Monthly Archives: November 2012

Last orders

Time, ladies and gentlemen, please! This is the last post for the Reading Women blog.  Created to celebrate the National Year of Reading 2012, the blog has drawn on the rich and wonderful collections of the University of Adelaide’s Barr Smith Library. As Research Librarian for English and Creative Writing, it’s been a pleasure to promote reading from South Australia’s oldest university, with the support of my colleagues in the library and in the university’s Women’s Professional Development Network (WPDN).

Reading Women can still be used as a source for books and reading. Check the What to Read Next category for a year’s worth of ideas and inspiration. Use the Search box to look for authors, titles and themes by keyword.

A word of warning: in 2013, the University of Adelaide Library will close its catalogue and move to a different system, so many of the links to our collection on this blog will cease to work. You can re-do your search for a particular title or author from the library’s home page.


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The Reading Women Awards

For my penultimate post on Reading Women, a selection of “awards”. Here are some of the most memorable books that I’ve  read this year, ones that made me laugh, think and cry.

Best Laugh-out-Loud Book (Non-fiction)

Unexpectedly, a psychology book! Cordelia Fine is a witty and clever writer, and her examination of the various kinds of self-delusion that we all practise is very, very funny. Look for the ‘Good Samaritan’ experiment that shows us up as less than saintly, in spite of good intentions. Highly recommended.

Most Ridiculous Murder Weapon (Crime Fiction)

This one was a re-reading, and it is still my favourite absurdity. The plot of Christie’s Towards Zero strains credulity in so many ways , it’s hard to know where to begin – but the deadly back-handed tennis stroke, with a racquet especially fitted with an iron knob (!), is as good a place as any. Several other ridiculous fictional murder weapons can be found here, in Murder by Toaster.

Best Pack-Up-And-Go Book

Travel writing at its best, Justin Marozzi’s The Way of Herodotus: travels with the man who invented history. A wonderful book, combining learning with humour and elegance, and leaving me keen to go back to the Mediterranean, and on to the East from there, as soon as possible.

Most Delicious Book

Easily Barbara Santich’s new book, reviewed here. Santich is a historian, an unpretentious foodie (yes, there is such a thing – just not enough of them!) and an excellent writer.

Best Book Club

Le Carmen in Paris, where readers meet in a bar housed in an opulent nineteenth century building. We need to recreate an atmosphere like this in the Barr Smith Library’s gorgeous Reading Room – we already have creative writers unofficially using it as a Writing Room, lets add to this!

Favourite eBook

Lots of competition from the wonderful ebooks around, but the Touch Press edition of The Wasteland, with all of its imaginative use of new technologies, has to be the winner. And it costs ( much) less than a bottle of French champagne – or the average print book!

Most Loved Library

Again, there are some great contenders out there – but I can’t go past the new library in Johannesburg, where the true value of libraries, our contribution to humanity, is enshrined.

Most Unreadable Book (2012)

Definitely Fifty Shades of Grey, a triumph of commercialism over intelligence if ever there was one. Calling it ‘mummy porn’ is insulting to mummies.

The Author Award (2012)

For the talented best-selling author who restored my faith in contemporary fiction, after my depressing encounter with Grey. Anna Funder is an accomplished author, and as Stephen Romei reported in The Australian ( Aug 18):

While All That I Am had sold 90,000 copies at the time of writing, which is Tim Winton territory, it is but a drop in the Fifty Shades ocean. Funder is mock rueful. ‘Yes, obviously I didn’t have enough sex, enough handcuffs.’

The Reader’s Award

Shared between Louise (for her contributions to the blog and her willingness to share her enthusiasm for reading), Ainsley (for her help with the NYR events and for her sense of humour) and Janette (for coming to every single event we organised, from the launch, to Children’s Books, to Chocolate and Champagne Readings.) Thank you to my favourite Reading Women.



Library of the Month

At the end of the National Year of Reading, let’s celebrate all of the libraries that participated in NYR.  From creating lovely reading cafés to organising non-stop reading relays, librarians gave their readers opportunities to truly enjoy their books. Major programmes included adult literacy projects, The Reading Hour and Our Story (designed to raise awareness of Australian fiction.)

Public libraries were the major participants in NYR, but a handful of university libraries joined in as well. Literacy is seen as a public and school library issue rather than an academic one, but we are all engaged in the ‘business’ of promoting the benefits and the joys of reading.

This is one of the issues that I will talk about at the New Librarians’ Symposium early next year, when I give a session on the role of the embedded academic librarian. Libraries are not flourishing in a rapidly-changing, Google-ized world. We need to be very sure of the core values of our profession as we face the 21st century and all the changes that this will bring.

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Filed under Libraries, National Year of Reading

Australian Awards (Amanda Lohrey)

The most recent Australian literary award to be granted goes to Amanda Lohrey, author of many lovely novels and short stories. Lohrey has just won the prestigious Patrick White Literary Award, ‘which acknowledges a body of work rather than a single publication.’ Her latest book is a collection of short stories, Reading Madame Bovary (2010) and I can strongly recommend Camille’s Bread, the story of a single woman bringing up her young daughter in contemporary Sydney.

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Filed under Australian authors, WHAT TO READ NEXT

Shakespeare’s Sonnets (eBook of the Month)

Coming full circle from my first choice of eBook of the Month in 2012, the Faber / Touch Press edition of Eliot’s The Wasteland. The same people have given Shakespeare’s Sonnets a remarkable makeover, enriching the poetry with video- recorded readings, facsimiles and literary criticism. And all in one app.

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Margaret Atwood: award winner

Atwood deserves an award for winning awards; incredibly, this famous Canadian author has won over ninety literary awards and has twenty honorary degrees to her name. The fascinating thing about her list of literary accolades is its sheer diversity: Canadian, obviously ( the Governor General’s Award) but also French, Italian, Swedish, Welsh and German. And there are awards for poetry, science fiction, economics, humanities, literary fiction and crime fiction here.

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Writers’ Week 2013

Something to look forward to after the National Year of Reading 2012 is over: the Adelaide Festival’s  Writers’ Week in March 2013.  Laura Kroetsch, the director, spoke to us in the library last night  ; her passion for reading and her enthusiasm for Writers’ Week were contagious.

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