Thursday, May 31, 2012

5 books by Gok Wan

Gok: If I set this up for you, will you invite me to your wedding?
Melissa: Yes! It's in Rarotonga...
Gok: *confused look* I don't know what that is.
Melissa: It's an island. It has Rarotongan boys.
Gok: I love boys!

- Gok Wan, British fashion consultant, 30 May 2012 (and I know he said this because I was there to hear it)

I have never watched an episode of Gok Wan's show How to look good naked, so when I saw the signs start popping up in Westfield Manukau advertising an in-mall appearance, it didn't mean anything to me. I'd walk past the posters and smile because something about him - he's quite adorkable, really - makes me do that. That's not to say I don't know who he is. I do. I'm not totally clueless. I've just never watched his show. (I'll be honest and admit I don't watch America's next top model OR Project runway, either). Yesterday, on the way to work, and after having walked past yet another poster with his face on it, I decided I'd go and have a look during my lunchbreak, and drag Natalie and Jolene with me. After having seen Gok in action yesterday, I have to say, I'd be more inclined to watch his show now. Not because he takes women and shows them how to dress well and with confidence (a knack I've never mastered and think very little about - some mornings it's hard to remember to put on matching shoes), but because he's funny. Actually, he's hilarious. I spent the entire time screaming with laughter. I think the women who put their hands up to have makeovers done were extremely brave. A colleague asked me later, "What did you learn from watching the show?" THIS! That Gok is riotously funny, cleavage is (very probably always) in, and you should use belts. In that order. Well worth working late to make up for the extended lunchbreak. When I got back to my desk, though, I wondered what books or DVDs we have of Gok's. And so there you go - today's list: 5 books by Gok Wan.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

5 things I can't knit

"...the number one reason knitters knit is because they are so smart that they need knitting to make boring things interesting. Knitters are so compellingly clever that they simply can't tolerate boredom. It takes more to engage and entertain this kind of human, and they need an outlet or they get into trouble."
- Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

Last year in October I wrote a post for the Auckland Libraries blog about knitting. To be precise: 5 knitting books that confirm what I already suspected: I suck at knitting. In June some time of 2011 I was gung-ho for knitting and tried to make a scarf. I gave myself six weeks. It was a disastrous. I dropped stitches, made stitches up out of thin air, managed to stab myself with the knitting needles more times than I could count, broke a needle and mourned its loss briefly and, in the end, ended up with a great big mess that resembles my hair in the morning after a restless night's sleep. I gave up. I'm not proud of being a quitter, but I've long since gotten used to my half-abandoned projects. My pathway to hell is paved with the debris of a lifetime's worth of my good intentions and crafts projects. You'd think, then, that I'd spit at any and all knitting books I came across and make the sign of the cross. Not the case. If anything, I deliberately keep an eye out and count the number of items I cannot make myself. It's a weird love/hate relationship. And so I present: 5 things I can't knit!

Do you knit badly? Or are you a knitting fiend?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

5 thoughts I've had about the kerfuffle that is 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

I have read Fifty shades of grey by EL James. Actually, I've read it twice. Well, no, two and a half times, to be precise. You can take that a couple of ways. Either it was so awesome I couldn't get enough of the spatula (as Ellen would say, don't eat pancakes at Anastasia's house, and if you haven't seen Ellen's clip where she tries to read passages from the book you should, it's hilarious) OR it wasn't quite what I thought it was so I had to read it again just to make sure I wasn't mistaken. I've been conflicted about this book and the mainstream media reaction to it. So much so that I've sat on this post for about three to four weeks now. Every night I pull it up, read over what I've written so far, delete huge chunks of it, add in some more, wince and pull a face, and close it off again. The next night I'm back to try again. Sometimes I get no further than where I was the night before. I could feel myself getting too ranty about it. To the point where it was more Ms. Cranky McRanty Pants than anything else and, although this might be a good space to be so (what kind of library blog doesn't have an opinion about books?), I didn't want to strike the wrong tone. In the end I realised what the problem was. I was trying to combine two separate issues into one: the quality of the writing AND my thoughts about the media hype. Sorry 'bout it, people, I've had to break this in to two posts, instead. This being the first. Aren't you lucky? *she asks hesitantly* Seriously, be thankful you're getting a shortened version of the thoughts I've had about this. Just to reiterate, today I'm not going to list my opinion of the book. Well, not yet, anyway. I'll save that for later this week. I want to make it clear upfront that I doubt any of my thoughts below will add anything of value to what is already floating around the interwebs about this particular book. I feel, though, that I needed to puzzle through this/work this out aloud. And so I did: 5 thoughts I've had about the kerfuffle that is Fifty shades of grey. For better or worse.

