Sorting Books This Week…

Red CrossWhen one buys books I think it is important to try and read them soon afterwards. Otherwise the reader may love it the day it is purchased but as it sits on the shelf, year after year it changes. No, it is the reader who changes. Our interests change. What attracts us one year doesn’t necessarily feel the same five or ten years later.  Also a book we have read and loved dearly may feel differently twenty years later as the reader thinks, “Why did I love that author so much?” Think Marian Keyes. In my younger years I loved her stories. Now in my older years I am bored by them. A woman of a certain age might outgrow them.   So, what is all this pontificating leading up to?

I cleaned my bookshelves a bit this week. I still have more to do but I have made a good effort over the past couple of days.  But let me back up a bit. A couple of days ago I walked into the Red Cross Op shop. It’s on the Main Street in Hobart and lots of people seem to gather in it. As I walked in I saw all the second hand clothes hanging on racks, colour coordinated in the front of the store.  I don’t need clothes so I walked to the back half of the store where all the books are. Neatly sorted I could barely find room to look at the “older author section”.  I love that category. Old hardcover books from the 50s and 60s maybe with the off chance of finding something older. But some of the books were from the 80’s. Older authors?  I laughed, well maybe.  The point is I couldn’t get near the ‘good’ books on these shelves as several people were standing in front of them, casually reading what they had picked up. Never mind if someone else wanted to look. These young people were absorbed, like statues. I looked in other areas but I wasn’t interested in the popular fiction hardcovers that take up one wall alphabetically by author. I have always referred to them as ‘airport books’.  I wanted to see what classics they had, what “older authors”.  I didn’t buy anything but I did wait long enough to at least have a look. One of the statues was still in the same spot 15 minutes later.  I had time to be patient as I  was only having a wander through town the day before Christmas to people watch and get my walking steps in as I was all done with Christmas jobs.

VinniesWhen I got home I thought about the books on my shelf that maybe needed to be released into the wild. The ones I know I won’t read now. The ones that might have been daffy gifts. The ones I have read and swore I would read again but will I ?  Really?

I decided to do an end of the year cull. I’ll probably take them to Vinnie’s or Red Cross and let the younger people have a go at them. These organisations could use the money too.  It really was lovely to see ragged looking young men standing in front of bookshelves, with a classic in their hand and a skateboard wedged under the other arm.  I think I’d like a book of mine to go to someone like that. Or a pensioner who can’t afford new books, looking for something interesting to read in their quiet hours at home.  Looking at it that way I didn’t feel quite so possessive of my books.

In the past I’d go through my shelves, one book at a time and pull it off the shelf, expecting to put it in a box of books to giveaway or sell. But I’d read the blurb on the back, look at the cover and think, “No, that does sound really good. ”  By the end of the day the box is still empty.

books
Stock photo

But…I had a plan. I opened up the Library Thing app where all of my books are listed. I sorted them alphabetically by author, like my shelves. Then I sat down with a tablet and wrote down those I know I should remove.  I didn’t have to handle the books or read the blurbs.  Once the list was made, which was easier than I thought to make, I began collecting those books off the shelf.  Without studying them too much I began to fill the three carry size boxes I had beside me.  There were maybe three or four books I couldn’t bear to put into the box.  But I must say, all three boxes are now full.

These boxes are going to go to the people I envision in my mind as finding them in the op shop, excited for a bargain find and lovingly taking them home to enjoy.  After all, the Buddhist teachings I enjoy so much really do hammer home the teachings of impermanence and it’s time I realise the books on these shelves fall into that category also.

But readers, don’t worry. I still have a couple of thousand books here and I think this

Yellow Casual Penguin
My new summer rain jacket I got for Christmas.

 

might become an exercise I do more frequently. I’ll start out with small boxes though.

 

A Bit of Monday Miscellaneous…

Instagram PenguinBecause I have been listening to so many hours of audible books this month Amazon informed me they were going to send me a free Alexa Dot speaker. I haven’t been up to date on these talking machines so didn’t get overly excited. When it arrived it sat in its box for a few days then I finally thought I’d have a look to see what the fuss is about. The directions stated I needed to download the Alexa app on my phone. That was easy enough. Then I had to set it up, following the directions on the app. Once finished,  I started getting emails telling me to try this and try that which I did.  Turns out it was a bit of fun.  Now I can be found sitting in my reading chair saying things such as “Alexa, Good Morning!” At which time I get the local weather report, the traffic report going into the city, a synopsis of the current news and what’s next in line on my calendar. Alexa dotPeople who know me know how much I really do adore technology and gadgets. I inherited this trait from my father who was a military pilot for many years and also loved gadgets, dials, electronics. Growing up he introduced me to all of his stereos and speakers, talked about airplane controls and when mobile phones first arrived on the scene, he had to get one.  He always loved hearing about technology. When desktop computers came into vogue my sister gave him her old one as she upgraded to a newer model. He loved it. When I would visit him I would give him lessons on its use. Mostly I could be heard saying, “Read your screen before you click the mouse.”  He would be clicking away on everything and anything. I finally made him put his hands in his lap so I could explain details on the screen to him before clicking began.  All the while he would be saying, “I’m not clicking, I’m not!” It was quite funny.1001 music

