Archive | Books RSS feed for this section

The Circle

3 Feb

Over a 24-hour period last weekend I was without my phone. Completely without it. And it was wonderful.

Of course it posed numerous issues along with the delight of being without it too.

Let’s talk cons first.
I could see the messages coming through but I had no idea who they were from or what they contained. That was frustrating. I had a few plans with people and I didn’t know if they had contacted me to change things or confirm things or not. I don’t wear a watch so I didn’t know the time if I was out of the house and away from people. Hard when you’re trying to read a bus timetable. I couldn’t check me email on the go (or Instagram for that matter – one app I’m definitely addicted to). I use the online music streaming app Mog and I hated riding the bus without tunes. I did not enjoy having to overhear the conversations going on around me.

Let’s talk pros.
I didn’t realise how addicted I was to my Iphone until it was worthless. I couldn’t sit down and watch some TV or read a book without having to check it every twenty minutes or more frequently for updates or to google some nonsensical thing as I like to do. So I sincerely loved having no distractions when I was watching a movie. As stated above I didn’t like being without music in my ears on the bus, but as soon as I got off the bus and I was on the walking trail on my way home it was actually really nice to walk through the park-lands without music. I felt connected to the world around me. Yes that sounds dorky but it’s the truth. I liked not feeling disconnected from what was happening around me. I could hear people walking or running up behind me, hear the traffic, hear the birds. Usually I walk as far as I can home, using songs as markers as to how much longer it will be. This way I just enjoyed it. What a way to unwind. Plus I just wasn’t distracted by messages and stupid social media.

Let’s introduce The Circle by Dave Eggers,this fabulous book that so many ‘famous’ people have been recommending lately. The irony does not go unnoticed that I found out about the book by a certain author’s Instagram feed! What a book! Terrifying and interesting and so damn scary that it really could become like this – does connectivity lead to increased and lessened crime or does it just make things an awful place to live in. Read this and be the judge. It was simply written but fascinating.

The circle

Madness: A Memoir

27 Jan

I first heard of Madness: A Memoir on an episode of First Tuesday Bookclub where Toni Jordan was talking up her friends book. It sounded fascinating. One woman’s battle with mental illness. I’ve been long fascinated with what’s really going on in people’s brains. And never so much as when it comes to people battling horrible ailments.

The book was gritty. I don’t think I was prepared for it emotionally. I remember being horrified by the first chapter as Kate revealed on one night she had a brush with the voices in her head and how they were imploring her to sever her own arm off completely. It was gnarly story to begin with. The remainder of the book is her struggle, to realise how sick she really is, and to find a counselor that cared enough to help her. I remember getting off the bus one day after reading a few chapters and feeling ill.

She said she hoped people would be less likely to judge a “crazy” they saw in the street. Hopefully to make people aware of what people might be experiencing. Not just there to terrorise you when you’re walking the streets. They might need some serious help.

If you can handle this book I say it’s a must. What an eye-opener!

Just Think More

3 Jan

I hate New Years Resolutions. But if I am being honest with myself and you, dear reader, I hate not keeping them more. So that’s why I stopped making them. But I stumbled across this pic this morning from one of my favourite Blogs – the newly re-named The Clueless Girl’s Guide:

Think More
I like this. I have the tendancy to gulp down books. I feel panicky when I don’t have a book with me. I can easily have a couple of reads on the go at the one time. But ask me about the final chapter of the last book I read (NW by Zadie Smith for the record) and I can barely even recall the characters.

So this year I want to read and savour it. Read a page and think about it. Write down sentences that I enjoy. Tell a friend what I think. Write a review of it. I may not be succeeding in reading 100 books this year but I hope to have a few more memorable reading moments because of it.

How do you read?

Inspirational Festival life…

12 Sep

As you may be well aware Brisbane Writers Festival was on last weekend. It’s become a pretty obsessive habit of mine to pounce on the program once it’s released in July and mark down all the sessions that take my fancy. I was pretty excited when I saw the authors and topics on offer. My highlights included:

Richard Fidler’s coversation with Marvel Comics writers. Husband and Wife duo – Matt Fraction and Kelly Sue De Connick. I’m not a comic book reader these days but they were so fun and feisty and witty. I now want to be one.

