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the bookshelf diaries: jess oliver

jess oliver1

The Bookshelf Diaries takes a peek into the reading life of writers, readers and book lovers. Today, our very own Lip Art + Theatre Editor Jess Oliver tells us about the books that make her heart sing.

What book changed you?

I can’t really pin-point a single one – at risk of sounding cliche I think every book changes you in some way, whether it’s expanding your knowledge, or imagination, or both! There are a few books that I will remember all my life though, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood is definitely one of them. Margaret Atwood is one of my favourite authors, if I can write something even half as good as her books I’ll die happy!


Was there a book that first interested you in writing?

I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember and I’ve also been writing for as long as I can remember so that’s a tricky question! There are many books that make my heart sing and reaffirm my love of words though; in terms of pure word-porn Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller is pretty spectacular. The prose is so beautiful, very poetic but succinct. It’s the kind of book book that makes you go ‘aaaaagh’ because you almost can’t handle how well written it is.


What have you recently read that was un-putdownable?

Theft: A love Story by Peter Carey. It’s another one of those ‘aaaaagh’ books about the dirty underbelly of art as big business. It’s beautifully narrated, everyone should read it!


Have you ever stopped reading a book?

Yeah, I tried to read Fifty Shades of Grey once to see what all the fuss was about…I stopped when the main character claimed her ‘cheeks turned as red as the Communist Manifesto’. I mean really.


What’s in your to-read pile?

So many! I’m currently reading A Happy Death by Albert Camus and next up is Beautiful Losers by Leonard Cohen. I love his music and his poetry so I’m hoping this will be of the same ilk! I’ve also got a great book on the history of Central Eurasia that I need to finish.


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

Probably Theft: A Love Story but One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez was also pretty great. We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver is also good for anyone looking for a literary punch in the guts!

Where do you like to read?
Curled up in the sun on a comfy chair with a cup of coffee, or snuggled up in bed on a dreary day.
What do you read to feel inspired?
Generally poetry. There’s this great poem by W.B Yeats called Long Legged Fly which I love, or anything by Emily Dickinson. It’s funny though, because my main sources of inspiration come from visual rather than intellectual stimuli so often I’ll just go for a walk through the nature reserve, or go to a gallery.
I’m Jess, I’m the Art + Theatre Editor at Lip Magazine by night and by day I manage the retail operations of a not for profit arts organisation in Canberra. I also have an active writing practice, writing for BMA Magazine, Rip Publishing, Craft ACT: Craft + Design Centre and M16 Artspace. My favourite things are red wine, chocolate and good cheesecake.

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