Thursday, June 30, 2011

5 books or films you may not have known were banned or challenged in New Zealand

List by Tosca

"To choose a good book, look in an inquisitor's prohibited list."
- John Aikin

When it comes to freedom of choice in relation to books I have always been eternally grateful that I live in New Zealand. I grew up encouraged to read - through my parents and school - both classic and contemporary books that, in the US, were considered highly controversial. I didn't know they were controversial at the time. It certainly wasn't a concern to my parents or teachers. I know, though, that they didn't encourage me to read those books on a whim. I believe that they gave them to me for three reasons: they had enjoyed them, they thought I might enjoy them and they wanted to challenge my way of thinking. Often I wonder whether or not I've lived up to that ideal. Sometimes, I think yes. Other times, not so much. I've been rather smug in the idea that New Zealand bans very little. Or at least, what I thought was *very little* until I delved a little further. I had assumed that there weren't many titles that had ever been banned (oh, naivety, thy name is Tosca) so I was all kinds of astounded to learn differently. The Office of Film and Literature Classification has a Classified books/film list from 1963 to 9 July 2010 that made for most interesting reading. I downloaded the spreadsheet and browsed through all of those marked 'Banned' and then chose my top 5 from the ones that surprised me the most. So here you go.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

5 books I wouldn't have noticed if not for Good Reading magazine

List by Tosca

"To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is a pleasure beyond compare."
- Kenko Yoshida

I spent the weekend and Monday sick with germs and I can say, hand on heart, that I make a terrible patient. I'm the sort of person who likes to be ill loudly and in full view of anyone else unlucky enough to be in the house with me at the time. I will park myself up on the sofa in pyjamas and with a blanket and generally wallow in my misery. An act which involves lots of sniffling and moaning about how hot my head is and how my throat hurts and that my eyes won't stop watering... The whole litany of ills. It's not much fun for anyone but I do like to milk the drama for all it's worth. One thing I've noticed, though, is that time stretches i-n-t-e-r-m-i-n-a-b-l-y long when you feel awful. And there's only so much daytime tv a person can take. Thankfully I had umpteen back issues of Good Reading to keep me sane. In a rare moment of pity I decided to hole up in my room to generally ooh and aah over each magazine and make notes about what I wanted to request. And here they are in this list of '5 books I wouldn't have noticed if not for Good Reading magazine.'

Query: Have you heard of Good Reading magazine? Do you request a lot of what they recommend? Did you know that you can access Good Reading via our Digital Library?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Top 5 books you were forced to read in high school (according to TIME magazine)

List by TIME

"I divide all readers into two classes; those who read to remember and those who read to forget."
- William Lyon Phelps

Oh, interwebs how you make me laugh! Initially, that wasn't my first reaction on seeing the title of TIME's original post - Top 10 books you were forced to read in high school. I was indignant and slightly peeved. Yeah sure, one or two of these may have been required reading (not Macbeth, thank goshness, I've never been a Shakespeare fan even when mum used to read his comedies to us as bedtime stories) but the rest I looked up voluntarily and, furthermore, enjoyed. Why? These books:

  • taught me to think critically
  • showed me the true power of words and thoughts
  • gave me an historical perspective
  • taught me about human nature - the good, the bad and the beautiful beyond words
  • showed me that sometimes standing up for yourself or others offers a special kind of freedom even when it doesn't feel like it at the time
  • helped me discover that sometimes people suck and do bad, horrible things but that sometimes the good guys win, too
  • taught me that life isn't always fair
  • showed me always, always lessons about life and hope, most especially when it often seems like there is none
  • helped me to find my own voice

  • In short these titles, and many others just like them, were my teachers and my friends. Which is why I'd like to think that TIME meant their post title as tongue-in-cheek humour, even if their post intro makes me suspect otherwise...

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Top 5 riffs on the zombie myth

    List by Danielle

    'From the viewpoint of the fan (the ‘zombie lover’ as some phrase it) zombies are stand-ins for anything that we fear and want to see quantified. They ‘embody’ things like the fear of death, fear of disease, fear of our individual and cultural loss of identity. They’re wonderfully elastic in that regard.'
    ~ Jonathan Maberry, from an interview on the Mad Hatter's Bookshelf and Book Review

    Zombies are so big right now. I mean, scary-huge. I was trying to compile the library's June Horror eNewsletter last week without flooding it with new zombiefic, and... yeah. Not much luck there. At the moment, I'm guessing zombies are to horror as vampires are romance, or the Seelie Court to teen paranormal.

    BUT. That doesn't mean there aren't a bagful of new tunes you can play on this rotting guitar! Following some great zombie reads I've had lately, here are some of the authors' different takes on the zombie myth. I should also add, there are many recent zombie classics that I haven't read yet, so recommendations are welcome!

