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Rumer Godden, an Author to Treasure.

Spring in Christchurch
Books; I have read so many wonderful ones in the past few weeks. It is difficult to choose which to talk about. So I will opt for China Court: The Hours of a Country House, the novel I finished with a sigh this morning. The author, Rumer Godden, was born in England in 1907. She grew up in India and returned to England as an adult, dying in Scotland in 1998. It is a mystery to me why I didn’t discover her long ago.  Read More 
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Grey Nomads take on Australia

For the past 11 weeks husband John and I have been traveling in Australia. In this country, baby boomers who migrate in their thousands – and in their campervans -- from the colder parts of Australia to the hotter central and northern areas are affectionately known as GREY NOMADS! We from New Zealand are honoured to share the title while we’re here. Our first 5 weeks was in Western Australia; Read More 
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Creative Writing and the Brain

Is there a creative writer who hasn’t at times wondered what it is that impels thousands of people to spend thousands of hours thinking about and writing made-up stories, that at best will be read by thousands of people who have got nothing better to do than read made-up stories! Is there some evolutionary imperative that has moulded our minds to seek stories? Even Steven Pinker, the cognitive scientist and author of How the Mind Works --such a wonderful title-- who controversially suggests that music confers no survival advantage and describes it as “auditory cheesecake” (p. 534), submits that fiction can, like gossip, be biologically adaptive. “Fictional narratives supply us with a mental catalogue of the fatal conundrums we might face someday and the outcome of strategies we could deploy in them.” (p. 543.)  Read More 
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King of Writing

I have never read a Stephen King novel. My daughter was a fan of his from her early teenage years and I once attempted to read one of his books but found it so gross I gave up after the first few pages. So it has taken me years to get around to buying his book On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft, a book that seems to have only positive reviews, whatever the “genre” of the writing of the reviewer. It was a page turner,  Read More 
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Oldies but Goodies; Banks, Miller, Packer

Wonderful writers to discover: Banks, Miller, and Packer.
One of the great pleasures of reading is discovering good writers who have been around a long time. Melissa Bank’s book Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing first published in 1999 is worth seeking out.  Read More 
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Books: Stockett, good; Gruen, bad.

Recently I have enjoyed a range of good reads and one very disappointing one. The first good book was Kathryn Stockett’s The Help.  Read More 
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The Joy of Writing and Reading Festivals

I have just returned from the four day Auckland Writers’ and Readers’ Festival, and a wonderful festival it was. International authors seem to enjoy coming to New Zealand, and often appear first in the Auckland festival and then in the Sydney festival. The Auckland festival had 32,000 attendees this year, quite a remarkable accolade for good books and wonderful writers in our largest city of just 1.5 million.  Read More 
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Vermont, Maine and South of Broad!

I recently bought Chris Bohjalian’s novel, “The Double Bind (Vintage Contemporaries),” published in 2007, because I really liked the two other books of his I had read, “Midwives,” and “Skeleton at the Feast.” “The Double Bind” ostensibly refers to an outdated theory about the ‘cause’ of schizophrenia that was popular when I was a clinical student back in the early 1980s. Gregory Bateson postulated that children who were consistently put into a ‘double bind’ by being given contradictory messages by their parents – such as being told by their parent that they loved them whilst simultaneously being pushed away or abused – resulted in the child retreating to an unreal world as a coping mechanism. Schizophrenia is a theme in this unusual book, set in Vermont, but there is very little one can reveal about the plot without giving away too much.  Read More 
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Truth and Beauty and Books

This past month has been a continuation of high summer for us and we’ve had lots of visitors, good food, good company and good reading! I read three books well worth writing about; all have been in my library for a while and two I have read before but felt the urge to read again. That is the pleasure of a good library -- with actual books made of paper – browsing and finding books purchased years ago and not yet read or books read years ago and perhaps almost forgotten about, beckoning to be read again. I know it is possible to browse an e-reader, but I’ve yet to embrace such a radical shift. Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel
falls into the first category; I purchased it not long after it was published in 2005 but for some reason – too many other books intruding perhaps – I hadn’t read it in spite of wonderful reviews. The reviews were correct; it is a wonderful and unexpected book!  Read More 
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Bravo Lisa Genova!

Lisa Genova’s new book “Left Neglected” about a multitasking superwoman and guilt-ridden mother, who was transformed in an unguarded instant into a ‘Left Neglect patient,’ is, in my opinion, even better than “Still Alice”. I know a lot about hemineglect; I did my PhD on it way back in the early 1980s when only a handful of researchers were studying it and publishing articles about it, and since then have published and written about it often, including cases in my books, and have supervised students in the area. (Today it is a very “popular” neuropsychological disorder to research.) So I was looking forward to reading a novel written in the “1st person” where the protagonist shares her experiences about living with left neglect.  Read More 
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