Would you read Fifty shades of grey?
Have you read it?
Would you recommend it to others?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

5 chicken noodle soups (for the eating)

List by Danielle

“And Tom brought him chicken soup until he wanted to kill him. The lore has not died out of the world, and you will still find people who believe that soup will cure any hurt or illness and is no bad thing to have for the funeral either.”
~ John Steinbeck, ‘East of Eden

Getting up in the dark at 6am (hello Moon), coming home in the dark at 6pm, winter lurgies surfing on the warm waves of workroom air-con and rampaging unchecked through friends and family... it leaves me craving hot meals full of nourishing goodness. Preferably with noodles. Or maybe dumplings - oh, dumplings. Now, this is just a warning -- these chicken noodle soups won't fix your emotional turmoil. They're not going to help you relate better to difficult customers, or get you in touch with your inner teenager, or do anything much more than smell fantastic while cooking and give you left-overs for lunch. But, really, isn't that enough?!

Seems there are a myriad ways to make a simple (or not-so-simple) soup of chicken and noodles. One of the nice things about our cookbook collection at the library is that you can find so many styles of cooking, from Dummies-type guides that walk you through step by step, to books that assume masterchef status and will push you to make things that are way outside your normal kitchen comfort zone. Why not try experimenting with some new ingredients or techniques (make your own stock, if you dare!), and give winter a big old injection of delicious soup?

5 lots of four word self help notes I like

"If you think you can or you think you can't either way you are right."
- Henry Ford

Sometimes I get caught up in the minutiae of life and let it overwhelm me. When that happens, it seems like the smallest problem can seem frighteningly large, and the solution often looks equally as complicated. In those instances I often forget that life really can be quite simple. If I let it be. This year, inspired by the One Word 365 initiative, I chose one word to live by. It's a little bit of a touchy feely concept for me, and I am so not a touchy feely person. The idea is to choose one word that will underpin everything you are, everything you want to do, everything you want to be, everything you would like to achieve this year. I chose the word 'open,' as in open mind, open heart, open hands, open eyes, open door. It's been an interesting year to date, although sometimes I forget all about my word and automatically refuse opportunities that come my way. Some habits are hard to break. Luckily I have another seven months to get it right. In that same vein of wanting to keep life simple I requested Four-word self-help : simple wisdom for complex lives by Patti Digh. It's an interesting read. Actually, it was an enjoyable read. Basically, Digh uses 12 topics (such as love, success, generosity, etc.) and offers four word notes about those topics to remind you to keep things simple. It's a gorgeous little book with some fantastic (and orginal) art to illustrate each piece of advice, all by readers of Digh's blog. The author's personal stories give each section a really nice feel and, wow, I must be feeling extra sensitive this week because most of them made me smile/sniffle. I'm racking up the touchy feely points this year and, surprisingly, I'm ok with that. Although I still won't hug you. If you like self help books that don't preach at you, you'll like this one :) I now find myself wondering what four words I can apply to any given situation, like this post, for example: "Books DO change lives." See? And so! Here are 5 lots of four word self help notes I like from this book, and would like to use.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Your top 5 most downloaded Freegal Music tracks

"Driver picks the music, shotgun shuts his cakehole."
- Dean as played by Jensen Ackles in Supernatural

I don't know about anybody else but Dean's saying above (which I like to use with my sisters but gets me absolutely nowhere) is totally the case in our household. Whichever person is driving is the one who gets to decide what music the rest of us listen to. My sisters and I took a road trip a couple of years ago to visit my grandfather's home town in the far north; I was banned from driving the car during our vacation. My love of country music, classic rock and the 80s will get me relegated to the backseat every time. It probably doesn't help that I have this unfortunate habit of driving like whatever music happens to be playing at the time. And it's made worse, I would think, by the fact that I adore angry girl music. The louder the better, as far as I'm concerned. A few years back, as a precautionary measure, my sisters removed all angry girl music from the car and replaced it with harmless schmaltzy stuff. Huh. Things I didn't know until that moment: The world is a very different place when one drives sedately. Still, as bad as my music tastes are (at least according to my siblings) I'm beginning to wonder about all of YOU. Yes, YOU. The title of this post, you may have noticed, is 'YOUR top 5 most downloaded Freegal Music tracks' for one very simple reason: these are all down to YOU. Interestingly, none of these tracks are ones I would have chosen for myself. What is WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? I'm kidding. Slightly. Although I do wonder what my driving would be like should I download all of these and try them for myself...

