Philosopher and Man Booker Prize Chair A.C. Grayling in conversation with John Purcell

Grab a copy of A.C. Grayling’s Friendship here

Friendship

by A.C. Grayling

A central bond, a cherished value, a unique relationship, a profound human need, a type of love. What is the nature of friendship, and what is its significance in our lives? How has friendship changed since the ancient Greeks began to analyze it, and how has modern technology altered its very definition?

In this fascinating exploration of friendship through the ages, one of the most thought-provoking philosophers of our time tracks historical ideas of friendship, gathers a diversity of friendship stories from the annals of myth and literature, and provides unexpected insights into our friends, ourselves, and the role of friendships in an ethical life. A.

A.C. Grayling roves the rich traditions of friendship in literature, culture, art and philosophy, bringing into his discussion familiar pairs as well as unfamiliar – Achilles and Patroclus, David and Jonathan, Coleridge and Wordsworth, Huck Finn and Jim. Grayling lays out major philosophical interpretations of friendship, then offers his own take, drawing on personal experiences and an acute awareness of vast cultural shifts that have occurred.

With penetrating insight he addresses internet-based friendship, contemporary mixed gender friendships, how friendships may supersede family relationships, one’s duty within friendship, the idea of friendship to humanity and ultimately the universal value of friendship.

About the Author

A.C. Grayling is the founder and master of the New College of the Humanities, London. A multitalented and prolific author, he has written over thirty books on philosophy and other subjects while regularly contributing to The Times, Financial Times, Observer, Literary Review, and other publications. He is also a frequent and popular contributor to radio and television programs. He lives in London.

Grab a copy of A.C. Grayling’s Friendship here

THE GOOD LIFE: What makes a life worth living? (Guest Blogger – Hugh Mackay)

Hugh Mackay, psychologist, social researcher and writer, blogs about the basis of his wonderful new book The Good Life.

What comes to mind when someone says ‘the good life’? Comfort and prosperity? A chance to cash in your chips, retire to the coast and put your feet up? A life enriched by the love of your family and friends? A life where dreams come true?

How about a life lived for others, a life devoted to serving the neediest members of society, or a life of self-sacrifice? Those are equally valid ways of interpreting ‘good’ – giving it a moral spin rather than an economic or emotional one.

Given our society’s current obsession with feel-good definitions of happiness, and the damage we’re inflicting on our kids by teaching them that self-esteem is their most precious possession, it’s not surprising that our minds tend to leap to self-serving interpretations of ‘good’. This, after all, is the Age of Me – an ugly blip in our cultural history where competition usually gets more marks than co-operation, and self-interest is rated more highly than self-sacrifice. Look after Number One! – that’s the slogan we like to chant. Winners are grinners! and ‘loser’ the ultimate insult.

But that’s not the whole Story of Us. In a civil society, where most people are quite interested in upping the goodness quotient in their lives, we can learn to tame (not slay, just tame) the savage beast of self-interest. Yes, we humans can be ruthlessly competitive, aggressive and violent, but we have nobler impulses as well: we’re also the kind of people who fight off a shark to save a mate; jump off a river bank to rescue a stranger; return a wallet full of cash, anonymously; help a frail person cross a busy street; defend the victims of prejudice; volunteer to take refugees into our homes.

Deep within us, we know the survival of our communities – the survival of the species itself – depends on paying more attention to that insistent message that comes to us from every religious and moral tradition of East and West: treat other people the way you’d like to be treated. (Some people find the so-called Golden Rule makes more sense in the negative: never treat others in ways you would not like to be treated.)

If we fall for the idea that the good life is only about having a good time, or ‘doing well’, or even being ‘happy’ (in the superficial emotional sense), our moral compass is bound to wobble. As I say at the end of the book: ‘No one can promise you that a life lived for others will bring you a deep sense of satisfaction, but it’s certain that nothing else will.’

Click here to buy The Good Life from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Hugh Mackay is a prolific and well-known social researcher, writer and commentator in Australia. A newspaper columnist for over 25 years, he is now an honorary professor of social science at the University of Wollongong, the author of nine books in the field of social psychology and philosophy and five novels.

