#SurvivalStories2021 Adult Award-Winning Books Features Nonfiction Reading Life Reading Ruminations Reading Themes Saturday Reads

[Saturday Reads] What Are The Books That Made You?

"Find your path, and let no one diminish it, or you." - Ambelin Kwaymullina


Myra here.

Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.

The Book That Made Me: A Collection Of 32 Personal Stories (Amazon | Book Depository)

Edited by Judith Ridge Published by Candlewick Press (2017, first published 2016)
ISBN: 0763696714 (ISBN13: 9780763696719) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

I learned about this title from Australian friends who have been sharing it in their social media. Since I am heading a research on reading lives of teachers here in the United Arab Emirates, I thought it would be good to also know about the reading lives of 31 Australian authors, and learn about the “books that made them.”

While I am not very familiar with most of the contributing chapter authors in this book, I still found it largely interesting – although the books that they mostly referenced were also unfamiliar to me – which is a good thing, as it has led me down this rabbit-hole of book discovery.

One of my favourite chapters is (no surprises here) Shaun Tan’s Hooked (and a Bit Unsettled) where he wrote about his mother reading Animal Farm out loud when he and his brother were young boys – not realizing that the book contained mature themes that were difficult to thoroughly explain. I also found it fascinating how most of the books that shaped him can be seen in future books he created: for example, Shaun referenced Fish in the Sky by George Mendoza (Amazon) which I felt was very reminiscent of his Tales From The Inner City (Amazon | Book Depository – see my review here).

The author whose book list resembles mine growing up would have to be Simmone Howell. She wrote about Sweet Dreams and Sweet Valley High so intimately that I feel she must have been a friend in a parallel existence.

I have always been fascinated by this idea of books that make up an individual that I wrote a series of this when I turned 40:

  1. Forty (or so) books that helped shape my womanity 
  2. Forty (Or So) Books that Paved the Way To (and I Discovered Through) GatheringBooks
  3. My Top Forty (or so) Picturebooks and Graphic Novels
  4. [A Postscript to the 40 Series] The Forty (Or So) Books I Hope to Read Before Turning Fifty

The book chapter that really caught my sensibilities was the one written by Ambelin Kwaymullina: This World Is More Than What Can Be Seen. I ended up reading it aloud to both my husband and my daughter on two separate occasions because I found it to be so powerful and so fitting, given our intention to decolonize our bookshelves this year (and the years to come):

The great libraries of the Aboriginal nations of this continent are not built of bricks or steel. Our knowledge is written into the land and our old people highly literate in reading the earth around them. But when strangers arrived on these shores, they did not understand our ways of knowing. And the arrival of the colonizers marked the beginning of another set of tales, the stories of the generations of Aboriginal people who lived the trauma of colonialism.

I love how Kwaymullina managed to turn the theme of this book over on its head – by introducing another concept of reading and libraries. I also found myself nodding and saying “Yes, Yes, Yes!” as I read through her last few paragraphs – because it reflects my own reading advocacy deeply.

Because I was so riveted by what she wrote, I am now on the hunt for her Tribe trilogy, which I hope to feature soonest.

The Interrogation Of Ashala Wolf (Amazon | Book Depository)

The Disappearance Of Ember Crow (Amazon | Book Depository)

The Foretelling Of Georgie Spider (Amazon | Book Depository)

Have you read these novels yet? What are the books that made you?

#SurvivalStories2021 Update: 15 out of target 100

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