book to the future bookmarks #6

bookmarksiiiMy name is Michelle, and it’s been…nearly one and a half months since I last posted a book review. Oh, the shame.

Things are hectic here lately. I was beginning to wonder if it was just me. It seems everyone else I know is run off their feet too.

If you’ve got a moment to spare, why not settle down with a few of my lovely literary links? I’ve got some good ones for you this time around! But because we’re all busy, busy people, I’ll try to keep it short.

My first two links have something to do with the number six…after all, this is my sixth Book to the Future Bookmarks post…

Available from NIFTShirts  on Etsy

Available from NIFTShirts on Etsy

Six Degrees of Roald Dahl

Everyone knows the names Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, Veruca Salt, Mike Teavee and Charlie Bucket…but chances are, you’ve never heard of Miranda Mary Piker.

Here’s a bit of literary trivia for you: Roald Dahl’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory nearly starred six child characters! In fact, Dahl originally envisaged as many as ten children entering Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Part of me knows that even a professional like Dahl would have struggled to keep the book’s momentum going as he disposed of ten horrible little children, one by one. But another part of me really wants to know how Dahl would have engineered their demise…

Who would have guessed there'd be so much cool Charlie and the Chocolate Factory stuff on Etsy? This is from goodnessclothing.

Who would have guessed there’d be so much cool Charlie and the Chocolate Factory stuff on Etsy!? This is from goodnessclothing.

There’s a new literary meme on the block, and it’s brilliant. Six Degrees of Separation is the brainchild of authors Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman. It encourages avid readers to form a link between six books – not to Kevin Bacon, but to any element that they might share in common.

I love this idea – I’m trying to find the time to sit down and write my own post!

Sgt. Peppers Clonely Hearts Club Band

This next link came to my attention on Twitter thanks to Walter Mason. I actually did a double-take to ensure this story wasn’t published on April Fool’s Day…

A Canadian dentist who bought a wisdom tooth reportedly belonging to John Lennon two years ago is planning to clone Lennon and raise the clone as his own son.

Here’s a quote from the article:

Explaining how he would raise the potential clone, Dr Zuk said: “He would still be his exact duplicate but you know, hopefully keep him away from drugs and cigarettes, that kind of thing.”

That kind of thing.

Fortunately, the technology to clone people doesn’t exist yet, but I guess tomorrow never knows…

“The Rosie Project” Project


Great news for everyone who loved Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project. Sequel, The Rosie Effect will be out later this year. You can find out more at Text Publishing’s website.

I have a fascination with the way books are presented and marketed around the world, and found this piece on Waterstones’ blog about the many different faces (and titles!) of The Rosie Project around the world really interesting.

A taste for good books

I’ve read and reread this article by Allison Gibson about the stories she craved during her pregnancy a few times now. It’s clever and moving – and funny.

I had always imagined that, as a pregnant woman, I would adopt a sort of Earth Mother persona: confident, innately nurturing, glowing from the inside out. It turned out that, in reality, I handled pregnancy with all the grace of George Costanza at a cocktail party.

When I consider the events of my own life, I find my memories have become irrevocably tangled with whatever book I happened to be reading at the time. And it works the other way around, too. Rereading a book will often bring back vivid memories of the last time I read that book.

And yes, book cravings: you don’t need to be pregnant to feel their pangs. I often find myself longing to read particular books – especially in times – times such as right now, for instance – when I have far too much to do to just abandon it all and spend all day with a book of my choosing.

“Daenerys rings like a bell through the night…”

So it turns out Stevie Nicks is a huge fan of HBO’s Game of Thrones. She’s written poetry about her favourite characters and wants to write music for the show. Go Stevie!

Stevie’s not the only one writing Game of Thrones poetry. Make sure you take a look Leah Umansky’s Game of Thrones poem, Khaleesi Says.

One more Game of Thrones link – in America, more parents are naming their newborns “Khaleesi” than they are “Nadine” or “Betsy“.

