We all have those books. The ‘I fell asleep reading you’, ‘I dropped you in the bath’, ‘I covered you in crumbs as I devoured you over lunch’ – the un-put-downables that became like instant best friends or toxic lovers. To celebrate the powerful ways in which words can rouse us, we’re asking our favourite book bloggers to pen An Ode to A Tome, love letters to three books as penned by the authors and artists appearing in this year’s program.
Too Much Lip, by Melissa Lucashenko
Kerry Salter has got to be one of the most vivid characters I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with – she’s opinionated, fierce and 100% no bullshit. What’s not to love? Kerry has been avoiding her hometown for a while now, but a death in the family forces her to return to Bundjalung country. She swears she’s only going to stay there for a day or two, but when a sacred site is under threat of being developed, the Salter family must do everything in their power to stop that from happening.
There’s a lot of themes to unpack in Melissa Lucashenko’s Too Much Lip – violence, displacement, substance abuse, racism, sexuality and intergenerational trauma – but the writing is marvellously balanced with humour, resilience, strong family loyalties and characters that jump off the page.
What I loved about reading this book is how seamlessly Lucashenko incorporates Indigenous language into the narrative. Let’s have more opportunities to learn these words and hear from these characters, please.
Love!, by Zoë Foster Blake
Zoë Foster Blake is, possibly (most likely) one of Australia’s most lovable authors. She has incredible personal style, a great sense of humour, a gorgeous family and is a badass business woman to boot. All of her trademark warmth, creativity and wit is shared with readers in her guide to love and relationships: Love!
What I love (pardon the pun) about this book is the way Zoë blends her sense of humour with the realities of contemporary romance. She acknowledges that it’s not always sunshine and rainbows – we’ve all got our fair share of horror stories when it comes to matters of the heart – and, rather than gloss over the crap stuff, she shares tips and advice on how to build healthy relationships and how to get over not-so-healthy ones.
This book meets readers where they’re at, and I really like that Zoë focuses on the importance of having a positive relationship with your own heart before you commit (or not, whatever floats your boat) to someone else’s.
The Erratics, by Vicki Laveau-Harvie
Each year, I watch the Stella Prize with keen interest because it’s always influential to my to-be-read list of books. When The Erratics was named this year’s winner, I had to pick up a copy and see what all the fuss was about. This is one of those non-fiction books that reads like a thriller. As a reader, you’re constantly asking yourself, ‘How can this possibly be real?’
When Vicki Laveau-Harvie’s mother falls unwell, she returns home to Canada to take care of her father. She discovers that her father has been kept in a shocking state of isolation – Laveau-Harvie’s mother has, effectively, kept him prisoner for many years, shutting them both off from the outside world and controlling every aspect of his life, even starving him to gain more power. Laveau-Harvie fears for his life and must reckon with the increasing danger of her mother’s mental health.
This exceptional story of a highly dysfunctional family is completely compelling and even manages to be funny at times. A must-read, in my opinion.
Kate Lloyd is a Melbourne-based bookstagrammer and a queer, feminist bibliophile. She spends her weekdays as the Marketing Coordinator at Text Publishing, and weekends reading books, drinking coffee and co-running Nook & Burrow – an online marketplace for book lovers.