books

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.”

 

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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.

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EVERYONE BRAVE IF FORGIVEN

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.

 

 

THE BEEKEEPER’S SECRET

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.

Inspiration from a homeless man

This morning I read a small piece on Philani Dladla, a young South African man who has turned his life around through book reviews. I found it so inspiring I want to share the story with you.

Philani Dladla, also known as the Pavement Bookworm, grew up in KwaZula Natal loving books but after he moved to Johannesburg to find work he started using drugs. When he could no longer pay his rent he was forced to start living on the streets.  He noticed that many beggars were getting money for nothing and decided he would be different and offer something for money. That something was books and reviews.

He started selling books that he had read and offering a book review with the book. He priced the books according to how much he enjoyed them. The more enjoyment he got from a book, the more it would cost you to buy it. He soon became known as the Pavement Bookworm and his small business started growing.

With this new level of self esteem, some motivation and a lot of self help books, Philani decided to stop using drugs and help others. He used the money he made from selling books to buy soup and bread for the homeless. Soon after he decided to share his love of books with underprivileged children by setting up a Book Readers Club in a local park where kids were hanging out waiting for their parents to finish work.

He would give the children books on the condition that they came back to him to share what they learnt from the book. The children and Philani not only read together they discuss their hopes, dreams and challenges, but most of all they support each other through the tough times.

A story like this, a man like this, gives us hope for the homeless and the drug addicts. Life can be challenging for everyone, but especially these people. If something as simple as the love of reading can turn their lives around, that is fantastic, to share that love and help turn other lives around, is inspirational.

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.

Written words.

Today I am inspired by those who love to write. In today’s world of social media and online platforms there are many avenues for those who enjoy writing to do so (after all this is what is happening here!).

I am inspired by those who have the confidence to put their thoughts, their imagination, their opinions into words to share with those who are prepared to read the words.

For some there are many readers. Their book has made it to the top selling list, their opinion piece has been published in a major journal/magazine/newspaper/website, their blog has 100’s of followers. For others there are a few readers, such as myself. They haven’t published a best seller, they haven’t been picked up by a major journal/magazine/newspaper/webpage, they don’t have 100’s of followers of their blog. But is their opinion, their words, their thoughts, their imagination of those with less readers any less important than those of many readers? No.

Those writers who persevere, those who submit to publishers and webpages time and time again, who have had many rejections but keep going. Who keep writing are to be admired.

The written word is powerful, it is enjoyable and educational. It is also inspirational. To all those who enjoy writing, whether you are being read by many or a few, thank you. Thank you for inspiring, educating and entertaining your readers.

Finding inspiration from volunteering

“As you grow old, you will discover you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others” Audrey Hepburn

I have long been inspired by helping others. Friends, family members, strangers in the street. The help may be as significant as taking someone to a medical appointment or it may be simple as letting them in front of you in the supermarket queue.

Eleven years ago I decided to be a volunteer for my local library service. This work is not just about helping others, it is also rewarding and has allowed me to meet some inspirational people.  Once every three weeks I deliver library books to older members of the community who are unable to get to the public library. Some of these people, through their attitude to life, have inspired me and my attitudes.

One of my first clients was a lovely, elderly lady living in her own home. When she was in her 70’s she decided to go back to university to get her masters. That in itself is inspirational.  She then went on in her 80’s to be a volunteer English tutor at her local primary school. The half a day a week that she gave to her school and my regular visit helped her cope with her cancer treatments. It was inspirational to know that despite having a terminal illness she was able to find a way to make the most of her life. Reading, for her own pleasure and advancements,  as well as helping others to read. Inspirational.

One of my current clients is a lady of 101 years of age. Her smiling face, her memory recall and attitude to life are inspirational. I was invited to her 100th birthday party, a great afternoon with music supplied by the Police Pipe Band.  Her smile and happiness on that day were infectious. Now at 101 she is slowing down a little but still has time for a chat and her lovely smile still lights up her face. Most of us worry about getting old but she embraces her age in an inspirational way.

As we progress through our lives it is important to remember that we can influence where our life leads us. As Audrey Hepburn said, we have two hands, one to help ourselves, the other to help others. Be inspired to be helpful and be an inspiration to others so that they may also want to be helpful.