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Graffiti or Art? - 12th Sep 2016

Banksy: Wall and Piece

Graffiti is the lowest form of art. Graffiti is even lower than that and is just plain vandalism.  Graffiti  is art at its most pure and honest.  Graffiti is a symbol of a decline in society.  Whatever your opinion, this book of Banksy's will certainly make you think.  

Banksy's own opinion is, "The people who truly deface our neighbourhoods are rhe companies that scrawl giant slogans .. trying to make us.. buy their stuff.  They expect to be able to shout their message.. from every available surface but you're never allowed to answer back."  

He says a lot more and says it succintly and wittily.  If his words are thought-provoking, the work itself is more so.  Treat yourself to a really fascinating look at a world many of us don't bother to think about and after you've perused this book carefully then you can decide what your answer to the art vs. vandalism question is.

PS.  Banksy also said, "Copyright is for Losers."  However, he is identified as the author of the above book under the Copyright Act.

Myths, legends, folk tales, fantasies - 8th Sep 2016

The Oxford Myths and Legends is a great series of books covering stories from all over the world. There are simple fables, tales of animals and villains, fairy stories, heroic sagas, entertaining escapades, ghost stories and more.

The series covers myths and legends from Russia, England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France, Scandinavia, Yugoslavia (as was), Switzerland, Japan, China , Germany, India and more.

They are an extremely well written series and provide a consummate re-telling of many well known traditional tales as well as lesser known national legends.  There are amusing simple black and white illustrations and also attractive full-page colour plates by Kiddell-Monroe.

These books can be read simply for enjoyment or to further one's knowledge of the culture and traditions of each country.  Whatever your intent, they are well worth a read. 


If You Can't Live Without Me, Why Aren't You Dead Yet? - 7th Sep 2016

How can one resist a title like that?

This book was written by Cynthia Heimel who has been described as "an urban romantic with a scathing X-ray vision".  She is said to have humour and insight and to take pleasure in lampooning everything we hold sacred.  

(I wonder who 'we' is because it didn't include me;  I don't regard nightclubs, fashion, drugs, 'slebs' or yuppies with anything other than horror.  But that is by the by as this is not about me.)

However, if you can find some amusement in the fact that bellbottoms just keep reappearing with different names (and they weren't all that attractive the first time round) or that it's easier to talk to your teenagers about cannibalism than sex or that men named Melvin tend to be pear-shaped windbags, then this collection of essays covers all sorts of topics including men, women, men & women, trendy times, weddings, sex, and money, to name but a few.

If you read it, let us know what you think and whether you'd recommend it.

Another day at the beach - 6th Sep 2016

Between the Flags: 100 Years of Surf Life Saving in New Zealand

This book says it is "a story about ordinary people doing extraordinary things in their spare time."  That means hearing cries for help, spotting an upraised arm, differentiating struggle from play, and then battling the surf to pluck a drowning person from the sea.

The book is thoroughly illustrated with photographs, cuttings, clippings, pictures, cartoons & memorabilia but it is more than just a beautiful pictorial history - it is the story of the thousands of lifeguards who have risked their own lives to save others at the beaches up and down the country over the last 100 years.

As well as the heroism, there is excellent coverage of the talent, skill, dedication and sheer hard slog of the surf lifesaving teams and their training.  Their national and international competitions are fully covered too and make for very interesting reading.

Given the role the beach plays in most New Zealanders' lives, it is likely you will spot someone you know (or someone who once rescued you), and even if you don't, this story of our selfless New Zealand lifeguards is well worth a read.  

Here is everything you could want to know about the superb volunteer lifesavers and their clubs: friendship, hardship, triumph, tragedy, teamwork, competition, humour and everything in between.  

How to have the last word (with style) - 5th Sep 2016

How to have the last word (with style) Big Book of Insults by Nancy McPhee

"Many thanks for your book.  I shall lose no time in reading it."  Guess who said that and when??  And that's just a taster to get you started.

A razor-wit is probably something many of us have envied time and again during our lives. The ability to produce an impudent riposte that amuses your friends or the sharp one-liner that disconcerts your enemies is a skill that a lot of people would like to possess. 

This Big Book of Insults contains some of the greatest derogatory quotations and imaginatively nasty invective from a wide variety of sources, both old and new, and covers every topic under the sun from history, politics, literature and love  to  death and revenge.  

Read this book and marvel at  the verbal dexterity and wittiness on display.  I am hoping that some of it will rub off on me so that I can occasionally think of a nasty epithet in a timely fashion rather than a day too late.  I fear that I will live in hope!

And another taster for farewell:
Lady Astor to Winston Churchill:  If you were my husband, I should poison your coffee.
Churchill to Lady Astor:  Madam, if I were your husband, I should drink it.


WHISKY GALORE - 2nd Sep 2016

The world's greatest spirit (and little or no argument about it)

Whether it's Scottish, Irish, Canadian, Kentucky, Tennessee, Japanese, single malt, bourbon, rye, or blended whiskies and whether you want to drink it, gift it, or read about it, you'll find something to enjoy here today.

Maybe you're thinking about Father's Day which is rapidly approaching, maybe you need a pick-me-up, maybe you're after a special tipple to celebrate something.  Whatever the occasion, there is bound to be a whisky to suit your tastebuds and your pocket.

And here's a little traditional rhyme to help on the morning after:

I don't feel too healthy this morning
with the whisky fumes still in my head.
No, I don't feel too healthy this morning
so I think I'll just stay here in bed.

Perhaps later today I'll feel better
and maybe by late afternoon,
when my hands have stopped trembling and shaking,
I'll be able to eat..... with a spoon.

Then later on, in the evening,
I'll be back to normal, I think,
In fact I'll be feeling so healthy, 
I might just go out for a drink.

Good health to you!

Robin Morrison The South Island of New Zealand: From the Road - 1st Sep 2016

Beautiful photography

This book offers a very different South Island to the one normally presented in books of photography.  You are usually provided with stunning scenery and picturesque landscapes but here is an alternative view.

As Hamish Keith said, deliberately misquoting LP Hartley, "The imagination is another country and they do things differently there."  And that is definitely the South Island that Robin Morrison presents in this beautiful book.  

Here are the real houses and pubs and lodges and sheds and the real people who inhabit the island.  You get a feeling that you 'know' the South Island when you've perused this book. It gives you a desire to set off around the country on your own road trip just to see if you can see even half of what Robin Morrison's sensitive and imaginative lens has captured.  

It's a really lovely book and if you don't already know it, it's worth a very good look.  Even if you are already familiar with it, another visit won't disappoint.  Beautiful.

Puzzles - 31st Aug 2016

Medieval Enigmas by M Ly, N Masson, Y Caudal & P Martin

Everyone has to have one
and I belong to one only
Taking someone else's
is punished by law.
Those who don't have one
bear the flag and the cross!
On second thoughts, just the cross.
What could it be?

This book is crammed full of brain teasers, puzzles, mathematical problems, riddles, games, numerical conundrums, mysteries to decode and more. There are diagrams to illustrate some problems that are difficult to explain or unravel, and sometimes the pictures are just for fun.

Get your brain working and entertain yourself and friends by poring over some of these.  

Answer to above:  a signature!


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