I’m sliding in by the skin of my teeth today to post this month’s reading list. We have had visitors and just – well – life, in general, has kept me away from my computer, not just here. But some of that time was devoted to reading (hurrah!), some of which will be discussed in a moment.
I believe the essay Men At Work: Australia’s Parenthood Trap by Annabel Crabb in the latest issue of Quarterly Essay is a continuation of some of the issues she raised in her book The Wife Drought. Now I want to track that down because I’d like to learn more about this subject, which touches so many lives and households. Perhaps that’s why I was left wishing it was a longer piece – however, what it does contain is resonant. For example, early in the piece, Crabb includes the responses she got from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg when she contacted them to ask how they “manage it all”, meaning the work/life/family juggle, the very question many working women are commonly asked. After needing to rephrase the question to the men a couple of times, Crabb realised something: “(W)hat became clear was that both their models were about coping with or compensating for absence”. That really hit me and I think cuts to the root of why I find this topic so resonant – just who is providing that “practical horsepower to the engine that keeps a family running” and how that landscape is changing slowly.
Next, I spent a quiet five-hour block of time beginning and then – to my surprise – finishing It Sounded Better In My Head by Nina Kenwood. To be clear – the surprise was because my concentration has been lacking of late, to the point when I put down a book almost as soon as I pick it up. This was a great fix to that ennui – a charming young adult novel that leaves you with as sunny a feeling as its yellow cover. My friends’ recommendations again prove their worth!
Long-time readers might remember a few years ago when I read Poems That Make Grown Men Cry. I found that book quite affecting and I picked up Poems That Make Grown Women Cry, edited by Anthony and Ben Holden with a certain bar of expectation waiting to be met. However, it didn’t quite get there. That might be partially to do with the lack of concentration I already mentioned, but also perhaps because I didn’t connect with some of the selected poems. This changed as the book progressed, particularly as I reached the 21st-century titles, so that was interesting. What I always love, though, is discovering new artists and learning why some artists admire the work of others. In this instance, we have 100 women sharing their taste, providing slices of insight. Both books could be a good gateway for people wanting to expose themselves to more poetry but aren’t sure how.
I usually end these posts with the book I’m still reading and the case remains the same this time. Growing Up Queer In Australia, edited by Benjamin Law. It is an impressive, comprehensive collection and, like many anthologies, I appreciate being able to dip in and out of it when I can. The stories are moving and I hope it makes its way onto library shelves around the country.
What are you reading this month?