Looking for a book recommendation? Staff from Readings bookshop share what they’ve been reading this month.
Emily Harms, Head of Marketing and Communications:
Not being a usual reader of thrillers, I was instantly lured into reading Christopher Bollen’s Orient when it was likened to Lionel Shriver and AM Homes’ dark takes on the American Dream. Set in what was once a sleepy village at the eastern edge of Long Island, Orient is quickly, yet reluctantly, becoming the place to be for wealthy weekenders and artistic types escaping the hustle and bustle of New York City. On the last day of summer, the peace in this isolated community is shattered when a young man with a hazy past arrives, triggering a series of strange events, making the village a place of shady secrets where no one feels safe.
Orient is a dark and pacy read complete with haunting characters and tragic suspense. I highly recommend getting absorbed in this sinister plot.
Krissy Kneen has written memoir, erotica and literary fiction, and in The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine, she turns her hand to something else entirely – the rollicking story of a chaste young woman whose glowing blue private parts and sexual awakening have the potential to save, or destroy, the world. Holly White smashes together suburban Brisbane and cosmopolitan Paris, chastity vows and secret societies, orgone energy and classic literature, in an orgy of sci-fi, surrealism and lots of sex. Gloriously weird and heaps of fun, with an ending that’s absurd, hilarious yet strangely devastating.
Kara Nicholson, Bookseller at Readings Carlton:
I’m rereading Jane Austen’s Emma for two reasons. My partner’s mum is on an Austen binge and she said to me the other day that reading Emma is taking ages because ‘she is such a pill and her father is worse’. I’m completely inclined to agree but I’ve just finished reading Brother of the More Famous Jack (which I enjoyed), in which the main character’s favourite novel is Emma, so I think a reread is required to see if there is anything I missed. I’m a few pages in, and already finding Mr Knightley horribly patronising, so I’m hoping to discover that I’ve judged Emma as a character too harshly in the past.
Bronte Coates, Digital Content Coordinator:
Kamala Khan is an Islamic Pakistani American high school student who writes superhero fan fiction, until a bizarre incident turns her into an actual superhero – AKA Ms. Marvel. The story, which debuted last year, has amassed a huge following and just earned several nominations for Eisner Awards. That the writer of these comics, G. Willow Wilson, is so smart and interesting is an added bonus. (You can find a great interview with her here.)
I was raving about these comics to a friend who said, ‘It’s as if someone sat down and thought, “What would be the perfect comic for Bronte…” and then created this.’ And, yep, that basically sums up how I feel about this project (probably along with several thousand other superhero female fans). I’ve always loved superhero narratives but before now, I don’t think I’ve been able to identify so closely with a particular superhero. I felt for them deeply but Kamala is the first super hero that I get completely. She’s brash and awkward with a sense of humour about her situation; in one adventure she teams up with Wolverine and it’s so delightful that I’m smiling just remembering it.
Emily Gale, Online Children’s Specialist:
I’ve been snatching odd moments during the school holidays to read (rather fittingly) Mothermorphosis, an Australian anthology about motherhood edited by Monica Dux, whose Things I Didn’t Expect (When I Was Expecting) I really enjoyed a couple of years ago. Fortunately, stolen moments are exactly what you need for these essays as I imagine that reading them all in one go could be overwhelming. The experiences here are so varied and most require at the very least an inner debrief session, or preferably a chat with someone else who is reading it. I hasten to add that my debrief chats have been with women who are not mothers and that this is definitely not a book just for mothers. And further, several of my favourite essays in the anthology have been about experiences of pregnancy, birth and motherhood that are entirely different from my own. That in itself was pleasing because one of the uglier features of becoming a mother seems to be a cultural – and individual – need to form cliques according to experience, as if you couldn’t possibly be moved by, or understand, a woman who chose or was forced down a different path.
Highlights for me so far include George McEncroe’s witty and highly energetic story of her nightmare delivery, ‘I Wore My Red Lips and Pretended I Was Fine’ (I burst into happy tears during the last paragraph), and Hilary Harper’s incredibly moving ‘Motherhood, Despite the Evidence’ about the many years of IVF treatment that she and her partner have been through. I felt reassured by Cordelia Fine’s excellent ‘The Impostor Mother’ and by Jane Caro’s wise ‘The Me I Had Been’. If I have to join a club I’ll join Caro’s, please, which simply means being fun and not caring too much about housework.
Thanks to the influence of peer pressure, I picked up a copy of The Silent Woman by Janet Malcolm – and gosh, I’m glad I did. After fifteen crime books in a row, it’s good to be reading something completely different in Malcolm’s story of the stories about Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. Malcolm is looking at Plath’s biographies more than the woman herself – as depending on whose book you are reading, Plath or Hughes are each victims or monsters. I’m still not sure what the truth is and I’m not sure that Malcolm will figure it out, but damned if I don’t enjoy every word she’s writing anyway. It’s searingly critical of gossip while still feeding the delicious need for snide comments, and I wish it wouldn’t end.
Nina Kenwood, Digital Marketing Manager:
So my reading has been derailed this last week by my new obsession: the Gilmore Guys podcast. As they say on their iTunes page: “Do you awaken in a cold sweat every night, fearing that two men will never start a podcast on Gilmore Girls?” Yes, yes I do. Or, rather, I did.
The podcast is very simple – two guys (one a big Gilmore Girls fan, the other watching it for the first time) watch an episode of the show, and then talk about it. One TV episode is discussed per podcast episode. I am a die-hard Gilmore Girls fan, so I can’t really speak to whether or not this is a podcast for non-Gillys. I suspect maybe not. But it’s perfect for someone like me, who has a high tolerance for pop-culture discussions and a love of re-watching her favourite old shows.
The podcast is as funny, sweet and silly as Gilmore Girls was, with lots of in-jokes that build up along the way and very funny guests, including some well-known comedians. My only complaint is that it’s consuming so much of my time, as I am now re-watching Gilmore Girls in tandem with the podcast (and also, I fundamentally disagree with their thoughts on Jess and Dean).
I recommend you start the podcast somewhere late in their discussions of the first season as they take a little while to find their podcasting rhythm, but when they do, it’s magic (and yes, that was a shout out to Jess Mariano’s wonderful close-up magic skills).