Ask Agatha: lying about books you’ve never read

The latest installment of our book advice column where you can ask our wise bookseller Agatha all your tricky (book-related) questions.


I’ve recently made a new friend who is very well-read. I’ve been lying about my reading habits to make them think I’ve read as many classics as they have. Is this wrong?

If you really want to hear about it, it is a truth universally acknowledged that hardly anyone has read the classics they claim to have read. In many cases we’ve simply watched the movie or read about it on Wikipedia. We lead busy lives – it’s the best of times and the worst of times, right? There are so many new authors to discover: the past is a foreign country! Therefore it is a far, far better thing I do, than I have ever done, to reassure you that a little white lie doesn’t make you into a monstrous vermin. Just remember to tell the truth, mainly. You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. Must dash, the clocks are striking thirteen.

My kid is obsessed with Frozen. She watches it endlessly and listens to the soundtrack ALL THE TIME. How can I make her stop?

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Unfortunately there is no cure for this particular obsession. You might just need to let it go. Your daughter has been, understandably, swept up by this film’s unstoppable allure and really, your next step should be preparing for her soon-to-come musical theatre aspirations. Depending on her age, you could try and ease her towards some classic film musicals – Singin’ in the Rain, Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz – but I don’t like your chances. For the foreseeable future, I’d say Elsa and Anna are here to stay.

What can you recommend to encourage a budding creative writer, aged 8?

For a book that is jam-packed with story-starters and tips, try Andy Griffiths’ Once Upon a Slime. Andy shares how he got started (making mini books for his students back when he was a teacher) and explains how he came up with his most famous storylines. This is a really accessible book by one of Australia’s best loved children’s authors.

Also very popular are the creative journals of Keri Smith, starting with Wreck This Journal, and a new one out called 642 Things To Write About. If they love playing around with language and learning about where words come from, I suggest The Word Spy, Return of the Word Spy, and The Word Spy Activity Book by Ursula Dubosasrky with illustrations by Tohby Riddle.


If you have a question for Agatha please email askagatha@readings.com.au. We’ll be publishing her next column on Monday 4 August. All questions answered on our blog will be kept anonymous and questions will be chosen at Agatha’s discretion.

Once Upon a Slime

Once Upon a Slime

Andy Griffiths, Terry Denton

$12.99Buy now

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