Keep warm and carry on reading

Winter has officially descended on Brisbane! Between distancing days spent waiting for the 2020 Queensland Literary Awards shortlist and the inaugural Queensland Stories Songs and Rhymes winners, Reading and Writing enthusiasts Allanah Hunt, Jackie Ryan, Laura Elvery, and Shastra Deo have been curled up and cosy with books – some brand new and some familiar.

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What are you reading?

Allanah Hunt: I am finally getting to read Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko and loving it!

Jackie Ryan: The Giant and the Sea, written by Trent Jamieson and illustrated by Rovina Cai.

Laura Elvery: The lively, unusual and very warm (!) Smart Ovens for Lonely People, which is a short story collection by the brilliant Elizabeth Tan.

Shastra Deo: Robert Macfarlane’s Underland. It’s a long, heavy, thoughtful book, tracking the underworlds of our myths, memories, writings, and reality. Every now and then I need a break from it, so I’ve been dipping into Ella Jeffery’s brilliant first poetry collection Dead Bolt.


What’s next on your pile?

AH: Next up, I have Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan (when I can get away from textbooks for my PhD!). I also have A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers lined up. Thankfully, it's part of my PhD work so I have a good reason to get straight to it! After Australia (edited by Michael Mohammed Ahmad) is on my list as well.

JR: Stone Sky Gold Mountain by Mirandi Riwoe.

LE: Fathoms: The World in the Whale by Rebecca Giggs, and Throat by Ellen van Neerven.

SD: I’m looking forward to getting into Jessica Miller’s The Republic of Birds (gifted by Laura Elvery) and Eunice Andrada’s Flood Damages (a reread, but a vital one).

Is there a book you re-read around this time every year?

AH: There are certain fan fiction stories I go back to this time of year, all in the MCU and Supernatural fandoms. Usually loads of fluff that will make your teeth rot (but in the good way)!

JR: I read too slowly to re-read! I’d be with the same book f-o-r-e-v-e-r.

LE: No, but Noni the Pony and I’m a Dirty Dinosaur and Peepo and Bob Bilby are currently on regular rotation around the same time every night before my son goes to bed.

SD: I tend to read/reread a lot of comic books and manga around this time of year! Because I read so much for university, reading for fun can sometimes feel like work… but graphic novels put me in a different headspace. I just started the Beastars series by Paru Itagaki—the artwork is so charming.


Where is your favourite spot to read?

AH: Curled up on my canopy bed with my Iron Man mug filled with peppermint tea. I can shut myself away from the world for a bit and invest in the book I’m reading.

JR: In bed.

LE: All alone, on the couch in the lounge room where it’s sunny.

SD: I love reading on or in my bed! My room gets a patch of early afternoon sun in the winter—perfect for reading and napping.

We’re always ready for book recommendations—share your favourite winter (or year-round) reads with us in the comments below.

About the readers

  • Allanah Hunt is a Junior Editor with black&write! She is currently undertaking her PhD in Creative Writing at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK. She has published several short stories, and two of her manuscripts were highly commended in the black&write! inaugural writing fellowship. Read Allanah’s Nakata Brophy Prize-winning short story here.

  • Jackie Ryan is part of the First 5 Forever: Queensland Stories, Songs and Rhymes project at State Library of Queensland. Her book, We’ll Show the World: Expo 88 (UQP, 2018), won two 2018 Queensland Literary Awards (the Queensland Premier’s Award for a Work of State Significance and the USQ History Book Award) and was shortlisted for a third (The Courier-Mail People’s Choice Queensland Book of the Year Award). She was also the recipient of a 2018 Queensland Writers Fellowship. Learn more about Jackie here.

  • Laura Elvery is a Project Officer in the Reading and Writing team at State Library of Queensland. She is the author of two short story collections: Trick of the Light (UQP, 2018) and Ordinary Matter (UQP, forthcoming September 2020). Her work has won the Josephine Ulrick Prize for Literature, the Margaret River Short Story Competition, the Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize, and the Fair Australia Prize for Fiction. Learn more about Laura here.

  • Shastra Deo was State Library of Queensland’s first Reader in Residence. Her poetry collection, The Agonist (UQP, 2017), won the 2016 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and the 2018 Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. Shastra’s short story, The Minutes Turn to Ours, was runner up in the 2012 State Library of Queensland Young Writers Award. Learn more about Shastra here.


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