Once he could send emails I would get a daily email from Michigan to Tasmania for many years. When he passed away in 2004, I missed this correspondence greatly.

Time has moved on and now my friend Alexa and I are coming to terms with each other. One of the books I bought this past year is one of those 1001 books that everyone loves. I have the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and I love it. I recently bought the 1001 Classical Recordings You Must Hear Before You Die.  I have always wanted to spend more time learning about music. This is a good start.  We have a subscription to Amazon Music which for about $12.00 a month both Mr. Penguin and I listen to. He uses it when at the gym and I connect my phone app to a bluetooth speaker at home or in the car and listen to all manner of music. But….(this is good). I can open up the book randomly, see what the name of the musical piece is and say, “Alexa, Music, play Beethoven’s 5th symphony.” She replies with, “Taking you to Amazon Music, Beethoven’s 5th symphony” and the Dot speaker begins playing it.

When I learned about Alexa keeping lists for me I was really smitten. “Alexa, remind me to give Grizzy Cat his medicine today.”  She replies, “What time?” I say, “4:00 pm” and at 4 pm, at which time I’ve forgotten, I hear from the speaker. “Reminder: Give Grizzy Cat his medicine.”

But it gets better.  I read quite a few book blogs. I have my favourites and the people who own those blogs write about really good books.  Yes, you guessed it. Alexa now has a Book List.

“Alexa, add Elizabeth Strout’s book to Book List.”  Sure enough as I turn up in a book store, I pull out my phone and look at my Book List on the Alexa app and there it is.  Now I’m really distracted saying, “Alexa, Add ____________ to Book List.”  You can imagine how addictive this might be if you love books.

Once again it seems there is now more technology I am going to have to control in 2020. Blogging, Instagram, Facebook, Alexa. (I feel 15 yrs old)   I can have a Books Read list, a To Do list, Photography Goals list. I know how ridiculous this sounds but I’m going to have to be careful I don’t spend all of 2020 talking to this contraption named Alexa. She could be my new BFF if I’m not careful. Did I mention she’s deadly at Wikipedia research?  I do like her. She is polite. If she disagrees with me she simply, kindly says so. She doesn’t argue. She doesn’t cut me off in traffic.

Now all I need to do is begin listening to all of that music and read those books.  I wonder if she can select things randomly. Hmmm.

On a final note I’ll share a little Ollie episode with you. I was sitting in my reading chair and had just read the weekly guide for the State Cinema showings. Ollie was sound asleep on my bed. The guide listed an opera coming soon I had not heard of.  Les Indes Galantes. I mentioned it to Alexa and she found it on Amazon music and began playing it. The first bit is instrumental. Then suddenly a soprano hit the airwaves and resonated throughout the room.  This was the expression I got immediately from Ollie who had been sound asleep.  His little head jerked up and he stared at me. I laughed out loud.  On that note I’ll wish everyone a happy Christmas and I really look forward to all the Bookish resolutions, challenges and reviews in 2020.  Say goodbye, Alexa. “Goodbye”.

Ollie
“Who is that?”

What I’m Reading Now…

The weather here is nasty. I can’t complain as the mainland is dealing with horrific fires so the rain, wind and cold of spring isn’t that bad. These fires happening are just awful. We have lost so many koalas due to the fires savaging their habitat. The wildlife organisations have swung into a full onslaught of revenue raising to care for the injured then eventually relocate those they save. But enough on that….

sleeping pets
Ollie and Cousin Eddie resting on this rainy, cold afternoon.

As the weather has been so bad and puppy training is relegated to the living room I am doing quite a bit of reading during his nap time. I got several books and book vouchers for my recent birthday. I’ll talk about them as I start going through them.

