What we’re reading: Rushton, Burr & Thornton

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.


Jackie Tang is reading The Most Important Job in the World by Gina Rushton

I reviewed Gina Rushton’s The Most Important Job in the World a little while ago (in short: it’s amazing, go read it) but I wanted to shout out its brilliance again in the wake of the US Supreme Court’s draft opinion about overturning Roe v Wade.

There is an absolutely vital chapter in Rushton’s book about reproductive rights in our own country and the experiences of those seeking abortions in Australia – the inequality of access, the tentative progress that’s been made and the absolutely heartless, weaselly rhetoric that anti-abortion politicians use in their campaigns to limit people’s power over their own bodies. I learnt a lot about how laws differ across states and how our local reproductive health campaigns have played out in a non-American context. There’s one section where Rushton juxtaposes quotes from speeches by anti-abortion politicians with the actual experiences Rushton’s interviewees have gone through trying to end a pregnancy – the stories are heartrending and it’s chilling to see just how disconnected those political arguments are from the real decisions people find themselves having to make. I think a lot of people probably feel angry and hopeless – I do too and I’m not saying a book will fix that; I really struggled to write this without using a steady stream of expletives – but I feel grateful that there are writers out there like Rushton who are documenting these moments of history with honesty and empathy.


Lian Hingee is reading Wake by Shelley Burr

Working in the book industry you hear a lot of ‘___ is the new ___ ’, and ‘if you liked ___ , you’ll love ___ ’. So I’m loathe to say ‘ Wake is the new The Dry’ and ‘If you liked Sharp Objects you’ll love Wake ’, but here we are. Wake the story of Mina McCreery, who was thrust into the public spotlight as a young girl when her beautiful sister disappeared in mysterious circumstances from their remote property in the small town of Nannine. Nineteen years later, private investigator Lane Holland arrives to try his hand at solving the case. The million dollar reward has its appeal, but Lane’s interest in the case goes far beyond the money and deep into his own childhood.

Author Shelley Burr’s debut is more compulsive, more accomplished, and better written than it has any right to be. This nuanced story about the media, trial by social media, celebrity victimhood, and the agony of unknowing is wrapped up in a deliciously compelling, well-paced, and ultimately compassionate novel. Highly recommended.


Clare Millar is reading Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton

A total backlist pick this time, I’ve been reading Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton, which was recommend to me by an academic while I was on my writing residency earlier this year. The title is pretty self-explanatory - the author spends a day (but really much longer than that conducting interviews, I imagine!) in various parts of the art world: art school crit groups, auction houses, prize juries, magazines, studios, etc. This is ultimately to explore how different people interact with art - some are purely financial while others are very much questioning ideas of what is good art and what should it mean?

It’s an interesting style of writing that focuses purely on observation and interviewing - while the author herself is present and pushes forward a narrative by questioning her own understanding of the art world, it isn’t about her. It’s quite astounding however the level of access she manages to get into the industry and the insights she elicits from key players. This is something I’ve been trying to do in my own writing and it’s been a challenge to find examples of ethnography written for a general audience. While this book would mostly interest people who are intrigued by contemporary art and don’t know a lot about it (bearing in mind this book is largely about American and British art of the 90s-00s), it has been a great journey for me as a writer. I’m very grateful for the recommendation!

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The Most Important Job in the World

The Most Important Job in the World

Gina Rushton

$34.99Buy now

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