At present, my TBR list sits at 16 books and counting so choosing just a few to write about in this list was difficult. It’s always been this way for me. I’m always buying books faster than I can read them, and with a Facebook feed full of recommendations, a Goodreads app that is always notifying me of what’s new in my recommendations, and emails from book stores and publishers pinging to me on a daily basis… well… I lack the ability to refrain from the purchase. Normally my reading list heavily features fantasy and sci-fi but earlier this year I made a pledge to diversify my reading into other genres. Especially those more specific to my own writing.
Which brings me to the first book on my list. I am, primarily, a travel writer which is why Dominic Dromgoole’s Hamlet: Globe to Globe caught my attention. Dromgoole was the Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. This book follows his adventure around the world with the cast of Hamlet as they mark the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death by taking his most famous play to every country on the planet.
There are so many things that intrigue me about this book. The analysis of what different cultures take from the story of Hamlet, the extensive insight of an Artistic Director and his view of the world, and the merging of travelogue and literary analysis, are why this book made the cut for this list.
But reading is a pleasure and it doesn’t always have to be work related which is where my next book comes in. I’m a massive anime fan, and have the very modest beginnings of a manga library. When I read that one of my favourite anime series was deviating from the manga from which it was based, I knew it was time to add it to my collection. Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama is set in an alternative world where, for the past century, mankind has lived within a giant three-walled city in fear of the Titans- giant humanoids who feast on humans. When an enormous Titan destroys part of the wall, the humans living within are reminded of their inferiority and life will change forever.
If you’re one of these people that has never picked up a graphic novel I seriously recommend it. Don’t mistake the lack of words for easy reading, especially if you’re reading traditional manga which reads from right to left instead of left to right. It takes some getting used to but many graphic novels explore some seriously deep themes. If manga’s not really your style then I recommend V for Vendetta (yes there’s a movie version of that too but seriously- read the graphic novel!).
Moving on is a book that’s been on my bedside too long but I still can’t wait to read it. Earlier in the year I attended the Perth Writer’s Festival where I had the pleasure of hearing from many writers. On the Friday night I was present for the interview with Osamah Sami who captured me with his quirky antics and good humour. Listening to him talk about his life and experiences led me to purchase his book Good Muslim Boy almost immediately.
A memoir of his life, Osamah’s book is the tale of a boy who survived the Iran-Iraq War and immigrated to Australia with his family, where his plans to be a good Muslim boy go horribly awry. Apart from a curiosity to see how he interprets Australian life and culture as a newcomer to our country, I’m just looking forward to a good laugh with this one.
My next book is really out of character for me. Self-help books aren’t normally my thing by something about this book spoke to me when it popped up in my inbox. The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi is a bestselling phenomenon in Asia with over 3 million copies sold. Now it’s been translated into English and I’m keen to see what life lessons it holds.
The focus of this book is learning how to sit with discomfort. It’s about learning how to accept that we are going to make mistakes, and that we are not always going to live up to our own, and other peoples’, expectations. I’m not expecting a miracle fix. These things are easier said than done and often require years of practice but I like the style Kishimi appears to have used in writing this guide. The book is written as a conversation between a youth and a philosopher. Given I, like many other creative people I know, spend too many nights awake and restless to thoughts of stupid things I’ve said and done in the past and the stupid things I’m likely to say and do in the future, I figured it’s worth a read.
Getting towards the end of the list and I find myself with another memoir spanning continents. Jeneieve Chang’s The Good Girl of Chinatown caught my attention with its dramatic blurb and bright front cover. This story of a woman retracing her family’s roots and trying to overcome the struggles of life by moving country, spoke to me as someone who has done something of a similar nature.
Often travellers are stereotyped as lost souls, and maybe in some ways we are, but I see travel as a way to broaden your mind and your view of the world. Chang’s memoir explores racism and reverse racism, family, and follows her search for a place to call home. For something that doesn’t fit within my traditional reading, this sounds right up my alley!
To round out the list, my final book is The Garden of Sorrows written by John Hughes with artwork from Marco Luccio. This book is a collection of fables with titles like ‘The Origin of Death’ and ‘The Making of Time’. I took one look at it and its contents page and was instantly mesmerized. Its hardback cover protects rough pages that make you feel like you’re holding the original sketches.
I don’t have much to say on this one other than that it looks amazing and I love a good fable so I can’t wait to dive into it.
And alas we have reached the end of the list. I could go on and on but I’m sure you’ve already got a pile on your bedside as it is. If any of this sounds a little bit like you or you’d like to check out some of my other reads, you can hit me up on Goodreads (search for Jessica Gately) where my ‘To Read’ list always consists of books currently on my bedside table (no wish lists here- we’ve already covered my book purchasing problem) or we can chat on Twitter @Jess_Gately.