October has been a busy, busy month. I returned from my trip overseas at the end of September, and immediately started packing to move out. I finally moved out, but my partner and I decided to paint the two bedrooms in the place we’ve moved into, so I’ve spent many October days inside, applying coat after coat of paint. When I wasn’t painting, I’ve been writing job application after job application, trying to find myself a job. And after three months of not being able to write a word, I finally sat down at my laptop and started writing again, and I have some exciting projects coming up over the next few weeks and months which I’ve been working on, one of which is getting my blog back on track. So finally I’m feeling ready to get back into reading and blogging regularly.
I’ve decided to start this new post on the first Monday of every month, because I don’t exclusively read Australian books. I choose to blog about Australian books because I’m exploring what makes a book Australian, but to read exclusively Australian books would be to shut out a large majority of wonderful reads! So here’s a look at the other books and magazines I read this month (3 of which, were, admittedly, Australian).
The new edition of Frankie magazine, a bimonthly Australian publication with a strong focus on anything vintage and creative types. I find some editions more inspiring and more to my interest than others, and this month’s wasn’t an edition I read and thought WOW, but they did have a wonderful feature on some zine creators, who publish zines on everything from dogs to coffee.
My new discovery this month was SLOW Magazine, a quarterly Australian publication about the slow living movement. It is a wonderful publication. This month had an in-depth feature on the philosophy of the Steiner school system, a handwritten extract by Tim Winton from his new novel Eyrie (which I’ve been promised as a Christmas present, so I still have two months to wait before I get to read it!) and the experiences of different families as they swapped their fast-paced city lives for country living. It will definitely become one of my few regular magazine buys.
The Lifted Brow Melbourne Writers Festival Edition. I’ve reviewed The Lifted Brow on my blog before, but this edition was really something- the team wrote, edited, designed and printed the magazine all during the week of the Melbourne Writers Festival. And I must say, it’s a wonderful issue, all the more so because it was put together in a week. One week. I won’t say any more. If you want to know what’s inside, you’ll just have to get yourself a copy.
Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. I actually won this book back in April, without really knowing what the book was, but from the first page, I was hooked. Sandberg writes about women and careers. She acknowledges that it is, of course, a woman’s choice to decide if she wishes to work in or outside the home, but that for those who choose to work outside the home, there are still major obstacles which prevent women from getting to the top of her profession (if that’s what she chooses to do). I’ve never read anything like this book. Sheryl makes some excellent points, others I don’t agree with, and still more which I’d never really considered, but can already see in my own approach to my work and career. A fascinating book!
Late last year, I discovered a gem of the Australian literary scene. I can’t remember exactly how I found them, but I stumbled onto their website late one night and, looking through the content, I was intrigued enough to buy an issue of The Lifted Brow magazine. I soon discovered it was a magazine full of surprises, and well worth eleven (Australian) dollars.
The first surprise was that the magazine wasn’t exactly a magazine. Then again, maybe I’ve been brainwashed into thinking that magazines should be A4 and glossy. The Lifted Brow is neither. It is more like a newspaper. My second surprise was that Alice Pung, a well-known Australian author, had written a piece for this particular issue. I don’t know why was I surprised at that. I guess because I didn’t expect it, and I like it when I meet the unexpected. My third surprise was that the more I read, the more I loved it. I particularly enjoyed their arts lift out, Middlebrow. There are clearly some very talented writers and artists who have found themselves a home within The Lifted Brow, and thank goodness they have. It’s such a relief to have found a magazine which actually has something thought-provoking to say. And one which also doesn’t take itself too seriously. While The Lifted Brow is run out of Melbourne, the magazine accepts submissions from creative types all over the world, although a large majority are Australian.
My fourth, and I’m sure not final, surprise was that when I arrived home from a trip to the coast over the summer, I found a copy of The Lifted Brow’s latest edition, number 15, waiting for me. I had not yet ordered that copy. So a huge thank you to The Lifted Brow, for restoring my faith in Australian magazines, for giving me something interesting to read, some original comics to laugh at and some amazing artwork to admire. And thank you for sending me your latest issue. I’m already looking forward to the next one.