First Sentences on Instagram

First Sentences - Guns Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

A little while back I published a blog post titled Writing First Sentences. The piece was in part inspired by a series I have been posting to Instagram of photos of books tagged as #bookcovers and #firstsentences. In the post, I commented on the cliche “you should never judge a book by its cover”, admitting that in some cases, like Dog on It by Spencer Quinn, I loved the cover AND loved the book. But for me, the best gauge of whether I’ll enjoy a work of fiction or nonfiction is to read the first sentences. Continue ReadingFirst Sentences on Instagram

Do You Reread Books?

Penguin Books Australia on Facebook

In a Facebook post last year Penguin Books Australia asked, Do You Reread Books?  And if so, What book have you reread the most? I’ve kept all my favourite books with the thought of one day rereading them. And then I start a new book, it becomes a favourite and is added to my bookcase to read again … one day! However, there are three books I have reread, at least once. Continue ReadingDo You Reread Books?

The Vietnam War – Boy from Perth’s Perspective

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As a kid growing up in Perth, W.A., in the 1960s and ’70s, I didn’t learn about the Vietnam War from classroom history lessons. Vietnam and the broader Indochina War were on our radio and TV news every morning and evening, and in the front page headlines of our daily newspapers (though unlike some of my precocious school friends, I can’t claim to have read beyond the headlines). Continue ReadingThe Vietnam War – Boy from Perth’s Perspective

Writing First Sentences

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To help overcome writer’s block and make a start on writing the first sentences of A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway is said to have reminded himself: “Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Continue ReadingWriting First Sentences

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton – Omen or Inspiration?

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In May of 1992, the local literary news in Australia was all about Tim Winton and his novel, Cloudstreet. I thought it an omen. Winton was thirty-one-years old and I was thirty. He’d grown up in Western Australia and so had I. He’d just won his second Miles Franklin Award and I was about to have a second crack at being a writer!  Continue ReadingCloudstreet by Tim Winton – Omen or Inspiration?

The Books You Read At School

Ask anyone who, like me, was a kid in Australia the 1970s, “What were the books you read at school?” and we’re likely to recall at least three novels. There may be more, but for me, these three are the classics, the ones I had to read, analyse and write essays on in English. And, in their different ways, they left a deep impression on me. Perhaps that’s why I still have copies of them in my bookcase – though none are school days’ originals! Continue ReadingThe Books You Read At School

My Favourite Libraries

A friend shared a Facebook post by Architectural Digest inviting the reader to “Step Inside the World’s Coolest Library”. The futuristically designed library in Tianjin, China, aptly nicknamed The Eye, is cool, lined from floor to cathedral high ceilings with bookshelves that follow the curved contours of the building and, most importantly for the avid reader, are stocked full of books. Continue ReadingMy Favourite Libraries