Literary Doorstops a.k.a Big Fat Books!

Although lots of people love to read particularly long books, (500 pages or more), other people find the idea to be a little daunting.   Is this because of the sheer size and weight of the book, which may result in aching arms from the strain of holding it? (This is easily fixed, just ask for an e-reader for Christmas).  Maybe it's the time commitment- considering that potentially 3 or 4 other books could have been read in the time taken to complete just this one book. Perhaps it's the possibility of being bored to tears by long-winded prose.
Literary doorstops, as these tomes are sometimes known, require commitment, patience and often a good memory. They can be an opportunity to get lost for a long time in vast and detailed worlds, enjoy more intricate plots and further developed characters. These books can also offer peace of mind, knowing it will be quite a while before the book ends, and you find yourself wondering what to read next.
With the holiday season fast approaching, now is the time to challenge yourself to read a long book, and give yourself the chance to enjoy not only a great story, but also a sense of achievement when you finish it. Go on, make the commitment. Remember all books, no matter what their number of pages, are read one page at a's well worth the effort with these suggested titles, all 500 pages or more.

Wolf Hall (and its award winning sequel Bring up the bodies-it's shorter, at just under 500 pages) by Hilary Mantel. Both of these historical  novels are Man Booker Award winners, well worth the time and effort to read.

The art of fielding by Chad Harbach. A  recently released debut novel of love, doubt and college baseball.

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. As Dickens 200th Anniversary draws to a close, finish the year of celebration by reading this novel. Then reward yourself with a short story for Christmas,  A Christmas Carol (it's only 86 pages).

Winter of the world by Ken Follett. This is the second book in the historical Century Trilogy.  If you haven't read it already, you might like to start with Fall of Giants, only 985 pages (in hardcover).

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. A movie version of this epic romance is due for release in February, 2013. Just enough time to have read the book before seeing the movie. If you are feeling like the ultimate challenge, try reading War and Peace.

The street sweeper by Australian author, Eliot Perlman. At more than 550 pages, it may look intimidating, but this is an epic read the publisher telling us it's "dealing with memory, love, guilt, heroism, the extremes of racism and unexpected kindness, spans the twentieth century to the present, and spans the globe from New York to Melbourne, Chicago to Auschwitz."

Jack of Diamonds by Bryce Courtenay. This was Bryce Courtenay's 21st, and last book. Enjoy 720 pages of the inspirational story of Jack Spaydes, a young man of considerable talents, finding his away in a perilous world.

To find more, simply type Literary doorstops into the search box of the Library Catalogue.

SMS Update

This morning many Sutherland Shire Libraries members will have received a number of SMS messages from us relating to items on reserve waiting to be collected.

If you did receive messages from the library you can disregard them. They will relate to material or items you have reserved in the past weeks or months.

You can check whether you do have items waiting to be collected currently by logging in to your account online. You will also have received an email or letter regarding the items for current reserves. If you have not received an email or letter you can assume the SMS messages relate to old reserves.

We apologise for this mix up.

How did it happen?

With the introduction of the new system for the library in June this year the way that notifications are handled has changed.  Whereas our previous system allowed members to receive notifications via postal mail or SMS, our new system allows a primary communication method of email or postal mail. SMS is an option, but it is only considered a supplementary notice and is sent in addition to an email or letter.

Until now the SMS notices have not been sent.  We have been working our vendor partners to introduce the option to receive the SMS messages but have been having difficulty getting our systems to work together to reliably, particularly with Telstra's mobile network. However, the ability to opt in to SMS notifications has been available on patron accounts for some time. Many members have logged in to their patron account and opted in to receive the SMS notifications when they become available.

Even though the notices were not being sent, anyone who has opted in would have been generating SMS messages for holds that were filled from the date they opted in, possibly weeks or months ago.  It appears these messages have been queued up and this morning the sending part was switched on, at which time all those messages were sent.

I'm not sure whether this is a good thing or not, but those members who are customers of Telstra did not get bombarded with SMS messages this morning. It appears the SMS notifications still aren't working with Telstra's network.

What should you do?

If the SMS messages don't bother you, don't do anything.  Just rely on email or letters to check on your reserves for now. You can safely ignore the SMS messages in the knowledge that you will also get an email or letter about current items being held for you.