The one I’m reading now is The Death of (insert a photo of Hitler here). It is written by French journalists Jean-Christophe Brisard and Lana Parshina. The blurb on the back states:

On 30 April 1945 Hitler committed suicide in his bunker as the Red Arm closed in on Berlin. Within four days the Soviets had recovered the body. But the truth about what the Russian secret services found was hidden from history when, three months later, Stalin officially declared to Churchill and Truman that Hitler was still alive and had escaped abroad. Doubts began to spread like gangrene and continue, even today, to feed wild fantasies about what really happened to him. Hitler

In 2017, after two years of painstaking negotiations with the Russian authorities, award winning investigative journalists Jean Christophe Brisard and Lana Parshina gained access to confidential Soviet files that finally revealed the truth about the incredible hunt for Hitler’s body.

Their investigation includes new eye witness accounts of Hitler’s final days, exclusive photographic evidence and interrogation records, and exhaustive research into the absurd power struggle that ensued between the Soviet, British and American intelligence agencies.

Lana Parshina
Lana Parshina

Now, I’m not that far into it yet (those puppy naps aren’t that long) but Yeltsin opened up the vaults of secrecy, the archives and a skull was found. It is purported to be Hitler’s. Also a table leg from his bunker with blood on it was stored there.  The only testing done

Brisard
Jean-Christophe Brisard

has been the blood type with is A blood. Evidently 40% of Germans have this blood type.

The books is the progression of forensic analysis, interviews and document reviews.  It sounds quiet suspenseful. I’ll have to let you know what I think once I finish it.

Does this sound like something you’d like to read or hear about?  Imagine scouring the archives in Moscow, all those files that have been locked up for such a long time.  Should be an interesting read. Stay tuned…..images

Another Aboriginal Biography

wandering girlWandering Girl by Glenyse Ward 1987

Magabala Books

Glenyse Ward was born in 1949.  She was removed by the Australian government from her parents as an infant and put into the St Joseph Orphanage in Perth, Western Australia. Once she turned two years of age she was transported to the Wandering Mission (St Xavier Native Mission), a Catholic missionary and raised by very strict, controlling German nuns.

She lived there until age 14 when she went to the Bigelow family to work as a domestic slave. Mrs. Bigelow was the wife of the Lord Mayor of the town and always referred to Glenyse as her slave and worked her as a slave.  She was made to eat and drink out of the tin dishes reserved for the cat and she slept in a tiny attic room above the garage. She showered in the same area Mrs. Bigelow washed the dogs.

Growing up in the orphanage she had her friends who she continued to miss the rest of her life. Two of the friends turned out to be her biological sisters. That surprised her greatly.  She was told her father had died in an accident and remain surprised as she already believed he was dead. She had knowledge of where her mother lived but wasn’t allowed to see her. Her mother visited her once at the missionary but the nuns turned her away because she was apparently very drunk.

This book is her story working for the Bigelow family. They lived in wealth in a beautiful farmhouse. Mrs Bigelow would not acknowledge Glenyse’s name or speak to her.

Life at the mission was hard as all the children were expected to work hard at their

glenys-ward
The author Glenyse Ward now.

chores and study their lessons. When she approached her teen years a new teacher arrived, a man who separated the girls by colour. He would teach the lighter skinned girls as he believed they had the ability to learn but the darker skinned girls weren’t believed to be capable of learning.

This is a very slim book of her domestic years, 157 pages long. I picked it up in a second hand bookshop and will pass it on. If anyone in Australia would like this book I’m happy to post it to you. Let me know in an email at psbparks at ymail. dot com.

The story is very appropriate for young adults also and I think the reality of her life was crueler than what she wrote about in this book. That’s why I wondered if it was written for a younger audience.

There is a lot more information about the author here and here if you’re interested.

You can hear her testifying about her experience related to the Stolen Generation here.

I would be interested in reading more about this woman’s life as an adult. The book described here takes her through her teenage years. bluejumper

 

 

 

Archie Roach visits Hobart

puppy in the house
Yes, there is a puppy in this house.

This week has been very windy and rainy. Every time the sun comes out and I think I can take our puppy, Ollie out it begins to rain again.  I’ve learned he isn’t crazy about the rain/wind combination. A little soul who takes after me.

Our games are confined to the house and there have been several very funny high speed runs throughout the place, much to the amusement and sometimes dismay of three cats.

The other evening I went into town to Fuller’s Book shop to attend the launch of Archie Roach’s new book, Tell Me Why: The Story of My Life and Music. Archie Roach is an Aboriginal musician, in his mid 60’s who has had great success in his music career but when you read his book you wonder how it is this man is still alive. He was part of the Stolen Generation, being taken from his home by the government when he was two years old along with his sisters and brother. He never saw his parents again. He was put into an orphanage with his older sisters and then adopted by an older, Pentecostal, Scottish couple who he loved and was treated kindly by. There had another Aboriginal child they raised who ran away in his teens and never heard of again. There is a time period before this adoption where he was in foster care and treated very badly. He doesn’t talk or write about this experience. He only says he was treated very cruelly.  However when he was 16 yrs of age he learned he had biological family when his oldest sister sent him a letter at his school. It triggered forgotten memories and created a great deal of confusion in his mind. Archie 2

From there on the story becomes familiar. He goes off the rails, leaving his comfortable home, becoming homeless as he tries to discover who he is, who is family is and how he ended up where he is and why it happened.  He went to Sydney and accidentally met a woman in a pub that turned out to be his biological sister. From there he went to Melbourne and found  other Aboriginal people who knew of his family.  The book is his story.

