This page is for sharing my latest reading inspirations. I hope you find them thought-provoking and engaging too.
Ruth Park – A Fence Around the Cuckoo – Winner of the Age Book of the Year Award for Non-Fiction 1992
Now and then the maternal aunts descended upon Te Kuiti, usually in pairs. I use the word descended because their visits were exactly like that – a shower of gold or twinkling beads. It was a blissful time for me and many of my classmates as well, because I spent playtime and lunchtime minutely describing what they did, said and wore, right down to the jazz garters with the little golden bells on them….
They were the children of the redhaired Irish Mary Ann McBride, who emigrated at seventeen, and a Scandinavian seaman who’d run away from home in Stockholm because he’d had six sisters who bullied him. Just the same he named his six daughters after them…
‘It just shows you can’t escape Fate,’ said Rosina. the second youngest, who tended to be a bit mystic and read Marie Corelli.
They treated their husbands – and they had quite a number – simply abominably, and were adored in return.
Arianna Huffington – Thrive
Gratitude works its magic by serving as an antidote to negative emotions. It’s like white blood cells for the soul, protecting us from cynicism, entitlement, anger, and resignation. It’s summed up in a quote I love (attributed to Imam Al-Shafi’I, an eighth-century Muslim jurist): my heart is at ease knowing that what was meant for me will never miss me, and that what misses me was never meant for me.
Mary Karr – The Art of Memoir
…a good story told often enough puts you in rooms never occupied….
….be generous and fair when you can; when you can’t, admit your disaffinity. My general idea is to keep the focus on myself and my own struggles, not speculate on other people’s motives, and not concoct events and characters out of whole cloth.
No matter how much you’re gunning for truth, the human ego is also a stealthy, low-crawling bastard, and for pretty much everybody, getting used to who you are is a lifelong spiritual struggle. Start trying to bring yourself to the page, and fear of how you’ll come off besets even the most forthright. The best you can hope for is to rip off each mask as you find it blotting out your vision.
Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run
‘We hit areas of the highway where eighteen-wheelers were parked, engines running, drivers asleep in their cabs, backed up for miles, unable in the ice and snow to make it up the steep mountain grades.
One night the road vanished before our eyes; there was so much snow it was impossible to tell the location of the highway’s shoulder. We had chains on our tires but we still did plenty of ice-skating over some very treacherous terrain. Our belly-dancing gal pal was getting pretty nervous, so we pulled to a stop….There was just a city of snow falling from the sky and gathering around us. It was quiet, dead desert quiet. A truly heavy snowfall can be unnerving. Back east we usually experience the freedom that comes with a good snowstorm. No work, no school, the world shutting its big mouth for a while, the dirty streets covered in virgin white, like all the missteps you’ve taken have been erased by nature. You can’t run; you can only sit. You open your door on a trackless world, your old path, your history, momentarily covered over by a landscape of forgiveness, a place where something new might happen….. A lot of snow, however…. is a different thing. that feeling of freeness turns to confinement. The sheer physical weight of the snow becomes existential and the dread of a dark, covered world sets in. …too much quiet, too much weight, too few boundaries and no dimension. The world had been planed down into a snow-blind table you could easily slide off the edges of.
Steve Bisley – Stillways
We stayed at our cousins’ farm for the next two weeks. The shearers came to shear the mobs of squat merinos. Lanky blokes in dusty utes threw their swags on rusty beds in the shearers’ quarters. They rolled skinny fags as they thought of things to say, and then thought better of it and didn’t speak. They stuck pictures of their kids and the missus above their beds, to ease the nights….they never looked at you when they spoke and their words slid out sideways…
We sat at an open fire with them one night after tea, us kids. The fire caught us and held us…They didn’t pay much attention to us, but I loved being around the quiet ease of them. We all did, you could feel it…
Sylvia Plath – The Bell Jar
It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York. I am stupid about executions. The idea of being electrocuted makes me sick, and that’s all there was to read about in the papers – goggle-eyed headlines staring up at me on every street corner and at the fusty, peanut-smelling mouth of every subway. It had nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like being burned alive along your nerves.
I thought it must be the worst thing in the world.
Eleanor Catton – The Luminaries – Winner of The Man Booker Prize 2013
His old acquaintance was very much changed since their last encounter. His proud face was much disfigured, and a decade in gaol had lent a muscled bulk to his chest and arms. His posture was familiar, however: he was standing with his shoulders slightly rounded, and the backs of his hands against his hips, as in the days of old. (How strange, Ah Sook thought later, that one’s gestures remain the same, even as the body changes, weathers, and gives itself over to age – as though the gestures were the real vessel, the vase to the body’s flower.
Tim Winton – Breath
She was a foot away. She smelled of butter and cucumber and coffee and antiseptic. I wanted to press my face into that belly, to hold her by the hips, but I sat there until she stepped away. And then I got up and left; I didn’t care what she said. I rode home slow and sore and raddled’.