Foreword, with Joe Rubbo

January and February always feel a bit slow in the world of bookselling, customer numbers dwindle and the number of books being published slows. It’s a good time to tidy up after Christmas, take a breath and plan for the year ahead. There isn’t much time for repose, however, as things start to pick up again in March.

We kicked off the month with the launch for Nam Le’s new poetry collection, 36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem. There were lots of familiar faces, as many writers and publishers turned out to see Le in discussion with Leah Jing McIntosh. It was an illuminating discussion of Le’s latest work, peppered with moments of warmth and humour. Le’s last book, the brilliant story collection The Boat, was published in 2008 and there was a lot of love in the room.

Hardie Grant put on a dinner for a lucky group of Melbourne booksellers in anticipation of the upcoming Ellie’s Table, by Hope St Radio chef Ellie Bouhadana. The dinner was held at Hope St Radio on a beautiful late summer evening. I have heard it can be difficult to snare a table, but on that evening we had the place all to ourselves. This wonderful new cookbook will be out in May and I urge you to keep an eye out for it. Bouhadana did most of the food photography in Rome, in the kitchen of Melbourne transplant Alice Adams Carosi. Adams Carosi uses the space to develop and photograph recipes and also to host cooking classes for small groups. I was lucky enough to attend one of these classes last year when I visited Rome for my 40th birthday. Adams Carosi has many ties to the book world, including her friendship with well-known cookbook author Rachel Roddy, and she is also sister-in-law of local writer Jock Serong.

In February I received an email from the daughter of French physicist Dr Alain Gachet. She told me that he would be visiting her in March and wondered if we could host an event for his recently published book, Water and Peace. I didn’t think that we would be able to get copies of the books in time, but Hachette air-freighted them in from the UK and the event quickly gathered momentum. The family enlisted Emma Alberici to interview Dr Gachet and she flew down from Sydney for the occasion, and our events and programming manager Chris Gordon brought Radio National in on the plan, so the conversation was also recorded for broadcast.

It has been a busy and varied month, finishing up at Clunes Booktown Festival, where Readings has a small stall. The year is gathering pace, it feels like December is right around the corner.

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Cover image for 36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem

36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem

Nam Le

In stock at 8 shops, ships in 3-4 daysIn stock at 8 shops