Read all about it: Moving past romance

Arrowtown book buyer Miranda Spary continues her regular column about her recommendations for a good read and life as she sees it ...

Probably all you readers are waking to a less romantic day than yesterday, no champagne and croissants and flowers to greet you at breakfast this morning, no little love notes in your car telling you where to find the diamond necklace ... mmm if it's any consolation, my darling is not big on romance any day of the year.

The first present he ever gave me was a frying pan (seriously!). Our yesterday was free of hearts, cherubs, poetry and chocolates, but not happiness.

Do you ever notice how sometimes the books you are reading follow a theme for a while, or there are strange coincidences - every heroine is called Charlotte, or the stories all take place in Berlin. The last two books I have read have both been about ''projects''. In the first, the quest is for the perfect woman, and in the second, the search is for happiness, not perfection.

The Rosie Project is Graeme Simsion's debut novel. He originally wrote it as a screenplay. He claims to have rewritten it 70 times before turning it into a novel.

Geeky Don is a professor of genetics and looking for Mrs Right. I don't know why men find this exercise so difficult - it's much trickier for women to find the perfect man - the perfect man being a famously mythical being. Don decides to prepare a list of questions to help him find the right candidate, and being a finickety sort of chap, the list is long and involved. It's excruciating reading as he has zero tact or romance about him at all, but it's very, very funny. The rights to the book have been sold all over the world, and it will make a terrific film.

The Happiness Project is by Gretchen Rubin. It's a self-help book (I mostly hate this genre, but there are some exceptions), written by a woman who is obviously not a bit unhappy. She just decided one day to spend a year working out what made her happy. Each month she focused on different aspects of her life, setting a few achievable goals. It's pretty funny as well, and while I am deeply suspicious of someone who likes scrapbooking, I couldn't help seeing how so much of what she said made sense.

Some of it was stuff we practised when teaching - like putting twenty beads in your right pocket and every time you said ''no'' or something negative to a child, you moved a bead to your left pocket. At the start, it was shocking to see how quickly your left pocket got full, but just thinking about it made you speak more positively. Just as wearing a pedometer makes you walk more. It's not always easy to remember your resolutions.

For me, being busy makes me happy, and this week is going to make me ridiculously happy.

I've been dropping fliers about Maxine Alterio's book launch around town. Her latest book is about the Otago and Southland nurses who went off to World War 1. While the subject is grim - war, death, sickness and syphilis being no laughing matters, Maxine lightens it up with stories of the nurses getting naughty and finding fun in unfun times (although it would take a VERY creative writer to find the fun in syphilis in pre-penicillin days!).

She's speaking at Dorothy Browns at 11am on Tuesday but it might pay to get there a little early if you want a seat.

And this morning is the launch of the 2013 Festival of Colour programme. This year, there are different concerts, shows and plays on every night in our newly marvellous Memorial Hall.

While I haven't been able to stick my beak in yet, I hear that the refurb is not just glorious, but on time and on budget. Three million cheers to all concerned! It's going to be a terrific venue for these world-class performances that are coming. And fans of The New Yorker will be ecstatic to hear that Seymour Hersh, the world's top investigative journalist, who uncovered the My Lai massacre and the Abu Ghraib atrocities, is going to be speaking in Wanaka.

If you aren't already a patron and want to take advantage of the priority booking period, you're not too late. Do it right this minute - go to

On top of all that, our youngest child is having her 21st this weekend. It's our LAST 21st party ever - hard to believe. Happy birthday dear Bella, and a very happy 21st birthday to beautiful Claudia Todd, as well.


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