Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Top 5 display books I stole from Manukau Library's shelves

List by Tosca

"A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen inside our soul."
- Franz Kafka

One of the best things about working upstairs from a library is that I can pop down and randomly grab books left, right and centre. One of the worst things about working upstairs from a library is that I can pop down and randomly grab books left, right and centre. Many years ago I discovered that I am forever fatally attracted to books: titles, covers, writers, smell of new pages, smell of old pages...if it's a part of a book (the spine, the blurb, the font...) I will love it to death. And then some. I think that Manukau Library (the branch downstairs from me) does a fantastic job of keeping their display shelves topped up. They must do, because I am forever risking their ire to raid them and leave them empty. Today's selection is little more than the top 5 of their display books that I felt just begged to be read!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Top 5 NZ Music Month discoveries


List by Danielle

'We're just happy people.'
~ Dave Gibson, Elemeno P

31 days... 31 NZ cds! That was the challenge I set myself at the start of the month.

I'm posting a little early because, well, frankly, I enjoyed my trip through the Manukau Library NZ music collection so much that some days I listened to 2 or more cds. I'm a bit shellshocked by this stage, what with so much new music to listen to in such a short time, but the overwhelming impression I have is that NZ music is pretty darn awesome and well worth a listen. Yes, there were a couple of cds that I had to force myself to soldier to the end of, but there are also about 15 cds that are now on my 'do-some-budgeting-and-buy' list, and at least a handful that I have repeatedly thrashed in the car. I even put my foot down and made the kids take off 'Never smile at a crocodile' for some of them. Choosing 5 is actually a major mission. At least half the list deserve honourable mentions.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Top 5 novels in verse

List by Annie

“Verse is not written, it is bled;
Out of the poet's abstract head.
Words drip the poem on the page;
Out of his grief, delight and rage.”

- Paul Engle

These children & teen novels makes you realise how powerful the verse form is, for expressing emotion. How the simplest of words can express a range of things. Each word in these books is carefully placed and resonates.

Honourable mention:
  • Steven Herrick - Everything. Anything.


  • Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Top 5 dragons

    List by Annie

    "People have freaked out when I tell them that my dragons are scientifically based...what else can you call a genetically engineered life form?"
    - Anne McCaffrey

    For centuries dragons have held our imaginations – whether as destroyers or protectors.

    For that reason, there are so many dragon stories out there, it’s really hard to pick just a few… so I haven’t picked a top 5, more a selection sorted by age / reading level, with a few honourable mentions.

    As a young teen, my reading-teeth were cut, as it were, on Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels. (Don’t get me started on the whole fantasy / science-fiction argument with these. Yes, they are dragons. But...they are dragons, genetically modified by humans who have travelled to their planet on space ships.)

    Even before this intro, one of my fav books, and a comfort re-read, was Green Smoke by Rosemary Manning. (It nearly made the final list, but we have so few copies around, I didn’t think it was fair.)

    Knowing my mother (she who introduced me to McCaffrey in the first place), if there had been any dragon picture books around, I would have had those, too.

    Working from younger to older – with the understanding that anyone from that age and up should read it. Picture books should be enjoyed by all. As I pulled the list together, I realised that I’d managed to pick humorous stories. That’s the way it goes sometimes… so slightly more serious books became honourable mentions.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Top 5 birthday picturebooks I nicked off of Manukau Library's shelves

    List by Tosca

    "Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional."
    - Chili Davis

    I hate birthdays. Today is my birthday. Therefore, today is my Happy Hated Birthday. (Thanks, Robyn, for giving it this name). I quite happily celebrate other people's birthdays. After all, what's not to like about cake, right? Ordinarily, though, I'm not a fan of my own birthday. It isn't that I mind getting older. That bit I can live with. It's the constant, nagging feeling I carry that I'm not ready to be a responsible adult just yet. I want to be able to eat cornflakes for dinner, eat icecream on my un-birthday, splash in puddles on rainy days, sing along to my iPod on the bus and refuse to do things when I'm cranky and tired. That sounds like so much more fun than paying bills, babysitting, writing reports, eating sensibly and being considerate all of the time :) This quick list is my top 5 pick of birthday-themed picturebooks I nicked off of Manukau Library's shelves. They remind me that a childish delight in things - no matter your age - is sometimes necessary to navigating life. You'll probably see a couple of posts from me today. No doubt, both of them will contain a sense of the ridiculous. Something about my birthday brings that out in me. Here's to the ridiculously happy hated birthday!

    Monday, May 16, 2011

    Bestselling hardcover nonfiction, May 15 - 22 (according to NY Times)

    List by The New York Times Best Sellers list

    "There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants a book to read.
    - G.K. Chesterton

    Howdy & gidday! Just a quick post for today that might be useful for those of you feeling the need for a nonfiction read. Quite an eclectic mix and, hopefully, a little something for everyone.

