Did you know …

March 6, 2011
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The Southland Book of Records, by Lloyd Esler (RRP $39):

Southland might not be as big, or as flash, or even as cosmopolitan as some other provinces but our lovely little green corner of the world is a pretty awesome place.

And no one knows this better than the author Lloyd Esler: teacher, historian, tour guide and proud Southlander.

Esler knows a thing or two about a thing or two. After arriving in Invercargill 20-plus years ago to take up a teaching post he has become the man in the know about anything relating to Southland and takes every opportunity to share that knowledge.

Countless schoolchildren have benefited from his vast knowledge over the years, and more than a few adults too I’d imagine, particularly during his decade at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery.

His first book (Invercargill: 150 Years) was published back in 2006 and a first run of the Southland Book of Records was printed eight years ago but this one is updated and expanded.

This is one of those books that I suspect will find its way on to the bookshelves of Southlanders at home and at large as a reminder of all that is great and greatly interesting about our province.

It’s all here, from a bit of a potted history of how Southland came to be to an incredibly comprehensive collection of all that Southland is known for.

As it says on the back cover, it’s facts at your fingertips. And what an array of facts you have to choose from: there’s the most destructive beetle (borer, in case you’re wondering), the most northerly or southerly or easterly or westerly of places and houses and more.

There’s also a flurry of firsts and worsts (the big chills of 1889 and 1903 that resulted in the Mataura River freezing over and subsequently being used as a skating rink sound like they might rival our 2010 spring snowstorm).

Esler was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal in 2009 for services to the community and as part of that community I’d like to say it was a well deserved award.

This is a great little book that you’ll dip in to constantly and spend many an hour reciting the phrase “did you know … ” to anyone who’ll listen as you find yet another really interesting fact that you want to share.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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