Post Script: Raising Boys in the 21st Century – Steve Biddulph

Raising-Boys-in-the-21st-Century_ Steve Biddulph cover art

Raising Boys in the 21st Century

Steve Biddulph

Finch Publishing

ISBN: 9780648100898



First published in 1995, Raising Boys was an instant bestseller and to date has sold over a million copies worldwide. Few books have stayed in the hearts and minds of parents everywhere as much as Raising Boys. Now in an increasingly complicated and nuanced world, raising boys to become emotionally strong, kind and resilient men is even more important and relevant. In response to calls from parents around the world Steve Biddulph has completely updated and revised his seminal work to include all the latest international information and advice for parents on all the key issues of today such as :


Brain and hormonal development including latest findings on testostetrone

Transgender/gay/sexuality development

Boys and crying

Boys and ‘bad’ behaviour

Reading and communication

Countering the effects of porn

Steve says:

Right now, the world badly needs good men. Your boy can be one of those who grow up so much better, and help to heal the world. Thank you for joining the boy revolution. As the 21st century rolls on, it’s badly needed. Enjoy your boy, love him well, and set him free to fly in his own special way.’


My View:

This book just make such sense (and has the science and psychology) to back it.  This is not just a book about raising boys, it is a book about raising happy, openhearted, strong, resilient children.  This book is a boon to all parents, grandparents, carers, teachers and anyone who has social interaction with boys. Read, listen, grow.


Highlights From Day 1 of The Margaret River Readers & Writers Festival

Australian writers are awesome! Caring, genuine, generous, talented…I hope you get a chance to meet and listen to the personal stories of  some of these fabulous authors soon.   Though I didn’t have the stamina to sit it on every event I enjoyed the day immensely. Thank you all for making day one of the festival so memorable.




Goodreads Reading Challenge 2015

completed challenge


Congrats! You have read 200 books of a goal of 200!

Now that wasn’t so hard was it? It is the reviewing 200 books that is the hard work.


Post Script: I Call Myself A Feminist – The View From Twenty-Five Women Under Thirty – Edited by Victoria Pepe, Rachel Holmes, Amy Annette, Alice Stride, Martha Mosse

Cover I Call Myself A Feminist

I Call Myself A Feminist

Victoria Pepe (Ed, Rachel Holmes (Ed), Amy Annette (Ed), Martha Mosse (Ed), Alice Stride (Ed)

Hachette Australia


ISBN: 97803490065550




Is feminism still a dirty word? We asked twenty-five of the brightest, funniest, bravest young women what being a feminist in 2015 means to them.


We hear from Laura Bates (of the Everyday Sexism Project), Reni Eddo-Lodge (award-winning journalist and author), Yas Necati (an eighteen-year-old activist), Laura Pankhurst, great-great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst and an activist in her own right, comedian Sofie Hagen, engineer Naomi Mitchison and Louise O’Neill, author of the award-winning feminist Young Adult novel Only Ever Yours. Writing about a huge variety of subjects, we have Martha Mosse and Alice Stride on how they became feminists, Amy Annette addressing the body politic, Samira Shackle on having her eyes opened in a hostel for survivors of acid attacks in Islamabad, while Maysa Haque thinks about the way Islam has informed her feminism and Isabel Adomakoh Young insists that women don’t have to be perfect. There are twelve other performers, politicians and writers who include Jade Anouka, Emily Benn, Abigail Matson-Phippard, Hajar Wright and Jinan Younis.


Is the word feminist still to be shunned? Is feminism still thought of as anti-men rather than pro-human? Is this generation of feminists – outspoken, funny and focused – the best we’ve had for long while? Has the internet given them a voice and power previously unknown?


Rachel Holmes’ most recent book is Eleanor Marx: A Life; Victoria Pepe is a literary scout; Amy Annette is a comedy producer currently working on festivals including Latitude; Alice Stride works for Women’s Aid and Martha Mosse is a freelance producer and artist.



My View:

One of the best nonfiction reads of the year!


I call myself a feminist – quietly, carefully, almost fearfully… for conflict is not my middle name…well, ok, maybe… sometimes it is. I call myself a feminist – loudly, proudly and want to change the world, for the world to be so much better for everyone! The term feminism/feminist is still so conflicting; a dirty word, conjuring a stereotype (of women emasculating men) that instils a fear that manifests in many forms of violence, aggression and condescension against women who identify with this noun. It is only a word. Fear it not.


