Thursday, 17 January 2019

2019 - Year of the Public Domain

Letter from Jane Austen to her sister
Cassandra, 1799 June 11
As of 1 January 2019, millions of items from Australia’s national collections will fall out of copyright for the first time, becoming free for all to use. This wealth of new material is a result of changes to copyright law introduced by the Copyright Amendment (Disability Access and other Measures) Act 2017. The new laws starting on 1 January give unpublished materials the same copyright term as their published counterparts - 70 years after the author’s death. Previously, unpublished material was locked in copyright in perpetuity.

Some of the treasures now available include:
  • Captain Cook’s diaries and Jane Austen’s correspondence held at the National Library of Australia; 
  • Ephemera from both World Wars, including posters, postcards, and advertising; 
  • Handwritten manuscripts, letters and papers from numerous Australian poets, including Henry Lawson;
  • The personal papers of a multitude of former Australian politicians, including Governor General Sir Isaac Isaacs and Premier of South Australia Sir James Penn Boucaut; 
  • Soldiers’ letters home, including love letters from acclaimed WWII RAAF pilot, Charles Learmonth; 
  • Indigenous language research from the papers of former Protector of Aborigines, Archibald Meston.
To celebrate, Australia’s libraries and archives are declaring 2019 the Year of the Public Domain. A good place to start exploring local historical material is in the JCU Library ArchivesAreas of strength include station recordsunion and labour historymining historycompany historiesthe arts, and environmental and resource issues.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Reading Challenge Reviews: Songlines, Submarines and South America

The 2019 Reading Challenge is continuing at a cracking pace. This month's theme - Geography and Travel - has given us a chance to explore far flung corners of the world, as well as our own back yard.

This week, Nathan looks at Aboriginal Australian trade routes, Sharon travels into a nuclear wasteland in a submarine and Scott spends some time in Patagonia.

Nathan Miller read Aboriginal dreaming paths and trading routes: The colonisation of the Australian economic landscape, by Kerwin, Dale.

A common myth is that Aboriginal Australians were ignorant of the wider world, did not travel far beyond their local area - or, alternatively, roamed aimlessly. That they had no large scale geographic understanding of Australia. The truth is the whole of Australia was mapped orally and abstractly through song, songlines, spiritual stories and abstract designs - partially for trade of physical items including particularly hard stone axe heads, shells and even narcotic substances. It was also used for large ceremonies with accompanying feasts, and seeking refuge when climatic conditions were difficult both within one's own estate but also one's neighbours'. But a central core was the ceremonial knowledge that underpinned it both for exchange and simply knowing and also the customary law and spirituality that covered the whole continent.

In Queensland, several major songlines criss-cross the state from the Cape and east coast across other states and link up to the southern and western states. In this book there are various songlines covered showing the extent of this network. It was even used by tourism departments to base guides for showing interesting places to visit. Many highways and roads including in Sydney are based on some of these pathways or highways (as described by the first Europeans). A great book to read about Australia and still relevant to this day.

Australian author, non-fiction, 994.0049915 KER

Sharon Bryan read On the Beach by Nevil Shute.

You've heard of "post-apocalyptic novels"? The books set sometime after the "something that happened", where the world as we know it has be completely wiped out by a nuclear explosion (or some such) and a rag-tag group of survivors is trying to carve out a new life or civilisation?

On the Beach is an "apocalyptic" novel. The "something that happened" is still happening, and we're doomed. China, the USSR and America had a bit of a misunderstanding involving cobalt bombs and the entire of the Northern Hemisphere has been wiped out, with the cloud of deadly nuclear radiation slowly making its way down the globe. The last vestiges of humanity are living what's left of their lives in the southern parts of Australia and South America (and New Zealand, but we don't hear much about them), and waiting to die. This is a simple fact, one that only a few deluded people avoid thinking about - the radiation is coming, and everyone will die of radiation poisoning in a few months' time.

Where does "Geography and Travel" come in? Well, the book follows the last months in the lives of an American submarine commander and his Australian attaché as they head back up to the Northern Hemisphere to investigate a strange signal from Seattle. Might there be hope for life after all?