    Honourable mention:
  • From this moment on / Shania Twain by Shania Twain
  • Unbroken : an extraordinary true story of courage and survival by Laura Hillenbrand
  • The heart and the fist : the education of a humanitarian, the making of a Navy SEAL by Eric R. Greitens
  • My lucky life in and out of show business : a memoir by Dick Van Dyke
  • Onward : how Starbucks fought for its life without losing its soul by Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon


  • Thursday, May 12, 2011

    Top 5 books I've read this week that were perfect for my morning bus rides to work

    List by Tosca

    "Humor is reason gone mad."
    - Groucho Marx

    I'm constantly on the lookout for books that make great morning bus ride material. I'm not talking epic reads. Those have their place. I just find that I get easily distracted on a bus so serious reads are a no-no for me then. I'm also not a morning person. (Or an afternoon person or a night person if I'm honest). That morning read can sometimes set the tone for my day. (It's also a great way for me to tune out any co-passengers who feel a burning desire to kickstart my work day with their explicit rap with the rest of us on their oh-so-bad-audio-quality-phones (minus headphones)). I want something that is funny, short, not too serious and yet gives me a different perspective on things and/or makes me reassess my complacency about 'stuff.' By 'stuff' I mean 'God, man, the universe, romance novels, the meaning of life' etc. You know, the small things. And then I want the moon in my pocket, please *pulls a face* This post is little more than my top 5 pick of books that have made me giggle, snort and choke with laughter on my morning bus rides over the last week and a half.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Top 5 vamp books that aren't Twilight

    List by Annie

    "The vampires have always been metaphors for me. They've always been vehicles through which I can express things I have felt very, very deeply."
    - Anne Rice

    Oh yes, Twilight et al have brought the vamp into the reading sphere. Honestly, there are other books out there. Here are some of my favs… not a paranormal romance in there, either – tho’ I love those, too.

    Honourable mention: (i.e. not real vampires, or are there...?)
  • Sweetblood by Pete Hautman - Teen fiction. Vampire or diabetic? Intriguing, original, with a great narrator.


  • Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Top 5 documentaries that have changed the way I look at food

    List by Tosca

    "As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it."
    - Buddy Hackett

    About a month ago I watched the documentary Mardi Gras : made in China [DVD] which explores the production and consumption of the mardi gras beads that are so famous in New Orleans, Louisiana. What I saw made me feel incredibly guilty about having such a careless attitude about plastic beads that a group of people slogged their guts out in a foreign country to produce while making next to no money for it. Some documentaries just hit you that way. I updated my Facebook status making reference to how the DVD made me feel and a colleague responded by saying that she would watch this one if I watched her recommendation. Blithely unaware, I agreed, and watched the most shocking footage detailing the treatment of animals - as pets, food, clothing and entertainment - that will, I am sure, stay with me for life. Hidden cameras showed inside footage of slaughterhouses, puppy farms, circuses...you name it and it was there. It made me wonder, how much do I know, really, about food? The answer was a combination of two things: nothing and only what I want to know, please and thank you. So out of curiosity I requested a pile of foodie documentaries from across our libraries. Finally, after two weeks of non-stop nightly watching, I have picked the top 5 documentaries that have changed the way I look at food.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    Top 5 most requested titles for April 2011

    List by Natalie and Tosca

    "There's nothing to match curling up with a good book when there's a repair job to be done around the house."
    - Joe Ryan

    Our Top 5 Goodies blog turned 1 year old over the weekend, and what a great twelve month journey it has been to date. Thank you all for visiting, reading, commenting and suggesting ideas for posts! Your input is always *very* much appreciated :) Here's to another successful year just like it.

    This is a very quick post! If you're looking for ideas for what to read next, why not check out what our top 5 most requested titles were for April 2011?

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Top 5 books I’m waiting impatiently for…

    List by Annie, Central Library

    Like many library members – whether staff or customers – I have a list of requests. Some of them I’m waiting for with more impatience than others.

