Category Archives: Lifestyle

Lifestyle-related posts

Popular History Books of Our Time

This isn’t your usual history book list. In fact, some of the books aim to give us quite a different view of what we have learned previously. Which is why we really enjoy them. It’s easy to forget that history books aren’t just books brimming with facts of bygone eras, but rather we can consider them stories of events to be questioned, viewed from different angles and full of scandal and intrigue.

SPQR by Mary Beard

Hailed by critics as animating and with a wonderful ability to bring the past to life in a way that makes your hair stand on end, SPQR spans nearly a thousand years of history. Mary Beard narrates and examines not just how we think of ancient Rome but challenges the comfortable historical perspectives that have existed for centuries. With its nuanced attention to class, democratic struggles, and the lives of entire groups of people omitted from the historical narrative for centuries, SPQR will to shape our view of Roman history for decades to come.

Headstrong by Rachel Swaby

Headstrong delivers a powerful and entertaining response to the question: Who are the role models for today’s female scientists? Covering Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists who influence our every day, these engaging profiles span centuries of courageous thinkers and illustrate how each subject’s ideas developed, from their first moment of engagement with science through the research and discovery for which they’re best known. Finally, it gives these 52 lives the attention and respect they deserve with the aim to encourage and inspire a new generation of girls to put on their lab coats.

Sapiens by Dr. Yuval Noah Harari

Dr. Yuval Noah Harari makes serious non-fiction cool again.  

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans inhabited Earth. Yet today there is only one: homo sapiens. What happened to the others? And what may happen to us? Most books about the history of humanity pursue either a historical or a biological approach, but Dr. Yuval Noah Harari breaks the mold with this highly original book that begins about 70,000 years ago with the appearance of modern cognition. From examining the role evolving humans have played in the global ecosystem to charting the rise of empires, Sapiens integrates history and science to reconsider accepted narratives, connect past developments with contemporary concerns, and examine specific events within the context of larger ideas. Dr. Harari also compels us to look ahead, because over the last few decades humans have begun to bend laws of natural selection that have governed life for the past four billion years. We are acquiring the ability to design not only the world around us, but also ourselves. Where is this leading us, and what do we want to become?

You can view Dr. Yuval Noah Harari’s other books here.

Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond

Drawing together ideas from history, geography, economics and anthropology, Guns, Germs and Steel offers compelling theories and surprising insights into the development of societies, it is a hugely influential book that helped to establish Popular Science as a genre. Jared Diamond examines why some civilisations are more successful than others, in terms of wealth and political power, despite no inherent advantage in genetics or intelligence. He theorises that the tools of success are guns (superior weapons for military might); germs (Eurasian diseases weakening local populations, making them easier to conquer) and steel (advanced technology facilitating imperialism) and that they all arose from environmental conditions that allowed early adoption of agriculture.

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller, but even when he stays safely at home he can’t contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilisation, how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. Bill Bryson’s challenge is to take subjects that normally bore the pants off most of us, like geology, chemistry and particle physics, and see if there isn’t some way to render them comprehensible to people who have never thought they could be interested in science. The ultimate eye-opening journey through time and space, A Short History of Nearly Everything reveals the world in a way most of us have never seen it before.

You can see a list of Bill Bryson’s other books here.

The History of the Ancient World by Susan Wise Bauer

Susan Wise Bauer presents us with a lively and engaging narrative history showing the common threads in the cultures that gave birth to our own. This is the first volume in a series that tells the stories of all people, connecting historical events from Europe to the Middle East to the far coast of China, while still giving weight to the characteristics of each country. Susan Wise Bauer provides both sweeping scope and vivid attention to the individual lives that give flesh to abstract assertions about human history. Dozens of maps provide a clear geography of great events, while timelines give the reader an ongoing sense of the passage of years and cultural interconnection. This old-fashioned narrative history employs the methods of history from beneath” literature, epic traditions, private letters and accounts to connect kings and leaders with the lives of those they ruled. The result is an engrossing tapestry of human behaviour from which we may draw conclusions about the direction of world events and the causes behind them.

