Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 5 things I would include in a letter to my 16 year-old self

List by Tosca

"I'm writing this on the first piece of paper I could find. It's the kids notepad - yes you have three of them (kids, not notepads...)..."
- David Arnold in Dear me : more letters to my sixteen-year-old self edited by Joseph Galliano

I spent Tuesday evening reading a book I randomly picked up from Manukau Library's display shelf. Some of my best finds happen that way. The book was Dear me : more letters to my sixteen-year-old self and is a collection of letters by celebrities who wrote words of advice, assurance, humour for their 16 year old selves. Some are funny, some are blunt, some are truly sad. All are quite poignant and touching. (Wait. Do those mean the same thing?) My favs were those written by Jodi Picoult ('He won't remember hurting you. But when you write, you will always remember what it felt like to have that bandage ripped off your heart. And that's why, when people read your stories, they'll bleed a little on the inside'), Amistead Maupin, David Arnold, Gillian Anderson (P.S. Follow your dreams not your boyfriends') and Alan Rickman ('Make your own unique messes, and then work your way out of them'). They all made me teary eyed and a little wistful. They also made me wonder what I would write to myself if I had to. If I'd have known at 16 what I know today...what kind of person would I be? One I'd like? One I could live with? I mean, think about it, if we could send our 16 year old selves a letter with a heads up about who to love/not to love or what opportunities to grab/ignore, then I'm not fully sure we'd any of us be the people we are today. And, speaking for myself, I'm actually ok with who I am. I don't regret anything I've done. It's more a case of regretting chances I hadn't taken, or things I hadn't just gone out and done without all of the planning and lists and angsting. If I could, though, if I could somehow write a letter to myself without adversely affecting time and history (think Bradbury's 'butterfly effect' here, people), this is what I'd tell myself...

Honourable mention:
  • You were born to read. Your love of Austen, Dickens, Ludlum, Plato et al. at 9 years of age is not weird. In fact, read more. It's your ticket in life. You won't believe me but you will find a profession full of people just like you. It will all make sense later :)
  • Mum and dad were wrong. You *can* get a job being fluent in Māori, with a nose piercing and a tattoo. Cut them some slack. They just worry about you and are incredibly supportive whatever you choose to be in life (except possibly a serial killer but we've never tested this so I can't say it with any certainty, just a niggling suspicion that it is the case)
  • You've always believed that the people you choose to surround yourself with can say lots about your values and ethics. Stick with that, and temper it with a little more forgiveness (honest forgiveness not just lip service) and a little less grudge holding
  • That boy? And I know you know the one. He's a total frog. Kiss him, anyway, because he's not worth feeling like you can never open up to people again. Mark the experience up to 'just one of those things' and move on. At 16 you shouldn't be thinking about 'happy ever after,' anyway. Worry about finishing your assignments on time, instead. It'll stand you in good stead later in life, trust me. In a few years you'll twice consider marriage, but remember that if you can look at the mother and see the daughter twenty years on, then the same could be said of fathers and their sons as well

  • Wednesday, December 28, 2011

    5 cookbooks with tips for cooking roasts

    List by Tosca

    "As for those grapefruit and buttermilk diets, I'll take roast chicken and dumplings."
    - Hattie McDaniel

    So...Christmas has come and gone. Somewhere around 8am on Sunday I found myself sitting in the middle of a lounge strewn with discarded wrapping paper, watching while Miss 7 tried on earrings and Mr. 1 zoomed around on his toddler-size skateboard eagerly clutching a toy car in either hand. I suspect that if not for the two of them it may have ended up feeling like just another day. I would like to be all virtuous and say that I slaved over a hot stove all day but that would be a blatant lie. Instead, we had brunch, mooched around for a couple hours, had a celebratory glass of wine (or two), and then everyone took nana naps. Such is life in your mid-thirties, apparently. Eventually, somewhere around 2pm, we realised that somebody was going to have to cook or we were all going to starve (although not really but it would sure feel like it). Ugh. Luckily, I drew out actually getting to the kitchen for so long that my sibling and her husband volunteered. Nice save, what? It has just occurred to me today, though, that that means I will be cooking New Year's lunch. Turnabout is fair play and all that. Huh. I've checked the freezer and we have a very large chicken, and lamb. Roast it is, then. Only, it's been over ten years since I had to cook a roast anything, and I'd like to do something a little flasher than just shove them in the oven. I'm just not quite sure what. Rosemary? Thyme? Garlic? White wine? Orange juice? Gah so much to decide. So, I did what I usually do...requested some books. Seriously, that's my answer for most things I want to try. In this instance, I'm fairly certain this selection of titles will give me some ideas for where to start with cooking a roast. Hopefully. If you're looking to find your way back to cooking like I am (only probably with a lot more skill and a lot less haphazard luck) then feel free to use these books as suggestions. I took my cooking skills for a test drive on Tuesday night and made dinner: roasted lamb chops with herb potatoes. Nobody gagged and nobody suffered food poisoning, but I didn't count it a successful evening until I noticed that nobody had asked for bread. I'm not sure if it's a Kiwi thing or a Māori quirk that bread and butter be at every meal. Either way, it bodes well for this Sunday :)

    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    Top 5 books that encourage you to change the world

    List by Tosca

    "By changing nothing, nothing changes."
    -Tony Robbins

    You might remember that I don't do New Year resolutions. Changing myself is boring. I do, though, often think about how I'd like to change the world. Not all of it, obviously. Just the bits that I can change. And not in huge chunks, either. Little things, here and there. Things that can really make a difference. I'm just never sure where to start. I'm always a little haphazard, and lurch from one activity to another without any clear idea of what I'm doing. What I should do is choose what it is that I'd like to change, and then make an action plan that supports it, and then I'd live it. What's that saying? Be the change you want to be. I don't know if these books have all the answers. I do know that they're a great place to start.'s to changing the world, one person at a time.

    It's Christmas Eve, folks. That means that this is the last of our 12 posts of Christmas lists. I hope you've enjoyed reading them as much as I've enjoyed blogging them. Whether you're spending the day with friends, family or a combination of both tomorrow, I really do wish you all a very merry Christmas :)

    Honourable mention:
  • 365 ways to change the world by Michael Norton
  • The teen guide to global action : how to connect with others (near & far) to create social change by Barbara A. Lewis

  • Friday, December 23, 2011

    Top 5 books I'm using to learn how to play the mandolin

    List by Tosca

    "The sound of the mandolin is a very curious sound because it's cheerful and melancholy at the same time, and I think it comes from that shadow string, the double strings."
    - Rita Dove

    This is a picture of a mandolin. Not just any mandolin. MY mandolin. It's beautiful. And it makes the loveliest sound. Just...not when I play it. I'm teaching myself to play the mandolin. Why? One big reason: I want to play bluegrass music! I want to be good enough to play the songs in The complete idiot's guide to bluegrass mandolin favourites. :) One day (obviously not today) I want to be good enough to be the Earl Scruggs of the mandolin. (I can't think of a mandolin equivalent of his style of banjo playing, so stop mocking me). And if you ask me, 'Who is Earl Scruggs?' I'm going to cry :P Why bluegrass? I'm not sure. I just know that I fell in love with the style of music when I was about 9 or 10 years old. There are only three places in my whole life I've had such a yearning to see: New Orleans, Route 66 and Kentucky. Specifically, Kentucky for all of their various bluegrass festivals and the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. This has to happen. It just *has* to. Confession: I also want a banjo of my very own, and have done so since I was about 12. I just don't think I'm ready for one yet. Weirdly, when I do buy myself a banjo, I want to play it not like Earl Scruggs, but like Steve Martin. And if you haven't seen him play with Men With Banjos Who Know How To Use Them you so need to fix that. I can help! Here's a YouTube clip of them playing on the David Letterman show. MAD LUV. I'm going to use the Christmas/New Year period to learn to play a tune in a halfway decent manner. Or something approaching it. Hopefully, 5 tunes so that that can make up another post. Maybe. So, not today, but someday very soon, I'm going to stun you all with my mandolin. And not by whacking you over the head with it :)

