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Heather Gallagher has written for The AgeThe Melbourne Times and Leader newspapers. She has an obsession with the quirky things in life and loves to write about them. She is especially fond of weird animal stories and particularly enjoyed writing Ferret on the Loose which has just been published. Heather lives by the sea with her husband, two daughters and a dog called Pip.

Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

I grew to love Winnie the Pooh as an adult. We had a hard-covered blue edition when I was a kid but it never really appealed. Then when I was pregnant with our first child, my husband bought me a large colour illustrated version and I read it aloud to him in front of the fire during that winter. It was a beautiful bonding thing to do with Richard, but also made me feel a connection with our unborn child. I am a little like Winnie – I love to eat and sleep.

 
The Getting of Wisdom by Henry Handel Richardson

I loved Laura Rambotham immediately. As a teenager, I too knew what it was to be an awkward, dramatic outsider and she was a character who really resonated with me. I’ve read this book a number of times over the years and get something new from it each time.

 
My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin

This book represents both terror and hope for me in my personal and professional life. I first read it in Year 12 where one of my friends decreed that I (with no boyfriend in sight) would grow up to be “a Sybylla” (for those who haven’t read the book, read a lonely spinster). But I loved the fact that Sybylla took her difficult life and wrote about it and made it the “brilliant career” of the title. I also like the movie version, particularly the closing scene where Judy Davis as Sybylla lifts the package containing her first book from her letterbox.

 
The History of Ideas , Macquarie

 I received this book as a prize when I was duped into competing in a Toastmistress Speaking competition in Year 7. Back then I had a terror of public speaking but, my best friend cajoled me into entering the competition with her. At the last minute, my friend backed out and I was left to go it alone, jelly-kneed. Although I’ve scarcely read this book it symbolises for me the glass half-full approach to life. Inside the back cover is a clipping of an article that ran in the local paper with the results. I came third – out of three contestants. But the article didn’t mention that!

Macbeth by William Shakespeare

I studied this play for Year 9 English and as part of our learning we had to memorise a soliloquy and perform it in front of the class. I practiced so long and hard, with such passion, that I indoctrinated my entire family. My brother and sister still randomly break into “Is this a dagger I see before me?” Sadly, my efforts on the day were thwarted by my terror of public speaking. I was a blushing, mousey Macbeth.

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