Freegal Music
Auckland Libraries members can now enjoy three free, legal music downloads a week with Freegal Music. You can access thousands of files from the vast Sony Music catalogue. So, how does it work? Like this:

  • Log in with your Auckland Libraries barcode number and PIN to browse Freegal Music (you can contact us if you have any queries/problems:
  • Each library member can download up to three songs per week
  • Each song has a sample clip you can listen to before downloading
  • You can keep track of your downloads by using the counter at the top of the site
  • The download counter resets itself every Monday afternoon. (Please note: Unused downloads do not carry over into the next week)
  • Please note that downloads cannot be reversed under any circumstances, even if you cancel the download
  • If your download is interrupted or cancelled by accident, you can download it again from the Recent Downloads. You can do this twice, and only for songs downloaded in the current and last week
  • Have you used Freegal Music?
    If you haven't, will you try it out?

    Friday, May 11, 2012

    Our top 5 bedtime stories for April

    List by Danielle

    "It's very simple why kids are crazy about dinosaurs -- dinosaurs are nature's Special Effects. They are the only real dragons. Kids love dragons. It's not just being weirdly shaped and being able to eat Buicks. It's that they are real."

    ~ Robert T. Bakker, Honolulu Advertiser, Jul. 9, 2000

    February was superhero month.

    April - April was also superhero month.

    I don't think the superheroes are going anywhere anytime soon.

    Spiderman is up there as flavour of the month, though he's got tough competition from Ben 10 and the Powerpuff Girls. Also, as far as literal flavours of the month go, cookbooks are also still a firm favourite amongst the kids. They love to flip through pictures of food and chat about what looks good enough to lick the page and what makes them go EWWWWWW.

    Over the last couple of months we've really enjoyed visiting our new local libraries (Glenfield and Northcote), and browsing through a whole new collection of picture books and graphic novels. (We also made a nostalgic trip back to Tupu - hey, Richie & the team! - and Botany to raid their awesome kids' collections.) The kids have been having a lot of fun exploring not only the libraries but their play areas, gardens and surroundings. You can't get much better for a free outing for little kids than taking them to a library they've never visited, for real. Plus - stuff to take home!

    Wednesday, May 9, 2012

    5 cookbooks linked to tv shows and/or films

    Last night I was reading the May issue of the Pop Culture eNewsletter and I saw a curious, curious thing. Our fabulous editor had included The unofficial Hunger Games cookbook : from lamb stew to "groosling" -- more than 150 recipes inspired by the Hunger Games trilogy by Emily Ansara Baines. I can't cook worth a darn. Not to save myself. (Well, not to save anyone else else, either, if it comes down to it). That doesn't stop me from watching numerous shows on the cooking channel, though. I adore those shows. Nor does my limited kitchen ability stop me from taking out truckloads of books to give me tips, ideas and, well, dangerous cooking-related thoughts. Imagine, though, JUST HOW MUCH my cup runneth over when I find that somebody had a brainwave and combined TELEVISION and FILM with COOKING. Imagine, also, how many dangerous cooking-related thoughts I can have now? Unlimited. Absolutely unlimited. I present to you: 5 cookbooks linked to tv shows and/or films.

    Which tv show/film would you like to see a cookbook for?

    Friday, May 4, 2012

    These 5 movie lists are why you should take this book home

    "Why read this book? Because we've all had that queasy feeling in our stomachs as we peruse the massed ranks of movies in video stores, movies-on-demand, or online rentals, and begin to panic slightly as the realisation dawns that we can't quite remember the name of that film somebody recommended last week, don't want to fall back again on an old standby (you can't spend every leisure hour watching Cary Grant reruns), but don't really know, as your eye runs through the titles, which film you want to rent or buy. With this book you need never suffer again."
    - Paul Simpson in Movie lists

    Title: Movie lists: 397 ways to pick a DVD
    Author: Paul Simpson
    Publisher: Profile
    Year: 2008
    Summary: These lists, arranged by genre, director, or actor, answer that most difficult of questions: what DVD should you rent for the night? Fabulously quirky and enjoyable, this book is both a celebration of movies and a handy, entertaining guide to films guaranteed to deliver. Oddly enough, most movie guides are not full of recommendations. But Movie Lists is-and you don’t have to watch them all before you die! Paul Simpson is the author of the best-selling The Rough Guide to Cult Movies. He is a man you should go to any lengths to have on your side in a trivia quiz.

