BOOKTOBERFEST GUEST BLOG: My Journey Started With a Book by Kurt Fearnley, author of Pushing the Limits

In many ways, my journey started with a book. When I was a baby, my mum had been wandering through the maze of disability when someone gave her a copy of Alan Marshall’s I Can Jump Puddles. This book is as close as you’ll get to a ‘how to’ guide for raising a child with a disability in the bush. It’s the story of a boy who lost the use of his legs through polio and follows his growth into a young man. When the medical profession told my mum that the focus should be on me looking normal, Alan wrote about feeling normal. When the medicos pushed the importance of me being kept clean and safe inside the house, Alan spoke of the self-confidence he gained by dragging himself through mud.

Kurt Fearnley credit Tim BauerMy family only wanted one thing for my life, and that was normality. They believed that the worst possible repercussion of my disability was that I would live my life watching it from behind a window. Alan Marshall’s I Can Jump Puddles gave them the confidence to allow me to be out there and in the driver’s seat. Whatever way I would propel myself up every tree and over every damn muddy puddle that I could possibly veer into, it would be a long way from that window.

Another book that I will never forget is Bryce Courtenay’s The Power of One. My sister Tanya would read this to me in my late primary school days. It was before I had found my way into sport but after I had left my cocoon of Carcoar, around the time I had started to figure out that I was different. No matter how much I tried, I would never be the same as my able-bodied peers. I had started to experience people staring at me as they passed by. The confusion I felt when they reflected my difference directly back at me was a hard thing to handle. In a way, I found confidence in Peekay, the seven-year-old boy with dreams of being the welterweight champion of the world. He was different, he was smaller, he was Piss Kop, but he was strong. I must have read The Power of One a hundred times since I was eleven. Before Bryce passed away, I had the good fortune to thank him for giving me Peekay.

I have loved every minute of my journey and I can’t ever understand the adulation that I have received because of it. I find it hard to predict what someone will get from reading Pushing the Limits but I know that I Can Jump Puddles and The Power of One gave me strength when I needed it. If my story offers one ounce of this kind of strength to a reader, then every metre that I have travelled is more rewarding because of it.

Pushing the Limits is a part of Penguin Australia’s Booktoberfest Showcase.
Click here for more details
.


Kurt-Fearnley-560x560Kurt Fearnley was born without the lower portion of his spine. He grew up in tiny Carcoar in NSW, and took up wheelchair racing in his teens. He has gone on to be a three-time Paralympic gold medallist and has won marathons all around the world, including the prestigious New York, London and Chicago marathons multiple times.

His exploits are not confined to wheelchair racing – he has crawled the Kokoda track and the Great Wall of China and sailed with a winning Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race crew. Kurt’s exploits both in and out of sport saw him recognised as the 2009 NSW Young Australian of the Year. He lives in Newcastle with his wife and son.


pushing-the-limitsPushing the Limits

by Kurt Fearnley

When Kurt Fearnley was a kid, he would leave his wheelechair at the front gate and go exploring with his brothers and sisters. ‘You’re going to have to be stronger than we are,’ they told him, ‘and we know you will be.’

The kid from Carcoar was raised to believe he could do anything. At fifteen, he won his first medal. Then he conquered the world, winning three Paralympic gold medals, seven world championships and more than 35 marathons. A world-beater in and out of his wheelchair, Kurt is a true Australian champion.

Inspiring, exhilarating and highly entertaining, Pushing the Limits takes us inside the mind of a kid with a disability growing up in a tiny town, a teenager finding his place in the world, and an elite sportsman who refuses to give up, no matter how extreme the challenge.

Pushing the Limits is a part of Penguin Australia’s Booktoberfest Showcase.
Click here for more details
.

BOOK REVIEW: Charles Bean by Ross Coulthart (Review by Justin Cahill)

Charles Bean, Australia’s official correspondent during the Great War, is one of Australia’s most influential historians. He was, almost single-handedly, responsible for creating one of the most treasured aspects of our national psyche – the Anzac legend.

