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Book reviews: April 2022

3 min read

Pick of the month

The Boy From Gorge River
Chris Long
HarperCollins NZ
Reviewed by Tony Orman

The Long family of Gorge River, on the south Westland coast between Jackson Bay, south of Haast, and the mouth of the Hollyford River, have previously been featured in television programmes while parents Robert and Catherine have also written two bestsellers.

Now, son Chris has penned his thoughts and recollections of growing up in the wilderness environment. His parents sought to escape the capitalist materialistic system of urban New Zealand and carve out a self-sufficient living. He couldn’t have wished for a better classroom.

Reflecting on his wilderness upbringing, he says that the values and skills he learned at Gorge River have helped catapult him to wherever he wants to go – the reason he developed both a sense of teamwork and self-reliance, patience and resourcefulness, resilience and a few other attributes.

Since leaving Gorge River, Chris has travelled to more than 60 countries and six continents from the Arctic to Antarctica.

The book is a remarkable story about a remarkable young man who had a remarkable childhood and upbringing. Highly recommended.

More good reads

Big Boards For Families
Sandy Coughlin

Allen & Unwin New Zealand
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

Featuring more than 50 healthy, wholesome recipes for charcuterie boards to entertain friends and family, Big Boards For Families packs in a variety of food spreads to bring everyone around the table. Through stunning recipes and equally stunning photos, Coughlin shows how to artfully craft and serve food boards and piece together spreads with a range of ingredients and options.

Whether it’s the Mediterranean Shakshuka Board or Weeknight Ramen Board, the book lays down a varied selection for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and even after-school snacks and special occasions. It’s the perfect compilation of easy recipes with detailed information on the type of boards used and board assembly.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit – 120 years
Beatrix Potter
Penguin Random House
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

Most of us have grown up reading and listening to the adventures of the iconic rabbit in his blue jacket. And now, celebrating 120 years of mischief is this much-loved children’s tale re-released as a new large-format picture book featuring the iconic rabbit’s first adventure.

The simple story of the cheeky Peter as he wriggles into Mr McGrogor’s garden still brings magic to bedtime reading.
The hardback book features Potter’s original text and iconic illustrations bringing to life the beautiful world Potter created more than a century ago.

Released just in time for Easter and with a stunning gold foil cover, I daresay, the book might just make for a better present than chocolate.

The bookseller at the end of the world
Ruth Shaw
Allen & Unwin New Zealand
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

A rich and immersive memoir, The Bookseller at the End of the World is the story of a charming bookseller who runs two tiny bookshops in the remote village of Manapouri in Fiordland, in the deep south of New Zealand.

Ruth Shaw weaves together stories of the characters who visit her bookshops, musings about her favourite books, and the bitter-sweet stories from her life before bookshops.

The gritty autobiography looks at Shaw’s life, from growing up in New Zealand to travelling overseas and sailing through the Pacific for years before coming back home and eventually opening two bookstores that delight locals and surprise travellers.

It’s a charming book that would make you want to take the first flight out to share a cup of tea with Shaw at her little bookshops.

New Zealand Seabirds
Kerry-Jayne Wilson
Potton and Burton
Reviewed by Tony Orman

Here’s a beautiful book for boaties that could earn a permanent spot in the boat’s cabin. Ornithologist Kerry-Jane Wilson – a highly experienced researcher on seabirds – explains fascinating aspects about the birds, their niches in the ecosystem, and their extraordinary way.

The informative text is punctuated by some striking photos. Strongly recommended for saltwater anglers, boats, beachcombers, seaside bach owners, and anyone who admires coastal wildlife.

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