Mark Rubbo

Mark_bigthumb

Twitter: @markrubbo

Mark Rubbo is managing director of Readings. He is a past president of the Australian Booksellers Association and was founding chair of the Melbourne Writers Festival. In 2006 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia.

Reviews

Yellow Notebook: Diaries Volume I, 1978–1987 by Helen Garner

When Helen Garner’s debut novel Monkey Grip was published in 1977, a couple of larrikins made some beer money by publishing a pamphlet, ‘Who’s Who in Monkey Grip’ and there might be a temptation for …

Read more ›

Finding the Heart of the Nation by Thomas Mayor

In 2017, over two hundred and fifty Indigenous representatives from around the country gathered at Uluru and unanimously adopted the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The last paragraph reads, ‘In 1967…

Read more ›

Other People’s Houses by Hilary McPhee

At one time, Hilary McPhee’s life was in upheaval and she was struggling with the illness and death of her parents, a bout of cancer and the end of a long marriage. It was a period of deep desolation…

Read more ›

Maybe the Horse Will Talk by Elliot Perlman

It’s a long time since Elliot Perlman’s last novel The Street Sweeper and it’s so good to see him back. Perlman’s work looks at social issues through the prism of a mighty fine story. He’s looked at …

Read more ›

Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

Say Nothing, Patrick Radden Keefe’s examination of the Troubles in Northern Ireland from the late 1960s to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, won the 2019 Orwell Prize for Political Writing. Keefe, a…

Read more ›

Harry Seidler’s Umbrella by Joe Rollo

The first thing that strikes you about this book is its sheer beauty. Joe Rollo got his friend and graphic designer Garry Emery to design the book and together they agonised over it. It’s a lovely ob…

Read more ›

Travellers by Helon Habila

A unnamed narrator accompanies his artist wife who’s been awarded a fellowship in Berlin. She is American, he is Nigerian. After a miscarriage they both feel unmoored; they both react differently: hi…

Read more ›

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

In Machines Like Me, Ian McEwan imagines a world in the past that is also the future. Britain has lost the Falklands War and driverless cars are the norm. Alan Turing, the great scientist, is also st…

Read more ›

Invented Lives by Andrea Goldsmith

I read an early draft of Invented Lives a year or so ago; it was almost wonderful then but now it really is wonderful. What I like most about Andrea Goldsmith’s work is that it manages to combine a d…

Read more ›

The Rip by Mark Brandi

If The Rip has any antecedents it’s probably novels like Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip and the late Andrew McGahan’s Praise; its gritty look at the underbelly of our society is raw and unflinching and a…

Read more ›

Love is Blind by William Boyd

I have to confess that William Boyd is one of my favourite authors; his Any Human Heart is probably his best but Love is Blind comes close. It’s an exotic and sad love story that kept me wanting more…

Read more ›

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

In the beginning of the twenty-first century all we can seem to see is a world of rapid change and turmoil, with the rise of a destructive right-wing nationalism, and technology outpacing our ability…

Read more ›

Prize Fighter by Future D. Fidel

Future D. Fidel is a refugee from the Congo. Prize Fighter is based on the acclaimed stage play written by Fidel and it too follows the life of Isa Alaki from the war-torn Congo to life in Australia.…

Read more ›

Origin Story by David Christian

David Christian coined the phrase ‘Big History’ in reference to a project that aims to tell the story of everything that’s happened from the beginning of the universe until now. It’s an idea that cau…

Read more ›

Reading the Landscape: A Celebration of Australian Writing

The University of Queensland Press was established in 1948 (coincidentally, the year I was born). In the mid-sixties, under the stewardship of American expat Frank Thompson, it started to publish Aus…

Read more ›

The Madonna of the Mountains by Elise Valmorbida

Set in the Veneto region of northern Italy, this novel about life in rural Italy between the 1920s and 50s is compulsively beautiful. It opens with a young woman, Maria, waiting for her father to bri…

Read more ›

Marcia Langton: Welcome to Country by Marcia Langton

I sense a growing desire for non-Indigenous Australians to know about our Indigenous culture. The recent successes of Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia (one of our bestsellers last month) and Alexis…

Read more ›

The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones

Mattanza is a Sicilian word to describe a seasonal ritual of hunting and killing tuna in the waters around Sicily; it also the term used to describe periodic mafia killings. Noah Glass, an art histor…

Read more ›

The Shepherd’s Hut by Tim Winton

Jaxie’s dad ‘wasn’t always a c#%t. Like he was probably decent once and you were happy and so was your mum.’ But he is now, or was; he’s dead now and Jaxie Clackton, 16 and desperate, is on the run –…

Read more ›

On Borrowed Time by Robert Manne

The publisher describes this book as a ‘stunning new collection of essays’ and the hyperbole is certainly justified. The essays range over a number of topics that matter to Robert Manne and, on readi…

