Category Archives: Reviews

Book Reviews, Tech Savvy

What’s Your Dewey? 331 Careers – A future of your own design.

It’s the time of year when, across Australia, thousands of students will be leaving school and hitting the job market. It is also the time of year when many Australians are considering their employment options for 2018. Finding work is never easy, but finding meaningful work that adequately suits both your needs and desires is almost unattainable for many.

The Careers Handbook: The Graphic Guide to finding the perfect job for you, ed. Richard Gilbert is a great, all-round guide to working out what sort of careers are out there, what the pre-requisites for them are and if, in fact, they are suited to the job seeker. Although it is aimed at school-leavers, its currency, breadth of cover and ease of use is a great asset to any job hunter. 15 career categories are colour coded for easy identification and dealt with comprehensively. The book provides career paths in each industry and individual careers have a double page spread that include job description, skills guide and related careers. You can look inside here:

How to find work you love : the ethical careers guide
by Paul Allen 
aims to provide readers with the skills needed to approach finding that meaningful, perfect job. Organised as a stepped guide, the book helps readers identify their passions and understand their options in the current job market. Tips and advice from experts are included as are testimonials from those who have successfully found their perfect job. Although the book has a strong bias toward the UK work environment, the book is very easy to follow with a clean, attractive layout.
You can visit the website here:

What color is your parachute? : a practical manual for job-hunters and career-changers
by Richard N. Bolles 
is considered the #1 career search guide in the world, with over 10 million copies sold.  A very comprehensive title that includes practical exercises to assist job seekers in finding a suitable career. Anecdotally, the origin of the title is from a conversation where, in response to ‘I’m fed up with this job – I’m going to bail out?’,  Bolles replied ‘What color is your parachute?’  The first edition was published in 1970, and with each subsequent edition, Bolles has meticulously researched and updated all content. The latest edition is no exception, highlighting how the job market has changed in a digital world and how job seekers should aim to respond. The 2018 edition is likely the last by author Richard Bolles,who died  earlier this year aged 90.

Of course Dewey being an exacting classification tool, books on a multiplicity of careers will be found in the various Dewey subject areas: Actor or musician? Look to performing arts; Scientist or Doctor? You guessed it – the sciences. A great series that covers all of these diverse career options is You get paid for that?














Unusual and awesome jobs using... Science, or Technology, or Math or Sport are the current titles in this fascinating small series. Careers such as Cryptologist, Food Taster, Human Lie Detector and Roller Coaster Designer are just a few examples of some of the careers considered in this entertaining and informative series aimed at children and young teens.

Secretly…the  truth is, I got some inspiration as well… but then this is true of looking more closely at all of these guides. Clearly, it’s always time to re-evaluate and look outside the box when job hunting.


What’s Your Dewey? 920 Biographies – Not All About You!

 What makes one life more interesting than another? With the advent of social media allowing us all to tell our personal stories to the world at the touch of a screen, what would constitute a life worth reading about that a publisher would publish? At a glance, a look along the shelves at the 920s would suggest that only the famous (or infamous), lead lives worth reading about… and there are many biographies devoted to individual persons of note.
Historical figure Queen Victoria, for  example, has many titles devoted to her; Goodreads ( lists 65 of the best. Queen Victoria also kept a personal journal totaling over 120 volumes. So, why publish yet another book about her?


Victoria the queen : an intimate biography of the woman who ruled an empire by Julia Baird typically addresses all the known events and ideas surrounding the 64 year reign of this celebrated English monarch. However, well known Australian journalist Baird, brings a refreshingly new perspective on the life and times of the woman who overcame the prejudices of her time, to bring about social and political changes that help make the modern world.
 ‘Julia Baird’s exquisitely wrought and meticulously researched biography brushes the dusty myth off this extraordinary monarch… Overturning stereotypes, she rips this queen down to the studs and creates her anew.’ The New York Times
 A book worth a look at least.
In recent times, the lives of women have featured in many biographical works, and notably, books about women whose religious dedication has set them apart – Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa, St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, for example.
A Nun’s Story by Sister Agatha (co-writer Richard Newman) tells the story of wealthy English socialite Shirley Leach’s sudden and imperative impulse to forgo a life of luxury and become a nun.
The autobiography is divided into three sections: Privilege, Parties and Ponies – devoted to her early life in English Society; Poverty, Chastity and Obedience – on being a nun and member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (now the Companions of Jesus) and Life is a Paradox – conclusions and reflections. While there are some interesting insights into an era now gone, and sections of genuine humour and insight, the book tends to become more laboured in the writing later in the text, losing some of its initial attraction. The book does however, bring to light the profound ways in which our choices influence our lives.
 Choice is clearly a driving factor in the life of Uncle Lewis Yerloburka O’Brien in And the Clock Struck Thirteen as told by Mary-Anne Gale.

