What We're Reading

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on or the music we’re loving.

Bronte is reading The Long Weekend in Alice Springs

The Long Weekend in Alice Springs is an amazing book - imaginative, compelling and thoughtful. One reviewer called it a ‘haunting excursion into Alice’s psyche’ and I feel this is very apt.

The book is a graphic adaptation of an essay by psychologist Craig San Roque in which he’d explored ideas of the ‘cultural complex’ drawing from his work and life in Alice Springs. Cultural complexes are “based on frequently repeated historical experiences that have taken root in the collective psyche of a group and in the psyches of the individual members of a group, and they express archetypal values for the group”.

Joshua Santospirito read Craig’s essay while he was working as a psychiatric nurse in Central Australian Aboriginal communities and some time later, began to draw images inspired by what he’d read.

So in essence - The Long Weekend in Alice Springs is a visual interpretation of a written interpretation of a philosophical interpretation of a man-made idea: culture. And somehow, it works. The book is surprisingly accessible.

Craig’s reflections on life in Alice are constantly blended with his desire to understand, to make sense of the issues at play in the Indigenous communities he’s involved with, while Joshua’s stark black and white images pack a mean emotional punch. The intent here is less about learning what ‘cultural complexes’ are and more about understanding an important part of our world as Australians. There is so much heart in this book.

Highly recommended.

Nina is reading Quarterly Essay 50

Last weekend I read Anna Goldsworthy’s excellent Quarterly Essay on sex, freedom and misogyny, which was a perfect primer for a week filled with discussions of politics and gender. Anna’s essay weaves together current affairs, feminist ideology and pop culture to examine what it means to be a woman – or a young girl – in Australia today. I highly recommend it.

I have started reading an advance copy of the much-hyped The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon (out in late August). The Bone Season is the first in a seven-book fantasy series and Shannon is being touted as the next JK Rowling. I’m only a few chapters in, so it’s too early to tell if the hype is justified yet or not. It seems like a slow burn of a novel, largely because the world Shannon has created is very complex. The story follows nineteen-year-old Paige, a psychic living in an alternative, future version of London where clairvoyants are outlawed. The different types of psychic abilities and the way they work are complicated, and remind me a little of Isobelle Carmody’s Obernewtyn (my first true love when it comes to fantasy). I am intrigued so far.

I have been watching the second season of Veep. I enjoyed the first season, but the show really hits its stride in the second season. I love the character of Selina Meyer – to me, she stands out as a unique female lead in today’s television landscape. Selina swears aggressively, lies and manipulates her way through situations, completely screws things up, neglects her daughter, has regular freak outs and melt downs, and treats her staff terribly. And yet, I love her. She’s fascinating and fun to watch. In a time when we focus very heavily on the brilliance of the male anti-hero (Don Draper, Walter White etc.), Selina is a great example of how a female anti-hero can carry a show.

Emily is reading Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Fellow children’s specialist Kathy Kozlowski and I have been giggling over the new Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton early reader series (The Cat, the Rat and the Baseball Bat, Ed and Ted and Ted’s Dog Fred, Andy G, Terry D, the Brave Tea-lady and the Evil Bee) and we’ve bought the first copies out of the box with two special someones in mind.

Kathy has a 6 year old grandson and I have a 6 year old son, both of whom are halfway through Prep and at the same reading level. I’m starting mine off with Ed and Ted and Ted’s Dog Fred – the title alone made him smile. These books are ideal as an antidote to the tired and rather dry school readers the boys are making their way through.

The stories will be familiar to those who know The Cat On The Mat Is Flat, but they’ve been re-formatted and given colour illustrations. Griffiths and Denton are rarely if ever out of the Readings’ weekly bestseller list. On the surface their books might seem silly and sometimes anarchistic but I think they’re secretly very clever and I know that for my son these early reader books will be the first step into a great journey.

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