Bookgrrl’s Christmas Book list

I did say in a recent post about gift ideas that one of the best presents to buy a child was a book. Well, there is absolutely no reason not to buy a book for a big person as well.

Readings have offered a great selection of book suggestions on their website, and at the moment are offering free postage Australia-wide. They have categorised their selections for a wide range of teens, foodies and mums and dads. I would have to say their selections are more to my taste, as is their free postage :).

Anyway, here are a selection of books which I’ve read and loved this year and which I would whole-heartedly recommend. And what’s more, they’re all female, Australian writers, true bookgrrls!

Marieke Hardy – You’ll be sorry when I’m dead. Marieke’s collection of essay cum memoir which is ripsnortingly funny. It should come with a warning not to read this on public transport lest you start making choking noises as you attempt not to laugh out loud.

Peggy Frew- House of Sticks. The story of Bonnie, a woman who has put her musician career on hold while she is a stay at home to 3 young children. While there are no regrets for this decision on her part, her relationship with her partner Pete is tested by her children and the arrival of an old friend of Pete’s. A great depiction of contemporary inner-city Melbourne domesticity.

Kerry Greenwood- Cooking the books. Latest in the Corinna Chapman series which sees Corinna taking on dodgy accountants, soap opera divas and an absconding apprentice. A fun murder mystery which will be a good holiday read.

Kate Grenville- Sarah Thornhill. The sequel to The Secret River, Sarah Thornhill the youngest of William’s children, and her love for Jack . However the actions of the past have a way of impinging on the present. Great Australian literature.

Jessica Rudd- Ruby Blues. The sequel to Campaign Ruby, Ruby Blues takes up the story of the intrepid Prime Ministerial media advisor Ruby Stanhope 2 years later. The PM is under pressure and Ruby’s love-life is also polling badly. Not only that she has to deal with her boss being blackmailed, a super-enthusiastic intern and turning 30. I’d describe it as political chick-lit that is light, fast-paced and utterly plausible.

Nikki Gemmell- With my body.Possibly my favourite book of the year. It is a deeply moving story of a mother’s personal and sexual awakening through revisiting the memories of an old love affair. Yes, it is quite raunchy, and not to everyone’s taste, but it’s written so beautifully and feels so real.

And a stocking filler please add The Harp in the South by Ruth Park. I haven’t read it for years (ok, 1987), but it is a gripping, realistic tale of life in the slums of Surry Hills. You can get it as a Penguin Classic so it’s nice and affordable.


Bookgrrl’s Christmas Ideas

This is not the Bookgrrl Christmas Tree Source:

There are many blogs I read who are very helpful in offering suggestions as to what to get your husband/wife/children for Christmas. They are very inventive, but it is very hard if

  1. you buy things when you need them,
  2. you already have enough t-shirts, bags, aftershave/perfume, candles to last you until the next millennium,
  3. they’re not exactly… you

So this is my suggestions for Christmas gifts according to MY taste, which could be very different to YOUR taste. But hey, my blog, my rules…


  • You could go all Christmassy and get your beloved A Very She & Him Christmas . Zooey Deschanel does her chanteuse thang, while the guitar accompaniment has a slight delay to give it a 50’s feel to the classic Christmas Tracks (according to Mr BG, who got it for Christmas from a person with amazing taste me)
  • Tickets to a show for an upcoming band from the 80’s that you have never seen before. It could be the Specials or New Order or even Duran Duran.
  • let them search on eBay for that hard to find guitar, or pedal, then offer to buy it for them for Christmas.
  • As a last resort you could get them something you like, then give it to them, and by attrition it will become yours- like a certain New Order DVD which was given to me a few years ago…


  • If your beloved is into all things oppy- the Op Shop Guide to Victoria is hard to go past. Just think of all the road trips which could be planned to out of the way places, or Ballarat for example :).
  • If you live in Melbourne and shudder at the thought of travelling out of the major metropolitan area, try a Melbourne Op Shop Tour– they are reasonably priced, use public transport and they do vouchers. Just contact them for the voucher option. Even if you don’t live in Melbourne, it’s a good way to make a day of exploring a part of Melbourne you have never ventured.
  • If your fashion sense does not extend to things oppy, a voucher to a specific store is an excellent idea. A Westfield voucher is not applicable to major stores in the centre as I found out last Christmas- grrr…


  • One word- BOOK. The authors of the moment in our house are Pamela Allen and Lauren Child, who write Charlie and Lola and so so much more. I’ve ended up giving her books to a couple of excited 6 year old girls for their birthdays this year.
  • Another word- LEGO. I hate having to pick it up, but it’s fantastic and a great bonding experience between father and son.
  • A couple of words- NO BARBIES. I had no idea that they breed…


  • make something- gingerbread cookies and rumballs
  • offer something- TIME. Give someone a day off for them to go shopping or grab a coffee and catch up with a friend. Offer to have kids over for a sleepover for a sleepin.
  • breakfast in bed for a couple of weekends in a row.

