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.
Nina is reading Friendship by Emily Gould
If you were to design a book to specifically appeal to me, it would probably be this one. A debut novel about two thirty-year-old best friends living in New York, each dealing with various professional and personal dramas. Everything from the title (I love it) to the cover (probably my favourite of the year so far) to the author’s name (I was already familiar with her work and follow her on Twitter) drew me in. In short, I was hooked before I read a word.
And, luckily, Friendship lived up to all my expectations. It’s a fantastic novel – funny, smart, entertaining and incredibly readable.
I was really interested in what the book had to say about money. Both of the main characters struggle with their finances at varying points during the story and the author doesn’t shy away from the realities of what it actually means to be broke and in debt. You can read a fascinating essay by Emily Gould about her own financial struggles here (which is actually an extract from MFA VS NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction).
Friendship isn’t out until July (sorry), but I’ll probably still be raving about it then.
Chris is reading The Last Days of California by Mary Miller
Mary Miller’s first novel, following her short story collection Big World, is narrated by Jess, a fifteen year old on a road trip with her mother, sister and father to California, because her father is convinced the rapture is coming. Along the way we’re given insight into sisterhood, small towns, motel life and fast food. Miller gives us such an authentic teenager in the narrator Jess that she’s the perfect companion for this funny, strange and, ultimately, heartbreaking book.
Mark is reading Carrots and Jaffas by Howard Goldenberg
I’m reading Carrots and Jaffas at the moment. It’s the second novel by Melbourne doctor Howard Goldenberg. The protagonists are identical twins, one of whom is kidnapped by a mysterious man which is where I’m up to.
Goldenberg writes with great clarity and an engaging charming style. The book contains a number of relevant and fascinating medical episodes and asides; Goldenberg’s background makes them especially authoritative and engaging. I’m looking forward to getting back to the book to see what happens next.
Amy is reading The News: A User’s Manual by Alain de Botton
I am just about to start reading this release by Alain de Botton. I don’t actually read or watch the news, myself (wasted time that could be spent reading BOOKS, quite frankly!) so I am intrigued by how I’m going to go with it… BUT I have good motivation. Later this month I’m participating in the Linden Centre for Contemporary Arts special exhibition book club, ‘Reading Between the Lines’.
Based on Linden’s current exhibition ‘Witness’, the first of two meetings of the book club will discuss de Botton’s latest book and how it relates to some of the exhibitions themes. How do we witness world events in our contemporary media-saturated Western culture? What are the ethics of witnessing war, natural disaster, and trauma? How do we honour memories that have been passed on from older generations? I had a look through the ‘Witness’ exhibition today, and already intend to go back to spend some more time with a few of the art works. In reading The News - and in talking about it with fellow thinkers and literature and art lovers - I hope to gain greater insight into what this exhibition aims to do - to move us beyond the immediate consumption of images to a greater awareness of our own role in witnessing mediated events.