    What I really want to be able to play:
  • The complete idiot's guide to bluegrass mandolin favorites [music] : 16 bluegrass classics, all in both easy & intermediate arrangements by Dennis Caplinger
  • New classics for bluegrass mandolin [music] by Butch Baldassari
  • Mel Bay presents mandolin classics in tablature [music] [arranged] by Robert Bancalari

  • Thursday, December 22, 2011

    5 books to kickstart your literary bucket list

    List by Tosca

    "You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend."
    - Paul Sweeney

    Every now and then I wonder about the quality of books I read. This thought is often followed by the idea that I'm not 'reading well' (and by 'well' I mean 'worthy'). I then feel guilty and decide that I need to do something about it. That something usually translates as checking a bunch of places (interwebs, books, magazine articles) to see, roughly, what other people are recommending, reading, enjoying, disliking. What I end up with is a huge list of 'possible reads' that I then try to narrow down to things. Stuff and things - see how scientific I am about it...? And then I pick (or try to pick, anyway), books that appeal. Sometimes by cover, sometimes by write-up/review and sometimes by title. Sometimes I'll deliberately pick ones that people thought were truly awful. One thing I discovered about myself years ago is that my opinion will, more often than not, be the total opposite of critics. Books that they wax lyrical about I don't see the same way. I often find myself appreciating the style of writing while not feeling any emotion or empathy for the characters or their journey. One book I return to every now and again for 'literary bucket list' ideas is The big read : book of books by the BBC. In 2003 they conducted a poll to find out what the British public considered their most popular 100 novels were, and the result was this book. It was a customer who first pointed this gem out to me. Back then I was working in City Centre Library, which used to be in Westfield Manukau mall. This particular customer was a regular and we'd often have some great discussions about all sorts of books. One day she brought the book up to the desk and declared that she was going to work her way through it. I remember we both commented on the fact that we'd read quite a few of the listed titles already, but that it'd be nice to continue to read as much of the rest as we could. Not all in one hit because, hey, life is what happens when you're making other plans, but in and around everything else. It's probably one of the more enjoyable literary bucket lists I could ever think to have. A sibling asked me the other week why this book, and the only reason I can think of that makes sense to me is that the authors, the titles, the writing styles are familiar to me. My parents either read them to me, or encouraged me to read them (or books much like them) for myself. This coming Christmas break I intend to cross another one or two books off, which will leave me with about 10-15 to go. Slow but steady. So if, like me, you have your own higgledy piggledy version of a literary bucket list, or if you want to kickstart one, here are some suggestions to get you started.

    More suggestions:
  • Time Out 1000 books to change your life
  • 501 must-read books project editor Emma Beare
  • Best books - subject search with 80+ titles to choose from

  • Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Top 5 books I've read this week that are ALL about the laughs

    List by Tosca

    "I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose."
    - Woody Allen

    I don't know about anybody else but I know from firsthand experience that laughing until milk, coca cola and/or tea comes out of your nose HURTS. But I wouldn't take back the laughter that caused it. No way. I'm not a fan of Woody Allen, but the quote above? I heart it. I suspect I'm not a fan because his humour feels complicated and so far above my head that it loses me. I watch other people laugh at his wit and I feel left out and somewhat disgruntled. I am a frat-boy-movie-with-toilet-humour kind of girl. Sad, but true. And usually, by this time of year, my well of good humour (very small to begin with) has well and truly run dry. For some reason, though, the 'I hate Christmas' Scrooge mentality has hit me late. The reason for it, I believe, is that I've unintentionally been in the middle of a comedy fest of my own. After reading F in exams: the funniest test paper blunders by Richard Benson, I decided that I'd like more books in that same funny vein. A quick search in the catalogue and I'd requested some *does a quick count* 9 or 10 books that have kept me in high spirits the last week or so. And that's today's 12 posts of Christmas list! Oh, and no, you don't have to be a Woody Allen fan or a frat-boy-movie-with-toilet-humour kind of person to enjoy these books. They'll appeal to most people :)

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    5 book-related tweets you may have missed on our tweetstream

    List by Tosca

    "Using Twitter for literate communication is about as likely as firing up a CB radio and hearing some guy recite ‘The Iliad.’"
    - Bruce Sterling, science fiction writer and journalist

    What we're #reading: Danielle is reading Jasper Jones, which is said to be 'an Australian To Kill a Mockingbird' 7 days ago via HootSuite · powered by @socialditto

    Whenever I'm asked to explain why I find Twitter so appealing, I find that it makes me sound more manic and demented than ever. Possibly because the very busy-ness of it that puts most people off, is where I feel like I'm in my element. The visual cacophany of so much information and opinions and links and ideas (from the inane to the profound, from the absolutely useless to life changing beyond words) passing from person to person and at such a fast and furious rate is exciting. I made that comment to a friend recently, and I thought for sure he would laugh himself off his chair and onto the floor. His response was, 'Tosca, Twitter is the talkback radio of the internet.' I suppose, for some of us, that's a true statement. And just like talkback radio I can change the station (or website), or turn the radio (computer) off altogether and do something offline, instead. Our work tweetstream is not only about everything we're doing in Auckland Libraries because that would be too much like spam. I'm interested in my family, books, friends, movies, work, music, being inspired, literacy, inspiring others...the list is very possibly endless. I suspect that if my interests are quite eclectic, then perhaps yours are, too, which is why I keep it varied. If something we've tweeted strikes a chord, and people can use it in some way, then I consider it a win all around. Kind of like an online version of 'pay it forward.' Our list today is just a very small sample of what we tweet on a daily basis, in this instance: 5 book-related tweets you may have missed on our tweetstream. Should you ever find yourself on Twitter, feel free to follow us. I hope that you enjoy the links.

