Adele: A bookworm

A person stands in front of a grey brick wall, holding a stack of books in front of their face. Image by Siora Photography.

Towards the end of 2019, I realised my reading had become almost exclusively non-fiction. This was influenced by my work, studies, and human rights advocacy and project commitments. In valuing self care, curiosity, and loving the global and local writing communities, I am trying to keep a more expansive reading habit.

Some of my reading choices are often driven by a desire to revisit stories I’ve read before to see how my experience and interpretation of the writing changes. My reading list often includes such a trip to an old haunt, not necessarily something I’d call a favourite, and not necessarily one from a long time ago.

Oops

In 2019, I began an experiment with tracking highlights of my reading using the section “Bookworm” (scroll down) and complement that with tracking all my non-work and non-school reading with StoryGraph, which was then a relatively new reading community-based forum to share recommendations and thoughts on books. One of the attractions to StoryGraph is that it provides an alternative platform to Amazon’s GoodReads. My hope was that making my reading habits more visible would help me maintain space for reading nourishing and inspiring fiction and non-fiction for the sheer curiosity, rather than reading almost exclusively for formal academic, activist, or professional projects.

Update: 31 March 2022

Well, I definitely strayed away from this whole endeavour. It’s become apparent to me that I read anywhere from 12-25 books at one time. I’ll finish some in a day (if I have the good fortune to be able to dedicate so many hours of a day) and others in several months. At least a couple of them have taken me a few years because I’m savouring the gaps where each time I pick it up again, I am pleasantly surprised by how differently I feel and think when I revisit it.

proof that learning can come from attempts

Along with my StoryGraph account, I haven’t updated the below lists for well over a year. I suspect that this will form the basis of another approach to tracking reading and making notes. If not, I’ll still keep this little time capsule from 2020’ish, if only as a marker for me to reflect on what does and doesn’t work at different periods.

Perhaps a reader might also find this an interesting example of being kind to myself. My attempt to develop something for myself still provides me with more understanding about how my priorities manifest when I’m facing different types of pressures and contexts. I’d hoped this would be a useful system to record and visually prompt my reading choices, but I’m not obliged to keep going at something if it’s not right for me. Obligation and commitment intersect, but they’re not the same, and I’m still unlearning the convenient lies about what we owe in being good people.

Bookworm

  • After Australia, anthology edited by Michael Mohammed Ahmad
  • Vociferate, by Emily Sun
  • Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
  • The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories, by Angela Carter
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  • + Latest issues of Overland, Westerly, Australian Book Review, Meanjin
  • On Violence, by Natasha Stott Despoja
  • Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, by adrienne maree brown
  • Scattered Minds: The Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder, by Gabor Mate
  • Trauma and Recovery, by Judith Herman
  • when things fall apart, by pema chodron
  • Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
  • The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk
  • Growing up Aboriginal in Australia, edited by Anita Heiss
  • Dark Emu, by Bruce Pascoe
  • Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist, by Margalis Fjelstad
  •  How We Show Up: Reclaiming family, friendship, and community, by Mia Birdsong
  • Pleasure Activism, by adrienne maree brown
  • Scattered Minds, by Gabor Mate
  • Minor Feelings, by Cathy Park Hong
  • Disfigured, by Amanda LeDuc
  • No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us, by Rachel Louise Snyder
  • Permanent Resident, by Roanna Gonsalves
  • Growing Up Asian in Australia, edited by Alice Pung
  • Tao Te Ching, translation by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • On Writing Well, by William Zinsser
  • Salt: Selected Stories and Essays, by Bruce Pascoe
  • The will to change, by bell hooks
  • Beyond the Gender Binary, by Alok Vaid-Menon
  • The Dictionary of Lost Words, by Pip Williams
  • Circe, by Madeline Miller
  • Children of Blood and Bone, by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Finding the Heart of the Nation: The Journey of the Uluru Statement Towards Voice, Treaty and Truth, by Thomas Mayor
  • Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, by Reni Eddo-Lodge
  • Teaching Community: A Pedagogy of Hope, by bell hooks
  • Witches, Sluts, Feminists, by Kristen J. Sollee
  • Growing Up Queer in Australia, edited by Benjamin Law (published on Singapore Review of Books)
  • Lost Connections, by Johann Hari

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