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I’ve been tagged by Laurie Steed at The Gum Wall to join in a fun Books and Writers Q & A. I always enjoy a game, so here goes:

Book Q&A Rules
1. Post these rules.
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover.
3. Answer the questions below.
4. Tag a few people to answer them too.
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you’ve tagged them.
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you’ve taken part!

1. What are you reading right now?
I’m reading ‘An Unknown Sky’, which is a collection of short stories by Susan Midalia, a local WA writer. I’ve nearly finished it, from beginning to end and in order …

I’m also reading a quaint little book called ‘Tasmania’s North East’. It was written in 1928 by the Hon. A. W. Loone. I’m enjoying reading history as told by a local and at a time that’s now itself historical. The book is full of quirky anecdotes and I recognise a few surnames of people I grew up with.

I like to have a book on the craft of writing on the go, and at the moment that is ‘The Art of Character’ by David Corbett.

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2. Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
‘Mateship With Birds’ by Carrie Tiffany is sitting on top of the pile on my bedside table.

3. What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?
I’ll limit my answer to the Classics. When the following are mentioned, I make a mental note to myself that I must read them:
‘1984’ by George Orwell because he was such a clever writer and I loved ‘Animal Farm’. What’s more, I finished school in 1984.
‘Les Miserables’ by Victor Hugo because this is my all-time, most favourite musical ever.
‘Gone with the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell to see how it compares to the movie.
‘Rebecca’ by Daphne du Maurier because everyone who’s read it says it is a really good read.
‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley because it was the first of the horror/sci-fi genre.

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4. What magazines do you have in your bathroom/ lounge right now?
I subscribe to Writers’ Digest and Limelight, but I think they’ve mated as their piles beside my bed are growing.

5. What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
I’ve read many crappy books in my time, especially in my teens. Things like Judith Krantz, Harold Robbins and Danielle Steele. Luckily, I haven’t read the Twilight series or Fifty Shades as their reputations preceded them.

6. What book seemed really popular but you didn’t like?
‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. The self-obsession irritated me too much and I dumped it after eight chapters (out of the 128 in the book).

7. What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
I recommended ‘The Book Thief’ by Marcus Zusak to everyone for a while, but a lot of people hated it. Sometimes, there’s no accounting for people’s tastes.

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8. What are your three favourite poems?
As a child I enjoyed ‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll because it’s imaginative and silly. I recited a poem that I loved at the Launceston Eisteddfod one year. It was called ‘I remember …’ but, ironically, I can’t remember much else about it, except that it was an old man reflecting on his life. At the time, I was a young girl of twelve, but I somehow managed to win. I love old Australian poetry that evokes our landscape, like Dorothea Mackellar and Henry Lawson, and I love Gwen Harwood’s poetry, mainly because of her feminist themes, but also because she’s Tasmanian.

9. Where do you usually get your books?
From the Bookcaffé, which is around the corner from where I live, or online from Booktopia.

10. When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
Do you mean ‘particular’ or ‘peculiar’? I had a few of both:

I enjoyed Enid Blyton – ‘Mr Pinkwhistle’, ‘The Secret Seven’, ‘The Famous Five’ – except I couldn’t cope with ‘The Enchanted Forest’ and ‘The Faraway Tree’. There was something about climbing a tree and entering another world that did my head in. ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ upset me for similar reasons.

I loved the ‘Silver Brumby’ series by Elyne Mitchell as I was infatuated with horses, and I enjoyed the ‘Billabong’ series by Mary Grant Bruce, but my absolute favourite of all was the ‘Anne of Green Gables’ series by Lucy Maud Montgomery, which I read a number of times.

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11. What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was too good to put down?
I can’t remember. It would be before children as I can barely keep my eyes open for longer than a chapter these days. Probably something like Colleen McCullough’s ‘The Thorn Birds’, which I read as a teenager and in one night.

12. Have you ever “faked” reading a book?
I faked reading the last half of Wuthering Heights at school. We had an essay due, so I borrowed the study guide from the library, and hoped it gave me enough to answer the question. I didn’t fail …

13. Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
Yep. I’ve picked up books next to the register as I’m paying, birred through their pages while I wait, and then said, ‘Might as well have that, too …’

 14. What was your favourite book when you were a child?
Storm Boy by Colin Thiele. I cried and cried when I read it. I’ve read it to each of my kids, and I still cry each time.

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15. What book changed your life?
I think it would be a non-fiction book as they tend to have more of an impact on the way I think. I wrote in last week’s post about how the book ‘Parent Effectiveness Training’ by Dr Thomas Gordon influenced the way I parented. I’d even say it helped me through adolescence by helping me to parent myself. Other parenting books have heavily influenced me, too, like ‘Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel Goleman and ‘The Optimistic Child’ by Martin Seligman.

PicMonkey Collage7Like a good Catholic girl, I read the Bible as a child and the ‘Book of Everyday Saints’. I wanted Mary to appear to me, like she did to Bernadette. I carried my Rosary beads in my pocket and bought a ‘glow-in-the-dark’ statue of her that I prayed to. Unfortunately, she never visited …

Then, I read Bertrand Russell’s ‘Why I Am Not A Christian’ and that opened up a whole new way of thinking …

16. What is your favourite passage from a book?
The final paragraph of E. B. White’s ‘Charlotte’s Web’ – I can’t read it without my lip quivering.

‘Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.’

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17. Who are your top five favourite authors?
Ann Patchett, Tim Winton, Kazuo Ishiguro, Kate Grenville, Lionel Shriver, Ian McEwan.
Oh, I named six? Well, I simply cannot cull it any further. I’ve already had to omit Julian Barnes, Amy Tan, and Sebastian Barry.

18. What book has no one heard about but should read?
I loved ‘Plainsong’ by Kent Haruf. It’s plainly and simply told, yet it is so moving.

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19. What books are you an ‘evangelist’ for?
I love books with great characters and where you’re given the evidence and have to work things out for yourself. I hate it if I feel manipulated or led by the author as to what to think about a certain character, etc. Consequently, my favourite authors and books tend to do this …

20. What are your favourite books by a first time author?
Mary Ann Shaffer’s ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ and Kathryn Stockett’s ‘The Help’.

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21. What is your favourite classic book?
‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ by Thomas Hardy. So utterly tragic and preventable and all of those things that leave you completely traumatised after reading …

22. Five other notable mentions?
‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Brontë. Aided and abetted by the Kate Bush classic.
‘Jane Eyre’ by Charlotte Brontë. At least it has a happy ending. (I’d also like to ask Mr Brontë how he raised such creative, intelligent daughters.)
‘The Great Gatsby’ by F Scott Fitzgerald. Still resonates today — human nature will always be the same.
‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell. So clever and I love clever.
‘The Remains of the Day’ by Kazuo Ishiguro. Poignant and tender. Perfection in my opinion.

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Thanks for the tag, Laurie Steed. I don’t know any writers with blogs who haven’t already been tagged, so I’m inviting anyone and everyone who reads to have a go. It’s fun! Let me know in the comments if you’ve joined in the game.

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