What’s On Your Bookshelf?

The simple answer to this question, is too many books. Our 18 year old son would tell you there are far too many books in our house. Indeed, he of messy room and dumping his stuff our in the spare room for the last two years, even took me to task about it last night and had the audacity to ask me how many of them I’d actually read. While I must admit the same question frequently crosses my mind, the point is that the books on the shelf are either waiting to be read or they’re too good to part with, in which case getting rid of them would be akin to murdering a close friend. As avid readers, I’m sure you will understand, even if you have converted over to one of those dreadful, electronic Kindle-type devices.

So, what have I been reading?

Well, I’ve actually been reading quite a lot of books (at least for me) lately.

The dog highly approves of a night in reading.

The first cab off the ranks was Mark Lamprell’s: The Secret Wife. I’m not going to go into much detail here but I highly recommend it, and point you to my non-spoiler review: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/04/23/midnight-with-the-secret-wife/

This month took me back into Ethel Turner territory. There was an Open Day at Woodlands, where she was living when she wrote her iconic classic: Seven Little Australians. I am currently reading her WWI trilogy, and in the last month I’ve finished The Cub and Captain Cub and the last one Brigid and The Cub arrived in the mail today and I can’t wait to get stuck into it. It addresses some really interesting issues, and one that intrigues me is the whole business of mothers giving their consent for underage sons to fight. Ethel Turner didn’t give her consent for her own son, Adrian, to go but pushes the barrow in the book. I am also analysing these books in detail for my blog dedication to Ethel Turner: Tea With Ethel Turner: https://wordpress.com/view/teawithethelturner.com

Meanwhile, I am still reading Kerri Maher’s The Paris Bookseller, which says it is “inspired” by the life of Sylvia Beach who founded Shakespeare and Company, the famous English-language bookshop in Paris, and was the only one with the courage and vision to publish James Joyce’s controversial novel: Ulysses. This book was a natural choice for me, because I did a solo reading at Shakespeare and Company when I was staying in Paris in 1992, which was rather extraordinary in itself, but particularly considering I was only 23 at the time. I had to pass an intimidating interview with the inimitable proprietor, George Whitman and even had to draw up my own promotional poster to go in the window. These days, it feels like I made the whole thing up, but I have photographic proof. It really did happen.

Performing My Poetry at the Shakespeare Bookshop, Paris 1992.

Anyway, if you have ever considered reading Ulysses but have been too intimidated or just couldn’t understand a word of it, I have come across a wonderful annotated version online at the James Joyce Project: https://www.joyceproject.com/ i dare you! Give it a try!!

Or, if you’ve read it, please let me know how you found it, but no spoilers please!

Lastly, I’ve ordered Tony Birch’s book of short stories: Dark As Last Night, which has won the Christina Stead prize for fiction (NSW Premier’s, judged by Beth Yahp, Bernard Cohen and Nicole Abadee). You can read another of his stories here: https://www.theguardian.com/…/tony-birch-my-dads-ashes… It views a tough subject with a touch of humour, and is a great read.

What have you been reading lately? Why not join us at What’s On Your Bookshelf and share it with us? You can link up your post below.

What’s On Your Bookshelf is a monthly link-up co-hosted by Debbie (Deb’s World), Jo (And Anyways), Sue (Women Living Well After 50) and Donna (Retirement Reflections). #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge

Best wishes,


8 thoughts on “What’s On Your Bookshelf?

  1. Prior...

    How very cool that you read there in 1992 and have some photos for memories –
    And it sound like you are reading some gems! I read a book about James Joyce and it helped me understand his “MO” and why his content was bothersome to some.

    And regarding your books and why to keep so many – well as readers and writers we need our collections for many reasons
    Last month – I watched a movie called “Grace” and it was about a struggling author and how he emerged from a major funk (through the help of a young woman named Grace)
    Anyhow – there was a scene where he talked about why he needed to keep his library –
    For possible future research and ideas!
    It was an inspiring little scene because it is also why I keep my three book cases – every book needs to be there at this time

  2. Rowena Post author

    So good to hear from a fellow writer and reader who gets it. it’s usually administrative sorts and efficiency gurus who bring me a cropper. Mind you, I do need and want to reign things in at home. My favourite escape is going to the op shop and I find more books, clothes and paraphernalia and it can be so cheap. Yet, in terms of space, it has hidden costs.

  3. Prior...

    Yes- I have a place with dollar books
    When I first went there I would buy a bag full and then skim them while my boys played sports – and that was a gift because I read content that I never would have had it not been for exploring cheap books – and then I would decide which to keep to read fully – which ones to give t so and so –
    And then others went into a cafe free books bin.
    But now I have less time (and less need) to skim low that and so I am very picky – recently only bought about six books while in three different t book stores –
    I also have a stack of books to pass on – I found the right person for some art and illustrations books and that freed a shelf!
    If we had to move – I think I could part ways with half of my books (it would be hard) but the other half would be like you said – the loss of a friend or Something!

    Anyhow / loved seeing that image of you as poet!

  4. Mark

    What a great post! I’d remind your son that if you’d read all your books it’d only mean you have to get more that you haven’t 😂

  5. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Julie. We have a local annual book sale and the pickings are always fantastic, and I think I arrived home with 33 new to me books. our place was already overloaded with books, and I’ve clearly not one of those very regulated types who is one thing in, one thing out. I’m very human.
    Best wishes,

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