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Another adventure in reading

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Image by Meiry Peruch Mezari/Flickr

You might’ve noticed I started up a readathon, Just Read, to raise money for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (because it irks me there are people in Australia who don’t get the chance to read). You can sign up to read or sponsor an existing reader.

You might also know I’ve pursued a few different tactics to try to choose the best book, every time: just reading Australian women; making unnecessary charts of my year’s reading; only (allegedly) reading books I already own before buying or borrowing any new books. So far, nothing has cracked the mystery of how to only read books I love.

This time I’m getting people to pay me to read things. When I say ‘me’ I mean ‘the Indigenous Literacy Foundation’. I’ve asked people to chuck $30 their way and, in return, they get to tell me one book I have to read during June and July. I’ve ended up with a pretty eclectic list:

  • The Wife of Martin Guerre by Janet Lewis (chosen by Wendy Smith)
  • Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon (chosen by Ryan O’Neill)
  • Ash Road by Ivan Southall (chosen by Dani Valent)
  • The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson (chosen by James Tierney)
  • Fat, forty and fired by Nigel Marsh (chosen by Sinead Quinn Biskup)
  • Doctor Wooreddy’s prescription for enduring the end of the world by Mudrooroo Nyoongah (chosen by Reema Rattan)
  • My struggle #1 by KO Knausgaard (chosen by Misha Ketchell)
  • Speeedboat by Renata Adler (chosen by Gillian Terzis).

The main problem with this experiment is I’m not sure how repeatable it is. What if I love all these books without reservation – how do I continue to plan my reading this way? What if someone says ‘oh you really must read the latest Elena Ferrante’? Do I say, ‘sure, if you donate some money to this charity I will’?

Anyway, if it turns out this isn’t a long enough list to get me through Just Read, I’ll be asking for suggestions/donations again a bit later on.

19 thoughts on “Another adventure in reading

  1. Hello Jane, I did not realise this is what you are doing, until I saw your post here. What a challenge, a truly courageous adventure! I wish more established (and emerging) authors would do this. And I look forward to seeing your results. Thanks for the inspiration. Cheers, Christine Sun.

  2. What a cool experiment! However, you are a braver woman than I. I hate the thought of letting someone else choose my reading material. Are you allowed to quit if you hate something?

  3. Is it too late to donate and suggest a book? Well, not too late to donate but you know what I mean. (Like Annabel, I’d hate to let someone else choose my reading material, more than they do now, that is!)

      1. You can tell me just here. I do use my local library. It’d be great if the book was in print, and I don’t mind buying it as long as it’s just a regular paperback at regular paperback price, should my library not have it.

      2. OK, I’ll go do the donation now, but the book is, and if it’s too hard to get let me know and I’ll suggest another: Lesley Lebkowicz, The Petrov Poems. It’s not long, it’s sort of a verse novel though told in multiple poems. I have bought it from Pitt Street Poetry ( I’ve reviewed it, and ABC RN did a program on it recently on Earshot I think. BUT if you can’t get it, or you don’t want to spend that money, then let me know. I have ideas that should definitely be in a library at least. I wanted to choose something the keeps the variety going but that isn’t too long for you to read so you can fit in more donations!

      3. I’ll certainly let you know what I think – that’s part of the deal. My parents have always harboured a (baseless) suspicion that Mrs Petrov was living in the house opposite them for some time.

      4. Haha, Jane, and so the intrigue continued eh? FWIW, I can say that the Petrovs did live pretty much around the corner from my inlaws who bought a house in Griffith, ACT, in 1952.

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