I am a bookish girl, and nothing pleases me more than libraries, notes in margins and the smell of binding glue. But recently I was given the super lovely gift of a Kindle (thanks Ma & Pa!) – and now I’m a convert.


{My Kindle, snug in its blue case – the device itself  powers a light in the case!}

Why I love my Kindle:

  • All the hits, for free. I HEART HEART HEART that most of the classics are available for free. Doing some top-level math, the cost of a kindle would be covered by just a tiny stack of Penguin Classics. So far I’ve read Pride & Prejudice, Little Women and Anna Karenina, without trotting down to the library.
  • Space (and back) saving. It lets me cut down on the space required to store my belongings. Currently most of my possessions is books… and moving house is painful. Books are heavy! With the Kindle I can store hundreds in my satchel.
  • DIY magazines. You can push long articles from the web to your Kindle to read later as a separate ”book”. A Chrome extension gives you this ability with just a click. I am looking forward to making my own awesome magazines to read on flights and more.
  • Freedom to connect. I got the 3G model, which seems superfluous in the age of wi-fi. But should I ever make it to the backwaters of Borneo again, I’ll never spend hours searching for an internet café. A 3G Kindle will let me check email and the web (albeit slowly) from anywhere on the planet.


Books I have lined up to read:

  • Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour by Kate Fox. I did a few anthropology papers at university and loved them, so I ordered this book for a bit of nostalgia. Social anthropology starts at home for Fox; rather than trot off to the Amazon, she looked at her own tribe.
  • Here She Comes Now (3 short stories) by Chad Taylor. ‘Here She Comes Now’ is a collection short stories about modern relationships and family tensions, with a focus on dialogue. The author’s 2004 novel, Electric is one of my favourite New Zealand books.
  • Do the Work by Steven Pressfield. A productivity guide aimed at writers, based around the Art Of War. How could I resist?
  • Just Kids by Patti Smith. Just Kids chronicles Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe’s time in New York before they found fame. I’m sure many of you have read this already and you’ll agree, it’s captivating. I am half way through it already and I don’t want it to end.
  • The Wasp Factory: A Novel by Iain Banks. I have read some of the science fiction, and rather like his 2003 novel Dead Air. A friend recommend this book to me as “life changing”, and I can’t think of higher praise than that.

I think at this stage the Kindle and I are entering into a long-term relationship, but if I fall in love with a book, or appreciate its design aesthetic, I’ll probably buy a hard copy. Or should I happen to drift into a second-hand bookstore, I’m sure I’ll emerge with a bag full of new-to-me books.


A Bookshelf For Writers

I’ve been sorting my bookshelves out, culling and returning books. For years I have organized spines by colour, but a change of mood saw me rearrange everything thematically. It was there in the new non-fiction section I discovered that alongside more fashion/design/photography books than is sensible for flatting, I also own a massive horde of books on writing. Despite a lot of chafe, there are some real gems on my bookshelf, concerning both the technical and holistic side of scribbling.

As I always enjoy peeping at other people’s ‘professional’ bookshelves – “Oh so that’s how designers keep their souls intact!” – I thought I would share my favourite books on writing with you.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life : Anne Lamott

The advice is simple – just do it bird by bird. One little part at a time. This is super advice for your choice of horrid essays, magazine articles that don’t research themselves, poems (stanza by stanza) or the great American novel. The book is divided into short chapters with a view to encourage clarity, energy and fearlessness in your writing. Lamott is also a very funny woman, who has a charmingly deft way of characterising everyone she knows; from random women she meets while dress shopping, to her son Sam.

A Writer’s Book of Days : Judy Reeves

A Writer’s Book Of Days (subtitled ‘A Spirited Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life‘) is a yearlong program of sorts.  Each date has a specific topic suggestion, accompanied by thoughts on writer’s block, the quirks and idiosyncrasies of published authors, and expectation management. Despite the title (and naff design) I feel Book Of Days is more on the practical rather than spiritual side of things. I have to admit, hefty helpings of Miller and Kerouac helped give it credibility to me as a literary snob. If you’re stuck, don’t know where to start or just need a daily kick in the pants, this is a good book to pick up.

Ogilvy on Advertising : David Ogilvy

To give you an idea of this book’s age, the author’s picture depicts Ogilvy thoughtfully puffing on a pipe inside his office. No matter, despite the age of the book, the lessons are timeless. Ogilvy lays out the foundations of good advertising, laying out the basics of salesmanship and how writing must work to achieve the end goal, profit. For example, sex sells, but only if it’s relevant to the product – cook tops and nudity don’t mix. The ads featured are shockingly outmoded, but are wonderful to learn from (and look at – think lots of eighties boobs).

Need proof that Ogilvy’s rules still apply? Andy Maslen has picked out elements of Ogilvy’s wisdom that work for the web.

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within : Natalie Goldberg

Writing Down The Bones focuses on writing as a spiritual practice (Goldberg is a Zen Buddhist) but goes down nicely, like a cup of Matcha green tea. My favourite chapter is on Composting – the process of composting your thoughts, letting the good stuff eventuate from the pile of matter. This notion is something I refer to almost daily since I first read the book a few year ago (you can read it here for free). Another thing this book taught me was to be specific. Learn the names of things and use them fastidiously; orecchiette not pasta, affenpinscher not puppy.

On Writing : Stephen King

Who knew old King was a coke-head? Not I, but that’s just one part of King’s story. A biographical tale mixed in with advice, On Writing is an inspiring tale of how you can make it from nothing, lose it all and come back again. The practical side of the book is truly wonderful, you’re learning from a master who will give you the blade to sharpen your dialogue as pointy as vampire fangs and cut excellent deals once you gain the attention of publishers. My copy is a trashy little trade paperback, and as you can see from the photographs, it’s been well loved.

100s & 1000s Of Calories

Dearest Frankie Magazine has just emailed me to announce the release of their latest recipe book, Sweet Treats.

sweet treats is a nostalgic collection of 39 indulgent recipes from a time gone by. Delicacies range from peanut brittle, honeycomb and mint patties to caramel fudge, lollipops and coconut marshmallows. Each treat evokes memories of tuckshop lines and fete cake stalls. It will delight anyone with a sweet tooth!

I own their first book, Afternoon Tea (as does everyone in the house, it seems to live permanently on our kitchen table), so I’m really excited to check this compendium of sugar out. If the recipes are half as good as the styling…

[click the images for full-sized, readable recipes]

HOW AMAZING ARE THE CANDY HEARTS?! Could they be my new business cards? Or just favours to hand out to sexy strangers and the already beloved.

Things mine would probably say:

  • “You’re a hot babe”,
  • “Can I show you my narwhal?”,
  • “Totes rad”,
  • “Mega number one dreamboat”
  • “Vodka and soda, please”…

Typical. Anyway, Sweet Treats for the win!


Apparently it is Neuromancer’s 24th birthday today! Above is a selection of the cover renditions over the years. If you haven’t done so already (cult classic, much?), check it out – it’s a great read, along with William Gibson’s other books. My favourite is probably Pattern Recognition, due to the rampant brand and Internet references.

According to IMDB, Neuromancer the movie is in production for release in 2009. Will it surpass Blade Runner or the Matrix? Here’s hoping!