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the bookshelf diaries: raelke grimmer


The Bookshelf Diaries takes a peek into the reading life of writers, readers and book lovers. This week, loyal Lip contributor Raelke Grimmer allows us a look-see into her personal library. 


What are you reading right now?

It is impossible for me to read only one book at a time. At the moment I’m dividing my time between Heidi by Johanna Spyri in its original German, Eyrie by Tim Winton, a Czech translation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie. I’m fascinated by foreign languages and I like reading books in other languages to maintain my skills and learn new languages.

Where did you buy it?

I found a gorgeous old hardcover edition of Heidi in an op shop, and I got given Eyrie for Christmas last year.

It felt criminal at the time, but I bought Joseph Anton new from a variety shop for only $0.50! I was aghast that they could sell a book so cheaply, but at the same time a student budget only stretches so far – I couldn’t let that book stay on the shelf.

As for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, after a long time spent searching multilingual bookstores for books in Czech to help me learn the language returned no possibilities, I managed to find an online Czech bookshop which was selling Roald Dahl in Czech translation. With the help of a native Czech speaker, I navigated the website and managed to buy some books.

What’s in your to-read pile?

My to-read pile is a never-ending list, but at the moment the books at the top of my hit-list are Hollow City by Ransom Riggs, True Spirit by Jessica Watson and The Happiest Refugee by Ahn Do.

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

It’s really not fair to single out one book, but the first two books in  Jaclyn Moriarty’s The Colours of Madeleine series are fantastic. I love Moriarty’s quirky writing style. I’m not a huge fan of fantasy books which are complete fantasy and have no grounding or no acknowledgement of the world as we know it, but I absolutely love books which walk the line between our world and another, suggesting what might be there if we were only to look for it.  Moriarty does this better than any writer I’ve read.

Where do you like to read?

On afternoons when the sun is shining I grab a book and a cup of green tea and sprawl out on the couch on the balcony, whittling away the afternoon reading in the warmth of the sunshine.

In winter there is nothing better than rugging up inside on the couch with green tea and an excellent view out of the window, to watch the rain falling while I immerse myself in a book.

What’s your favourite book of all time?

It is impossible to choose one, but it is difficult to look past Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. Despite the fact the story is told entirely in pictures, that book perfectly illustrates how to tell a good story. Words would have ruined that book. To me, it is a literary masterpiece, as it invites each reader in with the freedom to construct the words to the story themselves.

I have to mention Matilda by Roald Dahl, a book which will always be close to my heart, as will Melina Marchetta’s Saving Francesca.

Two other books which I have re-read over and over again are Adeline Yen Mah’s Falling Leaves and Markuz Zusak’s The Book Thief. Both of those books had a huge impact on me.

What do you read to feel inspired?

I love reading books where the author is not afraid to take risks and try something experimental or unexpected, even when it doesn’t pay off. I love Paul Auster and Franz Kafka for their bizarre storytelling which, in my mind, works. Many of Jaclyn Moriarty’s books border on the edge of almost falling completely apart, but she always brings the narrative back to a plausible and satisfying conclusion in time.

I love reading memoir and being inspired by what others have overcome in their lives, and language and linguistics writing and journalism absolutely fascinates me. Reading books on and about language always reignites my passion for words.


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