This book isn't exactly an action thriller. More like a soap opera at the end of the world. It's still fascinating, though, and as Nevil Shute emigrated to Australia before writing it, he counts as an Australian author. Highly recommended.

Australian author, fiction, 820A SHU 1C ONT

Scott Dale read In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin

When I was moving through South America a few years back, I noticed that the further south I headed, more and more of my fellow travelers were reading Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia. These backpackers seemed to have put down their account of a Bolivian prison and picked up Chatwin’s unconventional book about Patagonia, the most southern region of Chile and Argentina. There is an appeal to reading about an area as you travel through it but this book has a way of taking you to those windswept southern lands regardless of where you are when you read it.

Ok, so what is this book? It is not a novel. It is more a collection or collage of stories and tales from the people and places of Patagonia. The 97 chapters range in length from a paragraph to a few pages long. The book does loosely follow Chatwin’s travels through Patagonia but is full local histories and stories that he learned along the way. We hear about Butch Cassidy’s South American exploits and how the cowboy may not have died in a shootout like Paul Newman in the famed film; we meet expatriates with a fierce loyalty to lands left long behind; we hear local tales and myths, and we get to know the beautiful landscape.

Intrepid Librarian,
Scott Dale,
In Patagonia
And what a landscape it is. There are icy cold shores, snow capped mountains, brilliantly coloured wild flowers, lakes and rivers that are fed by remarkably blue glaciers, and islands that stretch out to the end of the world. Unfortunately the only photo I could find of myself in Patagonia is the attached image - a terrible pose in front of a glacier. Not quite as whimsical as Chatwin

Non-fiction, 918.27046 CHA

Monday, 14 January 2019

Reading Challenge (Guest) Reviews: Pacific Islands and Italian Towns

We've had two of our favourite people send us reviews for the 2019 Reading Challenge! They have used this challenge to read a few books they've had their eye on (which, unfortunately, aren't in our collection), which just goes to show how useful a little challenge can be.

Bethany Keats tackled a book that could have fit into several categories for last year's challenge. We don't have the specific novel she reviewed, but you can find the book in both print and audio formats in the Townsville and Cairns City Libraries. We do have several other novels written by Lloyd Jones, if you are interested in seeing work by this author. Theresa Petray gave us a book of short stories (good job! We love short stories), which can also be borrowed from the local libraries.

Bethany Keats read Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

As a book set in another country, with a film released in 2013 that helped put the Autonomous Region of Bougainville on the tourism map, Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones fits as a Geography and Tourism book.

Set during the Bougainville Civil War, Mister Pip is told from the perspective of teenage Matilda, who is introduced to Pip from Charles Dickens' Great Expectations by her teacher Mr Watts, the only white man in the village. Matilda develops a deep connection with Pip, and she uses this to help navigate her life as the war unfolds around her.

It’s an enjoyable read, moves at a comfortable pace, and having once been a bookish teenage girl myself, I found Matilda to be a believable character. It has some dark parts, but that's to be expected with a civil war backdrop. My only reservation is that the author is not of Bougainvillean origin, and in an ideal world I'd be reading something by a Bougainvillean author.

In Australia, we typically don't know enough about our neighbours in the Pacific, and the setting of Mister Pip is a significant time in our regional history that too many people my age don't know about. Bougainville is scheduled to have a vote on independence from Papua New Guinea this year, therefore it's a good time to start getting acquainted - even if you start with a work of fiction.

Fiction, an author I haven't read before. Check local libraries.

Theresa Petray read The Fireflies of Autumn, and other tales of San Ginese, by Moreno Giovannoni.

Most of the book is told as stories of a small town in Italy, with the familiarity, kind of raucous and sometimes pointless story telling (the stories are the point). The last section changes tone quite dramatically, and that tonal shift really made the book sing. The final section drives home how wistful those stories are and what it means to have a home that you’ve never really lived in:

“She staunched the bleeding of memories with her stories but bequeathed him a deep, slow-burning homesickness that brought an ache into his bones that never eased and the source of which he did not comprehend until he was old.”

Doing both fun, light storytelling and deeply beautiful reflection well, Giovannoni captures something of the experience of migration. Plus, the book has a beautiful map – and who doesn’t love a book with a map?

