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Lateral Thinking - 20th Oct 2017

A man was rushed to the emergency department of a hospital after an accident. The surgeon entered, took one look at the patient and then said, "I can't operate. That man's father is my father's son." How could that be?

If you struggled with that, then you probably need a weekend reading this:
A Whack on the Side of the Head: Unlock Your Mind with Lateral Thinking
by Roger von Oech

Develop your creative thinking with this book. It's a mix of wisdom, paradox, philosophy, fun and scientific fact presented through stories and mental exercises. You can learn to be much more innovative by getting rid of mental locks, breaking rules, being impractical, playing, searching for more than one answer, and accepting ambiguity as a positive.

Try this in the meanwhile until you can pick up a copy of the book. Two frogs fell into a vat of cream. There was no way to get any footing so they couldn't jump out. The first frog accepted that and drowned. The second frog decided not to give in. He managed to get out. How did he do it?

Clocks (sort of) - 19th Oct 2017

Clocks (sort of) This weekend I'm off to pick up a newly repaired clock. It's not the average run-of-the-mill clock. Just after the war (WW2 that is), my father and a friend each bought a 24-hour pilot's clock from the instrument panel of newly decommissioned RAF fighter planes. They each then constructed mountings for their clocks and proudly put their 'new' timepieces on their mantelpieces where they faithfully ticked for over 80 years. Recently, the one I inherited from my dad stopped working and we thought it might have come to its end. However, a man in Broad Bay has repaired it so it will return to pride of place this weekend.

Why am I telling you this story? Because today's book is called My Grandfathers' Clock written by Jack Bacon. It has nothing at all to do with the above story but the title reminded me of it. 

The grandfathers of the clock represent an unbroken family chain through whom about a thousand years of history from 1066 to the modern day is analysed (apparently). I haven't read it but do let me know what you think.

Health, mind, body, spirit - 18th Oct 2017

Health, mind, body, spirit Natural Superwoman: The Survival Guide for Women who have Too Much to Do
Rosamond Richardson

Don't be put off by the title. This is a very balanced book with a down-to-earth approach to mental and physical well being. The author offers a pretty common sense way to achieve natural health and vitality, successful personal relationships, a happy working life and balance in all things.

Richardson is not keen on faddy diets and doesn't give much weight to psychotherapy (which is refreshing I think). She advocates sensible eating, stretching, moderate exercise, a bit of time for yourself, eco-friendly options and pure beauty care. 

It is a beautifully illustrated book which is also attractively laid out. There are nine chapters dealing with different areas of total health. The highlighted concise hints at the sides of many pages summarise main ideas and are for great for quick reference. With summer almost upon us, it is time for a revamp of your internal and external self.

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.

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