    Honourable mention:

    If you're looking for possible graphic novel reads, has some suggestions 2 days ago via HootSuite · powered by @socialditto

    My first time visiting @nybooks website and, so far, am in LIKE! How had I not heard of this? 6 days ago via HootSuite · powered by @socialditto

    @nytimes Editors & critics pick their fav books of 2011 9 days ago via HootSuite · powered by @socialditto

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Top 5 most requested general fiction reads

    List by Tosca

    A very short post for today that lists, essentially, our most requested general fiction reads at the moment. I offer it up as possible 'What do I read next?' suggestions. Don't be in a hurry to read them, though, as they have a fair few requests. Where I can I've also listed similar books/authors :)

    I apologise most unreservedly for the brevity of this post. I am, currently, on sick leave due to a bout of food poisoning. Right at this moment in time I look, feel and smell like something crawled into my mouth and died. True story. I shall see you guys tomorrow with another 12 posts of Christmas list, where I plan to be at my sparklingest, bestest, ever :P

    Sunday, December 18, 2011

    5 books with umpteen ideas for celebrating Christmas

    List by Tosca

    For the first time in forever, our family will be celebrating Christmas in two different places. Five of us - myself, two siblings, one brother-in-law and Mr. 1 will be staying in Auckland. Everyone else - two sisters, one brother, one brother-in-law, one sister-in-law, five nephews and one niece - will be spending it with the parents in Taipa. From what I can gather, the plan is to have lunch either at Taipa riverside, across the road from the house, or at Taipa seaside, five minutes walk from the house. Assuming the weather is good enough. Looking out the window today I find it hard to envision a hot, sunny Christmas day. Were I a beach-type person I would be envious, but I've seen Jaws, it wasn't pretty. Images of chewed up body parts and boats has stayed with me through to today. Although a teeny, tiny part of me is a tad bit envious that they might be eating fresh fish, or gathering pipi and mussels :( I wish them well, however the day turns out. As for the rest of us, we're not quite sure how we're spending the day, where we'll be spending it, or even if we're putting up the tree. What are we, 7 days out and we still haven't decided that much? Eek. To give us a few ideas, or at least kickstart some, I've rounded up a few books, five of which make up today's 12 posts of Christmas list. Most of you probably already know what you're doing to celebrate because, no doubt, you're much more organised than we are. For those of you still unsure, I hope some of these books can help :) And if you can think of any to recommend - ideas or books - feel free to leave them as a comment!

    More ideas for celebrating Christmas:
  • Christmas cooking
  • Christmas decorations
  • Christmas gifts

  • Saturday, December 17, 2011

    Top 5 new horror/supernatural covers I liked (plus three author recommendations you should try)

    List by Tosca

    "Like sex, horror is seductive - enticing the reader to accept the forbidden; allowing a fascination with the carnal, the forbidden; titillating the mind as sex does both the mind and sense. Reading horror is an act of consensual masochism: you willingly submit to the pleasures of fear - scare me! Please?"
    - Paula Guran

    What better time to get back into enjoying horror fiction than over the Christmas break? I'm serious. Think about it: long, hot sunny days (hopefully, even though I'm looking out the window at a miserably wild, wet afternoon) are as far removed from a dark, moody and atmospheric late night read. I get scared far too easily these days. It seems the older I get, the more my imagination can't handle the possibilities of a horror novel, no matter how unlikely the circumstances (e.g. zombies and post-apocalyptic life - or un-life). I remember a time when I used to devour scary books. (Get it? Devour? Har har har). Zombies, blood, gore, grisly deaths, supernatural elements - I enjoyed it all. Somewhere along the way I lost the anticipatory feel and let the actual fear of fear overshadow that, but a chance tweet I saw on our work tweetstream made me think that maybe it was time to reclaim what used to be fun. The tweet, by Andre Farant, asked if people had discovered horror authors Sarah Langan, Gary McMahon, and Robert Jackson Bennett. The link Andre included was to a post on his site; 'The new voices of horror,' and, in short, was what convinced me to give these books a try. Requested already, and waiting for them to come in from other branches. Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Farant :-) It then got me thinking, from our most recent batch of newly received horror/supernatural titles, where would I start? What would I request? It wasn't a huge list, but there were still too many for me to make up my mind about. In the end I decided to go with 5 of the most interesting covers which, not coincidentally, make up today's 12 posts of Christmas piece. Am I seriously encouraging you to read horror during a time when most people are celebrating the birth of baby Jesus and being with friends and family? TOTALLY.

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Top 5 new Team Stetson romance novel covers

    List by Tosca

    "I always wanted to be a cowboy, and Jedi Knights are basically cowboys in space, right?"
    - Liam Neeson

    I'm a fool for cowboys. Slow talking (but not dumb), southern drawl, big belt buckle, boots, a horse, and a hat. I *adore* them. So much so that when I was in Fort Worth, Dallas airport (the airport lounge at 9 o'clock at night was about as 'Texas' as I was going to get in that trip), I hoped, hoped, hoped that I'd bump into a cowboy (complete with buckle, hat and boots) who would tip his hat and wish me 'Howdy, ma'am.' If he'd had a horse that would be the cherry on top. (Yes, I know, a horse in an airport just isn't going to work, but that didn't stop me from wanting it). I didn't get that in Fort Worth. So disappointed. Life, being what it is, didn't give it to me while I was in the Lone Star State. It gave it to me while I was in New Orleans, instead. I was walking through the Aquarium of the America doors while a group of Texans were walking out, and one gentleman (in required buckle, hat and boots) tipped his hat and said, 'Howdy, ma'am.' I was so taken aback with delight I stood there grinning like a fool for a little longer than was necessary. I still appreciated it as much as if it had happened while in Texas :)

    I blame Louis L'Amour. Don't get me wrong, I love L'Amour (do you know how weird it feels to type, in essence, that I love the love?). I read his Sackett series while growing up, and the optimistic part of me that wanted to one day marry and have children wanted to use the Sackett family names (Orrin, Jubal, etc.) as theirs. (It's strange, looking back, to remember I was ever that optimistic). The closest we ever came to that was an Alsatian dog called Hondo. My earliest memories of my parents are of them reading: to us, to each other, and to themselves. They read anything and everything, and would quite often hand a finished novel over to the other one, both of them discussing it afterward. Dad is particularly fond of historical fiction/nonfiction. I remember him reading L'Amour and Edson when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I didn't think much of it, until we moved to Auckland and I had managed to read my way through the school library, my own books, and then, because there wasn't anything else in the house, mum and dad's shelves, as well. In particular, the Sackett books. And I fell in love with them. I laughed, got mad at the bad guys, cried, rejoiced with the good guys, learnt parts of American Indian history I'd never heard about in school, fell in love with the wild west and developed a yearning to visit the States and see the land the way L'Amour did. I believe that this series gave me an idea of how important my own indigenous history was, up until then I'd kind of taken it for granted. I distinctly remember bawling my eyes out when William Tell Sackett's wife, Angie, was murdered and he spent a good portion of the book tracking down the men who did it and 'reading to them from the good book.' That used to be a running joke in our house, my mum would say to dad, 'Did you read to them from the good book?' and dad would reply, 'Nope, I just showed 'em the pictures.' (Seriously, my parents are odd). L'Amour's Sackett books also put me on to Dee Brown's Bury my heart at Wounded Knee and I remember that it was one of the few nonfiction books that broke my heart. It is, to this day, my most favourite (if saddest) nonfiction read ever. I re-read the Sackett novels on and off right up until my late teens and then, for some reason, forgot all about them. Now, every time I read a romance novel, I'm reminded of L'Amour's love of the land and good hearted people who lived by their word. So, there you go. A longwinded introduction (seems to be my trademark) that serves, really, to tell you that you can blame Monsieur L'Amour for this romance novel-related post that is all about the cowboy and nothing but the cowboy (albeit modern ones): Top 5 new Team Stetson romance novel covers.

