Leiden Book Club Book 9 – Persuasion


  Jane Austen has never been a particularly large blip on my literary radar. My mother has been a voracious fan since long before I was part of the world; and after I did become a part of it she would often put forward the Austen catalogue as a recommendation to me. I would smile and nod, acknowledging that no bookshelf is complete without a few Austens present, but never quite getting around to taking the plunge. This changed with Emma, which I only picked up in order to impress my future de-facto wife (also Emma). And while I found… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book Book 8 – Swing Time


  Swing Time, a novel by Zadie Smith, is an onion. There is layer upon layer upon layer; the more you dig, the more you will find to ponder and discuss. It’s likely you may shed a tear or two while reading, or at the very least, feel the odd tug on your heart strings. It’s not an easy book to review because, frankly, a lengthy essay would be more fitting (and for the hardcore literature nerds, much more satisfying). Swing Time is a best friend bildungsroman within which lies an acute social commentary about race, class and gender; an… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book 7 – The Wonder


  An English nurse — seemingly cold, discerning and aloof on first impression — is brought to a small Irish village to observe the ‘miracle’ of an eleven-year-old girl who has fasted for months and believes herself to be living off manna from heaven. It is Lib Wright’s job to keep watch over this young girl to prove whether she is a miracle or a fraud, but like any other good book, her mission is not as easy as it would appear. The Wonder is an exploration of faith, fasting and morality, and is based on the many cases of… Continue Reading

Book Lunch: I Love Who I Am – Igniting Self Worth


  At Leiden we declare this month Self Love September! That’s right we are dedicating the entire month to investigating and celebrating our bods and what’s inside our bods no matter what form it takes.    We recently found out about the launch of a new book that is right up our alley. Canberra author Rachael Torrealba’s new tome I Love Who I am: Igniting Self – Worth  is a match made in heaven for Self Love September. When Rachel encountered the grief of being alienated from her children after a marriage break-up, she couldn’t contemplate reading a single page.… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book 6 – Quiet


  To say that Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking changed my life is not an understatement. When I first read Quiet, I was a public servant in a role that required working long hours, extensive travel, and being switched on around stakeholders all the time. Not just in the office or boardroom either, but over lunch, at the airport, at networking drinks – in other words, I was constantly depleted of energy and felt on the verge of burnout. My poor husband commented at the time, ’I see you coming home later and… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book 5 – Lolita


  There is something strangely uncomfortable about recommending a book about the sexual relationship between a middle-aged man and his twelve-year-old stepdaughter. Yet I find myself doing exactly that. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov, is not a comfortable book. The content is certainly uncomfortable. At least, for me, it was – I mean, Humbert Humbert is a middle-aged sexual pervert and a murderer and Dolores seems quite happy to receive his sexual attentions. However, it was not the content that I found to be most unsettling; rather, it was the subtle manner that Nabokov was able to elicit sympathy from me… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book 4 – A Life in Frocks


  Kelly Doust’s memoir, A Life in Frocks, is not a book meant for the depths of a book club discussion; in fact, it’s not a book I would normally be inclined to read. And despite being a contributor for an online fashion magazine, I am not particularly fashion-minded myself (since taking long leave from my day job to open 6th Position, I have taken to getting around 24/7 in my no-name brand activewear – with pride). You’re probably wondering, given the circumstances, how on earth did A Life in Frocks get onto the Leiden Book Club list? Well for one,… Continue Reading

Leiden Book Club Book 3 – The Course of Love


  The Course of Love by Alain de Botton is not your typical man-meets-woman romance novel. Man does meet woman. And woman does fall in love with man. But then, we get to find out what happens when ‘happily ever after’ rolls around. How often have you watched or read a romance film or novel where man and woman finally get together after some prerequisite trials and, as they disappear off into the sunset, wondered, ‘What will happen to them?’ Take, for example, Beauty & the Beast, Pride and Prejudice, and Groundhog Day. Our leading men and women are besotted,… Continue Reading