The Cull

My book collection has now been brutally reduced after taking 5 or 6 car loads of books, DVDs, CDs, LPs and magazines to Lifeline in Canberra.

They can make good use of them to raise money for their charitable work.

They hold a few very popular book fairs each year.

What I like about them is that they separate special books and sell them separately at a relevant price. I had many special books: including limited signed editions, as well as autographed general release books.

One particularly special book (in my opinion) was the biography of an esteemed Australian artist, who had not only signed the book, but had drawn a simple sketch with his signature: basically an original art work.

We now have plans to do one more trip next week, which should help reduce my stockpile even more.

Hopefully my one time collections of paper and plastic will go to good homes, and raise a good amount of money for charity.

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Matt 19)NIV


A Tale of Two Bibles

By far my favourite format of Bible has been The Books of the Bible published by the International Bible  Society (more recently Biblica).

There are several features I like about it.

  1. It removes chapter and verse references and therefore the distractions and interruptions they cause within the text.
  2.  Other inconvenient book divisions are also removed; for example the gospel of Luke and Acts are joined together to enhance the natural reading flow of Luke’s continuing narrative, and OT books traditionally divided into two parts, are recombined into continuous accounts.
  3.  The edition also groups the Bible’s books more logically than the traditionally used order. Therefore NT letters are printed either according to chronology or theme instead of the traditional order of length. I find this helps the natural narrative flow more than the chronological hopscotch evident in other Bible editions.
  4.  The text itself also appears more like a normal book, with text reading right across the page instead of the commonly used division into two columns.

My edtion of it is in the TNIV – probably not my preferred choice, but it was the only one available at the time I bought it. It seems a version was later published using the NIV, but to date I haven’t seen one myself.

My most recent Bible purchase was one I saw reviewed in a free newspaper I picked up from my local Christian book shop. The TYB (Trash Your Bible) is intended to be used to write and hi-light notes while being read.

The pages are promoted as being a heavier weight, allowing non bleed-through hi-lighting of text, however I’d suggest caution if using hi-lighter pens, some of which may be more prone to soak through pages, depending on the pen’s quality. A test seemed to give good results, but a slightly heavier hand with the pen could have caused problems.

This bible uses the 2011 translation of the NIV, and while sticking with the traditional book order, it also uses the more readable one column per page format of a normal book. A slightly wider edge margin (4.5cm)is provided for note taking.

Unfortunately,  in my opinion, the Psalms and other sections of poetry are all printed as if they are prose, losing the spacing appropriate for poetic writings. I seem to recall the promotional material made this seem like a benefit, but in reality it is more of a compromise to help reduce the size of the book by compressing the display of the poetic texts.

I bought two copies of the TYB – one for myself and one for Gloria.

peonyThere are several cover colours offered. I chose a navy for myself and Gloria’s was “peony pink”. The different colours are offered as lifestyle choices – but in reality, apart from favouring one shade above another, most of the presentation related to colour is more of a marketing ploy than anything practical.

Unfortunately, despite being well packaged and wrapped for mail delivery, Gloria’s Bible arrived with significant damage across the majority of pages. I contacted the supplier to see what can be done to fix the problem and they quickly replied to apologise and said they would send out a replacement copy.


The TYB also offers access to study notes via the publication website, as well as through a separate TYB Bible Companion.
Each Bible book provides a QR Code to give access to online study materials related to the book.

Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith

Changing My Mind was structured like a sandwich. It began and ended with academic essays related to books and authors I haven’t read. So through the first 90 or so pages I wondered whether it was worth persevering. Fortunately I stayed with the book and came across the more appealing sandwich filling.

The “filling” that made the book worthwhile includes essays on:

zadie0001The craft of writing.


Human nature and identity.

Film reviews.

 and lastly

Personal memories of childhood, family and in particular of Smith’s late father, to whom the book is dedicated.

Then came another academic essay to enclose the sandwich

In the academic essays, the idea of “rereading” comes up several times, and those references seem to  show an aspect of Smith’s reading practice, and her literary interests, that differ greatly from my own.

I am not a rereader.  I rarely read novels twice, and when I have it has been many years later when I’d forgotten enough of the story for it to be like reading the book for the first time. The only time I recall finishing a novel and then immediately restarting it was almost 40 years ago with Frank Herbert’s Dune.

When I re-read Dune, it wasn’t because I needed to dig deeper into its wordplay or its philosophy of life or to admire the author’s skill, it was because I loved the story and the characters.

When rereading is mentioned in Smith’s essays I think it relates to more “literary” or “writerly” issues, and while those things don’t really motivate my reading of fiction I can understand the idea behind them. After recently finishing The Satanic Verses I thought I’d probably get more out of the book if I read it again; a second reading would build upon the first and maybe some of the puzzling aspects (of which there were many) would become clearer. 

If there wasn’t so much else to read it might have been something to consider. But there are far too many other books around that I find much more appealing. And the need to understand The Satanic Verses doesn’t come high enough in my life’s priorities to want to spend another couple of weeks reading through it again.

When I read fiction I am more interested in plot and character than in philosophy or gaining insight into the meaning of life – for that I’ll stick with the Bible: a book where continued rereading is more than justified.