If you don't want to receive the messages you can login to your account and opt out of the SMS notices.  We'll announce when we have the SMS functionality up and running reliably on this blog, Facebook and Twitter.  You can also check with staff whenever you visit one of the Shire Libraries. Once SMS notices are good to go you can opt in again.

Once again, we apologise for the confusion caused and hope that you will stick with us while we work on introducing the SMS functionality.  We appreciate your patience and wish to thank all our valued members for their ongoing support.
Sutherland Shire Libraries

Cry Babies

Don’t be a cry baby because The National Year of Reading, 2012 is almost over, its OK, you (and your children) can still keep reading! If you do feel like a good cry anyway, there are lots of childrens books which may bring tears to your eyes. (These are known as “onion effect” books). Remember, when you are reading, you might start crying because a book is so moving, so sad or because it is just so funny! You may even cry because you’ve finished a really good book and wanted to read more! Try reading some of the books listed below with your children, you might be surprised just how much you enjoy them too!
Before you get reading, check you have:
  • Tissues
  • Someone to read with (just in case your eyes well up with tears and you can't see properly to keep reading)
  • A book, of course! One that will make you cry, with sadness or laughter...
Sad Childrens Books
Nana upstairs and Nana downstairs, Written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola
 Charlottes Web by E.B White
 Just a dog by Michael Gerard Bauer
 The Little Prince by Joann Sfar; Translated by Sarah Ardizzone
 The velveteen rabbit by Margery Williams
 The giving tree by Shel Silverstein
 Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
 It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom you know. The books listed below are so funny you’ll be crying with laughter!

 Funny Childrens books
Round the twist series created by Paul Jennings
Lockie Leonard series by Tim Winton
Don’t call me Ishmael by Michael Gerard Bauer
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Wayside school series by Louis Sachard
Do you have another favourite tear jerker you would like to add to the list? Tell us about it in the comments!

 ( By Children's Library Staff in attendance at The National Year of Reading Unconference – Mission Impossible, 2012).

Crying over books

Have you ever found yourself nearly crying because you have finished a book (or the last of a series of books)? Do you find yourself remembering scenes and characters that have captured your heart and become quite real in your imagination?  Have you found yourself reading something where you dread getting to the last few pages of the book, because you just don’t want the story to end?  You may even feel unable to move on to read another book as you need to take some time to let go of your last read.

When a book is well written, it is as if the author has the power to weave a spell over you, enticing you further and further into a book, causing you to become emotionally invested with the story and characters.  Before you know it, the story ends, and you find yourself remembering scenes, characters and quotes from the book, feeling sad and bereft that you can no longer pick up this book and read more.  I guess this is one reason why series of books and fan fiction are so popular.

Have you ever found yourself fighting back tears, maybe even crying, as you mourn the death of a fictional character?  Do you find yourself imaging alternative scenarios where the character survives?  Although causing the demise of particular characters  is certainly an effective (and often convenient) ploy used by authors to draw the reader in,  it can be absolutely heart wrenching and so sad!

How easy for people to say it’s just a book, or it’s just a fictional character, they’re not real!  They just don’t understand.  Often these characters have become like friends, whom you can relate to, think and care about; albeit that they are friends that solely inhabit the pages of a book.

 It is a compliment to the authors that they have the ability to evoke such emotion with stories and characters created from their imagination, even if they do make us cry.   It is a comfort that at least we are able to re-read these stories, time and again, and for me, this is one of the reasons  I love  reading.

So next time you decide it’s time to re-visit these books, make sure you don’t forget your tissues!


NSW Premiers Literary Awards 2012

The shortlists for the Premier's Literary Awards and History awards have been announced at last! Now administered by the New South Wales State Library, the winners will be announced at a presentation dinner on 30th November. Next year, the Premier's Literary Awards will return to being announced at the Writers' Festival in May and the History Awards will revert to September.

The Christina Stead Prize for Fiction ($40,000)
All That I Am by Anna Funder.
Sarah Thornhill by Kate Grenville.
Five Bells by Gail Jones
The Life by Malcolm Knox.
 That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott
The Roving Party by Rohan Wilson
Commended:  Spirit House by Mark Dapin

Have your say about who you think should win the People's Choice Award, by voting for your favourite from the shortlist of the Christina Stead Prize.