But I digress, this review is not about me or my views about feminism this book is about women’s experiences in a global world and why we need more feminists – if you doubt that need I implore you to read this book. If you agree that the world needs more feminists – read this book – you will not believe the amount of work that still needs to be done. If you consider yourself a humanitarian – read this book – humanitarian action/theology is feminist based. If you are parents of young children, read this book. If you teach/coordinate Women’s Studies at any level – why isn’t this book on your shelves and on your students’ book lists? Why wasn’t this book and the many discussions it solicits around when I was a student? This book is stimulating and eye opening and not elitist.


If you are the parents, family, friends or colleagues of the young people who have written the essays for this collection – be proud!


Back to the book….I feel deeply saddened that there exists and is a real need for something called an ASF – ( The Acid Survivors Foundation,) the ASF “is the only centre in Pakistan dedicated to the treatment and rehabilitation of victims of acid violence. The centre provides accommodation for victims while they receive medical, legal and psychological support… Acid violence is exactly what the name suggests: it involves a corrosive substance, usually sulphuric acid, being thrown at a victim. It takes seconds to carry out an attack, but can cause permanent disability, as well as disfigurement and excruciating pain. Skin melts, muscles fuse together, vision is lost…It is an astonishingly brutal crime that strikes at the very identity of the victim…for the most part, it is a gender based violence. As such it is more prevalent in countries where women are disenfranchised: not just Pakistan but also India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Colombia, Vietnam and Cambodia. ”pps 104-105. “ You ask why we still need feminism. I roll my eyes.


If you pick up this book (and you really should) if you read nothing else read the chapter titled “Staring at the Ceiling: It’s Not Always As Simple As Yes Or No” by Abigail Matson- Phippard. It is interesting and concerning to read that these type of experiences have not changed with the generations. Matson-Phippard articulately opens a discussion that needs to be had, makes room for voices that need to be heard, bravo! (And need I say this particularly chapter struck a chord with me, mirrored experiences and emotions I thought only related to me as a young woman growing up in the 70’s…) Abigail Matson-Phippard’s level of introspection and articulation in enviable.


Read on and you will discover many other examples of why feminism needs to make itself heard (again) and the philosophy embraced (strongly) – by men and women alike. There is something here that will speak to everyone in this wonderful collection of views.


One of the best nonfiction reads of the year!


Post Script: The Life Of I – Anne Manne

Cover The Life Of I

The Life of I (Updated Edition)

The New Culture of Narcissism

Anne Manne

Melbourne University Publishing


ISBN: 9780522868975



Far from being the work of a madman, Anders Breivik’s murderous rampage in Norway was the action of an extreme narcissist. As the dead lay around him, he held up a finger asking for a Band-Aid.

Written with the pace of a psychological thriller, The Life of I is a compelling account of the rise of narcissism in individuals and society. Manne examines the Lance Armstrong doping scandal and the alarming rise of sexual assaults in sport and the military, as well as the vengeful killings of Elliot Rodger in California. She looks at narcissism in the pursuit of fame and our obsession with ‘making it’. She goes beyond the usual suspects of social media and celebrity culture to the deeper root of the issue: how a new narcissistic character-type is being fuelled by a cult of the self and the pursuit of wealth in a hypercompetitive consumer society.

The Life of I also offers insights from the latest work in psychology, looking at how narcissism develops. But Manne also shows that there is an alternative: how to transcend narcissism, to be fully alive to the presence of others; how to create a world where love and care are no longer turned inward.


Anne Manne is a Melbourne writer. She has been a regular columnist for the Australian and the Age. More recently her essays on contemporary culture such as child abuse, pornography, gendercide and disability have all appeared in The Monthly magazine. Her essay ‘Ebony: The Girl in the Room’, was included in The Best Australian Essays: A Ten-Year Collection. He book, Motherhood: How Should We Care for Our Children?, was a finalist in the Walkley Award for Best Non-Fiction Book of 2006. She has written a Quarterly Essay, ‘Love and Money; the Family and the Free Market’, and a memoir, So This Is Life: Scenes from a Country Childhood.



My View:

This is a very interesting and easy to read and absorbing discussion on narcissism and the narcissistic personality that involves contemporary high profile examples to demonstrate the actual ways (and potential for) narcissists to interact with the world and society.

I am sure we have all come across some of the behaviours on the lower end of the scale – the bully at work (yes I have met a few), cases of domestic violence (there are plenty of examples here), the precocious, the self-centred, those with imagined slights ; angry and vengeful. Are there more of these type personalities about or in this age of social media conscious, are we just more aware?


I was fascinated by the examples in this book – Anders Breivik, Lance Armstrong…and then as I was reading another high school shooting massacre in the USA appears on my news feed, such sadness fills my heart.


This is a book we should all be reading.