Dr. Yvonne Sum, author of Intentional Parenting: How to Get Results for Both You and Your Kids, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Dr. Yvonne Sum

author of Intentional Parenting : How to Get Results for Both You and Your Kids

Ten Terrifying Questions

 ——————————–

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I consider myself a bit of a global product: I was made in Sydney Australia, exported to Malaysia when I was 2 years old, recalled to Australia (hopefully no major defects that an Aussie attitude will not fix), 1.5 decades later, and re-packaged for the global marketplace. Currently I am being held in Qatar (strategically placed in the world so I can get to most places of the globe within 8 hours’ flight, and only need travel long- haul to get to Melbourne (12 hours) or Houston (17 hours).

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

I always wanted to be around people: I was energised by people. I loved being with people. I loved learning from them. My passions revolved around people – and how to learn to get them to live their highest potential.

So it is hardly surprising that when I was 6 years old, I told my grandmother that I wanted to be the mother of 100 children. To which she wisely replied (with a twinkle in her eye): “You will have to start straight away, my dear … and hope to live long enough to accomplish such a feat.”

At 12 years old, I wanted to be a nurse – as I had been reading story upon story of heroines who served as nurses in the war. I adored Florence Nightingale. Mostly I felt that nurses provided great comfort when people (patients and their families) were at their worst.

When my 18th birthday came around, I had fallen in love with the prospect of being a journalist. I had been involved as the editor of my school newspaper (that I founded) and was busy on the school magazine team. My projects took me to meet many people in the community whom I loved interviewing and learning from. Sadly, I had fallen out of love with the typewriter (this was pre-word processing via a pc or notebook…) by the time I had to sign up for my University degree. I queued up to join the ranks of the beloved (NOT!) profession – the dental surgeon – via a short sojourn in the Royal Australian Air Force as a Pilot Officer in the Medical Corp. Why? Well, I thought I could work hands-on more with people and less with paperwork (as I did not have to deal with the dreaded typewriter) and there was a certain romantic ideal that I could become a heroine saving my patients from (pulpal) death and waging my war against the epidemic of dental anxiety and phobia in the community!

By the time I was 30, I was getting traction in my battle against Dental Anxiety through my roles as a Media Spokesperson for the Australian Dental Association (in my attempt to re-brand The Dentist in our Community as a public friendly educator and motivator of DIY self-help health – after all, most of dental disease was preventable), an Educator / Mentor for University of Sydney Dental Undergraduates and Post-Graduates, and a dental entrepreneur who ran practices that aimed to deliver quality healthcare that was engaging for both patient and team member.

However, it was not until I turned 34, when I faced a remarkable turning point in my life that put me in the best role ever. I became a parent to my little boy Jett and two years later, his sister Xian. I realised that my calling was to learn leadership from first-hand parenting – so I may help the world reach their highest potential by working with the parents.

So began my empirical research into ‘Parents as Leaders’ – and conversely ‘Leaders as Parents’…. which took me down my current path as a Leadership Coach, Certified Speaking Professional and Author.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

That parents have all the answers!

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

Becoming a parent.

Discovering NLP on my journey to understand our human condition.

Independence as a 16-year-old living with my sister in Sydney.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

It is a perfect complement to ALL of the above. Some of us still love the touch, feel and smell of a newly printed book……I am also an avid blogger, reader of online articles, and enjoy being a guest or host on TV, radio, podcast, webinars, and other multi-media …. bring it on!

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Intentional Parenting How to Get Results for Both You and Your Kids  was written as a conversation with the reader who may have had some concerns like me. You see, I was initially a reluctant parent because I thought I was totally fulfilled in my career and needed nothing more. The perfectionist in me erroneously hypothesised that I had to subtract other parts of my life to be able to do parenting properly. Until my decision to be less concerned about being the perfect parent but to be the observant learner of my children did I find I could not only love and support them to be the best human beings they can be, but it simultaneously paved the way for me to re-discover the genius in me. I am excited to share my learning insights on this personal transformational journey -and hoped readers will find this a useful piece to reflect on.

Click here to buy Intentional Parenting from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

Be the best human being you can be – don’t short-change the world by selfishly keeping your genius hidden and unexpressed.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

My parents, Jerry and Alice Sum. It is through their Role Modelling that “Parents are Leaders”. It was always a learning partnership from the get-go. It took me to have my own children before it dawned upon me the ingenuity of their methods.

9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

Be the best human being I can be – so I don’t short-change the world by selfishly keeping my genius hidden and unexpressed.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Be clear of your outcome: What do you want?

Take action: Just Do It!

Be alert: Observe keenly the results of your actions.

Keep measuring: Make sure the results are on track with your outcome.

