Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year - New Reading Goals

I managed to read 51 books last year. This is way off my best year when I managed 160+. So this year the goal is a realistic 100.

I am also planning to make many of these reads from the library rather than by purchase. More eBooks are also on the agenda.

Who knows where my year of reading will take me? I am sure it will be a mixture of design tempered with serendipity.

Update - I got to 76 which considering I had the upheaval of moving to a new country was not too bad.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Writing versus Written

I came across this excellent quote today in my reading:

“I don't like to write, but I love to have written. Michael Kanin”

Excerpt From: Weaver, Steve. “Poetry in Flesh.” Steve Weaver. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.

Check out this book on the iBookstore:

The quote was in the book referenced above which is Free at the iBookstore on iTunes. I like Weavers visceral and raw poetry.

As a poet I often don't want to write but when I do seeing the written gives me a great lift.

Check out my poetry blog at

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

I increased my Book collection via Xmas

Well there are some good things about the Yuletide season. My lovely family and friends purchased more books for my library. Two novels by Charlotte Grimshawe; a book of short stories by Janet Frame (published after her death); a poetry anthology about the New Zealand landscape; a book of essays by a Guardian journalist and Witi Ihamaera's latest book based on Parihaka in the 19th century. A very satisfactory haul.

I am powering through my books currently helped on by my holiday. Have read a number of pages of Volume 2 of Proust. When I read him, I enjoy the experience but then find it hard to pickup again. I guess I need more discipline!!

What books did others get for Xmas?


DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Xmas Book Reading

I am now officially on leave for 3 weeks so will be on a reading marathon. Complete Volume 2 of Proust, letters of Patrick White, two of the latest Jason Fforde Books and Volume 5 of Virginia Woolf's diary and that is just for the first day.

Need to get these out of the way so that I can start reading my Xmas presents on the 25th.

Xmas Greetings to you all (or Seasons Greetings for others..) and may you end the year with a high tally of books read and an unrealistically high goal for reads in 2013.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

To Read is To Fly

“To read is to fly: it is to soar to a point of vantage which gives a view over wide terrains of history, human variety, ideas, shared experience and the fruits of many inquiries.”

- A C Grayling, Financial Times (in a review of A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel)


DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Funny Librarian Quote

I was reading a book by Elizabeth Smither this morning. She is a famous poet internationally but was a librarian until her retirement. She was talking about how nice librarians are and mentioned the following quote from Graham Chapman of Monty Python fame.

“You see, I don't belive that libraries should be drab places where people sit in silence, that has been the main reason for our policy of employing wild animals as librarians.”

It conjures up a wonderful image about my favorite people being wild animals.


DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Words Chosen Carefully

In a recent post I mentioned a book that interviewed 12 New Zealand poets in 1985. I was wondering then what the same people would think now after 27 years. On Saturday I went to the library and found a book that answers the questions for several of the original poets.

The book is titled Words Chosen Carefully - New Zealand writers in discussion and is edited by Siobhan Harvey with photography by Liz March. Elizabeth Smither and C.K.Stead are in both books and one can see the development of their thoughts and observations on craft and the place of the writer in a New Zealand context.

In 1985 New Zealand still had a degree of cultural cringe and preferred literature from overseas, which was a reflection of the country's colonial past. In this post colonial and post modern world NZ writing is coming of age.

While this book of literary discussions is centered on New Zealand many of the observations equally apply to any country that has been colonized in he past.


Friday, December 14, 2012

The New Library Addition

My lovely and very handy wife has just built me a new bookcase that is 6 x 2 meters. This is awesome and I now have most of my books out with this new addition. All I need for my new library is a pipe, a decanter of sherry and a pair of slippers. I may never re-emerge.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Talking about Ourselves

I am reading an interesting book called Talking about Ourselves - Twelve New Zealand Poets. This book written in 1985 was based on conversations with Harry Ricketts, a British academic who teaches in New Zealand.

The 12 poets chosen cover a range of ages, stages and includes an interview with Fleur Adcock who sees herself as an expatriate as she has now spent a large part of her life in the United Kingdom.

The fact that this book was written nearly 30 years ago doesn't detract from its content. I must admit that I would like to see the poets still alive answer the questions again. While the book covers New Zealand poetry the themes are relevant internationally. Questions about local, regional, national and international poetry and influences are of particular note.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

IPad for Writers

I am finding my iPad to be a very useful writing tool. Not so much for composition but for taking notes and photographs of people and scenes that I may want to use later. Of course with Blogger on board it is great for writing blogs on the go.

