Any Ordinary Day

Any Ordinary Day

In the October 2018 edition of Australian Book Review (ABR), Gail Bell reviews a new book by TV personality Leigh Sales, “Any Ordinary Day”.

For a book that wears its heart on its sleeve, there is plenty to admire. The main questions are answered. 

Sales, known for her trademark verve, disarms her audience with glimpses of her off-screen nerves behind the studio curtain, and delivers, surprisingly, a happy ending.

With The End in Mind & Letting Go

With the End in Mind & Letting Go

Gail Bell reviews 2 new books in the Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum on Saturday on February 3-4, 2018

“With The End in Mind” by Dr Kathryn Mannix & “Letting Go: How to Plan for a Good Death” by Dr Charlie Corke

Dr Charlie Corke is an Australian intensive-care specialist and a strong proponent of timely advanced-care planning. His book, Letting Go, walks the same terrain as Mannix but his map is the ICU of a busy hospital where decisions are made on the run, as it were, not in the relative quiet of a hospice setting.

What’s Missing is Love


In a new essay published at SBS online in December 2017, “What’s Missing is Love“, Gail Bell listens to the voices of disability activists and parents as they face the closure of the Stockton Centre in Newcastle, NSW.

Hundreds of people with intellectual disabilities live at the Centre, which is set to be sold to developers. Does the government’s new group home model really offer a better future, or is it just a grab for cash?

I hark back to the voices I recorded for this story… like Lorraine Yudaeff, psychologist and activist, whose quiet comment was caught against background noise on my recorder “What’s missing from all this [top down policy making] is love.



Gail Bell reviews Kate Cole-Adams’ new book, “ANAESTHESIA: The Gift of Oblivion and The Mystery of Consciousness” in the Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum and The Melbourne Age on Saturday 24 June 2017.

Cole-Adams has had a distinguished career in journalism, a skill set she uses to advantage as she digs down into elusive concepts such as the nature of consciousness…

Her prose is sinuous, at times intoxicating, and witty.

Insomniac City: Bill Hayes’ memoir of life and love with Oliver Sacks

Insomniac City

In a book review titled “Insomniac City: Bill Hayes’ memoir of life and love with Oliver Sacks” published in the Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum on May 13-14, 2017 Gail Bell writes:

If this were just a book about a love affair between two literary men 30 years apart in age it would be riches enough, but it is so much more.

Bill Hayes is a guest at Sydney Writers’ Festival, May 22-28.

My Mother’s Good Death

My Mother's Good Death

In a new essay published December 2016, My Mother’s Good Death, Gail Bell writes about the death of her mother Alice. The essay, commissioned by Ben Naparstek, Head of Editorial, Online & Emerging Platforms at the Australian Special Broadcasting Service SBS, takes the reader to Alice’s bedside in her own home after doctors had said nothing more could be done. For her children gathered around, it was time to patch up their relationships, make their mother comfortable and respect her wishes, as the new order of things began.

I knew, just after the turn of the New Year, that Mum was getting ready to cut the cord and send us, motherless, fatherless, into our necessary maturation.

“The latest personal essay from the incomparable Gail Bell.” Ben Naparstek

“I just read your beautiful story and fell in love with your mother. What a strong, wise woman who was your mother to the very end. And your writing is magnificent – sharp as a scalpel, fine as a paintbrush.” Susan Wyndham

“…so sensitively done, and with humour, sudden honesty, tenderness, pain — I was moved and impressed by your ability to frame it all into a structure that gave the reader time to get to know your mother enough to care about her and admire the dignified and thoughtful way she died.” Susan Hampton

“It’s wonderful, I loved it.” Helen Garner

Finding Sanity: John Cade, Lithium and the Taming of Bipolar Disorder

In a book review titled “A Salve for Disordered Brains” in Spectrum, Sydney Morning Herald October 15-16, 2016, Gail Bell reviews FINDING SANITY: John Cade, Lithium and the Taming of Bipolar Disorder published by Allen & Unwin.

In this first biography of Cade, co-written by Greg de Moore and Ann Westmore, we follow Cade from his birth in 1912 to his death in 1980, marvelling at the lone-wolf researcher who spent his evenings out in the shed (or the new pantry at the Mental Hospital) tinkering with his experiments.

Getting to the Guts of It

In a book review titled “Getting to the Guts of It” in the Spectrum section of The Sydney Morning Herald July 11-12, 2015 Gail Bell looks at a bestselling book by a new German author Giulia Enders, Gut: The Inside Story of our Body’s Most Under-rated Organ published by Scribe.

“Enders was provoked into her search, she tells us, by a question about toileting put to her by a flatmate. The studious Enders hit the textbooks, lost herself in study of the ‘masterly performance’ of our inbuilt disposal factory and emerged with a gleam in her eye: she would answer the simple question at book length and in language that would not cause her flatmate’s eyes, along with the rest of us who are not gastroenterologists, to glaze over.”

Losing a Parent to Parkinson’s Disease

SMH Good Weekend

In a feature article SHAKEN in The Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Weekend Magazine of June 6, 2015, Gail Bell writes poignantly about the death of her father from Parkinson’s Disease.

Poverty of movement, a phrase that had haunted his thinking, arrived as alarming episodes of being frozen on the spot. ‘I’m turning to stone’, he’d say. As a family we learnt to watch his voyages around the room. The drill was to give him a small push if he locked up. Like a stalled wind-up toy, he’d begin moving again.

Sugar Town: Have we lost control of what we eat?

The Monthly June 2014

In a cover story for the June 2014 issue of The Monthly Magazine, Gail Bell considers whether we’ve lost control of what we eat – and whether sugar deserves to be our new worst enemy. In “Sugar Town” she listens to both sides of the sugar/obesity debate and discovers strong resistance to change (and a lot of double-dealing) from the food giants.Many will recognise the tactics of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma in our own Australian Food and Grocery Council. First, commission your own scientists to produce studies that refute claims that your product is hurting anyone. Then bury evidence that points the wrong way. Keep talking, stalling, seed the public discourse with doubts, discredit your opponents, and get the government of the day in your pocket.