Monday, 15 July 2013

Teary Tales

When it comes to movies and books, it takes quite a bit to make me cry. The last time I remember crying in a movie was Return to Oz when I was seven (no, I didn't even cry during The Notebook), and I honestly can't remember the last time I cried reading a book - probably in high school. But this week, I've read two books that made me cry. A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness and the picture book The Important Things, by Peter Carnavas. It's interesting I read these in the same week - very different books for different audiences but both deal with the pain of grief and healing, mothers and son and absent fathers.

I'd been looking forward to reading A Monster Calls even though I knew it wouldn't be a happy read. Its story of creation is even a sad one. Author Siobhan Dowd had the original ideal, but died of cancer before being able to write the novel, so her idea was gifted to Patrick Ness. A wonderful fantasy element of a monster yew tree coupled with raw and real family dynamics, dealing with a horrible situation make this a compelling read indeed.

The Important Things was the only book by Peter Carnavas that I hadn't read yet. I've admired his work for years now and even though I knew it would deal with an 'important' topic, this simple book left me deeply touched. The sensitive and honest way his text and illustrations approach a tough issue is beautiful - his stories always open up interesting conversations with my children, and this one was no different.

A Monster Calls make take a few days to read, The Important Things a few minutes, but through both we are reminded that life is tough and healing is painful - but there is always hope.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Jasper Fforde

I've been following author Jasper Fforde for many years now but I'm only just getting around to reading his second latest Thursday Next novel - One of Our Thursdays is Missing. If you're a bookish nerd and haven't read any of Fforde's books, then you really should make haste and get your hands on one.

He's a British writer with several series of books on the speculative end of fantasy - and there's something for everyone - comedy, tragedy, romance, humour and with multitudes of references to the classics, you're in for quite the crash course. Aspiring authors will take heart in the face that his novels were rejected 70 times before his first novel The Eyre Affair was finally published.

A quick Google search will associate his name with 'creative genius', 'creative genius', 'creative genius' and 'cult following'. I would add to that clever; very, very clever. Not having picked up one of his books for a couple of years, I can say that once again I have been blown away by the sheer inventiveness of his writing and the attention to detail he's given to the alternate worlds he's created. Put simply, his work is a wonderful read - pure escapism - and as an aspiring writer, is a huge inspiration also.

Reading Time

An interesting little article caught my attention the other day showing a breakdown of 30 countries and the average hours they spend reading each week. Australia was right in the middle at 6.3hrs, while India took the lead at 10.7, followed by Thailand at 9.24 and China at 8.

The data was from 2004/2005 (so it'd be interesting to see an updated survey), but nevertheless, it seemed quite timely with the school holidays now on as Facebook friends' statuses have been full of trips to the library to stock up on reading material over the break - even with a few photos of the piles of books they've purchased.

Reading is something we like to talk about and it's often a way we establish rapport and strike up a conversation with people by asking 'What do you like to read?' When visiting old friends and new, I find myself gravitating to their bookshelf to see what they're into and what I could possibly borrow. We value reading, we love learning about people through what they're reading and we love sharing our latest great (or terrible) finds. But most of all, I'm sure all of us would love much more time to read. So fellow Aussies, let's catch up to India, who's with me to add another 3 odd hours of reading to our week?