Good Reading : December January 2008
foreword millions of .books. .one shop. emporiumbooks.com.au Australia’s largest online bookstore I’m still getting my head around the fact that this is the final issue for 2007. Someone’s playing tricks with time! As usual, we have a literary feast lined up for you to savour over the holiday period. Nearly twenty years ago, Ken Follett’s monumental novel The Pillars of the Earth was published to wide acclaim. He’s finally succumbed to fan pressure and has written a sequel − but unlike most sequels, this one is set 200 years after the first novel! He talks to Alan Gold on page 12. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing two remarkable but very different writers this month: the irrepressible front man for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Dan Mathews (see page 14) and another tireless worker for charity, ex-Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo (see page 16). Both inspiring people, and a reminder of what a diverse and stimulating lot authors all over the world are. Our globe-trotting contributor Claire Wiltshire (last seen in Hanoi in the June 2007 issue) stays closer to home this month and takes us on a ride along the Alpine Book Trail (page 18), an enterprising collective of bookshops in Victoria. I greatly enjoyed looking into the recent phenomenon of the rise of the graphic novel (see page 20) but hasten to assure readers that gr will nevertheless remain a manga-free zone! Do any of you take pleasure in pasting a bookplate in the front of books you buy for either yourself or a friend? They can be very beautiful, mark the ownership of the volume in question, and have an interesting history in Australia, as Mark Ferson explains on page 22. If you’re looking for some great holiday reading, on page 31 we’ve listed all the books that were awarded five stars by our reviewers in 2007. I defy anyone not to find a gripping read among that lot. And if you’re still searching for a present for a book-loving friend, may I suggest that a gift subscription to gr will bring year-round gripping reads to their attention. All aspiring writers will be delighted to hear about the effectiveness − and fun − of residential writing courses, as described by writer and teacher Kathryn Heyman (page 48). A book of beautiful bird photographs is featured in our coffee table segment this month (see page 46) and the book bite is a very funny account of a dysfunctional family visit to Australia undertaken by John Mortimer (of Rumpole fame) in the official biography, A Voyage Round John Mortimer by Valerie Grove (page 50). To keep things above board, I must confess that Valerie is my sister. But my opinion of her as one of the best biographers around is entirely unbiased, of course! May you all have a happy, safe and book-ful Christmas.