    NZ Music Month: Top 5 tracks/pages from 'The great New Zealand songbook: autographs' that inspired a mini-epiphany or moved me to tears

    List by Tosca

    "Music is the medicine of a breaking heart."
    - Leigh Hunt

    How are you celebrating NZ Music Month? Danielle (the same Danielle who updates the Top 5 Goodies blog with me) set herself an NZ Music Month goal for this year: to listen to 1 new-to-her NZ cd a day. It was such a brilliant idea that I decided to do the same for myself and tweet/Facebook whatever it was that I'd chosen for that day. Two days in to my May resolution and I'm quite excited about the possibilities. My first cd was TV knows better by Clap Clap Riot, which Danielle recommended, and it was a loud and joyous kickstart to my musical journey. I've received a couple of recommendations from people already (please feel free to leave your own as a comment - I will try any and all): Kids of 88's Sugarpills and Whirimako Black's Soul sessions. My NZ Music Month journey led me to my greatest find so far this week, an unassuming title I found by happy accident that is, in a nutshell, a book with a couple of cds. The two cds are The best NZ music from last century and The best NZ music from this century highlighting some 42 songs in total. Every person who appears on the cds was given the opportunity to contribute to a journal where they could handwrite the lyrics to their song and add photos, anecdotes, memorabilia and/or sketches. I couldn't believe how much more meaning this added to each track, to be able to know what inspired a melody, a lyric or even a title. I spent a long time poring over every page, reading and re-reading, both with and without the cds playing, jotting down notes, scribbling them out again, muttering to myself and generally trying to make sure my list was true to me but the hardest part of preparing this post was listening to the music with new eyes. A challenge in and of itself. I wish I could tell you I had some empirical, scientific method for selecting which 5 tracks/pages I love, love, loved the most but that's not my style. I chose, instead, to list those that inspired a mini-epiphany of sorts or moved me to tears because, really, that's the sort of person I am.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    5 movies that didn't live up to their trailers (accompanied by a whole heap of honourable mentions, too)

    List by Adrian, Dipti, Simon & Anne

    "What puzzles most of us are the things which have been left in the movies rather than the things which have been taken out."
    - Agnes Repplier

    My name is Tosca and I have terrible taste in movies. All of my friends and family know this about me and accept it...they just don't let me choose which movies we will watch as a group. Every situation has pluses and minuses, right? Recently I visited Event Cinemas Manukau with friends and watched the Kiwi film 'My wedding and other secrets' and saw a number of trailers for up and coming movies. All of them made me laugh and that, to my mind, was enough of a reason to see them all. Only I know I won't because past experience has taught me that, more often than not, movies that I willingly choose to see have thrown all of the best bits into the trailers and left nothing for the film itself. Slight exaggeration? Mmm, I thought not. So I sat down to write a 'Top 5 movies that didn't live up to their trailers' post and got no further than listing one title. One! Total #fail moment. And yet I knew that there were lots of trailers that I would rate as better than the movies. Hoping that others felt that way, too, I turned to Twitter/Facebook, as you do (or maybe just as I do) and posed the question: 'Movies that didn't live up to the trailer? Suggestions please :)' The first five responses came from Twitter - those make up the main body of this post - and all of the honourable mentions (some 20 in total) came from Facebook friends/family/colleagues. Thank you ALL for your very honest answers (which have been included with this post).

    My humblest apologies for thinking of my friend Adrienne and writing her name instead of Adrian!

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    Top 5 NZ albums I play and play and play again

    List by Danielle

    'Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.'
    ~Berthold Auerbach

    I'm a re-reader, and a re-listener. If I like something, it gets thrashed, then tucked away, then brought out for another thrash a bit later on. Rinse and repeat.
    If you feel like something new to have a loud sing-along with, and for once the kids aren't in the car and you don't have to play 'The princess and the frog' soundtrack for the umpteenth time (though that might just be me), why not try a new Kiwi artist this month? Last year about this time I borrowed CDs by a handful of NZ artists that I'd never listened to before, and this year I think I'll follow Tosca's lead and try it again. Just think how much NZ music has suddenly appeared in the catalogue, thanks to the library amalgamation! Piles and piles, and stacks of piles. Meanwhile, here are the albums that are haunting my ipod (and my car) at the moment.

    Top 5 NZ gigs I have enjoyed (and the albums I forever associate them with)

    List by Tosca

    A painter paints pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence.
    Leopold Stokowski

    Happy birthday NZ Music Month! Like the rest of the country I'm looking forward to a month long celebration of homegrown musical talent :) I meant to write a current NZ Music Month list, I honestly did, but it's at this particular time of year, more than any other, that I feel nostalgic. I think a lot of it is to do with the fact that musically I spent my early to late 20s going from one live NZ music gig to another. More often than not on my own. I love live music. I'm not a mosher and never have been but the best spot to stand is right at the front where you can watch every movement the musicians make. Unfortunately, this has meant that over the years, I have been stood on, jumped on and shoved seven ways from Sunday but it was worth it. I'd do it all over again if it meant I could see the five acts I've chosen to list below. These are my top 5 NZ live acts (and the albums I forever associate them with) which are, no doubt, different from anyone else's list. Feel free to leave your own preferred choices as a comment. This year I intend to celebrate NZ Music Month 2011 by looking up 5 current NZ bands/artists whose work I have never heard before. That'll be another upcoming post. How will you be celebrating NZ Music Month 2011?