Matthew Condon’s booked Three Crooked Kings sounds fascinating! Definitely going on the to-read list. This book covers the 50s and part of the 60s history of the corrupt cops in Queensland.

Matthew Reilly being interviewed by John Birmingham, which at times was Matt interviewing John. I now want to read the Scarecrow series. I liked his quote of: A picture paints a thousand words, and a thousand words is about three pages. On how he achieves the speed of his writing so well. I’ve only ever read one of his books, but I think I need some fast-paced action in my life.

The Pemberley Inheritance was really excellent. They talked of Lizzie and Darcy’s love life, their ideas of what marriage for Bingley and Jane, and Mr Collins and Charlotte would have been like!!

The end of Sunday and the end of the festival for me was marked with the session:  “Tell me what to read” – I have HEAPS of ideas for great books to add to my list!

As all of the sessions go, I was inspired into all different areas over the weekend. From comic books, to non-fiction, back to classical literature. My reading list is HUGE!!

What a great weekend. Is it too soon to start dreaming about BWF 2014???

Brisbane Writers Festival

26 Jul

This is it! The Festival Program has been released onto their very swish looking webpage. All the details can be perused over here. I’ve downloaded the PDF document and am poised with my highlighter ready to pick my sessions. I’m excited already.

Brisbane Writers Festival 2013



Book News!

10 Apr

Just heard this exciting news about a new Tim Winton book coming out in October of this year! Tim Winton is definitely one of my favourite authors. I’ve been a long-standing advocate of his books and try to push the reading of Cloudstreet onto all my friends.

“Eyrie tells the story of Tom Keely, a man who’s lost his bearings in middle age and is now holed up in a flat at the top of a grim highrise, looking down on the world he’s fallen out of love with. He’s cut himself off, until one day he runs into some neighbours: a woman he used to know when they were kids, and her introverted young boy. The encounter shakes him up in a way he doesn’t understand. Despite himself, Keely lets them in.

Further details can be found here!

Brisbane Writers Festival – Day III

16 Sep

Sunday morning started quite early as a friend was up from Sydney and wanted to take me and two other friends out for breakfast in Southbank. We went to Piaf and although two of my friends agreed their meals were not very tasty, and our waitress was a little blunt, I enjoyed my meal. S and I had to quickly dash off to catch the first session of the Writers Festival. Sunday Morning Readings listening to three authors read from their latest books – Drusilla Modjeska, Patrick Gale and Chris Cleave. Drusilla began and she was really illegible – due to microphone issues – my friend S was ready to go up and adjust the mike for her.
Both Patrick and Chris were very witty – Chris had us laughing heartily with his Australian coaching character.
I said goodbye to S who was off to the bookshop and then later the teashop and home. I continued on to three more lectures. The favourite of them was the lecture by Robert Dessaix called The Time of Our Lives. He is so beautifully spoken. Also the final session called Manpower proved a treat – four men talking about being manly. Amongst them – William McInnes who appeared very gruff when I first got into the room, but proved to be charming, and beautifully spoken. Especially when he became emotional talking his wife who recently died due to cancer. I’ve had his book – A Man’s Got to have a Hobby on my shelf for a few years now. I must read it.

But my reading devotion has been captured or re-captured by Down To This by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall. I found out about the book at one of the first Brisbane Writers Festivals I went to. I heard him briefly speak about living with the homeless of Toronto Canada in “Tent City” and that’s what the book is based on. His experiences, what led him to live in Tent City. It’s touching, and funny, and so sad at times too.
I’ve finished with that and I’m onto Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan. What are you reading?

Brisbane Writers Festival – Day II

9 Sep

The literary fun continued on Saturday with the Brisbane Writers Festival. In the morning I got down to the State Library area. It certainly was less congested than the day before. Seems writers don’t like early mornings like the rest of us. I went to see two conversations. The first: Why I Read What I Read. Rolland Sussex was chair and in discussion with Sue Wolfe, Gerrard Gosens and Boori Monty Pryor. There was much talk of enjoying the “voice” of the book or its personality, even if the plot is not enjoyable. It was interesting to hear from Gerrard Gosens as he has been blind since birth and the description of environment is very important to him. He related the story that he never knew that elephants were hairy until he was in his 30s as no one describes them in enough detail. Even the sculptures he had felt over the years never portrayed them hairy. When he was in his 30s he went to a circus and had the opportunity to ride an elephant. He exclaimed – “they’re like a giant scrubbing brush. I’ve never experienced a more hairy animal!”
Gerrard also said that for him books are like vitamins. You take a certain book and read it to help in one aspect of your life. I like that.

