Books

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5 minutes with author D.L. Hicks

<p dir="ltr">In the Over60 “5 Minutes With” series, we ask book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next up is D.L. Hicks who is debuting his second book, <em>The Fallback</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr">D.L. Hicks has worked as an officer with the Victorian Police for more than 25 years and decided to put all his real-life experiences on the frontline on paper. </p> <p dir="ltr">Using his frontline experience, D.L. Hicks brings you along the journey that explores desperation, vulnerability, the lengths people will go to to get what they want, and whether you can ever change who you truly are.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>The Fallback is available for <a href="https://www.booktopia.com.au/the-fallback-d-l-hicks/book/9780648677048.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">preorder now</a> and is due for release on May 31.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. How has your background of being a police officer contributed to your writing style? </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">One of the most common pieces of advice given to any writer is ‘write what you know’, and I’m no exception when it comes to that. As well as bearing witness to crimes and criminal activity, being a police officer gives me a firsthand insight into the effect this type of behaviour has on victims and offenders, as well as the emergency workers whose job it is to attend critical incidents. From the most minor car accident to a life-threatening assault or even a homicide, police officers are tasked with taking control of the situation, investigating it and hopefully bringing it to some sort of resolution. To be able to draw on those experiences from a career approaching 30 years in the job is a valuable tool for me as a writer – not only in terms of plot and story arc but also in observing the characteristics of different people involved and the manner in which they deal with things. Hopefully being an ‘insider’ in this world gives my writing authenticity and credibility.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. How long were you thinking of writing <em>The Fallback</em> before you decided to go ahead with it?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The idea for The Fallback had been buzzing around in my head for some time before I actually put it down on paper. Once I had overcome the excitement of having my first book – <em>The Devil Inside</em> – published and out in the world, I was then able to focus more on The Fallback and expand on the initial concept. The writing and editing process to get this novel to the point where it now appears on the shelf took around 18 months to 2 years, squeezed in around full-time police work and existing in a family including two teenagers!</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. What was one of the most surprising things you learned when writing your book? </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Although it shouldn’t be surprising, the editing process – in sharpening a rough diamond first draft into something that can actually be released – amazes me. There are so many character story arcs that require fleshing out or resolution, and so much additional information that is added to round out characters and enrich the overall quality of the novel. It is definitely a collaborative process – so much work is put in by the writer and their editor after the initial story has been written to make the finished product so much more polished than what was first put on the page.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. What book(s) are you reading right now? </strong></p> <p dir="ltr">I am constantly reading – it is one thing I love doing and always try and make time for, even if it’s just a chapter or two in bed at night. Most books I read are crime novels – Christian White, Jane Harper, Jo Nesbo, Michael Robotham, Chris Hammer, Lee Child – however in saying that, I am always open to good book recommendations from any genre. The best two books I have read lately are not crime fiction at all – Bluebird by Malcolm Knox, and Still Life by Sarah Winman. I have just finished Kill Your Brother by Jack Heath – definitely a crime novel!</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. How do you deal with writer’s block? </strong></p> <p dir="ltr" style="line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 12pt; margin-bottom: 12pt;">I haven’t had to deal with writer’s block too much yet, although there are certainly times where things flow better than others. Taking a break can be useful – getting out in the fresh air walking the dog, leaving the writing aside for a small period of time and then returning to it can usually get the creative thoughts flowing again. Sometimes I think it’s beneficial to just try to just focus on getting something down on the page - even if it isn’t award winning literature – to progress the storyline. Once the words are down they can always be sharpened up at a later stage. </p>

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Lisa Wilkinson’s book price slashed by 70 percent

<p dir="ltr">The price of Lisa Wilkinson’s new book has been slashed by more than 70 percent.</p> <p dir="ltr">The former <em>Today Show</em> co-host released a memoir called It Wasn't Meant To Be Like This in November 2021, which addressed – among other things – her pay dispute with Karl Stefanovic. </p> <p dir="ltr">However, her book was not well received as the RRP took a massive cut by up to more than 70 percent at some retailers. </p> <p dir="ltr">Kmart was selling a paperback copy of the memoir for $24 and placed it on clearance for a measly $6.</p> <p dir="ltr">Big W had the book for RRP $45 and slashed a massive 73 percent off the pricing to just $12.</p> <p dir="ltr">Amazon also had the book for $12 with only Booktopia and Dymocks keeping the price at $36 and $45 respectively.</p> <p dir="ltr">Despite the price cuts on her book, it has now been revealed that Wilkinson is making money off it in a different way. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>The Project </em>host is promoting her memoir at exclusive women’s networking breakfast group Business Chicks, where attendees are also being charged the full $45 for her book.</p> <p dir="ltr">She also held an event at the luxurious Melbourne Crown Palladium to a sold-out crowd of more than 500 attendees.</p> <p dir="ltr">Tickets to the event ranged from $145 to $185 per seat.</p> <p dir="ltr">In an Instagram post in April, Wilkinson promoted her new book tour “after a couple of false starts at the end of last year, courtesy of good old COVID”.</p> <blockquote class="instagram-media" style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/tv/CcfEm0IhvYR/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"> </div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <div style="padding: 12.5% 0;"> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; margin-bottom: 14px; align-items: center;"> <div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(0px) translateY(7px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; height: 12.5px; transform: rotate(-45deg) translateX(3px) translateY(1px); width: 12.5px; flex-grow: 0; margin-right: 14px; margin-left: 2px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; height: 12.5px; width: 12.5px; transform: translateX(9px) translateY(-18px);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: 8px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 20px; width: 20px;"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 2px solid transparent; border-left: 6px solid #f4f4f4; border-bottom: 2px solid transparent; transform: translateX(16px) translateY(-4px) rotate(30deg);"> </div> </div> <div style="margin-left: auto;"> <div style="width: 0px; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-right: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(16px);"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; flex-grow: 0; height: 12px; width: 16px; transform: translateY(-4px);"> </div> <div style="width: 0; height: 0; border-top: 8px solid #F4F4F4; border-left: 8px solid transparent; transform: translateY(-4px) translateX(8px);"> </div> </div> </div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center; margin-bottom: 24px;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 224px;"> </div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 144px;"> </div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" href="https://www.instagram.com/tv/CcfEm0IhvYR/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank" rel="noopener">A post shared by Lisa Wilkinson (@lisa_wilkinson)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p dir="ltr">“I’ll be telling the stories BEHIND the stories in the book, the truth about some of the headlines you may have read in recent times, the many lessons I’ve learnt across the years, the people I’ve met, and why the book almost didn’t happen,” her caption read.</p> <p dir="ltr">“And if you already have the book, please bring it along for me to sign, or you can purchase one on the day, and I’ll be signing those too.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She went on to convince attendees about the event which would include some “darn good coffee” as well as a great networking space.</p> <p dir="ltr">“And again, thank you to everyone who continues to send me messages, stop me in the street, and share their thoughts in book clubs around the country about how much the book has meant to them…you sincerely have no idea how much your feedback has, in turn, meant to me. Thank you.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Instagram </em></p>

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Peppa Pig accused of "brainwashing" children by anti-vax community