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    5 books to help you (i.e. me) de-clutter that I won't use because I no longer do New Year resolutions

    List by Tosca

    "Excuse the mess but we live here."
    - Roseanne Barr

    I try not to make New Year resolutions. I learned a long time ago that 1) I suck at them and 2) more often than not I set myself up to fail. Usually within the first few days of having jotted down some goals *winces* So, these days I don't make resolutions. But if I were to do so...I'd set them right about now, when I'm feeling somewhat reflective and hopeful (or as hopeful as I get) and envisioning quiet days leading up to the week in between Christmas and New Year. I would look at de-cluttering my desk/home/life (take your pick, all are relevant). At work, my desk can go to hell in a handbasket from Monday - Thursday, but come Friday afternoon I leave it spotless. As for my home life, I share a house with siblings/nephews, so I've learned to give up a little (a LOT) of control. Half of us riding herd on each other while the other half disavows all knowledge of any mess-making can be...chaotic. To put it politely. My nephews are living proof that you can live surrounded by constant mess and still thrive and remain quite unconcerned about it all. This isn't necessarily a good thing, it's just how they roll. And it's all mess that they make themselves, I'd like to point out. One sibling is extremely 'particular' (her words, I'd have used something much stronger). You can't put something down for 10 seconds before she comes along to clean it up. We have an unspoken agreement that I keep my bedroom door firmly shut all of the time because it constantly looks like gale force winds swept through it. It's my private space so I'm rarely ever fussed by the fact that my shoes are not in orderly pairs, or that I vaguely chuck things in the direction of the hanging racks and am not bothered if they fall to the floor instead. (Which they invariably do). I call it 'organised chaos.' Extremely 'particular' sibling calls it lots of interesting words that can never be repeated in polite company :) So, were I into resolutions at all, I would set about de-cluttering my room (and my nephews and, if I'm honest, the pile of paperwork on my desk) and use the books listed below to get me on the right track. Although I'm not sure I shall ever discover how to make de-cluttering my home/life an addictive pleasure. That sounds...terrible, actually.

    Lucky I don't do New Year resolutions, anymore, huh?

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Top 5 recommendations (as suggested by followers on our tweetstream)

    List by our twitter followers

    "The qualities that make Twitter seem inane and half-baked are what makes it so powerful."
    – Jonathan Zittrain

    Twitter is not everybody's cup of tea, and nor should it be, but neither is it the demon that some people believe it is. Your own personal experience of twitter is all down to you. It is as meaningful as you make it. It is as much a business tool as you want it to be. It is as useful as you allow it to be. It can be as lighthearted or as serious as you are.It's a blank slate just begging to be utilised. And utilised properly. Personally, I find that it provides me with a wide range of curiosities, and I have some of my most interesting conversations there with both colleagues and customers. A few days ago, on our work tweetstream, I asked the following question: "Curious: If you had to recommend only one book (or film or album), what would it be? All answers welcome!" It's a question I love to ask people. Not because I think it tells me anything in particular about the person, or that I feel they could be defined by one book/cd/dvd. Life isn't always that simple, so I certainly don't think people would be. I just love the way it makes people think. I enjoy the way it makes me think and, as ever, it provides new reading/listening suggestions for me to try, and then pay forward by recommending to others. I had no preconceived ideas about the sorts of responses I'd get so, really, anything would have been a delightful surprise. In the end I received 5 answers, all of which were quite varied and hugely interesting, and make up this list.

    By the way, if you had to recommend only one book (or film or album), what would it be? Come on, now! You should have *known* that I would ask that question :) Just a reminder that this post is a part of our 12 days of Christmas posts series that, hopefully, you're enjoying.

    Answers that came in at 6th and 7th:
  • To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The power of one by Bryce Courtenay

  • Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    5 books full to the brim with Christmas craft projects for kids.

    List by Tosca

    "He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree."
    - Roy L. Smith

    As a kid, my mum always had a roll of butcher paper, a container of crayons, colouring pencils, felts, various craft supplies and books full of craft ideas for all sorts of occasions. She would often tell us they were for rainy day activities and, seeing as how we lived in Wellington, there was certainly no shortage of those. Mum has always preferred homemade presents over store bought ones and, over the years, it's something I've been a bit wary about. I find it easier to to buy something than agonise over making something. Weirdly now, as an adult (or a pseudo-adult, anyway), I've found that it's something I'd like to go back to. So for those of you with children (sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, grandchildren) who're hoping to find some craft ideas to work on, look no further: 5 books full to the brim with Christmas craft projects for kids! (Although we do have screeds more titles if you need more ideas - I'm never sure in this instance whether 'less is more' or not).

    Monday, December 12, 2011

    Top 5 most requested nonfiction reads

    List by Tosca

    "What is reading but silent conversation?
    - Walter Savage Landor

    Something I find endlessly fascinating about people and how they connect with books, is that we all approach the act of reading in different ways. When some of us read fiction we're usually doing so for reasons of fun and leisure and relaxation. The fact that we might learn something along the way is an added bonus. When others of us read nonfiction we're primarily doing so with an expectation of learning/re-learning (about places, people, times...). If we get some enjoyment out of it that, too, is the cherry on top. I also find it interesting that we take something different away from each book and use what we've learned in some literary version of paying it forward. I had a quick look around online and found a post by Michael Hyatt who, after a discussion with friends, listed ten practices he observes when reading nonfiction:

    How to read a non-fiction book by Michael Hyatt
  • Don't feel that you need to finish
  • Start with the author bio
  • Read the table of contents
  • Quickly scan the whole book
  • Highlight important messages
  • Take notes in the front or the margins
  • Use a set of note-taking symbols
  • Dog-ear pages you want to re-visit
  • Review the book and transfer actions to your to-do list
  • Share the book's message

  • While I might not use every single one of these, I might do some. I also think that it isn't something that I'd restrict just to nonfiction. I'd be equally as likely to use some of Hyatt's list for fiction, too. How about you?

    Our Top 5 list today is a very simple one: Top 5 most requested nonfiction reads and, maybe while you're reading the books below *hint hint* you can figure out how *you* read nonfiction. See? Method to madness. Today, anyway :)

    Honourable mention:
    Breaking silence: The Kahui case by Ian Wishart

    Friday, December 9, 2011

    Top 5 most requested titles for November 2011

    List by Tosca

    "A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint.... What I began by reading, I must finish by acting."
    - Henry David Thoreau

    I bet you thought we forgot all about our regular Top 5 most requested titles list, didn't you? We didn't! I've also added review comments where we have them listed in the catalogue. Which reminds me, I meant to ask: Did you know that you can look up reviews and author notes from within our catalogue? If you see a book that you're interested in *and* it has a picture of the cover attached to the record, click on the picture. You're then directed to an Additional Information page, and it's here that you'll quite often (*but not always*) find links to reviews, author notes, and excerpts. You can test it out now: click on this link to practice (and yes, I'm making you look at this book because it is full of WIN and BECAUSE I CAN).

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Top 5 romance novels to cross my desk this week that live up to their titles/covers

    List by Tosca

    "If you prefer your romance a little spicier, if you prefer to walk on the wild side, this stellar line-up of writers will leave you hungry for more."
    - From The mammoth book of hot romance edited by Sonia Florens

    I edit our Romance eNewsletter and I try to read as much as I can across all romance genres. One of the things I often joke about with colleagues, family and friends is how the book covers and titles either over promise or under deliver. After how-ever-many-years of reading romances I'm still not sure which disappoints/surprises me the most. Today's selection, however, lets me know *exactly* what I'm going to be getting. See if you agree...