I approve.

Awards season!

There are shortlists and longlists all over the place right now. I can’t keep up. The Stella PrizeThe Kibbles and Dobbies. The Miles Franklin. The NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. I’m sure there are a few I’m forgetting. It’s a literary lollapalooza. Lisa from ANZLitLovers has fantastic coverage of all these awards (and more), as well as reviews of nearly every nominated book.


That’s it for this instalment of Book to the Future Bookmarks. If anyone needs me, I’ll be writing like a maniac. Fingers crossed, I’ll have new reviews online very soon.

four years of book to the future

Today, four years ago, I started Book to the Future. So I thought I’d make a cake. Here it is!


Because I had a little bit of a memory lapse (although nothing compared to last year’s, when I forgot my bloggiversary altogether) and only remembered my blog’s impending birthday on Sunday evening, there wasn’t quite enough time to bake enough cake for everyone.

Sorry about that.

But you can make your own, if you like! It’s really easy, and delicious. All you need is a mug – the bigger the better – a microwave, a few basic ingredients and five minutes. Here’s the recipe – now get to it!


(Turns out this mug is as good at making cake as it is at making tea!)

At the end of last night’s post, I implied I had something special planned. To be honest, I was hoping that inspiration would strike and I’d come up with something spectacularly witty to say in honour of this occasion.

But nope. I’ve got nothing. Nothing to give away, no brilliant playlist of celebratory music ready to share, no balloons falling from the ceiling. No deep and meaningful essay on the nature of literature or blogging or literary blogging – or anything else, for that matter. Just a few words and a mug full of chocolate cake.

I’m strangely proud of what I write here. Even the old posts I can’t read without cringing at how awful they are. Maybe it’s because my old posts are so bad that I’m proud of my writing – they’re a reminder that I’m actually getting somewhere.

Which begs the question: how do you celebrate something that makes you proud? Something that you’ve created from nothing?

The answer couldn’t be clearer: you celebrate quietly, by continuing to create. Which is exactly what I’m planning on doing.

After I’ve finished my cake-in-a-mug, of course.

I do hope you’ll join me.

bookavatarTo everyone who has supported me and Book to the Future so far – and there are a lot of you – thank you all so much.


book to the future bookmarks #5


Welcome to the fifth edition of Book to the Future Bookmarks, a series of fortnightly posts in which I bombard you with just a few of the many links I’ve bookmarked during the week.

Being edition number five, it seems only fitting to include five links this time around.

(This is also because I’m working on a huge, complicated review at the moment, and these days, it seems as though I’m only able to concentrate on one thing at a time. Thanks, brain!)


Number five is aliiiive!

1. Shelf Denial

My lovely Ikea Expedit bookshelf looks fairly neat in this photo, taken last year for a guest post on Michelle5The Incredible Rambling Elimy’s blog (here’s the post, if you’re interested). But since then, more and more books have found their way into my home, and my once-organised shelves are now double-stacked. Triple-stacked in places. There are piles of books forming on the floor in my study again.

It’s chaos. Admittedly, chaos of the best kind, but chaos nonetheless.

Sadly, I’m lacking the space for another big bookshelf. Which is a problem, because, much to the dismay of bookish types and vinyl lovers, Ikea will soon be discontinuing their classic Expedit range.

According to Gizmodo, it’s an environmental move. I appreciate that. And the Expedit is being replaced with a range that’s very similar; available in the same range of colours. But, at the same time, this means I’ll never be able to find another bookshelf that’s quite the same as my much-loved, much overloaded Expedit bookcase.

Oh, Ikea. For the love of meatballs, nøøøøøø.

2. Far from the reading crowd: literature from a distance

This article in The New Yorker on Franco Moretti’s work on Distant Reading - for which he recently received America’s National Book Critics Circle award – makes for interesting reading.

Moretti argues that literary criticism should be considered as a science rather than an art. Using software, Moretti examines the changed in literary trends over time. Joshua Rothmann, author of the New Yorker article, is sceptical, but fascinated.