Fiction. Check local libraries.

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Reading Challenge Reviews: Coral, Countries and Caravans

Our Reading Challenge for 2019 is to read as many books as you can within a particular month which "fit" a particular theme. Of course, how the books you read fit the theme is all a matter of interpretation.

January's theme is “Geography and Travel”, which gives us a great excuse to wander around the planet vicariously through books. So what are some of the books we've been reading so far?

Brenda Carter read Saving the Great Barrier Reef, edited by Justin Healey.

For the new Challenge at the start of a fresh new year I decided to check out the new books in the JCU library collection. Saving the Great Barrier Reef is Volume 436 in the Issues in Society series. 

This series is a great way to get an overview of a current topic from an Australian perspective. Each book in the series is a compilation of short, factual articles, reports and opinion pieces expressing a variety of viewpoints from different sources. The language is simple and easy to understand, so it’s suitable for teens, EAL students and anyone without specialist knowledge of the subject.

There’s a lot of doom and gloom spouted by the media regarding the status and future of the reef, but what are the facts? You will read about the effects of recent back-to-back coral bleaching events, threats posed by over-fishing, coastal development, agriculture, mining and the ecological impacts of climate change.  The second part of the book examines how Australia is managing the reef and its inhabitants, and how conservation threats are being addressed.

Is it too late to save the Great Barrier Reef? This book will get you up to speed and give you a solid foundation for future research. It’s an ebook so you can access it anywhere, anytime.

Australian author, non-fiction, eBook

Nathan Miller read Welcome to country: A traditional Aboriginal ceremony by Aunty Joy Murphy, Illustrated by Lisa Kennedy.

A book about travel or geography will always mention interacting with the local community and showing respect. In Australia there are potentially 500 or more distinct Indigenous Australian countries, speaking over two hundred languages with these having about 500 or more dialects. Across these countries each has highly sacred spaces, productive spaces and reserves of resources like water and animal breeding grounds. All of these have Indigenous laws attached to them about who can be there and when they can be there. Often a welcome to country ceremony is conducted to welcome people and essentially give a blessing and protection from the community. Some communities use smoke, others water, and some will rub their smell on the guest so that the ancestors and spiritual forces know you are welcome.

This is a lovely book about the welcome to country ceremony for Wurundjeri lands, where parts of Victoria are located. The book like many traditional Aboriginal stories holds extra layers, such as significant plants and their central creator spirit Bunjil the Eagle, whilst providing a contemporary welcome to country greeting in Wurundjeri and English. Adults and kids can both take something out of this title.

Australian author, non-fiction, C820.94 MUR(J)

Sharon Bryan read Vagabondage, by Beth Spencer.

This is technically a non-fiction book, even though it's a book of poetry. These poems document a year in Beth Spencer's life, when she sold her house and took to living a nomadic life in a high-top van. That's one of the least-roomy types of caravans you can get.

The poems show a woman who, in her early fifties, is still trying to work though some issues she's been variously tackling or running away from since her youth, while at the same time giving a glimpse of a life lived on the road.It's highly autobiographical, but not very informative. By the end of the book (which can be easily read in a day), you feel you know a little bit about her spirit, but nothing much about her life. I guess you could say she travelled around the country in her van, but this book is more of a journey around her heart (always skirting the centre).

I always find reading original collections of poetry fascinating. Like an album, when you encounter the poems from start to finish in the order the writer intended, it builds an overall impression in your mind that you don't get when you encounter the poems (or songs) separately.

Australian author, non-fiction, 820A SPE(B) 1B VAG

Graveyard shift continues for North Queensland authors - Anne Alloway and Roberta Morrison

Roberta Morrison and Anne Alloway in the Helen Mays reading room continuing their research into Cloncurry graves.
The first visitors to the Helen Mays reading room this year were local authors Anne Alloway and Roberta Morrison who had travelled from the Sunshine coast and Hughenden respectively to use our materials.

