What we’re reading this month – May 2016

Ask an author for their top tip for aspiring writers and it would be to READ. Read widely and read often. So once a month, we’ll be sharing what we’re reading – fiction or non-fiction. We’d love you to do the same – so share a paragraph on your latest book just by emailing us at [email protected] and we may publish the best ones!

Here’s what a few of us at AWC are reading this month:

Bec: Vanity Fair by William Thackeray
It follows the story of two girls in the Regency era England (early 19th century), Becky and Amelia, and the various vanities that they hold. Becky is a cunning girl willing to do whatever it takes to make it into high society. While her foil, Amelia, is a shy and timid girl born into money and frustratingly unambitious. It's a gripping satirical piece that condemns all the characters unlucky enough to feature in it and is an amazingly funny and well written novel. Great for any occasion in which you need to feel better about yourself.

Dean: Adam Spencer’s Big Book of Numbers
I’m a bit of a sucker for useless trivia, and this book is crammed full of it. Within its 400+ pages it reports “everything you ever wanted to know about numbers 1 to 100” – a kind of numerical tell-all book, where the main characters are actually figures and all of their days are numbered. For example, did you know that there are 28 bones in the human skull or that the biggest bubblegum bubble ever blown had a diameter of 51 centimetres? You’re welcome.

Nicole: In the Skin of a Monster by Kathryn Barker
I picked this up just recently. (Coincidentally, it's just been listed as a Notable in the 2016 CBCA.)

The story follows Alice and Lux, with alternating chapters from their points of view. Alice's identical twin sister was a murderer, and Alice is shunned and hated for nothing more than walking around with her sister's face. It's a small town, and no one can forget what Alice's sister did – and of course, neither can Alice. Lux lives in a dreamscape full of the town's nightmares, constantly fighting to survive and encountering versions of Alice's sister frequently. Their stories come together when Alice is pulled into that dreamscape, chasing a vision of her dead twin.

There's just something about young adult novels that draws me in. And when they deal with such dark themes, I'm always fascinated and inspired to see how the author has tackled them. From what I've read so far, Kathryn Barker has done a wonderful job of it.

Rah: Gulp by Mary Roach
I've just started reading Gulp by Mary Roach – a book about the digestive system. Sounds boring, right? But everything Mary writes is fascinating, with heavy doses of humour and sarcasm (my favourite!). I heard Mary on the Radio Lab podcast talking about her research for Gulp – she met a “fistulated” cow (basically a cow with a stomach window) that helps scientists study the stomach and intestines. She even shoved her hand IN the cow and felt its stomach processing grass. Gross/cool. She's also written whole books on horizontal folk dancing, cadavers and space travel. Not for the faint of heart, but well worth it for the laughs alone!

Sarah: The Eye of the Sheep by Sofie Laguna
I've just finished reading The Eye of the Sheep by Australian author Sofie Laguna. It's a great story, told from the perspective of Jimmy Flick, a unique young boy who interacts with the world differently to other kids his age. The themes of family dysfunction, violence and alcoholism are quite dark, so it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I loved it. The characters felt very real and I fell in love with Jimmy. I've now bought tickets to hear Sofie speak about the book at the upcoming Sydney Writers Festival.

Valerie: 500 Words You Should Know by Caroline Taggart
Yes, the rumour that I'm a bit of a word nerd is true. And I love poring over books that tell me the meaning and origins of certain words. This one is packed with little gems. Like … did you know that “ignoramus” comes from the Latin “We don't know”. Or that “sinecure” means an easy job? (As in: “The plum job she just scored through her old girls' network is a sinecure.”) Not the sort of book you read from beginning to end, but dip into it from time and time and it will provide you with a lot of amusement – plus a competitive advantage at your next Scrabble game. A must for logophiles (lovers of words).

What are YOU reading this month? Email us at [email protected] with a paragraph about your thoughts and we may share it with our community!

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