Reading Allowed Schedule of Texts for 2024

Wednesday, May 1st, 2024 | Shef Rogers | Comments Off on Reading Allowed Schedule of Texts for 2024

For those who love hearing great literature, Reading Allowed offers a monthly treat of two selections, one read by Paul Tankard and the other by Lorraine Johnston.  Whether revisiting an old favourite or wanting a fun introduction to a book you know you should have read, Reading Allowed offers something for everyone.

Readings take place at the Moray Place Dunedin Public Library at 5:30 on designated Wednesdays.

Here’s the schedule:

March 13

Of Mice and MenJohn Steinbeck
Possession: A RomanceA. S. Byatt

 April 10

The Pilgrim’s ProgressJohn Bunyan
A Short Story by Saki

May 8

Boswell’s Life of JohnsonJames Boswell
Flight of the Fantail. Steph Matuku (NZ)

June 12

The ChangeoverMargaret Mahy (NZ) (Note: It is 40 years since The Changeover won the Carnegie Medal – the second Carnegie won by Mahy/other was in 1982 for The Haunting – (she was second person to win it twice – but first from outside UK and first woman). Also Mahy is the “Theme” for Continued Sense of Wonder on June 19.
A Short Story by P. G. Wodehouse

July 10

The Children of Green KnoweL. M Boston
The Book of Secrets. Fiona Kidman (NZ)

August 14

The Secret AgentJoseph Conrad – to be read by Lorraine (100 years since Conrad died)
The HobbitJ. R. R. Tolkien

September 11

The Golden KeyGeorge MacDonald
Heidi. Johanna Spyri

October 9 

A History of Tom Jones, a FoundlingHenry Fielding
Howl’s Moving Castle. Diana Wynne-Jones

November 6 (1st Wednesday of the month – to accommodate for second November reading)

The Woman in WhiteWilkie Collins (200 years since Collins born)
Inside Dope by Paul Thomas (NZ)

November 27 (in lieu of a December offering)

1066 and All That. W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman
The Lady of Shalott. Alfred, Lord Tennyson

World Book Day Lecture–Thursday, 7 March, 5:30 pm

Sunday, March 10th, 2024 | Shef Rogers | Comments Off on World Book Day Lecture–Thursday, 7 March, 5:30 pm

For anyone who missed the talk, it is now possible to view a recording of the evening here.

We sincerely hope you can join us to hear Gavin Bishop deliver his lecture “TŌKU WHENUA: New Zealand Stories for New Zealand Children.”  Gavin is a much-loved chiidren’s author and illustrator, but many of his books tackle very adult themes such as te ao Māori, colonialism, and war.  His deep knowledge of NZ history informs his very thoughtful depictions of our nation.  Few authors could have more insight into our perennial question of “What do books do in Aotearoa and the world?”

Gavin Bishop O.N.Z.M. has published 80 books that have been translated into 12 languages. He has won Best NZ Children’s Book of the Year five times, Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year five times and Best Non- Fiction Children’s Book of the Year three times. In 2018 he was awarded the Te Tohu a Ta Kingi Ihaka for a lifetime contribution to Maori Art and culture and in 2019 the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement. He has recently been nominated for the 2024 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest award for Children’s Literature in the world.

For more details about Gavin’s work, see this Otago Bulletin story:

The lecture will take place at 5:30 in Archway 1.

If you are unable to be in Dunedin or join us in person, the talk will also be livestreamed (

Apology: We regret that there will be no dinner following the lecture this year.  Complexities of payment and  modern diets combined with few spaces flexible enough to accommodate our unpredictable numbers have made the planning a bit overwhelming.  However, we remain open to advice on how to manage such a function in future.

A sad loss to NZ’s book culture

Monday, February 26th, 2024 | Shef Rogers | 2 Comments

John Quilter in his shop in 2015

John Quilter, 2015                (Image source:

John Quilter was a great bookman and a thoroughly good bloke. He died on the 19th of February, and his passing is a sad loss to many in the New Zealand book world and those interested in print culture and book history. His bookshops in Wellington were a quiet oasis for many locals and bookish folk passing through the city: his earlier Plimmer Steps premises – the earlier one on the left and then the more spacious rooms on the right – his famed Lambton Quay bookshop, and then the last on Ghuznee Street. After closing his physical shop in 2015, he traded online and enjoyed his excursions north to the Featherston book fairs.

Browsing the shelves in his bookshops was always a delight: you could discover that title you had always been looking for, spot tomes that would spark descents down rabbit-holes, or just casually flick through books and pamphlets. All the while, and even if you did not buy anything, John was extremely accommodating. I might add, the books and pamphlets for sale were always reasonably priced; not bank-breaking. Then there was the book-talk, which was often wide ranging, always interesting, even a little gossipy. John could regale on Irish authors, New Zealand’s Count Potocki de Montalk (always drawing a chuckle), Iris Murdoch, the scarcity of Robin Hyde titles, private press publications, the trade in general, and whether people were still reading and collecting. He supplied some great and long-lasting memories to many.