Anne and Roberta, childhood friends who both originate from Hughenden were raised on pastoral stations and hence from an early age both had a heightened awareness of the graves sites in remote areas of western Queensland.  In 2011 they decided to research and document the graves in the Hughenden area before all trace of them was lost.  This resulted in their 2012 publication “Tales from Bush Graves”.
Anne Alloway in 2017 with her books, two of which have been co-authored with Roberta Morrison.
Anne then followed up with another book pertaining to Hughenden titled “With this Ring” in 2015 which focused on weddings from the earliest times through to 1960.  Anne and Roberta’s most recent publication is “Tales from Bush Graves Winton” released in 2017 after Peter Russell (former opal miner and now resident of Winton) asked them to produce a book on the Winton area utilizing information he had previously collected.

All of these books are held in the main library collection (where they can be borrowed) and also in the North Queensland Collection where they will be preserved for current and future generations of researchers.  Currently Anne and Roberta are working on a new book which will document the graves of the Cloncurry area of North Queensland with assistance from Greg Humphreys.

Check out the current Helen Mays Reading Room opening hours online when planning your visit to JCU Library Special Collections on the Townsville Campus.  Please email all enquiries to

Thursday, 3 January 2019

A Reading Challenge for 2019

We had such a great time playing with Hannah Braime's 52 Book Reading Challenge last year that we thought we'd try another Reading Challenge for 2019.

Read As Many Books As You Can

This year, we're not challenging you to read 52 books, we're challenging you to read as many books as you can each month. You may have some months where you read 4 or 5 books, and other months where you can only fit in 2. That's okay. You might end up reading more than 52 books over all.

Each month we'll be giving you a theme, and you have to try find books that fit within that theme. You can be creative - for example, if the theme is "Geography and Travel", you can read a novel set in a country you'd like to visit, the diary of an explorer and a book with the word "Geography" in the title (like this one). You get to decide how your books fit the theme.

Minimum Requirements

It's not much of a challenge if we don't give you a few hoops to jump though. So each month, you have the following minimum requirements:

1. You must read at least one book by an Australian author
2. You must read at least one book by an author you haven't read before
3. You must read at least one fiction book
4. You must read at least one non-fiction book

You can double up on these. You might find a non-fiction book by an Australian author you've never read before. Then you only need to find a fiction book, and you've met the minimum requirements.

Displays and Reviews

We'll be putting together book displays and review for each month, going along with the themes, but we'd love to have your recommendations. If you think a book should be put on that month's display, or you'd like to submit a review to go on our blog, please drop us a line at Or you can add a comment to this blog or our Facebook page. Maybe take a photo of your book of choice and Tweet it to us, or tag us on Instagram...

Monthly Challenges

For those of you who like to plan ahead here are our themes for 2019:

  • January – “Geography and Travel”
  • February – “Fact and Fiction”
  • March – “Language and Literature”
  • April – “Religion and Philosophy”
  • May – “Sport and Recreation”
  • June – “Music and Art”
  • July – “Animals and Plants”
  • August – “Science and Mathematics”
  • September – “Family and Society”
  • October – “Health and Well Being”
  • November – “Oceans and Rivers”
  • December – “History”

Monday, 24 December 2018

Reading Challenge Week 51 (and 52) - Books from there and here.

This is the last post for the 52 Book Reading Challenge from 2018! My, hasn't the year been action packed? There's nothing quite like a reading challenge to remind you that you don't have time to read anything, don't you think?

Well, the last two weeks for the year have been rolled together for expediency, and so we present our books for the last two challenges. There aren't many of us around at the moment, but we've managed to rustle up a few reviews.

51. A book set in a country you’ve never been to

Louise Cottrell read Alanna: The first adventure (Song of the Lioness) by Tamora Pierce.

A country I’ve never been to? Well, I’ve never been to Tortall. Created by Tamora Pierce way back in 1983, the Tortall Universe has been one of my favourite fantasy realms since I was 12. Alanna: The first adventure was recently named one of the 100 best fantasy novels of all time. This book (C810 PIE) is the beginning of the Tortall universe, following the adventures of Alanna who decides she wants to be a knight, not a lady, and sets off disguised as a boy to fulfil her dreams. As another reviewer noted “Alanna is also one of Pierce’s most compelling protagonists: stubborn, Gifted, and unwilling to let the world dictate who she should become.”

