Friday, March 18, 2011

Top 5 New Zealand non-fiction recommendations

List by ex-Manukau Research Library and Central Services staff

'For me each day starts with the same ritual - drawing the curtains and gazing out to sea, often for just a split second, or, if I'm lucky, for a minute or two. I find it's like checking on a friend...'
~ From 'Go fish', by Al Brown

Like the New Zealand fiction recommendations, the 5 books below are the favourite picks of local library staff, and really only just a drop in the bucket of great NZ titles... they aren't so much a 'Top 5' as a sampler platter of the 'Top 1' for each of the staff who responded. Non-fiction covers so much ground, so we've got biographies, gardeners, grandmas, an artist and a chef, as well as an award-winning sharing of traditional teachings and local history.

Again, as with the fiction, I'm not going to number these recommendations. Though I'd like to give an honourable mention to my own pick, which got ousted by the fact that the list is full already (and also because, even though poetry has a Dewey number, it doesn't seem right calling it non-fiction):

Selected poems / Robin Hyde
I read this while studying modern poetry at Auckland Uni, and was really captivated by Hyde's playful language and often fantastic imagery - it was like reading scenes from a totally new trove of fairy tales, and something I hadn't expected to find in a New Zealand poet of her era.

Eruera : the teachings of a Maori elder / Eruera Stirling ; as told to Anne Salmond
This book arose from Eruera Stirling's determination to pass on the traditional knowledge entrusted to him in his childhood by tribal elders, and from his wish to explain to a younger generation the deeper meanings of an ancestral way of life. In this outline of tribal history and of contemporary race relations, he discusses traditional concepts such as mana, matauranga and whakapapa. This award-winning biography also contains vivid descriptions of life in the Bay of Plenty in the era of whaling, maize cropping and kumara growing, and an account of his work with Sir Apirana Ngata.

Selected by: Raewyn (Kaitautoko Māori, Maori Services Librarian)

A home companion : my year of living like my grandmother / Wendyl Nissen
Details Wendyl's year-long journey fas she challenges herself to live a life more like her grandmother's. During the year, she returns to old-fashioned ways of living, making her own beauty products, growing her own food and trying not to have her life taken over by the chickens ... describes each home discovery as it happens - both the triumphs and disasters - while Wendyl slowly sheds her corporate life, takes to wearing op-shop finds and forgets to straighten her hair.

Selected by: Claire (LIbrarian, Cataloguing South)

Common ground / Janice Marriott, Virginia Pawsey
Janice Marriott and Virginia Pawsey, went to Gisborne Girls' High together and met again after thirty years at a school reunion. They rekindled their friendship and began writing, discovering in the process a shared passion for gardening - despite their having created two very different gardens. Janice lives in central Wellington where her riotously colourful mix of flowers, fruit and vegetables surround her tiny house in the midst of the CBD. Virginia helps run a South Island high country farm and her garden has to feed shearers and farm labourers as well as cope with possums, runaway livestock and the challenges of rural life. Their wonderful correspondence tells the stories of their lives, their gardens, their loves and their losses, and is ultimately a book about female friendship, and a love of making things grow.

Selected by: Claire (Librarian, Cataloguing South)

Go fish / Al Brown
Al Brown can be counted on to find and share great New Zealand cuisine. In Go Fish Al combines his two great passions - cooking and fishing - and brings us more than 100 exceptional fish and shellfish recipes. Covering crustaceans, shellfish and fin fish of many varieties, Go Fish is the ultimate guide to sourcing and cooking fish. Showing passion and respect for our cuisine and delivering it with uncomplicated excellence, Al's recipes are all about simplicity, yet sophistication, character and sometimes an element of surprise. Al Brown has loved fishing since he was young, from days fishing with his dad in the holidays, and he still loves nothing better than fishing with his mates or his kids. Al is the acclaimed Wellington chef and co-owner of Logan Brown - one of New Zealand's top restaurants. He's one of the presenters of award-winning TV show 'Hunger for the Wild' and author of the successful cookbook of the same name.

Selected by: Tosca (Social Media Librarian)

The art of Peter Siddell / Peter Siddell
Sir Peter Siddell's intricately detailed paintings of New Zealand urban scenes and landscapes that are not quite a replication of actuality are much loved. Both technical tours de force and rich with acute observation, they feature in all our national art collections and never fail to fascinate. This major book, the first to ever bring his work together, celebrates both Siddell's life and his art, with over 120 images, and essays by both Sir Peter himself and the renowned art historian Professor Michael Dunn.

Selected by: Suneeta (Librarian, Collection Services South)

1 comment:

Danielle said...

Another great art book I wanted to mention is one that I came across on a display at Pakuranga, a while back: 'Fix: the art and life of Felix Kelly'. He was a Surrealist and neo-Romantic (according to the back of the book); what that seems to translate to, for a total novice like me, is some wonderfully gothic looking landscapes and architectural pieces, haunted by distant, swirly, faceless people. They remind me of Charles Addams and Edward Gorey, though obviously less 'cartoony', and with plenty of rich, muted colours. Nom nom nom.