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Welcome to my book shelf. Reserved for only the best books in the world.

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do


Literally the best book in the entire world.

Anh retells his family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam to Australia via an overcrowded boat, the challenges of building their lives in Sydney and Anh’s transition from law school to comedian. It’s tragic, hilarious and uplifting. Anh writes plainly. Anyone can read this book.

My favourite part:

Somewhere in the translation, someone had mistakenly written down that we were a family with a boy and girl. My mother, ever polite and practical, took these kind gifts with a grateful smile and, for the next few months, accepted compliments from strangers about what a ‘pretty little daughter’ she had. If you ever meet my brother Khoa, make sure you mention the lovely photo you saw of him in Anh’s book wearing a lacy dress with gorgeous red ribbons.” 

The Shackled Continent by Robert Guest


Best. Best. Best.

Guest tells stories about people and events and then links the stories to economic based theories as to why Africa is so poor. Here’s a snippet that will make you want to read it:

The helicopter swooped low over the floodwaters of southern Mozambique. The South African airmen sitting in the rear, legs dangling out of an open doorway, strained their eyes for a glimpse of survivors…

Poking out from the leaves of a tree that, despite the deluge, hand somehow stayed upright, the pilot saw a scarlet shawl on a stick, waving to attract our attention…

To rescuer these people required hovering dangerously close to the tree, but the pilot did not hesitate. An airman abseiled down and strapped a little girl into his spare harness. The two were then winched back up. The airman quickly but gently handed the girl to his mate, and abseiled down again. And again, and again, and again, until all twenty-two of the people in that tree were safely on board the helicopter….

By the time the airmen had finished plucking people out of trees and from thatched rooftops, there were at least sixty in a machine that would have felt crowded with ten… A baby girl was born in a Mozambican tree that day; both child and mother were rescued.

Perhaps a million southern Africans lost their homes in the floods of March 2000. Mozambique, the poorest country in the region, was also the worst affected… Countless Mozambicans, who were struggling so determinedly to pull themselves out of poverty, had just been knocked back down by several billion tonnes of muddy water.

Swahili for the Broken Hearted by Peter Moore


Moore broke up with his girlfriend so travelled the Eastern Cape of Africa – Cape Town to Cairo – and writes funny stories about his experiences. The first two weeks are him sitting on his friends couch in Cape Town watching Spanish Soaps.

Conflict Resolution and Peace Education in Africa


A collection of essays sharing insights and ideas political unrest, conflict and peace building in Africa. I wrote an essay using this book and it won me a trip to Dubai, so I have to show my appreciation. My favourite text book!

St Jude’s Gemma Sisia

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The story of Gemma Sisia, and the best school ever known – St Jude’s -that is transforming the lives of Tanzanian children.

Princess Trilogy by Jean Sasson

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Jean Sasson writes the biography of an anonymous Arabian princess, a woman of spirt and courage who strives to gain freedom from the horrifying realities of oppression and human rights violations in Saudi Arabia.

Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt

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Freakonomics answers some bizarre questions using only economic theory. What do Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers have in Common? Why do drug dealers still live with their mums? Do parents really matter? But really, the quirky questions are just there to draw your attention and provide a story. For example, what do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common tracks cheating patterns and discusses how they can be identified through data.

The boy who was raised by a dog: and other stories from a child psychiatrist’s notebook by Bruce Perry

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What traumatised children can teach us about loss, love and healing“. Perry recounts stories of trauma; genocide, witness to murders, children raised in cages and others raised in cults. Each story relates to the effects that terror and trauma can have on a child’s mind and the potential the mind has to recover. It’s not for the feint-hearted. There aren’t words to describe the emotions that this book can make you feel. But simultaneously this book provides a beautiful insight into innovative methods to ease pain.

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell 

Outliers

Gladwell looks at a graph of success. Most of us, have a relatively average path to success. Some people fall below the line of success, some people fall a bit higher. And then there are unique individuals – Bill Gates, pro-hockey players, who wants to be a millionaire winners – who sit well above the ‘average’.

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Gladwell terms these people the ‘outliers’ and asks why some people achieve so much more than others. Outliers will change the way you think about your own life story, and about what makes us all unique.

To Kill a Mocking Bird

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Yes, yes everyone says To Kill a Mocking Bird is a great book. But everyone says it for a REASON. I’m going to name my children Atticus Finch and Scout. My husband disagrees so I’m biding my time until he wants something and we can work out a fair deal.

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell


This book is the best. I’m not one to advocate that everyone should read the classics – it’s never going to happen. Everyone enjoys different reading styles, and some people just don’t like reading so why ruin their few reading experiences by pressuring on gruelling text. Once I read Great Expectations and the ending was such an anti-climax. Charles Dickens, we are never ever getting back together. Don’t base your opinions of Gone with the Wind on the super long movie of that you probably watched when you were ten. The book is 100x better.

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett

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Who knew that Serbia started the catalyst event that became World War I? Or specifically – this guy.

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This 21-year-old was the catalyst for a world war.

Fall of Giants is fictional but Follett does a lot of research (I know, because we’re Facebook friends) and he finds people with real experiences that he can incorporate into the experiences of his characters. It’s learning the fun way!

Harry potter by JK
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You know it.

Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody

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Carmody released the first of the Obernewtyn Chronicles in 1988, the year I was born. When I was 12, Shannon recommended I read the series. Evil Shannon neglected to tell me that the four published books didn’t actually finish the series – and there were several others on the way. So these amazing awesome characters are trapped in time.

Evil Shannon = life ruiner

In HUGE news however, the final book is due November 12. 27 years after the release of the first book. I can’t even cope. I’m going to die of happiness.

Hunger Games by Susan Collins

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Because teen fiction is the best.

A Birthday Surprise

And finally, the most important book of them all.

The book that is all about me. Emma Johnston is so excited to celebrate her 2nd birthday, with her friends Samuel, Petah and Nathan. What exciting things will happen to Emma as she gets ready to celebrate her special day. Very exclusive. There’s only one copy in the world.

Bucket List

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