books that inspire

Prison Book Club

Today I am inspired by a book I finished last night.

The book is Prison Book Club by Ann Walmsley, featuring Ann herself, her friend Carol and the members of the prison book clubs.

I am inspired by Carol’s vision to set up a book club in a Canadian Prison. The book club becomes successful enough for other prisons to support the concept. I find it inspiring that she had a simple vision and took the risk and ride to make this vision a reality.

I am inspired by Ann for overcoming her anxiety that was caused by a mugging in London several years earlier to become involved with the book clubs. It was a huge step to enter the prison but she not only did that but through feeling inspired herself, she went on to give prisoners journals, encouraged them to read outside their comfort zones and of course wrote this book.

I am inspired by the prisoners who embraced the book clubs, found themselves in books, enjoyed the discussions and increased their self esteem and sense of community. Some of the prisoners went on to join or form book clubs once they left prison.

The following is from the book

“A report on the UK project Prison Reading Groups set out anecdotal evidence that fiction has played a role in nurturing empathy among their incarcerated readers and found that book discussions contributed to informal learning and pro-social behaviour.”


Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

Today I am inspired by J K Rowling and her latest book Harry Potter and The Cursed Child.

J K Rowling once again has written a brilliant and gripping book that was too hard to put down. Thank goodness it is easy to read.

The book is actually the script for the play of the same name. It’s great to be introduced to old friends Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore to name a few and of course to be introduced to new characters.

It has mystery. It has darkness and light. It has love and hate. It has you sitting on the edge wondering what could possibly happen next and how will it end.

Harry Potter fans you will not be disappointed.



Today I am inspired by the beautiful novel Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave.

Bravery during WWII London and Malta is central to this novel. The language in which the novel is written is beautiful and engaging. The characters are likable and believable.

If we are brave can we be forgiven for the decisions we make? War certainly effects people in different ways. Some can chose to conduct their lives as normally as possible. Others go out on a limb to serve their country, not just on the battle front but on the home front.

One of the main characters of this book, Mary North, served at home. Firstly as a teacher and then as an ambulance driver. Both occupations were ‘below’ her social standing and both were brave. Can her family forgive her for this bravery of service?

I like Mary. Not only did she show bravery but also niavety, vulnerability and compassion. Her story was inspiring.

The other main characters of the book are her friend Hilda, her love interests Tom and Alistair and the young negro boy whom she befriends Zachary.

I particularly found young Zachary inspiring. He starts off as a shy, weak young boy confused and lacking confidence and ends as a strong young man. Sorry but that is all I can say without giving too much away about him and the subplots that involves him. But let’s say that he and Mary have a very special bond.

One of the most inspiring quotes from the novel is : “It was simply a peculiarity of the British that they should be stoical about two hundred and fifty nights of bombing, while the sight of her with a negro child offended their sensibilities unbearably.”

Sam’s letter to Jennifer

Today I am inspired by the lovely book Sam’s Letters to Jennifer. I finished reading this easy to read book on the weekend. It is written by James Patterson, who is better known for his crime stories than love stories, but he does not disappoint with this book.

Sam is Jennifer’s grandmother. She is unwell so Jennifer returns to the small village where she resides to be by her side.

The letters she has left for Jennifer to read are inspiring. They are letters revealing a deep secret. They are letters of hope. They are letters with lessons for Jennifer.

Jennifer is also an inspiring character. It was inspiring to experience the depth of love she has for her grandmother and it was inspiring to see her let go of the past and live the moments she was experiencing now. To fall in love again was a huge step for Jennifer but a rewarding one.

The two love stories, Jennifer’s happening in the book and Sam’s revealed through her letters, are beautiful love stories and give inspiration to anyone who needs to be inspired to fall in love and be true to one self.




Today I am inspired by a lovely Australian book, The Beekeeper’s Secret by Josephine Moon.

Josephine Moon is an Australian writer who loves writing, to quote her, Foodie Literature. Her previous two novels are The Tea Chest and Chocolate Promise, also books that I can recommend.

The Beekeeper’s Secret is set in Queensland and is a tale of guilt, love, reunions, The Catholic Church and bees. Maria is the beekeeper living and managing a retreat whose profits are used to fund an orphanage in Cambodia. Maria, an ex nun, is enstranged from her family. Tansy, her niece, tracks her down and is determined to reunite her aunt with the family. But of course it is not all straight foward. In getting to know Maria, Tansy learns of her Aunt’s past, of her secret and her guilt, all whilst she is coming to terms with  some big decisions she and her husband need to make.

