I’ve just stumbled across a blogging meme called 6 degrees of separation. Once a month a book is proposed as the starting point for a chain of six more books – each linked in some way to the one preceding it.
I decided I should seize the opportunity to have a go at this because:
- I feel like getting back into blogging and this is a good excuse
- This month I’ve actually read the starting book, which will probably not often happen. It’s Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible
- It’s a fun way to avoid study (reading about risk assessment!)
A Wife On Gorge River by Catherine Stewart
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Catherine Stewart has had an interesting life, but the telling of it is not so interesting. The book conveyed very little of Catherine’s motivations or philosophy – which is surely what you most want to read about, when a person has made the decision to raise a family in such a remote area: in the early 1990s Catherine moved in with her new partner, Robert Long, who was already living in a shack at the mouth of Gorge River in south west New Zealand that is only accessible by air, or a 2 day walk.
July’s People by Nadine Gordimer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In July’s People, Nadine Gordimer imagines a violent, chaotic end to South Africa’s apartheid system: all-out war between black and white, with other nations getting involved (like Russia, Cuba, the US), mainly to support their own self-interest. Continue reading
These photos, taken by my father in the 1950s, show a landscape that I love.
My 2015 challenge: the wrap up
On Invasion (Australia) Day 2015, I set myself, and anyone else who cared to participate, the challenge of reading at least 5 books by Indigenous authors within the year.
The motivation I gave for doing this challenge was ‘to better understand the experiences and cultures of the traditional custodians of the land we live on’. Of course books are not the only way to do this. When I was a student in the 1980s I read a lot about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history, politics and culture, but since then I’ve continued learning from Indigenous radio and TV programs, and from working with Aboriginal colleagues.
But I do love books — the long read — and I decided it was unacceptable that books by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people so rarely made it onto my bookshelf. Setting the Indigenous Reading Challenge was a way of making sure that they got back onto my to-be-read (TBR) list. Continue reading
Imagine my surprise when the last book I read in 2015, hard science fiction about interplanetary colonisation by British author Stephen Baxter, inadvertently slotted itself into the Indigenous Reading Challenge I set myself earlier in the year.
The book – Proxima – is not a perfect fit with the challenge because it is not by an Indigenous author, but one of the main characters is Aboriginal Australian.
– SPOILERS –
Reading is my drug. I use it to escape, I do it compulsively. The stories I read invade my dreams and disrupt my sleep. If I let it get out of hand, reading gets in the way of interacting with actual live humans. I have to ration myself, to stay in control rather than letting it control me.
One way I stay in control is to push at the boundaries of my reading comfort zone so that I’m stretching my mind and not just gorging on familiar comfort food. I do this by joining reading challenges and being in a book club.
This year I also participated in a fundraising Readathon, inviting my sponsors to choose the books they wanted me to read (I had a TBR list for them to choose from, but most of them ignored it and nominated their own favourites).
So with all my stretching and flexing of reading muscle, I read widely and deeply and almost managed to pull off a Books Bingo. Continue reading