Read more ›

Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker

In 1784, philosopher Immanuel Kant asked, ‘What is Enlightenment?’ It was, he argued, humankind’s emergence from its submission to the ‘dogmas and formulas’ of religious or political authority. The E…

Read more ›

A Long Way from Home by Peter Carey

One of my favourite books is Peter Carey’s Illywhacker, with its outrageous narrator Herbert Badgery and the sprawling basalt plains of Bacchus Marsh. It was a riot of fun that hid a message about th…

Read more ›

First Person by Richard Flanagan

Probably Australia’s largest fraud case involved John Friedrich, executive director of the National Safety Council of Australia. Friedrich embezzled almost $300 million from a number of banks through…

Read more ›

On the Java Ridge by Jock Serong

Jock Serong’s books don’t shy away from tackling topics that affect contemporary society and in On the Java Ridge, although this doesn’t dominate the narrative, they are there. In Quota, it was the e…

Read more ›

Defectors by Joseph Kanon

Simon Weeks and his older brother Frank had promising careers in the United States intelligence services. Members of a respected Boston family, their careers and life trajectories were mapped out for…

Read more ›

A Writing Life by Bernadette Brennan

I have to admit that I loved this book; I’m an unabashed fan of Helen Garner’s work and have been ever since the publication of her first book, Monkey Grip. As a young Carlton bookseller in 1977, the…

Read more ›

Utopia for Realists by Rutger Bregman

Most of the highly paid jobs in our new economy are bullsh*t jobs. The best and the brightest are paid huge amounts of money, yet they don’t create anything of value. Rutger Bregman is a young Dutch …

Read more ›

Last Words by Barry Dickins

It is 50 years since Ronald Ryan became the last person to be hanged in Victoria. Ryan was serving an 8-year sentence for breaking and entering and together with another inmate broke out of Coburg’s …

Read more ›

Press Escape by Shaun Carney

Shaun Carney started his career in journalism as a 20-year-old cadet at Melbourne’s Herald and moved a few years later to the Age. After a 26-year career there, holding many influential positions, Sh…

Read more ›

The Boy Behind the Curtain by Tim Winton

Helen Garner’s Everywhere I Look, a collection of personal essays and diary notes, delighted readers and it went on to become one of our bestsellers. I’ve got a feeling that Tim Winton’s collection, …

Read more ›

News

Mark’s Say, November 2019

by Mark Rubbo

A little over a year ago our shop at State Library Victoria moved into the refurbished Baldwin Spencer room on Russell Street. When I was a child that room was the entrance to the Museum and, if I remember rightly, housed the stuffed hide of legendary racehorse Phar Lap. In its new colours, Baldwin Spencer certainly doesn’t have any skeletons in its closet and is now, surely, one of Melbourne’s g…

Read more ›

Mark’s Say, October 2019

by Mark Rubbo

About once a month I get together with my old friend Henry Rosenbloom from Scribe. Henry and I were at university together (he was much cleverer and more diligent than I) and we’ve remained friends since. The tagline for Scribe is ‘We publish books that matter’ and that’s a pretty fair assessment. During our get togethers we generally find ourselves talking about the book business, as you would e…

Read more ›

Support Indigenous Literacy Day in 2019

by Mark Rubbo

Today is Indigenous Literacy Day.

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) does amazing work to foster literacy in remote communities around Australia and close the gap on literacy and numeracy. Research has found that the ability to read opens doors to life-long learning; the ILF provides resources and programs to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in remote communities build t…

Read more ›

Mark’s Say: September 2019

by Mark Rubbo

My father was a scientist and head of the University of Melbourne’s Department of Bacteriology, affectionately known as ‘The Bug School’. It was located in an old building on Swanston Street (now the Ian Potter Museum of Art). He assembled around him a dedicated and, from memory, eccentric, team. It included Holocaust survivors, Nobel Prize winners, and aspiring musicians. For us kids, visits wer…

Read more ›

Mark’s Say: August 2019

by Mark Rubbo

I hate this time of year, the end of the financial year. It’s when we find out how many books have been stolen from our shelves. You’d think I’d get used to it, but I never quite do. This year the value of the items stolen has increased by 30% to $175,000. It’s upsetting; with that money we could have given our hardworking staff a bigger bonus and also put some extra money into the Readings Found

Read more ›

Mark’s Say: July 2019

by Mark Rubbo

My good friend Robert Gott is an exceptional crime writer with six books under his belt. I first came across Robert when he was an English teacher at Princes Hill High School. He later emerged as the originator and perpetrator of the famous ‘Naked Man’ cartoons in The Age. His brother Ted is a senior curator at the NGV and responsible for many of its blockbuster exhibitions of European art. Both …

Read more ›