Friday, November 22, 2013

Two Nights in Texas (Queensland) - and a Smooth Chai Concentrate

Most of the time when we travel - even just for weekends - we rent a cottage or a house. Then, for whatever time we're there, we get to settle into an alternative life - with a wood stove and neighbours and a chance to sit on the back step with a chai and a great book of poetry and be someone different for a time. Or someone (at least) unburdened by laundry and grant proposals and garage-cleaning. It's like playing dress-ups, except you're trying on all those things you think you might want to be, sans commitment. Farm-wife, baker, poet, bushwalker. A real local. 

That's a holiday.

And one of my favourite holidays in the last year was to a tiny town in Queensland called Texas. This cottage is seriously cute, don't you think? Tin roof, flower garden, a clawfoot tub and fireplace. I could die happy here.

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Favourite Books (and Essays) - So Far

Yesterday morning we arrived home to our little Brisbane townhouse and immediately started unpacking - mainly because our dog doesn't relax until the suitcases completely disappear. (Between you and me, I think the offcuts I bought her at the butcher have facilitated forgiveness ... she's curled up beside me at my writing desk looking pretty happy.)

This trip to Phoenix was a special one - Robbie and I married each other again, Nelle started Grade 1 in the US, we caught up with old friends and made new ones. So leaving this time was bittersweet ...

But it's always good to be home.

While I get my feet on the ground, I wanted to share with you a list of my favourite books. Awhile back, I started compiling a reading list on the blog - but I realised many of you may not have seen it. I read a lot of books, and I have strong opinions about what I like and don't like, so I thought I should share all my recommendations with all you out there. Plus, I want to hear what you're reading!

One thing you might notice about my list - I love fiction. This is something I only just learned about myself ... I always considered myself more of a non-fiction type, whatever that is. Since I finished my PhD, I've been reading more and more and more fiction - catching up on all those lost years when I couldn't fathom reading another word after I'd finished studying. But fiction - well written fiction - is different from how I'd always perceived it. I now find it mind-clearing. Absorbing all the rubbish off my brain like a triple-ply paper towel.

The writing in these books has inspired me - to relax, to think or see differently, to become a better writer myself. I endeavour to be the writer I like to read, and in fact since October I've been working on that! I've been taking (and LOVING) a fiction writing course that pushes me to write a short story a week on a different prompt. It's been challenging and fun and there is NO GOING BACK NOW. Fiction is where my heart really is! (Who knew)

Anyway - on to the list. I'll post it all here - and you can always bookmark (#punintended) the Books page for the latest update on what I've loved reading. There's a lot that's not there - but I felt strange making a "didn't like" list, so I've kept it to only the books I've really enjoyed. 

I hope you enjoy them, too! Please share your faves in the comments - we'd all love to hear them :)
Amanda xx


Travel's amazing - and everyone should do it. But you can still extend your world from the comforts of your own bed, in the wilderness, or at a cafe with a cup of coffee steaming away in front of you. If all else fails, there's always the toilet. Personally, I like arriving at school pick-up an hour early, to sit in my car in the warm sun and read.  

Regardless of where you are, a great book or essay or poem can entertain or inspire you, or may even transform the way you see things. 

And that is awesome*.

So here are some of my favourite reads. Some of them told me what I already knew, some what I wanted to know, and some what I didn't even consider knowing. All worked, for me.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

PS. There should be books in each category, but sometimes they don't seem to load when you open the page. If not, just refresh the page and they should appear. There are quite a few books I've read recently that aren't here, for one reason or another. If you feel like starting a conversation about a book you see here (or don't) - I'd love to hear from you. Please email me here.

*Yes, I do say awesome from time to time. I blame the 80's.





What You Will Do, by Jacob Newberry in Ploughshares (2012)
The Slather, by Brian Doyle in Orion (2012)
Bruised, by Joe Wilkins in The Sun Magazine (Jan 2012 - sadly not available online in its entirety)
What the Dead Wear, by Sue Wright on Drimzel Road (May 2013)


DISCLOSURE: If you purchase books - or anything, really - via these links, the cost is the same as always but I receive a teeny commission. Which I use for more books. So thank you xx