Be flexible: You may need to change actions to get your outcome.

Manage your energy:

Passion + Persistence + Perspiration = Inspirational Outcome

____________________________

Dr. Yvonne Sum, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Intentional Parenting from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

What do you make of Alain de Botton’s Ten Commandments for Atheists?

Alain de Botton (468 x 664)

CLICK TO ENLARGE

Click here to buy Alain de Botton's Religion for AtheistsReligion for Atheists: A non-believer’s guide to the uses of religion

by Alain De Botton

A non-believer’s guide to the uses of religion

All of us, whether religious, agnostic or atheist, are searching for meaning. And in this wise and life-affirming book, non-believer Alain de Botton both rejects the supernatural claims of religion and points out just how many good ideas they sometimes have about how we should live.

And he suggests that non-believers can learn and steal from them.

Picking and choosing from the thousands of years of advice assembled by the world’s great religions to get practical insights on art, community, love, friendship, work, life and death, Alain de Botton will show us a range of fascinating ideas on topics including relationships, work, culture, love and death – that could be of use to all of us, irrespective of whether we do or don’t believe.

‘A serious and optimistic set of practical ideas that could improve and alter the way we live.’ Jeanette Winterson, The Times

‘There isn’t a page in this book that doesn’t contain a striking idea or a stimulating parallel.’ Mail on Sunday

‘Packed with tantalizing goads to thought and playful prompts to action.’ Independent

‘Smart, stimulating, sensitive. A timely and perceptive appreciation of how much wisdom is embodied in religious traditions and how we godless moderns might learn from it.’ Financial Times

‘Beautifully written . . . de Botton is enjoying himself here, and we should take him in good humour.’ Evening Standard

‘Surprisingly illuminating.’ Church Times

Click here to buy Religion for Atheists from Booktopia, Australia’s Local Bookstore

Damon Young, author of Philosophy In The Garden, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

 The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Damon Young

author of Philosophy In The Garden and Distraction

Ten Terrifying Questions

 ————————–

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

When I was in utero, my mother was at university. It was 1975. Her morning sickness coincided with Peter Singer’s philosophy lectures. Several bouts of logic and nausea later, she gave birth ten weeks early at the Jessie McPherson hospital on Lonsdale Street, Melbourne—over the road from the Greek cake shops.

Once my heart healed, I grew up in various rented houses in the eastern suburbs, then my parents bought a home on the Mornington Peninsula, because it was out of range of a nuclear blast in Melbourne. The walls had been decorated with blue floral contact instead of wallpaper. I was schooled—to use the word very loosely—at Mount Eliza Secondary College.

I took a year off to learn photography, film and video, then did my BA (Hons.) in philosophy and literature and PhD in philosophy.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

When I was twelve I wanted to be Sherlock Holmes. I dug his brutal mind and cool superiority.
At eighteen, I just wanted to escape high school. I did, and discovered philosophy at university.
At thirty, I wanted to be a philosopher—and I was one, officially. But I also wanted to broaden the intellectual conversation: talking only to academics seemed to miss the point of all those liberating ideas (more on this here).

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I was naïvely (perhaps maniacally) in love with argument. I now know Nietzsche was right: “It is not enough to prove something, one has also to seduce or elevate people to it.”

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

My parents, a social psychologist and teacher/musician, provided positive and negative examples.

Positive: they introduced me to unusual ideas and art, and backed me in spats with teachers, and fights with kids. They were not horrified of being ‘different’. They also nudged me into Karate classes, which was instructive. (I’ve explained how and why here.)

Negative: their arguments were an intimate lesson in the blindspots, evasions and pettiness of conflict. I tried to keep the confrontation but lose the cruelty (to others and oneself).

Two authors challenged me to be a more vocal and artful public philosopher: Friedrich Nietzsche and Nikos Kazantzakis.

Nietzsche is perhaps the most important philosopher of the twentieth century. He lambasted glib morality, and diagnosed the most modern of illnesses: nihilism. He also wrote brilliantly: lyrically, and with punch. He was, as a thinker and a stylist, very brave.

Kazantzakis was a Nietzschean of sorts, who studied philosophy under Henry Bergson in Paris. But he is best known for his novels, including Zorba the Greek. He also wrote plays and poetry. His autobiography, Report to Greco, is partly fiction, but remains a brilliant portrait of a life lived in agonising pursuit of higher truths.

