For me, books are really special things. They hold memories, they help us learn and they enable some of us with overactive thoughts to switch our minds off, just occasionally. When they were little, my children weren’t allowed in the car without a book and, for long trips, it had to be a whole box full. It was the only way to guarantee peace for at least part of the journey and the strategy seemed to work quite effectively.

I was very chuffed to learn recently that our marvellous P&F are soon to start a fundraising drive to supplement the books in our High School library. Mr O’Brien, as Head of the English learning area, has been campaigning to ensure that our students understand the importance of regular reading and the joy that it can engender; he is an expert at matching even reluctant readers with a book that will grab their attention. Adding to our extensive young adult fiction collection will help our English teachers continue with their efforts to instil a love of reading in the students.

I started thinking about books this weekend as I tried desperately to get hold of a bird field guide in preparation for my trip to Israel (I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to travel on the JNF Educators’ Tour in the July holidays, which is really exciting). Perhaps it shouldn’t have surprised me that the Perth bookshops don’t have multiple copies of ‘Birds of the Middle East’ waiting for me on their bookshelves, but I started to get slightly worried when Dymocks said that they could order it for me, but then couldn’t guarantee that it would arrive within the next three weeks. I did a swift online order when I got home and am desperately hoping that it arrives in time to pack it in my suitcase with my binoculars.

Having failed me on the foreign field guide, Dymocks did, however, sell me an interesting little book called ‘Stop Reading the News’, by Rolf Dobelli. I had decided some years ago to not watch nor listen to the news very often (it had never been particularly uplifting, nor helpful) but when I signed the contract to be a Principal, I assumed I would be obliged to keep more up to date with current affairs. Surely I would need to know more about what was going on in the world? My listening to Radio 4 podcasts from the BBC helped a bit (and the exploits of the British Parliament sometimes make me feel better about our own Australian politics) but I decided it wasn’t enough, so I have tried over the last six months to force myself to put the radio in the car on a news channel and to watch the news on some evenings. I’m now not sure whether I have done the right thing in terms of feeling obliged to re-acquaint myself with the news and I shall be interested to read this book and find out.

My weekend of selfishly spending on myself continued as I also treated myself to the online purchase of an irresistible brand new beachcombing book which I spotted on my marine biologist god-daughter’s Instagram page. I will be very excited when it arrives and it will give me a good excuse to go back to the beach and do some more collecting of beachy things for the Kindy children, who seemed very excited to be able to play with my collection last time I visited them.

Books are really important to me personally, as I’m not very good at switching my mind off and one of the ways in which I do actually manage that occasionally, is through getting engrossed in a good book. Two weeks ago, I read ‘The Salt Path’ by Raynor Winn and a week later, realised I’d loved it so much I had to borrow the sequel (‘Wild Silence’) which was also fabulous. A great story of a middle aged couple who unexpectedly became homeless (does anyone expect to become homeless?) and simultaneously received a terminal diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease. They decided to walk the South West Coast Path from Somerset to Dorset, via Devon and Cornwall – wild camping, with no back up and very little money. It was a fabulous read and entirely filled my mind for a whole Saturday. I slept well that night.

I hope you can engineer an interesting discussion around the dinner table with your family this week about what they’re currently reading. It’s great for your children to see their parents reading books around the home; noticing their dad or mum regularly reading makes them much more likely to see it as a normal part of life and backs up the English teachers’ work at school. And if books are important to you, too, please consider getting involved in one of the P&F activities during the year and helping them fundraise for our High School library.

Julie Harris