Monday, December 13th, 2010
Natasha Mitchell, Presenter & producer, All in the Mind, ABC Radio National. Science journalist.
My year is jam-packed with non-fiction, sometimes two even three solid science books in a week for interviews, so my Summer reading is all about blissing out on novels. A grassy patch of mottled shade, a glass and a book. Heaven.
The bedside table is already tetering with some of my possibles (admittedly, some are left over from last year’s must reads!)
Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna is there, long awaited since her stunning saga, The Poisonwood Bible.
Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is too. I’m itching to see the Swedish film of the first in Larsson’s hit-trilogy, but I’m a “read-the-book-first” kind of girl, and relish the opportunity to generate my own vivid imaginings about characters before a film does it for me.
I just picked up a copy of Ian Thomson’s biography of Primo Levi in a second-hand bookshop. Levi is a man I’m compelled to know more about, and this, alongwith finishing Rebecca Skloot’s acclaimed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, might be my concession to non-fiction this silly season. Ten years in the sleuthing and writing, Skloot’s powerful work stands out as a beacon of science writing in 2010.
If you haven’t read Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender and Rebecca Jordan-Young’s Brainstorms, I recommend them from my reads this year, for their foray into the hot debate over the science of sex differences.
Summer is all about the music too, so I’ll be flicking through Goodbye 20th Century: A Biography of Sonic Youth and Paul Kelly’s How to Make Gravy.
And, I can’t resist including a picture book. I’m learning about gardening, and have a passion for Australian natives. 2010 has been my personal festival of the gardening book, including the spectacle that is Wildflower Country: Discovering Biodiversity in Australia’s Southwest. The work of award-winning photographers Stanley and Kaisa Breeden reminds me of the triffid-like pictures of 19th Century German sculptor and photographer Karl Blossfeldt. Flowers come alive with personality – gorgeous and grotesque – as if almost human.
This year I also caught up with Tim Winton’s Breath, and Sonya Hartnett’s Butterfly, both of which I loved for their dark evocations of Australian childhood. Quite melancholy, even chilling, but beautiful too.
What do you think I should read in the fiction stakes this Summer? I’d love your recommendations.