To Bean, the men Australia sent to the Great War were a heroic ‘race apart’, whose self-sacrifice, courage and valour gave a new birth to our national identity. He later commemorated their achievements in his Official History of Australia in the War and his role in establishing the Australian War Memorial.

A century on, many thousands of descendants still gather at memorials each Anzac Day to remember those lost at war. With about 25 members of my extended family having served in the War, the Anzac legend is a significant part of my own history.

The legend has not remained unchallenged. Some have labelled it an embarrassing glorification of war. It was the target of Alan Seymour’s 1958 play, The One Day of the Year, and as the Great War generation slowly passed on, successive layers of the myth were peeled away. The efforts of Simpson and his donkey were, we are told, exaggerated. Anzacs, it appears, attacked Egyptian civilians, destroying their business premises and homes.

For decades, Bean’s name was a byword for nationalist propaganda. My generation certainly viewed his work with, at best, suspicion and, at worst, disdain. Was this fair? Coulthart’s sympathetic, yet scrupulously balanced account shows we may have rushed to judgement. Bean was a hands-on historian. He got as close to the front as possible, often exposing himself to considerable danger to find out what was happening, and showed great courage in rescuing wounded men under fire. He was meticulous in collecting accounts of battles and sifting fact from fiction. He walked the tightrope between his self-imposed duty to report on the War accurately and the restrictions of official censorship with some success.

Author: Ross Coulthart

Author: Ross Coulthart

Bean, like us all, was no paragon of virtue. He tended to forget his place and intrude into political decisions, especially those involving assignments to command positions. He shared his generation’s passive anti-Semitism, causing him to undervalue the work of the Australian commander, Sir John Monash. To his credit, Bean had a degree of insight into his shortcomings. He later acknowledged and regretted his errors – a further act of courage some current historians could learn from.

Ultimately, Coulthart asks us to confront the issue of whether historians can provide accurate accounts of what actually happened. This biography is a strong affirmation that they can achieve this. Coulthart has a lucid, engaging style which brings readers up close to this subject – so close I occasionally felt I was hovering over Bean’s shoulder as he worked.

This is among the best biographies of an Australian historian available, fittingly released during the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the events Bean meticulously recorded.

Order your Signed Copy of Charles Bean here!


Justin Cahill is a Sydney-based naturalist and historian. His publications include a biography of the ornithologist Alfred North and A New Life in our History, a history of the European settlement of Australia and New Zealand told from the perspective of ordinary people. He has also written on Chinese history, including the negotiations surrounding Britain’s acquisition of Hong Kong and its decolonisation in 1997. Justin’s most recent publication is the first part of Epitome for Eleanor: A Short History of the Known Universe, written for children. His current projects include a natural history of Sydney’s Wolli Creek Valley.

He regularly contributes reviews to Booktopia.

Jamie Oliver introduces his new book Jamie’s Comfort Food

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jamie-s-comfort-foodJamie’s Comfort Food

by Jamie Oliver

Jamie’s new cookbook brings together 100 ultimate comfort food recipes from around the world. It’s all about the dishes that are close to your heart, that put a smile on your face and make you feel happy, loved, safe and secure. Inspired by everything from childhood memories to the changing of the seasons, and taking into account the guilty pleasures and sweet indulgences that everyone enjoys, it’s brimming with exciting recipes you’ll fall in love with.

Jamie’s Comfort Food is all about the food you really want to eat, made exactly how you like it. With this in mind, the book features ultimate versions of all-time favourites, and also introduces cherished dishes from countries around the world, providing a delicious recipe for every occasion. This isn’t everyday cooking – this is about weekends, holidays, celebrations and occasions. Whether you’re home alone, or sharing the love with a big group of family or friends, there really is something for everyone.

Celebrating the beauty of good food is at the heart of this book, and it’s jam-packed with incredible photography. Written in Jamie’s usual down-to-earth and easy-to-understand style, the methods are precise and have been tested to the hilt, so are guaranteed to work, but this time Jamie has turned the edit filter off, and shares extra hints, tips and ideas throughout to ensure you achieve the best possible results. This is about making food the very best it can be, and embracing the rituals of cooking.