I love Josephine’s novels and this one did not disappoint. Josephine has a talent of bringing her love of food to literature. She researches her topics well, in this case bees. I did not read this book expecting to learn a great deal about bees, but that became an added bonus to this lovely story.


If one of Josephine’s goals in writing this book was to inspire her readers to be more interested and concerned about bees, then she has been succesful, with this reader at least!

Magda Szubanski

Today I am inspired by Magda Szubanski and her beautiful memoir Reckoning.

Magda is well known in Australia for her comic work, paricularly as Sharon in the TV series Kath and Kim. Reckoning is her first book. This memoir is not just Magda’s story but also the story of her Polish father, in particular his life in Warsaw during World War II.

It is inspiring to read a memoir that is not a celebrity gush or gossip feast. As one podcaster said recently it is more of an Australian story than a celebrity story.

Her frankness about her struggle with her own sexuality, her weight and her father’s past are refreshing and insightful.

If you are a fan of Magda’s you will enjoy this book. If you enjoy celebrity gossip then this book is not for you. If you are interested in Australian stories then this is a must. If you have an interest in World War II history then this will feed your hunger for knowledge.

Leap : A great read

What inspires me today is a fantastic Australian book that I recently read. The book is Leap by Myfanwy Jones. This beautifuly written novel is set in Melbourne Australia. It deals with the topic of grief and the leaps taken to cope with loss to be able to move forward in life.

The two main characters are grieving the same person, the young Jen. The leaps the two characters take are different. They are complex but also simple.

The most inspirational aspect of this novel is how it has me still thinking about it days after completing it. Every now and then I am reminded of the story, of the characters and find myself wondering where their next leap has taken them.

I highly recommend this book.

Here Comes The Sun

Today I am inspired by Jeremy Oxley and Mary Oxley Griffiths and their book “Here comes the sun”. Jeremy Oxley is the lead singer of Australian rock group The Sunnyboys. Mary is his wife. In the 1980’s at the age of 22, Jeremy was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He went through some harrowing experiences with the mental health services and of course his own mental health.

Mary had been widowed for 5 years, working as a nurse when she met Jeremy. With the encouragement of her twin boys Mary pursued a relationship with Jeremy after she had discovered he was unwell.

I am inspired by her strength, her dedication, her patience and love to help Jeremy believe in himself again and eventually be confident enough to take to the stage again.

I am inspired by his strength, his resilience and his honesty.

The book is well written. If you are a fan of The Sunnyboys you will find it inspiring and interesting. If you are interested in mental health issues you will find it inspiring and interesting. If you believe in the power of love, patience and resilience you will enjoy this book.

Beauty and The Beast

Beauty and The Beast is an inspirational story that reminds us that what in in the heart is more beautiful than what is on the face! That love is more beautiful than egos.

Belle, a beautiful, intelligent girl, falls in love with a beast. She sees beyond the giant, beastly creature. In his eyes she can see his kind heart. Through her dedication and unconditional love for her father the Beast sees love and learns to love again.

Gaston, an egotistical handsome man wants to marry Belle, not because he loves her but because she can further boost his ego with her beauty. Gaston reminds us that one can be good looking on the outside but if there is no goodness in the heart then we can be uglier than the ugliest of beasts who have love to give.

The beast reminds us that one can be ugly on the outside but beautiful internally. When we open our hearts to others, when we allow ourselves to be loved we can love in return and the beauty of our love will soon erase any existing ugliness.



Malala : the girl who stood up for education.



I read the book I am Malala last year and found this young lady to be very inspiring. Last Sunday night (Oct 19th) the ABC screened an interview she did with Jennifer Byrne and once again I found myself inspired by this wonderful, brave young lady.

She was shot in the head on Tuesday October 9th 2012 whilst riding the bus home from school. She was not expected to survive but she did and has gone on to continue to stand up for the right of girls to be educated.  As the gunman got on the bus he called out “Who is Malala?” Not afraid to stand up for what she believes in she stood up and said “I am Malala” and then as a further indication of her pride named her book “I am Malala.”

She was recently awarded the Noble Peace Prize, the youngest person to ever receive this prestigious recognition.

In her interview with Jennifer Byrne, she spoke quietly yet articulately. It was inspiring to hear her talk of her goal to one day return to Pakistan and to be the Prime Minister. Although she was hurt by The Taliban rebels in her own country, she is clearly not afraid. How inspiring is that?