Love Your Bookshop Day

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Today is Love Your Bookshop Day across Australia, and as avid readers, Bec and I surely do love our bookshops. We probably love them a little too much, however, you can never have too many books. Just gazing at all the titles crammed into our bookshelves brings a sense of quietness to our overstressed souls. And it’s amazing how much enjoyment you can have trying different ways of rearranging the books, trying to squeeze just one more book on that shelf and making the most of every square centimetre of space.

There’s nothing like the feel of a new book in your hands. Or the smell of new pages. It’s almost as good as opening a new jar of coffee and breathing in that distinct caffeine aroma. E-books are okay for travelling or maybe to sample a new author – but they’re just not the same as a real book. Cuddling up in bed or collapsing into a beanbag with an iPad is just not quite the same.  Besides, you read differently off a page than you do off a screen.

Why read?

Readers often struggle with this question because for us, why not read? There are heaps of different reasons for reading, but here are some of my favourite reasons.

  1. To learn – about anything you like: history, science, art, sport, health ….
  2. To expand our horizons – experience a different culture, a different era
  3. To develop empathy – step inside someone else’s shoes
  4. To develop imagination – be inspired, take a new idea in a different direction
  5. To expand your vocabulary  – sometimes you do need to keep a dictionary alongside
  6. To develop critical thinking – we don’t always have to agree with an author
  7. To be inspired – the stories of others can give us hope in dark times
  8. To reduce stress – escape from the demands of life, even if just for a little while
  9. To help you sleep – reading from a page helps to calm your mind
  10. To save money – once you have the book, you can read it over and over and over again, for free!

Here in Toowoomba, you can buy books in a number of places, but our favourite bookshops are QBD (Queensland Book Depot) and Dymocks.

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Interestingly, QBD was originally started by the Uniting Church in the 1890’s and at one point had up to 50 stores across QLD.  Then from the 1990’s it was a family-owned business, until just a few years ago, expanding to have stores across Australia.

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Dymocks is another family-owned business, that started in Sydney in 1879 and is still the oldest Australian-owned bookstore. We still buy books online sometimes, but we love to take any opportunity to drop into QBD or Dymocks.

Love Your Bookshop Day is all about encouraging people to visit their local bookshop. There are some very good reasons for buying locally, apart from supporting writers which is always the best reason, and you can read about them here . Sometimes, when we think about our never-ending TBR lists, we try to impose a book buying ban upon ourselves – it’s difficult but sometimes we just have to do it. At those times we know that we have to stay right away from the bookshops. Just don’t go there because we know what will happen. We’ll stroll in through the entrance past the new release section and be instantly captivated by a shiny new cover, a book title recommended by any of the numerous book reviewers we follow or the latest title by any one of our favourite authors.

Today, on Love Your Bookshop Day, we are all invited to visit our local bookshop and hang out. Now, you don’t have to go today, but just remember to keep your local bookshop in mind as a place where you can go to discover a new friend. A friend that is  waiting for you to take it home, to read and love, and to reread, again and again.

Here are our most recent finds – some brand new ones and some old favourites.

Happy Reading!



Turning Points

On the weekend, we had the privilege of hearing Li Cunxin (Mao’s Last Dancer) speak at the University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) open day. Every year, USQ has an open day and it is a great opportunity for prospective students, especially country kids, to check out what courses are on offer and learn a bit about university life. As a regional university, USQ is the ideal place for country kids to study in a safe and supportive environment without having to face the big city. The theme for this year’s open day was “fearless”.

Li is an amazing and inspirational speaker. Most people, I guess, are familiar with his story. Born into utter poverty in Mao’s communist China, the sixth of seven sons, hardship and starvation marked his childhood and left an indelible imprint on his memory. However, his parents love and sacrifice gave Li hope and courage. One day, something happened that would change his life forever.


“One moment in life can transform your entire journey of life.”

Turning points are crucial. It can be the difference between following one path or taking another. There were a number of crucial turning points in Li’s life–the teacher who tapped the official’s shoulder and pointed to Li; the Russian ballet teacher who encouraged Li and inspired a love of ballet; and being selected to go to the United States as part of an exchange program. We can only wonder the path Li’s life might have taken, if any of these turning points had not happened.

We all have those moments in life which become crucial turning points. For me, there are at least two that are significant. The first was when my son, Dan, was diagnosed with autism, shortly before his third birthday. I hardly knew anything about autism, except for Rain Man, however it has taken me on a journey into a world I could never have imagined. It has made me stronger, more confident and resilient. I have learned to challenge assumptions and expectations, and advocate for Dan. I have discovered there are different ways of being, thinking and doing.

The second turning point in my life was when Rob, my first husband and father of my children, died suddenly of a heart attack. This is a story that I will tell you more about some other time, but it’s like they say:

“what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.”

Despite the hardship of Li’s early life, the brutal training at the Dance Academy in Beijing and the pain of separation from his family after defection, Li maintained that hardship, rather than easy success, can provide the most crucial moments. This is when you have to dig deep. This is when you discover who you really are and what matters most in life.

Li encouraged us to be fearless, to make the most of every little opportunity; to be positive and to make a difference in the lives of others. In the end,



“it is not how long you live your life, but how you live your life.”