Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

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It’s more on the ‘bookish’ side of things this week…

1. It’s almost time for the Melbourne Writers Festival. I’ve got tickets for Sonya Hartnett, Dave Eggers and some stuff for the kids. My wishlist is also eleventy billion miles long, so I’m just working out how I can put life on hold for two weeks while I go to #ALLTHEEVENTS.

2. The Man Booker Prize Longlist 2014 has been announced. There’s a couple on the list that I intend to read (the Hustvedt and the Nicholls) but I already know what I’m cheering for. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation – from Burial Rites to The Art of Fielding

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What’s not to love about a new meme? Check out the rules (actually, there’s not really any rules) and join in Six Degrees of Separation here.

We begin with Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites. It’s set in Iceland. I’m not a fan of cold weather (at all) and yet I really, really, really want to go to Iceland. Continue reading

Top Ten Books for 2013

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It’s that time of year (the last reading day of 2013) where I pick my favourite and bests. The first nine are in no particular order: Continue reading

Graeme Simsion and The Rosie Project

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Last night I had the pleasure of popping along to the Fitzroy Town Hall to hear Graeme Simsion talk about his worldwide bestseller, The Rosie Project.

As I have mentioned, The Rosie Project is the only book I’ve read this year that I’d recommend to everybody – it’s very funny, it’s romantic (but certainly not in a schmaltzy way) and there’s a few twists to keep you reading right until the very last page.

Simsion’s path to publishing The Rosie Project was unusual. Although he had always harbored a secret desire to write a novel (and in fact read Hemingway and Miller in his twenties and thought, ‘Okay, I can do that!’, only to discover that it was not so simple), he embarked on a career in IT. And then he read a life-changing book – The Unkindest Cut by Joe Queenan. It’s a true account of trying to make a movie on a $7000 budget. Simsion, excited by the thought of doing the same, persuaded his wife (who is an author) to make one of her stories into a movie. Simsion set about writing the screenplay, filming it and eventually showing it in Melbourne’s Kino cinema. The exercise cost more than $7000… Continue reading

Top 10 Books I’ve Read So Far This Year

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By this point last year, I’d read The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. Had I not read another good book for the remainder of the year, I would have been satisfied that 2012 had been a ‘good reading year’. In fact, 2012 got even better when I read Lisa Klaussman’s Tigers in Red Weather.

But 2013 is another story.

When I saw this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic – best books read so far this year – the first thing I thought was ‘This year, I haven’t found ‘the one’.’ I’ve read some great books (as the list below demonstrates) but I haven’t found the one book that I press onto everyone I meet.Yet.

So this list of excellent books comes with qualifiers – I loved all of these novels but I’m not necessarily recommending them to ALL THE PEOPLE (although The Rosie Project comes darn close). Continue reading

Fault! Asperger’s isn’t a fault. It’s a variant.

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This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is all about books dealing with tough subjects. I’ve read a number of truly remarkable books dealing with the kinds of issues usually filed under ‘tough’ – addiction, suicide, grief, terminal illness and so on. Instead of filling my top ten list with a range of tough issues, I’m focusing on one – autism.

I have a nephew with Asperger’s. Some things are particularly tough for him –  playground politics, kids not playing by the rules and soon, all the crap that goes with being a teenager. Some people might not consider autism a ‘tough’ issue but I say cast your mind back to when you were little. In the world of kids where any differences are noted (loudly), it’s survival of the fittest. And that can be really hard.

Of course being a teenager is a different type of tough. So much of it is in the fine detail – sidelong glances, notes passed in class, ‘he said/ she said’ and knowing that wearing your collar/ your jumper/ your socks just so is cool and all the other ways is not. Navigating all this shit makes me stress for my kids, let alone for my nephew who will have to work a bit harder on ‘getting it right’.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion has proved a break-out hit in Australia and now the world (the title of this post is a quote from this fabulous book). Asperger’s and love are the main themes – The Rosie Project will make you think differently about both. Continue reading

‘The Rosie Project’ by Graeme Simsion

Ordinarily I finish a book and bang out a review a day or two later.

It’s more than two weeks since I finished The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. What’s taken me so long to write a review? I guess I’m a little conflicted about this book. First and foremost, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s quirky, funny and a completely original love story.

It’s the story of Don Tillman, a university genetics professor. Don is getting married. He just doesn’t know who to yet. He’s designed a very detailed questionnaire (The Wife Project) to help him find the perfect woman.

“Gene and Claudia tried for a while to assist me with the Wife Problem. Unfortunately, their approach was based on the traditional dating paradigm, which I had previously abandoned on the basis that the probability of success did not justify the effort and negative experiences.” Continue reading