Uncle Lewis (a Kaurna elder) is the great, great Grandson of Kudnarto, the first Kaurna woman to legally marry a white man in South Australia. With the assistance of Mary-Anne Gale, Uncle Lewis tells his story from his early experiences as a mission child fostered to white carers, to his early career as a white man (because of his lighter skin) in the merchant Navy. He tells us of his decision to acknowledge his indigenous heritage and the ways it changed his life to become a Kaurna Elder. An insightful account of a modest man who is acknowledged for his contribution to increasing the number of Indigenous children to finish High School in South Australia.

 What drives individuals to make life-changing decisions is not usually the focus of the 920s but The Lonley City by Olivia Laing suggests that isolation, when surrounded by crowds of people, can potentially trigger unusual behaviour and therefore, outstanding life stories.
‘Loneliness is a special place, I’m certain of it: adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive’ (Olivia Laing). Part autobiographical and biographical, Laing uses her feelings of loneliness and isolation living in New York City, to investigate the way this translates into art and the lives of artists.
Her study into the lives and works of  Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, Henry Darger and David Wojnarowicz suggest an over-riding connectivity between the experiences of the artists, their art and their dislocation from the others in their lives.
 Connectivity is the key factor in the lives of YouTube stars danisnotonfire (aka Daniel Howell) and amazingphil (aka Phil Lester).
 The amazing book is not on fire: The world of Dan and Phil is a humorous, photo-journal account of the ordinary lives of these social media sensations. The book is a visual and textual experiment designed for dipping, browsing, extrapolating and interpreting. Although aimed at teens, the format allows for multiple audiences and gives an entertaining insight into fame in the modern media age.
Being a Picture Book, the format of This is Banjo Paterson by Tania McCartney and Christina Booth at first glance appears unsophisticated and thus limited.
Set against a backdrop of children playing in a modern-day back yard, Patterson’s life is told in the imaginings of the children’s play-acting. Through their re-enactment we learn about Barty’s early life on a bush farm and the origin of the name Banjo; of his move to Sydney to attend school and his interest in poetry and writing. We learn of his war experiences and work as a clerk, solicitor, vet and jockey. We share the modern day children’s journey through this biography with warm, inviting pastel illustrations demonstrating the things we all share with  all great lives. Take a look inside:
Of course biographies can also be found in Dewey subject specific areas – scientists under science, ecologists under environment, pop stars under music…  meaning, the 920s are by no means the end of biographies or autobiographies. The 920s are however, the easy go-to place if you like to read about the lives of others and these lives are as varied as lives can be. Oddly, they are also remarkably similar in many ways… perhaps, after all,  they are ‘All about you.’
 Nola Cavallaro


Loved to Death: A Photographer’s Tribute to Discarded Library Books


Books are treasured well beyond their pristine state. A new release from photographer Kerry Mansfield, celebrates the life and afterlife of books in her latest release, Expired.

Stamped “DISCARD” or “WITHDRAWN,” the books in Kerry Mansfield’s Expired have been exiled from the libraries where they were loved. There is something bittersweet about a library tome so well used that it has fallen to pieces, its tactile decay reflecting a collective act of reading. The new monograph from the San Francisco-based photographer features over 70 images of discarded library books, each posed against a black background for a post-withdrawal portrait.

“Each picture serves as an homage calling out palpable echoes etched into the pages by a margin-scrawled note, a yellowed coffee splatter or sticky peanut butter and jelly fingerprints,” writes Mansfield in a book essay. “It’s easy to feel a sense of abuse and loss, but they say much more. They show the evidence of everyone that has touched them, because they were well read, and often well-loved. They were not left on shelves, untouched.”

Mansfield frequently considers time in her photography. Aftermath responded to her diagnosis with breast cancer at the age of 31 with a series of self-portraits, while Threshold captures feathers dropping in front of her camera, a series created during a time of sleep deprivation. Expired also has a biographical connection for Mansfield, as she recalls how she spent “many lost afternoons hiding in the library nook” in elementary school. “The first rite of passage upon learning how to write one’s name was to inscribe it on a library checkout card promising the book’s safe journey and return,” she writes.

