Preview Reviews: Phosphorescence by Julia Baird

Preview Reviews: Phosphorescence by Julia Baird

Awe-inspiring and captivating, Julia Baird’s Phosphorescence is a deep dive into all that makes life worth living. This book is a wondrous investigation into the ways in which we may nurture our souls in times of darkness.

Read our Preview reviewer thoughts here:

Julia Baird’s “Phosphorescence” is not the usual type of book that I read but I really enjoyed this book.  I have learned so many things that I didn’t know and the chapter “Letter to a Young Woman”, is absolutely beautiful and just the kind of thing I want to write to my daughter.  It was a fascinating book and I would like to thank Better Reading & Harper Collins for my advanced copy. – Hannelie, WA, 5 stars

What an amazing read – thoroughly recommend to everybody. – Sally, VIC, 5 stars

Such a beautiful read. Nothing could have prepared me for the enlightenment and awakening of my senses that this read produced within me. – Rebecca, QLD, 5 stars

This book honesty couldn’t come at a better time. Now when we have to look at our world with uncertainty this offers the reader the opportunity to stop and rediscover that light within.    Phosphorescence contains vignettes of what sustains us and lets us examine what it is that gets us through times that are challenging. Not everything works the same for each person, which is why I believe this books works so well for the individual. For some, children are the thing we place importance on, for others, it is that first step into freedom after conforming for so long. Fighting for what you believe in and for what we find important to us.    At the heart of it, Phosphorescence is about resilience. How do we continue to glow when the lights turn out? We need to seek love, to understand that when we are faced with obstacles we need stop, take in the beauty and wonder that surrounds us and then we need to put one foot in front of the other and carry on. I’m looking forward to revisiting this book, I think it’s the kind of book that will offer something different each time it is read.    I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Thoughts and opinions are my own. – Cathy, VIC, 4 stars

Julia Baird’s Phosphorescence is a wonderful meditation on life, love, the search for meaning and how to sustain happiness.  With it seems some kind of other-worldly prescience, this book arrives with perfect timing, a guiding light for our suddenly dark times.  Beautiful inside and out, Phosphorescence acts as a contemplative exploration of the wonder of nature, the power of stillness and the joy of simple pleasures.  An inspirational guidebook for life! – Imogen, VIC 5 stars

This is not my usual book choice, but after being gifted the opportunity from Better Reading, I read it. I am pleased that I did as I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The prelude was interesting with the bits of history with man’s encounters  with things that glow.   There is a quote in the book that I find very relevant, especially now, while our world is in crisis – “It is now that everything that you have been given in life matters; this is what you draw on. Your parents, your friends, your work, your books, everything you have ever been told, everything you have ever learned, this is when you use that”.  There are lovely chapters in the book that warm the heart and give you pause for thought. In particular ” Why we need Silence” and “Letter to a Young Woman”.  The book is engaging, interesting and educating.  I will most certainly be looking forward to reading other titles written by Julia Baird. – Lisa, QLD, 4 stars

I found this too hard to get into so have been unable to finish it. – Alice, NSW, 1 star

What a great book!  I am usually a fan of fiction, as reading is my escape from the real world.  I cannot remember the last time I read a non fiction book.  This book had me interested from page one, and has put all my thoughts and feelings over the last few years, during which time I have explored many landscapes, down on paper and I feel connected more than ever.  If only more people could read this, and understand the impact of awe on our psyche.  The conversations this would open up would be beneficial to all.  Perhaps we could send copies to the decision makers responsible for the massive increase in density of the population…if only they would read it. – Sarah, VIC 5 stars

A bright light in our dark world.   So now. So relevant.   Tear pages out. Highlight them. Pin them up at your work.   This book will get you through our current dark times – Louise, NSW, 5 stars

Julia Baird’s, Phosphorescence is exactly what I needed to read in this new Covid 19 world. I would highly recommend this mind opening and mind altering book to anybody who is looking for some hope or guidance. Although writing about very profound matters, Julia’s writing style makes it easy to read, learn and take on board new ideas.  I think Phosphorescence is a book that I will regularly return to as a reminder that all around us there really is, ‘awe, wonder & things that sustain you when the world goes dark’. – Jo, QLD 5 stars

