By Robert Claridge

Robert Claridge N.D.

Specialist Naturopath, Holistic Nutritionist, Herbalist, Homoeopath, R-System Specialist

“We read to know we are not alone.” C.S.Lewis

Welcome to 2024. I hope you were all able to get time to recharge during the break and have had a positive start to the year. One of the things that I use to recharge is reading. But this does not involve the scientific journals, naturopathic texts or personal development books which I’m obliged to read all year round. It’s through fiction. Novels born from a place of imagination and observation. Works that stretch your mind and your senses. With all of this said, here are my best reads for 2023.

  1. Lessons in Chemistry – Bonnie Gamus
    The book follows trials and tribulations of a brilliant chemist in the 1960s who fights for respect in a male-dominated environment. After her world is thrown upside down, she lands a job as the host of a cooking show. Using this platform, she empowers her viewers and herself to push through the boundaries imposed upon them. For me, this book was a potent lesson in persistence along with the power of passionately sticking to your values.  
  2. Limberlost – Robbie Arnott
    Limberlost tells the life story of Ned West, profoundly influenced by one hot Tasmanian summer on his family’s coastal orchard during World War II. With his two brothers away at war, a distant depressed father and a motherless adolescent journey ahead, Ned hunts rabbits, hoping that their pelts will earn him enough money to buy a small boat to help him sail away from it all. My reflection from this book was how our historical choices and imprints shape us and that the deeper the emotions that accompany these, the greater the reverberations. Thanks to my local bookshop Heads and Tales in Barwon Heads for this recommendation.
  3. Eucalyptus – Murray Bail (1999 Miles Franklin Winner)
    This is the story of Holland and his striking daughter Ellen who move to a large property in rural NSW. Once there, Holland obsessively begins to plant and nurture every known species of eucalyptus.  As Ellen grows and the legend of her beauty spreads, Holland decides that the man that can identify and name every eucalypt on the property will earn her hand in marriage. It is a brilliant fairy tale that twists and turns right up until its most clever conclusion. What I got from this book was the power of intention. In particular, that if love is the central driver, then things will tend to work out in the end.
  4. RUNT – Craig Silvey
    Annie Shearer and her adopted dog, Runt, live in the drought-stricken region of Upson Downs which is further threatened by the selfishness of Earl Robert-Barron who has dammed all the water so that he can buy all the farms. But Annie is not going to let this happen. With her unique intelligence and amazingly skilled dog she manages to qualify for the richest dog show in the world. However, there is one minor problem. Runt only shows his brilliance when no-one is watching! This beautiful book emphasized the importance of family, love, loyalty, and being yourself.  

Well, there were my top four.  They all met the criteria of expanding and educating me so that I would grow. Do you have suggestions that you could add to the list?  I would love for you to share your literary experiences so that we can all be further enriched by the power of literature.  

Happy reading, 

Robert Claridge

Specialist Naturopath, Holistic Nutritionist, Herbalist, Homoeopath, R-System Specialist

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