The book-buying-ban update

https://twitter.com/thereadingroom_/status/715010162759766018/photo/1

At the beginning of the year, I seemed to do a lot of moaning about my book-buying-ban. I was thinking about it again last week when I blog-slapped* Marie Kondo.

But in actual fact, I’m killing it. After the initial few weeks of hyperventilating every time I went near a book shop, I’ve calmed down and can now safely walk through the Readings New Releases section without needing to breathe into a paper bag. Continue reading

20 Books of Summer (except that it’s winter)

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Cathy at 746 Books is hosting the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge again this year. I’m going to join in, with a particular effort to read from my stacks of physical books (as opposed to e-books).

There’s no better time to curl up with a book than winter. Because it’s winter in Melbourne. So while Cathy et al. is enjoying the Irish sunshine along with twenty selected books, I’ll be rugging up  (I wonder if in fact my winter will be the equivalent of an Irish summer? Perhaps I’ll post the weather forecast for the day I finish each book to compare…). Continue reading

Marie Kondo and her Blasphemies about Books

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So I caved to public pressure and was prepared to hold a cheese grater and ask myself, sincerely, if it sparked joy. I willingly piled all of my crap onto my bed and then audibly thanked cardigans and asymmetrical hemlines for their service, as I stuffed them into bin bags. I even went so far as to tell people that Marie Kondo was right about the fact that ‘storage is a booby trap’.

But about a third of the way through The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo went off the rails. Really, seriously bloody berserk. And my willingness to play along ground to a halt. Why? Because of her abominable attitude toward books*. And I quote: Continue reading

Miles Franklin 2016 Shortlist

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The Miles Franklin Literary Award shortlist was announced today (via Twitter).

Thoughts… Well I know who I’d like to win (Wood)… And I’m glad it wasn’t a complete repeat of the Stella shortlist…

I’ll try to read the other books before the winner is announced so that when I make loud-judgy-comments they’re at least based on informed opinion.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

It’s almost impossible to find a review of The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood without the reviewer comparing* it to Atwood’s dystopian masterpiece, The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m bucking the trend and here’s why: the central premise of both novels is extraordinary – memorable, mind-bending, frightening, and thoroughly compelling.

I read The Handmaid’s Tale decades ago. I can’t remember any of the fine detail of Atwood’s writing but I do remember the horrifying world in which the characters lived. I’m quite sure that in twenty years time, I will also remember Consilience, the walled community created for The Heart Goes Last. Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

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01. There’s already been many wonderful tributes to Gillian Mears. I won’t try to match them but will say that Australian literature has lost a great voice (also: a personal essay from Mears, published in Meanjin; Susan Johnson’s beautiful 2011 piece about Mears; my thoughts on the brilliant Foal’s Bread). Continue reading

A glee of author talks

http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/country-living/the-dressmaker-author-rosalie-ham-calls-for-authentic-rural-storytelling/news-story/bb665b3bd4967e41c6d04f294537d862

Firstly, what’s the collective noun for a bunch of author talks? A glee? A yay? A make-Kate-very-happy? Anyway, in the past week, I’ve been to three – that deserves a collective noun.

Secondly, I have a half-a-dozen posts in my drafts folder about author talks I have attended. I never get to the ‘publish’ stage. Can’t really say why – I suspect that I leave it a week or so and then feel unsure about the fine detail of what was said – I wouldn’t want to misquote someone.

So, three author talks in one post – my favourite bits of what Rosalie Ham, Hanya Yanagihara and Jonathan Franzen had to say. Continue reading

We’re All Damaged by Matthew Norman

Matthew Norman’s gone the full Tropper* in his second novel, We’re All Damaged. It’s lad-lit (so expect laughs) but it also has plenty of feels.

The story focuses on Andy Carter, who we first meet as he’s being stood-up on a blind date –

“…she arrived, took one look at me sitting here, and bolted. I can talk to this guy for the next few hours, she could very well have thought. Or I can go home and put on some Crest Whitestrips and watch The Bachelorette.”

Andy’s life has changed from contended Midwesterner with a solid job in insurance and the love-of-his-life wife, to single-guy living in New York, bar-tending to make ends meet. Turns out the love-of-his-life preferred the handsome paramedic down the street. Continue reading