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    My Top 5 recipes from Alison & Simon Holst’s 'The New Zealand bread book'

    List by Annie

    "A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and thou."
    - Omar Khayyam

    My Top 5 recipes from Alison & Simon Holst’s The New Zealand bread book

    I grew up in a house where my mum made bread. And, because I was a kid and most kids’ mums didn’t make bread, sometimes this was embarrassing. But I do have fond memories of a group of my classmates around our house, all making bread with my mum.

    Because I’m a fan of Alison Holst’s recipes, the bread book caught my eye. I’m getting into baking in a big way – so seeing it for sale really cheaply persuaded me to give it a go.

    Now, a year on, I can offer my fav go-to recipes out of this book. In another year, I’ll probably have some more! Where available, I’ve added my notes from my copy of the book. I’m so addicted, my family bought me a food mixer for my 40th, one with a sturdy dough hook.

    If you’re looking for something a little bit different to contribute to those ‘bring-a-plate’ functions this season, try these out.
    ~ Annie, Central

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    5 exam answers I'd have been too scared to give my teachers

    List by Tosca

    "But the person who scored well on an SAT will not necessarily be the best doctor or the best lawyer or the best businessman. These tests do not measure character, leadership, creativity, perseverance."
    - William J. Wilson

    Lucky for these students, then, huh, that a test or exam doesn't measure the depth of their character? Just reading through their answers, I'm convinced they'd have failed spectacularly were that the case. What a way to go, though! I saw a tweet the other day about Benson's book F in exams: The best test paper blunders and immediately thought, "Oh! I gotta have it, need it, want it, live it, breathe it right now!" (Yes, I do talk in exclamation marks in my mind). It came in yesterday and has more than lived up to the funniness I wanted. If you haven't read this book yet, well, you really *must.* I laughed so hard I cried. (Although maybe that's not an incentive, considering I cry at Doctor Who episodes, romance novels, Torchwood episodes, Hallmark ads and Supernatural episodes. Whoa. A lot of my life revolves around fandoms). In short, the book is a collection of some awesomely hilarious examples of students answers to test questions. I wish I'd had half their gumption. Here for your entertainment (my ribs are sore from laughing so much): 5 exam answers I'd have been too scared to give my teachers!

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    5 geeky websites you might enjoy as much as I do

    List by Tosca

    "Never argue with the data."
    - Sheen, a character from Jimmy Neutron (Mr. 7's fav geek cartoon)

    I always spend my morning bus ride to work reading. Mostly books/magazines. Sometimes, though, I use it to clear RSS feeds. At last count I subscribed to 321 websites, blogs, tweestreams, Facebook pages that cover info/news about Auckland Libraries, books, libraries/librarians, social media, wrestling (don't look at me like that! I'm a WWE fan from way back in the 80s), and New Orleans. A lot of that time is spent outright snorting or furtively sniggering at various geeky posts. You may not have noticed (?) but I'm not a quiet person. I tend to react to everything out loud. So much so my bus co-passengers are often asking what I'm looking at. Now, none of you will have to guess, because I'm going to share with you 5 geeky websites that I think you might enjoy as much as I do. Choosing just 5 was hard. Is this how a parent would feel when they choose a favourite child? (I know mum and dad have a favourite child each, I forgive them. Kinda). What I opted for in the end was listing the 5 sites I visit the most (in no particular order). I visit these sites because their posts are crazy hilarious and/or thought provoking and, like the t-shirt says, "The geek shall inherit the earth."

    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    Last seen standing still...

    Top 5 photos I took using tips/tricks I learnt from a kids book
    List by Tosca

    "If I could tell the story in words, I wouldn't need to lug around a camera."
    - Lewis Hine

    I don't enjoy posing for photos. I never have. Flip through our family photo albums and you'd be hard pressed to find me there. I could care less about myself that way. Put a camera in my hands, though, and it's a different story. My fascination with photography isn't a new one. I like to think of it as more...rekindled. Something about being behind a camera, being able to provide some visual commentary about life, makes me appreciate how intrinsically beautiful everything is. No matter how seemingly random. A week or so ago I used tips from a pet photography book on my nephews instead. (Thankfully, they are still talking to me). I decided, after writing up that post, that I'd like to explore some more photography books, only this time from the kids area. The book I finally decided to bring home with me is Digital Photography: Point, Click, and Create Cool Digital Effects by Alan Buckingham (2005). Curiosity made me pick a book that was published some 6 years ago. Sure, the clothes and hair are a little dated, but the tips hold as true today as they would have then. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so, armed with nothing more than my iPhone 4S and four photo apps (instagram, Pixlromatic, Snapseed and Mosaiq), I took Buckingham's book for a test drive. The results, in no particular order, are below. As is a slideshow of extra photos that I didn't use in this post.

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    5 tributes to Anne McCaffrey and what she's meant to us

    List by assorted librarians

    "Because we build the worlds we wouldn't mind living in. They contain scary things, problems, but also a sense of rightness that makes them alive and makes us want to live there. "

    "I have a shelf of comfort books, which I read when the world closes in on me or something untoward happens. "

    ~ Anne McCaffrey, 1926-2011

    Bear with us, folks, this is something of a long post, but when we started to talk about the passing of Anne McCaffrey this week, turns out we had a lot of love for the lady and her myriad works, and a lot of words to try and share that. A lot of words, and one wicked tattoo, I might add. I love the way that we each - as teenagers, mostly - took something quite different from her books, and what we took means a lot to us still. Just remembering it brings a smile to our faces, and a flood of emails back and forth as we swap favourite characters, scenes and series.
    Rest in peace.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Top 5 things I learned from 'Breaking Dawn'

    List by Tosca

    SPOILERS AHEAD! You have been warned. Confession: I saw Breaking Dawn and I think it was a comedy. Was it? I'm stretching the use of the blog today because we don't have the Breaking Dawn film yet because, hey, that'd be illegal and libraries don't roll that way. I try, as much as possible, to promote our resources here. So major #fail on that part. We do, however, have the books the movies were based on, so I'm going to pimp those like they've never been pimped before so I can get away with this list. Slightly kidding on the pimping part! Although I do want to point out, in case you didn't know already, that we have Meyer's Twilight saga in normal print (small print? I never know quite how to refer to it), large print, audiobook, ebook, graphic novel and soundtrack. We even have Twilight books translated into international languages. Is that awesomely accessible or what?

    Breaking Dawn the film is based on book 4 in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight saga. Here's my heavily edited version of the books to date: Twilight, book 1 - human Bella meets vampire Edward, angst ensues. New moon, book 2 - Edward leaves Bella 'for her own good,' Bella is overly dramatic and thinks she can't live without him and, once again, angst ensues. Eclipse, book 3 - I can't remember what happened, but I know that angst ensues. Breaking dawn, book 4 - egad! The angst, people, the angst!

    Saturday, November 19, 2011

    Top 5 pet photography tricks I used with the nephews instead

    List by Tosca

    "The photograph itself doesn't interest me. I want only to capture a minute part of reality."
    - Henri Cartier Bresson

    It's Saturday and, as I said I would, I'm sharing 5 photos I took of my nephews, using tricks/tips that were in a book about pet photography that I came across earlier this week. My nephews were obliging enough to give up a part of their Saturday afternoon (while their friends looked on equal parts amused at the antics of their friends, and horrified that I might make them participate). Thank you to: Markhiem Elijah Williams (aged 14), Jaxin Bilal Wayne Williams (aged 13), Kalani Peter Harlem Alakoka (aged 7) and Remy Lakota Brown (aged 1).

