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Heath Robinson - 11th Jan 2017

Britain at Play 
by W Heath Robinson, edited by Geoffrey Beare

Although William Heath Robinson is best known for his humorous illustrations of ingenious and impossibly complicated contraptions for doing very simple things, his mechanical gadgets were only part of his prolific output.

His work in this book illuminates the British at work, at play, at rest, on holiday, in courtship and indulging in ridiculously outlandish variations on popular sports - such as pogo golf or aquatic golf, luge gliding, sedentary tennis for the middle-aged, or noosing feral cats. Come to think of it, Gareth Morgan may want to hear about this. Perhaps someone could point him to this item.

His pictures are charming, eccentric, inventive, and unforgettable. Get yourself a copy of this book or one of the many other Heath Robinson books and while away a pleasant few hours looking at all these improbable mechanical devices.

War Paint - 10th Jan 2017

No, not what you are thinking. Not the normal meaning of war paint.

War Paint: Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden
Their Lives, Their Times, Their Rivalry

by Lindy Woodhead

This book is the story of Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden, two extraordinary businesswomen in the beauty industry. It is more than just a biography.

I won't write a review of this book. I will simply quote the opinion of a Mr Page which was clearly expressed in a handwritten note loosely enclosed in a copy we bought.

"Never have I read such an awful history of a man-mad woman, turned Catholic and going to mass at 6am, and then dead drunk before the day was out. Lived with 11 men, married and divorced, two killed in war and accidents, all drunks...nothing but parties galore. Money squandered and two rotten old parents, an appalling life. I wonder she could expose it all. Had some ability but brainless. Was a horrible fool."

Don't let his opinion put you off completely. Read it yourself and make up your own mind!


True Crime - 9th Jan 2017

Great Cases of Scotland Yard 
with an introduction by Eric Ambler

For anyone interested in true crime, this is good reading. The most publicised and notorious cases of the world-famous Scotland Yard are dramatised by well-known authors. The ten stories in this two-volume set are written by such greats as Winston Graham, Emlyn Williams, Michael Innes and Ludovic Kennedy, to name but four.

Dr Crippen is a name everyone knows (and his story is told in here) but there are also tales of lots more poisoners, murderers, rapists, forgers, robbers and so on who you may or may not have heard of. Grab yourself a copy of this book and sit back for an entertaining weekend of reading.

Alternatively, why not come into the shop and peruse the books in our true crime section? You may find something to delight and/or horrify you as you lounge around reading in your holiday deck chair.

New Zealand Falcon - 6th Jan 2017

If you happened to read the Otago Daily Times newspaper this morning, you will have seen the article on the front page about the pair of New Zealand falcons nesting unusually close to town this year. There was a brilliant photo of the two parents readying themselves to fend off attackers and protect the clutch of baby birds in the nest. Very interesting.

And then I came in to work and the first book my eyes alighted on was Neville Peat's 
The Falcon and the Lark: A New Zealand High Country Journal
and I thought that I would do today's item on the falcon. It was clearly meant to be.

The falcon is unusual in that it can hunt and kill animals larger than itself. It is New Zealand's swiftest bird of prey. Neville Peat says they are "the wildest thing in our skies". They have been likened to the sealion as they are not intimidated by humans, unlike many species. Have a look at the ODT article and learn a little about this beautiful native wild bird, which sadly is endangered.

New Zealand Fashion - 5th Jan 2017

A few years ago, quite by chance, I went to visit the Eden Hore fashion collection. It's a museum not far from Naseby on the road to Dansey's Pass, set in the grounds of the Glenshee homestead. I have never had an interest in frocks or gowns of 1970s New Zealand and nor do I have any particular interest in fashion so I was pleasantly surprised by how absorbing the visit turned out to be.

Coincidentally, the museum also houses a huge display of whisky decanters (Jim Beam to be precise) and in many ways that was even more fascinating than the dresses.

But  that is all by the by. Remembering that trip caused me to glance through a book on New Zealand fashion that has recently arrived in the shop.

The Dress Circle: New Zealand Fashion Design since 1940
By Lucy Hammonds, Douglas Lloyd Jenkins & Claire Regnault

It covers 70 years of fashion and design in New Zealand. It is beautifully illustrated and the photographs pull you in even if you are a fashion Philistine like me. And even I recognised some of the great names in fashion history.  If I found the museum fascinating, then it occurred to me that there must be lots of people who would find this book irresistable.

Final recommendation - go and visit the museum.

Welcome to mid-summer in Dunedin - 4th Jan 2017

It's January 4th and it's been summer here for well over a month!

Just to give you an idea of what it's like in Dunedin today, we have howling gale force southerly winds gusting up to 120 kph, heavy downpours of rain, a hail storm or two, a flurry of snow, looming black storm clouds, and snow actually falling down to 800metres. And we like Dunedin!

Of course, our normal summer weather is gorgeous with clear blue skies, blazing sunshine, light breezes, not a cloud to be seen, and lovely warm balmy days. That describes Dunedin perfectly so don't be put off by today's weather report. Go on, stick to your plans and move down here to join us in this (normally) tropical paradise that we call Dunedin.


Wearing the tartan - 3rd Jan 2017

Wearing the tartan So You're Going to Wear the Kilt
by J Charles Thompson

Maybe you are going to be someone's best man. Maybe you are getting married. Maybe you are attending a graduation. Perhaps you have a special occasion to celebrate. Possibly you are just trying out your tartan for the first time.

Be aware that everyone loves a man in a kilt and everyone notices a man in a kilt so you want to be sure that you are doing everything correctly. This little book will steer you clear of all the usual faux pas and set you on the right path to looking good (and being correctly attired) in your kilt.

Whether it's the footwear, the socks, the shirt, the belt, the waistcoat, the jewelry, the medals, the garters or the sash (or what to do in very cold weather), you will find the answers clearly explained in this essential guide. Make sure you aren't the one singled out for having messed up standard Scottish practice!!

Enjoy your special day. Get a copy of this book and stride out with confidence.

New Year's Resolution - 2nd Jan 2017

New Year's Resolution Happy New Year to everyone from all of us here at Hard to Find Books. We are wondering what resolutions people have made for 2017. You may have decided on weight loss or healthier eating or more exercise or learning a new sport or embarking on an adventure. On the other hand. . . 

Read more good literature!

If you have chosen self-improvement for your New Year's resolution then we can help. We have a huge selection of really great books which will make your resolution a real pleasure to stick to. You won't find that your resolve has fallen by the wayside after a week or so. We have enough books to keep you occupied for years, never mind just for 2017!

(Of course, we can also help with books on exercise, weight loss, diet, travel, sport or whatever else you have opted for because we have books on nearly every subject under the sun). But you'll be in seventh heaven if it's good books you are after.  Come on in and see us or order a few from our website.

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