Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Books

Analysis and Comment (100)

Social reading in book clubs helps readers make sense of big ideas through personal experience. Social reading in book clubs helps readers make sense of big ideas through personal experience. Susana Fernandez

Book Week is good for kids – and book clubs are great for adults

If my Facebook feed is anything to go by, last month parents scrabbled to make costumes of popular characters from children’s books. They were preparing for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s annual…
Shane Warne has lived his professional life in the public eye. Does this make it more difficult for a biographer to tell his story? Shane Warne has lived his professional life in the public eye. Does this make it more difficult for a biographer to tell his story? AAP Image/Mal Fairclough

Biography in the age of celebrity: what’s left to reveal?

Virginia Woolf – so Hermione Lee writes in Virginia Woolf, her 1997 biography of the celebrated writer – thought it immensely difficult to ever know another person. Today the winner of the 2014 National…
Good reviewers don’t need editors to fight their battles. Good reviewers don’t need editors to fight their battles. Luke Larsson

Self-defence for book reviewers

It is perfectly understandable for an editor to be protective of his own patch, but it is worrying when the editor of a national magazine, which claims to be the leading independent Australian literary…
Our book shelves would look very different. Our book shelves would look very different. Sharon Drummond

Without World War I, what would literature look like today?

As we begin to commemorate the outbreak of World War I in earnest, just how central the “Great” war is to Britain’s conception of its history is ever more obvious. And this is also very true in terms of…
Mary’s poems give a unique insight into how the queen experienced her bloody, passionate and tragic life. Mary’s poems give a unique insight into how the queen experienced her bloody, passionate and tragic life. Dave McLear

Mary, Queen of Scots was a poet – and you should know it

Think Mary, Queen of Scots and a few key facts probably come to mind: she was Catholic, she was imprisoned and she had her head chopped off. But a poet who offers insight into 16th-century women’s writing…
What can be read between the handwritten lines of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables manuscript? What can be read between the handwritten lines of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables manuscript? Bibliothèque nationale de France

Don’t be Misérables – it’s Hugo’s original manuscript

The handwritten manuscript of Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables (1862) – from which the blockbuster stage show and numerous movies ultimately descend – has arrived at the State Library of Victoria (its…
Australian writing for young adults has moved on as has our thinking about what it means to be gay. Australian writing for young adults has moved on as has our thinking about what it means to be gay. Pat Reynolds

Gay? Jewish? Neither? A manual to help you challenge the rules

Young adult fiction and complex themes go hand in hand – not least in one of the most recent entries to this field. Melbourne-based writer Eli Glasman’s debut novel The Boy’s Own Manual to Being a Proper…
True story, seriously, it’s all about me. True story, seriously, it’s all about me. Nathan O'Nions

Non-fiction’s beauty is in the I of the beholder

Are we being saturated with “inconsequential memoir”? That question was posed in the latest edition of The Lifted Brow (TLB), a print/online journal of new Australian and international (think US) writing…
Can literary works play a productive part in the process of reconciliation? Can literary works play a productive part in the process of reconciliation? butupa

The case for Gail Jones’ Sorry

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future. – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s apology…
All serious writers should take their own work, and the efforts of others, seriously. All serious writers should take their own work, and the efforts of others, seriously. photosteve101

Book reviewing is an art, in its own way

There should be no hard and fast rules concerning book reviewing. That’s because reviewing constitutes a worthy genre in its own right, one that should not be limited by guidelines or mandates. Criticism…
Nadine Gordimer died at her home, aged 90 on July 14 2014. Nadine Gordimer died at her home, aged 90 on July 14 2014. EPA/Alejandro Ernesto

Remembering Nadine Gordimer

The passing of Nadine Gordimer is a tremendous loss, both to South Africa and to the literary world. For me, and others who knew her, it will also be an enormous personal loss. Born in November 1923, Nadine…
David Malouf’s Imaginary Life plays out in the hillsides of the Black Sea. What’s so Australian about that? David Malouf’s Imaginary Life plays out in the hillsides of the Black Sea. What’s so Australian about that? Hans Juul Hansen