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Top 5 most quotable movies in honour of the 25th anniversary of 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' (according to TIME)

    List by TIME

    "Whatever you say, whatever you do, movies always got there first. Even that line you just said comes from a movie."
    - Dot the I (2003) – Theo (Charlie Cox)

    This is a quickie list. So quick, in fact, that I'm not even going to bother with my trademark longwinded introduction (yes, go ahead, breathe a sigh of relief). I remember that our quiz group (Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch - yeah, we're showing our age) had a pretty fast and furious discussion about our top 5 most quotable movies some time last year. Everything from numbers two through to five were highly debatable (and probably highly questionable as well) but we all agreed that our number one choice was Ferris Bueller's day off. I don't think I ever put that list up here, so I'm seven shades of SQUEE that TIME decided to mark the the 25th anniversary of the classic Matthew Broderick film by looking at five other movies with equally as awesome lines. Enjoy!

    Query: Do you have a quotable film that didn't make this list? Tell us about it!

    Honourable mention:
  • The wizard of Oz
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Glengarry Glen Ross
  • Clueless
  • Napoleon Dynamite

  • Friday, June 17, 2011

    Top 5 responses to claims that YA books are too dark

    List by Danielle, Annie and Phillippa

    'YA literature saves lives. Every. Single. Day.'
    ~ Laurie Halse Anderson, 'Stuck between rage and compassion'

    A couple of weeks ago, a storm broke in the world of YA writing, when Wall Street Journal published a piece by Meghan Cox Gurdon stating that 'Contemporary fiction for teens is rife with explicit abuse, violence and depravity'; essentially, that YA books were drowning their readers in a relentless sea of darkness. You can read the original article here, and a response to it by School Library Journal blogger Liz B here, with some great links in it. For more background on the debate, and her own take on why 'YA saves' (the Twitter hashtag chosen to marshal a response to the Wall Street Journal's article), read Annie's post for the Auckland Libraries' teen blog.

    Okay, so here's what I love best about this debate: the incredible inspiration I get every time I read the funny, snarky, smart, passionate responses of YA writers and readers to the original article. I'm not surprised, because a lot of the YA books I read have the same qualities - they are funny, and smart, and, in my experience, full of hope for people and for the future. I think Annie's post captured that really well so I'll quote her on this one:

    'That’s what the Wall Street Journal author missed – 99.9% of teen literature – no matter how dark the theme or experience – has hope. For abused teen in a novel, read survivor. For every oppressive, dystopian society there are a group of rebels, people fighting for their rights.'

    Below are a selection from the Twitter responses to the WSJ article, as selected by myself and some of our teen librarians. Believe me - this is just the tip of the iceberg :)

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    My top 5 confessions about library items I've read/watched this week

    List by Tosca

    "Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it."
    - P.J. O'Rourke

    This list will not have much in the way of an introduction. It's a list of confessions - things these books/dvds made me think, do and/or feel. What have I learnt about myself? That I'm not a particularly complex person :)

    Wednesday, June 15, 2011

    Top 5 punny titles

    List by Annie

    "The kind of humor I like is the thing that makes me laugh for five seconds and think for ten minutes."
    - William Davis

    Sometimes you just have to laugh. Authors – and editors – obviously love playing with words, and this selection of titles proves it.

    Honourable mention:
  • Reign check Michelle Rowen

  • Tuesday, June 14, 2011

    Top 5 best fantasy movies of all time (according to Talitha)

    List by Talitha

    "Fantasies are more than substitutes for unpleasant reality; they are also dress rehearsals, plans. All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination."
    - Barbara Grizzuti Harrison

    I have no clue what my top 5 fantasy movies of all time would be. It is something I've often considered, though. I just don't think I'm disciplined enough to be able to make up my mind as to possibilities. There's too much choice. Or maybe I'm not opinionated enough. (Yeah, right!). A quick and dirty use of my Google-fu skills showed me what I'd guessed already, that there isn't one comprehensive list and nor are any two lists the same. They sure do make for interesting reading, though. And that was how I came across Talitha Linehan's Fantasy books and movies site and had fun noseying through everything. Talitha's The 100 best fantasy movies list led to much discussion around our dinner table and everyone had more than their ten cents worth of agreeing and disagreeing. One day we're going to have a quiet night actually eating instead of arguing and gesticulating with forks and peas. One day. are Talitha's top 5 best fantasy movies of all time (and a slew of honourable mentions) here for all y'all.

    Query: What would you have as your top 5 best fantasy movies of all time? Caring is sharing, people :)

    Monday, June 13, 2011

    Top 5 bestselling hardcover nonfiction, June 9 - 16 (according to

    List by

    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

    Howdy & gidday! Just a quick warning that one of today's book titles uses the F-bomb. Not in my post, though. I've used *expletive deleted* but the correctly catalogued title of Mansbach's book will display in our catalogue with the F-bomb. If you're still with us at this point (whether for reasons of titillation, curiosity or pure cussedness), then read on. Are you on the hunt for new titles, like I am? I was scouring the interwebs over the weekend (I know, my idea of 'fun' is a little bit geeky) and ended up at looking for ideas for book requests and found a fair few from this week's bestselling hardcover nonfiction list that are totally worth my time and attention. Interesting, though, is the inclusion of the much written/talked about/debated Facebook status-turned book Go the *expletive deleted* to sleep by Adam Mansbach. Is it purely curiosity that makes me request Mansbach's book? Yes. And no. I want to see, for myself, what the fuss is about. I want to see why illegally leaked galleys (and a huge amount of copyright infringement) still saw the title hit #1 on Amazon's list (with over 100,000 pre-orders). I want to know why Family First leader Bob McCoskrie labelled it offensive in the Herald on Sunday without even having read it. And I'd like to know if my amusement with Jeremy Corbett's statement that McCoskrie 'lighten up' was justified. I'd like to also point out that no, I'm not going to let my nephews/niece read it. For those of you not so interested in the frustrations of trying to get a child to sleep this list also offers oh so much more. So...on to the top 5 bestselling hardcover nonfiction books for June 9 - 16 2011 as listed on

