Things That Make Me Happy

Things that make me happy, or things that I love. I saw this done by Ti over at “Book Chatter” and thought it was a great idea! I think sometimes I get bogged down in responsibilities, things I have to do, and just, well, life, and I can forget the good things. So when I read Ti’s post, I thought why not? Bring on the happiness 🙂

A favourite photo of mine from a trip to Canada

A favourite photo from a trip to Canada

  1. Reading
  2. Hand cream
  3. My best friends
  4. My family
  5. Candles – making them and burning them
  6. Pretty or interesting scenery
  7. Lip balm
  8. Indulging my inner photographer – can’t vouch for the talent, but it’s definitely fun!
  9. Criminal Minds… and Shemar Moore specifically…
  10. Fresh baked brownies
  11. Coffee
  12. Thai food
  13. Purple flowers
  14. Driving long distances – helps to clear my head and gives me time to think… and sing my little heart out!
  15. Quality photography – professional, friends, family. I love going through photos that mean something to someone – you can totally tell, feel the love through the lens
  16. Good, chunky, sink-your-teeth-into books
  17. Owls – pictures, mugs, decorative, jewellery
  18. Reading on the train
  19. Chocolate
  20. Walking
  21. Nail polish in muted colours – my nail beds are tiny and look funny with bright colours.
  22. Winter
  23. Light, short, easy, read-in-an-afternoon books
  24. Swimming
  25. My Birthday. Feel the love 🙂
  26. Other people’s birthdays!
  27. Catching up with girlfriends
  28. Going out for lunch
  29. Shopping
  30. Knitting
  31. Studying… sometimes more in theory than in practice
  32. Going to weddings of people I love
  33. Christmas
  34. Christmas present shopping
  35. My colleagues – I work with some fantastic people – KQ, NC, JM I’m lookin’ at you!
  36. Finding a bargain
  37. Cosy nights in
  38. Great spontaneous nights out – often the best ones are those that are unplanned
  39. Home crocheted blankets
  40. Baking
  41. Winter boots
  42. Reading as the last thing I do before I go to sleep 😉
  43. Getting a letter in the mail
  44. Personal email – IE letters not forwards
  45. Slippers
  46. A clean and tidy house
  47. Cross stitching
  48. Unexpected friends visiting
  49. Weekends away by myself
  50. Relaxing with a good glass (or 2… or 5) of wine
  51. A long gossip session with a close friend
  52. Hot showers
  53. Book marks – I pick one up everywhere I travel to, along with…
  54. Playing cards
  55. Finishing up an exercise session. Getting started, not so much!
  56. Tea – black, peppermint, oolong, green
  57. ‘Me’ time in a spa bath
  58. Train trips – with a little space around me
  59. Pretty dresses
  60. Massages
  61. Facials
  62. Babies and kids – spending time with my friends and their families
  63. The end of a big or stressful day when it’s all over and it’s relax time
  64. Unexpected bargains or freebies
  65. Novels of short stories – either by one author or varied writers
  66. Finding a piece of jewellery that I love
  67. Warm blankets
  68. Surrounding myself with photos of loved ones
  69. Comfortable shoes
  70. Original ideas for book plots
  71. Taking time to have a proper lunch break at work
  72. Live music
  73. Coffee table books
  74. Author events
  75. Chatting to Mum
  76. Making good headway on an assignment
  77. Looking back over my holiday photos and reliving the experience
  78. Travelling to new and exciting places with a good friend
  79. Going to the movies
  80. Homemade apple crumble
  81. Handbags
  82. Going to the Australian Open
  83. Big warm doonas
  84. When my students write a kicker of an assignment
  85. Melbourne Comedy Festival
  86. A cold glass of water when I’m thirsty
  87. New books (Happy Dance!!)
  88. Going to the footy and watching my team win. Go Bombers!
  89. Finding out an author I love has a new book coming out
  90. Phone calls
  91. Rain
  92. New Professor Layton games for my Nintendo 3DS
  93. Finishing a game of solitaire
  94. Vegemite toast
  95. Interesting memoirs and biographies
  96. Popcorn and M&Ms mixed
  97. Musicals
  98. The smell of mint
  99. The colours purple, blue, green and red
  100. Spending a whole day doing nothing but enjoying good coffee and reading!!!