It is a cliché. But becoming a father was an existential and literary transformation. I wrote about it here.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

Nah. There have always been, and always will be, Things That Aren’t Books. Greek tragedy, the jitterbug, gossip, cage fighting, masturbation—tastes vary. Let a hundred flowers bloom.

But the book remains. Whether it’s a scroll, codex or digital file, the book is a rare chance to converse, patiently and carefully, with another psyche. Our civilisation’s wonky table is propped up on books written over two millennia ago.

And books are beautiful. (I mean paper, glue and ink books. But e-readers can also be well designed, with artful layout and cover.) Writers, editors, illustrators, designers, printers: they collaborate to make these sexy things. They really do furnish a room. Several rooms.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

Philosophy in the Garden is like a philosophical and horticultural detective story. Marcel Proust is in a dingy room, with the curtains drawn, and a bonsai next to his bed. Why? What is the value of these “miserable hideous…trees,” as he put it? Likewise for Jane Austen, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, George Orwell, and others. What can these great authors, and the gardens they loved (or loathed), teach us?

Click here to buy Philosophy In The Garden from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore
 

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

To help readers become more courageous in thought, tender in feeling, and patient in confrontation.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

Socrates, for his willingness to die; Nietzsche, for his willingness to live.

9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To write well, earn a decent living and be a good husband and father. This is absurdly ambitious.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read widely, carefully and generously. Write likewise. Repeat.

Damon, thank you for playing



Click here to buy Philosophy In The Garden from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore
 

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Caroline Baum talks to Judith Lucy – Australia Funniest Spiritual Guide

DRINK, SMOKE, PASS OUT – An Unlikely Spiritual Journey

by Judith Lucy

Caroline Baum: I wasn’t sure whether Judith Lucy’s deadpan drollery would work as well on the page as it does in her stand up shows and TV series. But the good news is it does. She had me giggling helplessly in chapter one, and it doesn’t let up.

She doesn’t spare herself. In fact she lays herself bare in all her drunken mess as she stumbles and staggers her way towards spiritual enlightenment. Intoxicated, needy, confused, vulnerable and endowed with a heightened sense of absurdity which just about rescues her from toppling over the edge, she is raw in her revelations without it ever feeling ickily self-indulgent as it would if she were some gushy over-sharing US soapie star .

You don’t have to be on a search for meaning or interested in religious belief to find this highly entertaining – sceptics and heathens included.

Blurb: At last, a book about life that discusses liquor and lovemaking as much as it does the point of it all.

Judith Lucy has looked everywhere for happiness. Growing up a Catholic, she thought about becoming a nun, and later threw herself into work, finding a partner and getting off her face. Somehow, none of that worked.

So lately, she’s been asking herself the big questions. Why are we here? Is there a God? What happens when we die? And why can’t she tell you what her close friends believe in, but she can tell you which ones have herpes? No-one could have been more surprised than Judith when she started to find solace and meaning in yoga and meditation, and a newfound appreciation for what others get from their religion.

In her first volume of memoir, the bestselling The Lucy Family Alphabet, Judith dealt with her parents. In Drink, Smoke, Pass Out, she tries to find out if there’s more to life than wanting to suck tequila out of Ryan Gosling’s navel. With disarming frankness and classic dry wit, she reviews the major paths of her life and, alarmingly, finds herself on a journey.

Click here to buy Drink, Smoke, Pass Out from Booktopia,
Australia’s Local Bookstore

Lentil as Anything : Everybody Deserves a Place at the Table by Shanaka Fernando

“When money loses its value,
the goodwill and kindness we extend
to each other will emerge as the ultimate
and most sustainable currency of exchange.”

——–

Lentil as Anything : Everybody Deserves a Place at the Table

by Shanaka Fernando

Shanaka Fernando is often hailed as a modern-day revolutionary. As the founder of the Lentil As Anything community restaurants in Melbourne that feed thousands every week, he advocates a unique business and life perspective.

Entrancingly honest and refreshingly candid, Shanaka’s memoir hints at the roots of his early social awakening with tales of a 1970s childhood in Sri Lanka. From his upbringing within an eccentric extended family living in a residential compound populated with a throng of memorable characters, we accompany Shanaka on his travels from Australia to Asia to South America and back as he explores new ways of living his life.

Shanaka’s example of what can be achieved based on an inclusive ‘people-first’ philosophy will inspire, challenge and provoke insights and questions that are undeniably worthy of attention.

