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Shelf Reflection is a monthly series where we explore the bookshelves of interesting Australians – this year, we’re delving into the reading habits of our featured First Book Club authors.

This month’s reflection comes from J.P. Pomare, whose debut literary thriller Call Me Evie (Hachette) is our February pick. Read Ellen Cregan’s review of the novel, and join us at Hill of Content Bookshop on 21 February for a free in-conversation event with the author.

J.P. Pomare’s colour-coordinated bookshelf. Image: Supplied

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading The Arsonist by Chloe Hooper. It’s one of the rare books I read purely as a reader, as opposed to reading for my podcast or to review or as research for my own writing. The Arsonist is about the Black Saturday fires and the man that lit two fires in the La Trobe valley that scorched entire towns, killing residents and burning thousands of hectares of bush. It’s incredible. (Editor’s note – read an interview with Chloe Hooper on The Arsonist here.)

Borrowed or bought?

I don’t tend to buy so many books these days as I often receive copies from publishers and always have a stack beside my bed, waiting to be read – but when I heard about The Arsonist I simply had to read it, so I went to my local independent bookshop and bought it, along with Beautiful Revolutionary by Laura Elizabeth Woollett, another cracking read.

I have a reasonably open mind when it comes to most books…I would have to be really struggling to stop reading it.

What kind of reader are you?

Once or twice a year I stop reading a book and don’t return to it, but I feel I have a reasonably open mind when it comes to most books. I would have to be really struggling with a book to stop reading it. I could count the number of books I have read more than once on both hands – I feel like there are too many books in the world to reread, but I have found that the second and third reading help me to understand the structure of the book more than simply repeating the reading experience. It can be hard to always find time in the day to read, but I try to read for an hour in bed when I wake up, and I read for as long as I can before dozing off at night. I read roughly a book a week, although sometimes I’ll read two or three in a week, but this tends to come at the expense of my writing time.

What does your book collection look like?

My wife is in control of the bookshelf at home. We colour coordinate – reds with reds, greens with greens etc. Most of the books in my bookshelf were new when I bought them, although there are a few second hand books in there. I have a first edition early Vonnegut that I adore;  that one is kept away from the rest. I try to keep a variety of books on display, but we have stacks of them holding up pot plants, beside the bed, in the kitchen, in the wardrobe and even beside the front door of our apartment. We don’t have a TV so basically every free inch of wall in our home is occupied by books. They give me energy.

Basically every free inch of wall in our home is occupied by books. They give me energy.

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

I would probably choose Harry Potter (any of them. ) I have had few reading experiences in my life that parallel that journey I took with the Harry Potter books. I adored the world J.K. Rowling created. There are a few sliding doors moments in a writer’s life – times when you know incontrovertibly that had you not had that experience you wouldn’t be an author. Starting my podcast was one of these moments, moving to Melbourne was another, and reading The Philosopher’s Stone at the age of eleven was the first one I can remember. I’d love to be the captain of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team.