In a varied writing and reading life, interspersed with some absolute highlights, I often have to balance the good and bad. So it is that:

I don’t remember having to track down hundreds of ‘lost’ footnotes (keeping track of them was a horror, and not a highlight for me!), but I do remember being complimented on my ‘clean’ referencing.

I don’t remember the trauma of travelling to meet my interviewee for a magazine article, but I do remember the good humour, great conversation and ‘highlight’ article that resulted.

I don’t QUITE (qualifier – this was huge and messy) recall redoing a heap of thesis work, but I do remember the graduation that followed, and the sense of achievement and worthwhile research.

I don’t remember the messy proofreading involved for a client who didn’t have time to write well, but I do remember the polished final result and the sound of relief in their voice.

I don’t remember having to trek into university on winter weekends to do track down resources, but I do remember the joy of finding wonderful books and hidden gems that I’ve retained ever since (not the actual books, just the good quotes and passages. I’d hate to imagine a late fine for those books – this was the early 1990s!)

Now it starts to head down to a new generation. As the aunt of two little girls – aged two and ten months respectively – I’m building a whole new list of moments. One day, when they’re both a bit older, I will say to them, hopefully while reading a book or writing a story:

I don’t remember when I started reading and writing – but I’ll always treasure the worlds and wonders I’ve found through both.

It’s a wonderful world – autumn gives way to winter









The leaves are turning, and I am reading.

While doing so, I have been thinking about my favourite books, and where I would enjoy most to have the opportunity to read them. So, I’d like to share that idea with the world out there; here are a few and what would be my ideal location (accompanied by a cup of tea, biscuits and crochet) to read these volumes that are friends of mine. I’ve tried to avoid simply saying that the ideal location would be where the story is set. Sometimes, of course, this can’t be helped.

Neither Here Nor There – Bill Bryson. In Scotland, looking at the Northern Lights (chasing these is one of the quests for Bryson – but he doesn’t go to Scotland).

No Stopping For Lions – Joanne Glynn. Given that this is about an extended African adventure, I’d actually like to read it at a coastal property in the middle of winter! It would still be wilderness, but in a different form.

Anne of Green Gables (and all LM Montgomery books) – well, this would have to be Prince Edward Island. There is no alternative. Red cliffs, beautiful hills and stunning ocean – perfection.

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen. I can envisage reading this while sitting on a window seat in a country house; not necessarily in England, but if that was on offer, of course it’d be lovely.

Gone With The Wind – I read Margaret Mitchell’s only publication once a year as something of a tradition, and I always make sure to read it while sitting on a verandah. One day, I hope to add a porch swing for the ideal situation.

A Bunch of Sweet Peas – Henry Donald. This is an engaging short story about a sweet pea growing and display competition; always refreshing and enjoyable. I’d love to read it in the Conservatory at Melbourne’s Fitzroy Gardens (budget version) or at Kew Gardens (wish list).

The Great Escape – Paul Brickhill. I first read this when in high school, and – while imperfect and ultimately tragic – it really sparked my historian’s sense of connection and immediacy. I’d love to read it on a long train journey.

Towers In The Mist – Elizabeth Goudge. Given that this typically detailed and delicate writing is about Elizabethan Oxford, what can I say? Oxford it is.

Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby. This is the reason my younger brother in particular is a fervent Arsenal supporter. So, I feel we’d have to head to Highbury and Emirates Stadium, just to cover all bases.

Foxeys Hangout – Cathy Gowdie. The story of a sea changer who headed to the Mornington Peninsula from Melbourne, and started a winery with her family. I live not far from the Yarra Valley, so it is there that I would revisit this beautiful book, albeit with my teetotalling Earl Grey and the inevitable biscuits/crochet combination.

There are so many others, so many connections with what and where we read; a volume rather than a bucket list, really. But one more I will mention – my atlas. Being Australian and at the base of the world, the curiosity and close-my-eyes-where-could-I-land potential of my 1957 Oxford atlas has long sparked my imagination and thoughts about the world around and beyond. I read it, and wonder.

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Perfect reading – my 1957 atlas is best read everywhere