“Fernando is one of those rare pioneers who are prepared to live by their convictions, flaunt social convention and challenge the status quo. The story of his lifelong quest for meaning – and the ‘experiment in generosity’ that became Lentil as Anything – is inspiring and challenging in equal measure. Few autobiographies are likely to evoke the senses and soul quite as much as Fernando’s tale of global travel, self-exploration and cultural innovation”

- Dr Wayne Visser, Director of Kaleidoscope Futures and author of “The Quest for Sustainable Business” and “The Age of Responsibility”

About the Author

Shanaka Fernando is a revolutionary. For many years he has been well known in Melbourne, Australia, as the pioneer of the Lentil as Anything pay-as-you-feel vegetarian restaurants, and in recent times he is becoming influential as a public speaker and motivator.

He leads a simple, modest life as he continues to inspire and challenge perhaps millions as he advocates an inclusive, ethical approach to business and life, and a belief in the innate goodness and generosity of his fellow man.

The socially responsible Lentil as Anything restaurants feed thousands every week, and set an example for other restaurants and businesses to follow – an example which illustrates what an inclusive, ethical approach to business, and life, can achieve. In the Lentil as Anything restaurants it is people that qualify life, not property. ‘You get fed and treated with dignity even if you don’t have any money, and the colour of your skin and your education and your beliefs only put you on a par with everyone else.’

Shanaka is a modern day folk hero, offering an alternative, a new way of living that is not based on consumerism, profit or greed.

Carolyn Donovan, author of Chooks in Stilettos and Greenies in Stilettos, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Carolyn Donovan

author of Chooks in Stilettos and Greenies in Stilettos,

Ten Terrifying Questions

——————————

1.   To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born in Sydney to adventurous parents who liked moving houses. A lot. I went to a different school every two years – which filled me with fear and dread each time, but also taught me skills like the ability to make my stone-ground, organic peanut paste, alfalfa sprout sandwiches on pumpernickel bread (mum was a sari skirt-wearing hippy) sound like an enticing swap for a strawberry jam on white (how I longed for a mother in a polyester print dress with no knowledge of the chemical names of every food additive ever created); through to making myself look studious and busy – rather than lonely – by heading straight to the library at recess times (where I also discovered an exciting world of glossy magazines full of fashion, makeup and glamorous advertisements that would have been considered far too ‘commercialised’ to have ever been allowed into our home).

Growing up as the youngest of a large group of female cousins meant most of my clothing came from whopping great garbage bags stuffed with hand-me-down goodies. The fact that things didn’t always fit me held an exciting challenge. With a head full of ideas and dreams (inspired by all those magazine pictures) I always had big plans for these jumbled assortments of cotton-mix-nyloness before me. I snipped and pinned, hitched and twisted old pieces of cloth into masterpieces of wearable art. Thankfully, I was also the oldest of four siblings, so my mother was often too busy to notice me actually leaving the house in some of my more spectacular re-makes. But bless her for allowing me to be so…er…creative!

2.  What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve, I wanted to be a model. As a gawky, uncoordinated teenager, I never seriously considered I could ever actually be sophisticated or pretty enough – I just dreamed about wearing gorgeous clothes, ridiculous amounts of makeup and shoes I couldn’t walk in properly, while boarding aeroplanes to faraway countries.

At eighteen, I was a model (which I had fallen into quite by accident after a chance meeting a year before) and while boarding aeroplanes to faraway countries and wearing gorgeous shoes I couldn’t walk in properly, I desperately wanted to be a student again and take up all the teenage-only opportunities I felt I had wished away too readily.

By thirty, I was over my first mid-life crisis. I had been primped, preened, photographed, wind-machined, widowed (a whole other long story), and could list ‘mother’ when filling in the ‘occupation’ space on legal forms. After years of living-out-of-a-suitcase – punctuated with occasional folksy bursts of needing to grow herbs and vegetables wherever I stayed – I suddenly wanted to be a suburb-dwelling, house-renovating, dog walking, footy mum (still with a wardrobe full of gorgeous clothes!).

3.  What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

Everything is good in moderation. (I now believe ‘everything’ may be permissible – but not everything is beneficial.)

 4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

Learning to read would have to be the most monumental: in more ways than I could ever express. Books have been my teachers, my comfort and my close friends in the loneliest places all over the globe. What an honour it is to write one.

