What we’re reading: Jeanette Winter, Lara Williams & Muriel Spark
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.
Dani Solomon is reading Our House Is on Fire by Jeanette Winter
Right now with the smoke from bushfires around the country choking Melbourne it’s so easy to fall into hopeless despair. What can we do? What can I do? How can I beat 200 bushfires? How can I help thousands of displaced people? Our House Is on Fire by Jeanette Winter shows how Greta Thunberg turned her despair and fear into righteous anger. Its about how her quiet determination to be heard inspired many and was amplified across the globe. There is not much I can do directly about the fires burning our country but I can add my rage to the masses and I feel optimistic that soon our collective voices will be too loud to be ignored.
Georgia Brough is reading A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark
I’ve been reading A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark, as recommended by one of my colleagues. Good lord, this was good. Muriel Spark has this whip smart, snarky voice that is both endearing and insightful – I was nodding along in recognition at some parts and outright cackling at others. In Kensington, war widow Mrs Hawkins lives in a boarding house in 1950s London and works as a publishing assistant at a publishing house with scrupulous morals. She’s soon fired for calling a hack writer a pisseur de copie (repeatedly), and .. you know what, this one’s a little hard to explain, you’ll just have to read it. It was such a refreshing read; it was a breath of fresh air to read Spark’s succinct, direct prose and, holy heck, she’s funny. Hands down my favourite final page of any book ever and a stellar way to kick off my 2020 reading list.
Jackie Tang is reading Supper Club by Lara Williams
I picked up Lara Williams’ Supper Club over the Christmas break after it won The Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize and it was probably the perfect book for me to read, stuffed on the sofa, as I lolled around in a post-turkey haze. The book centres on loner Roberta and defiant Stevie who together start a secret society for women to eat what they like. The titular club grows, in size and in scope, and before long its members are sating their appetites drinking, dancing, screwing and just generally revelling in transgressive excess.
Laden with descriptions of food that will leave your mouth watering on one page and feeling slightly squeamish on another, Supper Club offers sharp insight into the bonds between young women, body image and the stifling bondage of patriarchy – there is real pain and anger in the situations Williams’ characters go through. I’d recommend it for foodies and anyone looking for a book about embracing the messy inchoate nature of asserting yourself in a messed-up world (which I think many of us can relate to at the moment).