Of course we've been reading our own wonderful Black Inc. books over the break, from David Marr's must-read collection Panic to Mungo MacCallum's entertaining and educational guide to Australia's prime ministers The Good, the Bad and the Unlikely. We've also been busily reading manuscripts and advance copies of our forthcoming books (you can see some of them in our January - June catalogue.)
But we're bookish people by nature and we like reading other publishers' books too. So here's what else we've been reading over the summer:
I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon, which certainly lived up to its title. Two young Jewish cousins, thrown together in New York by World War II, create comic books that bring them success, adventure, intrigue and romance. I loved every minute of this brilliantly written book.
I've just finished Jeanette Winterson's autobiography Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?, which I absolutely loved. I love her searing honesty and passion for words and language, and it made me want to revisit all of her other books. I also read Jeffrey Eugenides' The Marriage Plot and All That I Am by Anna Funder, and have just started Foal's Bread by Gillian Mears, which I've been looking forward to.
Pauline Kael by Brian Kellow – plodding book but fascinating subject.
Ripley's Game by Patricia Highsmith – brilliant, brutal, so suspenseful you could vomit from the tension.
The Snowman by Jo Nesbo – implausible and prefabricated like Ikea but very readable.
I just finished The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (after first reading the fascinating Vanity-Fair-article-turned-ebook How a Book is Born: The Making of the Art of Fielding.) I absolutely loved it and I think it definitely lived up to the hype. Don't be put off by the baseball – I know nothing about baseball and it wasn't a problem (think of it like the football scenes in Friday Night Lights!) Before this, I read The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta. I’m a big Perrotta fan, and I wasn’t disappointed – a great read.
I was (and still am) reading The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell. It's a French novel told from the perspective of a German SS officer during WW2. It won a couple of major French literary awards when it was released in 2006 and is extremely confronting but absolutely fascinating. Don't ask me why I decided to read a 900 page historical novel about Nazi atrocities during my Summer holiday because I still haven't figured that out...!
I'm new to the job, so I read lots of Quarterly Essays and our 2012 list. Mungo MacCallum's portrait of Australia's prime ministers to date, The Good, the Bad and the Unlikely, was great for future trivia reference – and who knew we had such a tradition of boozehounds in the top job? So my holiday wasn't all work, I turned to my 'chicken soup' book, the one that makes me forget the world and want to read forever – Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest. It's a bittersweet story woven around the Grimm Brother's fairytale, The Six Swans. I first read it when I was 15 and the thrill remains. It's magical.
Brisbane writer Kneen's erotic memoir is a straightforward, open and honest account of her experiences, sexual and otherwise, from her early childhood to the time of writing. I expected it to be full of arousing scenes, and there are many, but it's also an introspective, philosophical book, with observations on love, commitment, sexual orientation and insecurity. That said, it's best not to read this in public, especially if you blush easily.