I am a month in at Shearer’s Bookshop in Norton Street, Sydney and it has been quite a lot of fun so far. The staff are all lovely, Barbara has been terrific and the customers have been interesting and aplenty. Christmas shopping is heating up and Mark (who does all the online end of the bookshop) has been asking the staff for each of our favourite reads of 2011. Here are mine http://shearersbooks.blogspot.com/ but if you scroll down you will find many other staff recommendations as well. The added bonus of doing lists like this is that it opens up opportunities for discussions that might not have otherwise happened. I was raving to Alexis, a fellow staff member, about Thirty Australian Poets and how eloquent and acute the selection of poets and their work was, and how every bookshelf in Australia needed to carry a copy when who should walk into the shop but the editor, Felicity Plunkett. We had a brief chat about the book and I told her how significant I think it is. I even managed to tell Felicity (without blushing!) that I keep the book on my bedside table for bouts of inspiration and thought provoking reading.
Yes, as you might have guessed from the my favourite’s list, I read a lot of Australian writing. It is therefore, completely and absolutely logical that I have signed up for the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading Challenge. I think this is a great way of highlighting not just the lack of women writers being reviewed and female reviewers in general, but also the fact that Australian fiction is not high on many readers’ lists at all. I asked one of the young staff members at Shearer’s what he reads and he listed all the (American) greats: Kerouac, Hemingway, Hunter S. Thompson and Ginsberg. I then asked him which female writers he liked…he had to stop and think. He couldn’t tell me a single female writer that he had read, let a lone enjoyed. So, let’s get to it. Get reading, reviewing, discussing and passing around writing by Australian women. Bring on 2012!