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Matthew Flinders

July 19, 2014

It is two hundred years ago since Matthew Flinders died.  He was first to circumnavigate Australia.  His journals for this time can be read online, in his handwriting, or in transcript (follow the links on this page), or you can read books about him.  His cat, Trim, was a valuable companion (and was written about by Flinders).  You can read more about the work of Matthew Flinders here.

War through reading

July 17, 2014

What first springs to mind when the topic of #warread arises? The theme spans a variety of genres and sub genres so readers are flooded with possibilities: from fiction to military history to poetry and biographies. War is presented from a variety of perspectives; from the soldiers on the frontline to the people on the home front and the future generations whose lives have been altered.

Most people of our generation think of the First and Second World Wars when war is mentioned. Both wars shaped the form our world takes today, but war is not a new phenomenon. Wars have been fought through every historical era, from the Romans to the Tudors, to the 21st century we live in today. It is therefore appropriate that many authors choose to depict such a key theme in their writing.

Those interested in war have the luxury of being able to read about the majority of wars both in fiction and non-fiction format. If one was looking to read about the War of the Roses I could first look to Alison Weir’s Lancaster and York: the War of the Roses  to provide a historical analysis, and then make my way through Conn Iggulden’s War of the Roses series of fictional interpretation.

#warread enables a reader to be transported to a battle scene or moment in history and picture characters being affected by a war in which real people’s lives were altered. Those interested in Roman battles can look to Simon Scarrow’s Under the Eagle to step right back to seeing war from the perspective of thousands of years ago. There’s also Harlequin by Bernard Cornwell which takes the reader straight into the Hundred Years War. And who can forget that the backdrop to Gone with the Wind is war in the form of the American Civil War? 20th century authors such as Irene Nemirovsky who wrote Suite Francaise and Joseph Heller, author of Catch 22 also chose to write about modern war using the setting of World War Two. What this goes to show is how unlikely it is that a reader has never come across a war scene in any of their reading.

Anzac Day background, vectorThe First World War is currently at the forefront of people’s thoughts, and with the centenary fast approaching, we can look back on the war as acting as a catalyst for much of the war literature we still read today. Most notably, Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth and the vast array of poetry produced by soldiers on the frontline including Siegfred Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. The fact that these pieces of literature are still relevant in 2014 says a lot for the force war can create in our #warread.

War can encompass a whole book, however #warread does not just mean books. We see war in films such as All Quiet on the Western Front, music, art and a variety of other formats, so whichever media form you’re feeling in the mood for, you’re bound to find an array of possibilities which feature the major theme of War.

Annalisa Timbrell from Surrey Libraries

Current military reading

July 7, 2014

Several armies, navies and airforces around the world provide reading lists for their staff.  These reading lists may comprise current military history, histories of much earlier wars, and in some cases fiction (about fighting or wars).  These may provide a starting point for you to consider your own #warread choices for this month.

Reading lists available include include:


World Cup reading – part 2

July 6, 2014

If you are watching the World Cup, you may want to read something from the countries which are playing today, and be inspired by the foods of these countries.

Argentina plays Belgium, and Netherlands plays Costa Rica.

So, you can explore food from Argentina (try the Tres Leches cake) and read some local news.  For Belgium there are some lovely foods to try (you could pair beer and chocolate).  The Netherlands also can give you some excellent reading about food,  as can Costa Rica.

There are other World Cup related food you can try and you can also try out the food World Cup (thanks to Jamie Oliver).  Happy watching of the World Cup, reading about food and cooking.



World cup reading

July 5, 2014

Today there are matches between Brazil and Colombia, France and Germany.  What could you read to align with these matches?
Royal Australian Navy team plays soccer against the visiting German Navy cruiser Koln team, Lyne Park, Sydney, May 1933 / Sam Hood

For Brazil, you could start with Paulo Coelho, but there are many more to explore.  For Colombia, Gabriel Garcia Marquez could be your first stop, but there are more to discover.

