A pounding base was thundering across the large park in front of our house as I started writing this post on Sunday night. Any music that accompanied the relentless thud had largely dropped by the wayside. We were left with the remnants. Tuneless reverberations reached every corner of our house. That morning, when the noise started, we decided to evacuate for the day.
We just wanted out, but we couldn’t think of anywhere we wanted to go. Some quick googling revealed that Newcastle is undergoing some rejuvenation so we decided to check it out. After a couple of boring hours on the freeway we reached Darby St, near the central business district of Newcastle.
At this time of year many small businesses are closed for annual holidays, but there were still some cafes and shops open. And joy of joys, we found a second-hand bookshop.
The Cooks Hill Bookshop has a good selection of Australian history books. Among the books I bought was a history of the zinc refinery in Hobart by Alison Alexander. This is the place where my father worked and there is a small paragraph mentioning him in the book.
I also picked up a copy of Waging Peace by Anne Deveson. I think this is the last book she wrote before she died late last year. Aside from the name of the author, this book appealed to me as she weaves her personal experience as a refugee into her reflections on peace and war. I am interested in a wide range of perspectives of war, as I am writing a book about a generation whose lives were dominated by war. In my spare time I have also been exploring my family’s experience fleeing World War II and settling in Sydney in time for the Japanese attack on Sydney Harbour. This book has really piqued my interest.
The third book I purchased was published in 1911. Bush Days by Amy E. Mack contains articles written by her and originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald. The owner of the book looks like an interesting person too. For my research I really appreciate people who write their names inside the fly cover and make marks on the pages. It can give some interesting insights into how the book has been read. But as a reader myself I don’t like marking books – a rather contradictory attitude.
I have signed up for the 2017 Australian Women Writers’ Challenge. By accident, it turns out that I bought three interesting books at Cooks Hill Books and Records which I can review this year for the Australian Women Writers Challenge. I am already reading a book about gender violence and human rights in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu so it looks like I have half a year’s worth of reading and reviewing for the Challenge
This year we are being encouraged to read some Australian classics for the Challenge. I already have Patsy Adam-Smith’s 1978 classic The Anzacs on my reading pile so I will add that to my Challenge list.
After five years the Challenge has made a lovely niche in my life. It is not onerous and it is a helpful reminder to read more widely. I am delighted that this year the Australian Women’s History Network is asking for volunteers to review books by Australian women historians for their dynamic Vida Blog.
This is a wonderful opportunity for historians who may not have their own blog to raise attention to highlight the great contribution women are making to our understanding of history. And by contributing to the Vida Blog the review will have a much wider audience than do reviews in academic publications.
This post was coalescing in my mind while we walked along the foreshore of the harbour at Newcastle. As we walked past Nobby’s beach, I remembered that the Australian Historical Association conference will be held in Newcastle this year. The theme is ‘Entangled Histories’, reflecting the fact that the world has always been an entanglement of mobility and networks which transcended national or imperial borders. As a port city I would imagine that Newcastle has a lot of entangled histories in its midst.
When we arrived back home that night the thudding base still pounded across the park. So while we were waiting for a DVD to load, this family of pedants idly debated how to spell our feelings.