Letters to the Zoo

Books, mostly.

Month: October, 2017



There is a weka family living in the tall grass and scrubby bush at my in-laws. I think there are three chicks. They like to hide but make lots of noisy squawks and bleats.



“I am a whole circus by myself a whole dance company with stance and posture for being in middle class homes in upper class buildings for talking to men for speaking with blacks for carefully angling and directing for choreographing my way thru the maze of classes of people and places thru the little boxes of sex race class nationality sexual orientation intellectual standing political preference the automatic contortions…the exhausting camouflage with which I go thru this social space called capitalist patriarchy.”

Rosario Morales – We’re All in the Same Boat, This Bridge Called My Back

More Moomin!

Dear Zoo,

So in my last post I talked about Tove Jansson’s biography and today I read this post on The Sapling (cool NZ blog about children’s literature) Raymond Huber: Moomintrolls for Life. This is a great intro to the Moomin’s and Tove’s work. Moominland Midwinter is also my favourite book (fun side story: I found this in an opshop in Hokitika for 20c. Happiest day of my life, almost).

Happy moomining,


The Five Star Books (Part Two)


Dear Zoo,

Last week I posted about two of four of the books that I have given five stars. Here are the final two. Will I read another five star book this year? Or a book that will change my life?

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

In short, I think this is a book that everyone should read. An exploration of race, science, science history and ethics that is accessible without dumbing-down or shying-away. This really points to some big questions about race (or even just, how we treat people and why it matters) but it is also a great, readable story with fantastic people and details. I wrote about it a bit more here when I was reading it. I think this book is also a good entry into non-fiction reading, especially if you’re a little bit curious about science. After this I read The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson which is just as good but more arduous at 500 pages.

Tove Jansson: Work and Love by Tuula Karjalainen

And now for something quite different! On Goodreads I said, “I want to give Tove a thousand stars for her passion and industry and it’s hard to separate her from Karjalainen in this book, but I will give the author five stars for her thorough and just account of Tove’s life.” If you haven’t heard of Tove Jansson or the world of the Moomins then let me enlighten you. Tove (1914 – 2001) was a Finnish artist and writer, ascribed feminist, and all-round fabulous lady. She created a series of books and comics about a family of troll-like creatures called the Moomins (read one of the books, feel awesome). She also painted many, many paintings and some murals and wrote fiction for adults. This book is her biography and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Tove on a deeper level. Tove was an artist, a woman (gosh-darn-it!), and a lesbian working and surviving in war-time Finland – she is an absolute inspiration to me. (And excuse me for the first-name basis but I feel like she’s a good friend who I just never got to meet).