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:

SiLLé Library Engagement

I want to tell you about this concept – the Self Initiated Life Long Learning Experience. This is a new acronym created by me a few months ago. It is a way that people use the library that is currently not described in any way. This to me is one of the backbone features of the library. It is something I have called SiLLé

Self – it is about the individual; not your parents or your school or your workplace.

It is initiated by the individual; not by a curriculum, or a government organisation, or a rigid course.

The double ‘l’’s stand for Life Long Learning; that is self-explanatory I think. It could have been three ‘I’’s but that would have been silly.

Public Library, Nice, France

Public Library, Nice, France

é – because it is an experience. ‘e’ also represents the electronic medium of the virtual and digital world that libraries are part of. The French accent I put in just to give the acronym some French flair, but also because the French appreciate the value of the silly idea. This public library in Nice France is proof of that.

Here is an example of the self initiated lifelong learning experience.

A few years back I read this library book. The Buddha, Geoff and Me by Edward Canfor-Dumas. I enjoyed it immensely. The book introduced some things that I had not heard about before:

  • SGI Buddhism
  • A chant that featured heavily in the story But I was curious to know how to pronounce the chant and what it sounded like.

So I listened to an audio copy of the book and enjoyed the story once again. I heard the pronunciation – “nam-myoho-renge-kyo” – but sadly no chant. So I hopped online to research these things. I found various versions of the chant on YouTube. And I found that the chant means “Devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra”. I also found out that SGI Buddhism stands for Soka Gakkai International and this is a Japanese branch of Buddhism.

You could do all of this without the help of the library, however this is where the library catalogue serves as a precision tool for the masterful library users. Using the library catalogue I can bring up the record of the book I enjoyed and then cross-reference by subject to find more books on the topic, or by that author to see what else this guy has written, or by the narrator because I enjoyed hearing the gorgeous English accent of Nicholas Bell.

So the self-initiated lifelong learning experience continues… It is a truly unique intellectual wandering specific to me, and my random interests; as it is for everyone. Through this process we learn new things, our knowledge increases, and some of these pursuits might lead to something like a job; but not necessarily. However the impact that is has on improved literacy is immense. And we know that improved literacy helps with freedom of expression, civil liberty and a democratic society.

Now let me tell you a story about this man Og Mandino. Augustine Mandino was born in 1923. After schooling he joined the U S Air Force where he became a military officer and a jet fighter pilot. He flew during World War II. After his military duties, Mandino became a door to door insurance salesman. But he was really bad at it. He became an alcoholic, failed his family, and became destitute. He wanted to commit suicide. He went to a gun shop to get a gun and end it all. But the gun shop was closed.

Next door there happened to be a library so he went in to wait until the gun shop opened. He browsed through the books in a library, and it was the books about self-help, success and motivation that captured Mandino’s attention. He began reading and found himself there at the end of the day, having forgotten all about the gun. He read hundreds of books that dealt with success, a pastime that helped him alleviate his alcoholism.

He found W. Clement Stone’s classic, Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, and this book changed Mandino’s life. He wrote the bestselling book The Greatest Salesman in the World. His books have sold over 50 million copies and have been translated into over twenty-five different languages.

Mandino eventually became a successful writer and speaker. This was before the Internet and before TED talks. He died in 1996.

The library saved his life. Because…

  • It was there
  • It was open
  • It was free to enter
  • It was inclusive
  • Full of many books on a vast array of topics
  • He was not answerable to anyone
  • His personal SiLLé experience with the library saved his life.

National Library Week 2015

National Library Week has been a busy week for me where I have seen months of planning come to fruition. Our author event was a success with a lovely discussion around the topic of this year’s theme ‘imagine’.

Seven authors were asked questions posed by poet Andrea Louise Thomas. These authors were a diverse group and this added richness to the discussion. The authors were: Garry Disher; Greg Hill; Rose Inserra; Judy Taylor; Brita Lee; Leigh Van der Horst; and Susan Berg.

Andrea Louise Thomas expertly led the conversation asking questions tailored to suit each author’s unique approach. Andrea is a poet, arts editor of Mint magazine, proof reader, and poetry slam finalist. So a very well qualified person to lead this discussion.

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Susan Berg offered a heroic and painful true story about losing her whole family in a boating accident in which she was the only survivor. The tragedy many years past, her story is about how her life has unfolded since that awful day.

Leigh Van der Horst is a new author with a book about the grief following her mother’s death. A common theme by coincidence, but it was interesting to hear about different approaches to writing about this deeply life-changing experience. The resulting published manuscripts also show this different approach to a similar life experience.

Garry Disher is a credible writer of crime fiction and his substantial body of successful works shone through in his answers that provided insight, generosity, and the humble spirit of a true craftsman.

Judy Taylor is new to the writing scene and her self-published diary of grief after her mother’s death is raw and personal. She gave advice based on her experience of the self-publishing process.

Greg Hill is a ghostwriter who brings life to other people’s true stories. He spoke with knowledge and depth about the writing process.

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Brita Lee writes science fiction. The Panopticon Deception is the first published of a trilogy. Her passion and excitement for writing was obvious as she described how she lets the story reveal itself to her as she writes.

Rose Inserra writes children’s non-fiction and her latest non-fiction publication is about dreams. As a teacher of the writing craft she is well qualified to talk about the topic. She is warm, intelligent, and an engaging speaker.

