What I'm reading.

I read.  A LOT.  I'll be sharing what I'm reading here.

Bring up the Bodies 8 February 2013
Read what I said over on my Good Reads page.

The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry 18 November 2012

Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Savages by Don Winslow October 2012

And the Ass Saw the Angel by Nick Cave 1 October 2012

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen September 2012
I loved "The Corrections".  I saw Jonathan Franzen speak in Melbourne when that book was hot.  I even asked him a question.  (Q: What's your favourite novel? A: The Charterhouse of Parma by Stendahl.) I don't know why "Freedom" sat on my e-reader unread for so long.  Perhaps I didn't feel like I had the space to commit to a really BIG novel.  My book group selected this as our next novel, so that made me happy.  I LOVED this book.  It's big and sprawling and has interesting characters.  There are some wonderful turns of phrase.  Sometimes the politics and social commentary feels a bit obvious, but I was enjoying everything else so much, I'm happy to forgive that.  Now that I've read it, the cover makes sense.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell September 2012 
I received a book voucher from a friend for last year's birthday.  I bought two books by Malcolm Gladwell: "Blink" and "What the Dog Saw".  This book was my reading during a week where I was working Perth and Adelaide and therefore travelling in planes a lot.  It's a non-fiction book, but is full of engaging stories.  Much of it is directly relevant to my facilitation work, particularly on the subject of face to face communication.  Serendipitously, it also covered a study showing that empathetic doctors are less likely to be sued. This is the week I was facilitating conversations with undergraduate health care students about empathy.  Great read!

Why People Fail by Siimon Reynolds

Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed by EL James 24 August 2012
I've been working my way through these books in between other stuff over the last month.  I struggled to finish the first one and thought there was no way I would read another two, but I did.  I still laughed out loud at some of the writing.  If anyone "fisted" their hand in someone else's hair or "claimed" anyone again, I was going to be ill.  So why did I keep reading?  I actually found the relationship between Anastasia and Christian quite compelling.  A friend asked me the other day if I'd read the books and commented that these kind of books are all about forward momentum, to keep you turning the pages (and buying the next book.)  I learnt a few things about a few things having googled some stuff I didn't know about, so I supposed I've had an education.  As my friend also commented, books like this end up being read by people who don't read books, so the quality of the writing is beside the point.

Zero Degress of Empathy by Simon Baron-Cohen 20 August 2012
A friend mentioned this book to me when I told her about the workshops about empathy that I'm currently facilitating.  So much of it turned out to be relevant to my work, including a discussing about Asperger's Syndrome.  I completed the Empathy Quotient test at the end of the book and was relieved to discover that I show "above average" empathy.  Lucky! It would be odd to be talking to university students about empathy if I discovered I had none.  He's a great storyteller, which makes the book very accessible.

The Richmond Conspiracy by Andrew Grimes 8 August 2012
Police procedural set in Melbourne between the Wars.  The Bodyline cricket series is happening a man has been murdered.  Great characters, including the city of Melbourne.  I love reading stories when I know the places where everything is happening.  This is a book group selection.

Behind the shock machine - the untold story of the notorious Milgram psychology experiments by Gina Perry 15 July 2012
I will confess that I picked this up after abandoning "50 shades of Grey".   (Banal, yawn.)  I'm fascinated by psychology and human behaviour.  My interest in Milgram's experiments on obedience was piqued again this year with revelations that similar experiments were conducted by La Trobe University here in Melbourne. Completely absorbing.

The Cartographer by Peter Twohig 14 July 2012
This book is wonderful!  If you've spent any time in Melbourne, Richmond, in particular, then it's particularly interesting.  It's set in 1959 and the narrator is a boy who spends his time "'splorin'" the streets, tunnels, trains and underground world of the suburb.  I love this boy.  His voice is funny and echoes the sounds of the adults around him, even as he suffers loss after loss.  You can find out more over on the website.