You can see more of Susan Wise Bauer’s work here.

Enjoy!

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Dad

Hold onto your hats, can you believe it is now September? That means it’s Father’s Day on Sunday which makes it that time of year when we all celebrate the father figures in our lives and take time to see, chat, or simply remember them. It’s also traditionally the highest selling month for socks (no idea if that’s actually true but based on my Dad’s sock drawer when we were growing up, it’s probably about 90% true). 

If you’re looking to give Dad something a little different this year, we have some great suggestions for you. If you are worried about a gift arriving in time, you could always buy an ebook version for his e-reader, an audio book, send a voucher or simply make sure you’re shopping locally (here’s a reminder of how to shop for books locally here).

Finally, if your family is based in Melbourne, which is currently under Stage 4 restrictions, do take a look at Click for Vic where there are a ton of great local stores that can deliver a gift, food hamper or tasty beverage straight to Dad’s front door. 

Here are our picks for the Top Reads for Dad this Father’s Day:

The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku

Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It is up to you. Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, a Jew second. He was proud of his country. But all of that changed on 9 November 1938, when he was beaten, arrested and taken to a concentration camp. Over the next seven years, Eddie faced unimaginable horrors every day, first in Buchenwald, then in Auschwitz, then on the Nazi death march. He lost family, friends, his country. Because he survived, Eddie made the vow to smile every day. He pays tribute to those who were lost by telling his story, sharing his wisdom and living his best possible life. He now believes he is the ‘happiest man on earth’. Published as Eddie turns 100, this is a powerful, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful memoir of how happiness can be found even in the darkest of times.

The Mamba Mentality by Kobe Bryant

Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant gives us a lavish, deep dive inside the mind of one of the most revered athletes of all time. In the wake of his retirement from professional basketball, Kobe “The Black Mamba” Bryant shared his vast knowledge and understanding of the game and took readers on an unprecedented journey to the core of the legendary “Mamba mentality.” Citing an obligation and an opportunity to teach young players, hardcore fans, and devoted students of the game how to play it “the right way,” The Mamba Mentality takes us inside the mind of one of the most intelligent, analytical, and creative basketball players ever.

Bryant reveals his famously detailed approach and the steps he took to prepare mentally and physically to not just succeed at the game, but to excel. Readers will learn how Bryant studied an opponent, how he channeled his passion for the game, how he played through injuries. They’ll also get fascinating granular detail as he breaks down specific plays and match-ups from throughout his career.

Bryant’s detailed accounts are paired with stunning photographs by the Hall of Fame photographer Andrew D. Bernstein. The combination of Bryant’s narrative and Bernstein’s photos make The Mamba Mentality an unprecedented look behind the curtain at the career of one of the world’s most celebrated and fascinating athletes.

Pops by Michael Chabon

For the September 2016 issue of GQ, Michael Chabon wrote a piece about accompanying his son Abraham Chabon, then thirteen, to Paris Men’s Fashion Week. Possessed with a precocious sense of style, Abe was in his element chatting with designers he idolised and turning a critical eye to the freshest runway looks of the season; Chabon Sr., whose interest in clothing stops at thrift-shopping for vintage western shirts or Hermès neckties,” sat idly by, staving off yawns and fighting the impulse that the whole thing was a massive waste of time. Despite his own indifference, however, what gradually emerged as Chabon ferried his son to and from fashion shows was a deep respect for his son’s passion. The piece quickly became a viral sensation. With the GQ story as its centerpiece, and featuring six additional essays plus an introduction, Pops illuminates the meaning, magic, and mysteries of fatherhood as only Michael Chabon can.

