Nourished Mind: On My Shelf Autumn Edition

You would think that someone who wants to be a writer, someone who studies writing, editing, and publishing, and lives in constant threat of a pile of books crashing onto her bed in the middle of the night, you would think that someone would get through a whole pile of books in a three month period.

That someone is me, and as I reflect over my ‘read’ pile for autumn I realise that my ‘to be read’ pile has grown at a disproportionate rate. I have to say it: I am a book-buying addict. I can’t help myself. Every time I walk past a second hand book shop the musk and vanillin smell draws me in. I can’t say no, and I never stop at just one. When there are books available for purchase, and I have to choose between books and food, well…even for a very hungry caterpillar like me the choice isn’t hard. I have filled the shelves in my room, and my collection has overflowed onto the floor. I am never without a stash in my handbag, car, gym bag, desk. If I don’t get my fix for a while I become distracted, my mind focused only on acquiring the next hit.

“Hello, my name is Amy, and I am a book-buying addict.”

(Hint: your line is…)

Over the last three months, in addition to reading papers for university and countless amazing blog entries and probably more Tweets than a healthy person should, I have managed to read, and complete a few books as well adding to the pile. So, here were my picks for autumn 2013.

Never Stop Believing by Sally Obermeder. Published by Allen & Unwin, 2013.

Sally’s story captured my heart from the moment Matt White first announced on Today Tonight that Sally was battling breast cancer. I followed the news of her story, and when she released her book I bought a copy on the first day I found one. I devoured the whole thing in about two days. I cried, I laughed. My heart tingled with warmth and went stone cold when I imagined the unhappy endings her story could have had. This is one that I recommend to any woman, or anyone who’s life has been touched by breast cancer. Sally’s voice is friendly and easy to read, and her story, although extraordinary in parts is really the story of someone who strove hard to achieve her dreams and fought back from the edge of the abyss. Keep the tissue box close for this one. Sally also curates a fantastic life, style, and celebrity news blog called Swiish.

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Two) by George R.R. Martin. Published by Bantam, 2000.

After receiving A Game of Thrones for Valentine’s Day, and falling completely in love with the epic nature of Martin’s writing and the world he has built, I had to buy the second book. Even though it is slow going and I have the attention span of a gnat so I am still devouring this book, bite by bite. Martin creates a world that draws you in, grand in scale but with human emotion that is easy to identify with, this is storytelling. I can almost imagine sitting around a fire listening to the bards of old recount this tale night after night while rapt audiences look on. I am so glad that there are five more books in the series! 

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Someone Who’s Been There by Cheryl Strayed. Published by Vintage, 2012.

I am fearful of trying to put words to this beautiful little book. I find it is best enjoyed in small amounts. This book is a selection of columns written for the ‘Dear Sugar’ section of ‘The Rumpus’ (check it our here). Each column offers a point of view or way of thinking about something that causes me to sit back and consider my own view of the world. There is great wisdom and compassion (and sometimes a wise and compassionate reality check) in the way Cheryl Strayed addresses each troubled soul. This is a volume to keep on your bookshelf and turn to in times of doubt or grief or when you need a sweet voice to remind you that we are all responsible for our own happiness and the turns our life takes are, for the most part, in our hands.

So, those are the books that I have finished (or mostly finished) over the past three months since my last ‘On the Shelf’ post. What’s filling my bedside table currently?

  • The Art of Romance Writing by Valerie Parv. This one is to help me with my goal of completing a romantic fiction manuscript by my 27th birthday – I have exactly 297 days remaining on my countdown!
  • Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I discovered this during my weekly BBC Radio 4 binge (podcast here) and then I heard another interview on Radio National, which caused me to spend my entire lunchtime one day reading the free chapter available on Amazon. I then messaged my favourite independent bookseller and ordered my copy. Now it sits beside my bed, ready to be cracked open very soon.
  • The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth. I am super-excited that Kate is coming along to the Writing Races I run every Wednesday night as part of my internship at The Australian Writer’s Marketplace. I am also super-excited to read this re-telling of the true tale of the Grimm brothers and the girl who grew up to marry Willhelm Grimm.
  • Yesterday I also visited the library and picked up two new cosy mysteries for a quick read in between more serious works: Witches Bane by Susan Wittig Albert, and Alpine for You by Maddy Hunter – oh how I do love a cosy.

And, I think that’s about it. Of course, it isn’t nearly a comprehensive list of the sentences and words that have enchanted and entranced me over the past season, but these printed and bound works are a good selection. Now, I’m off to do some writing of my own, and then a little Friday night reading.

Tell me, dear reader, what have you been reading in autumn? Anyone else a George R.R. Martin fan, or a Dear Sugar follower?

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