What We’re Reading: March 2016

Bridget Lutherborrow, Projects & Communications Officer

I’m finally reading Oliver Mol’s Lion Attack!. I’ve heard a bunch of the chapters at readings, but it’s a really different experience on the page. The writing seems calmer and sadder than it is out loud, though still really funny. In almost every ‘What We’re Reading’ post I’m still halfway through the book and things haven’t changed this time – but Lion Attack! makes for very easy and compulsive reading, so I’m sure I’ll be through it the next free hour I get.

Jane McCredie, Executive Director 

I’ve been reading New Zealand writer Bernard Beckett’s dystopian YA novels. They’re gripping stories that engage with profound philosophical questions about the nature of consciousness, the existence (or not) of free will, and what it means to be an ethical being in a complex world.

His prize-winning novel, Genesis, examines the tension between security and freedom, challenging the reader to think about what it means to be human. In his most recent book, Lullaby, Beckett explores the consequences of technology that could make it possible to download one person’s mind into another person’s brain.

Ashley Kalagian Blunt, Program Officer

Alan Sampson’s Schools of Fish, winner of the 2015 Finch Memoir Prize, is about parenting and the education system, but even more so it’s about the dangers of pursuing a narrow concept of success. Though I have no children struggling with dyslexia, I learned a lot from this heartfelt and tightly focussed memoir. I’ve written about it in more detail for the Newtown Review of Books.

I also just finished another Australian memoir, Adrian Simon’s Milk-Blood. Simon is the son of the infamous drug trafficker Warren Fellows, who faced a lifetime prison sentence in Thailand (but was released after just over a decade on a royal pardon). Simon shares the ongoing struggles his family has faced thanks to his father’s criminality, arrest and release, including his development of obsessive thought disorder as an adolescent. This memoir provides a startling insight into the far-reaching impacts of true crime tales.

Looking for something completely different, I’m now enjoying the playful absurdity of Patrick Lenton’s A Man Made Entirely of Bats. It features comic takes on superheroes and villains, a ginger werecat you would not like as a housemate, and Lenton’s distinctive sense of humour.

Sherry Landow, Membership & Administration Officer

This month I read Carlo Rovelli’s Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. Aimed at those from a non-scientific background, these seven lessons (starting with the theory of relativity and ending at our place in the universe) were originally published as a series of articles in an Italian newspaper. These lessons give a basic overview of the essence of a theoretical concept, more so than explaining it in great detail.

As I read this from an arts background, I was satisfied with Rovelli’s ability to make difficult concepts palatable and awed by his ability to communicate the beauty of science. This slim, 78-page hardcover book is one of the most beautiful objects I’ve held, and this beauty continues inside as Rovelli writes about science in near-poetry. The closing lines are perhaps my favourite moment from the whole book:

‘Here, on the edge of what we know, in contact with the ocean of the unknown, shines the mystery and the beauty of the world. And it’s breathtaking.’

Claire Bradshaw, Intern

I spend several hours on the train to and from the Writers’ Centre each week, and thanks to that, I’ve been able to knock over a book a week since I started! Over the last month, I’ve devoured The Assassin’s Blade, a bind-up of prequel novellas for Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series; The Slow Regard of Silent Things, an intriguing side-story from Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles; the arresting and amazing The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood; and (fittingly) The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

I’ve visited an assassin training camp in the desert, a labyrinthine structure beneath a university, an unimaginably terrible pseudo-prison in outback Australia, and a section of British suburbia where things aren’t quite as they seem. All from the relative comfort of the Central Coast-Newcastle line.

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