Expired includes its own checkout card inside the back cover — signed by the artist in an envelope stamped “EXPIRED.” Some of her photographs frame just these slips of paper chronicling readers with inked dates or names. One from The Giant Golden Book of Dogs, Cats, and Horses was check out by a kid named Kelli three times in a row between October and January (and then again in September and November). Yet as Mansfield notes, these cards are an “act of declaration that’s dissolving faster than we can see as cards are removed permanently and bar codes take their place.”

The dog-eared pages of To Kill a Mockingbird, a copy of Lad: A Dog that has a chunk missing from its cover (perhaps taken by canine teeth?), crayon scribbles on The Velveteen Rabbit, the broken spine of Treasure Island, and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame braced by tape, all recall the shared experience of library literature. Mansfield’s photographs give these imperfections a quiet dignity.

Source: Loved to Death: A Photographer’s Tribute to Discarded Library Books

A-Z Apps Series – News

The news, is not the civilised activity we used to participate in years ago.  We’d purchase a newspaper and read that or sit in front of the television or the radio at a set time and listen in.  But not anymore.  We are bombarded with ‘news’ constantly. Via social media, radio, television, print media etc. So what can we do to get the news we want to hear about?  How do you access the news?  What is the news for you?  Technology, sports, politics, local events or the social activities of the rich and famous?
Breaking NewsThere are many apps that will collate your news interests or just apps that deal with specific news information. Below we have listed a few you might find handy…
 Free to air television channels have created apps for viewers to watch their content ‘on demand’ wherever and whenever they like.  This will include their news broadcasts and in-depth investigative programs.  Most of these function on the premise that content will be available for a limited time to view then it will expire and become unavailable.  Most of these apps are available not just on smartphones that use Android and iOS, but also for smart tvs, tablet devices, desktop computers and media set top boxes.  The following list is for Australian channels.
NewspapersThen we have the print and online media channels like Facebook where almost every news outlet, regardless of how else they broadcast their news, has a ‘page’ that readers can ‘follow’ to get the news ‘hot off the press’ so to speak.  Print media apps usually are a collection of news articles and stories that you can access, sometimes for a subscription fee. Some of these can be tailored to your likes and interests so you get news geared especially for you.
News wordcloud pageSpeciality News Apps are plentiful and are usually created for specific subjects or followers like sports teams or codes, business, technology, traveling and Australian teams.

So, whether you’re an avid sports fan, globe trotter looking for inspiration or just want to catch up with the days events in your state or local area, there’s an app you can download to keep you informed.

What’s Your Dewey? 781 It’s All M.m.usic To My Ears…

Strictly speaking, 781 should get you books on the general principles of music and musical forms, but realistically, you will also find titles devoted to individual performers, bands and concerts. Being a bit of a purist, and genuinely interested on the assigned topic, I scanned the virtual shelves (the catalogue) to see what I could find.

The first title to attract my attention questioned my understanding of musical forms – I had always thought an audial relationship with music was intrinsic, and Air Guitar, A user’s guide by Bruno MacDonald did not strike me as a musical form. Perhaps it had something to say about the general principles of music?

Perhaps not. By way of introduction, the book states:  ‘Freddie Mercury did it. Hormone-addled adolescents do it. Grown men do it in the privacy of their own homes (and, sometimes, in dark public gatherings). There are even specialist computer games that encourage you to do it. It is air guitar.’ Clearly designed to attract attention,  what follows is more of a comic-style picture book than a serious attempt at discussing a musical form. The book is divided into three sections: Getting started, which includes basic accessories, (there are accessories?) and the Dos and Donts (…the general principles!);  Air Guitar Moves, which explains 12 moves including ‘The Hendrix’; and Going Pro, with ’50 fret fondling favourites’. The book is sparse on content, laid out like a storyboard complete with sketchy coloured line drawings…not exactly definitive but bound to attract the growing number of devotees.

Clearly, Air Guitar is part of the music scene. When looking at what else might be included as part of ‘the scene’, I came across a series of books aimed at teens and young adults called The Music Scene.








Matt Annis, author and journalist who has spent many years working within the music industry, has created this series of four titles that looks at the world of contemporary music. The Music Industry, The History of Modern Music, Music Fashion & Style and Performing Live, are easy to read and full of practical tips based on case studies featuring some of the world’s best known contemporary musical artists. Although slim, each title is packed with useful information. Published by Franklin Watts in 2012, the series is starting to date (as things quickly do in the pop industry) but many of the principles behind the how-to advice are relevant today.