Next up in the giant red tent is a conversation with Nick Earls. Every chance I get to experience the stories of this man I do. I love him. He’s so free and easy in front of a crowd. He’s a brilliant speaker. Once again he inspired me to buy his book and after get it signed by him. He’s so friendly and easy-going in real life and one-on-one too. I had to rush off so not much time to make conversation but we exchanged words about the difference between this year and last and how we all froze on the Terrace. Then I had to scurry off for my next appointment.

In the evening I returned with my brother for the Great Debate – the subject in question: Reading The Bible Is Good For You. Among the guests to fight their points – Germaine Greer and Bob Katter – both on the one side – in favour of the proposition.
We found the arguments without good basis, they were getting off topic a lot, and getting the Bible mixed up with religion. Where was this great debate that we were promised? It just wasn’t passionate and intelligent enough. Still, very interesting. In the end the team against the proposal won as the outcome was decided by the audience.

Gigs, Books, Drinks and Admissions

8 Sep

The week of relaxation continues. Thursday night was the Brand New Heavies gig at the Hifi in West End. My crew got to the venue very early indeed but the wait time wasn’t too tedious at all. In the end there was quite a few that joined us and we ended up with a really good position, dead centre, front row. I love that kind of nearness to the action. Although sometimes when you realise the musicians can see you clearly it can be a little gruelling to maintain eye contact.
I love that the band is just a bunch of people trying to make a living doing something they clearly love. They were having fun on stage, despite the issues they were having with sound. You could also see the exasperation on their faces as well. I still had a great time. Especially laughing with my friend S about the glam rock member of the band, Simon Bartholomew on guitar. He looked a little out of place but was clearly loving every moment of it, especially to show off his T-Rex moves and great 80s hair. We danced the whole night and got involved. It was a great night out.

Yesterday I got to the Writers Festival after some detours at about 11.30. The State Library was buzzing. You had to fight to get yourself through the swarms of people. I had a look through the bookshop – too much to tempt me there. Then I realised the line for my first session was already growing steadily – so I joined the queue. First up: As I Was Saying with Robert Dessaix. When I read my program back in July he immediately peaked my interest. A charming man, very humble writing about the ‘ordinary’ things in life is how he describes himself. I’m now eager to get my hands on some of his writing.
I ducked to West End in my break for Vietnamese soup and a beer which was a lovely interlude, and then back to the action. Lining up for Books to Box Office – a large panel discussion with publishers, an agent, screenwriters and producers. It was an intriguing discussion – particularly hearing the publishers pitch two books each to the producers. I was just about to leave that and go track down a coffee, but instead as we exited the room there we were presented with a table full of drinks and later free food. So I stuck around. In the line for Books to Box Office I got talking to the guy in front of me. He told me he had written and published a book and he was eager to talk to some of the producers about getting it on screen. Amongst other things he told me he had split from his first wife and after the pain had gone he realised he had been so stressed out that he was constipated and after the stress left him, he returned to normal. It’s not what I was expecting to hear. TMI buddy.

So today – I have two sessions I want to get along to: Why I Read What I Read as I’m always interested in hearing what inspires authors. And Welcome To Normal with Nick Earls. Nick is just so charismatic and funny I love to get along to anything he is involved with.
Tonight my brother and I are going to The Great Debate – Reading The Bible Is Good For You. I can’t wait to see Germaine Greer and Bob Katter on the same side of panel!

Big Week

3 Sep

This week is going to be HUGE!!!

What I have booked in so far: Tomorrow is my last working day of the week.  Tuesday evening I won a free double pass to go see a documentary as part of the Israeli film festival ‘Incessant Visions’. Wednesday I get to hang with good friend S which will involve a nice lunch and some pampering. British funk band Brand New Heavies at the Hifi on Thursday night. Friday Saturday and Sunday are set aside for Brisbane Writers Festival immersion.  It’s going to be packed to the brim with goodies. Waaaaahhhhh!!! I can’t wait!