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

Utopia Avenue might be the most improbable British band you’ve never heard of. Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967, folksinger Elf Holloway, blues bassist Dean Moss, guitar virtuoso Jasper de Zoet and jazz drummer Griff Griffin together created a unique sound, with lyrics that captured their turbulent times. The band produced only two albums in two years, yet their legacy lives on. This is the story of Utopia Avenue’s brief, blazing journey from Soho clubs and draughty ballrooms to the promised land of America, just when the Summer of Love was receding into something much darker – a kaleidoscopic tale of dreams, drugs, love, madness and grief; of stardom’s wobbly ladder and fame’s Faustian pact; and of the collision between idealism and reality as the Sixties drew to a close. Above all, this captivating novel celebrates the power of music to connect across divides, define an era and thrill the soul.

Tea and Scotch with Bradman by Roland Perry

In 1995, journalist and author Roland Perry wrote to Sir Donald Bradman requesting an interview for a biography he was planning of the great cricketer. Surprisingly, the Don agreed. It was the start of a conversation that continued for years, during which the real Bradman shone, not only as a great sportsman but musician, brilliant thinker and humourist with a fondness for tea and a Scotch or two. In Tea and Scotch with Bradman, Perry paints an intimate and revealing portrait of the man many regard as the greatest Australian cricketer of all time.

Catapults and Key Hooks by Geoffrey Fisher 


Whether building a bee hotel or an insect house to help your garden’s ecosystem thrive, crafting a catapult, whistle, skipping rope or cup and ball game to give away, or making a key hook or table brush to organise your home, the result of each will be entirely unique while also effortlessly stylish. All basic woodworking techniques are covered, plus Geoffrey Fisher also shows how best to prepare materials, including checking for disease, drying and stripping bark, and gives a detailed guide on your essential tool kit – what to have, how to handle your tools safely and how to maintain everything to the highest standard meaning anyone can pick up Catapults & Key Hooks and dive straight into the world of Geoffrey’s designs.

Enjoy!

Best Books for Dad this Father’s Day

Gosh, can you believe it is going to be September next week? The year has just whizzed by. Our favourite part of September is celebrating Father’s Day and this week we are taking a closer look at a few books that would make a great gift for any Dad, whether he is a brand new Dad, a Dad who needs more jokes in his repertoire or a wise Dad who likes to be armed with all of the answers.

A Little Something For the New Dads…

Bluey: My Dad is Awesome by Bingo and Bluey

Everyone loves Bandit, especially Bluey and Bingo! Find out what makes this true blue dad so special in this hilarious and heartwarming book. Bluey has been a phenomenal success since airing on ABC KIDS in October 2018, amassing legions of dedicated fans and taking the coveted position of being the most watched program ever on ABC iView, with over 200 million plays. It has also topped the Australian iTunes Kids Chart with the series peaking at #1 and consistently remaining in the Top 5.

How (Not) to Annoy Dad by Dave Hughes and Holly Ife

From one of Australia’s funniest dads on television, Dave Hughes brings us a delightful book that will no doubt be a favourite on the bookshelf for new dads all over the country. Look, Dad! I made you porridge and coffee… together! Follow this Koala Dad as he spends the day with his kids. Laugh along with all the hilarious things they say and do! (*Definitely, maybe, not entirely based on real life!)

150 Dad Jokes by Hayden Fox

Discover the ultimate collection of dad jokes for dads who think they are funny! This book is for those dads who are running out of silly dad jokes. Be warned, gifting this book to Dad will enable him to start embarrassing you with a fresh batch of hilarious dad jokes that will make you groan and roll your eyes. Hayden Fox, the author of this dad joke book, is a school teacher and veteran parent with an endless supply of ridiculous dad jokes ranging from mildly funny to sizzling red-hot-sauce-grade hilarious.

