My life has always been filled with a lot of empowering and inspiring women. My mother, for one, is an incredibly intelligent, diligent and hard-working business woman. Someone who can never be beaten down in an argument, and knows the value of hard work and perseverance. She is one of four sisters. My aunts all equally awe-inspiring, each working in demanding careers and striving in their field. Not to mention their roles as mothers, daughters, nieces, wives, friends and incredible and supportive aunts. The women of my family are strong, passionate and have enduring senses of humour (some would say that McDonald women are characterised by their ability to find a good laugh in even the bleakest of scenarios). I like to think that I one day might have a fraction of the strength and devotion that my aunts and mother apply to all they do. My spectacularly empowering female role models don’t end there. My two grandmothers, great-aunt, aunt on my father’s side, and three female cousins, have all moulded my life in indescribable ways. Each of them has taught me something unique about what it means to be a woman in the world.
After it won the Stella Prize this year, I pushed The Natural Way of Things to the top of my reading list. At this point, most avid readers will have heard of The Natural Way of Things and the huge acclaim it’s receiving for the unique way it discusses the darker elements of society through exploration of contemporary misogyny and corporate control.
Epic. From the first glimpse of The Goldfinch I could tell that the book would live up to the summation given to it by Alex O’Connell from The Times on the back cover. The book itself (or at least my copy) is plastered with very encouraging praise from many well-known authors and publications, including Stephen King, The Times and The Guardian, the back-cover displaying at least nine quotes declaring The Goldfinch ‘a triumph’.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr was an absolute pleasure to read. I started the book on a trip to Victoria for the Clunes Booktown Festival. The book was next up on our book club list and I’d been excited to get into it after hearing a rave review from a reliable source. I loved the book from the second I started reading. I think one of my favourite literature devices is the dual narrative; a technique which was utilized in such an engaging way in this novel. All the Light We Cannot See follows two incredibly unique stories. The first is of Marie-Laure LeBlanc, a young French girl who lives with her father in their apartment in Paris. Soon after Marie-Laure’s 6th birthday, she loses her eyesight. Marie-Laure’s beautiful father uses his woodworking talent to recreate their area in miniature form, allowing Marie-Laure to roam the streets with her fingers, learning to navigate without her eyesight. The books second protagonist is Werner Pfennig is an orphan who lives in a children’s home in Zollverein, Germany, with his younger sister Jutta. After they discover a broken short-wave radio, Werner realises his natural skill for circuitry. Together, he and Jutta listen to a variety of programs, including a regular broadcast from France hosted by an older gentleman who shares stories about the world of science;
So often I finish a novel and am left with a bevy of intense feelings that are not my own; a tinge of sadness, unexplained excitement, or a glimmer of hope. When I put down Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, I was overcome with a sense of longing. A longing to be loved, a deep desire to be appreciated; seen. Most of all I felt a longing for Mathilde, the enigmatic protagonist of Fates and Furies, a character that I felt such an innate connection with that I’ve had trouble separating her from reality.
I am like a literature sponge. When I read something I really enjoy I find myself absorbing the moods and attitudes of the characters, suddenly looking at everything in my own life and seeing a tint of fiction, the struggles or thoughts of the protagonists in my book manipulating my world view. This experience can be exciting, the opportunity to really engage in the mind-set of the characters or even author, but sometimes it can be disarming and almost disturbing.
Sometimes, I’ll read a book and sit down to write a review and simply have no words to explain how that book made me feel or what I loved about it. Sometimes all a book will leave me with is an indescribable feeling- a sense of its impact, something that words can’t really describe. That’s how I felt after reading The Wonder Lover by Malcolm Knox, so bear with me as I attempt to give you an adequate assessment of this amazing book.
Usually, I hate film adaption of novels. It tends to be that nothing on the screen can match up with what I’ve imagined while reading the book. It seems to be that the only way I can enjoy a film adaption is if I watch it before I read the book, letting the film influence my reading rather than letting my reading influence my viewing.
I love being recommended books. I think the type of book that people recommend you is so indicative of their personality, and to a further extent the relationship you share with them. So, when a very talented artist and high-school friend, Chloe, recommended that I read Kafka in the Shore by Haruki Murakami (a book which had been waiting on my bookshelf for several months) I had no choice but to dive in.
I’m going to be honest; the last few months of 2015 were pretty shit. For the entirety of the year I’d been dealing with a resurgence of a chronic health issue- by October I was at my wits end. I was angry, defeated and feeling like everything was out to get me. The good things that were happening around me were not enough to balance out the constant bad. When I finished University at the tail end of November 2015, I dove into reading. Books have always been my escape, a sentiment I’m certain I share with many. I didn’t really set up a plan to what I would read and when, I just stood in front of my overflowing bookshelf and waited for something to jump out at me.