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the bookshelf diaries: amy nicholls-diver

Amy ND 4

The Bookshelf Diaries takes a peek into the reading life of writers, readers and book lovers. Lip Mag contributor, Amy Nicholls-Diver, reveals what’s in her bookcase.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished L.P. Hartley’s The Go-Between and have been casting around for something new to read. The Go-Between is a sort-of-twee, sort-of-saucy coming of age story set in the summer of 1900. It features culture clash, first love, betrayal, and a lot of “spooning”. The ending will get you right in the emotions.

While I am waiting to find time to go to the library, I’ve been reading the Kay Scarpetta crime novels by Patricia Cornwell. They are really trashy, but I am finding them actually interesting in terms of how they show the culture of the early 1990s. Homophobia and AIDS feature in every book really prominently, issues you don’t really come across in genre fiction these days.

Where did you buy it?

The Go-Between is one of the $10 Penguin Classics. I probably picked it up at my local bookshop (Avenue Books) or Readings. I can’t walk past a bookshop without going in, and I buy those books in bulk, so it’s hard to keep track.

What’s in your to-read pile?

I’m now looking for some contemporary female writers to read. Maybe something a little edgy; I like books that push the boundaries of form or your idea of what a book is. I’m hoping I can find some contemporary writers who are shaking things up.*

Currently, I am waiting to get my hands on A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing and After Darkness, both prize-winning novels by contemporary female authors.

Generation F: Sex, Power and the Young Feminist by Virginia Trioli is also high up on the list. It’s a response to Helen Garner’s The First Stone. That’s a book I had issues with and I’m hoping Trioli can validate my frustrations. I also am a big fan of Trioli (I watch the news over breakfast) so will be fan-girling the whole time.

Dave Eggers has a book coming out in a few weeks; I have already sussed out when my local will have it in stock. I’ve loved Eggers’ style since Year 11 and can’t wait for another title to drop.

Oh, and I just got Love in Bloomsbury, so will be delving into that shortly. It’s Frances Partridge’s account of the turbulent love affairs within the Bloomsbury group.

Amy ND

A peek into Amy’s bookshelf.

What’s the best book you’ve read in the past year?

The Emerging Writer (vol. 4) is a great read for aspiring writers (obviously). It is full of insight from people from all walks of life; if you’re interested in any form of the writing industry, you will find it inspirational.

In terms of fiction, I really enjoyed Elisabeth Murray’s The Loud Earth. It was published by Hologram as the result of a great initiative to bring back the novella. (I entered the competition but no luck.) It’s a beautiful and strange book – very reminiscent of We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I was pretty glad to see a queer love story be given such kind attention by Murray and the folks at Hologram.

Where do you like to read?

My ideal reading place would be in a squishy arm-chair in the sun. Unfortunately, my living-room doesn’t get a lot of light, so I’m usually found in the corner under a giant blanket.

What’s your favourite book of all time?

Argh. Such a hard question. If you can categorise something you keep coming back to as ‘favourite’ then it’s a tie between Mrs Dalloway and One Hundred Years of Solitude. Both are insanely detailed stories within the lives of quirky and heart-breaking characters.

Marilyn Hacker’s Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons is my favourite book that no one has heard of. It’s a collection of sonnets from the 1980s that tracks a lesbian love affair. It’s very grungy and colloquial but within the structure of the formal poetry it is really magical.

What do you read to feel inspired?

I find that the hazard in reading to be inspired is taking on that author’s voice as your own when you go to write next. For example, I love Dave Eggers’ short stories but I worry that if I read them when I am in a writing mood I would find myself stealing his style.

When I want to be inspired about the state of writing, I look to things done on the cheap by young people. Friends of mine are involved with in Brief, a free literary zine. They publish some great pieces – fiction and non-fiction alike – from people who may not have the literary cred to get their work into other places. Of course, I also get jealous reading work by people younger than me.


*If anyone has any suggestions of great books, please comment or tweet me @AmethystDiver.


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