Like many, I learnt about Anne Frank's story as a school kid. But it wasn't until my thirties, living in England, that I appreciated the full grace and horror of her life. I saw a Brighton theatre production of The Diary of Anne Frank, read the Pan edition of her diary, and visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
From 1987 to 1995, I lived in England and, as well as loving the English countryside, the quaint villages and towns, and the people, I loved the pubs. The pubs I frequented were social meeting places for men and women. And thankfully, not just somewhere for blokes to get plastered and start fights.
Having watched the movie versions of Their Finest and The Zookeeper's Wife, I was pleased to track down the books in my local library. The librarian, however, quizzed me with an arched eyebrow, "They are large print editions, is that okay?" It felt like she was telling me the books were in simple-English.
Over many years and many moves, I've cultivated and culled my book collection. Now have a manageable medium-sized library, books I haven't got around to reading and those I plan to read again ... one day! Somewhere along the way, I misplaced a favourite from the 1980s, The Songlines by Bruce Chatwin.
The futuristically designed library in Tianjin, China (aptly nicknamed, The Eye) is lined from floor to cathedral high ceilings with bookshelves, which follow the building's curved contours. It set me thinking about the libraries I've visited over the years and fondly recalling three of my favourites.
To celebrate the introduction of 280-character Tweets by Twitter, Meanjin Quarterly ran a microfiction competition. The rules were simple: tweet a 280-character story and include the hashtag #meanjin280. The top ten stories were published on the Meanjin Blog, and the authors paid one dollar a word.
It was a warm, lazy Sunday afternoon, and I took advantage of the day to sprawl and finish Their Finest by Lissa Evans. I was inspired to read the book after watching the film version — a British period comedy-drama about making propaganda films and life on the home front in London during The Blitz.
In October 2017, I attended a premiere screening of Three Summers. After the film, there was a Q&A session with the writer/director, Ben Elton. I have loved his writing since reading Stark in 1989. So it was a great privilege to meet Ben in person after the Q&A and for him to sign my yellowed copy of Stark!
I commented on Facebook recently that with all the bleak news on North Korea and brinksmanship by Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, I thought I'd dust off and re-read my old second-hand bookshop copy of Nevil Shute's On the Beach ... to prepare for the worst, just in case!
In these days of instant gratification, it's hard to believe once upon a time, wanna-be writers would type and print their manuscripts, post them to publishers with a reply-paid, self-addressed envelope. And then wait and wait and wait, for an offer to publish or, more likely, a feared rejection letter.
The Writer’s Circle recently posed a question for book lovers on Facebook: What book are you currently reading? In my case, the answer is not singular but plural. I’m currently reading three books — along with a few more on my bedside table I’ll probably need to take with me to my grave to finish!
To celebrate International Literacy Day 2017, Penguin Books Australia asked on Facebook: What is the first book you remember reading? While I don't recall reading my first book, it must have been a Sooty or Joe 90 Annual. I still have a worn copy of Sooty, but sadly the boy spy Joe 90 went AWOL long ago.
The other night, I watched Their Finest, based on the 2009 novel Their Finest Hour and a Half by Lissa Evans. It's a British period comedy-drama about making propaganda films and life on the home front during The Blitz in London. But it also has a modern take on the role of women in society and the war effort.
A pleasant memory from 2013 popped up in my Facebook timeline the other day. It was a comment I’d made in response to a post by the Sydney Writers' Festival on a “fantastic find” in Sappho Books (Glebe), a treasured secondhand copy of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox.
Penguin Books Australia posted a question on Facebook in August 2017: What is the last book that made you cry? The books could evoke tears of joy or sadness, and I immediately thought of three books, all for the latter category. My top tear-jerkers are Tuesdays with Morrie, Marley and Me, and The Book Thief.