BOOK REVIEW: The Priority List
By David Menasche (Allen & Unwin, RRP $35)
The word "inspirational" is often bandied about when it comes to biographies of the famous and wealthy, but this story of a teacher who simply wanted to carry on doing what he loved best is one of the few times "inspirational" is the appropriate description.
David Menasche was a high school English teacher in Miami who managed to form a bond with many of his pupils that lasted beyond their school years.
The story behind the title of this book comes from a method the author used to give relevance to the works of Shakespeare for his pupils: when they were having trouble relating to Othello., he came up with a list of words that applies to us all (honour, love, wealth, power, career, respect) and had his pupils rank them according to the importance they might have had for Othello.
The list grew over the years to include other ideas and because part of his standard teaching plan. Not only did the list allow them to more readily connect with the characters in the books they were reading, but it also made the teens consider their own priorities.
Little India at Home
By Little India (Penguin NZ, RRP $40)
I had no idea that Little India was first opened in Dunedin 22 years ago. Now the chain has outlets throughout the country and has become a favourite among lovers of Indian cuisine, from Invercargill to Auckland.
Based on the scrummy dishes fans will be familiar with, this soft-cover book not only gives you recipes based on Little India family traditions but is complemented with gorgeous photography by Sean Shadbolt and the history of Little India itself. There are also a few pages dedicated to those essential ingredients.
It attempts to break down the misconception that Indian food is difficult to prepare and that authentic cooking equipment is required. Recipes are presented with simple steps to make it easy for even novices.
As a lover of the Onion Bhajis and Paneer Aloo Tikki, I attempted these first. I was surprised at how simple they were to make. They were absolutely delicious! The mains were also incredible. I made the Rogan Josh and the Chicken Biryani. It is true, the recipes give you a taste that you cannot get out of a jar from the supermarket.
It's been decidedly cold and dreary, making it the perfect weather to curl up with a good book. And is there anything more likely to warm the cockles of your heart on a chilly winter evening than a good murder mystery? I think not.
The Murder Bag
By Tony Parsons (Century, RRP $30)
The first of a planned trilogy featuring Detective Max Wolfe, this book has rocketed Tony Parsons into my top 5 list of favourite thriller authors.
That's quite an achievement, considering I've avoided reading any of his earlier books because I thought he came across as a bit of a sanctimonious git in his columns and opinion pieces in the British press.
Father-of-two Mark Hotton casts his eye over three books for children.
This Old Ram
Written and illustrated by Errol McLeary (Bateman RRP $20)
A truly Kiwi take on the traditional nursery rhyme This Old Man. The old ram has some fun on the farm tormenting the sheepdog, chasing sheep, chewing on cabbage trees, playing in the cowshed and scaring pukeko. Great illustrations with plenty of Kiwiana-related detail.
By Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Donovan Bixley (HarperCollins RRP $30)
By Kirsty Gunn, Maurice Gee, Paul Callaghan and Max Rashbrooke (Bridget Williams Books, RRP $15 paperback, $5 ebook)
The critically acclaimed "short books on big subjects" have moved from the digital world to print.
BWB Texts were launched in March last year and although the series was initially released in digital format, the publisher is now making selected books available in paperback form.
In Thorndon, Wellington and Home: My Katherine Mansfield Project, author Kirsty Gunn looks at the meaning of the word "home", both for herself and for Katherine Mansfield.
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