Category Archives: My Library

National Library of Australia…blah

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am a bibliophile.

I love books, I love book stores and I love libraries.

So, of course, when visiting Canberra we had to visit the National Library of Australia.

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In hindsight, I shouldn’t have bothered.

Now, first, let me show you the Library of Congress in Washington that I totally fell in love with.

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Isn’t that building gorgeous?!!

Now, hold on, you haven’t even seen inside yet.

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Pick up your jaw because it gets better.

Check out the reading room! And see those books through the arches.

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Now, check out Australia’s National Library.

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This place has been described as “stunningly beautiful”.

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Clearly, I have a different idea of what ‘beauty’ is.

No, it’s no better inside.

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And you don’t even get to see the books!

They are hidden away in the stacks underground.

And a quick google will reveal that even the stacks are ugly.

The only beautiful thing about this library was its books, artifacts

and bookstore.

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Very disappointed Australia.

But, we’d turned up for their guided tour of the Treasures exhibition

so we hung around

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to meet our guide and see if things would improve.

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They did…a smidge.

We were led into a relatively small area

filled with a handful of precious treasures

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…and they were treasures

so our time wasn’t completely wasted.

We saw Captain Cook’s portable desk.

It’s where he would have written his letters, journals and ship’s logs.

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We saw a map of Australia (then called ‘New Holland’) from 1659.

It’s the first to contain bits of Tasmania.

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We saw Arthur Bowes Smyth’s journal from the First Fleet.

(He was a surgeon on the female convicts’ transport ship.)

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We saw William Bligh’s notebook from 1789.

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It records the journey he was forced to undertake

after his crew mutinied and put him and his loyal crew overboard in a boat to fend for themselves.

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We saw lots of gorgeous paintings.

This one is of Hobart in 1857.

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I was particularly interested in these Aboriginal breastplates, also called King Plates.

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I’d seen them before but thought they were some kind of mockery or punishment

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but seemingly they were bestowed as rewards to Aborigines who had helped colonists.

We saw lots of these breastplates on our holidays.

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The most bizarre thing we saw in the exhibition

was Beethoven’s life mask.

No, not a ‘death’ mask.

This mask was made while Beethoven was alive.

Isn’t it interesting what you can find in an Australian exhibition.

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So that was our visit to the National Library of Australia

…and, yes, I did buy some books in their bookstore.

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Posted by on December 1, 2018 in Australian Holiday, My Library


A-Z of Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land

This past week, we read an amazing book called,

“A-Z of Convicts in Van Diemen’s Land”.

It was about Tasmania’s convict history

and it was fascinating.

It was also gorgeously illustrated

and well deserved its book award.


Brace yourself for the size of this book though.

It’s HUGE and will be a challenge for any bookshelf.

But, don’t let the size deter you from buying it.

The size enhances the amazing illustrations.


Check out the attention to detail in this book.

It’s truly impressive.

There are lots of these ‘cut-out’ type illustrations

and you could pore over them for ages.

I did!


There’s also a lot of historical detail in the book.

I learned so many new things.

But, as well as information about the convict period in Tasmania,

there’s information about specific characters too, both convicts and free people.


Over the years, we’ve read a lot of books about Australia’s early history,

and I think this is one of the best in terms of illustrations and information.

However, it’s not the easiest book to read aloud and the text isn’t very detailed,

but, I still rank this title as a great book.

Perhaps not a living book, according to Charlotte Mason’s definition,

but, if illustrations could be ‘living’, then this book would definitely be a living book.


I highly recommend it.

It has been perfect for preparing us for our trip to Hobart.


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Posted by on August 26, 2018 in History, My Library


What We’re Reading and Viewing

How should one start a post about books?

Obviously…with a photo of a box of books.

This box got somewhat lost.

It took six weeks to find its way to my place

but it finally arrived…thankfully.

What was in it?


Well, a sticker book for my nieces to play with at my brother’s wedding.

No, it didn’t arrive in time.  😦

I also got Robin McKinley’s book, “Shadow”.

I’d hoped to take this one to Adelaide with me.

Nope, that also didn’t happen, since it was travelling all around the country without me.

I also picked up two books from my wishlist –

Sylvie Well’s “My Guardian Angel” and “Elvina’s Mirror”.

These books are about the plight of the Jews at the hands of the Crusaders.

This story sounds intriguing.

I also bought the Emily books, written by L.M. Montgomery, the author of Anne of Green Gables.

Have you read them?

I’ve read and LOVED the Anne books but never read Emily’s story

so I plan on fixing that.

And, finally,

(yes it was a big order – the last before our government added even more taxes to our lives)

I bought Dante’s “Inferno” and a book to help me understand it, “A Beginner’s Guide to Dante’s Divine Comedy”.

I chose Anthony Esolen’s translation after looking through different translations and finding Esolen’s to be my favourite.

I’m enjoying Inferno more than I imagined that I would.

You should definitely try it if you haven’t already.


Okay, time to talk about the books we’ve read.

Recently, we finished reading “Leaving Glorytown: One Boy’s Struggle Under Castro”.

This book was really eye-opening.

It’s the true story of the author’s childhood in Cuba under Castro’s oppressive regime.

Do you know anything about Cuba under Castro’s Communist government?

I knew virtually nothing before this book.


We also read about Carl Linnaeus, the guy who organised the system of classification that we use for plants and animals.

We started with this darling picture book, “Karl, Get Out of the Garden”.

(Picture books are a great way of getting a quick overview of a topic.)

Then, we read one of the Great Minds of Science books on Linnaeus.

It’s a fascinating story.  Imagine renaming every plant and animal on Earth!

This story will also help you remember the order of all those phylums, genuses and kingdoms.


We’ve also been reading about Australia’s Democratic System

in preparation for a trip to Canberra.

This (pictured below) was a great overview of our system.


Since we’re heading to a performance of Hamlet in a couple of weeks,

we also read a children’s edition of the play.

If you are looking for a great illustrated version,

get this one by Bruce Coville.

In fact, all of the Bruce Coville Shakespeare’s books are fantastic.


After reading the abridged story, we watched several Hamlet movies.

(The Mel Gibson version will always be my favourite.)

We also watched “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”

as we’re seeing a performance of that as well.

Have you read or see this play?

All I can say is that I hope the play is better than the movie.

Tom Stoppard should have left Shakespeare’s play alone.

He totally massacred a classic

and we didn’t find it funny at all.


Last week, we also watched a movie version of the Eureka Stockade.

This dvd was great.  It was an old black and white classic.

The older movies are always better history teachers.

They focus on history rather than turning everything into some sort of love story.


The other week I bought the newly published book, “Mephisto”

We have been waiting for ages for this book.

Well, not exactly this book.

We didn’t know that it was in the works.

We have just always wanted a book with further information about the Mephisto.

We have a little museum guide and that has had to suffice up until now.

Oh, sorry, you might not know what the Mephisto is.

It’s a WW1 German tank that was disabled and taken as a souvenir by Australian soldiers.

It’s also the only WW1 German tank left in the world

and it’s housed at the Brisbane Museum, when it’s not off travelling.


Currently, we’re working through Ken Burn’s “The West” dvd series.

I really like Ken Burn’s documentaries,

although the boys are finding this series a little dry.


Hmmm…I wonder what the postman will bring me this week

and what’s ready to pick up from the library.


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Posted by on August 12, 2018 in My Library


Wondering about the State of Children’s Literature…


Wonder no more!

(These were all found in the one store.  I didn’t even have to try hard to find them.)

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Posted by on February 3, 2018 in My Library