The case for David Malouf’s An Imaginary Life

… further from the far, safe place where I began, the green lands of my father’s farm, further from the last inhabited outpost of the known world, further from speech even, into the sighing grasslands…
Let’s not underestimate the intellectual goodwill that sustains our literary culture. Let’s not underestimate the intellectual goodwill that sustains our literary culture. Antoine Robiez

In defence of book reviewers in Australia

Book reviewers and the editors of periodicals that commission them are used to sour assessments of their worth, but Professor John Dale’s article on The Conversation yesterday is in a class of its own…
We all know a good review when we read one – but what actually differentiates a good review from a bad one? We all know a good review when we read one – but what actually differentiates a good review from a bad one? Hartwig HKD

Here they are: the rules for book reviewing

Good book reviews are all alike while every bad review is bad in its own way. In Australia reviews are often bad in many different ways. Historically the trade has consisted of retired English academics…
McBride’s narrative of trauma negotiates the burdens of Irish literary, religious and cultural history. McBride’s narrative of trauma negotiates the burdens of Irish literary, religious and cultural history. Mysi

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing – so form an opinion

For you. You’ll soon. You’ll give her name. In the stitches of her skin she’ll wear your say. The foundational challenge of Eimear McBride’s novel is plainly visible in its opening lines, above: the incomplete…
The financial model for Australian poetry publishing is rich and rare. The financial model for Australian poetry publishing is rich and rare. Erich Ferdinand

Profit is rare, but poetry’s weird blooms persist

Recently on The Conversation, I described a remarkable moment of language experimentation highlighted by recent Australian poetry prizes. Panning out to a wider view of contemporary Australian poetry…
What is lost and gained when book reviewers remain faceless? What is lost and gained when book reviewers remain faceless? Scott Beale / Laughing Squid, laughingsquid.com

Anonymous book reviews don’t foster our literary culture

The Saturday Paper publishes anonymous book reviews and, occasionally, reviews by identified critics. That anonymity was a much-discussed feature when the paper launched in March, and the debate continues…
Popular fiction and artistic merit are often considered mutually exclusive – not here. Popular fiction and artistic merit are often considered mutually exclusive – not here. chiaralily

The case for Peter Temple’s The Broken Shore

Crime novel covers are often plastered with endorsements: “A terrific read,” “A real page-turner,” or “Author Y is the next Author X.” It’s far less common to read quotes such as the following from Fairfax…
A deeply moving novel about loss, grief and an unconventional coming of wisdom. A deeply moving novel about loss, grief and an unconventional coming of wisdom. yaruman5

The case for Randolph Stow’s To the Islands

Randolph Stow’s To the Islands (1958) is an astonishing novel, a work of poetic skill and political subtlety – and one that is rarely mentioned today. Its omission from Australian literary syllabuses and…
La Grande Danse Macabre, printed by Matthias Huss, Lyons, 1499. La Grande Danse Macabre, printed by Matthias Huss, Lyons, 1499. British Library

Hachette v Amazon, the death of print and the future of the book

The public clash between Hachette and Amazon has been making headlines for a while now, most recently around J K Rowling’s latest novel. Amazon bowed to consumer pressure after complaints that the book…
E-readers are more and more popular – but Australians are slow to take up the option of borrowing e-books from public libraries. E-readers are more and more popular – but Australians are slow to take up the option of borrowing e-books from public libraries. Steve Walker

We like e-readers – but library users are still borrowing books

What place do e-readers – and in particular ebooks – hold in the reading behaviour of Australia’s 10 million public library borrowers? There are some 181 million items loaned every year by the nation’s…
New technologies are helping adventurous readers find new contexts for their favourite novels. New technologies are helping adventurous readers find new contexts for their favourite novels. sama093

Lose yourself in books no more – interactive maps show the way

Ever get lost in a book? A new online database of crowd-sourced information called Placing Literature allows readers to explore the settings they are reading about through an interactive map. To me, this…
Who’s the pseudo-icon? Who’s the pseudo-icon? Little, Brown