This was definitely not a book for me. I didn’t understand the whole purpose of the book at all. – Kristie, WA, 1 star

Thank you Better Reading for the opportunity to read this book.   Initially intrigued at the concept of the book, it was not long before I found myself drawn into the search for awe and wonder around me.  The first part of the book is insightful and eye opening and thoroughly enjoyable.   Julia has given us an overview for overcoming personal darkness using things she learned through her own life experience and trauma.   A little bit of faith, a lot of love and as much exposure to nature as one can get each day.    The latter part of the book ebbed and flowed a bit for me dwindling my interest on some parts and recapturing it through others.   Essentially this is life though, some things work for some people and some things don’t. Overall I would recommend the book to anyone looking to reignite their lust for wonder and awe. – Christie, SA, 3 stars

This was an interesting read, and not the usual book I would actually choose.  I was slow to get into it, wondering if it was all “useful”, but as i continued to read, reflecting on the current challenges people are facing, I did find it may have a relevance that people may draw comfort from. – Jenny, NSW, 3 stars

When times get you down, then pick up this book! It will change the way you think, from your daily rituals to your life-long goals.     In the style of Alain De Botton’s ‘Art of Travel’ Julia Baird takes us on a journey through her own ups and downs, and allows us to look deep within ourselves in the process. Her take on faith and spirituality is deeply inspiring, but her comments on the ‘everyday’ are equally thought provoking. This book is unique, in that people will be able to read it at different stages of their lives, and continue to receive new wisdom.     In a time where the future seems increasingly bleak and uncertain, Julia Baird provides a little light and Phosphorescence to guide us into the unknown.  – Angie, NSW, 4 stars

The title Phosphorescence encapsulates the illuminated content within. Baird’s narrative is a shining wonder itself, with a profound impact both unexpected and joyous. It is hard to believe that I could be taken into the core of my own connectedness with all that is manifest and sublime through mere words; but this book can do just that, if you allow it. Baird is an inspired woman, who is gifted in her ability to infuse joy and wonder into her narrative. Reading this book is likened to joining Baird on her morning swim. We wade into the ocean with her; to venture out deep to sense the awe she feels through our own heart strings. Baird inspires us to endure whatever challenges we face by sharing anecdotes of heroic lives and insights worth “tattooing over our hearts”.  Baird’s words are full of appreciation for the great moments she lives and it is evident this positive outlook keeps her thriving. I am left with inspiration within my suburban life.  Suddenly I notice the glow of morning light and that particular mottled cloud pattern that heralds a change as it streaks in from the coast, instead of arching my head low into a screen image. The impact of reading this book is lasting. I feel more of purpose and less that I am doing this gig alone.       There is a synchronicity with the appearance of Phosphorescence, with the needs of the world today. As we declare war on everything from bushfires to viruses, we are  lost in a world of separatist mentality. Baird’s book arises as an antidote to self-centred fears as she reminds of us of our deeper connections with one another, and that the remembering of this will brings us strength and hope. I can’t wait to gift this book to all the special people in my life.  – Wendy, WA, 5 stars

Phosphorescence by Julia Baird is a collection of insightful chapters aimed at helping each one of us as we exist in times when that glow of being happy starts to wane or abruptly stops.  By taking time to read all or some of these chapters and reflecting on what they are telling us we may get to rekindle our awe of the world and our existence  Some chapters will have little relevance to you, the reader, others appear to be written just for you. I started reading my copy just having been diagnosed, and operated on a small breast cancer. Ms Baird’s cancer journey was far more severe than mine and it helped put mine into perspective.  As I finished the book, the stress and restrictions put on us as the Coronavirus spreads, made the last chapters very relevant.  This is not a book to be read once like a novel. Read or skim through once if you wish to get the general feeling of the book. Then put it on a handy bookshelf so when you need to, you can go to a relevant chapter, breathe in the wonder of the language. Take your time to take in what the message is saying to you as an individual and follow the lead to regain your Phosphorescence. – Sue, WA, 4 stars

