What I'm Borrowing: Trent Jamieson

What I’m Borrowing is a 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 Trent Jamieson, novelist, short story writer, and award-winning author of books for children. In March, Trent's novel The Stone Road was published. Trent is a long-time bookseller at Avid Reader in West End – find him there most days giving excellent book-ish advice. 

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

The last thing I borrowed from the library was Adam Roberts’ Purgatory Mount. I love Adam’s work, and I got it pretty much the month it was released. It’s wonderful, philosophical science fiction, with big ideas, great characters and a real sense of wonder. I was so excited that the library had copies. One of my favourite things about our library system in Brisbane is the way you can place holds and get the books sent to your nearest library – that seems almost science fictional in itself to me. 

I returned it on time! I’m lucky that I live just around the corner from my local library, so I really don’t have an excuse! I try to get them back the day I finish them so no-one has to wait for their next read. 

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

I don’t remember my first library card. I think it was kept at the library in a box; we certainly still had cards in sleeves in the books, where your name would be written down and the date you borrowed it. This was the Gunnedah public library. We used to go every two weeks, and it was just about my favourite place in the world. That library was filled with dreams. I’d borrow as many books as I could – I think the limit was seven – and then I’d read them all at once. 

Listen here to Trent reading aloud from The Giant and the Sea, his stunning children's book illustrated by Rovina Cai

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

I’m really into Deep Time at the moment, and the great extinction events of pre-history, and what that might say for us. The Ends of the World by Peter Brannen is incredible, and very readable. Earth’s deep past was a very different, very alien place.  

My three-year-old is very much into sharks and dinosaurs, so anything on those, but we did borrow a copy of Narelle Oliver’s Fox and Fine Feathers, which is absolutely stunning, though that fox is scary.  

My eleven-month-old is really into Lucy Cousins' board books, (particularly Hooray for Fish and Hooray for Birds – I can recite them) or anything that has songs – 'Row, Row, Row Your Boat' gets them going (Row is currently their favourite word). 

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

Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees. Published in 1926, it’s a book about a town on the edge of the land of Fairy, and the troubles that occur when people start eating fairy fruit. It has everything in it, even a very peculiar crime story.  

It’s often regarded as a book for Fantasy writers – it’s a definite influence on Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrel - but there’s so much to offer anyone, and the prose is so lovely I feel like it needs a bigger readership. A new edition was published a couple of years back, which is quite beautiful, but my favourite edition – the one I don’t lend out (yes, I have multiple copies) – is the Ballantine Books edition published in 1970. It has a real psychedelic cover. It’s the ultimate unsettling comfort read. 

 Lud-in-the-Mist by Hope Mirrlees, which Trent describes as the "ultimate unsettling comfort read" (a new combo to try)

Trent Jamieson is the Aurealis Award-winning author of the novel Day Boy, as well as the Death Works Trilogy, and the Roil Duology. He has worked as a bookseller for over twenty-five years. His 2020 children’s picture book The Giant and the Sea, illustrated by Rovina Cai won the 2021 Environment Award for Children’s Literature Picture Fiction. The Stone Road is his latest book, and his next children’s book Mr Impoppable will be published in 2023. He works at Avid Reader, has two kids, and is a bit tired. 

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