March 5, 2019 | in

Read It! Be It!


The Land Before Avocado

In The Land Before Avocado, Richard Glover takes a journey to an almost unrecognisable Australia. It’s a vivid portrait of a quite peculiar land: a place that is scary and weird, dangerous and incomprehensible, and, now and then, surprisingly appealing.

It’s the Australia of his childhood. The Australia of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

Let’s break the news now: they didn’t have avocado.

It’s a place of funny clothing and food that was appalling, but amusingly so. It is also the land of staggeringly awful attitudes – often enshrined in law – towards anybody who didn’t fit in.

The Land Before Avocado will make you laugh and cry, feel angry and inspired. And leave you wondering how bizarre things were, not so long ago.

Most of all, it will make you realise how far we’ve come – and how much further we can go.

Richard Wakelin from Australian Financial Review praised Glover for the way in which he ‘deftly reclaims the book’s title fruit from those who have positioned it as a proxy for all that is wrong with today’s supposedly feckless and spendthrift young adults’, while Hugh McKay stated that The Land Before Avocado is ‘vintage Glover’ that is ‘brimming with excruciating insights’. Annabel Crabb referred to Glover’s book as ‘hilarious and horrifying’, and ‘the ultimate intergenerational conversation starter’.

Never Grow Up

Everyone knows Jackie Chan. Whether it’s from Rush Hour, Shanghai Noon, The Karate Kid, or Kung Fu Panda, Jackie is admired by generations of moviegoers for his acrobatic fighting style, comic timing, and mind-bending stunts. In 2016—after fifty-six years in the industry, over 200 films, and many broken bones—he received an honorary Academy Award for his lifetime achievement in film. But at 64 years-old, Jackie is just getting started.

Now, in Never Grow Up, the global superstar reflects on his early life, including his childhood years at the China Drama Academy, his big breaks (and setbacks) in Hong Kong and Hollywood, his numerous brushes with death and his life as a husband and father.

Jackie has never shied away from his mistakes. Since The Young Master in 1980, Jackie’s films have ended with a bloopers reel in which he stumbles over his lines, misses his mark, or crashes to the ground in a stunt gone south. In Never Grow Up, Jackie applies the same spirit of openness to his life, proving time and time again why he’s beloved the world over: he’s honest, funny, kind, brave beyond reckoning and—after all this time—still young at heart.

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying

Through the use of the KonMari method, the queen of decluttering and star of the Netflix smash hit, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, demonstrates how tidying can spark joy and rid negativity.

The key to successful tidying is to tackle your home in the correct order, to keep only the things you really love and to do it all at once – and quickly. After that for the rest of your life you only need to choose what to keep and what to discard.

The KonMari Method will not just transform your space. Once you have your house in order you will find that your whole life will change. You can feel more confident, you can become more successful, and you can have the energy and motivation to create the life you want. You can also find the courage to move on from the negative aspects of your life. For example, you can recognise and finish a bad relationship, stop feeling anxious or finally lose weight.

Marie Kondo’s method is based on a ‘once-cleaned, never-messy-again’ approach. If you think that such a thing is impossible then you should definitely read this compelling book. Alternatively, if you want to share The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying with your friends and family this lovely edition is the perfect gift.

The Life-changing Magic of Tidying was praised by Richard Lloyd Parry from The Times, stating that ‘Its strength is its simplicity’, while Brigid Moss from Red magazine said that she will be a ‘neatnik’ as Kondo’s book has ‘become [her} bible’.

Content supplied by Penguin Books Australia

The Leadership Secrets of Hamilton: 7 Steps to Revolutionary Leadership from Alexander Hamilton and the Founding Fathers

Like many, my knowledge of America’s first Secretary of the Treasury is largely based off the hip-hop stylings of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash hit musical, Hamilton. In The Leadership Secrets of Hamilton, this period of history is represented through a concise and informative guidebook that demonstrates how the leadership skills of Hamilton and the Founding Fathers can be applied to contemporary situations.  Leidner’s book encourages readers to incite change and kickstart their personal revolution.

The Leadership Secrets of Hamilton is centred on the notion of transformational leadership theory, whereby followers are motivated to make sacrifices in order to benefit the larger group. Leidner’s book discusses the establishment of America as a nation, particularly the importance of the rights of the common man.

The history of the Founding Fathers is interwoven throughout the book, as Leidner draws on notable events to highlight the seven steps to revolutionary leadership.  The Leadership Secrets of Hamilton stresses the importance of preparation, arguing that competent leaders practice self-reflection in order to recognise their challenges and set goals. Persistence is a key component of leadership and leaders must demonstrate moral integrity and honesty and be willing to admit their weaknesses.

In order to earn their followers’ trust, Leidner argues that leaders must prove their personal commitment to the vision, provide guidance, respect their followers’ beliefs, demonstrate humility, share knowledge amongst the group and celebrate success. The Leadership Secrets of Hamilton includes biographical notes about each of the Founding Fathers, giving insight into their varied backgrounds, competing ideologies and their different leadership qualities.

Despite the passage of time, the skills exemplified by Hamilton and his peers are still applicable today. Leidner’s book is a refreshing take on leadership theory, through the lens of America’s Founding Fathers.

Emily Pullen, WHSmith Australia


Able is a candid, insightful account of the life of Paralympian, tennis champion, Order of Australia recipient and media personality, Dylan Alcott.

From an early childhood riddled with surgeries and largely spent in hospital, to his youth playing competitive sport and eventually representing Australia in both basketball and tennis, Alcott’s autobiography details the athlete’s setbacks and success with humour and sincerity. Able reads like a conversation with a friend.

Alcott’s parents were determined to raise their son the same as any other child, alongside his best mate and brother Zack. From a young age, Alcott fell in love with sport, and so began the tussle between basketball and tennis for Alcott’s affection. While Alcott often felt different from his able-bodied peers, sport provided him with an environment in which he could meet and compete with likeminded people who shared similar experiences.

Able details Alcott’s achievements as a professional athlete, such as winning gold at three Paralympics and claiming victory at the Australian Open. However, it also provides insight into his life off the court. Alcott’s autobiography is filled with anecdotes such as crowd-surfing in a wheelchair at Coachella and rapping with Ghostface Killah from Wu-Tang Clan, but it also discusses the many struggles that he faced, particularly with regards to wheelchair accessibility. This frustration, his love of music, and the passion for public speaking that was nurtured during his high school years, would later inspire him to create his own music festival, and become an outspoken advocate for normalising disabilities.  As a presenter on triple j and The Project, and as a guest on Q&A, Alcott was given a significant platform to provide greater visibility for those with a disability.

The notion that individuals are ‘a product of the people you hang around with’ pervades the autobiography, as Alcott expresses his gratitude towards his supportive family, friends and mentors. Alcott’s likeable, endearing personality, as well as his many successes, have led him to meet and work alongside his musical icons, attract the attention of politicians and meet celebrities and royalty.

Dylan Alcott’s autobiography is a lesson in determination, emphasising that ‘life’s too short to not grab every opportunity by the horns’.  Able is an empowering, inspirational read that teaches people to embrace their differences, to value teamwork, and to live by the motto that ‘for every one thing you can’t do, there are 10,000 things you can’.

Emily Pullen, WHSmith Australia

TitleRead It! Be It!