Stories & Shout Outs #44

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My Week:

  • NSW has now enjoyed a week and a half of ‘learning-to-live-with-Covid’.
  • After 107 days of lockdown, we were all looking forward to some relaxation of the restrictions.
  • Our new Premier may have overestimated this mood though.
  • Many people I know, including me, are feeling very cautious and careful about this phase of opening up.
  • Even B21 and his friends have been restrained about heading back out there.
  • As of last weekend NSW is now 80% double vaxxed.
  • However this a city-centric figure – the regional areas will not be open for Sydneysiders to visit for a couple more weeks.
  • We are still wearing masks inside, but not outside.
  • We are meant to show our vaccination certificates any time we enter a shop or business that was not deemed ‘essential’ during lockdown.
  • I’ve only been inside one hairdressing salon, one dress shop and one pub so far.
  • The 5km rule is no more, so Mr Books and I spent a quiet weekend away at our home in the mountains…& painted the laundry.
  • At work, we’ve only had a couple of unpleasant encounters when asking customers to show their vaccinations certificates.
  • But I have spent A LOT of time helping our older customers navigate the apps on their phones that link their vax certificates to ‘wallets’ or the NSW services app.
  • I am astounded by the number of people who have no idea what is going on re opening up, what it means for them or what they might have to do to prepare for it.

What I’m Reading:

  • Fishing For Lightning: The Spark of Poetry | Sarah Holland-Batt
  • Griffith Review 68: Getting On | editor Ashley Hay
  • Signs and Wonders | Delia Falconer
  • Secrets of Women’s Healthy Ageing: Living Better, Living Longer | Cassandra Szoeke
  • Myself When Young | Henry Handel Richardson
  • Love and Virtue | Diana Reid

Read But Not Reviewed:

  • Scary Monsters | Michelle de Kretser
  • Beautiful World, Where Are You | Sally Rooney
  • A Room Made of Leaves | Kate Grenville
  • The Countess From Kirribilli | Joyce Morgan
  • Meditations | Marcus Aurelius & Gregory Hays
  • Fire Front: First Nations Poetry and Power Today | edited by Alison Whittaker


  • A family dinner in a swish restaurant in November…provided we can all agree on a date and find a venue not booked out already!


  • A friend’s wedding for the third time, as interstate guests are still not able to attend easily, & the bride’s sister lives interstate.

New to the Pile:

On the Blog:

  • Slowly updating my Author Challenge pages (see drop down menu under This Reading Life). The idea is to give each author their own page, instead of being lost in the long list of old.
  • As I edit & update older posts, any links that I have included to your (WordPress) blog may suddenly activate a pingback notification. Even on posts from many years ago. I apologise. Accept, or not, as you so desire. At least you now know why!

Shout Outs:

  • After the success of the #1926club, Kaggsy & Simon have announced the next club to be from the 18th-24th April 2022. We will be celebrating the #1954club. A quick glance reveals that I have already read quite a few books from 1954 – the trick will be to find something on my TBR sooner rather than later, so that I’m not left scrambling for something at the last minute like I usually do!
  • Last month I told you about my AusReading Month 2021 coming up in November as well as Cathy & Rebecca’s Novellas in November 2021.
  • To complete the November trifecta here are the details for Non-Fiction November.

Until next time, stay safe, and happy reading!

  • This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are this land’s first storytellers.

33 thoughts on “Stories & Shout Outs #44

  1. Busy last 10 days in October getting ready for the November trifecta!
    Aussie books (fiction and non-fiction) are sorted out ….but the novellas!
    Good to hear NSW is easing into normality
    Update:…biggest item in NL is the check of the QR-code which certifies vaccination. I haven’t needed to show the QR b/c it is only necessary in restaurant/cafe, musea and cinema/theater/concert halls. We still have pockets of infection in large cities (Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht) and of course our bible belt. Hospitals are cancelling surgeries (knee, hip etc) and waiting lists are growing. I never see masks anywhere….
    Returning to my books and feel the inspiration to write again….bubbling up…like molten lava!