    I don't understand why I can't spend every leisure hour watching Cary Grant reruns. This does not compute *puzzled look* Seriously, though, I adore books that put their money where their mouth is and declare why I should want to read their book. Last week on the Auckland Libraries blog I recommended some film guides that seemed like they would offer up suggestions for movies I might find interesting. You know the type of stuff: quirky, off-kilter, maybe unusual or even a teensy bit cheesy. One of the books on that list is sitting on my desk at home and I flip through it and SQUEE over it and clap my hands (fully aware that I resemble a sealion when I do so) and immediately start comparing DVD titles against our catalogue. Sure, we don't have everything, that just isn't possible, and there's no way I could watch everything that caught my fancy, anyway, but I'm darn sure going to give it a go. And here are 5 movie lists that are good reasons to take this book home. (Or 5 reasons I took this book home?).

    If you had to write your idea of a perfect movie list, what would you call it?
    (I would call mine "You know those types of film lists that are over populated with deep and meaningful dialogue that will forever inspire you and change your life? Yeah...this list is not that!") #truestory

    Wednesday, May 2, 2012

    Top 5 most requested items for April 2012

    "If we didn't have libraries, many people thirsty for knowledge would dehydrate."
    - Megan Jo Tetrick

    So, the other day I tweeted the fact that our copy (yes, I daftly used the word 'copy' instead of 'copies') of The Hunger Games had a large number of requests and, well, our tweetstream exploded. A lot of what came through were very funny responses suggesting that we buy more than one copy to go round *clears throat* because I had crazily made it sound like we only have one :/ Rookie mistake that I won't be making again. All of which culminated in an article with the NZ Herald. Yeah so it'll be a wee while before I do *that* again *sigh* A few people even suggested we manage the request list with death matches. I'd quickly like to point out that umm we won't. The reason I relate this story is because the book in question - indeed, the entire series - features in top spots for today's list. And so, this being the time that I write my monthly 'Top 5 most requested items' post, I'm feeling a little bit leery and hoping that the blog doesn't explode (implode?) in much the same way. Here are *she says hesitantly* our top 5 most requested items for April 2012.

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    5 reasons to enter Launch Your Lyrics

    "I think songwriters are more related to fiction writers. The Odyssey was a story in song. To me, that's so beautiful, all those painted characters, all those travels and adventures."
    - Regina Spektor

    Happy New Zealand Music Month! There are still a couple of weeks left to enter our Launch Your Lyrics competition, and if you're not yet convinced that you should, then today's post is just for you. Aged 11-18 years old? Love music? Write your own songs? This is an opportunity you just can't miss, and is as easy as emailing us your lyrics along with an mp3 recording of them. Make sure to read the terms and conditions and, when you're reading, simply follow the instructions listed here:

    If you need a few ideas to get started, or did get started and need a little help to carry on, try these on for size:
  • Songwriting without boundaries : lyric writing exercises for finding your voice by Pat Pattison
  • The art of songwriting by Casey Kelly and David Hodge
  • Get started in songwriting by Sam Inglis
  • Songwriting for dummies by by Jim Peterik, Dave Austin, Cathy Lynn
  • Songwriter's rhyming dictionary : quick, simple and easy-to-use : rock, pop, folk & hip-hop by Jake Jackson

  • What a great way to celebrate NZ Music Month. I can't wait to see the entries! As for me, I'll be celebrating by listening to one-new-to-me NZ CD a day. You'll see my recommendations on the tweetstream with the hashtag #nzmusicmonth. So look out! I'm raiding YOUR local library's CD collections. If you know anybody aged 11-18 who'd be interested, why not share this post with them? Here are 5 reasons to enter Launch Your Lyrics :)

    How are YOU celebrating NZ Music Month 2012?