<p>Peppa Pig has been slammed by the anti-vax community, as a 2021 children's book in which Peppa gets a vaccine, has been turned into an episode of the popular TV show. </p> <p>Furious parents have accused the animated children's show for "brainwashing" young audiences into getting vaccines, before denouncing the Covid jab as a "toxic injection" that is the equivalent of "child abuse".</p> <p>The fury was sparked following the novelisation of an episode of the cartoon, Peppa Gets a Health Check, that debuted on television screens last year and comes weeks after the NHS started Covid vaccinations for younger children.</p> <p>In the animated episode, Mummy Pig takes her daughter, Peppa, to see a doctor - who measures her height and weight, looks in her ears, listens to her heartbeat, and asks questions about whether she likes broccoli - as well as taking note of the loudness of her 'oink'.</p> <p>But in the book version, Peppa Gets a Vaccination - which appears to be virtually the same plot -  Peppa is also told by the polar bear character medic, "Now it's time for your vaccination, do you know why we have vaccinations Peppa?"</p> <p>The book continues, 'Peppa put her hand up. "Yes! <span style="font-family: graphik, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; letter-spacing: -0.1600000113248825px; background-color: #ffffff;">They stop</span> us from getting ill, and that helps people around us, too."'</p> <p>In an online review of the book, one furious parent wrote, "This is so wrong. Our kids don't need toxic injections, or face masks, it's child abuse. Just stop, leave our kids alone."</p> <p>Another review called the book "Absolutely disgraceful", as the parent said they would "not be letting my kids watch or read any of this s***".</p> <p><em>Image credits: Ladybird Books / Getty Images</em></p>

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Teen makes prom dress out of Harry Potter series

<p dir="ltr">A high school student has used pages from the Harry Potter book series to make a very different prom dress.</p> <p dir="ltr">Hailey Skoch created the gown from the popular books, saying the idea came to her after seeing a similar concept online.</p> <p dir="ltr">The 18-year-old spent a total of four days carefully crafting her beautiful dress which, instead of turning pages, will certainly turn heads. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I really wanted to do something more unconventional, and I’ve been obsessed with Harry Potter forever,” she told ArkTimes.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I love to read. So I threw some stuff together and decided to make it a ballgown.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She said it really helped to have the series playing in the background while she worked.</p> <p dir="ltr">Hailey explained the reasoning behind using the Harry Potter books, which she said were the “books of my childhood” and brought her peace during her parent’s divorce.</p> <p dir="ltr">Come the day of the prom, Hailey’s dress certainly had heads turning to take a peek at the book dress.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It was completely insane because I just kind of entered and everyone was kind of doing their own thing. One person saw me, and then another.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It was almost creepy in sync, everyone’s heads just turned. It was the craziest feeling I’ve ever had.”</p> <p dir="ltr">After sharing photos of her dress online, Hailey was headhunted by several designers and photographers who wanted to get their hands on it. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I was this shy, nerdy, geeky kid that was looking for some magic in my life,' she said. '[These books were] just such an inspiration at a time when I was so vulnerable and needed it most... I have such a great love for these books.”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

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New study reveals fascinating fact about gender balance in books

<p dir="ltr">Characters in books are almost four times more likely to be male than female, according to a new artificial intelligence study on female prevalence in literature.</p> <p dir="ltr">Researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering used artificial intelligence to examine more than 3,000 English-language books with genres ranging from science fiction, to mystery and romance, including novels, short stories, and poetry.</p> <p dir="ltr">The team used Named Entity Recognition (NER), a prominent NLP method used to extract gender-specific characters.</p> <p dir="ltr">Lead researcher Mayank Kejriwal was inspired to research the topic and was surprised to find that gender bias was prevalent in the books. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Gender bias is very real, and when we see females four times less in literature, it has a subliminal impact on people consuming the culture,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We quantitatively revealed in an indirect way in which bias persists in culture.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Co-author of the study Akarsh Nagaraj discovered the four to one ratio which showed male characters were more common in books.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Books are a window to the past, and the writing of these authors gives us a glimpse into how people perceive the world, and how it has changed,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It clearly showed us that women in those times would represent themselves much more than a male writer would.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Using the technology, the team found the most common adjectives used to describe gender specific characters.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Even with misattributions, the words associated with women were adjectives like ‘weak,’ ‘amiable,’ ‘pretty,’ and sometimes ‘stupid,’” said Nagaraj. </p> <p dir="ltr">“For male characters, the words describing them included ‘leadership,’ ‘power,’ ‘strength’ and ‘politics.’”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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“I need a new butt!” Kiwi book leads to teacher being fired

<p dir="ltr">An assistant principal has claimed that he was fired from his job after reading a book about butts to his year two students. </p> <p dir="ltr">Toby Price was reading <em>I Need A New Butt!</em> to his second graders at Gary Road Elementary School in Mississippi.</p> <p dir="ltr">The children’s book, written by New Zealand author Dawn McMillian, tells the story of a boy who looks for a new bum after seeing a crack on his. </p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Price said the children “loved” and “really liked” the book, but it appears those on top did not and he was soon called to the principal’s office. </p> <p dir="ltr">"About 10 minutes after that, the principal called me into her office and said, 'Mr Price we are probably going to get some parent calls about this book' and I understood, a very professional lady, I get it," he told <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-the-monday-edition-1.6384517/this-assistant-principal-says-he-was-fired-for-reading-kids-a-book-called-i-need-a-new-butt-1.6384717" target="_blank" rel="noopener">CBC</a>. </p> <p dir="ltr">"A few minutes after that I was called to the superintendent's office - there are two superintendents - the main superintendent, she let me have it pretty good for choosing that book. </p> <p dir="ltr">"She asked me if that was the kind of thing I thought was funny - butts and farts - and before I walked in there I thought it was."</p> <p dir="ltr">Mr Price was placed on administrative leave and two days later was “totally blinded” after being fired. </p> <p dir="ltr">The educator of 20 years has the support of the parent-teacher association and because of how much traction his story received, it will go to court to reverse the decision. </p> <p dir="ltr">He admits he’s scared of the decision because it “might not be the happiest work environment".  </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Facebook</em></p>

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Something remarkable has happened to Australia’s book pages: gender equality has become the norm

