Surprise book of the month

New York Pigeon. Behind the feathers. By Andrew Garn

In our urban landscape, pigeons are scorned as feral, dirty pests. Dedicated pigeon fancier, author and photographer Andrew Garn sets out to destroy this misconception, presenting the noble pigeon as beautiful, intelligent and a friend to the human race. The population of pigeons in New York City exceeds one million. These are their stories…

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This book is something different. Amazing and comprehensive, it is full of superb photographs which highlight the beauty of these birds, the luminosity of their feathers, jewel toned eyes and their majesty in flight.

In the first section of his book Andrew Garn examines the history behind the pigeon and how they have been an integral and valued part of human society – a bird whose remains have been discovered in archaeological digs dating back to the Ancient Egyptian and middle eastern civilisations “It might be surprising that a plump, multi-hued bird that wanders our sidewalks, perches on our buildings, and flutters all about, could have the bloodlines of a dinosaur, and be a gourmet food. Also used in religious sacrifices, this bird has been both a war hero and the focus of Charles Darwin’s experiments on natural selection.” (Page 17, Garn, Andrew, The New York Pigeon. Behind the feathers, 2018).

We have heard stories of homing pigeons carrying coded messages during World War II. But did you know, that using positive reinforcement, pigeons were trained to guide US Navy missiles with an accuracy surpassing human ability? Or that they also have much better sight than us. A pigeon can see five colour spectrums from infrared to ultraviolet.
Garn examines the physiology of the pigeon (Columba livia domestica) to explain how these birds are perfectly efficient flying machines with sustained speeds of around 50mph. They can outperform any other bird in aerial acrobatics and survive in a variety of environments. He also explains how pigeons hatch and grow.

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Baby pigeon takes its first steps.  Image by Andrew Garn

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In flight.  Image by Andrew Garn

The second section of this book features stories about birds who have been rescued and rehabilitated at the Wild Bird Fund in New York. It is easy to tell how much the author values pigeons, from his stunning portraiture that captures their individual expressions perfectly, to the accompanying captions which relate each bird’s name and courageous journey. Garn’s striking work is reminiscent of a photoshoot in a fashion magazine.

Humans are not left out. Garn volunteers at the shelter. He relates his experiences treating birds and the dangers that they face living among us. You will feel empathy for these creatures. “They are struck by cars and bicycles, attacked by our dogs and cats, removed from the nest when the air conditioner is cleaned, entangled in our litter, sickened by toxins, particularly lead, which we put in the environment, and suffer abuse at our hands,” Rita McMahon, executive director of the Wild Bird Fund. (Page 143, Garn, Andrew, The New York Pigeon. Behind the Feathers 2018).

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Brooklyn. Image by Andrew Garn

 

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Marilyn.  Image by Andrew Garn

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Apollo. Image by Andrew Garn

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Elmer.  Image by Andrew Garn

We also read about the dedicated staff and other volunteers who care for the sick or injured pigeons and other city birds. And there are also New Yorkers who keep pigeons as pets, with coops in the city neighbourhoods, even raising them in apartments.
Lastly the book features a series of photographs which centres on the daily lives of pigeons set against the backdrop of the buildings and skyline of New York City.

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Image by Andrew Garn

You can reserve The New York Pigeon. Behind the Feathers online. Or enquire next time you visit the Library.

Did you know…about Frankenstein?

wp_20180626_14_25_24_proDid you know that this year, 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of the novel Frankenstein?

Written by Mary Shelley and published when she was just 20 years old, the novel grew out of a writing challenge proposed by Lord Byron when Mary and her future husband Percy Shelley were staying with him at Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva. This challenge would also produce the first modern vampire story (The Vampyre by John Polidori, published in 1819). Encouraged by Percy, Mary expanded her short story into a full novel, which was published as Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1818 with a first print run of just 500 copies. Curiously, it was published annonymously and Shelley’s name would not appear on the novel until its 1823 printing.

Regarded as one of the break out Gothic Horror novels and one of the first Science Fiction stories, the book has been adapted to both stage and screen numerous times, including the 1931 Frankenstein (and its two sequels, The Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein) staring Boris Karloff as the monster and a series of films by British studio Hammer Films which stared Peter Cushing as the infamous Doctor Frankenstein.

A common mistake is the belief that the name Frankenstein refers to the creature itself, something perpetuated in some adaptions (for example: the the Japanese film Frankenstein Conquers the World and the animated Hotel Transylvania film series). In truth it is actually the name of the main character: Doctor Victor Frankenstein.

Why not celebrate the bicentenary of this classic by reading the novel or perhaps enjoying one of the many film adaptions or even read about the author and the books impact on literature.

Tips on how to choose a book to read – by Jamie

Have you ever wasted time reading a book that leads you nowhere? Hoping it ‘gets better’ somewhere along the way – except – it doesn’t?
Work experience student Jamie has a formula for selecting books and genres to make reading a pleasurable experience every time.

