past, present and future with walter mason


cambodiaEvery two weeks on Book to the Future, I have a feature I call Past, Present and Future. Its a special post in which I invite I admire – an author, a blogger, a reader – to share with me a little bit about the book they’ve just finished reading, the book they’re reading right now and the book they’re planning to read next. In other words – past, present and future. 

This fortnight’s fellow time traveller is blogger and writer, Walter Mason. He’s the author of two travel books, Destination Saigon and Destination Cambodia – not to mention a completely fascinating person. You’ll see what I mean. Here’s what Walter’s been reading…


Many people don’t realise that I am completing a doctoral dissertation on the history of
self-help writing in Australia. I have to say this to disguise the fact that I am actually an addicted reader of self-help books, and have been ever since my father gave me a copy Enchantmentof The Magic of Thinking Big when I was sixteen. I had already indulged in the self-help habit before that, however. I’d picked up and read Dr. Wayne Dyer’s 70s self-help classic Your Erroneous Zones, having mistaken it for a naughty book. Two chapters in I was disappointed and delighted all at the same time.

The book I have just finished is Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment. Kawasaki was once the face of Apple computing, striding the global stage as the world’s first ever “Chief Evangelist” for a corporate entity, thereby setting the stage for an avalanche of “Brand Ambassadors” and “Chief Motivating Officers.” Enchantment is his manifesto for becoming a thought leader through the use of charm, friendliness and mutual self-support. It is an excellent book, and it encouraged me to redouble my own efforts on that front. I think charm is something of a lost art, and certainly one that sophisticated sourpusses like to make fun of. Kawasaki’s book promises that it is still the most certain way to success, however, and I think he’s probably right. I dream of starting a chain of charm schools – God knows the world needs them.


homage to panI am fascinated by Australia’s occult history. People imagine that Australians have always been cynical and conservative, but in fact we have had warlocks, Buddhists, Spiritualists and Theosophists here since the earliest days. One of the most intriguing and outrageous of these fringe characters was Rosaleen Norton, the Witch of Kings Cross. At the moment I am reading Homage to Pan: The Life, Art and Sex-Magic of Rosaleen Norton by Nevill Drury. It’s great fun and oh how I ache to be a wizard in Kings Cross in the 1950s! Nevill Drury was the foremost historian of alternative religion and spirituality in Australia, and he was someone I worked closely with for a couple of years. He passed away last year, and this is the last book he produced. It’s got everything: sex, drugs, poetry, Lucifer and art. And every word is true!


crackingConstantly anxious and terrified that I am an impostor, I always look for ways to improve. This goes for writing, life management, relationships and shirt-folding. I stalk YouTube slavishly for “life hacks.” So I almost can’t keep away from the next book on my pile: Cracking the Spine: Ten short Australian stories and how they were written. It’s been put together by Bronwyn Mehan and Julie Chevalier at Spineless Wonders, and is a collection of short stories, each story followed by an essay by its author detailing how they wrote the story. It’s a fascinating idea, and just the kind of thing I love. I always want to know what makes other writers tick, and I am also on the lookout for any guaranteed shortcuts to genius.

Walter Mason is a writer, blogger and creative writing teacher currently completing his doctoral thesis on the history of self-help books in Australia.

His first book, Destination Saigon was named one of the ten best travel books of 2010 by the Sydney Morning Herald. Walter’s latest book, Destination Cambodia, was released in 2013. Walter runs the Universal Heart Book Club with Stephanie Dowrick, an online video book club that concentrates on matters of the spirit. You can find out more about Walter and his activities at or on Twitter @walterm. You can also join his Facebook page at

Coincidentally, Cracking the Spine is next on my pile of books to read too. And I had no idea about warlocks and wizards in Kings Cross, but now I’m itching to know more. Thanks Walter!