<p>For the first time in the nine-year history of the Stella Count, and perhaps in the entire history of Australian book reviewing, gender equality has become the norm in Australia’s books pages. Our new research for the Count reveals 55% of books reviewed in Australian publications in 2020 were by women.</p> <p>The Stella Count surveys 12 Australian publications – including national, metropolitan, and regional newspapers, journals and magazines – collecting data on the gender of authors and reviewers, length of review and genre of books reviewed.</p> <p><a href="https://stella.org.au/initiatives/research/the-stella-count/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">In 2012 when the Count began</a>, ten of the 13 publications then surveyed reviewed more books written by men. In 2020, only three of the 12 publications currently surveyed review more books by male rather than female authors. All bar one of these publications improved the gender balance of books reviewed significantly over this period.</p> <p>Some publications have dramatically transformed their pages to better represent women authors between 2011 and 2020. The Age has increased its representation of books written by women from 38% to 55%; The Monthly, from 26% to 56%; and Brisbane’s Courier-Mail, from 43% to 54%.</p> <p>The Saturday Paper entered the Count in 2014 with 37% of books reviewed written by women; it hit 61% women authors reviewed in 2020. Likewise, the Sydney Review of Books has increased its percentage from 36% in 2015 to 70% in 2020.</p> <p>These significant gains do not mean gender bias has been eliminated from the Australian book reviewing field. Some publications continue to find the gender parity line a hard one to cross – and in general, books written by men still attract longer reviews.</p> <p>After several years of stasis, The Australian has inched closer to parity with 45% of its reviews now of books by women. Australian Book Review, however, is the only publication in our study that has not significantly improved representation of women authors over the nine years: indeed, the percentage of reviewed books by women dropped from 47% in 2019 to 43% in 2020.</p> <h2>Why does this matter?</h2> <p>About 22,500 new book titles <a href="https://www.booksandpublishing.com.au/articles/2020/09/30/157402/publishing-and-the-pandemic-the-australian-book-market-in-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">are published each year in Australia</a>. In a crowded marketplace, any opportunity to get a book discussed in the public eye is worth its weight in gold. Book reviews are a longstanding means of bringing attention and, possibly, acclaim to new titles.</p> <p>Our surveyed publications published 2,344 reviews in 2020. Some books received multiple reviews, meaning authors of new books have a less than 10% chance of being reviewed in one of Australia’s major book pages.</p> <p>When you look at the demographics, you would not expect Australia’s literary scene to be a place of gender bias. Women make up <a href="https://australiacouncil.gov.au/advocacy-and-research/making-art-work/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">65% of Australian writers</a>, <a href="https://www.booksandpublishing.com.au/articles/2018/11/21/118475/for-love-or-money-analysing-the-employment-survey/#:%7E:text=Show%20me%20the%20money,2013%20to%20%2460%2C207%20in%202018." target="_blank" rel="noopener">77% of employees in Australian publishing</a>, and <a href="http://www.businessandeconomics.mq.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/528030/FinalFinalReaders-Report-24-05-17-final.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener">61% of “frequent readers”</a>.</p> <p>But until very recently, book reviewing – like <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/may/04/australian-version-orange-prize" target="_blank" rel="noopener">literary prizes</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/old-white-men-dominate-school-english-booklists-its-time-more-australian-schools-taught-australian-books-127110" target="_blank" rel="noopener">school syllabuses</a> – appeared to have a gender problem. There was, however, no comprehensive quantitative evidence to prove it.</p> <p>Newly-formed feminist nonprofit organisation, The Stella Prize, set out to do something about this in 2012. Inspired by <a href="https://www.vidaweb.org/the-count/" target="_blank" rel="noopener">similar counts happening overseas</a>, Stella began collecting statistics about the gender of authors whose books were reviewed. We began working with Stella in 2014 when it expanded the data collection in order to understand how gender bias was operating when it came to the size of reviews, the genre of books reviewed and the gender of reviewers.</p> <p>Over the ensuing years we have seen something remarkable happen: real change. Literary editors, when asked, were often surprised by the statistics, when presented with them. Or they made excuses for them: men pitch more or write books on important subjects that deserve reviewing, they said. These biases are no longer unconscious.</p> <h2>Gender disparities persist</h2> <p>While this is cause for celebration, there is still some way to go. While women writers now receive their fair share of reviews in terms of the overall number published, this does not mean they receive equal access to the actual space devoted to public literary criticism.</p> <p>Books written by women are still more likely to receive shorter or capsule reviews. Long reviews – those of 1000 words or more – continue to be largely the precinct of men, either as reviewers or as authors of books reviewed.</p> <p>Women authors receive 55% of all reviews, but only 45% of long reviews. Long reviews are the most conspicuous and prestigious, not just because of their size and prominence but because they are often written by prominent critics and accompanied by images such as book covers and author photos, which lead to market recognition.</p> <h2>Gender assumptions continue</h2> <p>Long-held assumptions about gender and reading are evident in the Stella Count data. Key among these is the idea that men are interested in books by men, and women are interested in books by women. Australian book reviews are highly partitioned by gender: female reviewers are much more likely to review books by women, and male reviewers books by men.</p> <p>Fiction reviews skew towards women as authors and reviewers (especially those written for children and young adults), and non-fiction skews towards men. This supports broader findings in relation to <a href="https://www.wlia.org.au/women-for-media-2021" target="_blank" rel="noopener">the representation of women in Australian media</a>: that women are less likely to be called upon to offer expert commentary on topics such as politics and sport.</p> <p>Our research also offers a snapshot of the state of book reviewing in Australia. It shows the number of reviews published in our surveyed publications dropped by 15% between 2019 and 2020, when the pandemic arrived here.</p> <p>The Stella Count is now the longest-running yearly count of a nation’s book pages conducted anywhere in the world. Next year will be the Stella Count’s ten-year anniversary. The real impact of COVID-19 on the gender make up of authors and reviewers – and on Australia’s literary sector more broadly – is yet to be seen, but data collection such as the Stella Count is key to understanding it.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-f28b028c-7fff-d401-9e6a-19a207e5c4ad">This article originally appeared on The Conversation.</span></p> <p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p>

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5 minutes with author Patti Miller

<p dir="ltr">In the <em>Over60 “5 Minutes With”</em> series, we ask book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next up is Patti Miller, who is debuting her novel <em>True Friends</em> - <a href="https://www.uqp.com.au/books/true-friends" target="_blank" rel="noopener">out now</a>!</p> <p dir="ltr">Patti Miller is an Australian writer and holds a Bachelor in Communications and a Masters in Writing from the University of Technology. She is the author of 10 books and numerous articles and essays that have been published in national newspapers and literary magazines.</p> <p dir="ltr">In <em>True Friends</em>, a memoir, Patti reflects on the making (and unmaking) of some of her most treasured friendships, the importance of this relationship in our lives, how we choose our friends and how they shape our lives.</p> <p dir="ltr">Over60 spoke to Patti and asked about where her love of writing came from, and how her experiences helped shape her book <em>True Friends</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. How did you come up with the idea for <em>True Friends</em>?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">To be truthful, it came more from a feeling than an idea. I was boarding a flight in Paris and suddenly saw someone ahead of me on the air-bridge who looked like a friend who had recently ended her friendship with me. It wasn’t her, but I noted the turmoil it caused in me and once I was on the plane I started taking notes about it. I realised that while the endings of romantic relationships were often the subject of novels, memoirs, poems, song and films, the hurt of a friendship ending was rarely written about. By the time I arrived back in Sydney, I knew I had a book to write.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. What do you look for when making friends?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">I think I am drawn to someone’s energy – their engagement with the world, their attention to it. I value self-awareness, openness, thoughtfulness, kindness, interest in and connection to the world. And then if I find out they like books and reading – well that’s a big plus!</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. If you're comfortable sharing, what was the greatest friendship loss that happened to you?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">There’s two kinds of losses in friendship – a break-up, and death. A friend has recently died and I have felt that loss deeply as she was formative for me. She shaped my thinking and my life to a certain extent. But I have also lost a friendship due to break up, which was bewildering and which became a central thread in <em>True Friends</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>4. What is your advice for your readers who are looking to make new friends?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">It’s so different for everyone that I don’t think I can give advice. Generally though, it’s a matter of being open to others. Listening to them, asking questions, rather than talking about yourself too much. That way, you can start connecting to them.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>5. What is the importance in knowing oneself and one's friends?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">I’m going to quote from <em>True Friends</em> to answer this one: “Friends also share similar versions of the world... Together you and I not only acknowledge the reality of each other, but of our world. It is really there, that stand of gum trees, that mad leader, that childhood we told each other about, it all exists. Because we agree that it does.”</p> <p dir="ltr">That is, in knowing yourself and others, you re-affirm each other’s version of existence.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>6. What book(s) do you think people should read?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Well, clearly <em>“True Friends”</em>!! But also the wonderful set of novels by Elena Ferrante, starting with <em>“My Brilliant Friend”</em>. They are the best novels about a long friendship that I’ve come across. My book is nonfiction, drawing on my own experience, but I suspect Ferrante’s novels also draw on her own experience of friendship.</p>