The above is not my Christmas list, which extends to a replacement iPod, a pasta machine, a bigger sewing box and a Lotto ticket which is guaranteed to win 1st Division- though the breakfast in bed option is nice too…

Frocking, socking and not buying in October

The month of October has so many things happening in it, it is hard to keep up!

There is Frocktober, designed to raise money for Ovarian Cancer Research. Some lovely ladies such as Naomi and Fiona are donning a frock every day for the month of October.  The beauty of Frocktober is that you can participate with an event or a commitment to frock up at least once (I can feel a frocktastic morning tea coming up :))There is also a Frocktbober group on Facebook

Socktober which seems to be the month for knitting socks (in Ballarat, any month is a good month for knitting socks), with Tony and Kate participating. I’m simply admiring from afar, as I struggle to finish a cardigan which should have been finished months ago…

And then there is Buy Nothing New Month, in which people pledge not to buy anything new, save groceries, for a month. I did not pledge, but it has been in the back of my head when I’ve thought about getting some gym leggings, or walked past the yarn section of Spotlight, and kept on walking…

What this month has done so far is it has made me stop and think about not only what I buy, but why I buy. The aim of the month was to attain conscientious consumption, to think about where our stuff comes from and our alternatives, and in this aspect I’m getting there.

For a lot of people, this is a not a lifestyle choice but a necessity, in order to make ends meet. When you are a family on a single income with four children you do a lot of opshopping, bargain hunting or clothes making, and you don’t go crazy clothes shopping. At least that was my experience when I was growing up.

I mean, I love going to op shops and having a rummage around now and again, but there is not point in buying things new or otherwise if you don’t need them in the first place. A bargain is only a bargain if you need it.

Is a person who is always buying secondhand goods  because he/she simply wants them (or because it’s trendy) more noble than someone who prefers to buy new items as they are truly needed?

I was going pretty well, then crashed and burned yesterday with a visit to Kmart to get some thongs for the little BGs. And I did buy a couple of books on Book Depository and Readings… In my defence, your Honour, the books were mostly Christmas and birthday presents- well, mostly :).

10 books beside my bed

This is not a picture of the books by my bed, but my bookshelves. My bedroom is a bit messy at the moment 🙂

As I mentioned, there is a pile of books beside my bed, which gets organised and tidied regularly. Some books are simply in transit- they’re on their way back to the library or back to the bookshelf, while others are destined to stay there for some time.

1 The lieutenant by Kate Grenville- I read this ages ago and am re-reading it. She is a fantastic Australian author, whose prose evokes the initial European settlement of New South Wales with such colour. I was looking for The Secret River so I could read the next book in my pile which is

2. Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville. I’m looking forward to this one!

3. Family Circle- okay, a magazine, but there are some really great knitting patterns in this issue, which I am dying to try out. I also find by keeping it near my bed, I am more inclined to be hit by the inspiration to hunt for wool and knitting needles!

4. You Sew, Girl by Nicole Mallalieu. A book aimed at the beginner sewer, with tips and tricks on sewing something you can actually wear. I’m not the best sewer (it’s the pins, and the need to cut very carefully which does my head in), but I’m up for a challenge.

5. The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon- will be re-reading this. Time travel romance is a guilty pleasure for me, amongst other things which will remain private 🙂

6. Sams Teach Yourself WordPress 3 in 10 minutes– for the WordPress geek in me who is in the process of migrating the blog to a hosted site and getting a domain name registered

7. Op Shop Guide Victoria by Kelly Lainson- I had this near my bed looking for op shops in or on my way to Inverloch when we were there on the weekend. Good to dip into.

8. Baby Bible- I have no idea how this got into my book pile, other than Master BG was given this as a christening present, and the stories are at his reading level. Needless to say, I have taken great umbrage at the fact that the book says Jonah was eaten by a big fish. It was a WHALE.

9. The truth about love by Jospehine Hart. A book that is described an ‘an ambitious and poetic weaving of a long-ago family tragedy into the tragic history and histories of our time,’ by Jon Banville. The first three pages are like a stream of consciousness which were a huge turn-off for me. Going back to the library virtualy unread.

10 The Thirsty Moose by David Orme and Mike Gordon. Another of Master BG’s library books, about a moose which drinks all the water in the river. It reminded me of Tiddalik the frog when he read it. On its way back to the library.

What books do you have beside your bed? Do you read a couple at the same time or one at a time?


Confessions of a booklover by Bookgrrl

The 7 types of book lover was featured in Mamamia on Tuesday. Looking at the list, I must admit I am guilty of a few, but not all of these types. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa…

1. The Book Thief- When I moved to Geelong in 1984 I accidentally forgot to return a library book back to the Ararat Library, called The Endless Steppes by Esther Hautzig. The library police (Mr Bookman aka Mr BG) has yet to catch up with me, as I have moved several times, changed my name and the library service has dissolved in the 27 years since the crime took place. I can’t believe I still remember the title!

