I suppose I should say farewell to 2022, but I don’t actually feel it deserves the courtesy. But here we are on the first day of a new year and I, for one, am hopeful it will be one to remember—in a good way!
Wishing you, as always, good health, good books and good company…
This year I’ve chosen to acknowledge NAIDOC Week by ordering my next bundle of books from the Foundation for Indigenous Sustainable Health online store. FISH also has a retail store at 769 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley (Western Australia), which sells Indigenous-only books, artworks and gifts (read an excellent article about it here). I’m looking forward to visiting soon—the artworks look beautiful!
The Foundation for Indigenous Sustainable Health is an organisation that aims, through various initiatives, ‘to provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to share their wisdom and insights to the broader community to teach people how to connect and care for each other and for country, whilst closing the gap and breaking generational cycles of poverty, trauma, and engagement with the justice system.’ I first found out about the organisation via WritingWA, which has been promoting its work throughout NAIDOC Week.
The books I’ve ordered, and am looking forward to reading, are Homecoming (Magabala Books), a debut hybrid work (poetry/prose) from Noongar and Yawuru writer Elfie Shiosaki; God, the Devil and Me (Magabala Books) by Alf Taylor, an autobiography described as ‘darkly humorous and achingly tragic’ about Taylor’s childhood years spent at the New Norcia Mission, 120 kilometres north of Perth; and one I’ve been meaning to read for a long time, Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia (Black Inc. Books’ ‘Growing Up…’ series), a collection of essays edited by Anita Heiss.
During the week, Lisa Hill has been hosting Indigenous Literature Week over at her wonderful ANZ LitLovers blog, and has posted reviews of Homecoming and Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia, among many others—all of them well worth checking out.
The shortlists for the WA Premier’s Book Awards have just been announced! It’s hard to believe a year has gone by since I found myself on the shortlist for the WA Writer’s Fellowship. Congratulations, everyone, and good luck!
The Premier’s Prize for an Emerging Writer ($15,000)
Father of the Lost Boys by Yuot A. Alaak (Fremantle Press)
Fathoms: The World in the Whale by Rebecca Giggs (Scribe Publications)
A Question of Colour by Pattie Lees and Adam C. Lees (Magabala Books)
We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know by Sophie McNeill (ABC Books: An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
In this year-like-no-other, we’ve been forced to face many previously unimaginable things, but I never want to imagine a world without bookshops.
Our local booksellers have been working hard throughout these difficult times, finding ways to keep us connected with books and ideas—sending newsletters, presenting Zoom events, offering special deliveries. I have often felt concerned on their behalf, knowing that they already exist in a space threatened by faceless global merchants.
Tomorrow it’s national Love Your Bookshop Day, an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate bookshops as one of things that make our lives worthwhile. I want to send out a big thank-you to all of the bookshops who have nurtured me as a reader and supported me as a writer—and to the special people who work behind their counters.
If you’re able to get out and about tomorrow (and commiserations to those who can’t), do drop into your favourite bookshop, say hello and tell them what they mean to you. And buy a few books while you’re there, of course!
Well, I was going to toss onto the floor all the entries in my Love Your Bookshop Day draw and see which one my Siamese cat jumped on first, but she let me know that it was too cold for such shenanigans and refused to leave her blanket.
And so to plan B. Into one of my vintage hats they went, and my husband drew one out.
Congratulations to Jyoti McKie, who has won a copy of one of the books I’ve featured on the blog this year, a copy of Kathleen O’Connor of Paris and a few little Paris treats. Jyoti has chosen Step Up, Mrs Dugdale by Lynne Leonhardt. They’ll be on their way to you soon, Jyoti.
A big thank-you to everyone who entered. It was heartening to see so much love and appreciation for our bookshops!
Saturday 10 August is Love Your Bookshop Day in Australia. I love bookshops every day of the year, but I thoroughly endorse the idea of shining the spotlight on them across the nation, and reminding ourselves of everything they bring to our lives.
One of my favourite bookshops: Beaufort Street Books, with owner Jane Seaton
Here are just a few of the things we love about our bookshops:
They employ people who love books rather than people who write algorithms.
They’re happy to talk books, and know what they’re talking about.
They use their knowledge to make recommendations for your book club, or for Great-Aunt Joan’s birthday, or just for the way you happen to be feeling.
They introduce you to new writers they think you’ll like.
They provide an awesome way to spend an hour or two.
They give you advance notice of when the next title in your child’s favourite series is due.
They often host author talks or signings so you can meet local and visiting writers.
They champion local writers and support small presses.
They take an active role in their local communities.
They might add value to your purchases—for example, offering signed copies or free gift wrapping at Christmas.
And before long, they might even be calling you by your name when you walk through the door—not because you’re data but because they actually remember who you are.
Know any robotic global monoliths who can come even close? No, me neither.
To celebrate national Love Your Bookshop Day, I’m giving blog and newsletter subscribers the chance of winning two books:
plus a copy of Kathleen O’Connor of Paris, with a few little Paris goodies thrown in.
To be in the draw, just tell me what you love about your favourite bookshop.*
* Enter by Friday 9 August. I’ll be drawing the winner on
Love Your Bookshop Day, 10 August, and announcing it that day.
* First make sure you’re a subscriber to looking up/looking down or my newsletter. Open to subscribers in Australia only.
Author of KATHLEEN O’CONNOR OF PARIS (narrative non-fiction), ELEMENTAL and THE SINKINGS (novels) and INHERITED (short story collection). looking up/looking down is an occasional blog about writing, reading and watching the world...