Why Robert Galbraith has to be JK Rowling – and vice versa

As her second Galbraith novel is published, JK Rowling once again finds herself in the public eye for something other than the book just out. Her enormous donation to the Better Together campaign attracted…
Shy people long for social connections but have to fight through a thicket of fears. Shy people long for social connections but have to fight through a thicket of fears. Lili Vieira de Carvalho

Shyness isn’t nice, but shyness shouldn’t stop you

Shy people have quite a bit to contend with – not least the word itself. It has a number of different meanings, none of which are flattering. To “shy away” from something implies avoidance; to “shy” can…
Hardback, paperback … it’s always good to read between the lines. Hardback, paperback … it’s always good to read between the lines. Dave Sag

Cover story: why are books so expensive in Australia?

Five years ago, in the midst of the rancorous parallel importation debate the Productivity Commission undertook a thorough examination of book prices in Australia compared to comparable prices in the US…
Joyce is remembered in many ways, but not often as a singer. Joyce is remembered in many ways, but not often as a singer. nerosunero

This Bloomsday, remember Joyce as a traditional Irish singer

Bloomsday has come around again, the day (June 16) in 1904 on which all the events of James Joyce’s great novel Ulysses unfold. 1904 was an auspicious year for Joyce. It may surprise some people to know…
Read on for some pointers … although all will be revealed next week. Read on for some pointers … although all will be revealed next week. Paul Bence

Who will win the 2014 Miles Franklin Award?

When Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North was published last year, one reviewer proclaimed he had just read the winner of the 2014 Miles Franklin Award. Flanagan’s novel has now got as…
From suicide to heroin addiction, young adult fiction creates open discussion about the darker issues in our society. From suicide to heroin addiction, young adult fiction creates open discussion about the darker issues in our society. Flickr

Young adult fiction’s dark themes give the hope to cope

Problem or issue-based young adult novels are not new occurrences. From John Green’s Fault in Our Stars (2012) to Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2007), books aimed at readers as young as 12, and as…
Would a syphilitic Joyce really change the way we read him? Would a syphilitic Joyce really change the way we read him? Shutterstock/Bepsy

Afflicted or not, James Joyce probed the politics of syphilis

According to Jacques Derrida, “nothing can be invented on the subject of Joyce”. Speaking in 1984, he had in mind the sheer comprehensive power of Joyce’s writing: from the capacity of Ulysses to draw…
The new non-fiction writer can cover as many information miles as fiction writers, without taking a single step. The new non-fiction writer can cover as many information miles as fiction writers, without taking a single step. Marvin (PA)

Non-fiction and the internet – establishing a connection

For the pre-internet fiction writer, with imagination as staple source of material, it was possible, theoretically, to proceed from the first written word to the last without needing to leave the desk…
Donna Tartt is the bookies' favourite for the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize. Donna Tartt is the bookies' favourite for the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize. EPA/Bas Czerwinski

The Women’s Prize for Fiction and our forgotten literary foremothers

Speculation is rife as to who will win the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. The prize, which launched as the Orange Prize in 1996, has a distinguished list of former winners, including Kate Grenville…
Australia has not yet signed the Marrakesh Treaty and time is running out. Australia has not yet signed the Marrakesh Treaty and time is running out. China's Nanjing Blind School. EPA/Jerry Lu

The Marrakesh Treaty could bring the world’s books to the blind

An estimated 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired. Some 90% of those live in developing nations, where less than 1% of the world’s books are available in a form they can read. In developed…
For James, the reasons for putting pen to paper haven’t changed. For James, the reasons for putting pen to paper haven’t changed. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Clive James on death, dragons and writing in the home stretch

Death is a funny thing. It creeps up on us all, or surprises us if we are unlucky (or lucky, depending on the circumstances). For a writer, especially a self-confessed solipsist such as Clive James, the…
Writers block? Writers block? Sharon Drummond