It is a more up to date tool than a notebook and adds immediacy. I am taking a whole new approach to my writing now.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Ode to a Bookshop

Seated in a comfy sofa
Regarding the shelves before me
Books everywhere
Topics History America
History of Things
United Nations.

Lovely baroque
Music unobstrusive
In the background
A literary feast
By the Brandenburg

The chosen books
Beside me on the arm
Of the floral easy sofa
The Common Place book
Talking about Ourselves
Spark to a Waiting Fuse
Under the Bridge and
Over the Moon
And last but not least
New Zealand Poetry Yearbook 1955
The year of my nativity.

Smither, ricketts
Baxter and Ginn
Ireland and a rabble
Rouse of Kiwi bards.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Check out Full of Crow

Check out Full of Crow Press for some edgy poetry.

The editors of Full of Crow are active in a number of writing and art collectives, independent presses, arts advocacy organizations, and projects. We encourage and support the promotion of work by frequently marginalized writers and the under-represented. We encourage submissions from emerging writers as well as those with numerous publication credits.

We are looking for content that is bold and unapologetic, presented in thoughtful and purposeful ways. We like work that touches on the surreal, the mythic… enduring themes and images that are rooted in something deeply personal but connect to something transcending and universal. As many editors say, we know what it is when we see it.

I liked the poems by Cat Conway


DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Joy of Books Viral Clip

Check out this YouTube clip that has gone viral. A must see for all booklovers. A great parody of the fashion industry as well.


I will be interested in your reactions :)

DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Sleeping with a Good Book

All good and true book-lovers practice the pleasing and improving avocation of reading in bed....No book can be appreciated until it has been slept with and dreamed over. ~ Eugene Field, Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac (1896) 

What a great quote. I always read in bed before going to sleep and it has been a nightly ritual for me from my earliest years of reading. The bed becomes a magic carpet to whisk you away into the world of the book. And now with eBooks I can read under the covers without waking my wife!!

DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Top 10 Writers - Share Yours

My current Top 10 Writers/Poets (as of today) are:

1. Virginia Woolf
2. John Fowles
3. Philip Larkin
4. Graham Greene
5. Jasper Fforde
6. Maurice Gee
7. C.K. Stead
8. Ernest Rutherfurd
9. Allan Ginsberg
10. Frank O'Hara

Let's see how this list morphs over time.

DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Friday, November 16, 2012

Jasper Fforde - Alternative Novelist

 I got a recommendation from a blog I read that led me to the works of Jasper Fforde. Jasper Fforde (born 11 January 1961) is a British novelist. Fforde's first novel, The Eyre Affair, was published in 2001. Fforde is mainly known for his Thursday Next novels, although he has written several books in the loosely connected Nursery Crime series and has begun two more independent series: The Last Dragonslayer and Shades of Grey.

I started with The Eyre Affair and went from there. His books are well written and present an alternative literary reality. Thursday Next one of hios characters has to find the villain who has stolen Jane Eyre out of her book. Forget about reality, but the book is a great read for those who like dystopian and alternative reality writings.

Highly recommended author. I just found out today that he is 51 years old (or young). I got the sense from reading the book that he was much younger.

DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The eBook is dead - a Tale of A.Mazon

It was late in the year 2097 when a dreadful computer virus hit. The virus caused every eBook in existence to dissolve on the owners devices (remember the cloud). Consternation and panic were rife, all knowledge had disappeared. eBook sellers went out of business, the panic was widespread. Since the 2050 Physical Book Destruction Act had been enacted and brutally enforced, all physical books had been burnt as archaic artefacts.

All the great libraries had been digitised and the smelly, old ancient manuscripts had been destroyed to save space. Librarians had been reassigned to other duties.

But a far seeing merchant called Mr A. Mazon had hidden a treasure trove of physical books in a secret location and then got a team of Russian programmers to write an eBook destruction virus that would be deadly to eBooks. He was onto a winner, he sold his p-Books at inflated prices and made a mint.

The moral of the story is that whatever happens A.Mazon will still make a profit.

DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Secret to Writing well - Reading

 It is an undeniable fact that great writers are usually good readers. If you read the autobiographies of writers you will see a number of references to reading. A good example of this phenomenon is found in the Diaries of Virginia Woolf, the famed 20th century modernist writer. The Diaries are littered with reference to an eclectic group of authors and books, ancient and modern. She appreciated the great writing of others though there was only one writer she wished she could write like and that was Katherine Mansfield.