I’m not really sure that Moretti’s work can be construed as “literary criticism”, per se. Perhaps it’s something else entirely. I’m definitely intrigued….

3. Draw About Love

I (um) might have blogged about this before (in fact, I know I have) but I’m kind of obsessed with Belle and Sebastian – arguably the most bookish of bands. If you love B&S too, chances are you’ll want to bookmark Draw About Love. It’s the Tumblr of an artist dedicated to translating some of Belle and Sebastian’s best songs and lyrics into art. There are a few misses here and there, and updates are few and unfortunately far between, but I really like the fun, quirky aesthetic of these images.

4. Have you heard the one about the two existentialists at a shooting gallery?

It sounds like the setup to a joke, but it really happened.

Turns out that the very first photo taken of Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre together shows the pair at a Paris shooting range; de Beauvoir, smiling, with her eyes closed and a gun in her hands, while Sartre, a pipe in his mouth, rests a hand on her shoulder.

I guess that’s one way to deal with that existential angst. This article over at Open Culture explains everything.

5. The new normal – Zadie Smith on climate change

I read Zadie Smith’s essay on climate change on the New York Review of Books website last night as a huge electrical storm overhead turned the night into oddly-lit day. It seemed appropriate. Thoughts clattered into place. Here’s a little extract:

[..] The climate was one of those facts. We did not think it could change. That is, we always knew we could do a great deal of damage to this planet, but even the most hubristic among us had not imagined we would ever be able to fundamentally change its rhythms and character, just as a child who has screamed all day at her father still does not expect to see him lie down on the kitchen floor and weep.

This is a staggering piece of writing. I won’t say another word about it – I’ll just leave the link right here and let you take a look for yourself. Totally worth it.

Bonus round…

Great news: the Stella Prize shortlist is out!

Bad news: Sydney institution, Shearer’s Books, will be closing down. They’ll still be around online, so it’s not all doom and gloom. Announced this morning, the news has left this Western Sydney reader with a heavy heart. It makes me sad to see good bookshops close.

Finally, the Australian Writers’ Centre’s Best Blogs competition is on again this year, and if you’re a blogger, you really should enter. You’ve got until this Thursday. Click here to take a look. Good luck!


What I’m reading looking forward to reading… 

I’m skipping my usual What I’m Reading update this week because I haven’t had as much reading time over the past two weeks as I’d like. That, and I’m still reading pretty much the same stuff I was reading two weeks ago.

Instead, I thought I’d mention a book that I’m looking forward to reading.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed (and enjoyed) Jessie Cole’s 2012 novel, Darkness on the Edge of Town. Because I’m nosy, I couldn’t resist getting in touch with Jessie to find out what she’s up to next.

As it turns out, my timing was spot on – Jessie’s new novel, Deeper Water, will be out later this year. Here’s an early look at the blurb:

“The secret things I knew about my mum, and the things that everyone knew, had played in my mind for some time, since I was real little, I guess. When I was small, all around me seemed to flow, gentle and sweet like the quiet edge of the creek. Then my brothers grew too large to be hemmed in, and Sophie met a bloke, moved out and had babies, and things became harder. The older I got the louder those secret things inside me became, all those knowns and unknowns, until – apart from Anja – I’d rather talk to animals than people.”


Innocent and unworldly, Mema is still living at home with her mother on a remote, lush hinterland property. It is a small, confined, simple sort of life, and Mema is content with it. One day, during a heavy downpour, Mema saves a stranger from a flooded creek. She takes him into her family home, where, marooned by floods, he has to stay until the waters recede. And without even realising it, he opens the door to a new world of possibilities that threaten to sweep Mema into the deep.

I can’t wait to dip into Deeper Water. Is there a book coming out soon that’s got you excited? Let me know in the comments.

