In This Issue (November 2004)
Table of contents
Letters to the editor
As a child I had one of those beds that had a bookshelf for a head and bed lamp attached. On this shelf I stored The House At Pooh Corner and my meagre collection of Golden Circle books.
I read all the books at the back of my classroom and was immensely relieved to discover the local public library from which I borrowed two books every week. When I left school, I began a Library Studies course because I naively believed I would get to sit around and read books all day. I was deeply bored when I discovered that the course primarily comprised of cataloguing, bibliographies and computing. I distinctly recall one late cold, wet Monday evening a Cataloguing lecturer challenging us with how we might catalogue a book by Walter de la Mare, ‘Do we catalogue it under Mare, or la Mare or de la Mare?’ I suspect this was a deciding moment for me and Library Studies; I wanted only to read his books, not catalogue them! I decided to teach literature instead and nothing calms the wee or even adolescent masses quicker than a good tale.
On reading the July 2004 gr, I found myself musing on what a bibliophile I have become. I organise my fiction based on the nationality of the writer. What would the lecturers think? And yet it works for me. Non-fiction is organised on the basis of subject, of course, and no Dewey numbers! We have one whole shelf dedicated to reference books we use to do the weekend papers’ general knowledge crosswords. I have a small collection of old books and quite a collection of bookmarks. When I travel, I like to read a novel set in the area of my current adventure: A Town Like Alice in Malaysia, Fragrant Rice in Bali, etc. A friend and I visited Prince Edward Island in Canada for the sole purpose of imbibing the environment of Anne of Green Gables.
I always have at least one book on the go. I always take a book with me (you never know when an idle moment begs to be filled by a book). I have a small book by the Dalai Lama permanently in my handbag. My idea of a shopping spree is a childless meander through a number of bookshops!
And so the joyful journey continues.
Agnes Nieuwenhuizen (gr September 2004) seems to have misunderstood the thrust of my June 2004 ‘Last Word’ piece, regarding Mr Latham’s idea to give every baby in Australia three books at birth. I’m not dismissing ‘local and national efforts to intervene early and produce confident, passionate readers’. Why would I, when it’s at the centre of my own efforts? Indeed, the rest of the Labor leader’s platform re the promotion of literacy is interesting and well-thought out, with fresh initiatives that might well work out. But the particular aspect I was writing about, the free-books-to-every-kid idea - which was touted as the centrepiece of the platform - is, it seems to me, primarily designed to catch the media’s eye, and to uncritically enthuse all of us lovers of reading, and encouragers of it in children. Spectacular and ‘sexy’ though it might be, however, this idea is fraught with practical and other problems, which is what I was discussing in my piece. I do not think that Agnes Nieuwenhuizen’s piece, interesting and passionate though it is, has addressed the issues I mentioned.
Writing is the painting you do when you can’t play piano.
Scarborough WA 6019
I’m in hospital having been quite ill with pneumonia. Your magazine (borrowed from the hospital lounge – dated November 2003) has been a real inspiration and given me the incentive to hurry up and get well.
I’m cancelling other subscriptions to be able to have your publication.
Sutton Forest NSW
Letter from the editorIt's at this time of year I inevitably find myself in a reflective mood - the year is drawing to a close and the heady days of summer are almost here - which is why I particularly enjoyed delving into some of the books we've covered this month.
Spending time in a garden is always productive whether it's just sitting and thinking in a beautiful environment or getting stuck in digging and planting. I have to admit I'm not a great gardener mainly because I don't have the time, or the garden, but I do enjoy reading gardening books. In many ways they can be just as soothing to the soul as gardening itself. And this month with the help of Gill Teague from Florilegium bookshop we've put together a collection of gardening books that are guaranteed to get you thinking about gardens and gardening in quite a different way - they may even inspire you to put pen to paper.
There's something wonderful about being able to communicate with people in their own language, which is one of the reasons I love learning foreign languages, but one language that has eluded me is the language of mathematics. However, courtesy of Jane Gleeson-White, I've been introduced to three women whose books make maths and physics accessible and understandable. Like so many things, it's all in how it's explained and maybe it's the shared love of literature that has been the key to opening the doors to the magic and mystery of numbers. Whether you speak their language or not, you'll enjoy meeting Margaret Wertheim, Robyn Arianrhod and Clio Cresswell.
Diane Johnson may not be a familiar author to many of you, though some may have seen the film Le Divorce which was based on one of her novels. An American, she spends most of her time in Paris and it is the experience of trying to negotiate the minefield of French manners that was the inspiration for her entertaining social comedies. 'Jane Austen with a Gallic flair' said one reviewer. Turn to page 14 to read Desmond O'Grady's interview.
Speaking of Jane Austen reminds me of the book I'm reading and dying to get back to: Karen Joy Fowler's The Jane Austen Book Club. I first read about the book earlier this year and have been waiting and waiting for it to be released here. In the meantime I read an interview with Karen where she said that Pride and Prejudice was a book she found herself returning to every few years and each time she found that it seemed to strike just the right chord. Which echoed very much my own experience so I knew I was going to enjoy her book. But whether you love the novels of Jane Austen or not, I can heartily recommend The Jane Austen Book Club - it's a wise, witty and warm novel about ordinary people who love books. And on that note, I'll leave you to get on with your reading while I get back to mine.
If your letter is published, you will receive a MightyBright XtraFlex 2 LED Booklight vakued at $26.95! The wonderfully useful and stylish booklight has 2 LED lights on one head on a flexible arm.
The manufaturer Arnott's of Australia (who's tagline is 'Not the biscuit co'), says the globes will never need replacing.
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