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Meshel Laurie is a comedian presently on air (Nova) in Melbourne. You will have seen her on television on Can of WormsSpicks and Specks and GNW; she was a regular on Rove and The Circle. She also writes for Mamamia. Meshel Laurie's memoir THE FENCE-PAINTING FORTNIGHT OF DESTINY is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $27.99, out now.

Meshel is a member of the Advisory Board of SISHA (South East Asia Investigations into Social and Humanitarian Activities), an ambassador of Karuna Hospice, an ambassador of Childsafe Australia and an ambassador of A Flying Start for Queensland Children, for the Queensland Department of Education and Training.

We are delighted that Meshel was able to join us today to select her five most influential books.

Borderland: The Casebook of True Supernatural Stories by W.T. Stead

I found this book in my primary school library in Year 5.  It didn't occur to me at the time that the books in a kids library should be different to the books in any per library, but now I realise how inappropriate and unexpected the contents of my favourite little shelf were. The shelf was down the back, and from memory was surrounded by shelves containing books about religious history. It was not a religious school, so the collection was small and rarely disturbed. Right in the middle though, was a shelf full of "non-fiction" ghost books.  I had at least one of them in my possession at all times during that year, but most often it was this one.  The photos were amazing, (at the time.)

The Art of Happiness at Work, by HH the Dalai Lama and Howard C Cutler

This was the first book by His Holiness that I ever read.  I was really struggling at work at the time, and this book helped me to accept responsibility both for my part in the angst and also for my role in creating my own happiness everywhere, including at work.  I kept reading and studying Buddhism and have now been a practicing Buddhist for seven years.  I'm also an official ambassador for His Holiness in Australia.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

What is there to say about The Book Thief that hasn't already been said?  For me, this book reawakened a love of historical fiction which had been all but forgotten in favour of non-fiction. A great story about what we think we know is going on behind closed doors and what we hope no one ever sees behind ours.

The Beast in Man by Emile Zola

My first favourite piece of historical fiction, although it wasn't historical when he wrote it. I bought a beautiful old copy in an op shop in the early 90s because I thought it would look cool on a shelf.  I  started flipping through it when I got home and was enthralled. As the title suggests, it's an exploration of the savage beast that lives under even the most convincing civilised facade.

Jobs by Walter Isaacson

The great thing about this one is that it seems to have as many faces as readers, by which I mean everyone I talk to about it has taken something different away. Personally, I forgive the brat-ish low-lights and focus on the bravery and vision of a man who never doubted his own instincts no matter how overwhelming the opposition.  The book helped me cheer his eventual domination and makes me feel protective of his legacy. It made me a Jobs fan.

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