I can read speech bubbles!

Graphic Novels have never really been my thing. I read Tintin and Asterix when I was a kid (still do, on occasion), but that was about it. I’ve always liked the idea of being able to create my owm images when reading, that people and places could look however I wanted them to. And, I admit, the speech bubble thing really put me off – I could never get them in the right order.


This week, however, a book arrived at the library that just might change my mind – the first Girl Genius omnibus, featuring Agatha Clay (well, that’s her name now…), a budding inventor whose machines just don’t work. Throw in a despotic ruler, some monsters, a castle that’s really an airship – what more could you want? (except maybe the second omnibus)

You can reserve our copy here – it’s new, it’ll be on the shelf soon. Or, as I discovered with some glee, all the comics are available online as daily instalments.

We have quite a collection of graphic novels in the library, including:

photographer The photographer

persepolis Persepolis

And many more, upstairs in the library at shelf location PN6727 and PN6747.

We also have a growing collection of Māori language graphic novels, shelved downstairs in the Māori and Pasifika Collection at PN6790.N5

If you’d like to try your hand at writing your own graphic novel, we can help:

Writing Writing and illustrating the graphic novel

comic Comic book design

Florence Nightingale and the treasures of the internet

There’s an assignment on at the moment that apparently involves Florence Nightingale. I know this because there are seven requests for her book Notes on Nursing. This is a problem for us, and the students who want to read it…

The internet to the rescue!

Notes on Nursing is out of copyright (it’s more than 50 years since she died), and is freely available online from a number of sites. I prefer Project Gutenberg, because…well, I just do. But all of these can be freely downloaded and printed – just be wary of trying to make money out of them. Florence Nightingale

Notes on Nursing – Project Gutenberg

Notes on Nursing – Digital Library

Notes on Nursing – Internet Archive







So, before giving up on a book, or a journal, it’s worth having a quick google. Just the other day I found Wounds: a compendium of clinical research and practice – full text access is free online, to anyone who’s interested. And it’s peer-reviewed.

Sometimes you strike internet gold. Other times you just find pictures of cats.






Have you tried this diet?

wrters diet

Recently I came across The Writer’s Diet by Helen Sword. In her book  Dr Sword, a writer, editor and teacher of academic writing helps you get your sentences into shape. Within the 98 pages of this book you will find practical  exercises to help you hone your writing skills.  Why not test a piece of your own writing by cutting and pasting it into the Writer’s diet test to diagnose whether it is fit or flabby.

Here are some of Dr Sword’s key principles:

  • favour strong, specific action verbs (dissect, recount, capture) over weak lazy ones (have, do, show)
  • limit forms of be
  • use concrete nouns which represent something you can hear, smell, taste, touch or see i.e. “Show don’t tell.”
  • limit abstract nouns which are ideas or intangible things e.g. independence, toughness, security.
  • try to keep prepositions (of, in from, with) to a minimum
  • avoid cliches and use adjectives and adverbs sparingly
  • reduce using waste words (it, this, that, there)

writing One of the titles in  Dr. Sword’s suggested reading is Zinsser, W( 2006) On writing well which we have in our collection at PN1990.9.A88ZIN 2006

Here are some  sparkling examples of applying the above principles (Sword, 2007, p.33-34)

from the poet Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers

that perches in the soul

and sings the tune without the words

and never stops at all

From historian Dava Sobel on historical importance of longitude

The zero-degree parallel of latitude is fixed by the laws of nature, while the zero-degree meridian of longitude shifts like the sands of time. This difference makes finding latitude child’s play and turns the determination of longitude especially at sea into an adult dilemma – one that stumped the mind’s of the world for the better part of human history

Incidentally I just ran this blogpost through the test and scored a “fit and trim” but really need to work on my overuse of prepositions.

Best of luck if you embark on this diet and dazzle your tutor with your new techniques in the next assignment.