Still on the hunt for titles on musical forms, Jazz : a beginner’s guide by Stuart Nicholson revived my hope that I am looking in the right place.

Like many, I have some preconceived (and potentially erroneous) ideas about what constitutes Jazz. A quick browse through this title, reassures me that Jazz is what I thought it to be, but also a lot more. Nicholson takes readers through Jazz early history in southern USA to modern jazz scenes around the world. He talks about the evolution of the word and concept that Jazz encompasses and the way that many listeners are predisposed to understanding it because of its close links to other mainstream forms such as blues, rock and roll and pop. The eleven chapters include The Blues, The American Popular Song, Rise of the Big Bands, Jazz Goes Modern  and Jazz in the Global Village. Each chapter is accompanied by a play list based on the form and style being discussed. You can take a peak inside here: Jazz-Beginners-Guide-Guides

Classical music is another form that has suffered from ‘bad press’ being labelled elitist and boring… but… What if it only took half a minute to better understand and appreciate what it is after all, the most freely available form of music: as background music, on the internet, in the media and used in some of our most famous jingles?

30-second classical music : the 50 most significant genres, composers and innovations, each explained in half a minute
edited by Joanne Cormac is one book that promises to deliver just that! In his forward, David Pickard says ‘The book proves that it is possible to be brief, succinct and insightful without being patronising or simplistic… every significant development [in the history of classical music] seems to be covered.’ In writing this book, Joanne Cormac’s aim is to dispel some of the myths surrounding classical music, to demystify some of the jargon and to open it up to a broader audience. The seven sections of the book take readers on a journey through the earliest instruments and monastic plainchant to the electronic music of modern composition. Each section has a glossary and the text is clearly laid out and nicely illustrated to encourage browsing and return visits. Not a book you have to consume in one sitting, but you could.
You can preview the book here: 30-Second-Classical-Music

There is always the danger when books try to simplify ideas and concepts that they will offend potential readers by ‘talking down’ to them. The  books ...for Dummies series makes no attempt to disguise the fact that they assume readers have little or no knowledge of the topic at hand. Music theory for dummies by Michael Pilhofer and Holly Day is no exception.

Like many titles in the series, the book takes readers back to the basics: Note values and counting, Treble and Bass clefs, Time signatures, Tempo and Tone, Key signatures, Scales and  chords are all included with Music theory’s history an added bonus that puts it all in perspective. The book is well structured and easy to follow. It provides examples of music to compliment the text, chord charts and audio examples on CD (piano and guitar). It also has a companion website that you can visit here:

Although not exactly a musical form, the music that consistently attracts audiences is music that includes a combination of voice and inspiring lyrics – collectively known as ‘songs’. 

First published in 2005, 1001 songs you must hear before you die edited by Robert Dimery has become one of the most popular musical go-to reference books, listing some of the world’s most famous popular songs beginning early 20th century. Each featured song title includes its unique backstory with illustrations, and is placed in context of time and musical influences (with similar genre-titles included). A range of music journalists have also contributed to the book. Although heavily biased toward music from the USA, the list includes titles in French, Spanish, Italian and German. An easy to browse book, that has been consistently updated with the latest release in 2016. You can also sample song titles based on the book online at: 

There is no doubt that music plays an important part in our lives. Neurologists, scientists, doctors and teachers agree that exposure to music at an early age has positive benefits for life: positive for early childhood development; for our schooling and education; for our health and well being and ultimately, for our longevity. Music therapy is increasingly being incorporated in medicine to assist with pain management, healing and recovery and mental and emotional resilience.

Music remembers me : connection and wellbeing in dementia
by Kirsty Beilharz  aims to address both the practitioner and those without experience or training, looking for ‘quick start’ guidelines. Beilharz makes strong links between the mind and music engagement for dementia sufferers, and provides practical advice on introducing music to their daily care. The book includes moving stories from Australian health and aged care providers HammondCare and is considered a ground-breaking book on the topic.
You can view the book-launch trailer here: Music Remembers Me

So, it seems that there is much to learn about musical principles and forms in the 781s (with a little Dewey perseverance and leeway given) and… the next time that song or piece of music gets stuck in my head and just won’t go away? I’ll just assume its all for the best!
Nola Cavallaro