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Reading Challenge Week 39 - A Victorian Novel

Ah, the Victorian Period. Dear old Queen Victoria reigned for 64 years, and this happened to be the time when novel writing came into its own as a highly successful medium. Writers like Charles Dickens, William Thakeray, the Bront√ęs and George Elliot were taking The Novel to new heights during the good queen's lengthy time in office.

So it is interesting, to say the least, that the two reviews we present to you for this week's Reading Challenge are not Victorian novels. One is a novel that was probably "conceived" during the Victorian period, but missed it by that much. The other is a book from the Victorian period that isn't a novel. We had a big enough target, but we didn't quite hit it. Oh, well.

On the plus side, we have another wonderful guest review from a placement student in our Cairns branch!


Elizabeth Smyth read Such is Life, by Tom Collins (aka Joseph Furphy).

‘Unemployed at last!’ What a great first line. In these few words, readers know what to expect from this novel – memoir, and insight into the mind of a person relieved of menial work in order to dwell on more important matters.

This line, of course, was an utterance of the fictional character Tom Collins, whose diary was supposedly revealed in this book. The true author Joseph Furphy (like Collins) was a bullock drover in the Victorian era, and so this work represents an authentic insight into Australian outback life of that time.

A word of warning though: this book will not suit everyone. Despite readily transporting readers into the daily routine of a bullock drover, complete with humorous incidents and long periods of solitude, the commentary on pre-Federation cultures requires acute attention and deep contemplation. You cannot, for example, check messages on your phone mid-chapter.

With this novel, Furphy boldly defies English class structure by highlighting the idiocy of a suggestion that ‘a party of resourceful bushmen stand helpless in the presence of flood or fire, till marshalled by some hero of the croquet lawn’. He goes on to explain that ‘it is in no way necessary that the manual worker should be rude and illiterate’, and later, that no one is safe from ‘a pauper’s grave’.

Delightful too for contemporary readers are Furphy’s replacement of swear words with inoffensive terms, for example, ‘(complex expletive)’. Which, of course, we replace in our minds to suit the ‘easy profanity, unconscious obscenity, and august slang of the back country’.

There have been many editions of Such is Life since its first publication in 1903, and an annotated version published in 1999 sits on the shelf of the JCU Library at 820A FUR 1C SUC/HAL. As JCU has a Furphy scholar on campus: Roger Osborne, you may also like to read Roger’s paper in the Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, ‘Making Archives Talk’: Towards an electronic edition of Joseph Furphy’s Such is Life.



Sharon Bryan read The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling.

In spite of the fact that I have read a lot of books in my time, I'm actually not very well read. There are many books that I always meant to get around to reading, but never actually did. The Jungle Book, for example, sat on my shelf at home for literally decades, waiting for me to get around to reading it. I haven't even seen any of the movies - I know some of the songs from the Disney film, and I did watch Tail Spin, but that's as far as it goes.

I just wasn't really interested, and hadn't given the book much thought - which is why I didn't even know it wasn't a novel about a feral child when I chose it for this week's challenge. It's actually a collection of stories or fables, and only some of them involve Mowgli, Baloo and the gang so familiar from Disney. But this is the book I read for my "Victorian novel", so this is the book I'm reviewing.

I found the book as a whole to be a bit uneven. To have the first three chapters given over to tales about a particular character, and then have that character disappear without a trace for the rest of the book, seemed odd. It was like Kipling started writing a book about Mowgli, but didn't have enough material so padded it out with filler chapters. The fact that the filler was a ripping read was something of a compensation. And I have to admit that I preferred the stories that weren't part of the Mowgli series. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, for example, was a corker of a story - and I think I just might adopt Rikki's family motto "Run and Find Out" as one of my own.

I understand The Second Jungle Book is a similar mix of stories about Mowgli and stories that don't feature his world at all. I wonder if Kipling ever wanted to remix them to put all the Mowgli stories in on book and all the mon-Mowgli stories in another. I wonder if such a thing would improve the cohesiveness of the tales, or lose some of the rambling charm...


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From Swords to Ploughshares: Townsville men and women who served their community in war and peace

November 11, 2018 marks the centenary of the Armistice that ended the First World War. Reflecting on this anniversary provides us with a unique opportunity to consider the connections between war and peace. People who volunteered to serve during World War I left lives behind: some of those who returned built military careers, some continued to use and develop their professional skills, while other set about contributing to the civic and recreational life of their communities.

This exhibition developed by James Cook University, commemorates the contributions of Townsville’s service men and women to the creation of peace and a flourishing community in Townsville. ‘From Swords to Ploughshares’ seeks to explore the stories of those who returned from military service and resumed their civilian lives, and recognises the roles they have played in developing their town, region, and country; along with their contribution to a lasting peace.


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Welcome to Your Library

The beginning of semester is a time for finding your feet and figuring out where everything is.

Whether you are an on-campus student or if you can only visit the campus occasionally, you'll probably find yourself spending time in our libraries. Just to help you find your way around, here's a quick idea of what you'll be able to do in our buildings.

Borrow books, DVDs and more.

Obviously a library has things you can borrow. In addition to books, we also have DVDs, CDs, sheet music and more. You'll need your student or staff card (it's also your library card) to check out anything you want to take out of the building.

In addition to the main collection, where most of our borrowable material is held, we also have a Curriculum Collection (where all the best books are), reference collections, special collections and print journals. You can find yourself looking in the wrong place, so don't hesitate to ask any library staff for help. Take a look at the location inform…

Examination Super Hours, 1st Semester 2019

Examination Super Hours run from the 3rd of June until the last week of scheduled exams, on Friday 21st June.

Opening hours are extended to give students extra use of the library's study spaces during study vac and exams.

During this time, when a lot of students are feeling stressed, we ask that you be mindful of the other people using the library spaces and share the space with good will and kindness - keeping in mind the Client Service Charter and Library Use Policy.

Or just remember our unofficial motto:
Be Excellent to Each Other
The Eddie Koiki Mabo Library on the Townsville Campus will have the following hours:

Main buildingMon-Fri, 7.30am-12.00am (midnight)Sat-Sun, 10.00am-10.00pmServicesMon-Fri, 7.30am-12.00am (midnight)Sat-Sun, 10.00am-10.00pmInformation Commons and iLearning Rooms on the Ground Floor - 24 hrs.
The Cairns Library will be open for the following hours:

Main buildingMon-Fri, 7.30am-12.00am (midnight)Sat-Sun, 10.00am-12.00am (midnight)ServicesMon-Fri, 8.00am-8.0…