What I’m Borrowing: Benjamin Law

What I’m Borrowing is a new blog series exploring our affection for libraries, loans, and sharing great reads. Each post we ask a Queensland writer and reader to tell us about their recent lending-loves.

This month we welcome multidisciplinary author, screenwriter, raconteur, and absolute hero Benjamin Law. We remember Benjamin from 2006, when his short story “Simon Says” was runner up for the State Library of Queensland Young Writers Award.

Since then, he’s authored The Family Law, Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East, and the Quarterly Essay Moral Panic 101, co-authored Sh*t Asian Mothers Say and Law School, and edited Growing Up Queer in Australia. He has also written for over 50 publications in Australia and beyond, including the Monthly, frankie, GuardianMonocle and Australian Financial Review.

by Daniel Francisco Robles

Tell us about the last thing you borrowed from the library. How did you discover it? Did you return it on time?

Funnily enough, it probably wasn’t even “borrowing” something from the library, in the traditional sense. During COVID restrictions, as libraries have been physically shut down, I read this great ABC Life piece from Jennifer Wong about how to best use libraries during the coronavirus. And I learned basically every library membership in Australia grants you free access to Kanopy – a Netflix-style service that gives you access to a range of movies and documentaries. I installed it on my TV and it’s been going off. Just another reminder of the miracle of library services and what they offer. 

Do you remember your first library card? Can you describe the library you visited as a child?

My first library card would have been at my local library in Kawana, in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. The first few books I borrowed would have involved stamping a physical library card glued into the back of the book, but later I remembered getting a laminated card with a scannable barcode. The fact books could be borrowed, scanned and with a library card that beeped? That felt like living in the future.

What other items are you, and people in your house, borrowing right now?

Probably Tupperware. The exchange of Tupperware between my friends is so porous as we give each other meals, and I’m pretty confident at least half of our collection is happily scattered across Sydney and Brisbane. But that’s just community done right, I reckon.

Thinking about your own bookshelf, what is your favourite book to lend out from home?

Reni Eddo Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. To the extent where I’ve no idea where my copy is any longer. And given the urgency of that book, maybe it’s a good thing.

Benjamin Law is an Australian writer and broadcaster. He is the author of The Family Law (2010), Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012), the Quarterly Essay Moral Panic 101 (2017), and editor of Growing Up Queer in Australia (2019). In 2019, he was named one of the Asian-Australian Leadership Summit’s 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians (winning the Arts, Culture & Sport category) and one of Harper’s Bazaar’s Visionary Men. Every week, Benjamin co-hosts ABC RN’s weekly national pop culture show Stop Everything and interviews public figures for Good Weekend.

Read Growing Up Queer in Australia online with a State Library of Queensland membership, or visit us onsite when we reopen to borrow Benjamin’s other books.

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