What We're Reading / July 2022

Take a look at what we’ve read in July – a middle grade First Nations story, a postmodern reimagining of a classic, a book told from a painting’s perspective and more!

Bindi by Kirli Saunders

Jane McCredie, CEO

bindi kirle saunders

Bindi is a charming and thought-provoking verse novel for children, written by Gunai writer Kirli Saunders with beautiful illustrations by Dub Leffler. Growing up on Gundungurra country, 11-year-old Bindi loves art, hockey and her horse, Nell. She doesn’t love maths. The poems incorporate Gundungurra language to build a lyrical description of childhood set against the backdrop of climate change and bushfires. Dedicated to “those who plant trees”, the book explores relationship to Country and learning from Elders alongside all the adventures of a pack of unruly kids.

Bindi – Magabala Books

Daisy & Woolf by Michelle Cahill

Rowena Tuziak, Membership & Operations Manager

Daisy and Woolf what we're reading july 2022

Michelle Cahill’s Daisy & Woolf rethinks Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway, giving voice to the minor Eurasian character of Daisy Simmons as seen through the eyes of Mina, a contemporary writer and academic, and the story’s narrator.

Daisy & Woolf is Cahill’s response to Woolf’s colonial gaze, challenging the unfulfilled story of Daisy who serves only to contrast with Mrs Dalloway. As an Anglo-Indian Australian, Mina tells the story of Daisy, with their lives running in parallel. They both wrestle with societal expectations of who they should be as wives and mothers and must reconcile this with their creative or personal desires. Like Mrs Dalloway, Daisy & Woolf examines gender, but explored within the context of race, class, and colonialism.

Like many, I love the classics, but challenging the literary canon and holding your favourite writers to account is a surprisingly satisfying exercise. I had the same experience reading Wide Sargasso Sea, and now love Charlotte Bronte and Jean Rhys in equal measure. Cahill’s poetic prose is an evocative, sensory delight. And like Rhys and Woolf, Cahill writes of the experiences of a writer struggling to write, which will no doubt be relatable to many of us.

Daisy & Woolf, Hachette

Enjoyed Daisy & Woolf? You can also sign up for our upcoming Poetry and Short Prose workshop with Michelle Cahill on Saturday 30 July 10am-4pm. Register here >>

Night Blue by Angela O’Keefe

Julia Tsalis, Program Director

night blue angela o'keefe what we're reading

Night Blue, Angela O’Keefe’s debut novel is a remarkable work. It is centres on Jackson Pollock’s painting Blue Poles, bought by the Australian Whitlam government in 1973, amid much controversy. What makes the book remarkable is that it is largely narrated by the painting. And this gives it an unusual and haunting perspective.

The novella begins with the painting’s creation in a paint spattered barn in upstate New York. We follow the painting through its journey to a rich Manhattan apartment and finally to its home in the then new National Gallery of Australia.

While very much grounded in the benevolent and insightful observance of the painting, the book considers Australia’s cultural development at a time when great changes were being made under Whitlam’s labour government, the work and lives of Jackson Pollack and his wife, the artist Lee Krasner, and the role of art in our personal lives and in the public realm.

It is a beautiful, lyrical gem of a book.

Night Blue, Transit Lounge

Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

Amy Lovat, Professional Development Officer


Dirt town hayley scrivenor

Even though we’re only halfway through the year, Dirt Town is already a strong contender for my favourite book of 2022. I carried it with me everywhere, squeezing in a few extra pages whenever humanly possible.
On a sweltering summer afternoon in Durton, a remote Australian town, two 12-year-old girls leave school, but only one makes it home. Told from multiple perspectives, this book isn’t your average whodunnit crime novel. It is full of emotional depth, written so beautifully, and the characters are so well-developed. No stereotypes or plot-fillers here!
Dirt Town is one of those outback crime books that are so hot right now, but it actually lives up to the hype — not since Jane Harper’s The Dry have I felt so consumed by a book in this genre. Congrats to debut author Hayley Scrivenor! 

Drop Bear by Evelyn Araluen

Isaac Wilcox, Administration and Digital Services Officer

drop bear evelyn araluen

I thought this book of poetry and prose should fit the parameters of what a former colleague of mine constitutes a good book: it’s not too long so I can finish it.

A couple of years ago, before the birth of my son, I read War and Peace. It’s one of those books that people talk about, so I thought I’d try it. I finished it, if that means anything. It’s just a soap opera and very fast to read. It doesn’t fit my colleague’s first parameter – it was really thick.

Drop Bear, by comparison, is a long read for a short book.  It’s broken into poems, prose and essay, each with a title that distinguishes it from the ensemble. I say it’s a long read because I go back and reread sections, enjoy it, put it down, think about it. It’s been in our house a very short time and already it’s more well thumbed than the tome that sits read once a generation (if that). Araluen uses language in such a way, it’s a very sensory book. I can smell the earth, car fumes, hear the sounds. It’s so good I can almost taste the sound of leaves scrunching. It’s what John Berger might call The Shape of a Pocket, but it’s smaller than that, with even more ideas, and you’ll be able to dip into it on the bus. Really, I can’t recommend this book enough.

Drop Bear, UQP


This is not a Book about Benedict Cumberbatch by Tabitha Carvan

Keira Baker, Project and Communications Officer

This is not a book about benedict cumberbatch Tabitha Carvan

I only picked this book up for two reasons – first, the title intrigued me, and second, I’d just sliced a hole in the cover while unpacking it from a box at Dymocks.

Stuck at home with two young children, floundering to grasp a sense of self consumed by motherhood, Tabitha Carvan found an unexpected solace: falling madly in love with British actor Benedict Cumberbatch. What follows is a funny, revelatory musing on finding your thing, whatever it is, and loving it completely.

My first impression – someone wrote a whole book about this? – was quickly dispelled. As the title suggests, it’s not actually a book about Benedict Cumberbatch. Instead, Carvan reflects on stan culture and the liberating power of reclaiming our passions, challenging the notion that womens hobbies and interests aren’t as ‘serious’ as mens. She meets with other ‘cumberbitches’ and deep-dives into the world of fandom, with discoveries that are at times hilarious, bizarre, and poignant.

Carvan is witty and insightful, an Australian Dolly Alderton. (At one point she describes Benedict Cumberbatch as looking like “the underside of a sting ray.”) Over the course of the book, she learns to own her obsession, and asks the same question of the reader – what would happen if women decided to simply follow their interests – unabashedly, shamelessly, however trivial they may seem?

She dedicates the book to “the girls at the concerts.” As a former Girl at the Concert, I certainly read it greedily and wanted to send it to everyone I know. 

This is not a Book About Benedict Cumberbatch, Harper Collins

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