In the lead up to this year’s MWF, we’ve asked our favourite book bloggers for their #topfivepicks to read ahead of the event. New, old, already ear-marked or one to add to the bedside table – dive into a world of reading and get prepped for the Fest.
In today’s blog, Tamsien West of ‘Babbling Books‘ shares her top five reads for MWF18.
Can You Tolerate This? by Ashleigh Young: I have discovered some of my favourite new voices in literature by exploring writers’ festival programs and New Zealander Ashleigh Young is my most recent find. I devoured her memoir/essay collection Can You Tolerate This? filled with personal stories and historical curiosities. There is a deeply reflective quality about her work, and I’m excited to see her explore the themes of her work in person.
Staying: A Memoir by Jessie Cole: Closer to home, Australian author Jessie Cole’s memoir Staying was heart-achingly beautiful and sad. It’s definitely going to be one of my top reads for the year and it’s poetic beauty has been haunting me since I read the final page. I can’t wait to hear her speak at MWF after reading this book so intimately connected to matters of both life and death.
Daring to Drive by Manal al-Sharif: The memoir of an accidental activist, who advocates for the rights of women in the face of tyranny. I’ve been aware of al-Sharif’s work for some time through news articles, but I can’t wait to read about her life in her own words and hear her speak about the triumphs and challenges she has experienced at the Festival.
The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley: Right at the top of my festival fiction to-read list is The Mere Wife, a modern day retelling of classic poem Beowulf. The premise intrigues me and I’m curious to see how the Old English tale which has fascinated generations of storytellers is interpreted in a modern context. An epic tale of heroes, dragons, monsters, battles and death seems like either an antidote to or reflection of the times and I can’t wait to read it and then hear the discussions that emerge from it.
The Break by Katherena Vermette: The second fiction title I can’t wait to dive into is The Break by First Nations writer Katherena Vermette. The story centres on a group of Métis women in Canada and the power struggles experienced within a family and a community. Vermette is an award winning author and poet so I’m really looking forward to her first novel.
Tamsien West is the Development Executive at MWF. Outside work hours, she moonlights as ‘Babbling Books’, a successful multi-platform book-blogging profile on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube – reviewing a variety of genres, producing videos and taking more photos of books than is strictly necessary. She reads across genres, with a particular passion for feminism, science fiction, memoir, and graphic novels.