I’ll have another post online tomorrow night. Something special…!

book to the future bookmarks #4 – the body edition

bookmarksiiiA huge thank you to everyone who’s been reading my fortnightly Book to the Future Bookmarks series! Here’s post four…which I’m going to call The Body Edition. All of today’s links are somehow associated with the body.

Be warned: it’s going to get a little bit…uncomfortable.

Courtesy of Jenny Ackland via Twitter, this photorealistic human flesh typeface is pretty much the creepiest thing ever. Here’s a sample… *shudder*

rIt’s the mole in the middle that I find particularly disturbing…

Dolls give me the creeping heebie jeebies. While you might think these artworks made from dismembered dolls (link courtesy of Rose Powell, once again via Twitter) are lovely, this is pretty much what my idea of what hell must look like. The horror!

But, at the same time, I can’t look away…

freya-4Already this year, I’ve had to spend more time than I’d necessarily like in the dentist’s chair, so I found this post on Angela Savage’s blog about how different cultures perceive the alignment and colouring of teeth really interesting.

Talking of cultural taboos, here’s the always-brilliant Mel Campbell, writing in Junkee late last year about dirty underwear.

Photographer Ji Yeo’s images of South Korean women recovering from plastic surgery – often surgery intended to make the patient appear more Western – are quietly disturbing.

Good news: the words cunting, cuntish, cunted and cunty have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary…or should it be the called the cuntionary now? I’m confused. Anyway, I can’t wait to play “cuntish” in my next game of Scrabble. If it’s in the dictionary, I can use it, right?

However, of everything I’ve read online this week, this is my favourite discovery. I look forward to reading Verity La every Saturday morning, and this week’s piece; Stomp, a work of short fiction by Melbourne writer, Libbie Chellew, caught me by surprise. Here are the first few sentences:

I wish I didn’t have a hole. It seems extreme, I know. But I can’t seem to get the idea out of my head. Life would be easier without a hole. There’d be less anxiety.

Stomp is confronting. It’s uncomfortable, it’s unforgettable…I read it on Saturday morning and I’ve been thinking about it since. Make sure you click here to take a look (but before you do, a content warning: if you’re not comfortable reading about sexual assault, you might want to skip reading this.)

You should definitely bookmark Verity La while you’re there. They’re consistently impressive.

On Book to the Future lately…

Just in case you missed it, I reviewed Wendy James’ The Lost Girls for Newtown Review of Books last week.

What I’m Reading…

With the Stella Prize shortlist due to be announced this Thursday, I’ve finally read one of the longlisted novels!

nightguestFiona McFarlane’s The Night Guest begins with Ruth, a 75-year-old widow, listening to the sound of a tiger moving around her living room as she lies in bed, terrified and fascinated. The next day, Frida arrives, a helper sent by the government to help Ruth around the house.

I don’t want to tell you too much about The Night Guest – partially because I don’t want to spoil the plot, but also because I really enjoyed this novel and I think there’s a particular kind of magic about the way it works; a deliberate vagueness that’s best left undisturbed. If you’re curious, you should read Kylie Mason’s excellent review over at Newtown Review of Books.


Last week, I finished reading Art in Nature; a stunning collection of short stories by Tove Jansson. So many of these stories are simply perfect. They’re all so quiet and restrained, but, at the same time, manage to say everything they need to say.

Today, I read Jansson’s Fair Play in one sitting. It’s a series of vignettes about two artists who live at separate ends of an apartment building, and the constant push and pull of their relationship and their art.

(In case you’re wondering what I’m up to, I’ll be reading a new biography of Tove Jansson very soon, and I want to get to know more about her work before I read about her life. More on that later…)

I’ve also been reading Ulysses! Okay, not Ulysses in book format, but in tweets. @UlyssesReader is publishing the entire text of James Joyce’s Ulysses, one tweet at a time. It makes for some odd moments:

I’m finding that following @UlyssesReader is making the prospect of finally reading Ulysses – a task I’m considering later this year – a little bit less intimidating. Just a little.