Well, when we’re not reading Black Inc. books like the amazing new Alice Pung memoir or the hilarious novel we’ve got coming out in August or James Boyce’s new book of history, we’re reading books by other publishers.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the books we’re currently reading:
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, a darkly comic portrait of a disintegrating America, set in the near future. The main characters, Lenny Abramov and Eunice Park, are equally irritating and endearing as they embark on an awkward romance. The futuristic world is depressingly plausible.
I'm reading Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian, the story of parallel treks through rural China by two characters identified only as "You" and "I". It's something of a shaggy-dog story, in the best sense: there are snippets of Chinese folklore, eye-witness accounts of the Cultural Revolution, dreams, legends, detours into botany and history, all held together by the question: will You and I EVER make it to the mysterious town of Lingshan? Does it even exist, and can any of their guides be trusted? In non-fiction, I'm reading How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran — a personal feminist manifesto.
My curiosity about Cate Kennedy’s work (she’s editing our annual Best Australian Stories anthology this year, for the second time) led me to borrow her short-story collection Dark Roots. I highly recommend it, and particularly enjoyed ‘Cold Snap’.
I have been reading State of Emergency: Britain, 1970-1974 by Dominic Sandbrook; Thatcher’s Britain by Richard Vinen; and England’s Dreaming by Jon Savage - a bit of personal/political archaeology. Also The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith.
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I’m not a big fantasy reader, but this was a fantasy book I was keen to try. A lot of my friends watched the TV series (and raved about it) but I decided to hold out for the book. I’m glad I did – I’m really enjoying it and can’t wait to go back and watch the show and then read the rest of the series.
The last book I read was A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. I loved the fleeting glimpses of insight into the more minor characters' lives, never to be touched on again, and the way the reader is subtly drawn into the different but interlinked lives of all the characters.
EPUB Straight to the Point: Creating ebooks for the Apple iPad by Elizabeth Castro. By title alone this may sound a little dry, but Castro's highly regarded guide makes the learning curve seem achievable - and I guess I'm just nerdy enough to enjoy it.
I have just started reading two books - Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley and The Elegance Of The Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.
I'm reading Franklin and Eleanor because a few years ago several friends and I read Tête à Tête: The Lives and Loves Of Simone De Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre and it still comes up in our conversations. As for The Elegance of the Hedgehog, resistance based on its popularity proved futile against persistent recommendations from friends. Also, and I suspect, irrelevantly, I am a little obsessed with hedgehogs in general.
The last non Black Inc. book I read was the science fiction classic Foundation by Isaac Asimov and next up is History by Elsa Morante about a woman in Italy during WW2.
Foundation was not as good as I thought it would be. It's one of the big classics of golden age SF but when a book doesn't introduce a female character until three quarters of the way through (and even then she's a concubine with one line) then I find it hard to relate. There are two sequels but I'll probably give them a skip.
Currently reading The Violent Bear It Away, a novel by American author Flannery O'Connor. A little book with big, old-testament themes: destiny, violence, redemption, good & evil, the lot ... A classic work of Southern Gothic.