What are you reading this winter?

4 Jun

Today was full of Melbourne rain, an introduction to winter. I love these wet, washed days if I have nothing I have to do, as I feel free to curl up indoors on the sofa and be slothful.  Growing up in a country town known for its cold weather I feel guilty if there is any hint of sun and I am not maximizing it outdoors; I may still stay inside, but I feel guilty. Cold, rainy days there were no excuses required to stay inside in front of a fire, both as a child and now.

Today’s Fear Factor challenge was to do nothing I did not truly wish to do, and so instead of preparing a thoughtful #blogjune post I have been reading. So today’s post will be a catalogue of books.

Send me what you are reading and why in the comments 

In two continuous sittings recently I read Magda Szubanski’s Reckoning. It’s been awhile since a book has captured my social media addicted brain enough to have me read through late into the night. It is noteworthy not only for the quality of her writing, but the interesting ideas that appear, loop and repeat as themes to structure the story. Definitely recommended.

I read it because I heard her speak last Monday and was captured by her focus on communicating honestly with people, without needing to please her audience.

In contrast I am now working my way very slowly through H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald. Another example of excellent writing, evocative and densely packed, I am drawn to read this one slowly with regular pauses rather than nonstop sittings. The breaks are to allow the content to settle rather than as finding it too heavy. The book is so far (only 5 chapters and 55 pages in) so quintessentially English that I am reminded of other childhood English memories – Swallows and Amazons and Rudyard Kipling’s Stalky & Co.

I am reading this one for my wonderful bookclub, that alternates one month fiction and one month non-fiction. Being in this club has gently lured me back to reading a broad range of books after a break of a few years where my brain would only entertain work papers and chick fiction. The bookclub members continuously put up with me explaining what I didn’t like about the books selected, and then point out that I am the only member who turns up to sessions with notes written as I read.

Next on the list is Stan Grant’s Talking to my country. The first chapter was raw and powerful. It is confronting that for the last two decades I have been reading indigenous voices telling of how Australian society refuses to accept them, and still we keep needing to hear more voices saying this.

I am reading it because I have always found the personal testimonies of First Australians give amazing stories; they seem to offer the depth of verbal oral history even when pinned onto a page. I am also reading it post attending an exhibition of an indigenous artist friend Lisa Bellear held in memorial 10 years after her too early death.

If you are in Melbourne anytime take the chance to visit the Koorie Heritage Centre in Federation Square.


7 Responses to “What are you reading this winter?”

  1. jogillespieblog June 4, 2016 at 9:39 pm #

    I like the idea of alternating fiction and nonfiction in your book club. I joined a book club for the first time this year. Might just do a post about it now. Always enjoy hearing about what people are reading. 🙂

    • Ruth Baxter June 4, 2016 at 10:19 pm #

      Sometimes for non fiction we don’t do a whole book Jo – we use an article or YouTube video on a set topic. Gives us a bit longer to finish the fiction book too.

  2. Rachel June 5, 2016 at 5:28 am #

    Thanks for reminding me to read Reckoning. I got it for Christmas and have not read it yet but I think I will start tonight.

    • Ruth Baxter June 5, 2016 at 6:04 am #

      It’s a great read. Gets you thinking.

      • Rachel June 5, 2016 at 7:11 am #

        It is on my my bed ready to starting reading tonight.

  3. Sam June 7, 2016 at 11:19 am #

    I’m also in a book group, which coincidentally contains a few librarians (all from different libraries though – funny). We are meeting next week to discuss Alex Miller’s Journey to the Stone Country. We read a lot of contemporary fiction, and there tends to be a lot of Australian women writers in the mix. (From time to time I have managed to get them to read something verging on the science fiction, but not often!) I borrowed this from the library at work (Griffith Uni).

    I’m also reading Updraft by Fran Wilde, because it was shortlisted for the Nebula Best Novel award and because it sounded right up my alley. I got this through Brisbane City Libraries by placing a hold and having it delivered to my local branch. The winner this year was Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, which is also on my bedside table and borrowed from BCL.

    I don’t read much non-fiction but I have gone through a phase in the last couple of years of reading autobiographies of women musos (Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth, Viv Albertine from the Slits, Tracey Thorn from Everything But the Girl). I have M Train by Patti Smith in my reading pile at the moment. I borrowed this off a friend in return for Kristin Hersh’s memoir Rat Girl. I also want to read Carrie Brownstein’s memoir, especially after seeing Sleater-Kinney play on their tour recently.

    I also always have a few poetry books in my pile, though I haven’t really had the brainspace for reading poetry lately. Poetry is about the only thing that I actually buy these days, and usually online because it is difficult to find bookshops that stock a good selection of poetry (which is why I always duck into Collected Works when I am in Melbourne).

    • Ruth Baxter June 8, 2016 at 10:45 am #

      Thanks for these suggestion Sam. My reading list is going to be so much more diverse soon

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