Liberty, fraternity, literacy

Just a few days ago, the ubiquitous chain bookstore Whitcoulls went into voluntary administration, possibly never to be seen again. Terrible things have also been happening to Borders, both in New Zealand and in the USA, and the Queen Street one now devotes more of its real estate to picture-frames and terrible coffee* than to stocking the finest in print.

This means that, in the central city, there are only a tiny few bookshops left that are still inspiring places to pop into. Chief of these is Unity Books. It is in High Street, one of Betty’s favourite places; it’s close to the Chancery, where one can find lovely things like extravagant mochaccinos and perfume for one’s wedding and upscale Korean cosmetics and expensive shoes (one generally doesn’t, but the Chancery is still a lovely place to wander around).

Betty has been in there once or twice recently, and finds any excuse to go again. They have the full collection of Penguin Great Ideas, walls full of poetry and philosophy, almost an entire shelf of Umberto Eco, a confessional memoir about an ex-Mennonite that Betty has her eye on, and a selection that Betty is considering as part of her medical humanities course, which starts in a fortnight. Last time she was there Betty picked up The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves, and she is enjoying it immensely.

*Terrible, terrible coffee. Worse than you can imagine. Betty could tell some stories, by golly.

NaNoWriMo: the difficult second session

The best NaNo writing–inevitably, given that the only requirement is volume of output–tends to happen in large spurts, and spurts, perhaps counter-intuitively, tend to happen in remarkably short periods of time. For both of these reasons, NaNoers are fond of organising write-ins: these combine the benefits of some congenial and usually caffeinated location with the motivational presence of other crazed writers, and they usually result in significant advances in word-count. Betty, therefore, spent a couple of hours in the Borders cafe, writing furiously, alongside an impressively large group of local novelists.

The happy result was an additional two thousand and something words, which brings Betty’s word-count up to the low 7,000s, and is not to be sneezed at. In addition, the plot is now kinda humming, which makes it all so much easier. Onward and upward.