Books Read in 2018

Here is the list of books that I read in 2018 with my ratings.

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FICTION

  1. The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton – 5 stars
  2. Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak – 5 stars
  3. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George – 4 stars
  4. Black Rock White City by A.S. Patric – 3 stars
  5. Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord – 3 stars
  6. The Vegetarian by Han Kang – 3 stars
  7. My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent – 3 stars
  8. The Quiet Side of Passion by Alexander McCall Smith – 3 stars
  9. The Other Wife by Michael Robotham – 3 stars
  10. The Nowhere Child by Christian White – 3 stars
  11. The Little French Bistro by Nina George – 3 stars
  12. Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham 2 stars
  13. Six Years by Harlan Coben – 2 stars
  14. The Lucky Galah by Tracy Sorensen – 2 stars
  15. Scrublands by Chris Hammer – 2 starsgoodreads_challenge_2018-pic01

NON-FICTION

  1. Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression and the Unexpected Solutions by Johann Hari – 5 stars
  2. To Shake the Sleeping Self: A Journey from Oregon to Patagonia, and a Quest for a Life with No Regret by Jedidah Jenkins – 5 stars
  3. Staying: A Memoir by Jessie Cole – 5 stars
  4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson – 4 stars
  5. The Plant-Based Solution: A Vegan Cardiologist’s Plan to Save Your Life and the Planet by Joel K. Kahn – 4 stars
  6. The Great Spring: Writing, Zen, and This Zigzag Life by Natalie Goldberg – 4 stars
  7. The Hidden School: Return of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman – 4 stars
  8. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising by Marie Kondo – 4 stars
  9. The Alzheimer’s Solution: A Revolutionary Guide to How You Can Prevent and Reverse Memory Loss by Dean Sherzai – 4 stars
  10. Shining: The Story of a Lucky Man by Abdi Aden – 4 stars
  11. Random Life by Judy Horacek – 3 stars
  12. 8 Keys to Forgiveness by Robert Enright – 3 stars
  13. Living as a River: Finding Fearlessness in the Face of Change by Bodhipaksa – 3 stars
  14. The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi – 3 stars
  15. Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It: Life Journeys Inspired by the Best-selling Memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert – 3 stars
  16. 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris – 3 stars
  17. The Longevity Diet: Discover the New Science Behind Stem Cell Activation and Regeneration to Slow Aging, Fight Disease, and Optimize Weight by Valter Longo – 3 stars
  18. Lovelands by Debra Campbell – 3 stars
  19. Unequaled: Tips for Building a Successful Career Through Emotional Intelligence by James A. Runde – 3 stars
  20. Eat to Live: The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss by Joel Fuhrman M.D. – 3 stars
  21. The Vegan Starter Kit by Neal D. Barnard – 3 stars
  22. OMD: Swap One Meal a Day to Save the Planet and Your Health by Suzy Amis Cameron – 3 stars
  23. Marcia Langton: Welcome to Country by Marcia Langton – 1 stargoodreads_challenge_2018-pic02
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Author A. (Alec) S. Patric

Alec Patric spoke at Frankston Library this week as part of the Australian Library Week events. And despite the small number of people in the audience, it was a lovely event. Maybe because of the small audience it was more of a conversation rather than a presentation. Alec Patric

Alec appears as a dedicated and humble writer who loves his craft. Growing up in the then barren western suburbs of Melbourne he sought enrichment through poetry. Becoming a ‘writer’ was a foreign concept in that era in that community. Working on weekends in his dad’s engineering factory he found beauty in words.

The conversation at the library meandered lyrically, involving us all, we spoke of poetry, literary fiction, genre fiction, winning awards, work in the local book shop, Black Rock White City, his soon-to-be-released collection of short stories The Butcherbird Stories, immigration, book clubs, libraries, the writing life, and more.

When Alec observed that fiction novels are the zeitgeist of society, I understood completely. This is a notion I have explored on occasion, my thoughts flailing about trying to reason why fiction is important. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas is a perfect example of a story that portrays a particular, time, place and culture: ‘the spirit of the times’.

The conversation about literary fiction brought the novel Eucalyptus by Murray Bail to mind. A book I love and is hard to place into a rigid genre. Alec was aiming for a literary page-turner with his book Black Rock White City and by receiving the Miles Franklin Award in 2016 for this novel, he obviously succeeded.

