Work. Rest. Play.

Man of letters and world traveler Robert Dessaix thinks everyone should spend more time playing. And loafing. And nesting. In his latest book, he posits that finding room for more leisure could restore some much needed civility – and enjoyment – to our endlessly busy lives. Robert and I spoke about The Pleasures of Leisure […]

2016 Sydney Writers Festival

Australia’s biggest literary event is almost upon us once again: the Sydney Writers Festival. This year more than 400 Australian and 60 international writers will be converging on Walsh Bay, and other venues across Sydney. You’ve no doubt already heard about a few of the big draws: Gloria Steinem, Jonathan Franzen, Jeanette Winterson, Anna Funder, […]

The Art of Reading

We know that books are transporting objects, taking us everywhere from Dickensian England to the dystopic futures of William Gibson’s imaginings. Emily Dickinson said that ‘There is no frigate like a book/ To take us lands away’. We reflect little, however, on the virtues reading demands of us and which it fosters – virtues such […]

How to learn almost anything in 48 hours

Tansel Ali’s second book makes a bold and alluring promise. It suggests that what is difficult can be made easy, and what normally takes a long time to master can be conquered very quickly. Best of all: anyone can do it. The key, as Tansel explains, is memory techniques. Memory techniques can help you learn […]

The Truth According to Us

It’s 1938 and darn hot in the fictional town of Macedonia, West Virginia. Young Willa Romeyn is out to discover all the adults’ secrets. Out-of-towner Layla Beck is on a similar truth-seeking mission, and has arrived in Macedonia to chronicle its history. The problem with such quests is that one tends to uncover more than […]

Nightmares and Dreamscapes

In sitting down to write her first book, Kathryn Barker decided to write about something that really scared her. And as a mother, what scared her more than anything was the phenomenon of mass school shootings. Her novel In the Skin of a Monster begins three years after a school shooting in a fictional rural […]