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Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

I'm posting a #bookcovers and #firstsentences series on Instagram of fiction and nonfiction from my bookcase. The posts have brought back many pleasant memories of dusty books I haven't read in years. And the other day I posted one of my favourite tear jerkers, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom.

A little while back I published a Writing Tips article on Tall And True titled, Writing First Sentences (March 2018). The piece was in part inspired by a series I have been posting to Instagram of photos of books tagged as #bookcovers and #firstsentences.

A friend nominated me for a recent Facebook challenge, "Albums that changed your life". It also appears as the "Ten album challenge", the "Pictorial music challenge", the "Seven all time favourite albums" or as the "what-the-heck, I'm just posting my favourites LPs!"

I started “travel writing”, recording journals of my travels when I left Australia in 1987 for two years backpacking and living abroad in England and Europe. I kept writing journals and diaries on my daily life in England and broader travels until I returned to Australia nine years later in 1996.

In their heyday, the Ian St James Awards offered the biggest fiction prize in the UK and Ireland for unpublished writers. I submitted several short stories to the awards from 1992 to 1995. None were finalists, let alone winners, but the critiques provided by the judges inspired me to keep writing!

My son was born at 5:36 am on the 2 June 2002. It had been a long night, and it was a long day (admittedly, more so for my wife!), and when I went home from the hospital that evening, it was with the surreal realisation I was a dad. I decided my first duty would be to buy a book of bedtime stories.

I once had a dream so real and intense it reminded me of the 3rd Century BC Chinese Philosopher, Chuang Chou, who dreamt, "I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou."

Penguin Books asked a good question on Facebook last year: Do you reread books? I've kept all my favourite books with the thought of one day rereading them. And then I start a new book, it becomes a favourite and is added to my bookcase to read again ... one day!

My earliest memory of The Beatles is from when I was five-years-old. It wasn't their music, but an article in the local newspaper, with a photo of John, Paul and George hammering an oversized nail into Ringo's head. My mother tutted and told me they were silly to play with hammers and nails.

Writing can be lonely, especially if you're living on your own in a cramped flat, in another country, far away from family and friends. So when I lived in England in the early-1990s, I volunteered to work one afternoon a week at an Oxfam Op shop, to get away from my writing desk, to get out of my flat, and to meet and mingle with people.

I discovered Somerset Maugham in my early twenties when I borrowed a copy Of Human Bondage from a friend ... which, to my shame, I never returned. (And for which, I belatedly apologise!)

In May 1992, the local literary news was full of the success of Tim Winton and Cloudstreet. I thought it an omen. Winton was thirty-one-years-old and I was thirty. He'd grown up in W.A. and so had I. He'd just won his second Miles Franklin Award and I was having a second crack at being a writer!

There were old tea chests in a spare room at my grandparents' house, from which my younger brother and I unearthed 78 RPM records, 1940s Film Fun Annuals and Biggles books that had belonged to my father and uncle as boys. But the greatest treasure for this boy was a mint copy of The Gorilla Hunters.

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