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5 minutes with author Lyn McFarlane

<p dir="ltr">In the<em> Over60</em> <em>“5 Minutes With”</em> series, we ask book writers about their literary habits and preferences. Next up is Lyn McFarlane, who is debuting her novel <em>The Scarlet Cross</em> on March 29. </p> <p dir="ltr">Lyn McFarlane is a Canadian-Australian writer, lawyer and former freelance journalist. She splits her time between Sydney, Australia and Vancouver Island, Canada. She holds degrees in economics and journalism and a masters in law. <em>The Scarlet Cross</em> won the Arthur Ellis Prize for Best Unpublished Manuscript in 2019.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>The Scarlet Cross</em> will keep the reader on their toes as they join Meredith Griffin in the emergency department at St Jude Hospital, who questions why women who all had the same fatal injury were labelled as suicides. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Over60</em> spoke to Lyn and asked about where her love of writing came from, how much her own law history contributed to her book, and the inspiration behind <em>The Scarlet Cross</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Could you tell us about your background and your writing style?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">I have always loved language, and have a deep fondness for writers who can use words with precision and economy. My background as a lawyer may contribute to this, but even before I studied and practiced law, I relished authors - Raymond Carver, Colm Tobin or Cormac McCarthy, spring to mind - who deliver writing that is clean and sparse on its face, but has a top spin that knocks you off your feet. This is the writing style that I aspire to. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>What book(s) are you reading right now?</strong></p> <p><em>Crossroads</em> by Jonathan Franzen, <em>The Way it is Now</em> by Garry Disher, and <em>Olive, Again</em> by Elizabeth Strout.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>With a background in journalism and degrees in law and economics, did you find that this helped you break into crime writing or help your writing in any way?</strong></p> <p>I have always wanted to write fiction and I have several unpublished short stories and half-written manuscripts to prove it! I don’t think my education and professional life were critical to being a novelist, but both things helped me find the discipline and confidence to follow an idea through to the end of a finished manuscript.</p> <p dir="ltr">You need many things to write a novel. People may think creativity and talent are the main ingredients, but I think it mostly requires hard work, energy, grit, confidence and, in homage to Virginia Woolf, a room of one’s one. It’s also critical to have the support of others around you. All of the things I have done in my life, and all of my relationships, contributed to the writing of <em>The Scarlet Cross</em>.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>What inspired you to write <em>The Scarlet Cross</em>?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The seed for <em>The Scarlet Cross</em> was planted by my sister, who is an avid crime reader and a former psychiatric nurse. She suggested a hospital as the main setting for a crime. We both agreed that hospitals were these unique public places and the frontline workers within them are often on the coal face of crime. The kernel for the idea was a simple question: What if an emergency nurse observes patients coming in with similar, strange cuts?</p> <p>Those two ideas - the hospital setting and the pattern of patient deaths - set me off on my journey. Then, when I started building the characters, I realised I wanted to have these characters grapple with several important social issues: how people who have mental health issues manage them and how their families help of hinder that; sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace; institutional power.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>Which author, living or deceased, would you most like to have dinner with?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">I think this is the hardest question of all! There are so many, but I would say Margaret Atwood, because acidic wit makes for great dinner table banter.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>What book (or books) do you think more people should read?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Middlemarch</em> by George Eliot for its piercing intelligence and broad vision of humanity. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>How do you deal with writer’s block?</strong></p> <p dir="ltr">I use a mix of practicality, discipline and distraction. The practicality is inspired by a quote from Geraldine Brooks that I have on the corkboard above my computer. It’s a simple question: “Do bricklayers get bricklaying block?” What a lovely chastisement to just “Get on with it”! The discipline comes from my ballet training and my legal career and it says to me: “Lyn, just sit your butt in that chair and start.” The distraction is usually physical - I get up and go for a walk or do yoga. Or, I put on music. Or I do some scaffolding writing, which is writing about what I am writing - to feel like I am advancing the project.</p>

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New Bob Hawke book drops multiple bombshells

<p dir="ltr">Bob Hawke's widow has <a href="https://www.news.com.au/national/politics/sex-addict-bob-hawke-had-multiple-affairs-in-lodge/news-story/5ef8467f5fea97b75e66f9d30fc5b471" target="_blank" rel="noopener">claimed</a> he was a sex addict who used a taxpayer-funded security team to see women in a new bombshell biography about the former PM.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-08206740-7fff-59ce-81a5-a778e6f5ffe2">The autobiography, <em>Demons and Destiny</em>, is written by Troy Bramston and contains revelations about the former Prime Minister from his second wife, Blanche d’Alpuget, among many others.</span></p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en">It’s thrilling to tear open a box and hold your book for the first time! Very proud of my biography of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BobHawke?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#BobHawke</a>, packed with new interviews/archival discoveries, can’t wait for people to read it. In bookshops 1 March. Pre-order <a href="https://twitter.com/PenguinBooksAus?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@PenguinBooksAus</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/auspol?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#auspol</a> <a href="https://t.co/ai0oQUkgBf">https://t.co/ai0oQUkgBf</a> <a href="https://t.co/xELhOiqlqz">pic.twitter.com/xELhOiqlqz</a></p> <p>— Troy Bramston (@TroyBramston) <a href="https://twitter.com/TroyBramston/status/1490203872077492225?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 6, 2022</a></p></blockquote> <p dir="ltr">Ms d’Alpuget has revealed that her late husband had at least four lovers during his stint as Prime Minister, and that he used extramarital sex as a form of stress relief while he was still married to his first wife, Hazel Hawke.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Sex will calm people down, and he was a very highly strung man,” she said. “At the end of a day of intense activity, he somehow had to let off steam, as it were, and there’s nothing like a roll in the hay or five to do that.”</p> <p dir="ltr">When asked if she believed her late husband was a sex addict, Ms d’Alpuget replied, “I think so.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The new biography contains several other surprising revelations, including that Mr Hawke’s longest-running affair was with Jean Sinclair, his personal assistant at the Australian Council of Trade Unions, who was also married.</p> <p dir="ltr">Their affair continued during his time in parliament, as she went on to join his parliamentary and prime ministerial staff.</p> <p dir="ltr">The biography also reveals that Mr Hawke visited Ms Sinclair several times as she battled cancer in a Melbourne hospital in 1991, and that he was too distressed to speak at her funeral.</p> <p dir="ltr">Ms d’Alpuget, whose affair with Mr Hawke was on-and-off from 1976, said he was even unfaithful to her during their marriage.</p> <p dir="ltr">“Getting in to see him at The Lodge was (often) the only palace that we could meet,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">She also recalled a particular rendezvous where she wore a red wig and stetson hat to meet Mr Hawke, and that they “rushed into each other’s arms, laughing” upon seeing each other.</p> <p dir="ltr">Roger Martindale, the former head of Mr Hawke’s VIP protection service, revealed that the Australian Federal Police sometimes drove him to see his paramours so he wouldn’t gain extra attention from driving his Commonwealth car with its Australian flag.</p> <p dir="ltr">“We were all adults,” Mr Martindale explained. “He never asked anything of us. He just expected discretion from everybody.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Wendy McCarthy, a friend of Hazel, said she was less concerned with her husband’s affairs and more with his drinking.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The alcohol mattered more than the affairs,” Ms McCarthy said. “She would not have been happy about it but there was nothing she could do about it. She was resigned to it.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The autobiography claims Mr Hawke nearly drank himself to death during the 1970s, despite claiming he gave up drinking when he became Prime Minister.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Demons and Destiny</em> will be published in March, 2022.</p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-e8daa301-7fff-786c-55a6-915588ab7e3b"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image: Getty Images</em></p>

