Mark’s Say: August, 2022

One of the organisations the Readings Foundation is proud to partner with is Western Chances, a non-profit that supports young students in Melbourne’s west with educational scholarships and life-changing opportunities. Western Chances provides hope, encouragement and essential financial support to over 852 scholarship recipients to ensure their continuing education. The work that Western Chances does really aligns with the Readings Foundation’s aim to support organisations responding to the needs of marginalised communities, with a focus on literacy and education.

Many students in Melbourne’s western suburbs face barriers to their education that most of us could never contemplate. Hannah arrived in Australia as an orphan with little English. She was initially homeless and worked 90 hours a fortnight to support herself whilst also attending school. Seven years ago, Hannah received her first Western Chances scholarship and has been supported each year since, enabling her to focus on her studies, and she is now in her second year at Victoria University.

Last year, bookshops in Melbourne’s CBD wanted to do something to encourage people back into their shops and to highlight the extraordinary talent of Melbourne’s writers. The program started in August 2021, just as Melbourne’s lockdown did, with a wonderful debut novel, Small Joys of Real Life by Allee Richards. Despite the lockdown, it went on to sell well over a thousand copies through the participating bookshops: Readings, Dymocks Melbourne, Hill of Content and Mary Martin Bookshop. We persevered and have revived the program, starting in June with an audacious and inventive collection of short stories by Paul Dalla Rosa, An Exciting and Vivid Inner Life. In July we chose Jess Ho’s memoir, Raised by Wolves. Ho has worked in and written about hospitality most of their adult life, and our reviewer described Ho as a ‘force to be reckoned with’. The participating bookshops sell the selected books at significant discount and Melbourne’s iconic Wheeler Centre stages a free event highlighting each author. Two quiet Melburnians, George and Rosa Morstyn, were so taken with Melbourne City Reads that they’ve jumped on board to support the Wheeler Centre program.

This month’s book is Jay Carmichael’s Marlo (Scribe); set in Melbourne in the 1950s, it tells the story of two young men who fall in love and face a rigid and unforgiving world. Author Sophie Cunningham described it as ‘a deeply affecting novel; tender and brutal by turn’. It’s only $20 this month, so give it a go.

Mark Rubbo is managing director of Readings.

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Jay Carmichael

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