Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 2, 2018

Six Degrees of Separation, from The Tipping Point, to…

This time #6Degrees features a book I haven’t read so I had to look it up to see what it was about. This is the blurb for The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell:

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.

Kate at Books are My Favourite and Best has read it, and I’m intrigued to know how this book has triggered thoughts about crime on the New York subway, but I’ll just go where the blurb leads me.

Thinking of ‘flavours of the month’, and how readers are manipulated into buying hype-driven books, I am reminded of The Chilbury Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan.   I fell for the hype, and wasted my money.  It’s not reviewed here because I couldn’t make myself finish it.  (And I’m not going to dignify it by posting its cover image either.)

But there are other reasons not to finish a book.  Recently I abandoned Euphues’ The Anatomy of Wit by John Lyly.  I don’t think that a listing in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die counts as hype, because 1001 Books is actually a reading list for the development of the novel and its choices are (usually) of interest to anyone interested in literature.  But The Anatomy of Wit was unreadable.  I gave up.

That’s not to say that I have given up on 16th century texts.  Far from it.  I’m fond of C16th plays (the early ones of a certain S. Peare come to mind) and I loved The Faerie Queen when I studied it at uni.  And I like Machiavelli’s The Prince.  Essential reading for anyone interested in politics IMO.

Which brings me to a book I am currently reading.  It’s called The Boy from Barradine, and it’s by former MP Craig Emerson. Not a well-known MP unless you’re very interested in Australian politics, but it’s fascinating reading as a ‘triumph over adversity’ story.  Emerson had a difficult childhood with a mother suffering from serious mental illness and a father who was exhausted by having to deal with that.  I’ll be hearing Craig Emerson talk about this book with Sally Warhaft at the forthcoming Woodend Winter Arts Festival.

Although it’s mostly a music festival, the WWAF often features a book session about politics or journalism because Woodend is the home of some well-known journalists.  Mary Delahunty was one of those before her ill-fated foray into politics, which coincided with the sudden death of her much-loved husband.  I discovered her memoir called Public Life, Private Grief at the WWAF…

Memoir gives me the opportunity to spruik the forthcoming 2018 Indigenous Literature Week hosted here at ANZ LitLovers.  (Don’t get confused: Elizabeth Jolley Week starts this week on the 4th of June, but ILW is in the first week of July.)  There are numerous Indigenous memoirs on the ANZLL Indigenous Reading List, but I’ll just include one which I found inspiring: Maybe Tomorrow by Boori Monty Prior with Meme McDonald. But if memoir is not your thing, there are plenty of other titles to choose from, and if time is short then there are plenty of beautiful children’s books to explore.  Scroll right down to the bottom of the reading list where you will find books I reviewed on my professional blog when I was still teaching.


So that’s it…  #6Degrees for this month:)



  1. I’m sure I haven’t read any C16th lit – even the King James Bible is C17th – but as far as I can tell from the book cover and Google, it’s Euphues. (Don’t know who he is either way!)


    • Oh dear, another typo, thanks for alerting me to it, I’ve fixed it now:)
      You’ve never read Julius Caesar, not even at school? That’s a wonderful play, we did it at school in Form 2, I think, and even our clumsy reading of it couldn’t spoil it. It scrapes into the C16th because it was (believed to be) written in 1599.
      Shakespeare’s early plays are very late C16th, (though of course dating them precisely is something that scholars have been arguing about ever since). They think that Romeo and Juliet was written between 1591and 1595, and that A Midsummer Night’s Dream was written in 1595/6.


      • There you go! I was Brutus in JC in 4th form. Have planned forever to see MND in the park one summer, but not yet (do have Puck of Pooks Hill).


        • LOL I think high school readings with male voices might have been better (assuming your voice had broken by then!)

          I saw MND on stage a while ago, bit I’ve also seen in the Botanic Gardens, which really is a perfect setting for it. Love Shakespeare, it’s such a shame that they don’t do it in schools much any more. I’m sure we weren’t any smarter than today’s kids are… though maybe more biddable.


          • haha Lisa, I think you’re right. We were more biddable – we read what we were told to read – and I must say I’m glad for it. We did all the tragedies in high school – plus some others. I think my daughter only did R&J in high school. However, we took our kids to quite a few Bell Shakespeare plays when they were in their teens. I think that helped though I know that especially loved the pancake supper afterwards!


            • I think that performance is what really brings Shakespeare alive… it certainly did for me.


          • Happily they still do Shakespeare at my kids high school, beginning in Year 9.

            I loved the Botanic Gardens plays (I think I also so Lady Chatterley at Como House one year…).


            • That’s good. Even if they don’t love it at that age, it will still resonate many years later:)


  2. Haha, love your sneaking in your ILW. I am reading my Jolley as we speak … well not exactly because right now I am speaking (aka writing). My Six Degrees went in a different direction from a book I hadn’t read and had to look up too, though I know my daughter has read his Blink.


    • I’m often challenged by the NF books that start #6Degrees. It’s because I just don’t read as much NF as fiction, I suppose. Today’s three x NF is a bit of a record for me, I think…


      • No me neither, but I don’t tend to find it an issue for 6 degrees because there are so many things you can link on – author’s names, words in title, settings, or nationality as I did here! A broad link, I know, but a link nonetheless. My aim was another expat English-Canadian writer but while I know several from other countries who’ve settled in Canada I didn’t really know English ones.


        • Yes, it’s true, we’re limited only by imagination!


  3. Of course I had to search Chilbury Ladies Choir… :-D

    I really have no excuses for not tarting Tracker in the first week of July, do I?


    • Trust me, if you were dubious about The Nest, you will not like CLC either!
      Oh, I don’t know, it’s very long…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I won’t be reading CLC, just wanted to see the cover 😂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have no talent for #6 degrees of separation…but found your connects interesting. More than that I am very happy to find an Indigenous reading list!
    Thanks so much for this list….and all lists of awards (short and long). I stop by your blog often as it is one of my go-to-Australian references. I also visit Brona’s Books, Whispering Gums.


    • I’m glad you find the IndigList useful: it’s the product of a whole lot of readers sharing their reviews so it’s a collaborative effort:)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is deeply niche, but my housemate and I spent a delightful evening recently doing a read-through of a C16 play so cheerfully obscene that I shudder to think what its live performances might have been like. (If there ever were any; it’s the sort of thing that might well have just circulated in manuscript/cheap pamphlet form…) Sadly I can’t recall the title, but the characters are called things like Cuntinella and Clitoris. It is really absurd.


  6. I decided I needed to read your chain just to see how you linked it to Indigenous Literature Week! I have to say that I had no idea that there was an Elizabeth Jolley week, so I am now following your blog to find out more. Elizabeth Jolley was one of my writing tutors during my undergraduate degree (many years ago now).


    • Oh wow, that would have been a wonderful experience… it’s common now to have authors teaching at various universities, but it wasn’t then, at least not at the ones I went to.

      Anyway, EJ Week starts tomorrow June 4th, and I’m glad to have you join us:) I have my review of The Newspaper of Claremont Street ready to go!


  7. I find it hard to not finish a book even when it does not deserve my attention. I must have over commitment issues. I should work on that.


    • Yes, I tend to agonise over it when I abandon a book. I don’t ever find it easy to do.


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