Lies, manuscripts and icebergs: how I’ve written two novels

Writing is something of a lawless place. Lawless, because there’s no clear indication that your effort will bring success; or that an answer will ever emerge from the mud; or that the most insane, most…
There’s renewed interest in poetry that takes risks and engages inventively with form. There’s renewed interest in poetry that takes risks and engages inventively with form. Tian Yang

2014 is a rich and radical time in Australian poetry

Do you think of poetry as a quaint hobby or an antiquated riddle? Think again. If you haven’t been keeping up with Australian poetry this year, you’re missing some of the country’s most exciting avant-garde…
Historical fiction rewards both the readers and writers who love it. Historical fiction rewards both the readers and writers who love it. Carsten Tolkmit

Historical fiction deserves a future – and at present it’s looking good

Historical fiction is booming. The much-publicised success of Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites, Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries and Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall is just the tip of the iceberg for a genre that rivals…
Irvine Welsh’s book represents the cry of the unvoiced in any cultural place or age. Irvine Welsh’s book represents the cry of the unvoiced in any cultural place or age. hélène veilleux

Choose Trainspotting: Welsh’s debut was and is a great novel

It’s been 21 years since the publication of Irvine Welsh’s groundbreaking and controversial novel, Trainspotting. Since then, it has been widely praised and criticised, rejected by a mainstream audience…
The Tibetan Book of Proportions, produced in Nepal during the 18th century. The Tibetan Book of Proportions, produced in Nepal during the 18th century. The Public Domain Review

Sublime design: an ode to the layout grid

Staring at a blank page is daunting. Where to make the first mark? As designers have known for centuries, one way is to start with a grid. A grid is a structure of lines used by designers to help organise…
Democracy is deeply defective but it’s all that we have. Democracy is deeply defective but it’s all that we have. Justus Hayes

The case for The First Man in Rome by Colleen McCullough

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? Welcome back to our occasional series in which our authors make the case for a work of their choosing…
The next Shakespeare… in a manner of speaking. The next Shakespeare… in a manner of speaking. EPA/Paul Buck

Russell Brand English A Level will be refreshing and rigorous

The exam board OCR recently announced a new English Language and Literature A Level that they intend to offer from 2015. The proposed syllabus boasts that “the range of texts to be studied is to be the…
Disasters such as the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami show how vulnerable cities are. Sendai pictured here. Disasters such as the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami show how vulnerable cities are. Sendai pictured here. U.S. Pacific Fleet/Flickr

Cities are failing to cope with global challenges

The old German saying Stadt Luft Macht Frei (“urban air makes you free”) is the defining injunction of modernity. Modern western cities were launched as the vessels of liberation from a human era darkened…
In Spain, the unchallenged capital of crime fiction is undoubtedly Barcelona. In Spain, the unchallenged capital of crime fiction is undoubtedly Barcelona. Alexandre Dulaunoy

Barcelona Shadows: death is everywhere and life is cheap

Detectives don’t walk down just any old mean street. They prefer them well trodden. London, Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo are all favoured haunts for crime fiction writers. In Spain, the unchallenged capital…
Valley of the Dolls is a novel about wanting. Characters want something badly. Valley of the Dolls is a novel about wanting. Characters want something badly. Marta Manso

Valley of the Dolls: 40 years since the death of Jacqueline Susann

This year marks 40 years since the temple of airport fiction lost its Chief Vestal. Author Jacqueline Susann maxed out her mortal coil back in 1974, on September 21, felled by cancer. She was only 56…
Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie Letter is not your standard bushranger confessional, it’s a searing document of prophecy and self-mythologisation. Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie Letter is not your standard bushranger confessional, it’s a searing document of prophecy and self-mythologisation. Raymond Barlow

The case for Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie Letter

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? See the end of this article for information on how to get involved. Ned Kelly’s Jerilderie Letter was…
Tom Hollander playing Dylan Thomas. Tom Hollander playing Dylan Thomas. BBC/Modern Television

