What We're Reading 

Hidden gems, hot favourites, slow burners and the odd guest columnist.

March 2018

Gleebooks Bookshop - Thursday, March 08, 2018
Andrew: At the moment,  I’m charging my way through Circe by Madeline Miller, author of Song of Achilles. Miller is a classical scholar with an absolutely wonderful contemporary eye for story and character, and ear for dialogue. Song of Achilles was a surprise bestseller and prize winner for the debut novelist, and she is just as confident and beguiling here, with her retelling of the life of Circe—the goddess and sorceress probably most famous for punishing the crew of Odysseus by turning them into swine. Her Circe could easily have been an Angela Carter heroine with a zinging strength of character, and cracking feminist sensibility. Miller has an uncanny knack in forging a proper narrative peopled with fully rounded characters out of the shards of source material.

John: I have just had a couple of weeks off and have read a very diverse bunch of books. Perhaps the most surprising for some people will be The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape. This is a really practical guide to money and investing that’s written for normal people who want to take charge of their finances. Pape has written for newspapers and on TV but I only knew him because we have been selling lots of copies of the book—and I wondered why. He doesn’t talk down to the less financially literate. He doesn’t preach. He doesn’t think that budgets work! He talks about strategies to reduce debt, how negotiate with your ban, what to look for with super, how to save and invest for the long term. You might wish you had had this advice, and followed it, when you were 20 but he says its never too late to improve your circumstances. On a more literary note I reread David Malouf’s Great World which reminded me why David is one of out living national treasures, and one of the greatest Australian writers. I also read the latest Burnie Gunther book from Philip Kerr—Greeks Bearing Gifts which sees Bernie working for an insurance company—it’s due for release in early April—Highly recommended.

I’ve been working my way through Larry McMurtry’s biographical writings on his experiences in movie land, Film Flam and Hollywood: A Third Memoir—both very entertaining. The down-to-earth McMurtry writes with great charm about the egocentricities of Lalaland, and about the art of writing in general. I have a friend who is Larry McMurtry’s number one fan (in a non-Stephen King way) planning a trip to McMurtry’s Texas panhandle town of Archer—home of his rare and secondhand bookshop, Booked Up—his fandom has me considering a read and reread of McMurtry’s novels. From this month’s Gleanings I’m also reading Jonathan Lerner’s Swords in the Hands of Children: Reflections of an American Revolutionary—hiss memoir of the boomer generation terrorist organsiation the Weatherman. An iconoclastic telling, further complicated by Lerner’s closeted homosexuality, of a cultish juvenile macho society that offers a different perspective into the so-called newness of ‘radicalisation’ in today’s alientated western teen world, and gives food for thought in terms of action against the juggernaut of capitalist militarism that continues to threaten earth and its inhabitants.

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