Phosphorescence’ by Julia Baird is an ode to the things in life that sustain us when times get dark. Drawing inspiration from her personal experiences, Baird then expands on this with quotes and research from scientists, psychologists and even Indigenous leaders, delivered in an eloquent and gentle way.     In light of recent times, all of us will be tested both physically and mentally. ‘Phosphorescence’ reminds and invites us to search and discover the awe and wonder all around us, no matter how small, to guide and endure us through our darkest times; that first cup of tea in the morning, a song that gives us goose bumps or the kindness of a stranger. Most importantly, ‘Phosphorescence’ reinforces the importance of our connection to not only our family and friends but to the stark beauty of nature.  A truly delightful and uplifting book that reminds us to ‘carry our own inner living light’ through the darkest of times. – Christine, VIC, 4 stars

Phosphorescence is a beautiful book which resonates especially in todays current environment.  The beauty of nature connecting us to ourselves, a timely reminder to focus on nurture and kindness to others and ourselves.  I calming read that I recommend enjoying somewhere outside. – Tess, TAS, 4 stars

The theme of this extremely well written book is ‘awe, wonder and things when the world goes dark’. How totally appropriate is this right now when so many of us in our community are experiencing some form of darkness and finding it hard to see the light. For me this book is perfectly timed after experiencing a year of ill health of a loved one and now on a bigger scale the onslaught and effects of the corona virus.   I truly enjoyed this inspirational book. – Elizabeth, QLD, 4 stars

By page TWO I was in awe, thinking this needs to be read out load to an audience, it is so “now”.  It’s exactly what’s needed for now.  It will sustain you through the darkest time ie. now.  It’s inspiring, beautiful and intense.  Some parts did feel like you’re reading a textbook but that’s exactly how it needs to be presented!  Read it, borrow it, highlight sections, fold down pages, you will refer back to pages that hit a sensitive part of you again and again.  I’m reading it for the second time! – Penny, NSW, 5 stars

I found the first few chapters a little dull with all the quoting, studies and surveys, however once Baird commenced sharing her personal story and the stories of her friends I was totally hooked. This book is a good reminder about not sweating the small stuff and she gave me several new concepts to explore on the topic of finding joy in everyday life, and I thought I’d heard it all! – Jo, NSW 4 stars

Heartfelt and beautifully told stories of the many lessons, big and small, that are presented to us as we go through life – some we learn straight away and others are illuminated in retrospect.   Every chapter is full of interesting characters and lessons to remember. Thank you, Julia Baird, for this book! – Robyn, WA, 5 stars

I have to confess I wasn’t sure what the author was talking about with pages of discussion about bioluminescent organisms, fascinating though it was. This is not a self-help book. A vastly researched account of the ways we can make our way in the world when we are weary and the joy has disappeared. It also refers to personal experiences which I enjoyed. Raw and beautifully written. – Leanne, QLD, 3 stars

What a  beautifully written and soul healing book.  Julia Baird’s poetic prose grabbed me from the very first page, when she describes how the unearthly glow in the wild “they have for any centuries, enchanted us, like glowing missionaries of wonder, emissaries of awe”.  I could feel my body relaxing as she describes swimming in the ocean and later in the week when  the trials of everyday life began to take their toll and stress began to overwhelm me, I immediately thought of those passages again and my body began to relax as I could feel the wonder and awe of the ocean envelope me. As she mentions life is not all “pollyanna”.  Sometimes life is difficult.  At these times it is very useful to know how to return to “the quiet healing properties of nature;  the forest, the sea and the creatures they contain”.  We need a way to find peace and tranquillity.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am about to start reading it for a second time. – Susan, QLD, 5 stars

Such an elegantly written mix of scientific facts and the human experience. All the things we know our bodies intrinsically tell us, yet we wait for science to confirm for us before believing as truth. An extremely timely tool for the general public. – Kayla, QLD, 5 stars

“Phosphorescence” is a collection of musings about finding satisfaction, meaning, and joy in life. Baird offers no prescriptions, only suggestions; many readers will find this a thoughtful prompt.  Baird buttresses her thoughts with research from around the world. Even studies with limited samples show that others are thinking along similar lines to Baird, and there’s a likely transferability about many of her personal experiences or thoughts.  There are suggestions of where people could look to enrich their life, variously illustrated by anecdote or research findings. For me, this sat comfortably because the tone of the book is not prescriptive – Baird isn’t telling us what to do. She’s suggesting areas to think about, things to try, things that have worked for other people.  Baird is focused on the question of how to enrich life, in ways that are in reach for everyone. This is a thoughtful and intelligent extended essay, couched in a very approachable tone. It focuses on positives, more than negatives. Although it prompts thought from the reader, Baird’s style is easy to read and digest.  Readers will find this book useful and interesting. Even if you make no changes as a result, it could prompt some interesting conversations. – Lorraine, ACT, 4 stars

