Book Review: The Vanlife Companion, by Lonely Planet

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_the_vanlife_companion.jpgI love the Lonely Planet books for many reasons.  They are bound beautifully, they have lovely pictures and they are dense with all the facts you need to know about the subject concerned. The Vanlife Companion ticks all three boxes.

The three headings in the contents page set the reader up for the journey ahead.  Under the first, ‘Welcome to Vanlife,’ there is information for those adventurers who are contemplating buying and setting up a vehicle. Then ten vanlifers are interviewed. Each has a different vehicle and all aspects of their lives are covered as they travel the highways and byways. At the end of each section the travellers are asked the same five questions regarding the conversion, the things they experienced during their travels, both good and unexpected, their further plans for the van and their three top tips for vanlife. Accompanying photographs add further depth to their stories.

And then there are the journeys themselves, the icing on the cake. Twelve countries and twenty routes are covered in the usual exacting detail which is a hallmark of  Lonely Planet books. Two routes are in New Zealand, one in each island. Using the Southern Alps circuit as an example of how each route is described, there is a detailed map of the route, its starting point and each of the following fifteen points of interest marked. A description is given of what is to be found at each point, how long it might take to travel between each one as well as a short account of the history of the region around it. And, of course, the ubiquitous, glorious photos.

Other routes are in Australia, Nepal, West Africa, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Germany, Chile, Argentina and the USA. An index at the back of the book makes it easy to look up any particular route or place.

Did I mention that I love such books from Lonely Planet? They make great gifts too, if you can bear to part with them.

Reviewed by Lesley Vlietstra

The Vanlife Companion
by Lonely Planet
ISBN 9781787018488

Book Review: The Writing Life – Twelve New Zealand Authors, by Deborah Shepard

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_the_writing_life_shephardThere are so many things to like about this book, The Writing Life Twelve New Zealand Authors. Deborah Shepard has interviewed the twelve authors and produced a book incorporating the very personal interviews, accompanying photographs and extra information. The book itself is well made, with a soft cover beneath a matching dust cover, and with pleasingly thick paper reminiscent of the days when new books arrived with uncut pages. It has a heft which promises a feast of good things and it doesn’t disappoint.

The twelve authors are men and women who have written in various genres throughout the years 1959 to 2018, on topics addressing such themes as death and loss, the joy they have found in writing and much more. For aspiring authors there is also advice on writing itself, which, given the depth of talent and length of time these ones have been engaged in their craft, is an invaluable treasure.

Distinguished photographer, John McDermott, was commissioned to take photographs of each of the authors, and the setting each one has chosen to be presented in gives further insight into their personality, as do the photos of the rooms in which a particular writer produces his or her work. I enjoyed examining those photos, searching for a further glimpse into each life. As an older person myself, who has read and admired much of the work of these twelve, I know that this beautiful tribute to them will be a book that I will delve into time and time again over the years ahead. It will be an asset, too, to teachers of literature as well as those who desire to write.

These twelve men and women have laid down a huge body of work for those who are coming on behind them and we owe them a debt of gratitude both for the work they have done throughout their life and for their willingness to tell us their stories. The Writing Life is more than a book, it is a treasure.

Reviewed by Lesley Vlietstra

The Writing Life – Twelve New Zealand Authors
by Deborah Shepard
Published by Massey University Press
ISBN 9780995109537

Book Review: The Art of Mindful Origami, by Dr Richard Chambers

cv_the_art_of_mindful_origamiAvailable in bookshops nationwide.

Dr. Richard Chambers, a clinical psychologist, has produced a book that is as restful and emotionally satisfying as a beautiful piece of music or a well written poem.

The Art of Mindful Origami contains the instructions needed to fold intricate designs along with perforated sheets of patterned paper the reader can use to create the origami project. Also included are pages of designs that can be coloured in to customise one’s own models.

Dr. Chambers has written about the book’s purpose: “Just folding the models is an excellent mindfulness practice in itself. However, for those wanting to take their mindfulness to the next level, I have also included additional exercises that you can do with each of the models. These involve engaging more fully with the world around you and cultivating qualities of mindfulness such as curiosity and generosity.”

This is more than a book. It is a many-layered offering from a person who has put a great deal of thought and care into something he obviously feels deeply about. I found, in my own case, on reading through it in increasing delight, that the anticipation for working with the paper and the designs was every bit as enjoyable as doing the actual work. Friends and family were as equally enamoured of the contents, a fact that means that the book will make a well-received gift.

Reviewed by Lesley Vliestra

The Art of Mindful Origami
by Dr Richard Chambers
Published by Exisle Publishing
ISBN 9781925335293