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

Bedtime Stories and Teenage Readers

50 Great Bedtime Stories

My son was born at 5:36 am on the 2 June 2002. It had been a long night, and it was a long day (admittedly, more so for my wife!), and when I went home from the hospital that evening, it was with the surreal realisation I was now a dad. I decided my first dad-duty would be to buy a book of bedtime stories. Continue ReadingBedtime Stories and Teenage Readers

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

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