2. Dog Earer- My Grade Five teacher Mr Maher took one look at my copy of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and shuddered at the way I was treating it- dog ears, scuffed cover. I was really hard on books when I was younger, but I have reformed since then. Although a subcategory of this would be the coffee cup on the book, but I DON”T DO THIS (Mr BG is reading this *blows a kiss*)

3. Serendipity Screamer-The read and sharer- I will happily tell the world if I like a book, but release a book into the wild? A poor defenceless book? I can’t possibly do that!

4. The self conscious reader- I have read the odd one or one hundred books which some people may find embarassing. Yes, I have read Mills & Boon, and I harbour a special place in my heart for Jodi Picoult, Diana Gabaldon (time travelling romance) and Lillian Jackson Braun (mystery writer featuring a lot of cats). And I used to read a lot of Maeve Binchy before my mum discovered her. And no, I haven’t read James Joyce, Proust, nor Tolstoy. Sartre left me cold, as did Graham Greene. The closest I have come to Patrick White is reading David Marr’s biography, which I thoroughly recommend.

5. The did not finish- Occasionally this has happened, as I remember not finishing Amy’s Children by Olga Masters, which was a VCE text of my sister’s. Usually now it’s not even starting a book, let alone finishing one.

6. The underliner- a phase I quickly went out of after VCE- my copies of To kill a mockingbird, Macbeth and My Name is Asher Lev bear the scars of my underlining and highlighting. Thankfully post it notes and photocopying from books and journals came into common use when I was at uni :).

7. The reader of things you have never heard of- when I was working in a public library we would get a mix of bestsellers and new authors. Some of the new authors were excellent- Rosalie Ham, Amanda Lohrey, and Drusilla Modjeska just to name a few. Many of these were introduced to me by other library staff who were voracious readers (occupational hazard of working in a public library). I’ve never been the type to rabbit on about an unknown author though.

There is another type of booklover which wasn’t mentioned.

8. The bookpiler- a pile of books beside the bed, or on the bookcase that you are meaning to read- they may be worthwhile books which quickly get pushed aside for the latest page-turner, a book you know you have to read, but doesn’t grab you just yet. I have to keep them there, as their presence nags me, their muffled cries of ‘read me!’ keeping me aware that I must get to them…someday.

What type or types of booklover are you?

Sunday Conversations

Kitchen. Sunday morning, 7.30am

Master BG: (seated at table) Mum, do vampires like garlic?

Me: (making breakfast) No, they hate garlic!

Master BG: Mum, what do vampires eat?

Me: They drink blood.

Master BG: They don’t eat brains?

Me: No, zombies eat brains. Vampires are on a liquid diet (cue laughter).

2 minutes later. Master BG and I are at table eating breakfast.

Master BG: Mum, do we have a bible?

Me: (mouth full of porridge) Why do you want a bible?

Master BG: We were talking about bibles in school.

Me: (resigned to the fact that I will never get to eat my porridge in piece) Do you want a bible or a bible stories book? (even at home always doing the reference interview)

Book of bible stories selected. Book is read. Much concern over Jonah and the ‘big fish’, from Master BG because he is swallowed, and from me because the last time I read this story, Jonah was swallowed by a WHALE which is a mammal.

Peace for five minutes.

Master BG: Mum, can I play library?

Me:(Big sigh and little chuckle) Why not 🙂

Library play ensues. Such is the demand for books that library expands from just Harry Potter books to information books and Captain Underpants books, which are been organised into ‘sections’ (his words). We all take turns in being a librarian ‘Mum you know how to be one- you’re already a librarian!’ Master BG learns the basics of marketing ‘please come to my library’, and finally the grim reality ‘If you don’t come to my library I’m just going to have to close the library forever’.

Cue exit from me.

5 Books

@flexnib said “Feel free to share my five books” and I am graciously accepting this request!

1. Name the book you are currently reading

Bossypants by Tina Fey. Intelligent, funny and very self-deprecating. This will be great on the train tomorrow!

2. The last book I finished

That would be Jasper McFlea will not eat his tea, a cautionary tale for little children who do not eat from all the five food groups. The kids love the rhyming! The last book I finished which did not involve me reading it out to an attentive audience was Ken Follett Rise of Giants. Also a good read, no rhyming though…

3. The next book I want to read

I have Invisible cities by Italo Calvino beside my bed, which I really should read before it’s due back at the library. The book I REALLY want to read would be the 8th book in the Harry Potter series- it’ll probably never come out, but hope springs eternal 🙂

4. The last book I bought

Go the f*ck to sleep by Adam Mansbach from Booktopia. I know of a couple of people at work with young children who will appreciate the artwork and sentiments.

5. The last book I was given

Actually the last book I was given was The World of the Book from my Twitter kris kringle last Christmas!