Books are a sort of sanctuary for many people – some books more than others. On Thursday 16th of April we had the privilege of launching Julie Leibrich’s latest book – Sanctuary in name and in nature. As regular trading hours drew to their six o’clock close, people filed into the store to join in on the celebrations.
Our own Rachel Graham introduced Rachel Scott, publisher at Otago University Press, who described the act of reading the book as being ‘like slipping into a warm bath.’ Listening to extracts from the book and perusing its beautifully designed pages certainly confirmed this to be true.
As is tradition at these sorts of events, the effusive praise for author and book was tempered with tales about its development. Rachel mentioned ‘to my slight horror, at one point she asked if the book could be round’, before going on to point out that despite its fairly conventional square shape, ‘it is imbued with roundness’.
The book was officially launched by Judi Clements of the Mental Health Foundation, a former colleague and long-time friend of Julie’s. Their association began, it turns out, ‘in the middle of the night, in a tree, in Finland.’ Judi spoke of her sense of surprise and privilege at being asked to speak at the event, describing Julie as ‘a trailblazer… a warrior woman’, and the book as ‘a treasure trove of nourishment’. ‘The word awesome irritates me, everything is bloody awesome. But this book is awesome.’
Julie admitted that she felt a little overwhelmed when she took to the mic, telling us ‘I’ll read a tiny bit of the book and then have another glass of wine.’ She thanked the crowd, family and friends, and those who helped the development of the book. Judi Clements was described as ‘wonder woman’, and she concluded the thank-yous with ‘there are others as well, but I’m keeping to this country.’ She paid tribute to her late husband and his enduring influence on her work: ‘Without you I would have never written this book, without your presence, I would never have finished it.’
Copies of the book were snapped up by the crowd, and Julie signed them for everyone who wanted a moment with the woman of the hour.
Sanctuary (Otago University Press) is $40 and available in store now or from our online shop HERE.
Photography by Matt Bialostocki, review by Briar Lawry.