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50 Shades? How dare you! Olesya Feketa/Shutterstock

What the books you receive this Christmas say about you

Christmas is a time to give generously and receive graciously. And yet… And yet. Many of us have opened Christmas presents and thought: what does it say about me that you thought this – this! – was the…
Books do not necessarily bring us all together, tell ‘our’ story, unite us. AAP/Joe Castro

PM’s Literary Awards: how reading opens us to a world of pain

On Monday night, the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards were announced with a tie in the fiction category between A World of Other People by Steven Carroll and the Booker Prize and Queensland Literary Award…
Best to keep it under the covers? Lisa S.

Why I’d say yes, yes, yes to the Bad Sex award

Sexual intercourse is getting on a bit. Not only has it been boosting the human population since we emerged from the primordial swamp, it’s more than half a century since Philip Larkin noted its arrival…
Bibliophiles have lamented the death of bookshops due to eReaders, but eReaders can encourage reading in new ways. Flickr/nate bolt

eReaders aren’t destroying reading – they’re just changing it

The nature of reading books is changing: the closure of traditional bookstores indicates that paper book sales are in decline. It is easy to feel as though this will discourage children from engaging with…
PD James died on November 27, aged 94. Henning Kaiser/EPA

Long live the work of PD James, crime fiction pioneer

The news of P D James’s passing has inevitably prompted me to consider the Queen of Crime and what she created. But her death has made me think not of loss, but of what the genre, and me, have gained…
Odds were on for Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong'o winning the Nobel Prize this year. University of California/Ho/EPA

Five African novels to read before you die

There is a surfeit of book prizes. Big ones, small ones, ones that award experimental fiction, others that concentrate on female authors, or young authors, or authors from Ireland or Latin America. African…
John Williams' 1960 novel has been hailed as part of a pantheon of western masterpieces. Pam Morris

Long read: the ideology of nature in Butcher’s Crossing

Despite the huge and belated praise now surrounding John Williams’ novel Stoner (1965), much less attention has been cast to his earlier novel, Butcher’s Crossing (1960). Still, it’s been rightly hailed…
National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson speaks to a group of young readers. Tulsa City-County Library/Flickr

The lesson about diversity at this year’s National Book Awards

In his 2005 book The Economy of Prestige, James F. English influentially argued that prizes thrive on scandal. Just last week, scholar Kathleen Horning claimed this year’s National Book Awards could change…
Fiona McFarlane’s The Night Guest has won the inaugural Voss Literary Prize. Tambako The Jaguar/Flickr

The Voss Literary Prize celebrates a fine new Australian novel

The Voss Literary Prize, for which I was a judge, was awarded for the first time this week. The winner, Fiona McFarlane for her novel The Night Guest, was chosen from a shortlist that included Hannah Kent…
Literary awards can have a profound impact on sales – and, in the future, which books get published and promoted. QQ Li/Flickr

How this year’s National Book Awards could change the face of children’s literature

There’s a lot of attention right now on diversity in children’s books – or, more accurately, the lack of it. It’s not a new problem. White people have been talking about this issue since Nancy Larrick…
Oh, no, wait – it’s the 21st century! Carl Guderian

Sorry kids, men are better writers than women

It’s official: men are better writers than women. The news came as something of a shock to a hardened feminist such as myself, but a quick survey of prescribed and suggested texts set for senior English…
This prize seems set to reward off-beat, experimental and innovative books. The Conversation

The Most Underrated Book of 2014 is one of these three

It can take decades for critics to catch up with the great reads of the century. Even a cursory glance at the history of literary awards will confirm that cosy, comfortable, safe, or merely popular books…

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