In March 2012, to celebrate World Book Day and the official launch of the University of Otago Centre for the Book, we were privileged to lure John down from Wellington. To a bumper crowd in the Dunningham Suite at the Dunedin Public Library he talked about his life with books, histories of the trade as he knew it, and his numerous bookselling adventures. His talk, illustrated with evocative black and white photographs of old bookshops, was very illuminating, demonstrating his deep knowledge that will be sadly missed. Wellington’s flags should be at half-mast.

(Thanks to Donald Kerr for this memorial.)

For some additional biographical background, see this Wellington Post story:

29 November, 5:30 pm–Final Reading Allowed session

Tuesday, November 21st, 2023 | Shef Rogers | Comments Off on 29 November, 5:30 pm–Final Reading Allowed session

The final Reading Allowed event for 2023 has been brought forward to November 29th. Come along to hear “The Night before Christmas” read by Lorraine Johnston and an excerpt from “The Go-Between” by L. P. Hartley read by Paul Tankard.  The sessions are held at the Cube on the ground floor of the Central Dunedin Public Library.

2023 ‘Books and Resistance’ Symposium Programme

Saturday, November 4th, 2023 | Shef Rogers | Comments Off on 2023 ‘Books and Resistance’ Symposium Programme

We often discuss books as repositories or shapers of culture, most often considering the ways such print is revered, studied or transmitted, without so often pausing to think about all the ways that print, frequently in more ephemeral forms, also objects, resists or reframes our perspectives.  We change that up this year: we have organised a great lineup of speakers for this year’s symposium—you can see the 2023 Symposium Programme here.  Come along to discover some more forceful and challenging uses of print.

Our keynote speaker on Thursday evening is Redmer Yska.  The title of his talk is “Flaming Youth and the Awful Truth: Adventures along the Inky Way,” drawing on two of his books, All Shook Up: the Flash Bodgie and the Rise of the New Zealand Teenager in the 1950s (Penguin, 1993) and NZ Truth: the Rise and Fall of the People’s Paper (Craig Potton, 2009). Both works explore topics around radical publishing, censorship, moral panics, the rise and role of the tabloid press.

Redmer Yska is an award-winning Wellington writer and historian. He began his career as a copy boy on NZ Truth, gaining a reporting job after writing a ‘shock/horror/probe’ story about Auckland punk rockers.  In the 1990s, he produced two books about NZ post-war youth culture: NZ Green: The Story of Marijuana in New Zealand and All Shook Up: The Flash Bodgie and the Rise of the NZ Teenager in the 1950s.  In 2001, Yska explored his identity as a Dutch New Zealander with An Errand of Mercy: Captain Jacob Eckhoff and the Loss of the Kakanui.

In 2004, Yska was commissioned to write a history of Wellington City: Wellington: Biography of a City. In 2008, he was awarded the National Library Research Fellowship to write a history of TruthNZ Books reviewer Spiro Zavos called the resulting work “the best book about journalists and journalism in New Zealand I have read.”

Yska was the major recipient of a NZ History Trust Fund Award in 2014, allowing him to write A Strange Beautiful Excitement: Katherine Mansfield’s Wellington 1888–1903. Reviewer Kirsty Gunn wrote: “Yska’s work is like a form of access to the engine-room of the writer’s imagination; a way into that particular world of the past which powered her art.”  In 2019, a grant from Creative NZ allowed him to write Katherine Mansfield’s Europe: Station to Station, published in 2023 by Otago University Press.

The symposium is free, and will be streamed for those who cannot make it to Dunedin.  We look forward to gathering for the public lecture on Thursday evening and the day of presentations on Friday, 16–17 November 2023.  We will provide morning and afternoon tea; please register using this simple Google form ( so that we know how many people to cater for and how to accommodate any dietary requirements.  We need to receive all registrations no later than 5 November (a memorable date) for the catering arrangements.

We hope you can join us to explore another aspect of the power of print, aided by some great speakers and our always lively audiences.

Final Two Reading Allowed Sessions at DPL

Thursday, November 2nd, 2023 | Shef Rogers | Comments Off on Final Two Reading Allowed Sessions at DPL

Next Wednesday is the second week of the month! So that mean the next session of Reading Allowed. 5.30pm at the Cube on the Ground Floor of the City.

This month we will hear The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning – read by Paul Tankard and an excerpt from A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute – read by Lorraine Johnston.

It will be lovely to see you there – come along for one or both readings. Event finishes (occasionally 😊) by 6.30pm. No RSVP required – just turn up for all or part. Cup of tea or coffee available to help you kick back and relax.

The following Wednesday – November 15th – sees the last Continued Sense of Wonder event for 2023 for adults who still enjoy reading books published for children or young adults – this time the event focuses on Science Fiction or Space Operas. Feel free to bring along books to share that don’t quite fit those genres, and for anyone to contribute they think defines a space opera. Books can be picture books, graphic novels, anything written for children or teens.

