Packed to the Stacks Events Blog!

Tara Moss

Maybe you’ve seen various ads and bus stop billboards selling cable TV specials refer to June as ‘hump month’ these past couple of weeks – as if we’re all just waiting for it to be over so we can race towards the end of another year. Very silly and slightly depressing!  With our June events we’re determined to make this month one to enjoy, and we’ve hit the ground running in the first couple of weeks.

We didn’t let a tropical storm get in the way of our event with Tara Moss on Saturday, with a huge, only slightly damp crowd packed inside the shop keeping warm and dry among the shelves.

Tara proved why she’s one of the most inspiring and intelligent speakers and writers we’ve got, talking about her book Speaking Out: A Handbook for Women and Girls. Krissy has written a terrific review of Tara’s book HERE, which puts its importance into much better words than I can, but the excitement and anger in the room made it clear that there’s a lot of women who are more determined than ever to speak out and change things for the better.


The real standout event of the last week to my mind was Tara Winkler’s How not to Start an Orphanage… By a woman who did. Far from what the light-hearted title suggested, Tara’s talk was a damming analysis of the problems inherent in the culture of orphanages not just in Cambodia, where she initially started one, but all over the world. She told stories of corruption – where money donated was embezzled by corrupt orphanage managers, food and clothing resold for profit, and neglect and abuse allowed to run rampant. In some cases, it’s even in the best interest of corrupt managers for kids to be kept poor and disadvantaged to elicit sympathy and money from tourists.


My experience with developing-world orphanages had been primarily through smiling photos of my friends visiting Nepal or Cambodia to go volunteer with the kids – and while I’d never thought this temporary care and attachment was healthy, I’d never thought about the huge psychological impact on these kids who are without primary care givers and proper attachment. I thoroughly recommend watching Tara’s episode of Australian Story (on Youtube here) and buying the book. Though the stats are shocking, Tara’s new model for keeping kids with their families and giving foster carers the support to properly look after children in a real home which the Cambodian’s Childrens Trust is now implementing with the Cambodian government)  is very hopeful, and Tara’s energy and commitment inspiring.

Earlier in the week Madeleine Gleeson brought home some of the terrible truths about offshore processing or asylum seekers (and, finally, some alternative solutions) in her conversation with Paul Barclay for Radio National’s Big Ideas program. Her Book Offshore is a hefty tome, but the stories and statistics from real survivors and refugees are as vital as they are upsetting. We’re always so proud to host these important social conversations, and bring the most expert voices in every field to share with our community in an accessible and welcoming environment.

On a lighter note, we continued our run of wonderful food-based events in partnership with our mates Wandering Cooks with our Real Food Projects  event and cooking demonstration with Kate Walsh. Avid owner Fiona was there bookselling and loved Kate’s enthusiasm for Real Food techniques in home cooking. Keep an eye out for more foodie wholesomeness with Jade Blereau and a bit of decadence with chocolate master Kristin Tibbals in the coming months.

As well as our usual first-week-of-the-month bookclubs, early risers on Sunday were treated to a lively conversation between Marie Munkara and Melissa Lucashenko at our Sunday Big Breakfast bookclub, talking about Marie’s memoir Of Ashes and Rivers that Run to the Sea

Elizabeth Muir’s sell-out event for Wasted was incredibly moving and a privilege to be involved with. Elizabeth is a Brisbane local and a former emerging reader at one of our Salon Events, and it’s wonderful her create something so beautiful and important.

You can check out all our upcoming events HERE, and email myself (Madeleine) or Krissy on or call 3846 3422 for more information or to secure your ticket! Look forward to seeing you soon!