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Recommended Reads: 16 August


With Kate de Goldi

Every Tuesday morning, the Paper Plus Book Review looks at three new reads, and gives a candid review of each.

Irma Voth by Miriam Toews (Faber & Faber)*

A heartbreaking and beautiful novel about life after being brought up in a Mennonite community, by one of Canada's most celebrated writers.

Irma Voth entangles love, longing and dark family secrets. The stifling, reclusive Mennonite life of nineteen-year-old Irma Voth - newly married and newly deserted - is irrevocably changed when a film crew moves in to make a movie about the community. She embraces the absurdity, creative passion and warmth of their world but her intractable and domineering father is determined to keep her from it at all costs. The confrontation between them sets her on an irrevocable path towards something that feels like freedom as she and her young sister, Aggie, wise beyond her teenage years, flee to the city, upheld only by their love for each other and their smart wit, even as they begin to understand the tragedy that has their family in its grip.

*Toews is pronounced "Teeves"

The Art of Mindful Walking by Adam Ford (Allen & Unwin)

A lovely, quirky book about the business of walking and reflectiveness and how important it is to have it in our lives...by a retired Anglican priest with an MA in Indian religions.

Mindfulness is a technique of focused awareness that has its roots in Buddhism. It makes the present more vividly tangible. heightens the senses, and increases our ability to think clearly and make positive life choices.

The Art of Mindful Walking uses the concepts of mindfulness to explore the activity of walking as an exercise for both body and mind.

As an Anglican priest and former Priest-in-Ordinary to the Queen, a lecturer in Buddhism, and a devoted walker, Adam Ford is an inspiring guide with a refreshingly eclectic viewpoint. Contemplating the concept of purposeful walking, he applies the notion of mindfulness to walks ranging from a simple journey to work to a personal odyssey in the Australian outback. This book celebrates and enhances those moments: both for the hardened hiker and those who like to contemplate past walks from the comfort of their armchair.

The Best of Best New Zealand Poems edited by Bill Manhire and Damien Wilkins (VUP)

The best NZ poems of the last ten years - a fabulous overview of the great variety in NZ poetry... something for everyone.

Since 2000, the online anthology Best New Zealand Poems has showcased the most exciting and memorable poetry produced in this country. Here, for the first time, is a selection of this work in book form. Edited by founding publisher Bill Manhire, and writer Damien Wilkins, this anthology is an indispensable guide to the richness, strangeness and liveliness of contemporary poetry.

With over 60 poets appearing, there's classic work by some of the best-known figures in our writing, including Sam Hunt, Allen Curnow, Jenny Bornholdt, Cilla McQueen, Elizabeth Smither, and Ian Wedde; there are also compelling poems from new writers. Each poet's own note on the selection illuminates the work and takes us inside the writer's personal workshop. The first decade of the new century comes into view as a vibrant, argumentative, restless period, with our poets unafraid of either political engagement or strong personal feeling.


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