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Top 5 movies as voted by IMDB users

    List by

    "Acting: An art which consists of keeping the audience from coughing."
    - Ralph Richardson

    For about 10 years or so my younger sister was assistant manager at a local video (and then, later, DVDs/games) shop. One of the biggest perks of my sister's job was that she got to see all of the preview movies (and, by default, me too!) before they hit the shelves. Quite often it involved marathon weekend watching. Being slightly antisocial and all, it was ideal for me. For Jax, though, it was more than a job and she took it seriously. She would watch as much of everything as she could - good movies, bad movies, indifferent movies. Movies that inspired, bored, moved, thrilled. Movies she wanted to talk about and movies she hoped nobody ever knew she watched. (No, not *those* movies). One day I asked her why she bothered to watch them all. Her response? "How can I be expected to recommend titles to customers if I have no idea what any of them are like or about? My opinion matters. It's not rocket science, right?" Well, no, it's not and yet I'd never thought of it like that until then. She doesn't know - and probably still won't because, unlike my mum and a couple of other siblings, she doesn't read this blog - but thanks to her, that's an ideal I try everyday to bring to my work. And I wouldn't change it for anything.

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Top 5 items I took out last week that are totally worth sharing

    List by Tosca

    "When I got my library card, that's when my life began."
    - Rita Mae Brown

    A while back I lost my book mojo and, for someone who lives for books as much as I do, it was a weird time. To say the least. I went from reading/enjoying anywhere from 30-40 books a month to pretty much zero. It was extremely frustrating. I would see books come and go and feel not a twinge of interest. Then, bit by bit, it came back. Admittedly, it's not even close to the level it was at a year ago, but I'm taking it a book (or a DVDs or a magazine or even a CD) at a time. And you know, I think I'm ok with that. One thing I've started to do since my book mojo came back is, at the end of each week, make note (mental note/written note/whatever) of the top 5 books I liked enough to want to share. To date I've never actually thought to share those particular lists but I think I might make it a regular post. So, here's a top 5 roundup of books/DVDs I took out last week that I really enjoyed that you may have missed.

    Top 5 most requested titles for May 2011

    List by Natalie, Tosca

    "A good book is always on tap; it may be decanted and drunk a hundred times, and it is still there for further imbibement."
    - Holbrook Jackson

    Good morning, good morning! I'm hopped up on chocolate and so you're all wonderful, wonderful and the world is a beautiful, beautiful place where, apparently, I repeat everything twice, twice :) All chocolate-weirdness aside, it is a beautiful day. Rain or no. Just a quickie post for today where we list the top 5 most requested titles for May. And can I just say YAY to Jeff Kinney for having two junior fiction titles in the top 5 and 1 as an honourable mention!

    Honourable mention:
  • Greg Heffley's journal by Jeff Kinney - Diary of a wimpy kid series, book 1
  • Belle by Lesley Pearse
  • The fifth witness : a novel by Michael Connelly - Mickey Haller series, book 4
  • Accidentally overweight : solve your weight loss puzzle by Libby Weaver - nonfiction
  • The villa girls by Nicky Pellegrino - NZ author

  • Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Top 5 picks from the American Children's Poets Laureate

    List by Danielle

    'Read and write! Write and read! Think about words, play with them, taste them in your mouth, turn them into games...'
    ~ Mary Ann Hoberman

    In May, the Poetry Foundation named their third Children's Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis. Like the previous Laureates, Mary Ann Hoberman and Jack Prelutsky, Lewis will serve a two year term as a champion of children's poetry in the States.

    I've been taking a wander through Prelutsky, Hoberman and Lewis' works, trying them out on my two pre-schoolers, who love a good, bouncy rhyme. Mary Ann Hoberman has a lovely wise warmth to her stories-in-verse, touched with a neat sense of whimsy, and Jack Prelutsky is just so much plain, silly fun that it takes a while to realise how sneaky-clever he is with words!
    J. Patrick Lewis does seem to pitch many of his poems for a slightly older audience than my kids; they're full of in-jokes, riddles and references and the sort of language play that really suits older children.

    All three poets have been teamed up with a variety of wonderful illustrators that make their books a real visual pleasure for any age group. Here are a selection of some of the titles that have been especially popular with my kids.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Top 5 magical regencies

    List by Annie

    Top 5 Magical Regencies

    What’s not to like? Regency period detail – either romance, or Napoleonic War epics – mixed with fantasy elements. Bliss.