Remembering Dylan Thomas – our frenzied anniversary culture

In Other People’s Countries, a memoir of his Belgian childhood, Patrick McGuinness writes: “I sometimes think it’s getting worse, this past business, that it’s rising up in me like damp creeping up a wall…
David Ireland’s 1976 novel The Glass Canoe leads its readers into the world of a dying tribe of drinkers. David Ireland’s 1976 novel The Glass Canoe leads its readers into the world of a dying tribe of drinkers. matthewwu88

The case for David Ireland’s The Glass Canoe

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? Welcome back to our occasional series in which our authors make the case for a work of their choosing…
We’re into awards season – so lets look at the awards. We’re into awards season – so lets look at the awards. Lukas Coch/AAP Image

Women’s writing at the Stellas, Miles Franklin and Kibble awards

As the award season gets into swing, the number and quality of books published in 2013 show that this was another bumper year for work by Australian women. The winner of the 2014 Stella Prize for Australian…
Gabriel García Márquez died on Thursday April 17, aged 87. Gabriel García Márquez died on Thursday April 17, aged 87. EPA/Mario Guzman

Love, politics, and the fundamental humanity of Gabriel García Márquez

Novelist, short story writer, journalist, film critic, writer of screen plays, Gabriel García Márquez was a man of many facets and extraordinary skill. He achieved that rare feat for a Latin American writer…
Did you get a card for the bard? Intrigue around Shakespeare the man continues unabated. Did you get a card for the bard? Intrigue around Shakespeare the man continues unabated. Wikimedia Commons

To b-day, or not to b-day: what a piece of work is Shakespeare

In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the conspirator Cassius bitterly describes the position of Caesar in Rome. He says: … [H]e doth bestride the narrow world Like a colossus, and we petty men Walk…
Are libraries destined to be archaeological sites of the pre-digital age? Are libraries destined to be archaeological sites of the pre-digital age? Chris Devers

Valuing our treasured print history in the era of the ‘bookless’ library

Today we eagerly embrace new technology for fear of being left behind. A toddler with an iPad in hand is a welcome sign of a child learning to succeed in a digital world. Remainders of the pre-digital…
Don’t panic, she still likes books too. Don’t panic, she still likes books too. Todd Morris

Kindle vs books? Children just don’t see it that way

A furious debate has been raging for some years now between adults. Are you a Kindle lover or a devotee of the good, old-fashioned book? As the e-book spreads into children’s publishing, some look in terror…
Why was this novel, completed in 1971, withdrawn from publication at the last moment? Why was this novel, completed in 1971, withdrawn from publication at the last moment? scrappy annie

Review: In Certain Circles by Elizabeth Harrower

It is nearly 50 years since Australian writer Elizabeth Harrower’s previous novel The Watch Tower appeared. Why, after producing four novels between 1957 and 1966, did she stop writing? Or at least stop…
Telling stories for black and white alike involves a difficult negotiation of cultures and contexts. Telling stories for black and white alike involves a difficult negotiation of cultures and contexts. Luke Redmond

The case for Gularabulu by Paddy Roe

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? Welcome back to our occasional series in which our authors make the case for a work of their choosing…
“We are the words, we are the music, we are the thing itself.” “We are the words, we are the music, we are the thing itself.” Wikimedia Commons

Virginia Woolf ballet should be a subtle and moving spectacle

Interest in all things Bloomsbury certainly seems to have taken an upturn. The National Portrait Gallery is planning an exhibition of the seminal modernist writer Virginia Woolf, to open later this year…
‘I am not like you suburb-dwellers,’ Carr is telling us. ‘I am extraordinary.’ ‘I am not like you suburb-dwellers,’ Carr is telling us. ‘I am extraordinary.’ Alan Porritt/AAP

Bob Carr’s Diary reveals a true satirist, a self-made grotesque

Bob Carr is at least as vain as your average politician. The unusual thing is that he knows it. And the shocking thing is that he doesn’t seem to mind letting us know that he knows it. Such are the complex…
The most magical moment of Matilda’s life is when she meets Feather, a wild bird-man whom she loves with all her heart. The most magical moment of Matilda’s life is when she meets Feather, a wild bird-man whom she loves with all her heart. Alfonso Jimenez