Public Lecture—Sarah Ross on Elegy in Print: King Charles I in the Emmerson Collection

Wednesday, September 13th, 2023 | Shef Rogers | Comments Off on Public Lecture—Sarah Ross on Elegy in Print: King Charles I in the Emmerson Collection

Image of title-page opening of Monumentum RegaleThe Centre for the Book is pleased to welcome Professor Sarah Ross of Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington to speak on “Monumentum Regale: King Charles I in the John Emmerson Collection, State Library Victoria, Melbourne.”  Her lecture will be held Wednesday, 11 October, at 5:30 pm in Archway 2, or online via Zoom (register your email here and we’ll send you the link on the day).

In 2015, State Library Victoria, Melbourne, received an extraordinary bequest of early modern books, over 5000 volumes amassed by John Emmerson, QC, during a lifetime of collecting. The third largest deposit of early modern books in the world (after those in the British and Bodleian libraries), the Emmerson collection centres on material relating to the execution of King Charles I in 1649, the defining moment of the English revolution. This presentation focuses on elegies for the king in the Emmerson collection, exploring the relationship between icon, body, and text; the figuration of poetry and the book as tombs for the king; the reassemblage of the king in Emmerson’s volumes; and Emmerson’s collecting practice as an inherently elegiac activity. The talk showcases images from the recently launched exhibition, Beyond the Book: A digital journey through the treasures of the Emmerson Collection:


Sarah C. E. Ross is Professor of English at Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington. She has published widely on seventeenth-century poetry, politics, women’s writing, and manuscript and print culture. Her most recent publications include Early Modern Women’s Complaint: Gender, Form, and Politics (2020), The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Women’s Writing in English, 1540-1700 (2022), and the digital exhibition, Beyond the Book (2023).

Reading Allowed–Wed. 13 Sept at 5:30 at the central Dunedin Public Library

Friday, September 8th, 2023 | Shef Rogers | Comments Off on Reading Allowed–Wed. 13 Sept at 5:30 at the central Dunedin Public Library

The tireless duo of Paul Tankard and Lorraine Johnston will be reading from two very engaging works next week: Lorraine will be reading from Patricia Grace’s classic kiwi novel Potiki (1987), and Paul will be reading a short story by Dorothy L. Sayers.

As Paul exhorts, “Spread the word — literature needs reading!  And we need to read it!  Books have voices that need to be herad!  Help literature escape from the shrinking academy!  Don’t leave reading to Chat GPT!”

Plus it’s fun.  So do join the session if you are able.

A Potential Prelude to the 2023 Symposium

Thursday, August 17th, 2023 | Shef Rogers | Comments Off on A Potential Prelude to the 2023 Symposium

Anyone interested in books and resistance is invited to join a webinar hosted by the Bibliographical Society of America on September 12, 2023 at 6:30 PM (EST) [10:30 AM on Wednesday 13 September NZ time] for a public lecture by Tara Bynum on Black Reading in Early America.  You can register for the talk here (

Here is Professor Bynum’s abstract for her lecture:
“In the early United States, a Black person committed an act of resistance simply by reading and writing. Yet we overlook that these activities also brought pleasure. Tara A. Bynum tells the compelling stories of four early American writers who expressed feeling good despite living while enslaved or only nominally free. The poet Phillis Wheatley delights in writing letters to a friend. Ministers John Marrant and James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw memorialize their love for God. David Walker’s pamphlets ask Black Americans to claim their victory over slavery. Together, their writings reflect the joyous, if messy, humanity inside each of them. This proof of a thriving interior self in pursuit of good feeling forces us to reckon with the fact that Black lives do matter.

A daring assertion of Black people’s humanity, Reading Pleasures reveals how four Black writers experienced positive feelings and analyzes the ways these emotions served creative, political, and racialized ends.

Tara A. Bynum is an Assistant Professor of English & African American Studies at the University of Iowa. She is the author of Reading Pleasures: Everyday Black Living in Early America.

A Chance to Learn More about Shoults

Sunday, August 13th, 2023 | Shef Rogers | Comments Off on A Chance to Learn More about Shoults

Join the Theology Programme seminar on Friday, 25 August at 4.00pm in Burns 4 of the Arts Building as they welcome Dr. Donald Kerr speaking on “The Rev. William Arderne Shoults: His Life and Legacy.”

The Shoults Collection has been in Dunedin since 1893, firstly at Selwyn College and then at Special Collections, University of Otago. This collection of some 5600 books and manuscripts contains medieval manuscripts, incunables, books on ecclesiastical history and primitive church rites and rituals, philology, bibliography, science, travel, and Arabic and Persian texts. Very little is known about the collector the Rev. William Arderne Shoults (1839-1887). He did not come to New Zealand; his library arrived here through the visionary initiative of Samuel Nevill, first bishop of Dunedin.  This talk will cover Shoults’s life at college (St. John’s, Cambridge), his work in ritualistic parishes of London, his association with the Rev. Joseph Leycester Lyne (1837–1908), the controversial, enthusiastic, revivalist known as ‘Father Ignatius’, and the Shoults Collection itself. The survival of the collection is remarkable as a fine example of what a nineteenth-century curate and book collector could achieve.


Any views or opinion represented in this site belong solely to the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the University of Otago. Any view or opinion represented in the comments are personal and are those of the respective commentator/contributor to this site.


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