When he arrived at Fuller’s book store the other evening he was in a wheel chair as his health has certainly suffered from his alcoholic past, the number of years he smoked both cigarettes and weed, his life living rough.  He now has several respiratory ailments and as he was wheeled into the book store he had his agent with him and a friend, Rosie Smith, who is also a writer of poetry and she facilitated the conversation with us.  He was helped into his seat and looked out at the packed bookstore. I was in the second row having arrived early to get a seat.

Archie Book Tell Me WhyHe is softly spoken and began telling us stories, several of which are in the book. He seemed tired but his smile came out during the telling of some of these stories and everyone in the audience sat spellbound. You could hear a pin drop.

He told us stories for about 35 minutes and then he tired. He was wheeled into the back of the shop where he used the facilities, then came out again and was seated before us. He asked if we wanted more stories and Peter, the staff member at Fuller’s said we could listen to him for days but he could tell he was tiring.  Archie pulled out his guitar and sang the first song he ever wrote to us.  The book describes how the songs he wrote came to be created. We would have loved to hear more but we all could see he was fading a bit.

There weren’t going to be anymore songs and we all respected that.

He couldn’t sign books either due to his poor health but there was a woman on the tour who had a stamp and ink impression of a wedge tailed eagle. Each book purchased had the wedge tailed eagle stamped onto the title page of the book. Archie explained the wedge tailed eagle had been his mother’s dreaming animal and it would be with him always. His father had the dreaming animal of the red bellied snake. He told us the snake is in his veins, the eagle is in his heart.

I purchased the book and had finished it within 48 hours. I couldn’t put it down and as the weather agreed with staying indoors and reading so I took full advantage of it.

The book is well written and we learn of the lives of all of his family members. He speaks at length about his beloved wife Ruby who was truly a soul mate and a writer, poet, singer in her own right.  They travelled the world together singing and writing songs together.

I’m not a big music follower and admit I knew who Archie Roach is but haven’t listened to his music extensively. Each chapter begins with the written lyrics to a song, then the story behind it is revealed.

Archie 1When I finished the book, I sat silently and thought, “Wow, what a tale.” I will never understand  as long as I live why the Australian government thought it a good idea to remove the children of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and put them into orphanages, missionaries, run by the churches to be assimilated into white families. The ongoing tragedies of this decision continues to be ongoing and those affected by it were lucky in many cases to survive the experience.  Most of Archie’s relatives are gone now and there is a visible sadness that lives in him still. It can never be erased and he has learned to live with it, and continues to be successful.  I loved everything about this book and although I know the story of many events around the Stolen Generation and how Aboriginals have been and continue to be treated in this country this book makes it very personal. I can’t recommend it enough, especially to people who aren’t familiar with the government policies that happened in this country for several decades. Instagram Penguin

The Cherry Picker’s Daughter by Kerry Reed-Gilbert

Olllie
14 week old Ollie after a day of chasing bubbles in the yard and attending Puppy Play School.

The past three months or so have been so incredibly busy I have called a complete strike from now until the new year.  I’m calling a halt to all events that aren’t absolutely necessary. We are enjoying spending time with Little Ollie and I want to devote the upcoming summer months to training him.

As he has afternoon naps each day, I have been able to get some reading in. The first book I have just finished is the wonderful story The Cherry Picker’s Daughter. This memoir begins in her childhood and goes up until her later life. She writes of her family history that is tragic and her childhood growing up with such a large extended family. The story waivers between tragedy and joy and it is a tribute to Mummy, the older sister of her father who is incarcerated for killing her mother when she was only three months old. This is her family’s story and  she was adamant it would be told.  The day after she was satisfied the manuscript of this book was finally ready for publication she passed away.

From the back cover of the book:

“This is the story of Kerry Reed-Gilbert, daughter of Kevin Gilbert, famous Aboriginal activist, writer, painter and actor. Told in the child’s voice and in the vernacular of her Mob, she speaks of love and loss, of dispossession and repeated dislocation. Kerry’s account highlights the impact of life as an Aboriginal state ward living under the terror of the Protection Laws. Despite this, she paints a picture of hard work and determination, with family unity giving them the strength and dignity to continue. 

Her father’s sister; whom she always called ‘Mummy’ raised his two children along with hers and others within the extended family. The book is a tribute to this truly remarkable woman; their tower of strength, love and selflessness. 

cherry pickerA tribute to the late Kerry Reed-Gilbert given by Melissa Lucashenko at the launch of Aunt Kerry’s memoir, The Cherry Picker’s Daughter at the Avid Reader Bookshop in Brisbane on 16b September, 2019 can be read here for much better information than I could give this wonderful woman justice.(read here)

I am going to the launch of this book at Fuller’s Bookshop in Hobart tomorrow evening by Jim Everett-puralia meenamatta.  I am really looking forward to it.

I could never do this book credit by trying to review it so I will leave you with what is here and the link to her memorial. I will say I couldn’t put it down. It’s a grim yet uplifting history of this Aboriginal family and yet again it is one of many stories that bluejumperpeople need to be told. I hope it is widely read.

 

Simply Sunday- 17 Nov. 2019

Wow! Another week has gone by and I’ve got new books!  (Yes, this is not another puppy post).

The Fullers Bookshop Reading Group email came out this past week and the first three books of 2020 are here so I have picked them up to get started. The long hot days of an Australian summer with their horrendous fires will be upon us soon enough so I wanted to start my reading while confined to a cool indoors.

Below are the February, March and April books in no particular order.

I have never read this book and have always meant to so I will begin with this one.

images (2)The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton:

The blurb on the back (for those who haven’t read it) states:

“When the Countess Ellen Olenska returns from Europe, fleeing her brutish husband, her rebellious independence and passionate awareness of life stir the educated sensitivity of Newland Archers, already engaged to be married to the Countess’s cousin May Welland, “that terrifying product of the social system he belonged to and believed in, the young girl who knew nothing and expected everything.”

I think we can see where this one is going.

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The Godmother- A Crime Novel by Hannelore Cayre.  This book won the European9781770415430 Fiction Prize and the Grand Prix de Literature Policière

“Meet Patience Portefeux, 53, an underpaid French-Arabic translator who specialises in police phone taps. Widowed after the sudden death of her husband, Patience is wedged between the costs of raising her daughters and the nursing home fees for her ageing mother. She’s laboured for 25 yrs to keep everyone’s heads above water.

Happening upon an especially revealing set of wiretaps ahead of all other authorities, Patience makes a life-altering decision that sees her intervening in – and infiltrating- the machinations of a massive drug deal. She thus embarks on an entirely new career path: Patience becomes ‘the Godmother’.”

This sounds like a fun summer read.

Last but not least is our third book of the summer.

images (1)The Trespassers by Meg Mundell. Finally we have a book that is closer to home. Meg Mundell was born in New Zealand but now lives in Melbourne, Australia.

A shipload of migrant workers flees the pandemic-stricken UK, seeking a fresh start in Australia. For nine-year-old Cleary the journey promises adventure, for former nurse Billie it’s a chance to put a shameful mistake behind her, while struggling schoolteacher Tom hopes for a brighter future. But when a crew member is murdered and people start falling gravely ill, the Steadfast descends into chaos. Trappedon the ship, the trio must join forces to survive the journey and its aftermath.  The Trespassers is a beguiling novel that explores the consequences of greed, the experiences of migration and exile, and the way strangers can become the ones we hold dear.

I am looking forward to reading this too. For once I have book club reads I am happily anticipating.

Other News:

For once all dogs are doing fine! We had a scare with our 14 year old Molly and thought “this thumbnailis it,” but a change in medication and diet has her firing on all of her stubborn years and giving a big “what for” to Ollie.  Ollie on the other hand gets his second vaccination next week when he turns 14 weeks and is then able to go outside of our property.  He will be enrolled in the Hobart Dog Training club and will start puppy classes on Sunday.  I’m hoping that takes a bit of the wind out of his sails.  He loves running around giving Molly and the three cats grief but he doesn’t always come out on top.

I have some other events and travel bits and pieces that have piled up I need to get on this page so hopefully you’ll be hearing from me before too much longer. I attended an author event at Fullers Book shop, went to the theatre and our photo club wrapped up the Hobart Photography Exhibition. There has been a great deal happening in the past two or three months and now I am looking forward to the next two or three months of stability, peacefulness and planning bookish goals for 2020. Believe me those goals will not be grand.

I hope all of you are well and moving along and I look forward to more catching up. Let me know what you’ve been doing to keep yourselves entertained.

Instagram Penguin