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Bill Gates shares holiday reading list

<p><em>Image: CNN</em></p> <p>Almost every year Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates lists books he has read and recommends them on his blog. This year Bill has shared what he calls his “holiday readers”. He shares he has read a lot this year but these five books stood out most.</p> <p>1. A Thousand Brains: A New theory of intelligence by Jeff Hawkins. “Few subjects have captured the imaginations of science fiction writers like artificial intelligence. If you’re interested in learning more about what it might take to create a true AI, this book offers a fascinating theory.” Hawkins was the co-inventor of the PalmPilot device back in the 90s.</p> <p>2. The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Future of the Human Race, by Walter Isaacson is the second book that gates recommends. “The CRISPR gene editing system is one of the coolest and most consequential scientific breakthroughs of the last decade,” says Gates. The author does a good job highlighting “the most important ethical questions around gene editing.”</p> <p>3. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. “This book makes me think about what life with super intelligent robots might look like-and whether we’ll treat these kinds of machines as pieces of technology or something more.”</p> <p>4. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. “If you’re a Shakespeare fan, you’ll love this moving novel about how his personal life might’ve influenced the writing of one of the most famous plays,” he noted.</p> <p>5. Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. It is a “wild tale about high school science teacher who wakes up in a different star system with no memory of how he got there.” Gates found this to be a fun read and finished it in one weekend</p>

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A MUST for any racing fan: Immortals of Australian Horse Racing review

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Australia has a long history when it comes to horse racing legends, with the likes of Phar Lap and Makybe Diva taking to the tracks over the years and quickly becoming legends.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Prolific non-fiction author Alan J. Whiticker has brought the stories of two dozen of these racers to life in his latest book </span><em><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.simonandschuster.com.au/books/Immortals-of-Australian-Horse-Racing/Alan-Whiticker/9781925946963" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Immortals of Australian Horse Racing: the Thoroughbreds</span></a></em> <span style="font-weight: 400;">(Gelding Street Press $39.99).</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Immortals</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> features in-depth statistics about each thoroughbred, with historic photos and artwork scattered throughout depicting the horses in action.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845861/horse-review2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c1d0f6663e6141108ec25c94654d7062" /></span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Immortals peppers each racer’s profile with historical photos that any history buff is sure to appreciate. Image: Supplied</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">He also takes the chance to bust some common myths about these famous horses, while still acknowledging the roles these tall tales play in Australia’s racing mythos.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“[Archer’s] tale has become an important part of the Melbourne Cup mythology and helped make the first dual cups winner immortal,” he writes.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Along with Archer, Whiticker’s pickings include the horses almost everyone will recognise - Phar Lap, Black Caviar, Tulloch, Kingston Town, Winx, Manikato, and Makybe Diva - plus a selection of crowd favourites such as Peter Pan, Might and Power, Gunsynd and Sunline.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But horses with celebrity status aren’t the only ones to make the cut; Whiticker also includes the lesser-known stories of freakish Vain, ‘super mare’ Wakeful, tragic Dulcify, and underrated Northerly.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7845860/horse-review3.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/2ae98417b1494ab4ac59345586d10baa" /></span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Many have come to (falsely) believe that Archer travelled from Nowra to Melbourne by hoof, but Whiticker points out that this contributes to his immortality. Image: Supplied</span></em></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Whiticker tracks each horse’s story from their birth and their debut on the track to the pitfalls and moments of victory that made them immortal.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Meanwhile, the ‘ranking’ of thoroughbreds also lays out Australia’s racing history from the start of the Melbourne Cup to Winx’s retirement in 2018, and each horse is compared to those that came before and after them.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Though less knowledgeable readers may be daunted by the statistics and racing jargon at first glance, Whiticker compensates for this with his engaging and flowing style of prose.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">All in all, racing fans and history buffs will enjoy the in-depth stories that Whiticker creates, writing as if he were commentating from the sideline.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I trust this book will settle several arguments about the greatest thoroughbreds of all time and no doubt start a few more,” Whiticker writes of his selection.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“One thing is for certain: they are all unforgettable in their own right.”</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Images: Supplied</span></em></p>

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5 minutes with author P J McKay