    1. You’re putting me to shame Nancy!

      I have several half-written posts for AusReading Month, but I have not yet looked through my piles of books to see what I’ll be reading for each challenge.

      I am focused on finishing this week the four Australian non-fiction books I’ve had on the go for a while, so that will tick two challenges in one.

      As for Covid…we also have waiting lists growing longer and longer re elective surgeries. I know a podiatrist who has been seconded to help on the Covid wards of his hospital to turn patients. We still have over 600 Covid patients around Sydney, and that number is predicted to grow in the next few weeks as the opening up freedoms continue.

      Thank goodness my attention will be focused on three book challenges instead 😀


  2. We’re cautious too.
    We thought we might head for a restaurant, and then thought better of it. We’re having a BBQ with friends on Friday, and will catch up with the Offspring when we can find a date that he’s not working. (This is how it always is when he’s back at work!)
    French and Latin classes will be back to F2F in November.
    No other plans yet except for making the Xmas Pud on Cup Day as I always do.

    I’m curious to see that you have read but not reviewed the De Kretser. It was a major disappointment for me because I had high expectations. I’m sitting on my review while I mull over whether I’ve been too dismissive…


    1. Disappointment is not the word I would use as I haven’t read enough MdK to compare (Springtime: A Ghost Story & her literary companion on Shirley Hazzard are my only guides to her writing style). Bemused is probably a more accurate description for me.

      I have no idea how to review it though, so have been holding off until I listen/watch her Readings talk next week.

      Out of curiosity, which side did you start with – past or future?


      1. Do you remember when Richard Flanagan wrote that strange thriller The Unknown Terrorist? It was utterly unlike everything else he’d written and he did it because he want to reach beyond his usual readership with his political outrage. It was so heavy-handed that his usual readers didn’t know what to make of it. Scary Ghosts feels the same to me, Lyle’s story, that is. Satire with a sledgehammer, pouring scorn on complacent Australia.
        I’ve read all her books (except the Hazzard) and loved them except for The Lost Dog. There were moments of sarcasm and satire in them but the way she lets rip in Lyle’s story is a real departure.


            1. We can never know, because we cannot un-know what we know, but I think reading the unconcealed hostility to Australia in Lyle’s story first, would have compromised my reading of Lili’s,
              BTW I’m not going to re-read it to be sure, but am I right in thinking that Lili only socialises with other expats, and not with the French?


                1. That’s an on odd authorial choice to make, then. I mean, MdK is illustrating examples of casual racism in this part of the book, and yet she doesn’t show her character interacting much with the local French people, omitting them from the critique. Yet France is often severely criticised for its rejection of multiculturalism, especially in its treatment of Muslims, compared to Britain which has a multicultural policy as we do.


                  1. Which is maybe why her characters were only friends with other outsiders? But you’re right, it’s not clearly stated, or even obliquely, that that’s the reason why their friendship group is like that. I only recall a couple of references to Algiers and the Holocaust. (I’ve given my copy to a friend already so cannot fact check either. Like you, she has read almost everything MdK has written. I’ll let you know what she thinks.)

                    Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s interesting Lisa. Although I also found the environmental outrage that Flanagan threw out heavy handedly in his last book too much for my taste.

          I think at this point I can say that I found Lyle’s story obvious & Lili’s story obtuse. I’ve just given my copy to a dear friend, who like you, has read & loved all of de Kretser’s previous books. I’m keen to hear her opinion too.


