Why we're excited about the Warm Winter Read
Friday 23 June 2023
Reading programs are usually aimed at kids, but why should they have all the fun? We've kicked off our Warm Winter Read program, which is filled with all sorts of prompts and challenges to help motivate you to explore new books through the winter months. To celebrate we thought we'd quiz a few of our most avid readers on staff here at Yarra Libraries about what new books have got them excited, how they each carve out quality time for reading, and why they're taking part in Warm Winter Read. Say hello to Connor, Meaghan, Melissa and Tegan.
What are you excited to dive into for Warm Winter Read?
Connor: A bunch! I am deeply excited to read Ellen van Neerven's Personal Score - they are an incredible Indigenous poet and writer, and this one is all about sport and identity, which is very up my alley as a keen sports enthusiast. I'm also just about to pick up Ella Risbridger's A Year of Miracles. It's a cross between a cookbook and an essay collection about her life in the wake of her husband's death. I loved her first cookbook collection; it holds a special place in my heart. The artist who illustrated the most recent one is also a source of inspiration for my food-themed tattoos.
Meaghan: I’m excited to read so many things! Winter for me is coming out from uni-related reading hibernation so I’m thrilled to have the concentration span for some of the books I’ve been stockpiling for the last few months. I’m particularly keen to pick up Robbie Arnott’s Limberlost (he’s one of my favourite authors so go read Flames if you haven’t) and Genevieve Novak’s No Hard Feelings. On the frothier side I know Emily Henry has a new one out with Happy Place and I personally feel her rom-coms are all perfect so looking forward to grabbing that one when it eventually makes it to me. As a big fantasy and sci-fi reader I’ve also had R.F. Kuang’s Babel, or the Necessity of Violence on my bedside table for a bit, and while it was too chunky to attempt till I had the time I am saving it for a week off in August – I can’t wait!
Melissa: I always have a large (physical and virtual) stack of books to be going on with. I tend to read what I most feel like at the time — I'm a big mood reader — but I do have a couple of non-fiction books that I'll need to read before they're due back at the library. One is: The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World by Virginia Postrel - I think I'll love this given my interest in both clothing and history! And: The King's Assassin: The Fatal Affair of George Villiers and James I by Benjamin Woolley. I've heard good reports of this popular history about George Villiers, who rose to fame and fortune by becoming the 'favourite' (as we like to say, coyly) of James I. I read a brilliant novel about him last year (The Dangerous Kingdom of Love by Neil Blackmore) so I'm very interested to read this. In fiction, I've borrowed Sigrid Nunez's A Feather on the Breath of God, recommended by one of my lovely colleagues. It's not a recent book, but it looks like a good one, about reading, language, love - and I'm yet to work out why the title is a quotation from Hildegard of Bingen. On a lighter note, I'm looking forward to the latest romance by Alexis Hall, whose books I adore. This one's called Mortal Follies, is set in the Regency, and is narrated by Puck (as in the fairy from A Midsummer Night's Dream). It has been described as magic meets Bridgerton, except the excerpts I've read have been a great deal funnier than anything from Bridgerton.
"I'm looking forward to the latest romance by Alexis Hall, whose books I adore. This one's called Mortal Follies, is set in the Regency, and is narrated by Puck (as in the fairy from A Midsummer Night's Dream). It has been described as magic meets Bridgerton, except the excerpts I've read have been a great deal funnier than anything from Bridgerton."
Tegan: I'm hanging out for Work-life Balance by Aisha Franz - she's a graphic novelist whose work I've loved since I picked up her book Earthling on a whim while I was shelving, actually. It's been described as "a cutting portrayal of the pursuit of work-life balance", and if it's anything like Earthling it's going to be both extremely weird and extremely relatable and I am ready for it. I am also very much looking forward to getting stuck into Saving Time by Jenny Odell. I got a lot out of her first book, How to Do Nothing, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what insights she has to share about current concepts of time and how we might view it differently. Hmm, I am sensing a theme here…
There are so many distractions these days. What are your strategies for scraping out quality time for reading?
