Shelf Reflection is a monthly series where we delve into the reading habits of interesting Australians. This month’s reflection comes from award-winning visual artist Lily Mae Martin.

Lily Mae’s bookshelf

What are you currently reading?

Extinctions by Josephine Wilson – I can’t comment on what it is about yet as I only just started reading it yesterday. So far I think it is beautifully written and I care about the character – these are very good things!

Borrowed or bought?

I got this book as a Christmas present for my mother, who has finished reading it and so now I am. I thought I’d get it for her as it was the 2017 winner of the Miles Franklin and we like to chat about books every so often. I am a huge supporter of women writers, especially Australian women writers, so I make it a habit that when I gift a book it is written by a woman.

I did drop it in the bath though, so it’s wrinkly now. Sorry mum!

What kind of reader are you?

I am a random reader, I’d love to say that I am consistent and set myself tasks but this is not the case. I belong to two book clubs as a way of making me read more and read out of my comfort zone.

I can get really lost in a book, doesn’t happen all the time but when it does I am not really worth talking to, as I’m too busy reading. I mainly read a lot of non-fiction – true crime, autobiography, history, biography and sometimes I read fiction.

Over the past couple of years I’ve actually gotten more into audio storytelling, and that surprised me. I started with audiobooks as a way of being exposed to stories while I am working (I work very long hours) but have moved onto podcasts which are so ace. But also recently I have seen great value in not relying on devices for my entertainment – there is something so fantastic about words on paper and not being distracted by notifications.

What does your book collection look like?

My book collection is a combination of new and old, gifts and things friends have written. I’ve got comic books, literary journals, art journals. There are sketchbooks and craft supplies all jammed in there. Books about the natural world and kids’ books all mixed in. The ones I have kept the longest are picture books from when I was a girl, ones with great stories but also beautiful illustrations. Mostly about animals. And Alice in Wonderland, of course.

If you had to pick one book to live in for the rest of your life, which would it be?

Well this is a very hard question indeed. I actually thought about this all week and I know this isn’t a very creative answer at all but there is no book I want to live the rest of my life in – I really enjoy my life. But I do love to delve into different lives, only briefly and only on the condition I can return to this one.

Lily Mae is currently working on a new body of work for an exhibition. Find more of her work at