The audience seemed happy and satisfied with one lady telling me, “I go to these types of events all the time, and this was the best one ever.” Sigh!

Books read in 2014

GoodReads is a fantastic online tool for keeping track of your reading and I have been using it for the last couple of years. By contrast LibraryThing is great for recommending books that suit your reading and uses crowd tagging extremely effectively.

I used the reading challenge within GoodReads setting my goal at 50 books for the year. I am not an especially fast reader and tend to abandon a book if it doesn’t grab me in the first chapter. With this challenge I was encouraged to read books to the end, and this worked well for the most part. I read 28 non-fiction books; 10 fiction books; and I did not finish (abandoned) 4. Only two received five-star ratings: one non-fiction and one fiction.

Also note the prevalence of self-help books. This is no surprise as it is a genre that I have always been fond of reading, ever since my father first introduced me to the book “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale. The last two years have been a challenging time for me personally trying to come to terms with the deaths of my mother and father, and life without them.

This tendency to read self-help books has been validated by the efforts of the Reading Agency in the United Kingdom, where their “Books on Prescription” program and the “Mood Boosting Books” program show the power of reading to lift us up out of habitual and damaging thought patterns.

So here are my results in order of preference:

TITLE AUTHOR RATING
1 The Goldfinch Donna Tartt ✪✪✪✪✪
2 An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth Chris Hadfield ✪✪✪✪✪
3 Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment Katrina Kenison ✪✪✪✪
4 10 Day Detox Diet Success: How to succeed on the 10 Day Detox Diet Mark Hyman M.D. ✪✪✪✪
5 Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster Jon Krakauer ✪✪✪✪
6 Love With A Chance of Drowning Torre DeRoche ✪✪✪✪
7 The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet Nina Teicholz ✪✪✪✪
8 The Fast Diet Michael Mosley ✪✪✪
9 Paris Letters Janice Macleod ✪✪✪
10 Why Mindfulness is Better Than Chocolate: Your Guide to Inner Peace, Enhanced Focus and Deep Happiness David Michie ✪✪✪
11 The Tenth Door: An Adventure Through the Jungles of Enlightenment Michele Hebert ✪✪✪
12 Walk Like a Buddha: Even If Your Boss Sucks, Your Ex is Torturing You, and You’re Hungover Again Lodro Rinzler ✪✪✪
13 The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife Marianne Williamson ✪✪✪
14 Demons Wayne Macauley ✪✪✪
15 Bringing the Sacred to Life: the Daily Practice of Zen Ritual John Daido Loori ✪✪✪
16 The Beethoven Factor: the New Positive Psychology of Hardiness, Happiness, Healing and Hope Paul Pearsall ✪✪✪
17 The Power (The Secret #2) Rhonda Byrne ✪✪✪
18 Gone Girl Gillian Flynn ✪✪✪
19 Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting Dr. Wayne Dyer ✪✪✪
20 The Best of Me Nicholas Sparks ✪✪✪
21 The Gospel of Joy Amanda Gore ✪✪✪
22 A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose Eckhart Tolle ✪✪✪
23 Radical Forgiveness Colin C. Tipping ✪✪✪
24 Using LinkedIn Patrice-Anne Rutledge ✪✪✪
25 The Inside-Out Revolution: the Only Thing You Need to Know to Change Your Life Forever Michael Neill ✪✪✪
26 E-Squared: Nine Do It Yourself Energy Experiments That Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality Pam Grout ✪✪✪
27 Still Alice Lisa Genova ✪✪
28 Fitlosophy 1: chasing Physical perfection in a World of Gluttony Sharny Kieser ✪✪
29 The Breakthrough Experience: A Revolutionary New Approach to Personal Transformation John F. Demartini ✪✪
30 What Westerners Have for Breakfast: Five Years in Goa John McBeath ✪✪
31 Dying to Know: Is There Life After Death Josh Langley ✪✪
32 The Husband’s Secret Liane Moriarty ✪✪
33 A Long Way Down Nick Hornby ✪✪
34 Why Is God Laughing? The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism Deepak Chopra ✪✪
35 My Son and the Afterlife: Conversations from the Other Side Elisa Medhus M.D. ✪✪
36 Driving Under the Influence Jenna Martin
37 Elizabeth is Missing Emma Healey
38 Sisters of Spicefield Fran Cusworth
39 Blink: the Power of Thinking Without Thinking Malcolm Gladwell abandoned
40 The Cuckoo’s Calling Robert Galbraith abandoned
41 The Word Exchange Alena Graedon abandoned
42 After Darkness Christine Piper abandoned

I plan to use GoodReads again to challenge myself once again in 2015 and I think that the target of 50 books remains a good one for me.

Paris Letters

Janice Macleod, the author of the book Paris Letters, inspired me to try my hand at a bit of drawing once again. She makes a living selling her letters online. These letters are hand written and illustrated with simple pen and water colour sketches. And of course this all began in Paris.

I love using Instagram to share beautiful photos of our world and so I thought I could begin by copying some of the photos I had already taken. I love this one of cherries in a glass bowl for it’s cheery Christmassy feel. Here is the original photo taken by me, and my sketch. And this I used for Christmas cards this year.

Christmas cherries 2014

Christmas cherries 2014