Recipes include everything from mighty moussaka, delicate gyoza with crispy wings, steaming ramen and katsu curry to super eggs Benedict, scrumptious sticky toffee pudding and tutti frutti pear tarte tatin.

Treat yourself, and your loved ones, with Jamie’s Comfort Food.

Grab a copy of Jamie’s Comfort Food here

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EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: The Incompetent Cook with Matt Moran, author of Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook

Matt Moran is one of Australia’s favourite chefs. From his humble upbringing on a dairy farm, he now runs one of Australia’s finest restaurants, ARIA, and hosts one of the biggest shows on TV, From Paddock to Plate on The Lifestyle Channel. But can he teach The Incompetent Cook a thing or two from his new book Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook?

Grab a copy of Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook here

Grab a copy of Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook here

matt-s-kitchen-garden-cookbook-order-your-signed-copy-Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook

by Matt Moran

Acclaimed chef Matt Moran shares his passion for local produce with this stunning collection of recipes.

Inspired by the market garden at his Sydney restaurant Chiswick, as well as time spent visiting producers all around Australia for his TV series Paddock to Plate, Matt dishes up a mouth-watering selection of recipes with this trademark deft touch and winning flavour combinations. Try the fresh, palate-sharpening pickled vegetables and dukkah or seared kingfish with radish, avocado and wasabi to start with, then tuck into slow-cooked lamb with hummus, tomato salad and mint salsa.

For sweet treats, look no further than apricot and rosemary tarts or berries and meringue with passionfruit curd.

About the Author

Matt Moran is the executive chef and co-owner of the award-winning ARIA restaurant, which enjoys one of the most enviable reputations and locations in Sydney, overlooking the Sydney Opera House and the harbour. In 2009 he opened a second ARIA restaurant, in Brisbane, in another stunning waterfront location on Eagle Street Pier. In 2012 Matt opened the doors to CHISWICK, in Sydney’s leafy Woollahra. The heart of the restaurant is the kitchen garden, where much of the restaurant’s produce is grown.

While Matt’s main focus remains his restaurants, he displays his passion for cooking in TV shows MasterChef, Junior MasterChef, The Chopping Block, My Restaurant Rules and Heat in the Kitchen. He is the author of three bestselling cookbooks, Matt Moran, When I Get Home and Dinner At Matt’s.

Grab a copy of Matt’s Kitchen Garden Cookbook here

9781921383618-29781921383618-49781921383618-39781921383618-59781921383618-6

Fiona O’Loughlin to feature on #AustralianStory on #ABCTV

me-of-the-never-neverFiona O’Loughlin emerged out of Alice Springs some thirteen years ago as a ‘fully formed’ 36 year old stand up comedy sensation.

She wowed local and international audiences with unconventional stories of raising five children in the outback.

Then after collapsing on stage in Brisbane, she confessed she was an alcoholic. But behind the scenes, the drinking got worse.

On Australian Story tonight, Ms O’Loughlin and those closest to her candidly confront the darkest demons of an issue that has famously bedevilled many male comedians, but is less acknowledged by women in the public eye.

Grab a copy of Fiona O’Loughlin’s memoir Me of the Never Never here

Grab a copy of Fiona O’Loughlin’s memoir Me of the Never Never here

me-of-the-never-neverMe of the Never Never

by Fiona O’Loughlin

‘Nothing turns out as you plan, I guess; but I often think if I’d gone to a fortune teller when I was at school and been told I’d marry a guy who makes false teeth, move to Alice Springs, have five kids and become a standup comedian; well, I would have been surprised to say the least.’

Fiona O Loughlin is certainly the funniest (and possibly one of the busiest) working mothers in Australia today: a stand-up comedian based in Alice Springs and Adelaide, she is on the road for most of the year, doing live performances, plus regular television appearances. Fiona has also had successful shows at the Edinburgh and Adelaide fringe festivals, the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

This book contains her stories funny and sometimes sad about her upbringing as part of a large Irish-Catholic family on a wheat farm in South Australia, her chaotic and disorganised family life ever since, living in Alice Springs and making it as a stand-up comedian. She also talks of a darker side of the life of many performers alcohol.

This book is for anyone who likes to laugh (and cry), who wants to read about a woman living her life on her terms.

