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June 28, 2017

Book Review: 'Left of the Bang', By Claire Lowdon

Published in 2015, ‘Left of the Bang’ is a contemporary novel about the lives of young adults living in London. Told in third person narration, the story focuses on Tamsin and her relationship with her boyfriend Callum. Surrounding this central relationship is a series of sub-plots that provides a thorough look at the complexities of a generation. Big themes are tackled in this book: sexuality, adultery, modern family life, war in a contemporary setting.

 
Tamsin is not the most likeable character, in fact she’s quite unlikeable; what keeps you hooked is the rawness of the writing. There is no censorship to what these characters say and do, and it is refreshing to see such an extremely honest portrayal, for better or for worse.
Left of the bang is a military term that describes the lead-up to an explosion. This idea is reminiscent in the novel as events slowly reveal themselves and reveal what is to come.

Reserve a copy here.

June 08, 2017

Movie Club - 'Nebraska'


Set in the American mid-west, Woody is an alcoholic retiree who thinks he has won $1 million dollars in a sweepstakes prize. Woody becomes convinced he must walk from Montana to Nebraska to collect his winnings in person. He is slow and fragile; only with the help of his nice-guy son, David, does he manage to begin his journey.

Along the way Woody and David visit relatives. The characters which turn up here (including Woody’s wife and other son Ross, as well as two cousins) seem simple, however, as the film develops it is evident there is a complex undercurrent occurring. Woody’s extended family believes he has actually won a million dollars. It is through these peripheral characters that sit on the edge of Woody’s life that we piece together the man Woody once was.
 
 
Nominated for six Academy Awards and a Palme d’Or, Nebraska is a film that ultimately instils a quiet sense of greatness through character and a strong sense of place. The Midwest is highlighted for its bleak bareness and it is beautiful. Characters are revealed slowly, so that by the end of the film we know them as people in our own lives.

The Movie Club will be screening 'Nebraska' on Wednesday 14 June, 6pm sharp at Narellan Library. Tea, coffee and biscuits provided, BYO snacks are more than welcome. Stay after the screening for a short discussion about the film. See the discussion questions to get some ideas.

May 18, 2017

Book Review: 'Sitting still like a frog: mindfulness exercises for kids (and their parents)' By Eline Snel.


Mindfulness is about being present; it focuses on breathing, relaxing, paying attention. In this sense, mindfulness is becoming a powerful tool to support mental health. This book discusses a variety of ways that mindfulness benefits kids and their parents, as well as providing short and easy activities to help parents guide and assist children.  

Author, Eline Snel, is a therapist that has spent the last 20 years working on mindfulness programs for kids. Snel also draws upon personal experiences raising her own children, and how mindfulness worked for her situation. In this way, the book is very open and sharing, providing personal experiences that support the exercises.

The book explains what mindfulness is in an easy to understand tone. The strategies provided will help kids to learn to be more calm and focused, fall asleep, manage anger and other difficult feelings, and become more aware of what’s going on around them. There is a CD in the book that will help to complete the exercises.  
Reserve a copy here.

May 08, 2017

Movie Club - 'The Usual Suspects'


When a man by the name of Verbal is brought in for questioning, he tells an almost unbelievable story. Verbal recounts the story in flashback, of five criminals who meet in a police line-up who decide to band together to perform a vengeful heist, which leads them further into crime.
The Usual Suspects is an intricate film of intense, sometimes superfluous, editing that reveals a plot of mystery and revelations. It is part crime, part mystery part film-noir and relies on plot and post-editing to grip the viewer to the very end.
Full of violent twists, and the mysterious Keyser Soze, the film requires the viewer to watch closely, almost demanding it to be watched a second time over. However the acting is fluid, the plot crafted meticulously and the script witty.
The film won two Academy Awards, one of which was for ‘Best Original Screenplay’,  it also won two BAFTAs for ‘Best Original Screenplay’ and ‘Best Editing’. The film’s intense editing and intense plot will keep you on your toes.
The Movie Club will be screening 'The Usual Suspects' on Wednesday 10 May, 6pm sharp at Narellan Library. Tea, coffee and biscuits provided, BYO snacks are more than welcome. Stay after the screening for a short discussion about the film. See the discussion questions to get some ideas.

May 04, 2017

Book Review: 'The Little Book of Hygge' By Meik Wiking.


A small book full of big ideas, ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ is all about finding happiness and cosiness to support your wellbeing. Hygge is a Danish term that roughly means to create an atmosphere or sense of cosiness.
‘You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right’ (‘The Little Book of Hygge’, Meik Wiking).


Author, Meik Wiking, is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark, which is commonly known as the happiest country in the world. In his book, Meik shares the knowledge he has learnt about happiness. He believes the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ is the key to leading a happier life.
Full of interesting facts, including a Hygge Manifesto, the book covers everything from using lighting to create a more ‘hyggelig’ atmosphere, to the importance of hot drinks and pillows. However, it also discusses the integral role of family and friends and securing a good work/life balance.
Reserve a copy here.