What we’re reading: Ng, Sittenfeld & Brett

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.


Mark Rubbo is reading The Coal Curse: Resources, Climate and Australia’s Future by Judith Brett

I’ve just read The Coal Curse, the new Quarterly Essay from Judith Brett. This is a terrific analysis of Australia’s post war economy and of the adverse impact of the resources industry – the fossil fuel industry in particular – in preventing Australia from developing a diverse and resilient economy. It shows how the fossil fuel industry, which employs a relatively small number of people, influenced the national debate in their favour and paralysed the ability of successive governments to develop a responsible energy policy. This essay should be essential reading for everyone!


Ellen Cregan is reading Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

This week I finished reading Everything I Never Told You. This book was Celeste Ng’s very first novel, and it’s a remarkably polished debut. It tells the story of a mixed-race family living in middle America in the 1970s, and the book opens right as the family find out that middle child Lydia has died. As they gradually discover what happened to Lydia, Ng traces back through their family history, from the time Lydia’s parents – Anglo–American Marilyn and Chinese–American James – became a couple, right up to the weeks before the tragedy that changes their lives forever. This is an atmospheric, moody read. It’s probably not the best book to pick up if you’re feeling in any way down, but is a perfect exploration of the little things that are left unsaid in between family members, and how they can impact those relationships.


Nina Kenwood is reading Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

I am a deeply devoted longtime Curtis Sittenfeld fan, so when I didn’t immediately fall in love with her new novel within the first few chapters, I was worried. Rodham is a retelling of Hillary Clinton’s life, imagining what might have happened if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton, which is both an intriguing and risky concept for a novel. The beginning chapters, which cover Hillary and Bill’s early relationship, left me uneasy. It felt slightly jarring to be reading a fictionalised account of a real relationship, sex scenes and all. But once the novel turns away from history, and moves on from the relationship between Bill and Hillary, I relaxed into the story.

Rodham is highly entertaining and from about the 100 page mark, compulsively readable. Sittenfeld weaves together events and people in a fascinating alternative vision of what American politics could look like. It’s a perfect choice for book clubs, because there is so much to discuss. I defy anyone to read this book and not want to immediately talk about it in great detail afterwards!



Curtis Sittenfeld

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