Resistance and Remembrance: Us Women, Our Ways, Our World

I had always thought, erroneously it turns out, that protests against Australia Day were a relatively new phenomenon. Yet since 1938 protesters have marched against the 25th of January being an Australian national holiday because it ‘celebrates’ Europeans landing on this continent. Known as the Day of Mourning, this 1930s protest was one of the first major civil rights gatherings in the world.

The genesis of NAIDOC (National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee) week lies in the Day of Mourning, but unlike this earlier day of commiseration, NAIDOC week now is a series of celebratory events. It’s this approach – one of recognition and remembrance, as well as resistance – that Us Women, Our Ways, Our World takes to investigating the lived experience of Aboriginal women, through fourteen different pieces of writing. It seems fitting to take a closer look at this book during NAIDOC week.

Six Degrees of Separation – from picnicking to murdering

It’s time for #6degrees! Adapting the idea the idea that everyone in the world is separated from everyone else by just six links, Kate W (one of my favourite bloggers) hosts a #6degrees meme for bookish types.

Every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and then it’s up to us readers to link it to six other books to form a kind of chain. It’s all a bit random, as the links between books can be as estoteric as you like – it’s fun to see where things take you.

At the starting block this month is Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay. In the first year of high school, my best friend was obsessed with this book. She would become emotionally unstable, in a way that only a thirteen year old can, if anyone hinted the book wasn’t based on real events.

Pompous and Ponderous yet Pretty Persuasive: When Nietzsche Wept

In the dark days of my youth, I trained to be a lawyer. As far as I’m concerned my brain is naturally inclined to be, and then was further pummelled into being linear, logical and only marginally creative.  For these reasons, when I have to contemplate the universe (by, for instance, trying to understand the relative size of the earth compared to the observable universe or the gravitational force of black holes) or when I have to ponder existential and philosophical conundrums, my brain really hurts. Give me the legal complexities of a snail at the bottom of a ginger beer bottle any day*.

So it was with some anxiety that I began reading When Nietzsche Wept by Irvin D. Yalom, M.D.  In addition to the intellectual title and the sombre bookcover, the author photo on the back of the book suggests a man not to be meddled with. He is clearly VERY SMART. Look at this:

Positioned alongside this imposing photo, the blurb tells us that Irvin D. Yalom M.D. is no less than a Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Stanford University.

Consequently, as I turned to chapter one I was fearful for my lawyerly brain.  How much existential grappling would this book demand? Would I survive the plunge into the (for me) unchartered realms of philosophy? Who was Nietzsche anyway?

Happily I can report that my brain and I survived When Nietzsche Wept. Although I didn’t necessarily enjoy this book I am glad I read it.

My Five Favourite Book Covers Right Now

We all know we shouldn’t, and yet we all do. You know what I’m talking about. (No, not that). Yes, that’s right…. Buy a book because of its cover.

As ebooks sales decline and physical books recover some lost ground, some commentators have put this down to the power of the book cover. You only need to go on Instagram for a micro-second to comprehend the appreciation (festishisation?) for the beauty of books –  books being playful with fairy lights, books relaxing on beaches, books lying seductively on beds. You can’t create that kind of reverential ambience with your Kindle Fire or Kobi, no matter what.

As a consequence of this renaissance of the beautiful book cover, when I walk into a bookshop these days, more than ever I think, I’m confronted with a visual feast. This makes it oh so much harder for me to resist – not that I’m complaining too much, mind.

Here are five books I bought recently simply because I love their covers.

Audiobook Nook: The Dalai Lama’s Cat

I’ve developed a tendency to choose audiobooks that have silly titles, like my most recent pick The Dalai Lama’s Cat by David Michie. It’s precisely because it has a silly title that I singled this out one. I’d never heard of David Michie, although he seems quite famous, and I’d never heard of the book either.

The Dalai Lama’s Cat serves as a gentle introduction into Buddhism, as delivered by ‘Snow Lion’, the Dalai Lama’s Cat. If you like the idea of being talked to by a cat about the philosophical underpinnings of happiness, then this book is definitely for you.  If you think this sounds either pompous or ludicrous (or both), you’re right, it is.  But don’t completely write it off.