My View:






Day Two Margaret River Readers And Writers Festival 2015

An extra special program it was today! So much talent in the town of Margaret River! And so much more still to come.

For the young and the young at heart  the much respected and adored author John Marsden spoke about his amazingly popular Tomorrow series and Ellie chronicles and writing in general .

Writer, comedian and cancer survivor Luke Ryan  discussed his book  ” A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Chemo”. This is how Luke describe his book: “It’s a comic memoir about cancer and family and growing up sick and dating while bald and partying on chemo and freezing my sperm and a whole lot more.” If this book sounds like something you might enjoy reading click here to read an introduction to Luke’s novel.

A panel consisting of award winning poet Nandi Chinna and the winner of the Margaret River Short Story Competition 2015, Melanie Napthine and the winner of the SouthWest writer category Carol McDowall read excepts from their works and discussed writing short form prose. Hearing a writer read their own words to you adds so much to the experience.

Margaret River Readers & writers Fest 2015 short prose panel

Then we were privileged to hear writer/comedian and migrant Sami Shah talk bout his former life in Pakistan, his introduction to Australian culture (kangaroos, meat pies and regional country towns.)  This was a poignant tale that Sami delivered with an inflection of humour and humility. Bravo!

sami shah and steve butler

Then we moved on to an inspiring discussion about writing, rural fiction/romance, life in country towns with author Fiona Palmer. A member of the audience offered to read to the audience the first chapter of Fiona’s new book The Saddler Boys– what a unique experience.


The final session was with crime author Robert Gott.  What a great way to end the day talking all things crime fiction, Maryborough QLD and his cartoon The Adventures of Naked Man. What a multi talented person Robert Gott is!


And on  that note I must leave you – I am exhausted and there is a another big day tomorrow to look forward to .

Good night.





Post Script: The Art Of Belonging – Hugh Mackay

“It’s not where you live but how you live.”

The Art of Belonging

The Art of Belonging

Hugh Mackay

Pan Macmillan Australia

ISBN: 9781742614250




The Art of Belonging advances the argument put forward in Mackay’s bestselling The Good Life: a ‘good life’ is not lived in isolation or in the pursuit of independent goals; a good life is lived at the heart of a thriving community, among people we trust, and within an environment of mutual respect. Drawing on 50 years’ experience as a social researcher, Mackay creates a fictional suburb, Southwood, and populates it with characters who – like most of us – struggle to reconcile their need to belong with their desire to live life on their own terms. He chronicles the numerous human interactions and inevitable conflicts that arise in a community when characters assert their own needs at the expense of others. Through a series of riveting, interconnected stories, Mackay reveals the beautiful symmetry of the human condition: we need communities, but communities also need us. His book is a quiet but persuasive entreaty to readers to take responsibility for the places where they live by engaging, volunteering, joining up and joining in.

The Art of Belonging is the book that will reignite the conversation about how we want to live; it will provide the framework for those who argue for a particular vision of community, one that sustains, protects and nurtures the many, and not just the few.



My View:


In this very accessible narrative (Mackay uses life in a pseudo town called Southwood to make his points), we experience many “aha”moments that accompanies much nodding of the head in agreement as we read along and discover social analysis that is so relevant to how we lead our lives today. Mackay talks about how we make communities, the benefits to those engaged in communities and how society and humanity is shaped by community relationships.


It isn’t difficult to make “community” a positive experience, “when we take each other seriously and treat each other with kindness and courtesy, the suburban miracle – the township miracle, the village miracle – happens, over and over again. At the very least, we manage to live at peace with each other. Quite often we do much better than that.” (p.49) Simple words that make real sense and Mackay shows us how this can be achieved through very real interactions at a street level.


This book is full of practical advice that town planners, CEO’s, schools…individuals can take on board. Mackay makes an interesting point about herding behavior (p.65) that can could make the difference between success and failure of your next committee/workplace/community meeting: “we humans are by nature herd animals, and the long history of human civilization tells us that we are most comfortable in herds of between five and eight people. Below five, social energy is harder to generate; above eight, the dynamic changes and it becomes a more formal setting that’s less intimate and potentially more inhibiting for some members of the group.” Makes perfect sense to me…I nod my head again in agreement as I read this… I can see the implications all around me, it can apply to book groups, committees, dinner parties, study groups…the benefits in terms of positive outcomes and of inclusion is obvious and a small change like consciously deciding on numbers when setting up a group can make a big impact.


This is a great read, the language is clear and accessible, the examples easy to relate to. Wave to your neighbour as you leave home today, say “good morning” “how are you doing?” to the postie or the petrol station attendant, the checkout operator, the book seller, your teachers, your colleagues…and watch the world around you slowly change.