Becoming a parent was another big influence. Once upon a time, even caring about the environment appeared, to me, to be more suited to the slightly eccentric of the world. That view changed significantly when I became a mother myself as everything within me went into warrior mode to provide and sustain life. Water cleanliness, air pollution, pesticide residues and childhood diseases were no longer something I could justify brushing aside.

Prior to that, my first garbage bag full of hand-me-down clothes is probably what started off my whole career path. I developed such an appreciation for handiwork, detail and truly beautiful things – which in turn led me into the fashion industry, that then provided the opportunity to see parts of the world I may never have had the pleasure of visiting.

5.  Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

I love all forms of media, journalism and artistic expression. TV and radio provide the soundtrack to life. Newspaper articles inform and update. Images grab attention and sell dreams. Blogs are like windows into other people’s minds – a close companion to my people-watching addiction. But books…

There is something deliciously exciting about opening a book for the first time – knowing you hold an entire adventure in your hands. Books are the gifts I most love to give – and the gift I always love to receive. A book is something portable and personal to place beside your bed as a reward at night, or slip into your bag and take on a journey with you. A book takes you on a journey. Books will never die.

6. Please tell us about your latest book, Greenies in Stilettos.

Greenies in Stilettos will switch on your creative side. It will have you excitedly reaching into the back of your wardrobe and seeing all your old clothes in a whole new ‘designer’ light. You will want to make all the luxurious beauty products out of everyday ingredients you already have in the pantry. And the money it will save you! But it’s not all DIY. (I am the laziest DIY’er you’ll ever meet.) It is jam-packed with gorgeously green solutions that, not only make you more beautiful – but will also save the Earth.

I guess the publisher description sums it (and me) up: In an industry famous for having the shelf life of a banana (and some other not so natural practises), model and devoted environmentalist, Carolyn Donovan, has beaten the odds and remained in high demand in the fashion industry for over two decades. In Greenies in Stilettos, Carolyn reveals all the secrets to living an earth-friendly lifestyle while refusing to compromise on style or glamour. Discover 5 easy steps to saving the Earth: In your wardrobe, on your face, in your home and in the world around you. Where else could you learn how to rustle up your own designer gown in minutes – AND make a handbag out of a tank top?  

Click here to order Greenies in Stilettos from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

We must address our burgeoning waste problem. Urgently! The very basics of what we require – fresh air, clean water, and the ability to grow food – rely on an interconnected web of natural systems all regulating our planet’s climate and making life on Earth possible. When you envision a near future of some eight billion people all seeking a higher standard of living; the elimination of waste, preserving natural resources, dignifying lives and reducing environmental pressure are all essential to our existence.

8.  Whom do you most admire and why?

My mum was so ahead of her time. Her example taught me how to look at life’s potential hurdles more creatively: from piling her four kids, a temperamental old stroller and her brown vinyl shopping trolley on two buses and a long walk to the nearest library – to memories of her cutting up one of her favourite skirts to make a dress for me. She would travel far and wide to buy fresh produce that was – not only free of pesticides – but supporting the local growers in our area. This was in the midst of the taffeta-clad, spray-everything-that-moves-with-CFCs 80’s. What a woman! I learned, from watching her, when faced with obstacles we either find solutions, or excuses.

9.  Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To save the world. And show others how easy it is too.

 10.  What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Just start. Get all the words down as they come to you. Don’t worry about editing as you go. If you need to get some discipline in your writing, start a ticking timer next to you – set for twenty minute bursts. There’s nothing quite like a ticking clock to get the words out of your head and onto paper. Read and read, and read some more, for inspiration – but when you write, always be yourself. In fact, regardless of what you do, always be yourself – because everyone else is taken.

Carolyn, thank you for playing.

You’re welcome. Here – have an indoor plant to take home with you. Every room needs one to clean the air. Seriously!

Click here to order Greenies in Stilettos from Booktopia,
Australia’s No. 1 Online Book Shop

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Our lives are driven by a fact that most of us can’t name and don’t understand. It defines who our friends and lovers are, which careers we choose, and whether we blush when we’re embarrassed.

That fact is whether we’re an introvert or an extrovert, the introvert/extrovert divide is the most fundamental dimension of personality. And at least a third of us are on the introverted side. Some of the world’s most talented people are introverts. Without them we wouldn’t have the Apple computer, the theory of relativity and Van Gogh’s sunflowers.

Yet extroverts have taken over. Shyness, sensitivity and seriousness are often seen as being negative. Introverts feel reproached for being the way they are.

