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The Simple Act of Reading

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David Malouf, Joan London, Andy Griffiths, Delia Falconer, Gail Jones, Malcolm Knox and Debra Adelaide, the editor of this collection, all in the one volume. How can this be? And why are they published together? Debra Adelaide had the idea of finding essays by writers she admired on a particular subject. And that was “how compelling it is when authors write about books, other authors or just moments in their reading lives that have been significant for them.”

It has obviously given her enormous pleasure to discover these linked short pieces, and to share them with the reading public.

That public shows no sign of diminishing, despite competition from so many other sources. In the case of Andy Griffiths, he attributes much to the fact that his grandmother had a volume of German cautionary tales with the sub-title of “Merry Stories and Funny Pictures” but they were anything but. He read and re-read them as a child, glorying in the horror of both text and illustrations. He thinks this led him to write really hilarious tales for children, and they are certainly in direct, stark contrast to those German stories. Malcom Know not only resents the e-book, but he also resents the fact that he can’t read the title of the book a person near him is reading. You can tell something about someone from his/her taste in books, but with an e-book you cannot let your imagination run riot. Surely room for resentment! Joan London shares her fascination with earlier books she had read which had influenced her writing, and her reading ever since.

Each author Debra Adelaide has found to include in this anthology has a singular way of looking at the “simple act of reading’, which in some cases in not simple at all, but each one “demonstrates it is also one of the most important things in all the human world.” And so say all of us!

The Simple Act of Reading edited by Debra Adelaide Published by VINTAGE BOOKS for a recommended $29.99

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