What would be on your list?


A Prayer For Owen Meany



Title: A Prayer for Owen Meany

Author: John Irving

Published: Bloomsbury, 1989


In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire; one of the boys, Owen Meany, hits a foul ball and kills his best friend’s mother. Owen doesn’t believe in accidents; he believes he is God’s instrument. What happens to Owen after that 1953 foul is extraordinary and terrifying. At moments a comic, self-deluded victim, but in the end the principal, tragic actor in a divine plan, Owen Meany is the most heartbreaking hero John Irving has yet created.


Prior to reading this book, I had heard good things about it – I’d been wanting to read it for a while. It was a long book, and though I am usually quite a quick reader, for me this book was a little like running through mud. Each chapter was around 70 pages. For me, that’s too long. I’m sitting here, staring at the computer, trying to figure out what to say about it.

I have mixed opinions about “A Prayer for Owen Meany”. Parts of this book I really liked, but unfortunately I had to wade through a lot of long winded descriptions of things and situations that didn’t appear to have anything to do with the plot. There was a lot going on, and at times I wasn’t sure which plot lines to pay attention to and which ones were superfluous.

One of the major themes is faith, and Owen’s unfailing belief that he is a direct instrument for God’s work. Possibly one of the reason’s I struggled to find the story believable is that I am not especially religious. I felt that Owen used this belief as an excuse to get away with doing whatever the hell he wanted and offending anyone he felt like. Instead of observing manners or courtesy, he took no personal responsibility for his rudeness. I found his character self righteous, self important, and just plain irritating.

I think this is an interesting point, because a) I have friends who loved this book who aren’t religious, and b) I feel that some of the religious opinions put forward in this book may have offended some who are religious.

I did like the ending of the book. I thought it was original, and it did wrap up a few questions I had… and justified a couple of small annoyances I also had. Another thing I liked about the book was the writing. Not a whole lot to say on that point really, apart from outside of the fact that I found segments of the books boring and irrelevant, it was relatively easy to read.

If you’re looking for a book that will provoke some interesting conversations, this one will do it. Certainly kept my book club in discussion – with lots of different opinions!

Have you read A Prayer for Owen Meany? What did you think?

The Secret History



Title: The Secret History

Author: Donna Tartt

Published: Viking, 1992; My edition Penguin Books, 1993


Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is the original American campus novel. When Richard Papen joins an elite group of clever misfits at his New England college, it seems he can finally become the person he wants to be. But the moral boundaries he will cross with his new friends – and the deaths they are responsible for – will change all of their lives forever. The Secret History recounts the terrible price we pay for mistakes made on the dark journey to adulthood.



The Secret History was first published in 1992. During my reading of the book, I originally actually thought it was older than that and I found it quite difficult to place the time setting of the novel. I thought it was set maybe in the fifties or sixties, based on some personality traits of the characters, and some of the references. However, there were other hints there that pointed me more towards the eighties.

600+ pages in this one, however I did read it relatively quickly. It was easy to read, well written and not a lot of what I think of as literary ‘dancing’ – wandering around a point and taking a long time to get from A to B.

It was pegged as “the original American campus novel”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this isn’t true, but I’m not sure I would have called it that as a selling point. It was set at a university, and the characters did attend classes. For me there were two major characteristics of  the plot – firstly the setting, where the group all met, and I suppose as a central point to help define their age, maturity, life stage, and what they have in common. Secondly the murder – we turned fairly abruptly to a crime focus.

I did enjoy the book. The main character is Richard, who changes colleges after commencing his studies in medicine and finding a, shall we say, lack of affinity for the medical profession. He stumbles across a group of students isolated from the larger student body, by their study of Classic Greek, and their eccentric tutor. Richard joins this class of only a handful of other students and becomes more and more entwined in their social group.

