A Word about Arts and Literature

We are all champing at the bit waiting for the rescheduled Word Christchurch Festival 2021 (now on 10-13 November). If you're after some great books in the meantime, our new Arts and Literature reading guide has it all covered. 

If you’re fascinated by language and the craft of writing turn to our Writers on writing list - whether it's the creative process, or how a writer’s life unfolds, something in this list will appeal to you.

Enjoy idiosyncratic close readings of seven stories by Anton Chekhov, Ivan Turgenev, Nikolai Gogol and Leo Tolstoy, with maestro George Saunders in 'A swim in a pond in the rain: in which four Russians give a master class on writing, reading, and life' by George Saunders.

Another hot tip is 'The New Yorker Fiction Podcast'. Every week a different author reads a story from the magazine’s archive and discusses it with fiction editor, Deborah Treisman.

For Inspiring and illuminating literary biographies that reveal the person behind the pen turn to our Biography: On Authors list and get to meet Patricia Grace on the page, if not in the flesh, in her newly published biography.

From the Centre: a writer's life  is joyous and inspiring. Writing Māori characters in Māori contexts, Grace takes readers through her childhood, her education, marriage and up to the present day. An insight into the creative process and her distinctive voice, she presents a picture of a determined, subversive and nuanced thinker. Read Fee's review for more of the flavour of this fantastic memoir.

For the true bibliophile try our Books about Books list were you will meet book store proprietors and fall in love with amazing libraries. In 2018, WORD Christchurch hosted the hilarious Shaun Bythell as he reflected on life in the largest second-hand bookshop in Scotland. His 'The Diary of a Book Seller' wonderfully expands on this with stories of eccentric patrons, accounts of stock purchase trips to auction houses and estates and much more. A wonderful taste of WORD, plus, you can check out the write up of this event when you are, inevitably, hungry for more.

Catalogue record for The cabinet of calm

Like playing with language, enjoy a well-constructed sentence, take joy in the multitudes of meaning of words and their combinations? Then our Language and humour is for you. Be soothed and delighted at the same time by 'Soothing Words for Troubled Times' by Paul Jones. If you Iike a good pun, or are fascinated by the origin of words and their meanings there are more books for you to discover there.

Seeking to quench your thirst for reading but struggling to find time? Try our Essays list and read stories well told and arguments well made on an eclectic range of subjects to sate your hunger for knowledge. Through New Zealand Essays build a picture of 21st century Aotearoa by reading these snapshots of Kiwi living, starting with Helen Clark's Climate Aotearoa.

Climate change looms large for all global citizens but what does it mean for Kiwis and how should we respond? To provide some of the answers former Prime Minister Helen Clark has assembled scientists, engineers, researchers and social advocates to assess our national bill of health when it comes to global warming in Climate Aotearoa: What's Happening & What Can We Do About It. Thorough and practical with a research-based mix of calmness and urgency, these essays offer suggestions for our future in Aotearoa.

Pondering the meaning of life or looking for consolation? Try dipping into our Popular Philosophy list and find some meaning with 'The Consolations of Philosophy' by Alain de Botton. Join Anthony McGowan and his dog go about their daily walks tackling moral dilemmas, considering ethical decisions, and even the point of life itself in 'How to teach Philosophy to your dog'.

Catalogue record for The consolations of philosophy

If you are hoping to still see David Mitchell, author of the novel Utopia Avenue, collaborate with our own Tiny Ruins (fingers crossed this session makes it to the rescheduled WORD) here's something to get your teeth into.  Pete Townshend, the songwriter and lead guitarist of The Who, writes an honest, unsparing autobiography detailing his great and less great moments (including hotel trashing escapades and battles with drugs and alcohol) in 'Who I am', from our Music Biography list.

In 'Memories, Dreams and Reflections' by Marianne Faithfull, the singer-songwriter has compiled nostalgic anecdotes and vignettes detailing whatever strikes her fancy; be it her friends, music, drugs, encounters with famous counterparts… tales imparted with a keen sense of wry humour. The book spans her early work in pop and rock music in the 60s, her struggle with drug abuse in the 1970s, and her more recent battle with cancer.

For the ultimate hippie trip there is Waging Heavy Peace: a Hippie Dream by Canadian-born Neil details his upbringing (including the time he contracted polio and almost died), and his career from ’66 when he set out for California to pursue his musical ambitions. Written in a conversational style, this is full of fragmented thoughts and anecdotes about everything from how technology has changed the face of music, to the nature of ageing; if you want to take a wild ride inside the mind of Neil Young, this is the bio for you.

The Arts are what forms our sense of who we are; through music, fashion, dance, film and fine art. Our culture is formed and shapes our societies' opinions and values. What better place than our our Arts and literature reading guide to learn more. From It’s Show Time, Fashion, Art appreciation to Art adventures  there is something for everyone to explore in the world of the Arts.