Something For the Wise Dads…

Lifespan: Revolutionary Science of Why We Age – and why we don’t have to by David Sinclair

Dr. David Sinclair reveals that everything we think we know about ageing is wrong, and shares the surprising, scientifically-proven methods that can help readers live younger, longer. For decades, the medical community has looked to a variety of reasons for why we age, and the consensus is that no one dies of old age; they die of age-related diseases. That’s because ageing is not a disease – it is inevitable. But what if everything you think you know about ageing is wrong? What if ageing is a disease? And that disease is curable. Dr. David Sinclair has dedicated his life’s work to chasing more than a longer lifespan – he wants to enable people to live longer, healthier, and disease-free well into our hundreds. In this book, he reveals a bold new theory of ageing, one that pinpoints a root cause of ageing that lies in an ancient genetic survival circuit. This genetic trick, a circuit designed to halt reproduction in order to repair damage to the genome, has enabled earth’s early microcosms to survive and evolve into more advanced organisms. But this same survival circuit is the reason we age: as genetic damage accumulates over our lifespans from UV rays, environmental toxins, and unhealthy diets, our genome is overwhelmed, causing gray hair, wrinkles, achy joints, heart issues, dementia, and, ultimately, death. But genes aren’t our destiny; we have more control over them than we’ve been taught to believe. We can’t change our DNA, but we can harness the power of the epigenome to realise the true potential of our genes. Drawing on his cutting-edge findings at the forefront of medical research, Dr. Sinclair will provide a scientifically-proven roadmap to reverse the genetic clock by activating our vitality genes, so we can live younger longer. Readers will discover how a few simple lifestyle changes, like intermittent fasting, avoiding too much animal protein, limiting sugar, avoiding x-rays, exercising with the right intensity, and even trying cold therapy, can activate our vitality genes.

Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking

The world-famous cosmologist and #1 bestselling author of A Brief History of Time leaves us with his final thoughts on the universe’s biggest questions in this brilliant posthumous work. Is there a God? How did it all begin? Can we predict the future? What is inside a black hole? Is there other intelligent life in the universe? Will artificial intelligence outsmart us? How do we shape the future? Will we survive on Earth? Should we colonise space? Is time travel possible? Throughout his extraordinary career, Stephen Hawking expanded our understanding of the universe and unravelled some of its greatest mysteries. But even as his theoretical work on black holes, imaginary time and multiple histories took his mind to the furthest reaches of space, Hawking always believed that science could also be used to fix the problems on our planet. And now, as we face potentially catastrophic changes here on Earth – from climate change to dwindling natural resources to the threat of artificial super-intelligence – Stephen Hawking turns his attention to the most urgent issues for humankind. Wide-ranging, intellectually stimulating, passionately argued, and infused with his characteristic humour, it is the final book from one of the greatest minds in history and a personal view on the challenges we face as a human race, and where we, as a planet, are heading next.

How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-Life Problems by Randall Munroe

For any task you might want to do, there’s a right way, a wrong way, and a way so monumentally bad that no one would ever try it. How To is a guide to the third kind of approach. It’s full of highly impractical advice for everything from landing a plane to digging a hole. Bestselling author and cartoonist Randall Munroe explains how to predict the weather by analyzing the pixels of your Facebook photos. He teaches you how to tell if you’re a baby boomer or a millennial by measuring the radioactivity of your teeth. He offers tips for taking a selfie with a telescope, crossing a river by boiling it, and getting to your appointments on time by destroying the moon. And if you want to get rid of this book once you’re done with it, he walks you through your options for proper disposal, including dissolving it in the ocean, converting it to a vapour, using tectonic plates to subduct it into the Earth’s mantle, or launching it into the sun. By exploring the most complicated ways to do simple tasks, Munroe doesn’t just make things difficult for himself and his readers. Full of clever infographics and amusing illustrations, How To is a delightfully mind-bending way to better understand the science and technology underlying the things we do every day.

Enjoy!

Dare to disagree

Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us in this Ted Talk, a good disagreement is central to progress. She shows us how the best partners aren’t echo chambers and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.