Book Review: SPQR by Mary Beard

Book Review: SPQR by Mary Beard

I really wanted to love this book because I am a huge Mary Beard fan and I love her enthusiastic, passionate and fascinating documentaries about the Romans. As a novice to this topic, I was really craving a book that would educate me and also sustain my interest. About a decade ago, I waded through…

The world according to Anton Chekhov

The world according to Anton Chekhov

Anton Chekhov defied description with his writing. With his limber and sharp mind he was able to craft and bring alive 18th Century Russia in such a delicate, poignant and deeply emotional way that it will leave you breathless and gasping. To read his short stories is to be plunged into a completely different realm.…

Athena Expelling the Vices from the Garden of Virtue 1502 by Andrea Mantegna

Opening Pandora’s Box: Phrases Borrowed from the Classics and the Stories Behind Them by Ferdie Addis

If you are in love with language, storytelling, folklore or classical history then you will love this book. It’s short at only 162 pages. However Opening Pandora’s Box punches well above its weight in terms of quality with many amusing and shocking stories from classical history to enjoy.

Book Review – Men without women by Haruki Murakami

Seven larger than life short story collections that open up big worlds

These bite-sized tales punch well above their weight and will have you questioning why you would waste time on full-length novels. Selected Short Stories by Anton Chekhov To read Checkhov's short stories is to be plunged into a completely different realm. Although written over a century ago, the characters and their emotions and struggles resonate…

Book Review: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Book Review: The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber

Peter and Beatrice Leigh are a childless 30-something British couple who are devoutly evangelical Christians and are living in a Britain of an imagined near future. In this imaginary Britain things look largely similar to how they are right now, except that there's a colony of humans living on a faraway planet called Oasis. These…

Travel: A winter afternoon of contemplation in Queenstown

Ancient Word of the Day: Chrysalism

Chrysalism The strange and cosy combination of tranquillity and protectedness experienced when safely indoors as a thunderstorm breaks overhead. The sensation of warmth and well-being induced by listening to waves of rain pattering onto the roof. Originally coined by the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.   

I Collect Images of Paintings Like Others Collect Treasures

Ancient word of the day: Cirrocumulus

Origin: 1650s. Cumulus " a heap, pile, mass, surplus " in Latin *keue "to swell" in Latin. Cirrocumulus are flocks of fleecy clouds that whisk past us on a glorious spring day. Often their appearance in the evening foretells of a stormy morning the following day. At least thats old shepherd’s wisdom. German Schäfchenwolken: Little…

Book Review: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Book Review: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

This is a book to devour in enormous gulps. When you do come up for air, fill yourself with black tea and then settle back into your armchair, to be borne aloft once more. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent is a bittersweet and melancholy tale of a woman named Agnes Magnusdottir. Set in Iceland in…

Book Review: The Abundance by Annie Dillard

Book Review: The Abundance by Annie Dillard

Creative non-fiction genius and nature writer extraordinaire Annie Dillard has won a Pulitzer Prize for her essay writing. She has a unique, warm and intensely spiritual, even transcendental way of writing that elevates her above most other writers. That’s big praise I know, but this is really great writing. She has the ability to probe…

Book Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Book Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

*Contains no plot spoilers. Pachinko is a family saga about Korean migrants living in Japan against the backdrop of the unheaval of the 20th Century. The novel traces struggles, triumphs and colourful personalities of several generations of one family. It rockets along at an amazing pace and doesn’t let up. This is a book to…

Book Review: The Romantic Italian Days and Nights by Kate Holden

Book Review: The Romantic Italian Nights and Days by Kate Holden

Kate Holden is the Australian author of the amazing memoir In This Skin. The Romantic is a follow-up to this memoir. A bit about Kate Holden, she’s a woman from Melbourne who grew up in a respectable middle-class family. She then broke away from her stable family life and became a heroin addict and a…