He mentioned the Long List for this year’s Miles Franklin Award and this has prompted me to have a look at those books. The one that appeals at first glance is From the Wreck by Jane Rawson.

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2017

These are the books I read in 2017 with my ratings – 11 fiction and 14 non-fiction:

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TITLE AUTHOR RATING
How Not To Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease Michael Greger ★★★★★
The Museum of Modern Love Heather Rose ★★★★★
Good Morning Midnight Lily Brooks-Dalton ★★★★★
Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn ★★★★★
Green Kitchen Travels David Frenkel and Luise Vindahl ★★★★★
Life On Earth Mike Dooley ★★★★
Healing from Family Rifts: Ten Steps to Finding Peace After Being Cut Off from a Family Member Mark Sichel ★★★★
Beyond the Rock Janelle McCulloch ★★★
Origin Dan Brown ★★★
Maestro Peter Goldsworthy ★★★
The Book of Joy The Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams ★★★
The Whistler John Grisham ★★★
The Desire Map Danielle LaPorte ★★★
The Course of Love Alain de Botton ★★★
How to be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living Rob Bell ★★★
How to Live a Good Life Jonathan Fields ★★★
Persuasion Jane Austen ★★★
A Whole Life Robert Seethaler ★★★
The Fast Diet Cookbook John Chatham ★★★
Siddhartha Hermann Hesse ★★★
My Italian Bulldozer Alexander McCall Smith ★★★
Hiding in Plain Sight Susan Lewis ★★
Kissed by a Deer Margi Gibb ★★
The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work Jon Gordon ★★
Fight Like a Girl Clementine Ford

Co-Creating Experiences of The Book

Or … event planning at public libraries.

The Cause

Participatory learning is not a new concept, but becoming widely adopted as a valid way to engage with communities. Public libraries have used this approach in recent years to highlight their value and to support literacy development in our diverse local populations.

Libraries have great books and so much more, but there is a prevalent need to let people know this. One great method is to extend the power of the book by inviting authors to come along to provide further explanation, context, ideas, and personal story. This enriches the experience of the book for the library users and hopefully actively supports the IFLA credos about intellectual freedom, inclusion, fostering creative and critical thinking.

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Kylie Ladd and Liane Moriarty at Frankston Library 2015 (photo by me)

The Sponsor

The sponsor is the governing organisation that provides the required funds to deliver these events, with a mandate towards social inclusion, public wellbeing, and community participation. The process can be upheld through regular checks and balances,  reporting, and goodwill and integrity.

The Organiser

In this description, that would be me, and I have a process, a small team, venues, a budget, and no shortage of ideas. I am naturally organised and with project planning experience from my Industrial Design background, I love a good project plan. The main tool for my process is a spread-sheet in a multitude of variations. I can be juggling anywhere from 5 to 15 events and promotions simultaneously, all at varying stages in the process. I love a good Gantt chart but have simplified to a simple timeline. I prepare a communication plan for my team and other essential documents such as a media release.

The Speaker

Booked Out Agency serves as a perfect partner as a provider of authors as speakers. What a wonderful and empowering mechanism for authors to be able to extend their work! They are my first resource when I am planning to fill my events calendar.

Having found a speaker and agreed to the time, fees, etc. it is up to the speaker to engage with the audience.

Authors who are not well-known or just launching their first book can try to jump onto the speakers route through public libraries. This does require a bit of self-promotion and leg-work by the author to make the connection and pitch their worth to the library events organiser (me). Fees for speaking will be much less depending on what is expected and agreed. Sometimes free use of space in exchange for the speaking event can be a viable way for an unknown author to get into this field.

Once ‘on stage’ it is entirely up to the speaker/author to engage the audience. Not every speaker fully realises this opportunity provided to them. It is a special and unique platform to have the spotlight, to speak their truths, to say their piece. Some waste it. Some don’t inspire. Some are self-indulgent. Some are just inexperienced. Some can write eloquently but not be able to speak to an audience well at all. It is a performance to some degree. Expert speakers can talk underwater – for hours. Great speakers inspire, are humble, and authentic. Some just have one great idea that can hold an audience spellbound for an hour. 