Meaghan: My top tip for “I have enough time I’m just not dedicating it to reading” is carve that time out regularly somewhere that works for you. I get my most reading done when I come in to work an hour early and spend that time in a café with a book. I’ll never be someone who gets out of bed early for exercise (all power to those of you who do) but for an hour with a coffee and a book I’m loving? Much more realistic and adds up to a lot over the week even if I don’t make it every day. For the “I don’t have much time and need to make the time I do have count” (me during semester): find the time you do have, even if it’s in transit, and prep it to be as easy as you can. I have a PT commute and when I’m tired it’s way too easy to just scroll the whole way to work – but if I have a fun and plotty book that I can instantly check out on my phone, and my headphones are in playing some focus music for me it’s much easier to block out the distractions. When this works I feel like the commute has been a lovely break rather than a chore and it’s one way that tech can help you make more time for the things you love, rather than distracting you from them. Audiobooks during housework or a driving commute is another great way to do this (and make something deeply dull a lot more entertaining).
Melissa: I set my alarm for an hour before I need to get up, make a very large mug of tea, refill the hot water bottle and luxuriate in bed with my book before launching into my day. I read a lot of books in eBook form (library books from CloudLibrary) so my eReader goes everywhere I go. An eReader is small and light and has the advantage of no newspaper or social media on it, so no doomscrolling by accident! I've also discovered I do actually like audiobooks (which are also available free from BorrowBox and Libby!) and use them as an incentive to go for walks or do housework.
Connor: I find my reading time really important to me, but life and uni and work can totally get in the way! I usually get up a little earlier than technically necessary and give myself an hour in a cafe before work every day to sit with a book (Meaghan has stolen this from me, I want it known). I've also been really enjoying listening to audiobooks on my bike ride to and from work - they make an otherwise boring trip more lively! I'm also a huge nerd, so I take my eReader with me everywhere and will read in between quarters at the footy, between sets at gigs and pretty much anytime I'm not occupied with something else!
"I will also go for walks with audiobooks sometimes, which is nice and can also lead to some interesting sense memories - Rubik by Elizabeth Tan, for example, will always remind me of a particular walk I would take around the backstreets of Collingwood"
Tegan: Audiobooks! I do try to carve out a bit of reading time before work or on the weekends (particularly for my graphic novels), but it's these pockets of time that are often first on the chopping block when things start to get busy. Chores and errands, however, seem to be never-ending, so putting on an audiobook while I try to get things done is actually where I get most of my reading done too. I don't know if that counts as quality time, but it's something (who knows, maybe this will shift after I finish that Jenny Odell book). I will also go for walks with audiobooks sometimes, which is nice and can also lead to some interesting sense memories - Rubik by Elizabeth Tan, for example, will always remind me of a particular walk I would take around the back streets of Collingwood, even though the book really has nothing to do with Melbourne, in fact a lot of it set in Perth.
Reading programs are often aimed at kids, but this one is pitched at adults. How do you find it participating in something like this as an adult?
Meaghan: I think it’s really easy as an adult to get caught up in whatever’s urgent and the problem (or one for me, anyway) is that leisure reading is important to me but rarely (if ever) urgent. So something like the Warm Winter Read helps me make sure that I do prioritise reading even though it doesn’t have a due date (though your library books do!). For those who don’t have trouble making time to read I think the real bonus here is the challenges. It’s easy to get into a bit of a rut with your reading and those prompts to read in a different place or in a new way are great for helping you to experiment and find new joy in your reading.
"It’s easy to get into a bit of a rut with your reading and those prompts to read in a different place or in a new way are great for helping you to experiment and find new joy in your reading."
Connor: I really love that this challenge is just for adults - as we get older and our lives fill up with more responsibilities, we can lose that time for ourselves to read for pleasure, and to read widely! I read a lot of romance and a lot of contemporary fiction, so this challenge is a cool way for me to dip my toes into other genres, and some non-fiction! Plus, I am a super competitive woman at heart and I love the notion of competing with my colleagues to complete a challenge first. Definitely healthy behaviour.
Melissa: You may think library staff are gentle, kind, and mild mannered. But we are in fact fiercely competitive and we like to win. Especially to beat our colleagues. Need I say more. If I didn't already record the books I read (I have to do this otherwise I'd never remember a thing when library patrons ask for recommendations) I'd think find it a useful project to see how much I get through in a month. Maybe if I was in a bit of a reading slump it would help motivate me to read.
Tegan: I often need to be coaxed out of my reading comfort zone so programs like this are really good to get me reading things I wouldn't normally go for. I am also the kind of person who starts reading four books at once and then only finishes two so I'm hoping this will encourage me to finish all the books I start in the next three months. Also, why should kids get to have all the fun?