Book Review: The Map of Knowledge by Violet Moller

Book Review: The Map of Knowledge by Violet Moller

Have you ever wondered where the original ideas in mathematics, astronomy, science, medicine, philosophy ever came from? The answers to these questions are in this remarkable history book that takes us on a tiki-tour through the highways and back alleys of some of the most vibrant and buzzing cities of the ancient world, where knowledge…

Book Review: The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth - Part 1

Book Review: The Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth – Part 1

Mark Forsyth is the witty and effervescent writer of several books on the history of language, etymology and linguistics. The Elements of Eloquence explains the timeless art of crafting memorable one liners. In other words, the rules of classical rhetoric.   This is a great guide for writers who want to master the subtle art…

Book Review: The Trauma Cleaner: One woman’s extraordinary life in decay and disaster by Sarah Krasnostein

Book Review: The Trauma Cleaner: One woman’s extraordinary life in decay and disaster by Sarah Krasnostein

This is quite possibly the most incredible non-fiction memoir that I have ever read in my life. I know that sounds big, but this book was a real knock-out. It has won countless awards including the Victorian Prize for Literature. Originally a fantastic long-form essay on Narrative.ly, author Sarah Krasnostein then developed the story of…

Book Review: Making Magic by Briana Saussy

Book Review: Making Magic by Briana Saussy

Briana Saussy writer and founder of the Sacred Arts Academy in San Antonio, Texas has written an intimate, enjoyable and joyful guide to the art of creating spiritual rituals and ceremonies in your home. Making Magic is organised by technique and material. It makes the everyday rituals in our lives sacred and adds pleasure and…

Book Review: The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis Williams

Book Review: The Mind in the Cave by David Lewis Williams

I grabbed a copy of this book fully expecting to love it. The Mind in the Cave is packed with information about ancient history, anthropology, archaeology and the Lascaux and Chauvet cave complexes – some of my favourite subjects. Although I have to say that this book was written in a style that was confusing to read, difficult to wade through and some of the information didn’t make sense, even to this non-expert on the topic.

Book Review: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Book Review: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

This is the first fantasy novel of acclaimed Japanese writer Kazuo Ishiguro. Previously, I have read The Remains of the Day, an incredible book that was turned into a successful film of the same name. Although creating a fantasy novel is a huge departure from his usual setting. In many ways, this book contains the…

Day in the life: Facebook is destroying our understanding of normal life

On silence and idleness

"Happiness is in the quiet, ordinary things. A table, a chair, a book with a paper-knife stuck between the pages. And the petal falling from the rose, and the light flickering as we sit silent." Virginia Woolf, The Waves Time Moves Slow by Bad Bad Good https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgPQ2J_uM3A “Nothing thicker than a knife's blade separates happiness…

Book Review: Awaken in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-discovery by Mark Coleman

Book Review: Awaken in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-discovery by Mark Coleman

Awaken in the Wild is a really great introductory book about the connection between mindfulness and the natural world. Published in 2006, it feels before its time in terms of the themes of overstimulation from technology and mindfulness. There are around 40 brief and themed sections in the book, with a short lesson and then…

Book Review: A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

Book Review: A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

A Field Guide to Getting Lost is a collection of loosely related essays that expand upon the idea of wandering, being lost and our human sense of the unknown. The essays are insightful, vivid and at times slow-moving. This is a mosaic of cultural history, autobiography, nature writing and artistic criticism that roves far and…

Book Review: Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan

Book Review: Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan

Book Review: Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan There have been a swathe of books lately on how to overcome shyness. This one is my favourite. This memoir recounts the adventures of Quiet American, Jessica Pan as she undertakes a year of living as an extrovert in London. It’s a…

Book Review: Weatherland by Andrea Harris

Book Review: Weatherland by Andrea Harris

Weatherland by Alexandra Harris is a sweeping panorama and magic carpet ride through the history of England using a quirky weathervane to measure the changing culture - the weather. Author Alexandra Harris’ debut book won The Guardian’s Book of the Year. It’s no surprise either because this is a far-reaching, expansive book written in an…