For France you can explore poetry (both in French and in translation) and you can start to enjoy the work of some German poets too.


this month the theme twitter reading group theme is #warread #rwpchat

July 1, 2014


28 July 1914: The First Day of the War to End all Wars

Trooper Bisdee and unidentified family members

Join the discussion this month about #warread. We will be focusing on all things about war in this discussion (and it will be great to see what ideas people include).

On 28 July 1914 the world found itself at war. The century leading up to the outbreak of war was a complicated one based upon numerous (and changing) alliances. Superimposed upon such alliances was an arms race that saw a competition for land-based, as well as sea-based, military supremacy. Tensions between the various powers of Europe escalated and, on 28 June 1914, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, was assassinated. The Archduke’s wife was also killed. The crisis that followed saw Austria-Hungary declare war on Serbia on 28 July 1914. Soon after the Russian Empire mobilised, quickly followed by the mobilisation of the German Empire. On 2 August 1914 Germany invaded Belgium that resulted in the mobilisation of France and, two days later, the mobilisation of Britain.

Thousands of volumes and reels of footage have been dedicated to covering the history of the Great War, what – when World War II started in 1939 – would also be known as World War I. These books and films explore numerous aspects of the war such as social change, the rise of the suffragettes and the effects of war upon the combatants (read: Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford and All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque; watch: Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey) in addition to the numerous historical accounts of the ‘War to End All Wars’ (read: The Great War by Les Carlyon and Poems of the Great War; play: with Games and Puzzles from the Imperial War Museum).

Numerous wars have been fought, before and since World War I, all of which have been documented: the First and Second Anglo-Boer Wars (read: The Boer War by Tabitha Jackson; watch: Breaker Morant) World War II (read: Kokoda by Peter FitzSimons; watch: The Dam Busters), the Korean War (read: The Korean War by Peter Lowe; watch: the long-running television series M*A*S*H) and the Vietnam War (read: The Vietnam War by Paul Dowswell; watch: Apocalypse Now and Platoon) as well as multiple wars in Afghanistan and Sudan among many other conflicts across history and around the world (read: war letters and war diaries; watch: the film collection at the Australian War Memorial; play: with Models and Figurines from the Australian War Memorial or play: war games including Assassin’s Creed, Battleship and Halo or play: We’ll Meet Again sung by Vera Lynn). As well as wars between nations there have also been many civil wars (read: The Spanish Civil War by Hugh Thomas; watch: The [American] Civil War; play: the Annual Battle of Gettysburg Re-enactment) and fictional wars (read: the works by John Marsden; watch: World War Z; play: World of Warcraft).

War is often discussed in terms of taking sides: which nation retains your loyalty? War reading, watching and playing is, however, about many more sides than those of the losers and the victors. This month explores not only the many different conflicts that dominate our histories but encourages you to explore those conflicts from a new perspective: a civilian; a combatant; an economist; a farmer; an historian; a refugee; a map maker; a military strategist; a peace maker; a politician; a protester; a weapons designer; and many more. War is also about change: what will you read, watch, play this month that changes you?

While you are reading, playing or watching your #warread, you might like to tweet about it using #warread #rwpchat so that other people can have a conversation with you about your #warread.  You can add to the discussion on Pinterest too. You might like to post your photographs to Instagram or Flickr and use #warread #rwpchat so others can share in your reading, watching and playing.

There will be a twitter discussion on 29 July starting at 8.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time.   9.00pm New Zealand Time, 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 9am – 11am; 2pm – 4pm; 6pm – 8pm BST.  Note this is a staggered discussion.

Use the tags #warread and #rwpchat as you discuss the reading, watching playing that is your experience of warread, so others can join in the conversation too.

find out what was discussed on the #munchread discussion for #rwpchat

June 25, 2014

You can catch up with the #munchread discussion on Storify.  The discussion includes Hobbits, Harry Potter, and Hunger Games as well as people tweeting about their different reading styles.



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