Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Beyond The Coral Sea by Michael Moran

Beyond the Coral Sea: Travels in the old empires of the South-West Pacific- Michael Moran 2003

After reading Head Hunting in the Solomon’s and her other book I got on a Papua kick. This book was sitting on the shelf at work on day and caught my eye. How could I pass up a cover like that.

Plus, since the other 3 books I had read about the region took place between the 1920’s- 1960’s I was interested in a more recent perspective.

I enjoyed the history of lesson of the region, who knew Germany owned so many islands and probably the most memorable part of the book for me was his brief mention of Errol Flynn.

I had honestly never given Errol Flynn much thought in my life, maybe I had seen a movie by him but probably not. But after reading about how Tasmanian born Flynn came to Rabaul in 1926 at the age of 17 to teach the locals about personal hygiene. While he was there he wound up running a plantation, buying a local 14yr old girl, and wresting crocodiles. All this made me want to read next Flynn’s autobiography “My wicked, wicked ways.” Which turned out to be the most entertaining, unbelievable thing I have read all year.

But back to Moran’s book. Of course he covers cannibals, missionaries and colorful explorers to the region. The book is humorous and educational. Also includes a good amount of black & white and color photos.

Even if you are just vaguely interested in the region, I highly recommend this entertaining and approachable book. Since it is in paperback, it would be an ideal book for a plane trip since it is a quick read.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Headhunting in the Solomon Islands & New Guinea Headhunt by Caroline Mytinger


NEW GUINEA HEADHUNT by Caroline Mytinger, 1946

Awhile back I came down with a nasty cold. I called in sick for many days and decided I needed to read something different. The majority of the books in the Bibliotiki are written by men but a few years ago I picked up Headhunting in the Solomons, which is written by a woman and I thought I needed a change of perspective.

I wasn’t ever really interested in New Guinea, Solomon Islands or even Melanesia but I kept seeing this book in a few stores so I found a hardback copy for $2 and the price was right. I still need a dust jacket though.

I knew nothing about Caroline Mytinger and just started reading it. And then couldn’t stop reading it. Reading about her bouts with malaria made my bad cold suddenly seemed not so bad.

The book is a non-fictional account about a former society girl and artist and her friend Margaret go off to the Solomon Islands to paint portraits of the last remaining pure bred people before they are all gone or blood lines become diluted. I would think when they went in the 1930’s, this was not something people though or even cared about.

They started in San Francisco, then to Hawaii, Fiji, Australia and then the Solomons'. And as with all best laid plans, things went awry. They did get some portraits painted though. The book includes just black and white prints, which doesn’t do justice to the colorful paintings.

After I finished Headhunting, I then moved on to her second book New Guinea Headhunt, which was more of the same only in New Guinea. (full disclosure, New Guinea Headhunt I don’t own and had to get from the library).

Since these books were written in 1940’s, they of course are not politically correct by 2010 standards but I did think in comparing it to other books I have read from that time period, they don’t just lump all the “savages” together and do make a conscious effort not stereotype them or think they are ignorant or dumb just because their way of life is so different then the authors.

While I was finishing the book, my husband started doing some research on it and what we found made me even more interested in the author and story.

First we found this site is done by 2 women who have retraced the books and are working on a film of it. Check out the footage they have on their site, plus their own websites show what amazing photographers they both are.

These women also wrote an article that appeared in the Smithsonian, which you can read online:


And lastly here is a link to Caroline’s paintings at the Phoebe Hearst Museum in Berkeley, CA

Sadly, it appears that the painting aren’t on view.

I love both books pen and ink illustrations, here are some examples.

After reading both books I am amazed that any of the paintings even survived. I found Headhunting more engrossing and New Guinea not as good. I think her weariness shows through in the second book. But overall both books are great stories about strong, independent women. And of course what happens to people who are ahead of their times, when they came back to the states with their paintings, no one cared that much.

Headhunting might be on of my fave books in the Bibliotiki, so much so I think I need to re-read it again.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


But first, before you get too comfortable lets have a look at our history. The Bibliotiki, first established in 2005 started as a small collection of South Seas Literature. Pretty much just consisting of Kon Tiki and Aku-Aku, the collection quickly grew via garage sales, thrift stores and bookshops.

In early 2007, Alohatiki rehauled her yet unnamed tiki room for the books where oozing all over the house and she soon forgot what she actually owned. When accidentally buying a second copy of Typee (she actually needs Omoo) she realized the need for her growing collection to be housed in one area and organized. And of course she needed a name. The books where then reorganized along with the growing tiki mug collection by island group (the books, not the mugs). A name for the room, with much brainstorming from Kahuna (he acquires many books for the collection), The Bibliotiki was born. But it then stalled to finally get kick started again when Alohatiki realized she was having trouble recalled what she had read already.

In this site Alohatiki, will highlight her collection and perhaps some other titles that she can only find via Inter Library Loan.

Two things she loves about the collection is some of the nifty covers/illustrations and that many of the books are from the 1920s/1930s for that look into the island before they became overrun with gangsta rap and video cassettes.

We hope you enjoy and feel free to comment or suggest titles via comments or alohatiki AT gmail DOT com

Thank you,

The Management