Author: Fiona Wood
Date: 30/06/2013
Words: 290
Source: SHD
          Publication: Sun Herald
Section: Unwind
Page: 12

Janet and Allan Ahlberg

It's amazing to see children first engage with story and language though picture books. Peepo! and Each Peach Pear Plum, by the same authors, were hugely popular at our place. Sharing that very early reading was a delight, although the children's capacity for repetition exceeded ours at times.

Five Children and It

E. Nesbit

Edith Nesbit gives her characters  Anthea, Jane, Robert and Cyril  fantastical "be careful what you wish for" adventures courtesy of a grumpy, ancient Psammead (sand fairy). This inventive, funny book with its flawed, loveable characters and believable magic was a favourite of my upper-primary years.

Franny and Zooey

J.D. Salinger

At 19, I couldn't imagine a more perfect book: the Glass family; the detailed psychological investigation of character and place. I met my husband a year after I read it and told him that if we had the sort of marriage ceremony where people read meaningful things to each other, I would read him Mrs Glass' examination of the bathroom cabinet from Zooey. (We didn't have that sort of marriage ceremony.)


George Eliot

A setting of simmering political and social change; a group of compelling characters and their relationships. I read Middlemarch at 20 and reread it just last year. I felt compassion for characters I had merely despised first time around  it was a reminder of how much of ourselves we bring to a book. A completely engrossing read.

Leaving the Atocha Station

Ben Lerner

A recent favourite, this is a poet's first novel. Funny, full of ideas, a messed-up protagonist and beautiful on the line  what's not to love? A sure indicator of its impact: when I lent this to someone in my reading group, I felt utterly bereft.

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