What we’re reading: Miller, Wood & Whitehead
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.
Leanne Hall is reading The Republic of Birds by Jessica Miller (available March 2020)
I have just finished reading The Republic of Birds, the second middle grade novel by Berlin-based Australian author Jessica Miller. It isn’t out until March 2020, so I’m truly sorry to be taunting you early, but I have to rave about this wonderful book to someone. The Republic of Birds is set in a vivid and icy Russian folklore-inspired fantasy world; a world where the human kingdom is at war with the bird kingdom over a stolen firebird’s egg. This book has so many things I love: maps, strange magic, living folklore, talking animals, history books, impossible challenges and a redoubtable heroine who mistakenly regards herself as untalented and unlovely, when she is quite the opposite. I couldn’t have enjoyed reading this more, it’s an absolute joy. Make a note for March next year: read The Republic of Birds.
Rosalind McClintock is reading some books that have made her angry
I have been reading a few books that have made me angry. The kind of angry that is important. The kind of angry that makes you stop, think and, to use a phrase that will make many cringe, check my privilege. It is an anger that bubbles beneath my (would I say sunny?) veneer all day long.
I started with Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys, a story so heart-wrenching and improbable for a white girl that I cried and felt on the verge of illness the whole way through. I followed this up with Fleishman Is In Trouble, which stirred up a very personal anger around our society and the way women are given space and perceived. Naturally, on completion I turned the heat up further and read She Said, and boy, was I ready to explode.
I took some time off after that, my jaw was feeling sore and people were asking if I was okay. But then I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of Such a Fun Age (available January), and do you know what? The world is stuffed and I cracked a tooth.
Chris Gordon is reading recent Australian fiction
Last weekend I went away for a super long weekend with my bloke. We packed cheese and wine, oysters and champagne and books, lots of books, to be honest. This is my perfect escape: booze and silence, a vista and novels, and time together.
I loved reading Charlotte Wood’s The Weekend and musing on how our friendships can define our behaviour and deepest, most private thoughts. I reflected on the friendships that I had held for decades and wondered, as it is in Wood’s book, if in our final shared years we would remain steadfast. The Weekend is a beautiful study on female friendship and the expectations we place on those that we can, in the end, take for granted.
I read Heather Rose’s, Bruny ; a political and family epic story of the roles we play in private and public. This fast-paced novel is surely a cautionary tale about globalisation and greed. It was my blockbuster read of the weekend and I enjoyed every minute of it.
My bloke read May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes – a novel I chose for him. Delightfully for me, he laughed out loud on many occasions and was very taken as we all should be, of Homes' ability to use one character to define a society surely on the brink of collapsing. My bloke and me watched the sun settle in the distance and mused on how authors remain great prophets of society. It was perfect.