Swords, magic, knights, political intrigue, and a bit of a love story. What’s not to enjoy? 

Brenda Carter read Out of Africa by Isak Dinesan

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills.” 

So begins Out of Africa, the memoir of Danish writer Isak Dinesan (whose real name is Baroness Karen Christenze von Blixen-Finecke or Karen Blixen). I have been to neither Denmark nor Africa but Dinesan’s evocative descriptions of Africa between 1914 and 1931 make me feel as though I have.

Karen Blixen left her homeland to manage a coffee plantation in Kenya and stayed there until it became obvious that growing coffee at that altitude was not economically viable.  Blixen had a deep connection to and affection for Africa. This comes through loud and clear in both the detail and warmth with which she recalls her experiences and her relationships with the indigenous people with whom she lived and worked.

Blixen was fortunate to experience Kenya during a period when many European settlers regarded it as a ‘timeless paradise’. She describes the highlands as “the Happy Hunting Grounds…the pioneers lived in guileless harmony with the children of the land”. Reminiscences of Africa’s beauty are counterpoised with a strong sense of loss – of the farm, close friends and of Kenya as it was when she arrived, replaced by aggressive agricultural development and unsustainable hunting.

Dinesan’s talent as a storyteller makes this a highly enjoyable read, despite the fact that English was not her first language. You can find it on the shelf at 967.62 DIN.

Sharon Bryan read Ojibway Heritage, by Basil Johnston.

Ever since I first read The Song of Hiawatha, by Henry Longfellow, I’ve longed to visit “the land of the Ojibways ... [and] the land of the Dacotahs ... the mountains moors and fenlands where the heron (the Shuh-shuh-gah) feeds among the reeds and rushes".

The “land of the Ojibways” is around the Great Lakes area of North America (Ontario in Canada and Michigan in the USA) and some of the plains areas throughout Ontario and Manitoba, with a bit of Minnesota thrown in for good measure.  Basil Johnston was one of the first people (who wasn’t a white 19th Century poet) to write about the religio-cultural world of the Ojibway, and this book, from 1976, is an absolute gem. I’ve been interested in the Ojibway since Longfellow introduced me to them, but through this book I’ve fallen in love with their view of the universe. 

Johnston’s book (299.7 JOH) chops and changes between explaining the Ojibway religion and telling stories (or parables) from the culture. It’s a bit discombobulating at first, if you’re used to a more linear structure or a book that’s one thing or another, but eventually you fall in with the rhythms of the book. It’s one of my favourite books from this year’s challenge.

52. A book set in the place you live today

Louise Cottrell read Doreen by C.J. Dennis.

Okay, this one was stretching the implied boundaries, but ‘Australia’ is certainly a place I live today, though I must admit if I hadn’t found something I liked I was eyeing off ‘planet Earth’ and ‘the Universe’ as potential ‘places’. Doreen (820A DEN 1B DOR) is a book(let) of poetry containing 4 poems within its 23 pages. The only thing strenuous about it is getting used to the way C.J. Dennis writes the character’s accents.

As it says on the dust jacket, "It 'contains more married love to the square inch than anything I ever read,' wrote E. V. Lucas when Doreen was first published in 1917.” Basically, the Sentimental Bloke and his Doreen have been happily married for 6 years, have a child, and spend their time arguing, making up and looking after each other, in 4 poems that made me snort, giggle, and run around the office telling everyone to “read this!”

Oh, and apparently ‘spotted dog’ is another name for ‘spotted dick’ which is a type of English pudding. Just in case you read the poem and are worried he’s eating an actual dog.

Brenda Carter read Tropical Walking Tracks: Cairns and Kuranda by Kym Dungey and Jane Whytlaw

Now that the Christmas break is in full swing, it’s a good time to get out and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the Far North. The library can help with Tropical Walking Tracks (919.43604 DUN), a clear and simple guide to the best areas to explore in the Cairns region.

Each walk contains a description, map, difficulty grading and approximate duration. The tracks are varied and include bush tracks, disused forestry roads, paved paths and boardwalks, many passing through rainforest or open eucalypt woodland.