He makes friends with them somewhat out of necessity, as the Greek tutor requires them to study all of their subjects with him and him alone. As Richard has come along after the original 5 students had already established themselves, for the rest of the book he always seems just on the peripheries of the group. He narrates the book, sometimes for me more of an observer than an active part.

The book is an interesting study in behaviour, and how a major distressing event – in this case a murder – can cause the group to come to rely and depend on each other, and the stress that can cause on those relationships. Fascinating.

As much as I didn’t necessarily understand the choices these kids made, there was something about them I could relate to, sympathise with.

The Slap

GoodreadsTitle: The Slap

Author: Christos Tsiolkas

Published: Allen & Unwin, 2008



At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own.

This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, friends and relatives, who are all directly or indirectly influenced by the slap.

In this remarkable novel, Christos Tsiolkas turns his unflinching and all-seeing eye onto that which connects us all: the modern family and domestic life in the twenty-first century. The Slap is told from the points of view of eight people who were present at the barbecue. The slap and its consequences force them all to question the way they live, their expectations and dreams, their beliefs and desires.

What unfolds is a powerful, haunting novel about love, sex and marriage, parenting and children, and the fury and intensity – all the passions and conflicting loyalties – that family can arouse. In its clear-eyed and forensic dissection of the ever-growing middle class and its aspirations and fears, The Slap is also a poignant, provocative novel about the nature of commitment and happiness, compromise and truth.



I read “The Slap” by Christos Tsiolkas when it first came out a few years ago. I definitely had mixed emotions about it, I loved a number of things – it was incredibly well written and the story just flowed. It was set in Melbourne which I relished – I could immerse myself even further into it as I knew the area it was set in.

I HATED all of the characters. Which I’m OK with. Any author who can have me disliking all of his characters and still loving the book is good by me. I liked that he dealt with a hot topic, provoking many a (heated, I’m sure!) discussion between friends who may differ in opinion.

I read it again for my book club a while ago. Ours is a pretty informal style book club, just a group of friends catching up over good food and wine and a book. But boy with this one were there some different opinions! The interesting thing was, everyone’s opinions on this were strong. Everyone was either vehemently against disciplining other peoples children/other people disciplining their children, or they were of the ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’ mindset.

I have engaged in this conversation with a few different groups of friends, and it never ceases to amaze me that those with children just don’t feel that those without children have a valid opinion. No, I don’t have children. But does that mean my opinion doesn’t count? Surely not. Sure, my opinion may change when I do have children, but then again, it may not. I know women with children on both sides of the fence. Some who are for discipline, and also some who are against.

I have also watched the TV series, and I was quite impressed. I thought it was well cast and I still didn’t like any of the characters. No, I lie. I liked Anouk. Who, admittedly, wasn’t particularly central to the storyline. I found most of the others to be lying, manipulative, immature people who were only interested in themselves. I also thought the event was well portrayed, not sugar-coated. And all of these same discussions were re-visited!

My personal (currently childless) opinion is that I would be happy to have my child disciplined – though I can’t say I’d be happy with physical violence like was portrayed in the show – by someone else, had I left the child in their care. In the understanding that this is clearly a person I trust. And I would expect my (at this point theoretical) child to behave at someone else’s house. And vice versa. That’s todays thought.

May Wrap Up

This is a monthly post done at the beginning of each month to quickly recap what I’ve read through the previous month.

May. My May was busy. So busy! But that’s normal. That’s the first half of the year for me. I recover from New Years and all of a sudden I look up and the year is half over. The course I was doing is almost finished – I only have one assignment left to submit (Yay!) and the course I run is almost done for the semester. I vary between reading for all of my commute to/from work, and dozing for half the trip – if I’m tired, the rhythm of the train just lulls me to sleep. But I got through some good ones this month.


  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
  • Scarpetta by Patricia Cornwell
  • Promises, Promises by Erica James
  • So Much For That by Lionel Shriver

Goodreads Challenge Update – 32/100


  • Death Before Wicket by Kerry Greenwood
  • Beat the Reaper by Josh Bazell
  • Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues by Trisha Ashley


  • June – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

How was your May?