Book Chat Issue #50
Literary vodka and a mango salad
Hello reading friends
I can’t believe I’m sending out the 50th issue of Book Chat! I started this newsletter when I finished full-time employment so that I could talk to fellow book lovers and it’s given me a lot of pleasure over the last two years.
I’ve made lots of friends across the Substack network and really feel as though I’ve finally found my people. Thank you for subscribing, reading and commenting. I’m grateful to have a little space in your inbox each fortnight.
Here’s a map of where you all are!
What I’ve been reading
Last week I went to an exhibition of children’s books at the State Library with my sister Jennifer and it reminded me just how much I love books for younger readers. They’re especially good if you’re in a reading slump or feeling disenchanted about life.
Some people think that writing books for children is easy and that anyone can do it, but having published one small book of my own, I know that every word has to be carefully chosen. Writing for children is a precise art form.
In Katherine Rundell’s book “Why you should read children’s books even though you are so old and wise,” she says…
“Children’s fiction necessitates distillation: at its best it renders in their purest, most archetypal forms hope, hunger, joy, fear. Think of children’s books as literary vodka.”
One of my favourite books for children aged 7 and up is The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. It tells the story of a vain china rabbit who accidentally falls overboard on a trans-Atlantic journey. He travels all round the world and meets a variety of characters who open his eyes to what it means to love, and be loved. It’s heartbreaking in places, but also very funny.
“Of all the seasons of the year, the rabbit most preferred winter, for the sun set early then and the dining-room windows became dark and Edward could see his own reflection in the glass. And what a reflection it was! What an elegant figure he cut! Edward never ceased to be amazed at his own fineness.
The illustrations are also unbelievably beautiful. Find a copy and give yourself a treat.
What I’ve been eating
I’m very conscious that many of you live in colder parts of the world so my salad recipes are probably inappropriate, but hey, you can make them when it’s summer in your neck of the woods and we are shivering here in Australia.
Today’s dish is so easy it hardly qualifies as a recipe, but it’s delicious on a hot day.
Simply combine some sliced mango, chopped coriander (cilantro), some red chilli and some finely sliced red onion. Add sliced avocado if you have some handy! Dress with lime juice and a teaspoon of brown sugar. I could eat the whole bowl myself.
Book Club - The Storied Life of AJ Fikry
Last week I sent out a message about using the chat function available via the Substack app.
Some people may have found this a bit confusing, so just let me clarify that it’s intended as another way for you to participate in the book club discussion if you can’t make the live session (dates and times below), but it’s entirely optional. You can download the app to your your phone or iPad (not your desktop), but if apps aren’t your thing, that’s totally fine. We will keep communicating here and all will be well.
If you are confused or have any questions, just hit reply and send me a private message and I’ll help as best I can.
I’m excited about our inaugural book club meeting. Here are the dates and times. Sydney, Australia Fri, 17 Mar 2023 at 9:00 am AEDT
Perth, Australia Fri, 17 Mar 2023 at 6:00 am AWST
New Delhi, India Fri, 17 Mar 2023 at 3:30 am IST (sorry)
Vancouver, Canada Thu, 16 Mar 2023 at 3:00 pm PDT
Phoenix, USA Thu, 16 Mar 2023 at 3:00 pm MST
Austin, USA Thu, 16 Mar 2023 at 5:00 pm CDT
New York, USA Thu, 16 Mar 2023 at 6:00 pm EDT
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Thu, 16 Mar 2023 at 7:00 pm BRT
London, UK Thu, 16 Mar 2023 at 10:00 pm GMT
Venice, Italy Thu, 16 Mar 2023 at 11:00 pm CET
Please add your OWN REMINDER to your calendar. (Copy and paste the video link below)
Video call link: https://meet.google.com/pxm-qewo-ybq
I’m looking forward to seeing some of you soon, but until then, look after yourself.