Christmas Gifts: Books, a Special Gift of Sweet & Wise Words

Xmas Books

Books 3Books as we know them in printed format, have preserved the words and deeds of our ancestors down the centuries for our erudition and enlightenment.

Today we constantly need to revisit and evaluate what they mean to us, locally, nationally or as part of a truly global society. Whether you read them in your hand or Online, books do represent the outstanding evolutionary scale of human endeavour and human life.

Dining-Room-500-Woollahra-CottageAs well as physical copies, still in major libraries dotted throughout cities, many are now being archived digitally. Only time will tell if this method will be successful in conserving the written word for people in the future who we hope may be curious about us.

Can’t help but think of all those merry monks who were kept alive, happy and busy in libraries for centuries in Europe, preserving wonderful words from antiquity for us to find. They certainly helped kick start the modern age.

Books certainly helped guide my life. Fom the age of nine, I visited the local municipal library each afternoon to complete my homework and read for pleasure. As I grew to adulthood my passion for books didn’t abate.

One of my hardest days ever was when I downsized my considerable library to move to Melbourne from Brisbane, picking out only the books I loved most to journey with me during my mature years.

Woollahra CottageMany were old fine and very rare books, many purchased from Louella Kerr at her fabulous antique bookstore on Collins Street Melbourne.

Bill Nighy, The BookshopMy own local Avoca Hill Bookstore in South Yarra is an independent cave of contemporary treasures and delights. Located on a special patch of Toorak Road nearby to my other favourite store, especially at Xmas time, Home and Abroad.

Santa Claus with a huge bag on the runSpending time at Avoca Hill is always a happy interlude for me and I was totally dazzled by so many new books arriving in time for Xmas.

Couldn’t resist picking  Ten Terrific Books for Summer (not in any particular order), which cover a diverse range of interests and tastes.

Xmas Books

It they suit your tastes and preferences, perhaps Santa may pop one of my top ten terrific contemporary books for this summer in your stocking!

Carolyn McDowall, Core Writer, Publisher, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017

Ten Terrific Books for Summer


Ostro: Julia Busuttil Nishimura
Quite beautiful to look at, stunning to read, this is a recipe book that gives pleasure by teaching you how to ‘slow down’ and to ‘cook with simple ingredients’, a metaphor for life itself.

Tom Hanks TypeUncommon Type – Some Stories: Tom Hanks
Yes, you read that correctly. The author is Tom Hanks the actor from Sully, The Da Vinci Code, Inferno and so much more. Turns out he’s a much admired and revered writer and this little tome contains seventeen stories to both dazzle and delight.

CardanusThe Quantum Astrologer’s Handbook by Michael Brooks
Author Michael Brooks holds a PhD in quantum physics and presents a work of and about genius. Considered a landmark in science writing, it resurrects from the vaults of neglect the polymath Jerome Cardano, an outstanding Milanese mathematician of the sixteenth century to discover anew through a series of conversations that both enlighten and enchant.

The final elemets of "Eternity Buddah in Nirvana" by Chinese artist Xu Zhen being installed at the NGV depicting Greek Gods and Heroes with Buddah Picture: Eugene Hyland

The final elemets of “Eternity Buddah in Nirvana” by Chinese artist Xu Zhen being installed at the NGV depicting Greek Gods and Heroes with Buddah Picture: Eugene Hyland

Mythos by Stephen Fry
A timely collection of legends, written by a man with a huge intellect, hyperactive mind and an incredible ability to emphasize the point. He presents a new take on the Greek Myths for our own ‘tragic, comic and fateful age’. Smart, funny and above all entertaining, Fry is intent on ‘telling stories that disturb, surprise and above all, provide pleasure, which he states is what ‘immersing yourself in the world of Greek myths is really all about’. Here Here.

Lily Brett by David Rankin

Detail: David Rankin, Lily Brett, collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra Gift of Dr Gene Sherman AM and Brian Sherman AM 2012

Only in New York by Lily Brett
While this was published a few years ago, and you might have trouble tracking it down be reassured it will be worth it, especially if you value an honest viewpoint full of ‘wisdom, humour and grace’. This delightful volume is written by a woman very much in touch with ‘knowing thyself’. It provides insights into her daily very personal adventures as she compulsively walked the streets of one of the world’s most vibrant and diverse cities, observing and enjoying the diverse and different characters who ‘nurtured, perplexed and inspired her’ during the times she called it home.

Travelling CatThe Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
Capturing a cult following and world wide audience, The Travelling Cat Chronicles soon to be a live action Japanese film, comes with the caption, “It is not the journey that counts, but who is at your side”. We are cat lovers in our family, this story about ‘kindness and truth’ as Nan the cat and his owner Satoru go on the road together, should have great appeal.

yorkshiredalesElmet by Fiona Mozley
A debut novel shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2017, this is both exquisite and unforgettable. The tale set in the wild beauty of a Yorkshire landscape has a narrative of the past informing the present. It is about the bond between father and child as an unconventional societal fringe dwelling father seeks to strengthen his children against the darker aspects of the real world around them.

salt-fat-acid-heat-featuredSalt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nostrat
This very special Masterclass in cooking explains and teaches the use of just four elements to obtain success —Salt, which enhances flavor; Fat, which delivers flavor and generates texture; Acid, which balances flavor; and Heat, which ultimately determines the texture of food. A whole new approach to understanding flavour and texture, its all about how it ‘feels to cook’ as much as how. If you are a food lover, this will challenge and change your boundaries and help you to discover what flavour is really all about.

Bennet-in-DecayKeep on Keeping On by Alan Bennett
Published in 2016, this wonderfully weighty tome contains a third collection of prose from one of Britain’s greatest living writers, who leaped to success in the 1960’s. It is a reflection based on his diaries covering a decade 2005-2015, funny, witty and with great humanity, an unforgettable record of a very special life.

Serpent 1The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
A novel (2016) that has had the critics raving as the author explores the concepts of love and belief, science and religion, secrets and mysteries and place and landscape, while producing a book that is both ‘intimate and wise’ and a story told with ‘grace and intelligence’.


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