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New Zealand novel - 16th Oct 2017

New Zealand novel Bill Pearson's Coal Flat

This 1963 novel is set in a small, isolated West Coast mining town. It is said that although the name is fictitious, most Coasters will have little difficulty identifying it. The town serves as a microcosm of New Zealand life and the personal and social problems of the time. The mine dominates the town as the mine's union and its workers and politics dominate the book.

Coal Flat tells the story of Paul Rogers who arrives in the town to work at the school. He is set apart by his education and by his unusual and not readily accepted position as a conscientious objector.  Through him, many social themes and problems are explored.

To find out whether tradition and conservatism triumph or whether idealism and difference win out, you will need to pop in and pick up a copy of Pearson's novel. It is a great book and worth rereading.

The Hobbit - 13th Oct 2017

JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit

I suspect it would probably be quite hard to find someone who hasn't read Tolkien's famous children's book. I suppose there might be one or two who have only seen the film but are intending to read the novel.

However, The Hobbit is the kind of thing you can easily re-read and if you are planning to give it pride of place on your bookshelves or give it to someone as a gift, it is important to find a nice copy that is worth keeping.

The Folio Society edition has lovely maroon cloth boards with a gilt maze motif to the spine and front board. The upper page edges are stained an attractive dark pink. The front and rear eps have maps printed on them and the whole volume is beautifully illustrated by Eric Fraser. It comes in a slipcase too.

Also, there is a three-volume Folio Society edition of Lord of the Rings which you might want to consider as well!

Association Copies - 12th Oct 2017

We have an Association Copy of Herries Beattie's Far-Famed Fiordland

What is an association copy? The term can be used to describe a book which has been signed and inscribed by the author to a friend, or maybe a colleague, or possibly to a historically important person in some way related to the author or the subject of the book. In addition, the author will often include a personal note or greeting as well.

This copy of Herries Beattie's book is not only signed by him but it has the ownership signature of his fellow New Zealand historian FG Hall-Jones. Herries Beattie and Hall-Jones were the two pre-eminent historians of Southland of their time. Furthermore, the book is heavily annotated in pencil by Hall-Jones and there are also several pages of his notes loosely enclosed.

The book is generally hard to come by but this is a rather special copy - in fact, it is unique. 

Dogs, elephants, geese and families - 11th Oct 2017

Dogs, elephants, geese and families Bad Dogs Have More Fun: Selected Writings on Family, Animals and Life
by John Grogan

John Grogan was a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and this book is a collection of 75 newspaper articles from that publication. The columns comment on animals, families, life, and his interviews with various memorable people.

To give an idea of the variety, some titles are:
Celebrity and Me
Zero Tolerance running Amok
SKip the Gun, Try Four-legged Security
You've got Spam: AOL's Trial CDs
Flying's Fearful New Annoyance


A bit of philosophy - 10th Oct 2017

In Praise of Idleness: A Timeless Essay by Bertrand Russell
with Introduction, Notes & Illustrations by Bradley Trevor Greive

What an appealing idea: that realising your full potential and enjoying the greatest possible success and happiness in life is not accomplished by working harder or longer but by harnessing the extraordinary power of idleness. (Not sure Russell quite envisaged lounging on a sofa in front of a roaring fire with large glass of wine in hand, or relaxing in deckchair in the sun with chilled wine as the grass on the lawn passes knee-height, though).

This is a lovely book. It is a beautiful mix of captivating illustrations, clear informative notes, a most readable introduction and a careful selection of Bertrand Russell's best quotes, along with his famous essay In Praise of Idleness.

If I could write as well and as entertainingly as Bradley Trevor Greive, I would say more. However, as I can't, I shall simply pinch a Lord Russell quote from Greive's introduction:
"There are two motives for reading a book: One, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about it." Both motives are rewarded here.

Native Wisdom for White Minds - 9th Oct 2017

Native Wisdom for White Minds Daily Reflections Inspired by the Native Peoples of the World
by Anne Wilson Schaef

Native Americans, Aborigines, Africans, Maoris, the Irish, Pacific Islanders and many many more share sayings that represent their view of the world and their philosophy on life. Through these quotes and sayings you begin to get an understanding of their view of the earth, spirituality, family, work, loneliness, change and much more. Such things as serentiy, leisure, work, trust, land, knowledge, meditation, openness. to name but a few, are dealt with in succint one-page coverage.

The book is set out with one thought for each day. The quote comes first, then an explanation and some context, 

Te Mana-O Manutuke / Youth talks-Age teaches. ( A Maori proverb)
becomes The msot important teachings are often the ones that require with, and then the teaching may be learning to wait with.

Shakespeare scholars & fans - 6th Oct 2017

Shakespeare scholars & fans Richard Paul Roe's
The Shakespeare Guide to Italy: Retracing the Bard's Unknown Travels

Sir Derek Jacobi said this book is "exciting, original and convincing" and another reviewer said it was "part thrilling detective story and part sober scholarly treatise".

The author used Shakespeare's plays Romeo & Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado about Nothing, The Tempest etc (all the 'Italian' plays) and tried to determine the exact location of nearly every scene. This book is the result of 20 years of travel around Italy and much painstaking analysis. It will apparently change the way we read Shakespeare and alter our opinion of who he really was.

The above is just one example of a whole load of books on Shakespeare that we have recently bought. Here are a few more to whet your appetite: How Shakespeare changed everything; Shakespeare's Insults; Gender in Play on the Shakespearean Stage; Bardisms; and Bill Bryson's Shakespeare.

Food lovely food - 5th Oct 2017

Lunch: pancetta, mozzarella and balsamic sandwiches with string chips

Dinner: crab bruschetta and parmesan twists to start followed by salmon with lemon-cream sauce, and then raspberry ripple semifreddo for dessert

That's making me hungry so how about spinach ravioli with basil oil, or baked haloumi with cherry tomato tarte tatin, or miso salmon with sesame aioli and a nice crunchy green salad?

If any of that sounds good to you, get a copy of one of Donna Hay's cookbooks such as
Donna Hay: Seasons: The Best of Donna Hay Magazine

Or any one of the many lovely books in our cookery section. Come in and have a look.

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