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Top 5 pet photography tricks I plan to use on my nephews instead (and post pics of on Saturday) because I have cute pet envy

    List by Tosca

    "The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude."
    - Robert Brault

    This isn't a serious-ish post. You can probably tell that by the long winded post title, and yet I still feel compelled to warn you in advance. So, here goes. Yesterday afternoon I felt guilty about the fact that The Art of Fielding : A Novel by Chad Harbach is overdue on my card (I can't get into it and I keep trying because online critics talk about how good it really is, one of them said it reminded them of John Iriving, whose books I adored in my late teens/early 20s so I tried for that reason only I now want to hunt them down and frown at them because I didn't feel that) and went downstairs to return it, only to get down there and realise it was upstairs on my desk. Dumb. Not wanting to make it a wasted trip, I raided their new/recently returned display shelf and found - TA DA - Pet photography 101 : tips for taking better photos of your dog or cat by Andrew Darlow. I don't own a pet. The cat I had preferred my father. She also thought she was a dog and would only come if you whistled. The dog I had was as neurotic as I was and had this odd habit of crying loudly if it rained while we were out walking, and would then run home without me to hide behind the sofa. I figure it's me, not them, and so I don't have pets anymore. Which means I can't take photos of them, and I'm disappointed because they make such cute subjects! I'm going to do the next best thing - I'm going to take 5 of Monsieur Darlow's tips and have my nephews pose in place of cute fluffy puppies/kittens instead. I foresee tears, drama, tragedy and possible laughs all around (for them? for me? for the neighbours?) *hopeful look* This book really does have fantastic ideas for photographing pets and I highly recommend it - I'm just envious of all of the people who can actually put these into practice and brag about them. If you like this post, or if it made you laugh, then please pretty please post a pic of your own cute dog/cat/llama/chinchilla/axolotyl :-) (Don't dismiss axolotyls - they were my favourite pets of all the ones we ever had, and smarter than you'd think).

    On to the tips I've chosen, which are just numbers and words at the moment. Saturday I will upload the pics! (Assuming I, or my nephews, have managed to come out of the experience unscathed and somewhat willing to talk about it all).

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Top 5 Footprints Movember tributes

    List by Tosca

    "There was a time I could have been mistaken for Burt Reynolds. I had a moustache and so did he. But he was the number one star in the world, so there wasn't really much confusion."
    - Tom Selleck

    My dad has sported a moustache and/or beard on and off for most of my life. Mum has years worth of photos that can attest to this fact. In fact *points left* I have one here that was taken on his wedding day. It is my (unsolicited) opinion that 70s moustaches are something quite wonderful (and scary) to behold. And yet dad's one (to the left) was from the 90s. My parents didn't get married until I was 18. In fact, all of my brothers and sisters and I were there for the event. OH THE SHAME. Kidding. As for moustaches, the 70s (and 80s and, sigh, the 90s) have so much to answer for.

    Here for your delectation (and because they are more than worth sharing) are the best of the best top 5 moustaches from our Footprints database! Our Footprints online database is a record of historical images from the South Auckland and Counties-Manukau area. There are so many fantastic images (this VJ Day pic, taken on Queen Street a day before the official VJ Day celebrations - is my favourite). The database is well worth a browse, so give it a go. And tell us what you found!

    Friday, November 11, 2011


    "Be a trend setter, not a trend follower." No one told the publishing industry this. Just look at all the teen vampire novels out there. The Hunger Games sparked a flood of teen novels set in messed up futures, featuring female heroines on the path of self-discovery. The themes focus on being original and rejecting the trend of society. Somewhat ironic. Here I present 5 teen dystopian novels with one word verb titles. Read them, while society will still let you ...

    Birthmarked / Caragh M. O'Brien

    In a future world baked dry by the sun and divided into those who live inside the wall and those who live outside it, sixteen-year-old midwife Gaia Stone is forced into a difficult choice when her parents are arrested and taken into the city.

    Also see sequel Prized, which has just been published.

    Matched / Ally Condie

    All her life, Cassia has never had a choice. The Society dictates everything: when and how to play, where to work, where to live, what to eat and wear, when to die, and most importantly to Cassia as she turns 17, who to marry. When she is Matched with her best friend Xander, things couldn't be more perfect. But why did her neighbor Ky's face show up on her match disk as well?

    Also see sequel Crossed, which has just been published.

    Nat: If you enjoy Matched, I'd also recommend reading The Giver by Lois Lowry, a 1994 Newbery Award winner. It features a society similar to the one in Matched.

    Bumped / Megan McCafferty

    In 2036 New Jersey, when teens are expected to become fanatically religious wives and mothers or high-priced Surrogettes for couples made infertile by a widespread virus, sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony find in one another the courage to believe they have choices.

    Nat: Bumped was less dystopian, more satire. It was a darkly humourous take on a world where teen pregnancy is glorified. Watch out for the sequel Thumped next year.

    Scored / Lauren McLaughlin

    Set in the future when teenagers are monitored via camera and their actions and confessions are given a computerised "score" that determines their future potential. This score has the ability to get kids into colleges, grant scholarships, or destroy all hope for the above. Scored's reluctant heroine is Imani, a girl whose high score is brought down when her best friend's score plummets. Where do you draw the line between doing what feels morally right and what can mean your future? Friendship, romance, loyalty, family, human connection and human value: all are questioned in this fresh and compelling dystopian novel set in the scarily forseeable future.

    Nat: I haven't read this one yet, but the premise would have appealed to me as a teen. I remember once receiving a test back with 98%, and the teacher said something like 'let's see about that 2% you missed'.

    Awaken / Katie Kacvinsky

    In the year 2060, when people hardly ever leave the security of their houses and instead do everything online, Madeline Freeman, the seventeen-year-old daughter of the man who created the national digital school attended by all citizens, falls in love with a boy who wants to meet face to face. She is introduced to a new world, as well as a group of radicals who are trying to get people to "unplug."

    Nat: This is at number one, just because it's not called 'Awakened'. But that may be because the Teen Vampire series, House Of Night, has already used that title. (along with Marked, Betrayed, Untamed, Hunted, Tempted, Burned, and Destined).

    The only thing missing now is a satire called Rehashed. Happy reading, all. But remember, you're being monitored ...

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Top 5 new cakes and desserts books

    List by Tosca

    "Everyone has a price - mine is chocolate."
    - Author unknown

    I am inordinately fond of sugar. So much so that I always have something on me, near me or around me for those moments when I feel like I'll keel over and faint if I don't have it. A tad bit melodramatic? Well, yes, absolutely, and yet I'm sure some women can relate when I say you can either have me tense, irritable, anxious and suffering from mood swings (seriously, everyday feels like PMS-day), or you can have the somewhat muted version of me that you (virtually) see in front of you today. I know, it's like being stuck between a rock and a hard place, right? I adore cookbooks. I'm not particularly good at it and nothing I ever make turns out like the photos so I figure half the satisfaction must come from the doing of it, and the other half from the eating of it, and the bonus must be the reading. Which is just as well because the cakes and desserts new book list? My most favourite cookbooks ever. On the days when I don't succumb to the demon sugar in whatever form is on sale at the local supermarket (I know, totally shameless) I ooh and aah over the new cakes and desserts books and imagine that, one day, I could make ones just like it. (Hasn't happened yet). And so I present the 5 best of the newest ones. IMHO (in my humble opinion), anyway. Or as humble as I get.

