Tuesday 14 September is Australian Reading Hour, an initiative of Australia Reads to celebrate how books and stories can transform lives and shape our sense of identity and belonging – as individuals and as communities. You can find out more at https://australiareads.org.au and get involved on social media by checking out the hashtags #AustraliaReads #StoriesThatMatter #MoreBooksMoreOften and #AustralianReadingHour.
I am currently reading Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. It was recommended to me by people at work (whose opinions I trust). The main character and narrator is an ‘AF’, an Artificial Friend, who is chosen by a young girl. The way the android thinks and sees is told in a really inventive way, highlighting the differences between organic and artificial life.
I am currently reading Reinventing the Chicken Coop by Kevin McElroy and Matthew Wolpe. Being a novice builder and egg farmer, the book has been a great help as I prepare my first chicken house!
While we are all in lockdown it seems I should have more time than ever to read, but as I like to do most of my reading on the bus while I commute I haven’t been doing a lot of it of late. The book I am reading though is High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. Twenty-five years ago I was living in a weird little basement flat in the north of London and I have been thinking about that time a lot lately. This book is set in many of the streets that I used to wander in my time there, and so it always provides a nice feeling of nostalgia and comfort. And maybe, just maybe, I can relate to some of the characters in this book a little too well.
I am reading Ghost Empire by Richard Fidler right now. I have been fascinated by the Byzantine Empire for a long time. Placed at the juncture between East and West, and between the Late Antiquity and the Medieval period, it is a remarkable civilisation. I also love history, and I am a huge fan of the ABC’s Conversations with Richard Fidler, hence the book made it onto my list. Reading about distant lands and times seems very appropriate while being in lockdown. And so far, the book doesn’t disappoint – full of history and travel tales.
I’ve been reading Summertime: Reflections on a Vanishing Future by Danielle Celermajer. Celermajer describes her experience of the bushfires of 2019–20, and their devastating effects on the land and the animals living on it. Woven throughout are the stories of Jimmy and Katy, two pigs who attracted worldwide attention when Celermajer first wrote about them here. I confess this book had been sitting on my reading pile or a while – when the current lockdown started, I wasn’t sure I was ready to read about the trauma and loss that come with catastrophic climate change. But Summertime has turned out to be a welcome lockdown companion. Celermajer’s descriptions of the environment are beautiful and perceptive, and the book is full of profound observations about living with fear and uncertainty. Earlier this year I read Enter the Animal, Teya Brooks Pribac’s exploration of how other species experience grief and other emotions. Summertime shows how central such questions will need to be as we try to come to terms with climate change.