The book includes a handy Day Trip Check List with essential and recommended items to take and precautions to be aware of. It’s a short, light, no-frills guide with all you need for lots of enjoyable excursions.

I could have reviewed this book for Week 46, but I wanted to save it for the grand finale.

Trisha Fielding is a local historian who spends a lot of her time hanging around libraries and archives in Townsville (as well as the "big guns", like the State Library). She has spent so much time hanging around libraries, in fact, that we thought we'd better hire her. She's now one of our Special Collections Officers.

This book (994.36 FIE) is a collection of stories from Townsville's history. These aren't the dry "and in 1889 Frederick Hubertsford officially opened the Blah Blah" kind of stories we often find in local history books. These are all stories that would make fine "pub" conversations. You can be that person who sits next to someone at a bar and says "you know that lighthouse outside the Maritime Museum? It used to be on Bay Rock. Turns out the last lighthouse keeper was lost at sea - they never found his body. Left behind a wife and five kids - and all because the duffers in the coastguard couldn't figure out that fifteen signal fires and a bunch of flags means 'send help'!"

If you ever find yourself sitting next to Trisha in a pub, buy her a drink and ask her to tell you a yarn. She knows a few good stories. Or you could just buy her book, I guess, she'd probably like that, too. It's available in a number of local bookshops.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Literary Gifts

Time Turner - CCO
It may be a little close to order Christmas gifts online but it's handy to know there are lots of places to find the perfect gift for your literary friends or yourself. Whether you're interested in books and stationery, clothing and accessories, homewares, prints, bags or jewellery, these websites will inspire and delight:

Book Geek
Book Geek is an Australian-based company offering an eclectic, hand-picked range of beautiful gifts for all book-lovers from a variety of sources. You can browse by product type, theme, author or title. Best of all, they are based in Queensland.

Paper Parrot
This site was developed by a retired bookseller (Anne Hutton who owned and ran Electric Shadows Bookshop in Canberra for 24 years). Paper Parrot sells beautiful and unusual stationery books and gifts, with an emphasis on Australian art.

The Literary Gift Company
The Literary Gift Company is a British company, founded in 2009 by Dani Hall, a former bookseller and bookshop manager. You may have to wait a little longer for delivery but the range is second to none.

Happy browsing!

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

52 Book Challenge - Week 51 (and 52)

Okay, just for expediency (and because we close for the year at 12pm next Monday) we're going to announce the last two weeks' challenges at the same time.

It has been a fun ride, trying to cram 52 books into our year with the aid of this challenge, and we've enjoyed it (we hope you have too), and we have something "interesting" planned for 2019, just to keep the happy reading times going. We'll announce that at the beginning of January.

But, for now, let's take home the year with a matching set:

51. A book set in a country you’ve never been to
52. A book set in the place you live today

Sorry, gang, no advice for how to search for these two. You know where you are, and you know where you've been. At least, we hope so.

But, you know, "country" and "place" can be open for interpretation, so have fun with this. It is the "silly" season after all...

Have you missed out on hearing about the 52 Book Challenge? Catch up here.

Reading Challenge Week 50 - A book by an author you haven’t read before.

The best part of any Reading Challenge or assignment is when you get to discover something new. New genres, new stories, new authors... It's all good.

So this week's challenge (a challenge we think is so good we're going to do something very special with it in 2019) was to read a book by an author you've never read before. We hope you found something new and exciting and different - even if it was something that has been around for ages.

Scott Dale read Carpentaria by Alexis Wright.

With on-and-off-and-on Owen (the tropical cyclone) out there in the Gulf of Carpentaria this week, it seemed a good time to finally take a look at Carpentaria by Alexis Wright (820A WRI(A) 1C CAR). I’ve been wanting to read this book for a long time and it’s the first of Alexis Wright’s books that I’ve read. This is an epic book and it does have a cyclone feature in the story.

Set in a fictional town of Desperance on the Gulf of Carpentaria, Wright takes us on an amazing journey and introduces us to some remarkable characters. This is not a straight narrative. Histories converge; the book’s present is connected to all times, to stories from the past and those happening now. And it is an exhilarating read.