Grab a copy of Fiona O’Loughlin’s memoir Me of the Never Never here

BOOK REVIEW: Hitler’s Last Witness: The Memoirs of Hitler’s Bodyguard by Rochus Misch (Review by Kate Forsyth)

9781925106107Anyone who is fascinated and troubled by Adolf Hitler and his actions will find much to interest them in this memoir written by one of his bodyguards, Rochus Misch. The Führer’s bodyguards accompanied him everywhere, and so were witnesses to many secret meetings and communications. Those hoping for insights into the psychology of Hitler will be disappointed.Misch was chosen as his bodyguard because he knew how to keep his head down, and his ears and eyes shut. He repeats several times that he was chosen because he was someone ‘who would give no trouble.’

Misch is not a natural writer. His style is dry and clipped and to the point (at times I could almost hear his German accent!) Nonetheless, much of his narrative is riveting, particularly as the Germans begin to lose the war and the Führer and his inner circle take up residence in a concrete bunker deep beneath the city. Misch must accompany them, leaving his wife and baby daughter to the mercies of the attacking Russians. He witnesses Hitler’s marriage to his long-time mistress, Evan Braun, and then the murder of the six Goebbels children by their mother. At this action, his matter-of-tone manner breaks down and his real anguish breaks through. ‘The most dreadful thing I experienced in the bunker was not his death. The worst thing was the killing of these children’. Misch was in the bunker till the bitter end, witnessing Hitler and his bride’s suicide and the final admission of defeat by the Nazi generals. His reward for his loyalty was to end up in the Russian torture chambers.

One of the most interesting things about the book is Misch’s unswerving loyalty to Hitler, and the painting of one of the world’s most vicious mass murderers as a normal man and ‘a wonderful boss.’

Grab a copy of Rochus Misch’s Hitler’s Last Witness: The Memoirs of Hitler’s Bodyguard here


Kate FKate Forsyth is the bestselling and award-winning author of more than twenty books, ranging from picture books to poetry to novels for both children and adults.

She was recently voted one of Australia’s Favourite Novelists, coming in at No 16. She has been called one of ‘the finest writers of this generation”, and “quite possibly … one of the best story tellers of our modern age.’

Click here to see Kate’s author page

Julia Gillard talks to Booktopia TV about her memoir My Story

Julia Gillard’s memoir My Story is one of the most anticipated books of 2014. She chats with Booktopia TV about her political battles, writing her memoir, and what the future holds.

Grab a copy of Julia Gillard’s My Story here

my-storyMy Story

by Julia Gillard

‘I was Prime Minister for three years and three days.Three years and three days of resilience.Three years and three days of changing the nation.Three years and three days for you to judge.’

On Wednesday 23rd June 2010, with the government in turmoil, Julia Gillard asked then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for a leadership ballot.

The next day, Julia Gillard became Australia’s 27th Prime Minister, and our first female leader. Australia was alive to the historic possibilities. Here was a new approach for a new time.

It was to last three extraordinary years.

This is Julia Gillard’s chronicle of that turbulent time – a strikingly candid self-portrait of a political leader seeking to realise her ideals. It is her story of what it was like – in the face of government in-fighting and often hostile media – to manage a hung parliament, build a diverse and robust economy, create an equitable and world-class education system, ensure a dignified future for Australians with disabilities, all while attending to our international obligations and building strategic alliances for our future. This is a politician driven by a sense of purpose – from campus days with the Australian Union of Students, to a career in the law, to her often gritty, occasionally glittering rise up the ranks of the Australian Labor Party.

Refreshingly honest, peppered with a wry humour and personal insights, Julia Gillard does not shy away from her mistakes, admitting freely to errors, misjudgements, and policy failures as well as detailing her political successes. Here is an account of what was hidden behind the resilience and dignified courage Gillard showed as prime minister – her view of the vicious hate campaigns directed against her, and a reflection on what it means – and what it takes – to be a woman leader in contemporary politics.

Here, in her own words, Julia Gillard reveals what life was really like as Australia’s first female prime minister.

Grab a copy of Julia Gillard’s My Story here

 

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