the lives and cultures of New Zealanders. This book is an in-depth insight into more than 130 documentary images by one of the most influential photographers of this country.

11 Life, by Lennart Nilsson (779.949611 NIL)
Lennart Nilsson took the first image of a living human embryo in the 1960s and stunned the world. Life is an amazing book of images documenting human life from DNA through fetal development and birth. The second half of the book focuses on the human body, its organs, tissues, and the things that eventually threaten life – bacteria and viruses. Science meets Art in this incredible journey to the centre of the human body.

12 Pictures from the Surface of the Earth, by Wim Wenders, Peter-Klaus Schuster and Nicole Hartje (779 WEN)
For many years, famous German Wim Wenders (Wings of Desire, Buena Vista Social Club) has taken an old panorama camera along with him on his travels. The result is a collection of landscapes and cityscapes, photographs of architecture and nature where few humans appear, taken in the United States, Japan, Australia, Israel, Cuba and Germany.

13 Africa, by Sebastiao Salgado (779.996 SAL)
This stunning book, entirely in black and white, is a photographic document of Africa by Sebastiao Salgado, but also a homage to the history, people, and natural phenomena of this continent. Renowned Mozambique novelist Mia Couto describes how today’s Africa reflects the effects of colonisation as well as the consequences of economic, social, and environmental crises. Moving and inspiring.

Françoise has also kindly subcategorised them for us like so –

  • General (Historical, Overview, Theme): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
  • Techniques, How-to: 7, 8
  • Individual Artists: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13
  • New Zealand: 3, 10

Want more?
Visit the library Art Resources page for books, magazines, useful websites and other tools, including art-related online databases. Oxford Art Online, for example, is great for searching for biographical information on famous photographers (you’ll need to enter your library card number and surname to access).

Help! I Have This Essay…

Studying English? We could help you out if you’re stuck for resources.

In the wonderful alternate world of My Gateway there are some impressive literature databases that should make essay writing, like, really easy (provided you keep refering to the question, make sure your conclusion covers the points mentioned in your introduction etc etc).

1) Books and Authors (you’ll need to put in your library card number and surname for authentication). This here database lets you browse in any number of ways, from basic searches like genre (including inspirational!), author and title, through to the Who/What/Where/When search, which is a fantastic illustration of Venn diagrams. You type in your parameters and where the circles intersect should provide a list of books relevant to your needs. Books and Authors also has comprehensive lists of award winners and bestsellers (US) and recommendations.

But enough of that, on to the good stuff: the database has a thing called “My Reading Room” that allows you to create lists, and write and store reviews. Excellent.

2) Literature Resource Centre (again, library card number and surname required). Very useful for literary research. You can select, for example, an author or book title, and you’ll find a comprehensive list of reviews, critical essays and overviews. There’s also a literary timeline which will tell you who else was writing and what was going on historically which will help you put the book/author in context. The author browse also contains a comprehensive bibliography (including articles and short stories). The database works equally well for classic authors like Laurence Sterne and contemporary writers like Stephenie Meyer.

Also: last year we did a spotlight on Fiction Connection, which is useful if you’re wondering what to read next, and also also Melissa pointed out Literature Map, which is quite a cool tool for working out who writes like who.

Next time we’ll focus on something like History or Classics.

p.s. if you want some advice on an essay you’re writing then visit the Studyit message boards, where actual teachers give you teacherly advice before you have to hand anything in. Very useful.

Books for the Feminist-Minded

Are you looking for books about women and girls who “follow their dreams and pursue their goals, challenging cultural and familial stereotypes to gain an education, taking charge and making plans for community, regional, national, and world change”? Then the Amelia Bloomer Project blog is a good place to start (and also the website, where the above quote comes from).

The site contains both fiction and non-fiction selected by a (deep breath) committee of the Feminist Task Force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of the American Library Association, and they take their job seriously! There is some good stuff in here.

Some of my suggestions in my Top 10 Strong Females list made it into the Amelia Bloomer lists, so that’s gratifying.

So who was Amelia Bloomer and did she have anything to do with underwear? Her Wikipedia entry is a good place to start to find out – there are a couple of bio links at the bottom. For more indepth research you should definitely check out (ha, Simon!) look at [edited: Simon] the Biography Resource Centre on My Gateway (you’ll need to enter your library card number and surname when prompted). Here you can search for specific names (i.e. Amelia Bloomer) or you can search by occupation (“feminist” works as an occupation in this instance), gender, nationality… or do fancier Boolean things. This database is fantastic for NCEA research.

Thankyou Thankyou: Award Winning Books

Since it’s NCEA reading log sort of time I thought a post about where to find records of award winning books might be in order. Here are some of the better-known awards given each year, and one or two past winners for your information. There are many, many more of course – do a bit of searching yourself if these don’t grab your fancy.

The American Library Association awards the Newbery Medal and the Michael L Printz Award each year for children’s and young adults’ novels respectively. There is some crossover between the two (for example, The Graveyard Book won the Newbery Medal this year), so check past winners of both awards for inspiration.

The ALA also gives the Alex Awards for books that appeal to teens, which we reported on earlier.

The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize – unhelpfully, being a newspaper, they don’t seem to have a site for the award as such, but there’s a list of past winners on the Wikipedia page, including Meg Rosoff (How I Live Now) and Patrick Ness (The Knife of Never Letting Go).

The Carnegie Medal, named in honour of Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish man who apparently loved libraries so much that he established more than 2,800 of them around the world, which is phenominal. Past winners include Meg Rosoff (Just in Case), Philip Pulman (Northern Lights), Frank Cottrell Boyce (Millions) and Mal Peet (Tamar).

The Hans Christian Andersen Award is given annually to a writer to acknowledge their complete works and their contribution to children’s literature. Margaret Mahy won this award in 2006.

New Zealand Post Book Awards: last year’s winner in the Young Adult category was Salt by Maurice Gee. Other winners were (for example) Bernard Beckett (Genesis and also Malcolm and Juliet) and Ted Dawe (Thunder Road).

Children’s Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Awards: last year this was won by Sonya Hartnett (for The Ghost’s Child). Other winners have been Markus Zusak (The Messenger which is also published as I Am the Messenger) and Melina Marchetta (Saving Francesca).

Other awards for general (adult) fiction you might like to check out include:

The Montana NZ Book Awards are New Zealand’s premier book awards (for adults). The winners list reads like a who’s who of New Zealand literature, so there’s definitely something in there worth checking out.

The Miles Franklin Literary Award is probably Australia’s best known book accolade. Tim Winton, one of my (few) literary heroes has won this in the past. Go Tim.

The award everyone gossips about is the Man Booker Prize, which is awarded to writers from Commonwealth countries (plus the Republic of Ireland). Keri Hulme is the only New Zealand writer to have won this, in 1985 with The Bone People.

The Pulitzer Prize is probably the most coveted award in the American book industry. The list of past winners is here.

Finally, the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, which Lloyd Jones won for Mister Pip in 2007.

ps: let us know if you’ve got some tough NCEA reading log requirement: we’ll see what we can come up with.