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">5 minutes with the Author</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, <em>OverSixty</em> asks book writers about their literary habits and preferences. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Next in the series is <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.pjmckayauthor.com/" target="_blank">P J McKay</a>, a novelist and mum-of-three based in Auckland. After training and working as a food scientist, McKay began writing while undertaking her Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Auckland. During her studies, McKay was inspired by her travels through former Yugoslavia to pen her debut novel, </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Telling Time</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">. After winning the 2020 First Pages Prize, McKay’s novel is now available.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">OverSixty</span> </em><span style="font-weight: 400;">sat down with McKay to chat about representing New Zealand’s Croatian community, her current reads, and the role cooking played in her novel.</span></p> <p><strong>O60: What book(s) are you reading right now?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">My current book on the go is <em>Betty</em> by Tiffany McDaniel — insights into the Cherokee Indian culture are an added bonus and despite the tough themes I’m enjoying cheering this resilient young woman on.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And I have just finished two novels:</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><em>Crazy Love</em> by Rosetta Allan — A love story with a twist. A triumph of love conquering adversity. A no-holes barred insight in the realities of supporting our mentally unwell. This is Rosetta’s third novel. She manages to inject humour into what’s a tough subject to tackle and never allows the story to wallow.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">And for something much lighter, </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Take me Home</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> by Karly Lane — transports the reader from Australia to Scotland. A feel-good story with a dash of romance. </span></p> <p><strong>O60: Does your training in food science influence your writing in any way?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Great question! There are a few food descriptions peppered through <em>The Telling Time</em>. My love of cooking (and consuming food!) has most definitely influenced this. Some reviewers have noted it as a bonus to be transported by these descriptions. Any reference to food is of course relevant to the era and/or the setting but given the aroma, taste or even just the sight of food transports us to different settings it can be a useful and fun tool to employ: think Greece and Mediterranean dishes, or traditional Australasian sweet treats — lamingtons for example — or food which is typical in Croatia, such as <em>črostule</em>, <em>njoki</em>, <em>špek</em> or the local wine on Korčula, <em>Pošip</em>. As an author I invite the reader to use all their senses when imagining my characters in scene. If I get their taste buds watering then that’s a bonus.   </span></p> <p><strong>O60: How did you start writing historical fiction?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">It’s the genre which I enjoy most as a reader and my background roles in research were also very helpful. The nugget for this novel came from my own experience when backpacking in the late 1980s tied in with my interest in the immigrant experience and for <em>The Telling Time</em>, the Croatian diaspora. I also wanted the novel to encompass the mother/daughter relationship, hence the dual timeline that includes the late 1950s and 1989. It’s scary to think that these two eras now count as historical! When researching for a novel like this it means going back even further in time. <em>The Telling Time</em> references events from the early 20</span><span style="font-weight: 400;">th</span><span style="font-weight: 400;"> Century, WWIII, and the events that followed afterward, particularly in the former Yugoslavia. I love that historical fiction often gifts the reader information they didn’t previously know. This for me is the joy of historical fiction writing; finding those facts to thread through the fiction to ensure the ‘world of the novel’ is credible. </span></p> <p><strong>O60: <em>The Telling Time</em> was inspired by your travels and the connections you made with the local Croatian community. How did it feel to represent this community with your novel? </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I feel privileged to have been privy to stories from the Croatian community and delighted to shine some light on what makes this group unique, but also what unites their stories with other immigrant groups. It is always tricky finding the balance when representing a community that is not your own lived experience. For me, it was important to observe and listen at the local Dalmatian club when attending club nights and events. There were excellent resources to draw on at the club — their cultural museum and language tutor who checked my use of Croatian words/phrases in the novel — and having the novel reviewed by Dr Nina Nola from the University of Auckland’s English department was another essential step. Nina’s mother immigrated to New Zealand from Hvar in the 1950s. This is a novel, and therefore a work of fiction, but staying true to the culture and customs is an essential component and the feedback from readers of Croatian heritage suggests I have succeeded in getting the balance and details right. Of course, when Croatian publishers Znanje d.o. bought the translation rights for the novel earlier this year (to be published there in June 2022) this was a further seal of approval. I felt both proud and delighted that I would soon be able to gift copies of the translated novel to the club.  </span></p> <p><strong>O60: What book or books do you think are  underrated?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That’s a curly question! <em>The Lost Lights of St Kilda</em> by Elisabeth Gifford is a gentle historic novel, published last year which I thoroughly enjoyed but don’t hear a lot about now. And I’ll put in a plug for fellow New Zealand author, Rosetta Allan, mentioned above. Along with <em>Crazy Love</em>, her two other novels, <em>Purgatory</em> and <em>The Unreliable People</em>, are both fabulous reads that deserve more air-time!!</span></p> <p><strong>O60: How do you deal with writer’s block?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I found the best solution was to chat more. By this I mean nutting out a problem with trusted friends or asking a question which then often provided a lead, or new tangent to explore. There was one dire moment of writer’s block when I was desperate to get my character, Gabrijela, out of the house. I asked Mum for ideas about social events in the 1950s and she told me how popular a day at the races was along with a personal story about backing an outside runner called Red Glare. Bingo! Guess where Gabrijela was now off to! Critique was also a valuable tool, especially during my Masters in Creative Writing year at Auckland University. It challenges you to think harder and strive to improve, to iron out the creases waiting to trip the reader out of their suspended disbelief.</span></p> <p><strong>O60: Which author, dead or alive, would you most like to have dinner with?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Has to be Janine Cummins, who wrote </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">American Dirt</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span><span style="font-weight: 400;"></span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Images: Supplied</span></em></p>

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Five books to change the way you think about the environment and climate change

<p><em>Image: Shutterstock</em></p> <p>We are constantly bombarded with dire warnings about the environmental and climate change emergency. Act now or face unprecedented global catastrophe, as we are constantly reminded.</p> <p>These five books offer alternative perspectives and new ways we can understand and relate to nature.</p> <p><strong>Gaia by James Lovelock (1979)</strong></p> <p>In his 1979 book, James Lovelock offers an entirely new understanding of the earth as not just a planet on which life has evolved, but a self-regulating system capable of correcting any significant fluctuations that tend towards making it uninhabitable, such as increases or decreases in global temperatures or ocean salinity.</p> <p>Lovelock shows, for example, how the environment has contributed to driving down atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to compensate for a steadily warming sun. This has kept global temperatures in a habitable range.</p> <p>Ultimately though, the importance of Gaia lies not just in its bold scientific claims, but in the way it opens up the possibility of bringing together science and spirituality, the true and the meaningful. What does being a part of Gaia mean for us?</p> <p><strong>Should Trees Have Standing? By Christopher D. Stone (1972)</strong></p> <p>No law, Christopher Stone claims, can be created until we begin to challenge its non-existence. And just as it was once “unthinkable” for corporations to be given the same rights as people, the same is true today of living beings and ecosystems. Nature itself has no rights, only the people that own it or use it. Against this, Stone argues that certain natural entities – trees, forests, rivers – should be treated as people and granted “rights”.</p> <p>This radical idea is increasingly being implemented. In 2008 and 2009, Ecuador and Bolivia became the first countries in the world to recognise nature as a legal person in their constitutions. And in 2017, New Zealand recognised the legal personhood of the Whanganui River.</p> <p>Developing these insights in the 2010 edition of the book, Stone asks if the climate should also be granted legal standing. He sees this as problematic but not impossible, though it would require a legal system that goes beyond the current nation-state structure.</p> <p><strong>Biomimicry by Janine Benyus (1997)</strong></p> <p>Few would deny that technology will play a major role in achieving sustainability. But for the most part, we concentrate on individual technologies – such as electric vehicles or biodegradable packaging – without pausing to rethink technology as a whole. A significant exception to this is Janine Benyus, who argues that sustainability calls for an entirely different approach: innovation inspired by nature, or “biomimicry”.</p> <p>The book explores the practice of imitating nature to solve human design challenges and offers many case studies showing how biomimicry can apply to almost every field of innovation – from solar energy generation based on natural photosynthesis to cereal farming modelled on the native Kansas prairie.</p> <p>But perhaps the deepest significance of the book is the way it calls on us to view nature not just as something we learn about, but also as something we learn from. And in that case, we must cease to think of ourselves as the sole possessors of intelligence and knowledge and instead also come to recognise the genius of nature.</p> <p><strong>Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer (2013)</strong></p> <p>Like Benyus, Robin Wall Kimmerer thinks nature has a lot to teach us. But whereas Benyus focuses on technological innovation, Kimmerer is interested in broader lessons.</p> <p>The overarching theme of the book is how to “braid” together indigenous wisdom and scientific knowledge, a project that the author, as a citizen of the Potawatomi nation and a professional biologist, has devoted much of her life to.</p> <p>Kimmerer’s most brilliant example is sweetgrass itself – an aromatic plant used in indigenous medicine and basketry. Whereas Kimmerer’s biologist colleagues presumed that harvesting sweetgrass always harms it, a biology student of hers designed a careful experiment proving something the Potawatomi had long since known: harvesting sweetgrass actually stimulates vigorous growth.</p> <p>What these plants teach us, then, is that humans are not outside nature, but a part of nature – and with the right approaches we can enable other species to flourish alongside our own.</p> <p><strong>The Climate of History in a Planetary Age by Dipesh Chakrabarty (2021)</strong></p> <p>Addressing the meaning of climate change through the lens of history, Dipesh Chakrabarty proposes a fundamental shift from thinking about “global” to “planetary” climate change.</p> <p>Chakrabarty argues that while the world is busy solving a “global” problem, we forget to ask what the “global” means for us today. The “global”, he explains, is essentially a human-centric idea, intrinsically linked to postwar globalisation and modernisation. The “planet”, by contrast, decentres this human-centric idea, allowing nonhuman perspectives and interests to be taken into account. Most importantly, it raises the possibility of discovering new universal values.</p> <p>Chakrabarty also emphasises that the acceleration of global warming is tightly linked to the anti-colonialist modernising movements of the mid-20th century, such as Chairman Mao’s Great Leap Forward. This was an economic and social programme aimed to bring China up to speed with the Western world through intensive industrialisation and technological advancement. Chakrabarty argues that it is only by overcoming our obsession with constant growth and development that we can rise to the challenge of ensuring planetary sustainability.</p>

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Will you learn better from reading on screen or paper?