The case for The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? Welcome to our occasional series in which our authors make the case for a work of their choosing. See…
An alternative form of war literature? An alternative form of war literature? Nomadic Lass

For another view of World War I, look to Lord of the Rings

In the year of the World War I centenary, much renewed attention has been paid to war poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon and tables in bookshops are groaning under the weight of their work. These…
This sassy new prize may not be so hot. This sassy new prize may not be so hot. Lefteris Pitarakis/AP

Folio Prize nominations reveal underlying cultural chauvinism

The winner of The Folio Prize is announced on 10 March. This prize may be young, but it has already administered some high profile snubs. Its creation was in itself an implied criticism: founded as a response…
Bryson gives us a comprehensive and rigorous exploration of the Azaria Chamberlain case. Bryson gives us a comprehensive and rigorous exploration of the Azaria Chamberlain case. matthiassiegel

The case for John Bryson’s Evil Angels

If you had to argue for the merits of one Australian book, one piece of writing, what would it be? Welcome to our occasional series in which our authors make the case for a work of their choosing. See…
Has the mining industry drowned out the arts in Western Australia? Not at all – the mines are fertile ground for storytellers. Has the mining industry drowned out the arts in Western Australia? Not at all – the mines are fertile ground for storytellers. AAP Image/Rebecca Le May

Mining for stories: the boom-and-bust mining literature cycle

It is often difficult to ascertain how the location or culture that you live within is perceived by others, but travelling to other parts of Australia or indeed the world as a Western Australian it’s usually…
The “digger myth” has left little room for appreciation or debate surrounding the work of today’s service personnel. The “digger myth” has left little room for appreciation or debate surrounding the work of today’s service personnel. Australian Department of Defence/AAP Image

The hard sell: has the Anzac industry passed its use-by date?

In his new book Anzac’s Long Shadow: The cost of our national obsession, James Brown argues that: a century after the war to end all wars, Anzac is being bottled, stamped and sold. The former soldier turned…
None of these Victorian-era New Zealand women became a Henry Handel Richardson. None of these Victorian-era New Zealand women became a Henry Handel Richardson. Thiophene Guy/Flickr

Why New Zealand has no great 19th-century novel

Historically, geographically, culturally – there are many points of comparison between Australia and its neighbour to the east, New Zealand. But there are notable differences. This week, The Conversation…
However you read them, there are some hot books this summer. However you read them, there are some hot books this summer. Leonard John Matthews

Australian literature and summer – books that sizzle

Summertime and reading always went together in my family. Whether we were sunbathing on hot silky beach sand or cooling off in the back yard under a shady plum tree, our books came too. In those pre-digital…
Serialised eBook chapters force us to make time to read. Serialised eBook chapters force us to make time to read. Ken Lee

A good year for screen readers: notable eBooks of 2013

I’ve nominated these eBooks as notable publications in 2013 based on three criteria. First, I enjoyed reading them enough to finish the whole text on a digital device. Second, they use the digital format…
Australian crime fiction hit the regions on 2013 – and international crime held a few surprises too. Australian crime fiction hit the regions on 2013 – and international crime held a few surprises too. jcoterhals

Out of the big smoke: crime fiction in 2013

Oddly enough and against trend – all those Scandinavian crime novels bobbing up in translation – I spent most of the year travelling Australia in crime fiction. From East (Peter Cotton’s Canberra in Dead…
Read on for some notable children’s books from the year gone by. Read on for some notable children’s books from the year gone by. San José Library

Tales of mystery and the mundane: children’s books in 2013

What makes a children’s book compelling? Is it a driving, action-centred plot that forces us to turn the page? Is it a puzzle that we solve from clues thrown down by the narrator – or is it a story that…
Digital technology has changed what, when, where and how we read. Digital technology has changed what, when, where and how we read. zandwacht

