Best Books 2013: Wheeler Centre Staff (Part Three)

Kathryn Renowden, Receptionist

Questions of Travel – Michelle de Kretser

Super Sad True Love Story – Gary Shteyngart

The Savage Detectives – Roberto Bolaño

Things I Didn’t Expect (When I Was Expecting) – Monica Dux

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work – Mason Currey

Colour: The Definitive Guide – Merv Moriarty

Jaclyn Booton, General Manager

Almost everything I read in 2013 was released in 2012; I’m clearly running a fair bit behind! But I loved Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain. I went to high-school in a small, rural town in the American mid-west and for my male friends who didn’t want to become corn farmers, the military was an obvious and popular escape route. Billy’s complicated relationship with the America he has returned to - as a military hero, as a son at odds with his family - resonated strongly with their experiences and Fountain’s sharp focus on the distancing effects of public attention on Billy and his squad-mates makes the reader both compassionate and complicit in its continuation.

Anna Krien’s Night Games was a 2013 favourite. It’s a careful and methodical unpacking of the broad issue of gender in sport - women’s access to and role in decision-making positions in the various codes, how heteronormative male bonding rituals in clubs are perpetuated or rejected by clubs - that makes compelling reading.

Can I have one more? David Eggers' The Circle delighted and terrified me, not least because I was so quickly and completely seduced by the Circle campus. Yes the novel is essentially dystopic, it’s satirical, it’s a cautionary tale, but, well, I still wanna hang out on those lush lawns, and eat in those all-organic vegetarian cafeterias … just once to try it, you know?

Seb Prowse, Operations Manager

My favourite reads in 2013 were two very different explorations of human society from American sci-fi master Kim Stanley Robinson. Actually published last year, 2312 boldly imagines a species that has not only survived the end of the Mayan calendar, but found footholds in the far corners of the solar system. It has all the hard science, political intrigue and pathos of Robinson’s classic Mars trilogy - and I would have loved another 500 pages. He then balanced the futurism with Shaman, a thrilling prehistorical novel that at times had me wondering (from the safety of a warm futon bed) if the Iron Age might have been a step in the wrong direction. Is anyone from our programming department is reading this? Please get this man on a plane to Melbourne immediately!

Fiona Williams, Receptionist

My best books of (and read) in 2013 are:

À ciel ouvert. Le nouveau pleinairisme - Kitty Scott

Six Memos for the Next Millennium - Italo Calvino

Interaction of Colour - Josef Albers

Judgement and Contemporary Art Criticism - Jeff Khonsary and Melanie O'Brian

Thinking through Painting: Reflexivity and Agency beyond the Canvas - Isabelle Graw, Daniel Birnbaum, Nikolaus Hirsch

Sils - Gerhard Richter

Let the other thing in - Kate Newby

Plus time with this:

Oren Gerassi, Technical Coordinator

A combination of short attention span and childish curiosity has once again led me to buy more books than I could possibly read during 2013. In the past year, it seems like I successfully dodged wasting time reading crappy publications in general. (except the news).

Some books I’ve purchased this year are waiting on the shelf for the right mood to strike, some, I keep coming back to and never really finish (like The Ethics by Benedict de Spinoza or the poetry of Yehuda Amichai and Avraham Halfi and many others), and some books I’ve read this year were simply pure joy.

The past year for me had distinct flavours of sound, music, language and popular science with hints of poetry and prose.

Five notable publications I’ve purchased and read this year:

Christine Keneally - The First Word - A Search for the Origins of Language

Geoffrey Emerick - Here, There and Everywhere - My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles

Bernie Krause - The Great Animal Orchestra – Finding the Origins of Music in the World’s Wild Places

Seth Horowitz - The Universal Sense – How Hearing Shapes the Mind

Michel Houellebecq - Rester vivant et autres textes (Staying Alive and other essays) Translated from French to Hebrew.