Reading is a pastime enjoyed by people of all ages, but sometimes the novels that look interesting at a glance are only filled with disappointment. In this post, I am going to attempt to help you decipher whether a book is worth reading after only a chapter or two. This is only going to refer to fictional novels because there is an entirely different way of determining the quality of non-fiction, and of course children’s picture books can’t be held to the same standards. Please take what I say with a grain of salt as I am only 16 and obviously have not experienced as many books as some other people.

Before you can even begin to examine whether a book is worth reading, you need to understand what kinds of books suit you the best. If you read a lot then you won’t need any advice finding a genre, because you probably know already. If not, I’ll try to help you choose a genre or two.

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An easy way to start discovering what kinds of books best suit you is to look at the other media you consume (movies, TV shows etc.) and find out what genres they are. Most of the time the kinds of books that you enjoy are the same as the other things you enjoy. Another way to find what is best suited to your tastes is to ask friends and family to recommend books they think you’ll like. People close to you will be good at finding things you like because they spend so much time in your company. If this isn’t helpful, you could try reading short stories online to see what attracts your attention. I found myself suddenly interested in Steven King after reading a short story, called Suffer the Little Children, which he wrote.

Suffer the Little Children by Stephen King

Suffer the Little Children by Stephen King Image credit: http://www.mymbuzz.co

 

Now you have (hopefully) found a genre, you need to decide what you want in a book. Different people are attracted to different books for different reasons. This means that while an author may fall short in one way or another, it might not be an area that interested you anyway. An individual can enjoy a book purely because of the characters. Personally, I like books to be well-rounded and to focus on characters and plot development, so I find myself abandoning many books. If you can determine what aspects of reading you enjoy, it will be easier to decide if it will let you down in the end.

From the first chapters in a book it is usually clear what problems are going to persist. You might be used to continuing a book in the hope it might get good later, but I can confidently say it won’t. There isn’t enough time to read all of the good books in the world, so don’t waste time on the bad ones. I have never read a book that I found extremely boring in the beginning get better later. I’ve also discovered many books start out promising but go downhill. Books that seem promising in the beginning but later get worse are sometimes difficult or nearly impossible to identify. I will attempt to give you some tools to spot books that will disappoint you later.

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You may believe the most important part of a novel is the premise – but you are indisputably wrong. I enjoy it when a book has an exciting and engaging premise but it isn’t the most important thing. I have read books where the premise was interesting and showed amazing potential but was a letdown because of boring characters or lazy writing. I have also found books that had a seemingly boring premise to be written in a way that made the story engaging and interesting. It’s best not to judge a book solely on the potential it has, although it’s a good start. The skill of the author is what makes a novel memorable, not the basic idea behind the novel. Even if the author has the most amazing idea for a story, they can still fall flat if they don’t possess the skill that is needed. Reading reviews of your chosen novel will tell you how other people felt after reading it and can stop you wasting your time.

The dialogue between the characters in a book is a very important part of any novel. If a lot of the conversations between characters in the beginning of a book exists purely for exposition or has statements which no real person would ever say, then this is a sign of lazy writing. You can also tell if the characters are boring after only a few chapters. If a character has one trait or hobby that completely defines them and they don’t have multiple aspects to their personality, then they aren’t thought through very well. Boring characters are not good! The characters are part of what connects the reader to the action, so if they have no personality, then you, the reader, won’t relate to them or understand them. Having an abundance of scenes where the characters are sitting down and talking is also incredibly boring. It is fine occasionally but too many scenes where nothing happens is a bad sign. The author isn’t creative enough if the only time and place where characters interact is seated around a table.

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Boring! How you feel after reading pointless conversations in a book

Plot is another important part of any story. The plot can be simple or complicated as long as it is easy enough to understand and doesn’t leave large unanswered questions. If there is no hint of a plot within the first few chapters, then the novel probably isn’t worth reading. If there is no hint of plot, the entire first part of the book will be pointless. The plot also has to be interesting. I have read books with basic plotlines which take no originality to create and have no unique aspects to them. A good book should be unique so that it isn’t interchangeable with other books of the same genre. Having a predictable or overused plot is a sign of a book poorly made. There is no point in reading something that has nothing unique about it. If you even suspect the novel you are reading is going to be exactly like any number of other things you have read, then it probably won’t be worth your time.

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You know you’ve found a book you like when thinking about the story makes you happy

 

I believe I have given you a sufficient amount of tools to help you decipher the quality of what you’re reading. Now that you know how to pick a genre that suits your personality and keep you engaged it should make choosing a book much simpler. You also know a few indications of a poorly written or poorly thought-out book. You can use this information to improve your enjoyment of the things you read but in the end, it’s your choice to take my advice so feel free to do whatever you like with the information I have provided.

Harry Potter, the illustrated editions

You can now borrow the wonderful illustrated editions of the first three Harry Potter stories through the One Card Library network:  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

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These books are illustrated in full-colour and are accompanied by J.K. Rowling’s original text. We have grown used to picturing the novels’ characters as played by the actors in the Harry Potter films. British artist and illustrator Jim Kay presents the reader with a new, unique interpretation of the magical world we love.