    2. We went to a restaurant the first day. The same restaurant we went to the day we locked down! It was announced on Thursday, and we usually lunch on Friday, so on the spur of the moment we booked one of our favourite restaurants for lunch on the spot and got in. Everyone else was out shopping for toilet paper I think! Anyhow, we thought we started lockdown there, so we’ll end it there. We had not fear of being cautious because numbers in restaurants are very limited. Diners are very well spaced, staff and chefs wear masks. I suppose for us, we have the added benefit of having only a small number of cases, relatively speaking. We are thinking carefully about Melbourne travel plans. We hope the numbers will be much lower by Xmas.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s strange when things start to open up. It feels like everything is back to normal here in NI but we are still being quite cautious. I have an Australian novella lined up for next month so I can take part 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you found a book to fit both challenges 🙂

      How are your hospitals coping now? I see NI had about 9000 new cases this week, but how many actually need to be hospitalised from that number I wonder?


  4. All I can say from over here is Covid? What Covid? Apparently we’re not letting any foreigners in for a few more months so that we can have an old fashioned Christmas and New Year. Good theory!
    Without looking stuff up, 1954 is the year Miles Franklin died, may also be the year Cockatoos was published (too late now, but why didn’t I think of Gyang Gyang and Cockatoos for Whispering Gums?)
    Can’t wait for your opinion of Beautiful World


    1. Gyang Gyang was published in 1956 posthumously (which I read for the #1956club last year) but Cockatoos is definitely 1954 and is my main contender.

      I just have the two non-Australian books to write up reviews for by the end of this month, so I can then focus on all things Aust for November. I really enjoyed Beautiful World, just need to finish my thoughts on it….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. LOL. I’m usually pretty on top of new Australian releases, but this one somehow passed me by. I don’t get things sent to me for review, unless I specifically ask, and then most of the time they just ignore my requests. But I’ll add this to my wishlist. I might take a wander down to my local indie in town and see if they have it in stock.


  5. A bit late. Enjoyed your dot points on the opening up experience. I had coffee with some older friends last week, and most of them were struggling with getting their vaccination certificates into an easily accessible form, like their wallets. We are not linking to our check-in app as we are not generally making vaccination essential for attending businesses.

    Good luck with choosing a restaurant. We have started our now-2-person Friday lunch club, and are picking up favourite restaurants for each week. We’ve done two, and have booked the next three.

    My reading group did Griffith Review 68: Getting On and we loved it.

    Too many challenges in November but will do my best!


    1. The whole vax certificate linking to state services app is a curious thing if only a couple of states are doing it – a lot of time and effort for a short term thing? I notice that once it is linked, a QR code is generated. It made me wonder if this is what will be required to travel overseas again? But I couldn’t see any information on the website to indicate that this is what it would/could be used for going forward. Certainly Europe and Canada seem to moving ahead with some kind of QR coded vax passport for travellers to use. Interesting times as they say.

      We’ve looked at a few of the fancier restaurants for a special family treat and realise we may have left our run too late! Everything seems to be booked out until after Christmas!!


      1. Yes, I thought it was curious if on 1 December in NSW it was all going to open up to everyone (except in certain mandated workplaces where you don’t really use check-in)

        Maybe you can find a semi-fancy place? We have our Friday lunches booked three weeks ahead at the moment! And should do though the next month soon. Lunches, though, of course, are a little easier – until you get to December!


  6. Covid has really changed life for most of us. Here in Austria (where I am for the time being) you need a certificate to go to restaurants, museums etc. In Sweden (where I return next month) everything is open these days. There have been restrictions, but not so severe as in Australia for example.
    I am also thinking of re-design my website. I am thinking of doing a totally new web-site outside of blogger/wordpress. I am trying to get the hang of how to do that. Watching youtube (amazing how many skills are shared there) and reading about different way to approach. Let’s see what happens next year.
    Preparing for Nonfiction November which is a must. Have to make to with what I have brought with me, but will be back to my own TBR nonfiction shelves mid-month.
    Good luck with reading and updating your blog.


    1. Thanks for sharing the different restrictions and processes you’ve seen during your travels this summer.

      And wow! Hosting your own website – bravo!!
      Your Youtube comments brought a smile to my lips, as we use Youtube to help us sort out DIY projects around the house.


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