There are moments of real tension and action as Will Phantom battles the mining corporation, dodging their traps, and fighting power with power. There are so many amazing moments in this book. Normal Phantom’s journey at sea with the storms is mesmerizing, as is Elias Smith’s appearance from the ocean, walking in to town from the sea with no past. There are corrupt police and a murderous mayor, a barman in love with a mermaid trapped in the timber of his bar, and then there’s Mozzie Fishman, and his spiritual wanderings.

This is a novel worth spending some time with. It’s unlike anything I’ve read before. I really recommend it.

I try always to appear positive/happy with anything attached to my real name.

How would you respond to this in a questionnaire?

In The Happiness Effect (ebook), the authors discover that 73% of American college students answered ‘yes’. They termed this phenomenon the “Happiness Effect”.

Because young people feel so pressured to post happy things on social media, most of what everyone sees on social media from their peers are happy things; as a result, they often feel inferior because they aren’t actually happy all the time. The book explores themes that emerge from this larger issue, including discussions of Facebook, Snapchat and Tinder, the importance of being ‘liked’,  bullying, posts about relationships, religion and politics, and the conflict between wanting to be free of social media and the fear of missing out.

The Happiness Effect also has implications for lecturers and career professionals. The message that a student’s public profile should be carefully crafted and curated to maintain a positive, successful  and non-controversial  persona can be exhausting and potentially damaging to implement.

The Happiness Effect is a timely ebook available 24/7. It’s evidence based but also very easy to read.

Sharon Bryan read A Single Man, by Christoper Isherwood.

I didn’t actually set out to read a book by Christopher Isherwood. As with all of my best finds, this was a random selection. While I was looking for something else on the shelf, I noticed the title of this book, A Single Man (820 ISH 1C SIN), and wondered if it was the same book that had been made into a movie starring Colin Firth a few years ago (it was). I haven’t seen the movie, but I read a review that described the book as being “unfilmable”, and I was intrigued.

Having read it, I think it really is unfilmable. I have no idea what was going through Tom Ford’s head when he decided to adapt the book for film. It’s one long ramble through a single day in a man’s life, and spends most of its time peering at what’s going on inside his head. It’s a bit judgy about it, too – you get the feeling Isherwood kind of regards his character, George, as a bit of a tosser.

I can’t work out whether I enjoyed the book or not. I found it mesmerising for the few hours it took me to read it, but in the end it was pointless and a bit annoying. George wakes up, and we follow him closely throughout the day – even joining him in the toilet, at one point. He’s still grieving for his lover, Jim, who died some undisclosed time ago in a car accident. At the beginning of the book you think Jim might have died recently, but by the end of it you get the impression several months might have passed.

The book is set (and written) during the early Sixties, and while George isn’t exactly closeted, there’s that element of the times in which he doesn’t explicitly talk about his sexuality. This colours (in an interesting way, not a negative way) his ramblings throughout the day. As the day progresses, he starts to wake up in another sense – he had been sleepwalking through his morning, working on automatic more often than not, but as he interacts with his students at college and his friend at dinner – and then finds himself getting stonking drunk with one of his students at a dive of a bar, he begins to see the possibility of a brighter, better tomorrow.

Which is a bit of a shame, really, because… well… I don’t want to tell you how it ends, I think you should experience that for yourself, but it is an existential novel from the Sixties. I thought it was a bit of a cop-out, to be honest. But in spite of the fact that I can’t figure out if I enjoyed the book or not, I’m glad I stumbled across it.

Cafe Holiday Hours

The staff at Aroma and D'Lish in Cairns, and Juliette's and Miss Sushi in Townsville are taking a much needed break for the holidays. Their current opening hours are as follows:

Aroma - Closed
Opening hours: 7:30am - 2:30pm
Last day: Friday 14 December
Reopen: 14 January

D'Lish on McGregor
Opening hours: 7:30am - 2:30pm
Last day: Tuesday 18 December
Reopen: 14 January

Opening hours: 8:00am - 5:00pm
Last day: Friday 21 December
Reopen: 2 January

Miss Sushi - Closed
Opening hours: 7:30am - 3:00pm
Last day: 14 December