Great winter reads!


Looking for great books to read during the cold and wet of coming months?  We’ve found some worth reading and viewing at the Tauranga City Library.

It’s in the Post the stories behind New Zealand Stamps, Richard Wolfe  
Craig Potton Publishing, New Zealand 2010

The introduction could be writing about me.  The little post-war girl who one year got her stamp album in her Christmas stocking.    And again as the introduction to this interesting book says “The keen stamp collector then saw the world neatly divided into two categories : British and foreign.  The first, which naturally included us, was distringuished by depicitions of the reigning monarch. …”    I still have my hardback dark green stamp album and like this wonderful book it’s also a commentary on New Zealand social history and identity development.    Richard Wolfe’s book could  also be an easy fit for Environmental and Political Art.   As we see the passing of post and postage stamps  collected stamps have even greater relevance as historical social artefacts.

Bikinis, bell-bottoms & little black dresses 70 Great Fashion Classicsate Mulvey  
Merrell Publishers Ltd, London 2013

“It is difficult to overestimate the influence the Vietnam War had on civilian clothing”… and there at page 181 is a picture of young US servicemen wading through water. I wonder how crass they may think we are that their images are in a book devoted to fashion and then I wonder how many of them were alive a week after this image was taken.    Would they care that the Field Jacket like the trench,  the pea coat, the bomber jacket and the teeshirt  became fashion icons.   This book however is interesting to see where things aparently came from.  The ballet flat/pump – “The classic ballet pump, cut low at the front and with a little bow, is a specialty of the Menorcan firm Pretty Ballerina, which has been producing this type of shoe since 1918.”    A very interesting read.  Because it’s presented in individual item articles, accompanied by relevant images; it’s very much a pick up and put down book for all ages interested in fashion and design and its social history.

Home by Novogratz, Robert & Courtney Novogratz with Elizabeth Novogratz
Artisan a division of Workman Publishing Company Inc New York, 2012

This book showcases very different examples of the  design and decoration work of the Novagratz family team  for both new properties and rennovations.   With the developing trend to smaller dwellings and apartment living in New Zealand urban areas, the use of space and design in long standing multi-dwelling, smaller space buildings internationally is of increasing interest.   Particularly interesting is the use of colour, recyled and repurposed items and standard items upscaled.   By contast this book  reveals the amount of space and land we have had as individual New Zealanders and New Zealand families when you see the floor space size and multi uses of some of these residential spaces.    It’s all good.  And, there is a budget breakdown for each project.  Can’t afford the funds to renovate – the two best pieces of advice I took from this book are – declutter and clean.  To that I would add rearrange the furniture.    While I wouldn’t be comfortable living with some of the more vibrant colour choices I highly recommend this well presented down to earth book.

The Hidden Child, Camilla Lack-berg
Harper Collins London, 2011

A thoroughly believable story of World War II relationships between young people and a present day search for facts and answers about that time.   It’s written sectionally alternating between the past and the present.   Unlike some Scandanavian crime stories I have read, this one has a very much softer,  more plausible ordinariness about the characters, their behaviours and outcomes.   The story is the secret and the story is the unravelling of that secret.   It’s not a gripping read and it won’t scare you stupid in the late hours of the night but it will keep you entranced and wanting to know the outcome.  You’ll also enjoy the day to day lives of the present day characters as they work through issues of child care, work hours, professional commitment – the day to daythings that we all face.

The Bethlehem Murders, Matt Rees
Soho Press, New York 2006

The Samaritan’s Secret, Matt Rees
Soho Press, New York 2008

You might think that a journalist born in South Wales could never create the characters that inhabit these two stories set in what was historically called Palestine but is now Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.   The back cover statement of The Bethlehem Murders describes Matt Rees as “…born and raised in South Wales. He has covered the Middle East as a journalist for a decade and is currently Time Magazine’s Jerusalem Bureau Chief and the author  of the non fiction work Cain’s Field: Faith, Fratricide, and Fear in the Middle East.”

“Omar Yussef, a teacher of history to the unhappy children of Dehaisha refugee camp shuffled stiffly up the meandering road, past the gray, stone homes built in the time of the Turks on the edge of Beit Jala.  He paused in the strong evening wind, took a comb from the top pocket of his tweed jacket, and tried to tame the strands of white hair with which he covered his baldness.  He glanced down at his maroon loafers in the orange flicker of the buzzing street lamp and tutted at the dust that clung to them as he tripped along the uneven roadside away from Bethlehem.”

These may be works of fiction but they are a horribly readable insight into the complexities of this regionl.  The characters, the situations and events seem real.     Both are most readable reads.


Radio New Zealand Children’s Stories – Seeing with my Ears

“The Stories” have come a long, long way since I listened to endless repetitions of “Diana and the Golden Apples”,  “Flick the Little Fire Engine”  and “I’m a pink tooth brush you’re a blue toothbrush” on 1YA.   But, those shared experiences don’t  ever leave  you as anyone who’s tried to sing rounds of “i’m a little fire engine…” with similarly mature New Zealanders in distant places will tell you.

Not so long ago I listened with the same intent but more glee than previous years to “Jane and the Dragon”, “ Mrs Fitchett’s Handbag”, “Practice Makes Perfect”, “Matilda Jane Smith”,  “Hairy Maclary’s Show Business” (and who won the prize for the scruffiest cat?)  and “Super Brain” science fiction or reality.

Every Saturday and Sunday mornings on Radio New Zealand from 6am-7am.   As an adult you’ll be pleased to hear the variety of topic and content.   A fabulous alternative to having the images presented to you and an opportunity to see with your ears.

Tauranga City Libraries Book Club meets:

3rd Wednesday of every month of 2014 at the Tauranga City Library
10.30am to 11.30am and 5.30pm to 6.30pm

Papamoa Library Book Club meets:
3rd Wednesday of every month of 2014 at Papamoa Library

CLICK HERE for more information



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