Books We’ve Loved posts

What I loved: The Mouse and his Child by Russell Hoban

by Mike Shuttleworth

The Mouse and his Child is a perfect book for the word-dreaming child. The tale of two tin wind-up mice in search of their own territory sings with incident, humour and emotion. At its heart is a story of family bonds that cannot be broken. And in Manny Rat the novel also has one of the most villainous figures in children’s fiction.

The Mouse and his Child is undergoing a revival – the Royal S…

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What I Loved: Monkey Grip by Helen Garner

by Sean O’Beirne

I read Monkey Grip when I was first trying to learn to be a writer, and looking around to see if there was anything Australian that could help me. There must be tens of thousands of Australians who have gone through this: you’re young, you read Crime and Punishment and Madame Bovary, or other books as strong, and you think: alright, that’s very, very strong. But who’s strong, who can help me, her

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What I Loved: Lean on Pete by Willy Vlautin

by Alison Huber

One of the highlights of my reading year so far has been Willy Vlautin’s novel The Free. The book draws together the stories of three characters – an Iraq War veteran who attempts to take his own life; a nurse at the hospital where he is treated; and the night caretaker at the group home where he has been living – with quiet attention and compassion, but never with sentimentality or pity. It’s ex…

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Retro Reads: Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster

by Bronte Coates

In our new Retro Reads series, we remember books from our past. Here, Bronte Coates talks about Jean Webster’s Daddy Long-Legs.

I was a vicious reader as a child, an obsessively competitive MS-Readathon participant with a penchant for developing intense literary crushes (please see here). I consumed nearly everything I found on my family bookshelves and it was thanks to my grandmother (by path…

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What I Loved: The Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald

by Miles Allinson

At certain times a book is able to take hold of you in such a way as to direct the angle of your life for a while. W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn did this for me when I first discovered it a few years ago. I still think it’s the best work of fiction I’ve ever read.

Nominally the account of a long walk, which the narrator once took along the coast of East Anglia, The Rings of Saturn might be b…

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What I Loved: Girl meets Boy: The Myth of Iphis by Ali Smith

by Marie Matteson

As I was texting my sister, asking her to lend me her copy of Girl Meets Boy so I could write this column, she was, in that moment, handing it to a friend to read. I lost my copy a while ago to the same practice. She retrieved it for me, and I sat down to re-read a story I have read and loved on several occasions and yet can never entirely recall. The details might be hazy as I always read it in …

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What I Loved: Americana by Don DeLillo

by Chris Somerville

Here is how I ended up with a copy of Americana: I was 17 and it was lent to me by a neighbour, a professor at the university my father had worked at, who told me it was good but not Don DeLillo’s best. At the time I was like a lot of 17-year-olds who studied creative writing; likely too arrogant and too annoying to be around.

I’d borrowed the book with the idea that I wanted to read first novel…

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What I Loved: Jesus' Son

by Joe Rubbo

A few years ago I was listening my way through the New Yorker fiction podcasts – a new discovery to me at the time – when I came across Denis Johnson’s short story, ‘Emergency’, read by Tobias Wolff (if this recommendation doesn’t spur you on to buy the book, at least go online and listen to Wolff’s wonderful reading of an American classic). I listened to the story twice. A couple of weeks later …

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What I loved: Hour of the Star by Clarice Lispector

by Ed Moreno

My favourite books hook me with their first lines: Margaret Atwood’s Surfacing, for example, or Christopher Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, or Carson McCullers’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. The best deliver an uninterrupted flow of intriguing sentences, beginning to end. Clarice Lispector’s Hour of the Star does this in a brutal, disconcerting way, while conveying its story through a scrim of se…

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What I loved: How The Light Gets In by M.J. Hyland

by Annie Condon

In 1996 I began the RMIT Professional Writing and Editing course, and while I didn’t share any classes with M.J. Hyland, I soon began to hear a lot about her from classmates. Not only was she an amazing writer, I heard, but a talented editor as well. Since our student days she has published three books, one of which (This Is How, 2007) was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. However it’s her first …

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