Sing you Home by Jodi Picoult 23 May 2012
I stumbled over Jodi Picoult many years ago and have enjoyed her books.  Typically she takes a modern dilemma of some kind and puts it at the centre of a story which she tells from the perspective of the various characters.  I used to look forward to her next book, but lately I can feel the formula when I'm reading and there are some recognisable patterns to her writing.  One clunky phrase from this book that is stuck in my mind: the baby would have a "laugh that sounds like a cascade of bubbles".  Really?  That aside, this story is interesting and moving: a couple divorces after nine years of marriage,years of IVF and another miscarriage. The wife finds love with another woman, the husband finds God and they all end up in court battling for ownership of three frozen embryos left behind at the IVF clinic.  The ending was predictable, but the court room arguments about same sex marriage and notions of family were thought provoking.  The wife is a music therapist which is fascinating, and this is where the book's title comes from.

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
Deadlocked (Sookie Stackhouse #12)20 May 2012

Sookie Stackhouse is back.  This is one of the series I turn to when I don't want to think too much but want to enjoy a good story.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green
12 May 2012
Well I was very happy to finally finish with Charles Dickens.  There were some things I liked, but I don't think I'll be going there again in a hurry.
My mother heard about this book and I reserved it at the library.
So far, I'm really enjoying it.

Hard Times by Charles Dickens
18 April 2012
This is our next book group selection.  My guilty confession is that I have never read a Charles Dickens novel.  (Despite having "Tale of Two Cities" set for a speech and drama exam.
I passed with honours, without passing chapter one.)
This one has a manageable number of pages!

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
11 April 2012
This one came up on my reservation list at the library, so this one is next.  I could not finish this book.  I read the first three chapters and didn't like the writing or the story. Back to the library with no regrets.

The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey
5 April 2012
Love everything written by Peter Carey.  This one is a cracker.  Loved it.

Headhunters by Jo Nesbo
28 March 2012
Wanted to see what all the fuss is about.  Great to read on the plane, but I think I've worked out the trick on which the plot hangs.  Half way through, so I'll let you know soon!
I had worked out the plot very early and found the whole thing quite dull.  Perhaps some of the excitement was lost in translation because I don't see what all the fuss is about.

I, Lucifer by Glenn Duncan
15 March 2012
I read "Death of an Ordinary Man" by Glenn Duncan a few years ago and really liked his work. This is written in the voice of Lucifer who gets to spend a month on earth in a human's body, borrowed from a writer whose name is Declan Gunn - an anagram of Glenn Duncan.  So far, so good.

American Journeys by Don Watson
2 March 2012
This was chosen from a selection of non-fiction for our next book group discussion.  I love the way Don Watson writes.  From the moment he starts the introduction he had me!  Interesting to read it hot on the heals of my new awareness of writing and reading sentences.  (See below)

How to write a sentence: and how to read one by Stanley Fish
19 February 2012
Three pages in and I'm already reaching for my notebook.

All that I am by Anna Funder
29 January 2012
Borrowed this one from the library.  I have yet to read her first book "Stasiland" but I hear very good things. 
This is an incredible book.  It's the story of members of the socialist party in Germany as Hitler came to power.  It follows their lives in exile as they live in fear, not knowing where the enemy was and then suffering the ultimate betrayal.  Extremely moving.

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
24 January 2012
My book group reads the winner of the Man Booker prize each year.  This slip of a book (just over 107 pages is it.)  I love Julian Barnes' work and it's entertaining so far.

There should be more dancing by Rosalie Ham
11 January 2012
Heard about this one on the First Tuesday Book Club on ABC TV.  Very funny. And touching. About secrets and families and growing old.

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
7 January 2012
I know nothing about this book or this author, but the premise looked interesting - a family of art makers; their art being public improvisation - kind of like a small scale flash mob.  The two children in the family also participate and we meet them again as adults.  So far, very enjoyable.  Google tells me Nicole Kidman is to star and produce in the film.