Reading allows us to brush shoulders with writers from throughout the centuries. This reading exposure then has an effect on our own writing styles. Some writers in their formative years have tried to write in the style of others. This derivative writing then develops into the writers own individual style.

So prospective writers become avid and adventurous readers.

DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Tip for Reading More Books

I have found the way to read more books. It is really easy and it just involves not spending time on the Internet. We recently moved to a farmlet out of town and we can only get very expensive wireless Internet. At $20 per GB I am severely restricting the time I spend on the Net.

I now have several hours a day freed up which I spend reading. It is amazing how many more books you can get through. I have gone from 2-3 books a month to 3-4 books a week - awesome.

DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Albatross Years

This autobiographical book is gripping in it's nautical interest. It was a book that I picked up in a fire sale at the library and then forgot. I found it on the bookshelf yesterday and started reading. I am hooked.

I don't like boats as a rule so I was surprised that I got caught. The book tells of the life of an American lad who goes from being a hobo, riding the rails in early 20th century USA, to a merchant seaman who sailed the seven seas and had many varied and interesting experiences along the way.

The writer, tells of many ships from enormous to very small that he sailed on and of the characters he met. He was in merchant fleets during world war 2 and the memories from this time are crisply portrayed and give a sense of the danger that these sailors underwent.

Another point of interest is that the writer is an auto-didact and very well read. The book is littered with literary gems which was unexpected.

An ideal book for a rainy weekend.

DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Monday, August 6, 2012

Virginia Woolf's Work Ethic

For most of her writing life, Woolf dedicated three hours of her morning to writing. She was very focused over this time and this concentrated effort fuelled her high quality literary output. Many of us bemoan the fact that we don't have enough time in the day to get things down, but our problem is usually lack of focus.

I am applying the 3 hour focus to my working life and it is great. I suspect that may people do less than 3 hours of productive work in an 8 hour day due to the distractions of the workplace.

I visited the shed that Woolf wrote in at Monks House and it was secluded and quiet. Ideal for the mind work involved with writing.

Frank Sargeson, a well known New Zealand writer, had a quiet bedroom, very plain where he loved to write. He said it always amazed him the characters, sounds and sights he could conjure up while staring at a plain Pinex wall.

Be disciplined and see what you can achieve!!

DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Friday, May 18, 2012

I Can Understand Proust Dropouts

Slugged on tonight and read another 10 pages of Within a Budding Grove, Volume 2 of In Search of Lost Time by Proust. The writing style is great but somewhat Dickens on steroids!

I almost shudder when I pick up the book but usually enjoy the read once I get started.

I shall complete my mission.

Friday, May 11, 2012

This Program is now Funding my Book Purchases

As you all know I love books and reading. I joined an online program called CTP a year ago and I checked today and I am making about $170 USD per month into my PayPal account. Unexpected and very welcome.

So guess what I got online at the Book Repository and purchased some collections of poetry and essays by Rainer Rilke and Dana Gioia.

This is awesome.

You can join this program by clicking on the link:

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Beating the Block

I usually have around 20 books that I am reading. No problem as I love reading, but every so often I get readers block where I don't want to read at all. The cure is usually, believe it or not, to start reading a book that is mind candy, usually a mystery or thriller. Such books don't draw on to much mental juice and gives your brain a rest.

Proust is a heavy read and some light relief gives me the energy to grind on with my Proustian pursuit.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Proust Marathon

Reading through Proust's opus is like doing an intellectual marathon. I picked up Volume 2 again last night and started reading again. I will get there.. I will...won't I?

PS I did have now picked it up to read 3 days in a row.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The New iPad is great for reading on

My lovely daughter bought me an iPad3 sweet girl that she is. Works well with my tired old eyes. But I am writing this on my iPhone as aforesaid daughter is trying out the iPad...

Will give it a real test drive tomorrow.

Monday, April 9, 2012

In Tearing Haste

I really enjoy reading collections of letters. It is now a list art form that I cannot see being replaced by email exchanges.

In Tearing Haste is a collection of letters between Deborah Devonshire (of Chatsworth fame) and Patrick Leigh Fermor the WW2 hero in Crete.

The letters are enlightening and cover a fascinating period of history. It is a glimpse into a lifestyle that very few of us will ever directly experience.