In Quiet, Susan Cain shows how the brain chemistry of introverts and extroverts differs, and how society misunderstands and undervalues introverts. She gives introverts the tools to better understand themselves and take full advantage of their strengths.

Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with real stories, Quiet will permanently change how we see introverts – and how you see yourself.

Click here to order Quiet from Booktopia

Quiet is a startling, important and readable page-turner that will make quiet people see themselves in a whole new light.’ Naomi Wolf, author of The Beauty Myth

‘Happiness is…… Quiet, an extraordinary book that will change forever the way society views introverts. Superbly researched and deeply insightful, Quiet is an indispensable resource for anyone who wants to understand the gifts of the introverted half of the population.’ Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project

Quiet legitimizes and even celebrates the ‘niche’ that represents half the people in the world. Think Malcolm Gladwell for people who don’t take themselves too seriously. Mark my words, this book will be a bestseller.’ Guy Kawasaki, author of Enchantment

‘Once in a blue moon, a book comes along that gives us startling new insights. Quiet is that book: part page-turner, part cutting-edge science, it will change the way you see yourself, other people, and the world.’ Adam Grant, the Wharton School of Business

An intriguing and potentially life-altering examination of the human psyche that is sure to benefit both introverts and extroverts alike.’ Kirkus Reviews

‘Gentle is powerful, and solitude is socially productive. These important counterintuitive ideas are among the many reasons to take Quiet to a quiet corner and absorb its brilliant, thought-provoking message.’ Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School, and author of Confidence

‘Those who value a quiet, reflective life will feel a burden lifting from their shoulders as they read Susan Cain’s eloquent and well documented paean to introversion.’ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow

‘An elegant and powerful plea for introversion. Quiet will open up a new and different conversation on how we need to empower the legions of people who are disposed to be quiet, reflective and sensitive.’ Brian Little, Cambridge University

Rhonda Hetzel, author of Down to Earth: A Guide to Simple Living, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Rhonda Hetzel

author of Down to Earth: A Guide to Simple Living

Ten Terrifying Questions

 ————————-

1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

The first of our family came to Australia as convicts in 1799. My father’s family lived in Queensland, my mother’s family were in NSW. I was born and raised Sydney, went to a convent girl’s school in Enfield and left Sydney to travel in the mid-1970s.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty?

I don’t have clear memories of certain ages. I wanted to be a doctor when I was younger but university was expensive and my parents couldn’t afford to send me there. I have been a writer all my life but I don’t remember thinking about writing as a career until I was about 40.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

At 18, all my beliefs were strongly held and I’m pretty sure I would have been a real pain. I remember loving music then and hating football. But maybe the strongest urge for me was to shop and be fashionable. Now I rarely shop and I’m about as far removed from fashion as is possible.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

I think my reading was influenced a lot by my mother and her sister. Mum always bought books and magazines for my sister and me and encouraged us to go to the library. My aunty gave us books for our birthdays and at Christmas. I still have some of them.

I was strongly influenced by reading Ulysses about 25 years ago. It showed me that language is beautiful and always changing.

But I guess what moved me towards writing more than anything else, was gaining an Arts Degree in my late 40s. I majored in Literature, Journalism and Communication. Overall though, I don’t believe a writer can be taught. I think you can learn the technicalities of writing but I believe a creative force is within you when you’re born, and is nurtured by your circumstances as you age.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

My book is based on my blog and I wrote it because I was approached by Penguin and asked if I was interested in writing a book. Naturally I said yes. Who wouldn’t say yes to Penguin? And no, it’s still a wonderful thing to hold a book in your hands.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

It’s called Down to Earth – a guide to simple living. It’s a practical guide to moving away from rampant consumerism and towards a simpler life. There are many pages full of information about growing vegetables, cooking from scratch, developing routines, home maintenance, looking after what you own, paying off debt, making soap and ginger beer and many other things. It also contains some of our story and I hope that is what will motivate readers to make their own changes and believe they too can live an enriched simple life.

Click here to buy Down to Earth from Booktopia, Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

I would like to see every credit card buried six feet under. I know that’s not realistic but at the very least, I’d like readers to think about only buying what they can pay for in cash.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

Paul Keating. I love his strength of character, that he has strong beliefs and a sharp intelligence.

9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

My goal is to see my grandchildren grow to be strong and resilient adults.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read, and write every day. Develop your own style and don’t be afraid to take chances.

Rhonda, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Down to Earth from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

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