Mildred Pierce by James M. Cain
30 December 2011
Oh how I love to be on holidays and have the time to devour books.  Haven't read any James M. Cain before and he seems to be a terrible omission from my American literature list.  Of course, there's the mini-series with Guy Pearce and Kate Winslet to look forward to as well.

The Romantic by Kate Holden
28 December 2011
Following up "In my Skin".  Did not enjoy this book at all.  I found it repetitive and self-indulgent.  I wanted to shake this girl and tell her to stop repeating destructive patterns in her life.  "In My Skin" is a far superior book, in my opinion.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
3 December 2011
Picked this one up from the library today.  Loved his second novel, "Middlesex" - a modern classic.

In my skin by Kate Holden
2 December 2011
Thank goodness my e-reader was well-stocked for the long flight back from Perth.

Explosive 18 by Janet Evanovich
30 November 2011
Perfect travel reading.  The 18th novel in the series about bounty hunter Stephanie Plum and the men in her life - sexy cop, Joe Morelli or the enigmatic, black clad Ranger.

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
19 November 2011
Picked this book up from the library today.  I really enjoyed "Little Children" and "The Abstinence Teacher" by Tom Perrotta.  He does American suburbia and small town America really well.

Just Kids by Patti Smith
6 November 2011
This is a book group selection.  Forty pages in and it's completely compelling.  I was concerned about whether I'd like this book because I don't have a particular interest in Patti Smith.  Just goes to show the value of an interesting story well told.
Finished 19 November and wrote this post.

Player One by Douglas Coupland
30 October 2011

The Moral Animal - why we are the way we are: the new science of evolutionary psychology by Robert Wright

Recommended by a friend during a discussion about another more recent book, "Sex at Dawn - the prehistoric origins of modern sexuality" by Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha.  So far my impression is of tiny writing. (20 October 2011)

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Revisiting this favourite from my childhood.  I had forgotten about it and then remembered it when reading about the upcoming film.  It is marvellous - full of all kinds of clever wordplay.  It's great to visit children's space every now and then.  Playful! (4 October 2011)

This is a book by Demetri Martin

(2 October 2011) He's a genius!  I LOVED this book.  The way he sees details in everyday situation and exploits them for comic effect is wonderful.  There are also lots of very funny, bent drawings and what he does with a graph or Venn diagram has to be seen to be believed.  Way off the scale on the "laugh in public" metre.

Picked this up from the library today (29 September 2011).  Even comes with its own instructions: "If you're reading this sentence then you've pretty much got it.  good job.  Just keep going the way you are."
I'm going to be doing more public laughing while I read this, I just know it.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

I overheard people discussing this book in my local bookstore (The Sun in Yarraville) and couldn't resist. (24 September 2011)

13 Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley

Subtitle is "what to read and how to write".  I've read the introduction/prologue and am fascinated.
(23 September 2011

I hate Martin Amis et al by Peter Barry

Another from my library list. The publisher's address is the same street that I live in.  The book won the Victorian Premier's Literary Prize for an unpublished manuscript but took a long time to be published. I heard the author speak about it at the Melbourne Writers Festival this year.

I hated this book.

Knitting Green by Ann Budd 

Conversations and planet friendly projects.  Picked this up from the library yesterday.

Dismissal by Nicholas Hasluck

The cover says "leaks, half-truths and false denials" and has a picture of Australia's old Parliament House.  It's set in the Cold War era in Australia and the name of the hero is "Roy Temple".  So far so good.
(14 September 2011)

How I became a Famous Novelist by Steve Hely

Hilarious.  Will also be catching up with Steve at the Melbourne Writers' Festival. (24 August 2011)

Private Life by Jane Smiley 

I am seeing Jane Smiley at the Melbourne Writers' Festival.  I'd like to finish her latest novel before I do. (15 August 2011)


  1. The Phanton Tollbooth is sooo cool. There is a film too I think. Yep, here tis http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0064806/


  2. I agree Warwick. Great to revisit it!