“If you name an important book there is a very good chance I haven’t read it. I’m not against important books. I hope to write one someday. But I read what I like, before I read what’s important. That’s who I am.” Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Here are some books that I like that you might too. They’re organised by mood – that’s not always how we choose to buy, but it’s always how, in the end, we choose what to actually read.
The links all go to Amazon so you can see more info. But since most of them are old you can easily get them secondhand or on Ebay. Or at the library!
Oh and they’re all by women.
Do you remember I asked you a few months ago to vote for me in the finals of the Voiceless Writers Prize? Out of 350 stories I’d been shortlisted in the top ten by J.M. Coetzee and the judging panel. Well I won the Readers’ Choice!
(I was torn between writing this and sounding like I was showing off, and not writing it and seeming, or in fact being, ungrateful. I am very grateful. So: thank you for voting for me.)
My story is called Not Long Now. People have said it’s quite dark, but it doesn’t seem that dark to me. It’s now in a book with the other nine stories, including the two really good ones which shared the judges’ prize. You can buy the book, and it’s on Kindle. 25% of royalties help fund Voiceless’ work to end the institutionalised suffering of animals.
I’m back! I had the most wonderful trip away. Last month, I worked so much I started to worry I’d never relax or think calmly ever again. But all the madness disappeared as soon as Cannes Lions ended. Jude picked me up and we drove into Italy – it was boiling hot and we stuck to the hills or the sea where there was room to breathe and the warm air smelt like Australia. First all my brain was fit for was chatting and laughing. Then I could read again, and the first book I devoured was Sheila Heti’s How should a person be? What is there to say about this strange, outrageously good work? I’ll leave that to proper critics:
An extract on N+1 | “The culture decides what it wants”: Sheila Heti on writing, youth and beauty in The Awl | “I felt a lot of despair. I put How Should a Person Be? in the drawer. Finally I took it back out. I decided it was the wrong thing to do. I couldn’t accept that a drawer was the fate of this book. I felt determined to make it work.” Sheila Heti in The Millions | Why smart, serious men have misunderstood Sheila Heti’s new book, on Slate | “Though we can’t know for sure, it’s tempting to believe that How Should a Person Be? tells the real story of Heti’s artistic redemption.” A review on BookForum | The Age of Girlfriends in The New Yorker | Sheila Heti on Girls: “I don’t think I’ve ever done that before—rewatched scenes from something I’ve liked. It felt like rereading the scenes you love in a book.” Paris Review.
But as for me – well, I don’t know whether it was taking a break or reading HSAPB? but my mind, the part that gets put on hold when I am swimming in paid work, burst into life again. I feel like I’m back on track.
PS. Did you catch the amazing guest READ.LOOK.THINKs that went up while I was away? Thank you Sophie, Emily, Natalie and Hila.
PPS. Vic taught me, once and for all, how to load film in my camera and take it out. So I have lots of pictures to share from my trip!
For more than a year I’ve lived and worked in a one bedroom flat where the living room is the dining room is the kitchen. In three weeks we move! I. can’t. wait.
…the narrow streets, the houses,
the past, the future,
the doorway that belongs
to you and me.
- Mary Oliver, Coming Home.
Any visit to Melbourne is incomplete without a trip to Heide, the gallery of Modern Art a fifteen minute taxi from Marios in Fitzroy or a slightly longer train ride from the city. From 1934 to 1981 it was home to Sunday and John Reed.