Thursday, September 25, 2008

What to read???

Fellow bookaholics can probably relate to the nagging sense of anxiety that I feel every time my pile of books to be read starts to dwindle and the prospect of having nothing to read starts to keep me awake at night ... another definition of insanity perhaps, considering that if I actually sat down and read all the unread books I've bought still lying around, it would probably take me at least until Christmas (not sure which year)!!!

Nevertheless I do like to plan ahead to avert such a possible (if unlikely) catastrophe and as a result start thinking about books I might like to get out of the library well ahead of time. Like me, when it comes to fiction, you probably have favourite authors who can always be reliably depended upon to come up with something unputdownable, to the extent that opening the first page of one of their unread novels and plunging in could almost be likened to the buzz produced by indulging in other more physical addictions!

Sometimes when I'm casting around looking for another "fix" I've thought I should be more adventurous and try authors I haven't previously read, or find books similar in style or story line to the ones I typically go for. This can be a long laborious process if it involves trolling through the library shelves or a good way to while away a few hours if it involves browsing a real or virtual bookstore (which can of course be fun but life is short), So I was really pleased to discover a great website recently that offers the facility to conduct this process for you.

It's called "Fantastic Fiction" and claims to have bibliographies for over 15,000 authors and information on over 250,000 books (so some of your faves have got to be in there). Everything and more you always wanted to know about fiction authors and their books is there, e.g. new and forthcoming hard and paperbacks, all their novels, non-fiction works, awards, what books the author recommends, where you can buy new, used and on Ebay, and if you go to a particular book, you can find a list of similar books by other authors!!! Bliss for bookaholics! Happy reading!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

My dear friend Ginny

I first met Ginny about 9 years ago when she was assigned as my "mentor" on my first day in my new job, and I couldn't have had a better one. She and I have subsequently become great friends and have shared some memorable times together. In one of these pictures we are at my 60th birthday party, with her gorgeous daughter Becky. She also came with me over to Geelong earlier this year when I finally graduated - she insisted on being present as she said she so admired my achievement in getting to the end of a gruelling few years of arduous study while working full time. It was a really special experience for me to have her there. Ginny is always the life of the party - could talk to a stone wall as someone once said, is bubbly, enthusiastic, happy and gregarious. She absolutely adores her two lovely children - Becky, who as I said is breathtakingly lovely and very smart too, and Matt - a tall, athletic and delightful young man - who is on his way to being a lawyer. Both kids are an absolute credit to Ginny, and they equally adore her.

Imagine the shock then when it was discovered in the last couple of weeks that Ginny has cancer. She is today in Sydney undergoing a very major operation, following which she will be subjected to extensive chemotherapy and radiation. Because of the location of the cancer, the surgery will be difficult, long and very invasive and she will need to undergo significant therapy and rehabilitation afterwards. The positive side is that she is still young, otherwise healthy, and has a wonderfully supportive family, a host of friends who love her and because she is a strong and courageous woman, has every chance of beating this.

It is still devastating though to think of this lovely, bubbly woman who has brought such laughter, fun and friendship into my life having to go through this ordeal. I am hoping and praying the surgery goes well and that she makes a successful recovery. Another reminder I suppose, as if we need any more, that life is precious and fragile and the health and vigour we take for granted today can be snatched from us at any moment.

Let's all make the absolute most of the benefits and gifts we have and always be on hand to lend our love, support and help to those of us who have heavy burdens to bear, like Ginny and her family do now.