Baird describes her recovery from ill health and her return to swimming, focusing on the benefits of water, immersion, swimming and a quest for illumination from underwater phosporesence. She embraces philosophy and muses on different theories including her own quest to experience bioluminescence. I found myself reading the book at 5am watching the local swim squad train. While I did not feel the water on my skin, I absorbed the hypnotic movements and ripples of the water while reading of the cathartic effects and absorbed the calm.  Baird espouses the need to find happiness and joy both in recognising your strength and failings, and growing from life’s lessons, rather than bowing to pressure to conform.  I enjoyed her anti-Marie Kondo moment when she mentions that both good and bad memories attach to objects and that is not necessary to throw things away.    I genuinely enjoyed this book, despite it not being a work that I would normally select to read. Expand your boundaries and give the author a chance. It’s a lovely book with a theme that transcends trendy self-help tomes, and expresses thankfulness, joy, and life affirming changes. Be curious, focus and have the ability to see and appreciate the world around you. Share grace, love and forgiveness and savour the happy moments in the everyday, the cakes, the smiles, the coffee. Find hope and be sustained by faith. Seek a better world. – Naomi, NSW, 4 stars

Fascinating read! Nature at its best, nurturing, healing and making us feel happy and lighter. – Angelynn, NSW, 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book, the feelings and emotions I could relate to.  How we perceive and see things, and the wonder of naturally occuring Phosphorescence in its many forms.  Along with the Northern Lights on my “To See” List, I can now add Moonbow.  I had never heard of this until now, so Thanks Julia, its on the list!  Highly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in Life itself, and the simple pleasure of getting back to Nature in all its forms and glory. – Annette, NSW, 3 stars

Phosphorescence delivers an entertaining account and perspective on finding a light to ward off the darkness.  This book is an excellent read for those that have been captured by reading Leigh Sales outstanding novel, Any Ordinary Day.  Given the worldwide virus alerts of late, this book is just what is needed to keep you grounded and nurtured. – Preeya, QLD, 3 stars

Julia Baird takes us on a journey to find ones inner light.  We all want happiness, strength and health so the search to find and keep all of the above is one in which is of extreme importance.   The benefits of being around nature and green spaces, the subtle power of silence and the simple things in life are all examined.  Certain life experiences trigger different attitudes in people whereby they are able to appreciate the world and what is around them therefore bringing out kindness towards others.   Objects triggering memories are also looked at and how nostalgia can be a way of helping us document our lives.   People want to hold onto the good memories and not the bad.   Accepting ones self is one which is always pushed for in today’s society but it’s honestly easier said than done.   A great read to motivate you to take small steps to change your life for the better. – Francis, NSW, 4 stars

‘Is there anything more beautiful than living light?’ Julia Baird asks the reader  in the Prelude to Phosphorescence.  This is, in her view, a rhetorical question. Baird explores wonders in nature and connections to family and friends that can sustain and uplift us in the face of an uncertain and, at times, frightening world.    Baird has cast her net wide, quoting scientists, astronauts, Indigenous leaders and psychologists. She refers to her own experiences and then expands her view to look at the bigger picture, often through a feminist lens.    Her two chapters addressed to her children are sublime and eloquent. She celebrates her friends, referring to them as ‘the crossbeams of [her] resilience’. And she reminds us that the greatest antidote for loneliness is to help another ‘and in doing so you may happily forget yourself for a while.’    Baird says she wrote this book ‘in the hope that it might be a salve for the weary’. When I finished this book, I felt an enormous sense of peace, and found that I approached the world with a renewed sense of optimism, awe and wonder.  – Gaby, NSW, 5 stars

Phosphorescence is the light emitted naturally by organisms. Julia Baird’s book of the same name is not a scientific examination of this natural phenomena. Instead it looks at the light we emit in our daily lives through our thoughts and actions. It especially focuses on how to keep that light shining when our work and the situations we face are dark.     Phosphorescence is a combination of personal anecdotes, history and supporting studies. It really made me think about how I live my life and what I can do to keep my light shining. Thought provoking. – Joanne, QLD, 3 stars

