Good Reading : October 2004
goodreading 19 book chat MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY PUBLISHING THE ART OF WAR Betty Churcher Betty Churcher, one of our leading art historians, explores the range and diversity of art inspired by war. Stunningly illustrated throughout, The Art of War has been produced to accompany the SBS television series of the same name. The Miegunyah Press 0-522-85099-5 $39.95 Paperback www.mup.com.au AUTHORS TAKE SIDES Iraq and the Gulf War Jean Moorcroft Wilson & Cecil Woolf (eds) Based on writers’ responses to a questionnaire, this book records contemporary opinions and reactions to two of the most contentious issues of our times, the Gulf War and the Iraq invasion. With contributions from 19 Australians. Melbourne University Press 0-522-85136-3 $29.95 Paperback www.mup.com.au MELBOURNE UNIVERSITY PUBLISHING It’s the toughest question anyone can ask me and lately everyone’s been at it. Books Alive. The ABC. Even gr is contributing to my dilemma! I’m talk- ing about nominating your favourite book (or three!) and I’m ready to call it quits. For me books are an intimate, deli- cious, secret touchstone to every stage of your life. And to choose a favourite, or single out a few, might shatter the intricate patter n of things that make me who I am today. Where do you even begin? Say you jumped right past those early picture books (Little Black, a Pony; Robert the Rose Horse) and went straight to your first favourite chapter book (hardback, dark smoky- blue cover, title long forgotten) about a girl called Tess who lived in a turret. Ever since I’ve coveted houses with that particular architectural feature (and there are lots in Sydney) imagin- ing the mystery and romance that will be mine when I finally live in such a dwelling. And for realising dreams I could add the obvious (Swimming the Shane Gould Way) but instead I’d suggest my first Trixie Belden. Number twelve for reasons only the universe can fathom. And the only one set in New York. The excitement and danger Trixie felt as she was chased all over Manhattan by devious inter national smugglers before delivering them into the hands of the good officers of the NYPD stayed with me until I went to live there in my twenties and not once did that great city let me down. So you can see my dilemma. I’m not yet a teenager. I haven’t counted my favourite of the books Mum gave me every Christmas (My Brilliant Career) with a long explanation as to her choice. Or the first Latin American you meet (The House of Spirits) and the rush that followed (One Hundred Years of Solitude, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter) leaving everything else looking just so plain. Or the way Virginia Woolf (A Room of One’s Own) sent you to the jour nal in an attempt to imitate. And the dark, twisted tunnel that had been what you wanted to do with your life was blinding and bright. Or the first book your husband gave you (The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon) which would never have been on your radar but was so unusual and so fabulous that you fall in love with him even more. So you see I’m a failure and I’m happy to admit it. Nothing left to do but go and read to my son (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish) and let the whole sor ry cycle begin again. BOOK CHAT with Lisa Forrest Top 3 Reads Many of you have responded to the challenge of nominating your 3 favourite reads. Here are just some more to come! Sue Terry Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen It’s the book I have read more often than any other. It has the perfect hero and heroine, both a little flawed but both inspiring in their integ- rity and humanity. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry Its message that ‘the secret of survival is to embrace change and adapt’ is played out by characters who wrench your guts as they survive against unbelievable odds. The Newspaper of Claremont Street by Elizabeth Jolley Jolley’s Austenesque wit and black humour is nowhere more evident than in her character, Weekly the cleaner. Elizabeth Wright Atonement Ian McEwan I enjoyed this book because it was cleverly written and had a different approach. It was also compulsive reading. I’m Not Scared Niccolo Ammaniti A delightful and descriptively written story. It was both poignant and thought provoking. The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini A beautiful, but sad story. It enlightened me to a country as it once was. Rebecca Court Choosing just 3 books is always hard but I would go for My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith and The Family at One End Street by Eve Garnett. Having read these as a child growing up in England in a fairly isolated fashion, with not much to distract me, the fortnightly visits to the library were a big treat and the young peo- ple and their families, whom I encountered in these books, have remained friends for life.