<p>Research now suggests that if you really need to learn something, you’re better off with print.</p> <p>Studies have shown that when people read on-screen, they don’t completely understand what they’ve read, as well as when they read it in print. Even worse, we don’t realize we’re not getting it. For example, researchers in Spain and Israel took a close look at 54 studies comparing digital and print reading. Their 2018 study involved more than 171,000 readers. Comprehension, they found, was better overall when people read print rather than digital texts. The researchers shared the results in <em>Educational Research Review</em>.</p> <p><strong>The question is, why?</strong></p> <p>Reading is reading, right? Not exactly. Reading is reading, right? Not exactly. Maryanne Wolf works at the University of California, Los Angeles. This neuroscientist specializes in how the brain reads. Reading is not natural, she explains. We learn to talk by listening to those around us. It’s pretty automatic. But learning to read takes real work. Wolf notes it’s because the brain has no special network of cells just for reading.</p> <p>To understand text, the brain borrows networks that evolved to do other things. For example, the part that evolved to recognise faces is called into action to recognise letters. This is similar to how you might adapt a tool for some new use. For example, a coat hanger is great for putting your clothes in the closet. But if a blueberry rolls under the refrigerator, you might straighten out the coat hanger and use it to reach under the fridge and pull out the fruit. You’ve taken a tool made for one thing and adapted it for something new. That’s what the brain does when you read.</p> <p>It’s great that the brain is so flexible. It’s one reason we can learn to do so many new things. But that flexibility can be a problem when it comes to reading different types of texts. When we read online, the brain creates a different set of connections between cells from the ones it uses for reading in print. It basically adapts the same tool again for the new task. This is like if you took a coat hanger and instead of straightening it out to fetch a blueberry, you twisted it into a hook to unclog a drain. Same original tool, two very different forms.</p> <p>As a result, the brain might slip into skim mode when you’re reading on a screen. It may switch to deep-reading mode when you turn to print.</p> <p>That doesn’t just depend on the device, however. It also depends on what you assume about the text. Naomi Baron calls this your mindset. Baron is a scientist who studies language and reading. She works at American University in Washington, D.C. Baron is the author of <em>How We Read Now</em>, a new book about digital reading and learning. She says one way mindset works is in anticipating how easy or hard we expect the reading to be. If we think it will be easy, we might not put in much effort.</p> <p>Much of what we read on-screen tends to be text messages and social-media posts. They’re usually easy to understand. So, “when people read on-screen, they read faster,” says Alexander at the University of Maryland. “Their eyes scan the pages and the words faster than if they’re reading on a piece of paper.”</p> <p>But when reading fast, we may not absorb all the ideas as well. That fast skimming, she says, can become a habit associated with reading on-screen. Imagine that you turn on your phone to read an assignment for school. Your brain might fire up the networks it uses for skimming quickly through TikTok posts.</p> <p><strong>Where was I?</strong></p> <p>Speed isn’t the only problem with reading on screens. There’s scrolling, too. When reading a printed page or even a whole book, you tend to know where you are. Not just where you are on some particular page, but which page — potentially out of many. You might, for instance, remember that the part in the story where the dog died was near the top of the page on the left side. You don’t have that sense of place when some enormously long page just scrolls past you. (Though some e-reading devices and apps do a pretty good job of simulating page turns.)</p> <p>Why is a sense of page important? Researchers have shown that we tend to make mental maps when we learn something. Being able to “place” a fact somewhere on a mental map of the page helps us remember it.</p> <p>It’s also a matter of mental effort. Scrolling down a page takes a lot more mental work than reading a page that’s not moving. Your eyes don’t just focus on the words. They also have to keep chasing the words as you scroll them down the page.</p> <p>Mary Helen Immordino-Yang is a neuroscientist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She studies how we read. When your mind has to keep up with scrolling down a page, she says, it doesn’t have a lot of resources left for understanding what you’re reading. This can be especially true if the passage you’re reading is long or complicated. While scrolling down a page, your brain has to continually account for the placement of words in your view. And this can make it harder for you to simultaneously understand the ideas those words should convey.</p> <p>Another reseacher found that length matters, too. When passages are short, students understand just as much of what they read on-screen as do when reading in print. But once the passages are longer than 500 words, they learn more from print.</p> <p>Even genre matters. Genre refers to what type of book or article you’re reading. The articles here on <em>Science News for Students </em>are nonfiction. News stories and articles about history are nonfiction. Stories invented by an author are fiction.</p> <p>If you want to do better in school or even your career, it’s not quite as simple as turning off your tablet and picking up a book. There are plenty of good reasons to read on screens and as the pandemic taught us, sometimes we have no choice.</p>

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Kyle Sandilands "couldn't give a s***" about Lisa Wilkinson's memoir

<p>The radio shock jock has gone on a classic Sandilands rant on his radio show, slamming Lisa Wilkinson's upcoming autobiography. </p> <p>Speaking live on <em>The Kyle and Jackie O Show</em>, Kyle admitted he "couldn't give a s***" about Lisa's 40-year media career that she has documented in her book <em>It Wasn't meant To be Like This</em>. </p> <p>In her book, Lisa details her time on <em>The Today Show</em>, which came to an abrupt end in 2017 when she was outside after advocating for equal pay with her co-host Karl Stefanovic. </p> <p>However, according to Kyle, there's not much interest. </p> <p><span>"How exciting could her life be?" Kyle wondered aloud to his listeners. </span></p> <p><span>He was also quick to dismiss her claim that she was paid less than Karl, saying this was common practice in the television industry. </span></p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">"Just because you are working on the same show as each other doesn't necessarily mean equal pay, just saying. Sometimes they have to pay someone more because they negotiated it that way," he said.</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">'You don't just get what the other one gets. That's not the way the world works."</p> <p class="mol-para-with-font">He also said, "<span>She couldn't negotiate a decent salary, or her management couldn't, and she changed to a better network [Channel 10] where they paid her what they thought she was worth. That's all that happened. There's no badness or awfulness."</span></p> <p><span>After calling her memoir "boring", he did admit that Lisa is "very good at her job" on <em>The Project</em> after parting ways with Channel Nine. </span></p> <p><span>Kyle, who is good friends with Karl Stefanovic, said Lisa has marketed her book in such a way because "she's a journo... she's good at publicity."</span></p> <p><span>Lisa's book, <em>It Wasn't Meant To Be Like This,</em> will be </span>released on November 3rd. </p> <p><em>Image credits: KIISFM / Instagram @lisa_wilkinson</em></p>