Highly Recommended.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Dr Kelps Quote of the Day

“I don’t believe in personal immortality; the only way I expect to have some version of such a thing is through my books.”

Isaac Asimov

Asimov was not just a science fiction writer, either. He holds the distinction of being the only author so far to have at least one work in every possibly category of the Dewey decimal system (

The fact about the Dewey system is new to me. That is a mighty accomplishment and augurs well for Asimov's immortality (or the next 1000 yrs perhaps).

DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Friday, January 20, 2012

Dear Money

 This book really gripped me and was a very good reflection on the artistic lifestyle as compared to life in high flying corporate life. The end has a twist that is realistic and I would recommend it. My early thoughts on this book including the authors name are in recent posts about I Love the Library.

DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Reunited with Old Friends - My Books

Regular readers of this blog know that I spent three years, until October 2011, living in the UK. At the time we shifted there from New Zealand I had to leave my beloved home library behind and was only allowed, by she who must be obeyed, to take 100 of my favourite books with me. The idea was that I would buy no books and use the public library. So what happened? You guessed it, I ended up with nearly 500 new books.

I now have all my old books and new books reunited and it is just like a party or conference where you meet old friends. I forgot some of the gems I had and it has been a real pleasure opening the boxes and seeing books I had forgotten about.

I have been buying books since a chance meeting with hundreds of back editions of the Readers Digest when I was 10 years old. My books track my life as a teenager, student, young married man, father, uncle, friend, book club attender, library lover and shows my slow maturity!!

My best buy in the UK, by the way, was a first edition of Virginia Woolf's book, Flush. I discovered this in a seconhand bookshop in Alnwick (Barter Books).

Well I must go and get back to the reading.



DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Traveling in my head

The great thing about reading is that you can travel in your head (imagination department). In the last 24 hours I have read myself to New York (twice in fact once NY 1764 and the second NY 2004!), China, Maine and London - I am exhausted. Which makes me think that we also travel in time, every book is a time capsule.

I just love reading.


DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Post Colonial Children's Literature

I recently found an excellent course on iTunes from La Trobe University in Melbourne Australia. it is on post colonial children's literature and it is fascinating.

The lecturer is very entertaining but brings the salient points across in a very clear way.

The themes of colonialism, post colonialism, the Aboriginal and European voice and who owns the story is gripping listening.

Not a book but about books. The story of Little Black Sambo in colonial times and it's form in post colonial times is provocative and challenging.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I Love the Library - the sequel

In my blog yesterday I mentioned about the two books I got out at the last moment. I got a start on both of them yesterday and will give my impressions below.

Book One

The English Class by Ouyang Yu

The story follows the journey of a young Chinese man from being a truck driver, learning English by himself and then ending up at university studying English. This is a tale of two cultures and the aspirations of a young man who wants to escape China. It is well written and the storyline moves forward briskly. The characters are rounded and I am hooked already.

Book Two

Dear Money by Martha McPhee

This story follows the adventure of a 38 year old novelist who becomes a Wall Street trader on a dare. It is a poignant look at the
interrelationships between art and business, between the avocation of literature and the pursuit of wealth. This will appeal to those who want a glimpse into the corporate life through the eyes of an artist. Not as compelling as The English Class but a good read nonetheless.

I love books...

Grant aka drkelp
Books completed 2012 = 0


DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Friday, January 6, 2012

I Love the Library

It is a wet Saturday here so I took my two daughters to the library. We are all readers and the library is our favourite place (apart from the Internet). As we have only recently returned to New Zealand from the UK we had to supply proof of address to the library. Until we provided it we could only take out one book each!! Well we took the info in today and now we can take out 20 books each. Yippee.

The downside is that we got to the library 10 minutes before closing so I only had time to get two books.

Book One
The English Class by Ouyang Yu

Book Two
Dear Money by Martha McPhee

They both look great, leave a comment if you have read either of them.

Well I'm off to have a relaxing read.

Keep well

Grant aka drkelp

DK's Top Traffic Exchanges

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy Reading

Last year was not a great year of reading for me. Only read 37 books which is a new low for me. Still the books I did read were excellent and I sucked the goodness out of them. My goal for this year is 100 books which I hope to achieve plus some.

I am still wading through Proust but I have a lot of biography and letters to read in 2012 including the letters of the Mitford sisters, Nigel Nicholson and Philip Larkin.

Wish me luck :)



DK's Top Traffic Exchanges