The Audience

People have to feel inspired into action to come along to a hear a speaker. Sometimes popularity or notoriety is all it takes to fill a space with eager attendees. They come with expectations, wanting to get ‘something’ from their investment of time and/or ticket price.

It is a serendipitous outcome. My attitude is based on the idea that whoever is in the room was meant to be there. Any particular mix of people will shape the event into the unique experience that it is. Any messages shared by the speaker or the attendees are expressed for all to hear and learn from.

The Results

This past year I have been successful in attracting people into the library who are not our regulars, or even library users. Does this translate into new memberships and more loans? Probably not. That is part of the aim but not in an overt or pushy manner. The hope is they will see the benefits and come back soon.

The results are dynamic, unique and engaging. Hopefully it reflects the objective: that we engage with the people in our community to inspire learning, support literacy development, encourage freedom of thought with the ability to think critically. We hope to instil this love of libraries into everyone of us.

Other Explanations

While researching the topic to see what others say about this ‘occupation’, I came across two descriptions that I particularly like:

#glamblogweekly

Fight like a lady

I admit that I had not heard about Clementine Ford until earlier this year. As the person who books the speakers at a public library, I came across her while searching for suitable people for our author events.

I was intrigued by the title of her book Fight Like a Girl and reserved the print and digital copies to prepare for a possible future introduction. I still had not come across her in any media because I must tailor my feeds to see other things.

Our event booked out quickly and unfortunately due to a ‘minor bingle’ in her car on the way to us, the event was abandoned with apologies to the keen audience. We rescheduled to a later date. This booked out immediately as well, so the eagerness to hear her message was solid.

I read the book! And hated it. My review on Goodreads:

“Clementine Ford obviously does not comprehend the evocative power of words because this toxic rant does nothing towards bettering equality for all human beings. Remove the meaningless and unintelligent profanities and the book’s actual content is reduced to a third. And most of what is left is tacky personal confession a wise person would leave in the scribbled complaints of a school girl’s diary; and not made public. In her epilogue she proudly states that “this book is a love letter to the girls.” There is no love in this book!”

The last book I recall hating with as much feeling was How It Feels by Brendan Cowell back in 2010 and here is that review.

Of course I am all for equality and women’s rights; indeed human rights. I know women are treated badly throughout the world. Clementine’s message is nothing new when it comes to feminism. Is she just getting attention because of her poor language? I love to be challenged by new thoughts, so it’s not about holding fast to quaint old views, but there seems to be a huge shortage of manners, respect, courtesy, and dare I say actual femininity.

I hand-balled the hosting task to a lovely quiet gentlemanly male colleague, who did his research then introduced her with warm thoughtful and well-considered words. What a guy! His introduction and the provocative talk by Clementine were appreciated by the crowd.

Profanities lack intelligence I think. They are aggressive blockers of conversation. Politics aside, I used to enjoy Paul Keating’s colourful and inventive sledging when he was in government. His wit and ingenious use of vocabulary left others mouths agape.

I must get on to my next read in preparation Music and Freedom – sounds promising.

Given my recent lack of regularity with posting to my blog, I’m sure I won’t succeed with the challenge to blog every week. The most I have posted was back in 2008, the first year of my blog, when I posted 33 times. But here goes … #glamblogweekly #libblogweekly

Goodreads Reading Challenge 2016

These are the books I read in 2016 with my ratings – 18 non-fiction and 12 fiction:

