Monthly Archives: August 2012

Children and Reading

A warm thank  you to the two Children’s Librarians, Debi and Janine, who shared ideas about the joy of reading to children with us today. (This was our third event for the National Year of Reading, coinciding with the Reading Hour and the recent Children’s Book Council Awards.)  Thanks also to my lovely, responsive audience of mothers, aunts, uncles, grandmothers, god-mothers and pregnant women!

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Filed under eBooks, iPads & other technologies, National Year of Reading

The House of Fiction

Elizabeth Jolley is one of Australia’s most acclaimed writers;  her strange, gothic fiction has enjoyed both critical and commercial success. This book is a biography examining part of her life; it is written by her step-daughter, Susan Swingler, the only child of Leonard Jolley’s first marriage.

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Filed under Australian authors, WHAT TO READ NEXT

Poet’s Cottage (Book Review)

Poet’s Cottage is a haunted house. Australian author Josephine Pennicott has taken the traditional features of a good old-fashioned English ghost story (creaking floors, slamming doors, things that go bump in the night) and transplanted them to 20th century Australia. The transition is an effective one: the seaside village of  Pencubitt is quiet and remote, its nineteenth-century buildings have dark cellars and spider-ridden attics and its people are eccentric. If there are ghosts anywhere in our ‘wide brown land’, I would expect to find them somewhere like  Tasmanian “Pencubitt”.

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Filed under Australian authors, Book reviews


Do you remember the Australian film Lantana? It came out in the first year  of this century, and it was one of the best films we’ve made.  It stood head and shoulders over quirky, funny films like Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla Queen of the Desert because Australians could  “see themselves in this film” rather than “exaggerations of themselves,” {1} portrayed for comic effect.

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Filed under Australian authors, WHAT TO READ NEXT

The Female Shylock

Last night I went to the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild’s production of The Merchant of Venice.  There were many surprises in this fresh and lively take on Shakespeare: a multi-coloured sixties setting and soundtrack,  Portia in orange suede shoes and a purple mini-skirt, a few extra lines ( “Right foot on blue”  – Jessica and Lancelot Gobbo were playing Twister. )  But the biggest surprise of all was that Shylock was a woman.

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Filed under Miscellanea

The 24 Hour Library

The Library of the Month for August is a future library : Sydney is planning Australia’s first 24 hour public library.  Academic libraries have often catered for late-night, exam-crazed students; the concept of a public library being open all hours is a new one.

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Filed under Libraries

Buy Books and Drink Champagne

Today is National Bookshop Day, the perfect excuse to buy books and drink champagne! My favourite independent bookshop in Adelaide, the lovely Imprints, celebrated with books and  bubbles. (We also had a decadent lemon syrup cake and lots of conversation.)

I wouldn’t be without my local indie bookshop. I know that I can buy books online (and I do), but for me nothing beats the experience of the real thing : browsing the shelves, finding the book I want,  coming across other books that I discover I also want, talking to the lovely guy behind the counter (he has a tattoo sleeve, the smile of an angel and he reads Foucault and  Julian Barnes.)

The one thing that stops me ordering and buying all of my books here can be expressed in three dirty words: parallel import restrictions. Australians are cursed with this system that effectively doubles the price of our books: compare the price in British pounds with the cost in Australian dollars next time you pick up a new book. Our professional library association, ALIA, has argued for the repeal of PIR since the 1980s  –  it is kept in place on the unconvincing  grounds that Australian writing  needs to be protected from more popular overseas imports.  (That’s insulting to Australian readers, writers, library users and book buyers: we have a healthy literary culture that can look after itself.)

I will buy books wherever and whenever I can.  In Imprints (where they have a wonderful selection),  at book fairs (on impulse), at the Hill of Content (when I’m in Melbourne), online from Book Depository  (at half the Australian price with no charge for postage.)

Let’s all buy books and drink champagne!


Filed under National Year of Reading