Things we love about Polska (in equal measure):
- The food
- The front cover
- The author’s fabulous name!
Things we love about Polska (in equal measure):
It is a beautiful moment indeed when, browsing along the bookshelves, I come across an unfamiliar novel, when an intriguing cover draws me in and I find within a story that matches it perfectly. Though we are all aware of the proverb ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, it is an inevitably unconscious act for many people and often as good a basis as any for selecting which book, out of millions, is going to be the next world that we enter.
Princesses in children’s literature are a fraught topic. There has been a strong backlash against the glittery, pink-washed stories of passive princesses who wait in towers — objects to be won by daring knights. Yet many children are drawn to princess stories, and who wants to stop children from reading anything they are excited about?
Most of us were raised on stories about princesses. From the darkness of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson fairytales, to the gentler Disney versions, these stories are an inescapable part of our culture. Fortunately, there are now many fantastic picture books that challenge the conventional roles of princesses in stories, creating characters that are like us and that inspire us to dare and dream. Listed below are some of my favourites. They are sure to appeal to princess-loving children and their princessed-out parents alike! Continue reading
Book review: Talking to My Country, by Stan Grant, published in 2016 by HarperCollins AU
I first encountered Stan Grant earlier this year when his speech from the IQ2 debate on the Australian dream, presented by the Ethics Centre, came into the spotlight. Grant’s speech focussed on the deep roots of racism in Australia and its detrimental impact on the potential to achieve the Australian dream. ‘The Australian dream’ has come to stand for the chance to achieve prosperity, to be given a ‘fair go’ and to become part of the broader cultural and social life of the country. However Grant showed how this dream has always been — and remains — out of reach for Aboriginal Australians. Grant challenged some of Australia’s national myths, contrasting them with historical perspectives from Indigenous peoples and contemporary experiences of racism, reminding us of those historical events that Australia wishes to forget.
Grant’s book Talking to my country is an extension of this discussion, a call to account and a demand for understanding and recognition.
When I’m not reading books, or selling them, I’m most likely talking about books, to everyone and anyone who will listen. One of the many joys of working at Paperchain is being surrounded by book lovers who will happily share their latest reading adventures with me. So I was thrilled to discover The Happy Reader, a new voice in this lively literary discussion.
The Happy Reader is a quarterly publication brought out by Penguin UK in conjunction with the British magazine Fantastic Man. Each issue is divided into two sections: the first part features a rambling, conversational interview with an interesting subject about their reading life; the second part is a dossier of articles based around a Penguin Classic.
The first issue came out in 2014, with Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey fame) appearing on the cover. In the interview, Stevens talks about reading books that were published between 1912 and 1918 — the period in which Downton Abbey is set — to gain a deeper knowledge of the times, as well as his experience of judging the Booker Prize in 2012. Subsequent issues have featured actor Alan Cumming, musicians Kim Gordon and Grimes, and comedian Aziz Ansari. Continue reading
Cooking the books is a recurring column where we test recipes from some of the cookbooks we sell, and share our experiences with you. Is this all simply an elaborate excuse to cook and eat some delicious food? Maybe. Are we looking forward to doing just that? You bet! In this edition of Cooking the books, Rebecca and Freya are cooking (and eating) rarebits with blue cheese and pear, from Yvette van Boven’s Home Made Winter.
With the weather in Canberra talking a turn for the autumnal, we find ourselves drawn to comfort food. The best comfort food is hearty but simple, and these blue cheese and pear toasties certainly fit the bill. So we rolled up the sleeves of our seasonally-appropriate tartan shirts and got to work. Continue reading
Gotham is the brief but compelling story of Jeff Foster, an Australian freelance Rolling Stone music reporter, and his all-nighter gambit with up-and-coming rap icon Na$ti Boi in the streets of New York. Beginning with the meet-cute at an after-hours Bloomingdales, Jeff witnesses the many layers of the rapper, whose outward self-confidence, displayed in his profound lyrical profanity, belies his fear and insecurity, glimpsed as he rifles through four pairs of Alexander Wang cargo pants. Standing stoically alongside Na$ty Boi is Smokey, his golden-grilled manager whose wife is in labour with their second child. Between controlled and placating exchanges with his charge Na$ti Boi, Smokey and Jeff bond over their experiences of the joys and trials of parenthood — a sharp contrast to the crack-sniffing Na$ti Boi who demands a visit to his semi-regular lady, an Ivy League pornstar, followed by a beef Wellington for dinner.
Picture books are the first leap into the world of reading for most children, so we’re always on the look out for good quality, quirky stories that will be loved by children and adults alike. The best picture books transport us to different worlds through their richly imagined stories and evocative illustrations, and teach us about others and ourselves with wisdom and humour. Here are a few new stories that have enthralled and delighted us.
A Beginners Guide to Bear Spotting
by Michelle Robinson
There are many different types of bears, and if you want to look for some you need to be prepared. This amusing story is told in the form of a tongue-in-cheek guide to finding bears, and then getting away from them. This book is sure to inspire children to explore the world around them with curiosity and an adventurous spirit.