The stack

For a while now there's been a wonky pile of books on my bedside table waiting to be read. It's smaller than it used to be. A few months ago I devoured Tim Winton's Eyrie over a few days, the book singing to me of home, its blinding heat and the night lights of Fremantle Port spilling into the Indian Ocean. Anyone read it? Thoughts? Let me know and I'll post on Eyrie next week.

So then, the lovely predicament of what to read next. All of them gifts from loved ones and friends. I decided to start at the top, then had to wait a week after being swamped by work, a sick bubba and a small trip to the big smoke. Just looking at the pile made me happier that week. The promise of a quiet space, a drink of something warm, and with any luck bubs asleep and some rain outside.

Nikki Gemmell was first. Honestly: Notes on Life is a collection of her columns on the Australian Weekend Magazine. Over fifty in all, they're short, great if you're time poor and need to dip in an out of something for a while. Gemmell returned to Australia from London after 14 years. Running strong throughout this collection is her celebration of homecoming; the wonder of seeing her childhood landscape through new eyes.

Compared to living in England with its soft days, soft rain, soft light, where the morning quietly clears its throat, Gemmell returned home, to the full roar into the day....the insistent shrill of cicadas in a wall of summer heat,...currawongs and magpies and cockatoos...rain pummeling tin roofs, the bush taut with sound. 

For her the landscape is a vast seduction. Within it she feels more like myself, the person I once was....I'm stilled, strengthened, re-calibrated.

This is what I've been thinking about. The power of landscape to shape people. The pull of childhood places to forever map how we see the world. Returning to these places can be weird. Towns change, buildings disappear, cities morph and spread. But beyond this is the bigger imprint of home and landscape. The sunlight, the smells, sounds, the stretch of night sky and the setting sun that is stamped indelibly upon us.
Connecting to landscape and place reminds me to be still, to remember a simpler self. One without the smart phones, hyper-busy days, traffic, the sneaking sense I should be doing something in a still moment. Those quiet times are the best. A good book; sitting on my back step and watching the sunset ripple over the bush; standing in the ocean and feeling every bit of me breathe a huge sigh of relief. We find the things that matter in those moments. 

The stack of books isn't just the promise of undiscovered stories. It's slabs of quiet time, the surrender of a chattering mind to the pages of a book. The chance to shut up, be still, to read, to imagine, to listen to someone's story being told. Couldn't we all do with a little more of that?!

It's a bit of an intimidating pile. Some of it looks dense. I'll let you know how it goes. Does an unread stack of books make you happy too? What's lurking in your pile?

Happy Wednesday book lovers.


  1. "Honestly" is on my pile of things to read so I'm very glad I stumbled upon this post! I've constantly got a collection of books to read - it never seems to get any smaller (probably because I keep buying books...). Seeing a pile of books just waiting to be read, explored, and potentially loved, also makes me happy. It reminds me of curling up with a blanket, the cat, and a nice cup of tea!

  2. "Honestly" is great and easy to dip in and out of and not lose the thread...My pile never gets smaller either but it's a happy place that pile!



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