 

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The Owl Post

 

Jim’s style appears fresh, spontaneous and sometimes whimsical. However when you examine his captivating pictures, you discover how Jim achieves an amazing amount of detail and texture through brushstroke. Jim’s images could even be used as the foundation for an animated version of the Harry Potter films.

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The Sorting Hat

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Buckbeak the Hippogriff

Peruse and enjoy some excellent features such as the Marauder’s Map, portraiture and detailed schematics of magical creatures, such as the Phoenix and the Grindylow.

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The illustrated editions offer readers a wonderful way to revisit the Harry Potter stories or introduce new young readers to the series. Read them as a family or to yourself, curled up in your favourite armchair, in the company of your magical familiar.

Reserve the Harry Potter illustrated editions through the Library’s online catalogue.

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On the Pottermore website you can  read a fascinating interview with Jim Kay, in which he discusses how he is inspired by real people to depict the characters in the Harry Potter books.

 

 

Surprise book of the month

Beautiful Goats cover.docxBeautiful Goats: Portraits of Classic Breeds

Written by Felicity Stockwell  and photographed by Andrew Perris

I have noticed that Library staff love putting Beautiful Goats: Portraits of Classic Breeds on display and it always gets borrowed. So what is so appealing about this unusual title?

I asked myself “Why do we love goats?” They eat almost everything and can butt you in the backside, then appear to laugh about it.  However, goats are also sweet natured and have pretty faces. They have personality. Maybe they are endeared to us from childhood, when we listen to the story of the brave Billy Goats Gruff outwitting the vile troll on the bridge. One of my colleagues also told me that goats have become nearly as popular as cats on the Internet.

In the first few pages of Beautiful Goats: Portraits of Classic Breeds, Felicity Stockwell looks at the history and cultural significance of goats. She writes about the agricultural products derived from goats, goats as pets, wild goats and show competitions. However, the greatest part of this book is devoted to showcasing 40 breeds of goats. Photographs are accompanied by specific information about each breed that is featured.

These goats are simply photogenic and definitely beautiful. Each goat is photographed against a simple grey background, which reflects the colour of the book’s covers.  They do not require any other artifices. Andrew Perris skilfully manages to capture so much expression on each of these animal’s faces.  The goats look proud and happy to be photographed on set. They raise their heads in regal poses as if to say “This is my good side”.

The final section of the book ‘Reportage’ takes a fun look inside a goat show, where black and white snapshots are posted billboard style, accompanied by cute captions.

It is worth browsing through this lovely book, whether you have an interest in agriculture, you would like a cheeky pet or even if you just enjoy clever photography. You can reserve Beautiful Goats: Portraits of Classic Breeds. Or enquire next time you visit the Library.

 

 

The Driver – Australia and New Zealand on the back of a truck.

20160920_160053I first heard about this upcoming title some months ago whilst flicking through the free newspaper ‘Big Rigs’ when I stopped at a roadhouse on a regular drive to Victoria. I was pretty excited when it finally arrived on my desk at the Library last week. As a fan of anything automotive, it was great to see an excellent book that focuses on an industry that is under-represented in library collections. An industry that everyone in Australia relies on, yet generally knows so little about.

20160920_160304The author is professional photographer and entrepreneur Alice Mabin. Alice is no stranger to rural Australia having grown up on the land, and photographing Aussie rural life, much of which appears in her first book, The Drover.

 

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The Driver – Australia and New Zealand on the back of a truck is literally a massive book, and it needs to be to even scratch the surface of an industry of the scale seen in Australia and New Zealand. It features 110 trucking families and businesses, of all sizes, truck makes and cargoes, providing very colourful and varied stories. It’s not just the trucks though, each spread also has the real-life experiences of those who drive the trucks, and superbly captures their passions and drives.

20160920_160232There’s 700 photographs, and Alice’s skill with the camera is clearly evident. Some were planned shots and stories, others occurred by chance as she travelled the country snapping the photo and then chatting with the driver.

20160920_160217Trucking life is certainly a culture unto itself and has suffered and triumphed through many changes and challenges since the pre-war period when trucks became a standard feature on and off of our roads. There is a timeline in the front of the book that highlights many of these important events.

Alice herself was struck by a truck whilst driving on the Sunshine Coast some years back and she accounts this incident as the trigger to understanding trucking life. Both of Alice’s books are available to borrow from SA Libraries and you can learn more about Alice on her website.

3 minutes of poetic fame

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The Writes of Spring

Open mic poetry readings at the Library

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Wednesday 28 September 2016

6.30 – 7.30pm (spectators) 6.00 – 7.30pm (performers)

North Eastern Writers Inc. will be presenting a free evening of poetry at the Library ‘The Writes of Spring’ on Wednesday 28 September 2016.

Come along to the Relaxed Reading Area of the Library and hear a range of emotive poetry and prose readings from members of the North Eastern Writers and the general public.

Or if you are a budding poet why not perform your piece? It costs $5 to participate and there is a three minute limit for each performer.  Registration is from 6pm.  Bare your soul, make a social comment, make us laugh or rap.  Whatever your style of poetry, you will be welcome.

A wine and cheese supper will be served.  Book online or telephone the Library on      8397 7333.