Phosphorescence by Julia Baird is a beautiful collection of anecdotes to make one laugh, cry (sometimes at the same time), & ponder all the wonderful things in this life which may not be visible to all, but are brought to our attention so lovingly & descriptively. A book to read many times over. – Lynne, QLD, 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading Julia’s book. To me it was about the best possible way to navigate your journey through life. Julia suggests how to deal with adversity (not minor problems but major adversity and how to keep the wonder and awe we all probably had in childhood. It was very positive and uplifting for me. It was very well written and researched. I loved it. – Gloria, SA, 5 stars

Julia Baird’s Phosphoresence challenges us to find our bright light. The key themes of awe and wonder are backed by research which references writers, philosophers, historical figures and medical professionals.  What sustains us in difficult times? How do we heal ourselves? Baird talks of stillness, dancing with nature, the power of water, acceptance of imperfection and the sharing of joy.  As a mother of three daughters, the letter to My Darling Daughter resonated with me. Advice such as demand respect, use your brain, be you and on a lighter note always buy the undies to match the bras struck a chord.  Baird’s personal journey is reflected on every page. She shares an armoury of coping mechanisms with her audience.  For me, the key question of how to become phosphorescent was answered; seek and settle on a purpose in life and keep your lights on when you stumble into dark spots.  Baird’s final question to readers – How do we continue to glow when the lights go out? –   compels us to search for what sustains us.  This was a very different read for me, one that provoked much thought about life, love, happiness and strength. – Lorraine, NSW, 4 stars

Phosphorescence by Julia Baird is an interesting book. It is not something I would have picked off the shelf but I did enjoy it. The theme of the book is basically trying to find the wonder or awe in moments of your life, instead of dwelling on the bad things. Look for things that take your breath away or give you goosebumps,  and hold those feelings, which will help when you have bad times in your life. It is a positive way of looking at life. I hope to take her ideas on board. – Fay, VIC, 4 stars



Phosphorescence by Julia Baird: Your Preview Verdict

Review | Preview

8 April 2020

Phosphorescence by Julia Baird: Your Preview Verdict

    Utterly Sublime, Deeply Moving: See Why you Must Read Julia Baird's Phosphorescence Here

    Review | Extract

    30 March 2020

    Utterly Sublime, Deeply Moving: See Why you Must Read Julia Baird's Phosphorescence Here

      We Need this Book. Julia Baird's Phosphorescence is the Perfect Read

      Review | Our Review

      24 March 2020

      We Need this Book. Julia Baird's Phosphorescence is the Perfect Read

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                Publisher details

                Julia Baird
                Biography and Memoir
                23 March, 2020


                A beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness - the 'light within' that Julia Baird calls 'phosphorescence' - which will sustain us even through the darkest times.Over the last decade, we have become better at knowing what brings us contentment, well-being and joy. We know, for example, that there are a few core truths to science of happiness. We know that being kind and altruistic makes us happy, that turning off devices, talking to people, forging relationships, living with meaning and delving into the concerns of others offer our best chance at achieving happiness. But how do we retain happiness? It often slips out of our hands as quickly as we find it. So, when we are exposed to, or learn, good things, how do we continue to burn with them?And more than that, when our world goes dark, when we're overwhelmed by illness or heartbreak, loss or pain, how do we survive, stay alive or even bloom? In the muck and grit of a daily existence full of disappointments and a disturbing lack of control over many of the things that matter most - finite relationships, fragile health, fraying economies, a planet in peril - how do we find, nurture and carry our own inner, living light - a light to ward off the darkness?Absorbing, achingly beautiful, inspiring and deeply moving, Julia Baird has written exactly the book we need for these times.
                Julia Baird
                About the author

                Julia Baird

                Julia Baird is a journalist, broadcaster and author based in Sydney, Australia. She is hosts The Drum on ABC TV and writes columns for the Sydney Morning Herald and the International New York Times. Her writing has appeared in a range of publications including Newsweek, The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Guardian, the Good Weekend, The Sydney Morning Herald, the Sun-Herald, The Monthly and Harper’s Bazaar.

                Books by Julia Baird


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