The UTS Glenda Adams Award for New Writing ($5000)
 House of Sticks by Peggy Frew
 All That I Am by Anna Funder
 Past the Shallows by Favel Parret
Thrill Seekers by Edwina Shaw
Amateur Science of Love by Craig Sherborne
The Roving Party by Rohan Wilson

The Douglas Stewart Prize for Non-fiction ($40,000)
 Sydney by Delia Falconer.
 How to Make Gravy   by Paul Kelly.
 The Hall of Uselessness: Collected Essays by Simon Leys.
 An Eye for Eternity: The Life of Manning Clark  by Mark McKenna.
 Her Father's Daughter by Alice Pung.
The Many Worlds of RH Mathews: In Search of an Australian Anthropologist by Martin Thomas.

The Ethel Turner Prize for Young People's Literature ($30,000)
  A Straight Line to My Heart by Bill Condon.
 The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky.
 Act of Faith by Kelly Gardiner.
 The Dead I Know  by Scot Gardner.
Only Ever Always  by Penni Russon
 All I Ever Wanted  by Vikki Wakefield

The Patricia Wrightson Prize for Children’s Literature ($30,000)
 Crow Country by Kate Constable.
 Taj and the Great Camel Trek by Rosanne Hawke.
For All Creatures by Glenda Millard, illustrated by Rebecca Cool.
Maudie and Bear by Jan Ormerod; illustrated by Freya Blackwood.
 Angel Creek by Sally Rippin.
Bungawitta by Emily Rodda, illustrated by Craig Smith. 

The Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry ($30,000)
 Sly Mongoose by Ken Bolton.
Cow by Susan Hawthorne.
Southern Barbarians by John Mateer.
 Swallow by Claire Potter.
New and Selected Poems by Gig Ryan.
The Argument by Tracy Ryan.

The Play Award ($30,000)
Vanessa Bates, Porn.Cake. (Malthouse Theatre)
Angela Betzien, War Crimes (Regional Arts Victoria; Currency Press)
Lally Katz, Neighbourhood Watch (Belvoir Theatre Upstairs)
Verity Laughton, The Sweetest Thing (Arts Radar in association with B Sharp)
Joanna Murray-Smith, The Gift (Melbourne Theatre Company; Currency Press)
Lachlan Philpott, Silent Disco (Griffin Theatre with Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) and Hothouse Theatre; Currency Press)

The Scriptwriting Award ($30,000)
Peter Duncan, Rake (Episode 1): R v Murray (ABC TV)
Shaun Grant, Snowtown (Warp Films & Film Victoria)
Michelle Offen, East West 101: The Price of Salvation (Knapman Wyld Television)

The Community Relations Commission for a multicultural NSW Award ($20,000)
After Romulus by Raimond Gaita.
 Moving Stories by Alistair Thomson.
 Violin Lessons  by Arnold Zable.

You can view the NSW Premier's History Awards on the NSW State Library website.


 The Huffington Post published a post in May, 2012 called "Books that make you cry: Top ten tearjerkers", as selected by Tish Cohen and Harpers Collins Canada. Here's the list:

To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee
Charlotte's Web by E. B White
The Thorn Birds by Collen McCullough
My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Piccoult
Of mice and men by John Steinbeck
Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
The notebook by Nicholas Sparks
The diary of a young girl by Anne Frank

What do you think of  this list? Which books have made your eyes fill with tears (making the pages blurry and hard to read)?  Were they tears of happiness, sadness or overwhelming emotion, or because you were laughing so hard you cried? Share the books that made you cry in the comments.

National Year of Reading, 2012, November theme -Cry

Boo hoo, The National Year of Reading, 2012,  is nearly over. There’s no need to cry… except with joy, when you  realise  you don’t have to stop reading,  the National Year of Reading is just the beginning!
 This month the theme is cry. This doesn’t mean you have to be a misery guts. You can cry with joy, or you may find yourself  crying  with laughter because the article, book or blog  you are reading  is just so funny! You can cry tears of happiness when you read a happy ending, or find your eyes welling up because you are so moved by a story  of inspiration, achievement or success against the odds.   You may even cry because of the onions you are chopping up as you prepare that great new recipe  you have  just read (try wearing goggles next time, or put the onions in the refrigerator).  If you do want to be a misery guts, reading sad stories can be catharic. There’s nothing like a good cry, as you always feel better afterwards, don’t you think?

So grab a box of tissues, and start reading.