book recommendations

‘The Rosie Project’

by Graeme Simsion

Suggested beverage: Orange Juice. Freshly squeezed. A single 100 ml serving which will contain 52.4 mg of Vitamin C, 87% of your daily allowance, as based on an average person’s 2000 calorie diet. (Or you could always just treat yourself to a martini, because even Don Tillman has his weaknesses.) 

Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project is an always amusing portrayal of Don Tillman’s quest for love. Or, in Don’s eyes, his quest for a Wife.

See, 39 year old Don lacks basic social skills. While as a geneticist this has been of only mild concern, as a man it has proven to be problematic. Handsome, intelligent, athletically fit, he is (on paper, at least) a desirable partner. In person, however, Don finds it difficult to make connections.

So he devises The Wife Project. Using a pedantically structured questionnaire with a precise scoring system, Don is certain he will find a romantic partner who he is compatible with.

A simple, straightforward endeavor.

That is, of course, until Rosie slips through the system with her sustainable seafood, smoking habit and total unsuitability.

Not only is The Rosie Project a fun, heart-warming read, it’s also the kind of book that reminds you to look at your own life with fresh perspective. Don Tillman is the sort of endearing character that you can only wish the very best for. I found myself laughing out loud from the moment I picked the novel up, and glancing wistfully back at it once I had put it back on my shelf, encouraged by Don’s perseverance despite all the illogicalities and improbabilities of his predicament.

But don’t take my word for it, take Don’s:

“I may have found a solution to the Wife Problem. As with so many scientific breakthroughs, the answer was obvious in retrospect …”

Original Poetry

Carrion Bird

You, Vulture –
Paltry predator all dark swoop and circle
Presiding over impoverished prey.
You, Carrion Bird,
Claw at a country cracked open
Like a carcass;
Split at the ribs,
Brittle bone broken by too many beaks
And too many burdens.
You gouge out our eyeballs and eat them,
But we’ve been watching you –
Feasting on famished flesh
Knowing you can fly further afield.
Yes, you, Scavenger,
Skuttering across naked skulls,
Preening feathers when you’re full
All gluttony and greed
And get-give-me-grasping, –
And the guilt?
It was not your claws that did the killing:
Blame Lions for all the bloodshed,
Heap the horror on Hyenas,
But you, Mr. Marabou,
Do you hear?
Grim ghouls still groan in the grip of your grace.


Copyright © November 2017, Lyndsey England

Original Poetry

Elegy For Elephants

Between the boughs of a baobab embrace
A grey ghost groans in his wretched resting place:
Blessèd are the bare bones that bore the weight
Of ivory ignorance, greed, and hate.

The solitary procession prepares to pass;
A lonely elephant left for last
Whose Wisdom’s watched the world contract:
Watched bullets ricochet through rainsplash,
Watched the Zambezi run bloody as a body
broke open – bore witness
To every nimble knife gash. Cold
Cruel memory is not difficult to harness:
He unfurls his trunk to cradle bone;
Recalls how they callously cut through the carcass.
Grief is an abscess, putrid and gaping;
the Old Comrade trumpets, tired – an orchestra of aching.

You cannot but marvel at the nature of God’s grace
When David revels in the agony on this Goliath’s face.

Copyright © May 2017, Lyndsey England

Original Poetry



In between the hopscotch paint,
The jungle gym, the monkey bars;
Spread amid the tyre swings,
The small brown shoes, the sandpit;
In amongst the classrooms: the carpets scuffed,
The gutters clogged;
Falling into the swimming pool,
Summer sun, the diving board;
Framing roads leading home and back,
Too soon Septembers blooming lilac –
Just as afternoons taste of Tanganda
My youth is littered with

Copyright © March 2017, Lyndsey England

Blog Post

Paper Empowering People


On the back of International Women’s Day, Emma Watson (alongside The Book Fairies), deposited a selection of feminist books from her ‘Our Shared Shelf’ Bookclub in discrete public places. The idea was to “make people love reading again” whilst also advocating feminism.

This project got me thinking about the role that books play in empowering people. Since time immemorial, people have used the written word as a way to vocalize their beliefs in a world that strains to shout over every aching voice.

Anne Frank used her diary as a way to rediscover light in the oppressive darkness which descended upon her life during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Writing gave her a fraction of liberation even when her liberties had long since been taken away, and her father’s subsequent publication of the diary gave Anne Frank the power to present her truth to people for decades after her death in Bergen-Belsen.

I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn. – Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl

i know why the cages bird singsLikewise, Maya Angelou’s writing allowed her to discuss the injustices she had been subject to throughout her life.

In her autobiographical work, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, she detailed her transformation from a victim of rape and racism into a strong, empowered, dignified young woman capable of combating prejudice and subjugation. Not only did the writing of this book provide catharsis and closure for Angelou, the main character of the book, Maya, soon became a “symbolic character for every black girl growing up in America”.

With this in mind, it’s clear that paper plays an important part in empowerment. So where does that leave those unable to read and write?

There is still a shocking 781 million illiterate people in the world today, and women make up two thirds of that figure. The unbalanced gender ratio of this statistic alone reveals how many barriers we still need to push through in order to achieve equality. Despite how progressive many people perceive the world to be nowadays, the stigma attached to female education continues to inhibit women all over the globe.

But as in all things, there is hope. People continue to fight for their right to an education and sustainable development goals aim to end illiteracy by 2030. In the words of Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize Laureate:

i am malalaOne child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world. – Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Original Poetry

My Africa Is Warmth – It Burns

It’s no belts in the backseat,
The sun shining and bare feet.
Some people say that Africa has a rhythm
But the reality of Africa is a flavour;
Tastes something like wet dirt, sunscreen,
And the sweat from manual labour.
Africa can rob a swarm of bees of their honey
And with sticky hands unscathed
Those same fingers snatch a beggar’s money.
It’s that empty-belly-ache-dying-for-a-little-taste,
Ballooning children, going to waste –
But sunsets;
Egg yolk yellow leaking into
orange spilling over
to kiss the watery cheek of Lake Kariba:
…………..Some say corruption is a two-way street –
Have you ever tried to love a place synonymous with deceit?

Copyright © February 2017, Lyndsey England

book recommendations

‘The Narrow Road To The Deep North’

By Richard Flanagan

Suggested beverage: coffee. black. no sugar.

‘The Narrow Road To The Deep North’ takes you into the heart of a Japanese Prisoner of War camp, right along the Burma death railway. Saturated in simple human suffering, this novel swings through death and desperation with every page pulling you in further.

Darky Gardiner. The Line. Jack Rainbow’s Wife. Nikitaris’s Fish Shop.

It’s the fragments of stories beyond Dorrigo Evans which make this book a masterpiece. It’s the undiluted humanity of the novel which makes it an absolute must read.

If you aren’t quite convinced just yet, I’ll start you off:

“Why at the beginning of things is there always light?”