    Honourable mention:
    Dress your gingerbread! : Bake them! Dress them! Eat them! by Joanna Farrow - Whether you want to make the perfect birthday party platter, need a fun rainy day activity to do with your kids, or fancy whipping up a unique and tasty gift for grandma, what better way than with a batch of freshly-baked gingerbread as you've never seen it before? Step-by-step instructions show you how to dress up your gingerbread as a whole host of colourful characters, from pirates and princesses to monsters and superheroes.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Top 5 deadly summer reads

    List by Danielle

    'Every young person should have one summer they look back on for the rest of their lives.'
    From The poison tree, by Erin Kelly

    Summer can be terrifying. Anyone contemplating wearing a pair of togs in public knows and understands this. But! There are actually far more reasons to fear summer than not looking like Jessica Alba in a bikini (or Daniel Craig in speedos). If you're looking for something a bit suspenseful to read over the holidays, the books below all feature long, hot summer days that mark turning points in the lives of their unlucky characters. The stories that follow lure you in as the narrators gradually pick apart the threads of that one crucial day, and you begin to make sense of the echoes that have chased them down the years.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    Top 5 most requested titles for October 2011

    List by Tosca

    "Books had instant replay long before televised sports."
    - Bern Williams

    A 6"5 inch mountain of a man (who, weirdly, will be 5"7 instead in the recently announced book-into-film version, but more on that later). Civil rights in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi. Gods and demigods. The memoir of a man who managed to offend most of NZ without even trying. Dragons and destiny. What do they have in common? On a normal, day to day basis probably no crossover whatsoever. Unless you work with books. Behold, our top 5 most requested titles for October 2011!

    P.S. I don't envy anyone waiting on our #1 book. That number is phenomenal.

    Honourable mention (i.e. next 5 on the list):
  • Cabin fever by Jeff Kinney - children's fiction, book 6 in the Diary of a wimpy kid series. Currently on order
  • People's republic by Robert Muchamore - teen fiction, book 13 in the Cherub series
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - teen fiction, book 1 in The Hunger Games series
  • Thea Stilton, big trouble in the Big Apple by Geronimo Stilton - children's fiction
  • Diary of a wimpy kid : Rodrick rules by Jeff Kinney - children's fiction, book 2 in the Diary of a wimpy kid series
  • The conductor by Sarah Quigley - historical fiction, NZ author (I really want to read this one! I just don't want to have to wait *sigh*)

  • Monday, October 31, 2011

    Our top 5 most downloaded eBooks

    List by Tosca

    We have eBooks! You might know this already from an earlier October post in which I wrote about being a bloodless nerd and highlighted some fabulous arts and crafts eBooks. In that same post I mentioned that it was a relatively simple 4 step check out process to get you started and a few people scoffed. Scoffed, I tell you! And so, below the jump you'll find a quick rundown of the instructions you'll need. And remember - you can email me if you get stuck! On with today's list which is, simply, a roundup of our top 5 most downloaded eBooks :)

    Honourable mention, i.e. Next 5 on the list:
  • After the kiss by Karen Ranney - historical romance, fiction
  • Brazen virtue by Nora Roberts - contemporary romance, fiction
  • Blink : the power of thinking without thinking - education, history, nonfiction by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Bedding the heiress by Cathy Maxwell - historical romance, fiction
  • Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis complex - junior fiction, science fiction and fantasy. by Eoin Colfer

  • Top 5 TV shows to watch with the lights out

    List by Danielle

    "You know, there's no version of this that ends well."
    ~ Danny, Harper's Island

    Happy Halloween, everyone! I don't think we've quite got Halloween figured out in New Zealand. It feels like we're never quite sure whether we get into trick-or-treating or not, and a lot of the costumes the neighborhood kids show up in are a bit of a half-hearted and embarrassed plea for free goodies, but I wasn't the only person buying up large in the pick-and-mix choccy aisle at the supermarket yesterday. There's a 'Festival of Light' happening at a local church (to offset the celebration of darkness), but my three year old went to daycare today dressed as his favourite hero, Sonic the Hedgehog, complete with spiked and spray-painted blue hair, makeshift blue pointy ears and his fastest running shoes. There, he was celebrating the day with about a gazillion pink fairy princesses, a couple of Disney princesses and a lone Spiderman. No zombies, no vampires, and no witches (unless you count the teachers - and no, I'm not being nasty, the teachers actually dressed as witches this morning).

    That said, I think there's plenty of room for celebration of all things spooky amongst consenting adults, so here are my top picks for TV shows to watch in the dark, or maybe by the gently flickering light of your pumpkin lantern...

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Top 5 cooking challenges for the fearless kitchen explorer

    List by Danielle

    Fervet olla, vivit amicitia: While the pot boils, friendship endures.
    ~ Latin proverb

    I love cooking, and I specially love trying something new (something I may not even be able to predict the taste of), but I haven't had much time or energy to explore in the kitchen lately. To see if I can revive that sense of play, I've come up with some challenges to try out with the help of our cookbook collection, which is fully awesome and expanding rapidly (don't believe me? check the mammoth new cookbooks lists in the New Titles lists each month!). From scary random-number recipes (jellyfish! argh!) to special treats for your family and friends, there might be something here that gives you the kick to try something a little different in the kitchen!

    Top 5 kiddie-friendly scary movies Mr. 7 and I are considering for our Halloween movie marathon

    List by Tosca

    "Any horror element is as much psychological as special effects."
    - Christopher Eccleston (who is, incidentally, Mr. 7's 2nd most favourite Doctor Who)

    Every Halloween I stage a scary movie marathon. This year I had tentatively planned a gore-nography fest with, well, probably very little in the way of plot but bucket loads of blood and guts splattered all over the screen. If there happens to be a little romance along the way then so much the better (because people fall in love over splattered brains, right?). And if there's no romance I'd at least like for there to be one or two survivors who walk away from their experience a little wiser, a little stronger, and probably somewhat traumatised for the rest of their cinematic lives. I've had to change my plans slightly to take Mr. 7's tastes into account because he'll be joining me for the first part of the journey and then, after his bedtime, I'll be finishing it on my own. I've got 5 movies lined up that he has never seen before and so, later this week, we'll haggle over which one (or two) he could/should watch. There's no rhyme or reason to my selection except that they're a combination of movies that I've enjoyed in previous years with the older nephews or that are more (or a little bit less) appropriate for his age. He's a Doctor Who fan (oh! the tears we cried together during Tennant's The End of Time) so he's seen quite an array of scary-ish creatures already, but by the same token I don't want to psychologically scar him with something like Sleepy Hollow, either (even though I *loved* that). I think I've settled on a good mix, although I won't know for sure until the actual movie night.