When books go digital: The Kills and the future of the novel

There is a section early in Richard House’s transmedia novel The Kills – published this year by Pan Macmillan and long-listed for the 2013 Man Booker Prize – in which the protagonist, Ford, is on the run…
Hilary Mantel: unprecedented success, but not the whole story. Hilary Mantel: unprecedented success, but not the whole story. Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Women’s prizes inspire some and wind others up – perfect

The Costa book awards shortlists have been announced and the one thing that dominates people’s first reactions has been the fact the fiction shortlist is made up entirely of women authors. Is the response…
Lessing: “intellectually uncompromising”. Lessing: “intellectually uncompromising”. Juan Martin/AAP

Doris Lessing was a radical, in the truest sense

The writer and critic Margaret Drabble recently made an observation that I think is representative of the diverse and prolific career of the British author Doris Lessing, who died last night at 94: She…
Left: Girl Reading, by Franz Eybl. Oil on canvas, 1850. Right: Woman Reading, by Andrew Stevovich. Oil painting, 2011. Left: Girl Reading, by Franz Eybl. Oil on canvas, 1850. Right: Woman Reading, by Andrew Stevovich. Oil painting, 2011. Flickr, Plum Leaves; Wiki Commons, Andr.V.S.

What is a book in the digital age?

As a professional book designer, I’ve spent a decade observing electronic books from a cagey distance. A couple of years ago, I reluctantly recognised the need to engage with these alien book forms, both…
University textbooks are expensive for a reason. University textbooks are expensive for a reason. Textbook image from www.shuttestock.com

Required reading: here’s why textbooks are so expensive

Although student life at university is generally enjoyable, one aspect that blemishes the experience is the astronomical cost of textbooks. As many students head back to university this year, they can…
Reading, in particular printed books, aids in the development of concentration and the ability to focus. Reading, in particular printed books, aids in the development of concentration and the ability to focus. Flickr/Denise Krebs

In praise of the printed book: the value of concentration in the digital age

There is an old saying that anxiety is the enemy of concentration. One of the best pieces of sports journalism I ever read was by Gene Tunney, world heavyweight champion of the 1920s, writing about how…
Our digital era has seen the emergence of many reading technologies but students still prefer the printed book. Our digital era has seen the emergence of many reading technologies but students still prefer the printed book. Flickr/Declan Flemming

Printed journalism may be dying, but books still have a future

The cultural transformation brought about by digital convergence and networked communication has been dizzying, and, for many, disorienting. None of the old certainties – political, corporate, economic…
The jury is still out over the environmental impacts of eReaders versus paper books. The jury is still out over the environmental impacts of eReaders versus paper books. Julie Falk

Weighing the environmental costs: buy an eReader, or a shelf of books?

Bookshelves towering floor to ceiling filled with weighty tomes, or one book-sized device holding hundreds of “books” in electronic form: which one of these options for the voracious reader creates the…
Steve Jobs' desire for an enduring memory of his work led him to engage a biographer. The book has become his obituary. Steve Jobs' desire for an enduring memory of his work led him to engage a biographer. The book has become his obituary. EPA/Britta Pedersen

The power of biography: Why Steve Jobs' legend will live on

Steve Jobs' “official” biography was always going to be a bestseller, with its promise of a candid examination of the inner workings of the world’s most successful salesman and the company he twice built…
It’s fourth time lucky for Julian Barnes in the Booker Prize. It’s fourth time lucky for Julian Barnes in the Booker Prize. EPA/Alessandro Della Bella

Booker victory for Julian Barnes but should the focus be on ‘readability’?

Julian Barnes today won the Man Booker Prize for his novel about a childhood friendship and the fragility of memory, The Sense of an Ending. This is the fourth time he’s been nominated, and Barnes declared…
Last week’s Google Books ruling was a win for copyright protection. Last week’s Google Books ruling was a win for copyright protection. AAP

Google Books decision shows we need to turn a new page

The decision by a US Federal Court judge last week to reject a $US125 million settlement between Google Books and the publishing industry allows authors to protect their copyright and prevents Google from…