What Library staff are reading . . .

  • Missus by Ruth Park – Missus was the last written in Ruth Park‘s Harp in the South trilogy, but is the first in terms of chronology. The first two novels, Harp in the South and Poor man’s orange, were published in 1948 and 1949 respectively, while Missus was not published until 1985.  These first novels, which met with some controversy on publication, are set in early post-war Sydney, the tenements of Surry Hills, and deal with the lives of Mumma and Hughie Darcy and their daughters. Missus is set in the 1920s, in country New South Wales, and relates Mumma and Hughie’s youth and courting days. I have only just read Missus, partly because I read the first two in my teens.   The First World War and the coming Depression do provide the backdrop to Missus. The story depicts rural life and characters with convincing realism.
  • Abu Dhabi Days, Dubai Nights by Jillian Schedneck – wonderful insight to 2 quite different cities and their changing attitudes to the West.  When Jillian Schedneck takes up a position teaching English to a classroom of UAE students in Abu Dhabi, she is young, idealistic, in love, and ready to take on the world. But it is not exactly what she anticipated: her mostly female students are only attending university as a token distraction from what will become a life spent attending to domestic duties, and Jillian struggles with the limitations to their futures that they seem to so readily accept.
  • Swords and Crowns and Rings by Ruth Park – I am on a Ruth Park reading frenzy.  I am loving this one. Growing up in an Australian country town before World War I, Jackie Hanna and Cushie Moy are carefree and innocent in their love for each other. But Jackie is a dwarf, and his devotion to the beautiful Cushie is condemned by her parents. This is the story of their life-long odyssey, and of the triumph of a special kind of courage. In Swords and Crowns and Rings, Ruth Park brilliantly captures the mood and tempo of Australian life from 1901 until 1931.  I learnt so much about Australia and how people lived through the Depression by reading this book.
  • Memoirs of a Suburban Girl by Deb Kandelaars – It is 1979 and a teenage girl is charmed by a man she meets in a disco. Before long, like Alice through the looking glass, she tumbles into a world of strange and frightening characters. Desperate to escape, she takes us into the darkness and out again, delivering her tale with wit, warmth and furious zest.  Memoirs of a Suburban Girl is the cautionary tale of an everyday girl who makes a wrong turn.  We never know her name and she only ever refers to her boyfriend as SB.  And reading this book was like watching a train wreck, I knew it was wrong, I knew it was awful, but I could not avert my eyes.  I believe it is a must for every young impressionable woman and how to make sensible choices in life.
  • My reading seems to have been taken up with book group reads – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. That’s it!  Huckleberry Finn defeated me. I only managed about 70 pages in a fortnight. The ex-schoolteacher who led the discussion said it was better read out loud but I think I would have burst a blood vessel if I’d tried.  I’m part way through In Cold Blood, the original narrative non-fiction. I’ve read it before so I know the ending.
  • Brighton Rock by Grahame Greene. When I run out of reading material I hunt down an unread Graham Greene novel. This one is a great glimpse into a time and place that is quite alien to me. A very different pre-war Britain from my usual Cold Comfort Farm style niceness. More beer and razor blades than tea and scones.
  • The secret diaries of Miss Anne Lister (1791-1840) by Anne Lister – originally written in code, Anne Lister’s diary was painstakingly decoded by a dedicated modern-day historian. The writings have come to reveal a way-before-her-time, gender-bending, wildly feisty, lesbian, feminist and larger-than-life character. I wanted to read these diaries after watching the film interpretation on DVD (also available at the library). What an amazing women Anne Lister was!
  • Fifty Shades trilogy by E L James
  • Who’s that girl by Alexandra Potter
  • What’s new Pussycat by Alexandra Potter
  • The Duel by Anton Chekhov – Saw the film, both excellent as the film was true to the book.
  • Me of the Never Never by Fiona O’Loughlin -A funny/sad read.
  • Now Wait For Last Year by Philip K Dick
  • Burning Chrome by William Gibson
  • The Tasmanian Babes Fiasco by John Birmingham
  • Sandman Volumes 1 – 10 and Sandman: The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman (Graphic Novel)
  • Grendel: Black & White by Matt Wagner (Graphic Novel)
  • Tangent: Supermans Reign (Graphic Novel)
  • Electric Ant by Philip K Dick (Graphic Novel)
  • Superman/Batman Vol. 8 (Graphic Novel)
  • Trinity by Kurt Busiek (Graphic Novel)
  • The Boys Volumes 1 – 9 by Garth Ennis (Graphic Novel)
  • Chew Volume 1 by John Layman (Graphic Novel)
  • Cold Space by Samuel L Jackson (Graphic Novel)
  • Charlotte Wood is an author and home cook. Her non fiction title Love and Hunger was good to read and  is her thoughts on the gift of food. Charlotte inspires the reader to get into the kitchen and enjoy the preparation and cooking of food. Eating with family and friends is important to her and should be enjoyable. It’s the kind of book that you can  pick up and read a chapter or two and then come back to. I’ll re read some chapters that were of particular interest to me. There are also some recipes including yummy Hedgehog slice. Charlotte grew up in Cooma, NSW.
  • On a borrowed Sony eReader I’m enjoying Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, a free download.
  • Just finished Mr Golightly’s holiday by Salley Vickers for a book group read.  And now currently reading Sicily, it’s not quite Tuscany by Shamus Sillar.
  • Mateship with Birds, by Carrie Tiffany. Very appealing to me (but then I do have a penchant for stories set in country Australia). This one’s set on/near a dairy farm in rural Victoria. Harry runs the dairy and keenly studies the local birds, keeping a diary of their shenanigens. Secretly, though, he longs for Betty next door. Instead of telling her that he takes her teenage son under his wing, knowing that some facts of life can best be taught by a father-figure. All ends as it should, of course. There’s humour here, and strong compassion for human frailty, as well as a passion for nature, and country.
  • The Precipice, by Virginia Duigan. Great read, and set in the Mountains! An elderly retired school principal, a ‘bluestocking’, is living in a modest cottage across the road from the fine house she had built but can no longer afford to live in. A young family buys the house and sets out to be friendly and understanding with her. She’s something of a curmudgeon, but develops a strong relationship with their daughter. The story’s told in the first person, which makes the developing drama even more interesting.
  • As I was Saying, by Robert Dessaix. Dessaix is an entertaining essayist, who reveres (as essayists must) the English language in all its quixotic glory, including its grammar. Very camp at times, often amusing. Dessaix comes across as a bit of a grumpy old man these days, disillusioned, but still well worth reading.
  • The Mind of a Thief, by Patti Miller. In this memoir, her opening chapter reveals that she may have Aboriginal ancestry. Patti, desperate to feel a sense of belonging to country, returns again and again to her home-place, Wellington in central west NSW, in an effort to uncover her roots, and on the way finds out more than she bargained for about local politics. I always enjoy the Patti Miller voice, the honesty, humility, willingness to be wrong and try again. Discovering one’s aboriginal ancestry is a hot topic for me: irrelevant in that my parents were both born overseas, but relevant to the fabric of culture in this country. I can’t walk the streets of Sydney without knowing that a civilisation is buried under concrete.

   

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