    Wednesday, October 26, 2011

    Top 5 kids' cookbooks I couldn't walk past

    List by Tosca

    There is no love sincerer than the love of food."
    - George Bernard Shaw in Man and Superman

    Once upon a time, Mr. 14 and Mr. 12 and I used to bake a lot. Then, after a day that ended in pony cookies with legs missing and tears and shortbread dough up the wall (don't ask - we still don't talk about that day 7 years later) we never spent time cooking together again. Mr. 7, on the other hand, LOVES it. For some reason, we get along okay in the kitchen. Admittedly, he complains that I don't let him do more on his own but, other than that, he doesn't mind my 'thing' for order/symmetry/even numbers and I don't mind that he talks nineteen to the dozen (apparently without needing to breathe). I was downstairs in Manukau Library picking up a couple of requests and had a sudden brainwave to raid their children's cookbooks section - 641.5 - and came away with the following books/recipes that I think Kalani and I could do together. Bon appetit :)

    Thursday, October 13, 2011

    5 arts and crafts eBooks you may not know we have

    List by Tosca

    "It seems to me that anyone whose library consists of a Kindle lying on a table is some sort of bloodless nerd."
    ― Penelope Lively

    If you've not yet explored our downloadable eBooks and have been considering it, then how well-timed is this post? It's a relatively simple 4 step check out process that we can talk you through if you get a little bit stuck. You can send me an email if you need help and we'll get it sorted.

    I realised this morning that I've never really had an eBook top 5 list here which surprised me because I read ebooks. Lots of ebooks. I buy them from online sites such as Books on Board and Mobipocket. I also use our library's free downloadable media service, too. I've been on a bit of a crafts reading kick because I have such fun reading the titles. I like to imagine that I can make things, too, when really I'm quite hopeless. (I have a rich inner life, i.e. I live inside my head a little too much). As I was looking for a post quote I came across the one above by Penelope Lively (you can find the article here) that startled me a little. (You'll note, though, that I still used it). I don't own a Kindle. I do own ebooks. I also own physical books. I suspect that may not stop me from being one of the 'bloodless nerds.' And, truly, that's okay by me because I look at it like this: I live to read. So much so that you can, and will, pretty much find me reading anything (graphic novels, nonfiction, fiction, kids, teens, physical books, ebooks), anywhere (in queue, on buses, trains and planes, at weddings and in doctor's waiting rooms, etc.), at any time. How I'm reading isn't an issue for me. The fact that I'm reading at all - the fact that anyone is reading at all - is always cause for celebration in my book. I'm not at all precious about how people come to a love of books - be they in e-format or physical - so long as they do. I don't believe that ebooks are the death of the physical book. I never have done. I don't think it's meant to be a case of 'either/or.' I think it's about having more choices. If you're an ebook newbie I'm not going to push you into it and be all, 'OOH! OOH! OOH! You should *so* do it! You *should*!' I expect you'll do it when/if you're ready. And if this tempts you to do so, well, I'm not going to complain.

    So here's a post from one bloodless nerd to another: 5 arts and crafts eBooks you may not know we have :)

    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Top 5 random display books from Manukau Library

    List by Tosca

    "What is more important in a library than anything else - than everything else - is the fact that it exists."
    - Archibald MacLeish, "The Premise of Meaning," American Scholar, 5 June 1972

    What is more important in a library is that I am able to get my hands on anything and everything that catches my interest for whatever awful reason - sense of humour, nostalgia, knowledge. I am forever raiding the downstairs library. No matter how many books I have on the go at any time (as of Friday I had something like 4 requests available for pickup, 21 on the way, 28 issued to my card) - I still think there's room for more. Or at least, that's what I tell myself just before I pop downstairs to steal books off their shelves. Today's list is a quick roundup of my latest batch of Oh-look!-Books!-I-gotta-have-them!-Need-them!-Want-them-now! that I borrowed from Manukau Library. And yes, that is how I talk out loud and in my head.

    Things you might want to know: You can turn on your reading history in My Info! It's a nifty little thing if you're the sort of reader who likes to keep track of everything they read. As a rule, I'm not, but occasionally I like to do a bit of a check and see how much I'm reading and how much of it is trashy/quality and whether or not I need to even it out a bit. To switch on your reading history:
    1. Log in to My Info with your barcode and PIN
    2. Under My Preferences click My Reading History
    3. Click the Opt In button

    My Info will now start keeping track of all physical items issued to your card from this point on. Give it a go :-)

    And now - the books!

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Top 5 picture books with non-traditional illustrative styles

    List by Annie, Central Library

    'The artist's world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.'
    ~Paul Strand

    We're used to seeing picture books illustrated traditionally – you know, pen and ink, watercolour, oils, photos… Just like in non-book art, illustrators are branching out and playing with other media. What is interesting is seeing how well, or not, these 3D techniques translate to the 2D, flat image seen in a picture book page. That said, it can be difficult even with 'traditional' media to figure out what technique was used.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    Top 5 most requested titles for September 2011

    List by Natalie and Tosca

    "Lord! when you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book."
    - Christopher Morley

    Kia ora and gidday! October has arrived, people :) Before I offer up our Goodies list - top 5 most requested titles for September 2011 - I want to take a few minutes to point out some new content on our library website that YOU WILL LOVE OR ELSE.

    Have you checked out our New Titles page, yet? It has, quite quickly, become my most favourite page on our entire website). Our new lists are updated monthly (the first day of every month, to be exact) and display over 100 categories of new adults, children and teens items. The lists consist of our newest books, CDs, DVDs, audio books, kids' material, large print, console games and non-English items. With such a wealth of new items to choose from you won't be disappointed. A big, Big, BIG thank you to Danielle, Julia and Natalie for all of the hard work that went into building these lists :) Try out the new section and let me know what you think of it!

    Did you know that we've added new sections to our website? Our Collections and services section contains four in-depth portals for our blogs, computers, kids, and Maori services.

    October is a very busy and exciting month that sees us celebrating Diwali, the Rugby World Cup 2011 and the school holidays. We're also hosting a number of author talks and presentations from personalities such as Margaret Pope, Spiro Zavos, Dr. Anna Sandiford, and John Dybvig. You can view all upcoming special events and regular programmes in the Events section of our website. Our What's On eNewsletter, edited by the wonderful Jo, provides a wonderful monthly summation of any and all upcoming events.

    On to the top 5 most requested titles for September 2011: teen spies, Gods of Olympus, a New Zealand television personality, a book-turned-film set in Mississippi and the latest Jack Reacher novel. Happy reading!

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Top 5 grassroots rugby pics from Footprints

    List by Danielle

    'Rugby football is a game I can't claim absolutely to understand in all its niceties, if you know what I mean. I can follow the broad, general principles, of course. I mean to say, I know that the main scheme is to work the ball down the field somehow and deposit it over the line at the other end and that, in order to squelch this programme, each side is allowed to put in a certain amount of assault and battery and do things to its fellow man which, if done elsewhere, would result in 14 days without the option, coupled with some strong remarks from the Bench.'
    ~ P. G. Wodehouse, Very good, Jeeves!

    Here for your perusal, may I present 5 of the very cool photos from our new online mini-exhibition, 'Celebrating our history of rugby'.

    As well as a selection of photos of local grassroots rugby, we've recently added over 1,000 new images into the Footprints online database, a record of historical images from the South Auckland and Counties-Manukau area. Many of these come to us from the fantastic back files of Fairfax Media and the Courier newspapers, as well as through the generosity of local photographers (and their families) and historical societies throughout the region. There are some wonderful treasures in there, and you can search the thousands of images by keyword, decade, location and more. Kids with sheep! The Pakuranga Hunt Club! Catching sharks in Mangere! It's well worth a browse.