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“Today was your last day”: Lisa Wilkinson reveals brutal dismissal

<p>After suddenly disappearing from the Channel Nine breakfast show <em>Today</em> in 2017, viewers around Australia were shocked at Lisa Wilkinson's quiet exit. </p> <p>Now, Lisa has revealed exactly what happened the day she was axed in an <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/lisa-wilkinson-finally-reveals-the-truth-about-leaving-today-and-her-last-show-with-karl-stefanovic/news-story/ef89081ecb766cac59cae0ba2909351a" target="_blank">exclusive extract</a> from her tell-all memoir called <em>It Wasn't Meant To Be Like This. </em></p> <p>After sitting alongside co-host Karl Stefanovic for more than a decade and appearing to be close friends, Lisa discussed how Karl <span>treated her with an unusual “disregard” on what ultimately became her final day on-air.</span></p> <p>Hours later, she was sacked over the phone while shopping at Woolworths. </p> <p>In her book, Lisa writes of her <span>awkward final on-air encounter with Karl Stefanovic, as she says he ignored her for a week in the lead-up to her brutal axing.</span></p> <p><span>The tension between the hosts came after he ditched her 25th wedding anniversary celebration and vow renewal with a last-minute text cancellation.</span></p> <p><span>“Karl and his new partner Jas had been invited but dropped out just two days before via a text to Pete saying that they were extending an overseas trip and wouldn’t be attending,” she wrote, adding how strange it was he hadn’t contacted her with apologies nor congratulations.</span></p> <p>“In the 10 days since, Karl hadn’t contacted me, his co-host of almost eleven years, at all. No phone message, no text, no apology, not even a simple congrats,” she wrote. “Just complete silence.”</p> <p>She added, “In all the years we’d sat next to each other, even though there were the occasional frustrations on both sides, upsets were rare."</p> <p><span>“But on this particular morning, I was upset. With limited numbers, there were two precious spots at the wedding we could so easily have filled with dear friends, but Karl’s late text meant those seats had gone empty.”</span></p> <p><span>Lisa wrote that as their first show after the wedding began, Karl arrived at his desk just in time to appear live on air, leaving no room for small talk and disappeared at his earliest chance. </span></p> <p>“Not a mention. Not a ‘how was the holiday?’ And certainly no ‘Sorry about that no-show at the wedding’. Not … anything,” she wrote.</p> <p>“What I felt in that instant was hard to put into words. More than anything, I felt just a little bit pathetic. What was this thing Karl and I had between us?"</p> <p>“I’d presumed that along with our work relationship, there was a friendship as well. I must have been wrong.”</p> <p>As Karl finally congratulated Lisa on her vow renewal while the cameras were rolling, Lisa said she felt taken aback by his unusual actions. </p> <p>Despite being hurt by the situation, Wilkinson said she took a deep breath and said: “Yeah, I did Karl, but why would anybody care about that when it’s news time? Good morning.”</p> <p>After that comment, she said: “Karl knew I had cut him dead, something I had never done on or off air before.”</p> <p>“For the next two hours, I exchanged not a single word with Karl outside of what was scripted – because for the first time, I just didn’t trust myself to ‘play nice’,” she wrote.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CRgGAJRlPGB/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="14"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CRgGAJRlPGB/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Lisa Wilkinson (@lisa_wilkinson)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p>In the wake of these extracts being published, on Monday morning's edition of <em>Today</em>, Karl Stefanovic took the day off. </p> <p>His absence wasn't acknowledged by the hosts, as he was replaced for the day by <em>Today Extra</em> host David Campbell. </p> <p>Lisa's autobiography, <em>It Wasn't Meant To Be Like This</em>, will be released on November 3rd. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Instagram @lisa_wilkinson</em></p>

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Rare May Gibbs book published for the first time in Australia and New Zealand

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Before May Gibbs wrote </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Snugglepot and Cuddlepie</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, the iconic Australian author wrote a picture book about a “dear, nice little girl” separated from her dog, and the journey to undergo to find each other.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Over 100 years after Gibbs first wrote and published the book, </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Mamie and Wag</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;"> has been published for </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.smh.com.au/culture/books/may-gibbs-picture-book-published-for-the-first-time-in-australia-20210920-p58t7r.html" target="_blank"><span style="font-weight: 400;">the first time</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in Australia and New Zealand.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The title comes from Gibbs’ childhood, when she had the nickname Mamie.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Gibbs wrote the book under the pseudonym Silvia Hood and originally set the story in the Australian bush.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But she was only able to find a publisher after changing the setting to Edwardian London.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Along the way, the lost little girl and her dog meet a beggar girl, a king and a queen, lots of cats, and chimney pot people, inspired by the chimney pots around the Holborn district in central London.</span></p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/CT3G_fPBTAb/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" data-instgrm-version="13"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CT3G_fPBTAb/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by May Gibbs (@maygibbsofficial)</a></p> </div> </blockquote> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Changing the name to </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">About Us</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, the altered book was published in London and New York in 1912.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to Maureen Walsh’s </span><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">May Gibbs Mother of the Gumnuts</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Gibbs received a grand total of 20 pounds for the work.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Stewart Reed, a historian specialising in May Gibbs who runs tours of her former Neutral Bay home, said the book will have a wide appeal.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“[The book] is very different to all her other work, but it’s got a little girl, a dog, lots of cats and the chimney people, and that appeals to kids,” he said.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“The message that is good for parents to reinforce for their kids, that they’re not in this world alone. It’s not exactly Buddhist for karma, but it goes part way down there.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Now, publisher Scholastic has released the book and plans to publish a compendium of the beloved author’s unpublished works over the next few years.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Images: maygibbs.org, @thelittlebooklovers / Instagram</span></em></p>

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Revealed: 2021 Booker Prize shortlist

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The shortlist for the 2021 Booker Prize for Fiction has been announced, with six authors in the running for the coveted title and £50,000 prize money.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Booker Prize is open to authors of any nationality who have published a novel in the UK or Ireland, which has been written or translated into English.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The authors were selected from the 158 novels published in the UK or Ireland between October 1, 2020 and September 30, 2021.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Judging this year’s finalists, the panel includes historian Maya Jasanoff, writer and editor Horatia Harrod, actor Natascha McElhone, two-time Booker-shortlisted novelist and professor Chigozie Obioma, and writer and former Archbishop Rowan Williams.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Ms Jasanoff, the chair of the judging panel, said “With so many ambitious and intelligent books before us, the judges engaged in rich discussions not only about the qualities of any given title, but often about the purpose of fiction itself.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We are pleased to present a shortlist that delivers as wide a range of original stories as it does voices and styles.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The shortlist for the 2021 Booker Prize for Fiction include:</span></p> <ul> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Promise</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Damon Galgut</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">A Passage North</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Anuk Arudpragasam</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">No One is Talking About This</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Patricia Lockwood</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">The Fortune Men</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Nadifa Mohamed</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Bewilderment</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Richard Powers</span></li> <li style="font-weight: 400;" aria-level="1"><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Great Circle</span></em><span style="font-weight: 400;">, Maggie Shipstead</span></li> </ul> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The winner will be announced on November 2.</span></p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Image: The Booker Prizes</span></em></p>

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