  1. The monk who sold his Ferrari: a fable about fulfilling your dreams & reaching your destiny by Robin S. Sharma 3 stars (re-read)
  2. The girl on the train by Paula Hawkins 4 stars
  3. Family secrets by Liz Byrski 3 stars
  4. The eyeball end by Ali Mc 3 stars
  5. The Wahls Protocol: How I beat progressive MS using Paleo principles and functional medicine by Dr Terri Wahls 3 stars
  6. Testimony by Anita Shreve 2 stars
  7. Happiness anywhere anytime: Happiness secrets revealed by missing socks, my dog, and a hitman by Dr Bruce Wells 3 stars
  8. The eye of the sheep by Sofie Laguna 3 stars
  9. The honeymoon effect: the science of creating heaven on Earth by Dr Bruce H Lipton 3 stars
  10. Oneness by Rasha 4 stars
  11. Wild mind: Living the writers life by Natalie Golderg 3 stars(re-read)
  12. I swear I’ll make it up to you by Mishka Shubaly 4 stars
  13. Creative journal writing: the art and heart of reflection by Stephanie Dowrick 3 stars
  14. Still life with teapot by Brigid Lowry 3 stars
  15. A woman of the goldfields: recollections of Emily Skinner 1854 – 1878 by Edward Duyker 3 stars
  16. Me before you by Jojo Moyes 3 stars
  17. After you by Jojo Moyes 3 stars
  18. The yoga of Max’s discontent by Karan Bajaj 4 stars
  19. Fifteen young men by Paul Kennedy 4 stars
  20. Only in Spain: a foot-stomping, firecracker of a memoir about food, Flamenco, and falling in love by Nellie Bennett 2 stars
  21. The happiness of pursuit: finding the quest that will bring purpose to your life by Chris Guillebeau 3 stars
  22. The chameleon’s poison by Iurgi Urrutia 4 stars
  23. Wood Green by Sean Rabin 4 stars
  24. Cloudwish by Fiona Wood 3 stars
  25. Penguin Bloom: the odd little bird who saved a family by Cameron Bloom 3 stars
  26. The best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion 1 star
  27. Reckoning: A memoir by Magda Szubanski 3 stars
  28. The rose of Tibet by Lionel Davidson 3 stars
  29. Super accelerated living: how to manifest an epic life by Bentinho Massaro 4 stars
  30. The world of the Happy Pear by Stephen and David Flynn 4 stars

All of the books that make it to the reading challenge list I did actually read to the end. Books I Did Not Finish aren’t listed.

These selections have been influenced by:

  • authors that were guests of the library where I work;
    • Ali Mc
    • Sofie Laguna
    • Dr Bruce Wells
    • Iurgi Urrutia
    • Paul Kennedy
  • books and authors discussed on various podcasts;
    • Mishka Shubaly
    • Stephen and David Flynn
    • Chris Guillebeau
    • Dr Terri Wahls
    • Dr Bruce Lipton
    • Robin Sharma
    • Bentinho Massaro
    • Karan Bajaj
  • also serendipity and curiosity.

Tell me

A realization struck me as I sat in the audience listening to Doctor Bruce Wells talk about happiness: I am living my life aligned to my passions and values. My employed work is to plan and organize library related events for the interest and benefit of our local community. It is a privileged position and while, in general, library work does align with my values associated with ethics, morals, and liberty, Dr. Wells made me realize that for me there is something deeper.

 

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Dr Bruce Wells at Frankston Library 16 April 2016

I love reading and books. I love being exposed to new ideas. I love to imagine other worlds and lives that exist between the pages. I love being told a good story. I love feeding my hunger for exploration and discovery. I love sitting at home in a comfortable chair absorbed in the latest good read. Working in a library, invites, supports and encourages others to read a good book and learn new things.

But it is my work that takes this one step further. What good are books full of treasured stories if they sit idly waiting on shelves gathering dust? What makes people pick it off the shelf and open the cover? It relies too heavily on serendipity. Library staff create displays and programs to highlight and celebrate books and themes in order to help people see what they don’t always know is there. (I read ebooks too and I am well aware of the new consumer habits associated with obtaining ebooks, but for this post I am focussing on our public libraries and print books. Many people don’t know that you can borrow an ebook for free from a public library; but that’s a whole other post).

But I go one step further. I invite authors to come along and speak at our library. What better way to bring books to life than to have the author there before you, in the flesh, to tell you more about their ideas?

Being told stories is a cherished human activity that goes back before books. Campfire stories are still a favourite thing to do when we can. The popularity of TED Talks is no surprise. We all love to hear something interesting. Then we might follow up this interest by exploring more on the topic.

So my realization was that I am able to share my own love of reading, books, and storytelling, by inviting authors to come and speak in person at our library. Local people can enjoy hearing stories told, and the writing craft explained, by the authors themselves. Books are thus brought to life. It is a true privilege for me to be in this position to be able to bring about this unique alchemy.

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Ali MC and Abe Nouk at Frankston Library 19 March 2016

These are the authors that I have organized speaking events for over the past year:

And these are the events that are coming up soon: