February Book Club

After a one year hiatus we began our book groups last week with a new leader at Fullers Bookshop in Hobart. 90 people are participating in several groups of twelve readers the first week of each month until December. It is lovely to see familiar faces once again and meet new ones.

Last week was a simple meet and greet group. We each talked about books that sustained us during 2020 and what we gained from them. I thought that today I would share one or two books that were talked about just so readers can see the diversity amongst our Wednesday evening group. So here goes…

Author Migeuel Syjuco

N – held up a Phillipine history book called Illustrado. She had been involved in a group of year 11 and 12 students who travelled to the Phillipines and talked about the effect of the poverty and extreme population in that country that they experienced. She said it was quite life changing for those who have had it really good living in Tasmania. We enjoyed hearing about her experiences.

Author Amy Newmark

J 1 – said she read one book entitled Life Lessons From A Cat. She told us she had to read light amusing books as she founds much about 2020 stressful.

J- (another J name) picked up Girl, Woman, Other several times but could not get into it. Then one day she started over again and really loved it. She loved the writing once she got used to it and we all agreed that the author should have won the Booker on her own and not had to share it with Margaret Atwood. A couple of others in the group had read and enjoyed this book also.

S- who is a retired teacher, said she not only read Oliver Sack’s book Gratitude again and again when she felt she needed a positive perspective, she also gifted it to several people.

H- enjoyed books by Kate Atkinson and she particularly mentioned Big Sky. She said it pulled her into the story as many of Atkinson’s book do and she definitely removed herself from 2020 while reading it.

T- read the autobiography Lioness. The story of the adoptive mother, Sue Brierley of the young boy, Saroo, who featured in Lion. Some of you may have seen the film. As most of you will remember, Saroo became lost in India while separated from his brother and eventually ended up being adopted by a family in northern Tasmania. He tracked down his family again once he reached adulthood via Google maps. It is quite the tale. I attended the Fullers event when this book was launched in Hobart awhile back. This is his adoptive mother’s tale.

V-read a Singaporean book named How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee. It is an Indian tale. She said she enjoyed the story though didn’t go too far into depth about it. Some book group members are quieter than others!

J 2- gave us a whole list of books she read. I will mention two. Where the Crawdads Sing was one of her favourites and she also enjoyed an Australian book, Flight Lines, which is about environmental issues affecting birds in Australia. It focuses on one type of bird in particular that the author is very interested in.

We were meeting in the book shop after hours. Only the morning groups meet in the pub down the road. Darn! We meet in the evenings and I enjoy the quietness of a closed bookshop in the evening. We all looked at the walls of books and picked out various books on the most recent book wall we would like to own and read.

We meet in the front of the store. Well lit, quiet and surrounded by new books.

We had some good laughs. We enjoyed our facilitator, R, who we found out studied and taught 16th century history amongst other subjects at universities in Washington State and Michigan in the States and also taught at Oxford in England. She has now returned to Australia and is working at Fullers for the time being. I guess this is not a good time to get a position in a university. She is a gifted instructor and we really do enjoy her company.

The rest of the shop.

I know we are fortunate to be able to meet face to face in a book group when so many around the world are still cancelled. I’ll just have to attend on behalf of those who aren’t able to meet and share with you what we do.

If you ever visit Hobart let me know and I’ll shout you a coffee (or tea) in their cafe.

Our March book discussion next week will be the City of Ghosts by Ben Creed. It’s a great Russian crime novel located in Moscow in 1951. I really enjoyed it. It’s graphic but in context and the story is complex, interesting and the crime unusual.

Happy reading…book group or not.

Happy Booking….

Fullers Bookshop in Hobart- 100th Birthday

fullersbookshop-1024x688Yesterday I attended a wonderful event. I was invited to attend the 100th birthday celebration of Fuller’s Bookshop, a wonderful, family oriented, independent bookshop that I could live in.

Clive Tilsley Owner




The event was held at the beautiful, old Town Hall in the city with over 200 people in attendance.  The event opened with the owner Clive Tilsley giving a short welcome to everyone especially to the grandchildren of the original owner who flew in from all over the country to attend the event.  All of the staff were there and readers who have been customers, publishers or authors in the Fullers years. Several of the large publishing organisations in Australia had sent messages of congratulations including Text Publishing, Allen and Unwin and Penguin-Random House.

Upon arriving at the event each guest was given a small book detailing the entire 100 book histyear history. At the back is listed all of the shared reading events the store has held as well as the list of all of the books read over the years in the book group. Surprisingly there have only been there owners of this store over the past century.

I remember when I first discovered this store on a main street in Hobart. I fell in love with it immediately.  They are now in larger quarters with a lovely cafe at the back and I think it is probably the busiest store at any given time than any other shop in the city.  When so many stores are closing or relocating all around the city Fullers is always a bustling hub.

There are many events planned for this year and I am looking forward to all of them.

Rosalie Martin

Fullers held almost 90 events in 2019. They also share book groups the first week of each month, have held shared readings of many of the classics. There is also a strong interest in philosophical writings and this year I am attending a Shakespeare group focusing on the Roman and Greek plays.

There are three areas of interest that are supported heavily by Fullers.  The Smith Family foundation that is an Australian Children’s charity. Fullers organises donations of books to these children every year. A young woman spoke to us of her background in a disadvantaged family. She has just finished her Masters of Education degree.

Our young poetry reader.

Their other interest is supporting the projects that Rosalie Martin has achieved. Rosie is a speech pathologist and criminologist who runs literacy and communication programs in our state prison. Her organisation its called Connect 42: Connecting Through Language, Literacy and Love.

She was also the Tasmanian Australian of the Year for 2017 for her work in this field. In attendance at the event yesterday was a young woman who participated in Rosie’s program as a prisoner. She is now released. She read a poem she wrote about her five children she loves and how she is now working to get them all back from care.  I can only imagine the courage it took for her to stand on a stage in the Town Hall in front of 200 plus people and bare her soul as she did. It is through Rosie’s program with Fullers support that has given her the skills and courage to move forward with her life.

The other project Fullers have always supported is Indigenous Literacy.  The shop has a large Tasmania section and they focus especially on indigenous issues in Tasmania.

87 year old Ted Egan

As a result of this interest the special guest of the event was author and songwriter/singer Ted Egan who lives in the Northern Territory.  He was interviewed by Hilary Burden, a British/Australian author, journalist and broadcaster in launching Ted’s most recent autobiographical book Outback Songman: My Life.

According to Wikipedia Egan was born in Coburg Victoria moving to the Northern Territory in 1949 at the age of 16 in search of work and adventure. In his early career with the Department of Aboriginal Affairs he was mainly in the bush and engaged in jobs such as stock work and crocodile hunting while employed as a patrol officer and reserve superintendent. Later he was a teacher at bush schools. He was a member of the first National Reconciliation Council.

tedEgan was the sole teacher at the Newcastle Waters Station in 1965 and was stranded at the property for six weeks when the creek flooded. During this time no supplies were able to be delivered so Egan had to hunt for animals, such as bush turkey for food. He later returned to the station in 2012 for the book launch of Middle of Everywhere about life in the area.

Egan began recording in 1969 with “Drinkers of the Northern Territory” and has released 28 albums, mostly themed around outback life, history and Aboriginal affairs. He has been a consistent performer and tourer with his choice of instrument being an empty beer carton (aka Fosterphone or Victorphone) played by tapping with his hands and fingers. He has been a prolific writer and performer of contemporary folk songs. Many of these, such as ” Gurrindji Blues”, recognise Indigenous Australian heritage.

He demonstrated his wonderful skills using an empty beer carton as a musical instrument. It was great.

After all the speakers and book launch we were served sparkling wine and cake. The fullers 1entire audience broke into a the Happy Birthday song and three cheers were given. Then many were able to catch up with their fellow friends and readers.

I left the event feeling very fortunate and much a part of this large reading community we have in Hobart. If people think there is no future for the book they need to think again.


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Whew! What an event.

PS The Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) has published an article of this event with photos from the past 100 years. If you’re interested you can see it here.