Melbourne Writers Festival 2013

It’s almost that time of year when I kiss the kids goodbye and abscond for days, all in the name of writing.

That’s right, August brings with it the Melbourne Writers Festival, Enquire Within running from 22 August to the 1 September 2013.

The release of this year’s program last night has made my day today and as I’ve just finished booking my tickets, I thought you might like to know which sessions I’m getting along to.

Here goes…

peter singerI’m going to kick off my festival experience with some philosophy, hearing Peter Singer speak on ‘Effective Altruism’ as part of the Big Ideas series.

Effective altruism is an emerging movement of people who have  accepted that we ought to live more altruistically, and make our altruism as powerful as possible.  Philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer will discuss the ethical issues that effective altruism raises, and introduce this developing concept by presenting the effective altruists themselves: who they are, how they live, and why they have chosen to live that way. 

As controversial as he might be, Peter Singer was always a bit of super star around the philosophy department of Monash when I was at uni, and so I’m looking forward to hearing his thoughts.

I’m back to Federation Square on Saturday, changing gears to something a little more light-hearted, although I’m sure it’ll be no less controversial with the likes of Sean Condon, Max Barry and Catherine Deveny chatting about comedy in writing for ‘Dying is Easy, Comedy is Hard.’

Fittingly it’ll be starting to get dark when I attend my second session for the day ‘Tartan Noir’ in which Andrew Nette, Doug Johnstone and Liam McIlvanney talk about crime literature in Scotland and whether or not books in this genre accurately reflect modern life in Scotland.

No doubt spooked, I’ll head home after this session and rest up before a bit Sunday.

I’ve booked in for three great session on Sunday, first up being ‘No Safe Place’ featuring Morris Gleitzman and Deborah Ellis.  Both of these authors write powerful books about children in danger and in this session they’ll explore writing about war, their research, and where they draw the line in showing children what the world can be like. Incredibly relevant, as I struggle with questions regarding books that my 12 year old should and shouldn’t be reading.

michelleAfter that, it’s straight on to hear an in-conversation session with the talented Michelle de Kretser, winner of this year’s Miles Franklin Award. Looking forward to finding out a little bit more about her incredibly successful novel.

To finish off Sunday, I’ll be heading to ‘Destroying the Joint?’ …

More than 28,000 self-proclaimed Destroyers have ‘liked’ Destroy the Joint – a Facebook page that ‘shines a light on sexism and misogyny.’ While social media may provide a platform for participative activism, social commentator Jane Caro, comedian Stella Young, and activist Aidan Ricketts join Sushi Das from The Age to ponder the question: how many likes does it take to change the world?

After this session, I’ll have to wait until the end of the week for my next outing. On Friday, 30 August, I’ll sneak off after dropping the kids at school and get a little bit political.

I’m really looking forward to the first session ‘New News: The News About News’ as I’m often quiet perplexed, concerned even, about what’s happening with media and journalism…

Is journalism in rotten shape, or better than ever? Is information still reliable? Will big media continue to dominate, or will citizens and startups step up? Eric Beecher (Private Media), Katharine Viner (Guardian Australia), Mark Forbes (The Age) and Pamela Williams (Australian Financial Review) take the media’s temperature with Margaret Simons (Centre for Advancing Journalism).

politics of sexI’ll follow this up with a session featuring Anna Krien, Shereen El Feki and Sophie Cunningham ‘The Politics of Sex’ as they discuss how the politics of sex provides a literary lens from which to view society.

The second Saturday of the Festival is exciting because it has quite a few free sessions, which I’ll stay around for in the afternoon, after I’ve gone along to a professional development seminar ‘The Art of Literary Criticism’. I’ve not been to one of the seminar sessions before (they cost a little more than a regular session) but I’m really looking forward to this one, I think I’ll learn a lot…

The London Review of Books publishes the biggest names in contemporary literature, ideas, society, and the arts. Editor Mary-Kay Wilmers, publisher Nicholas Spice and contributors Jeremy Harding and Jacqueline Rose take us inside the LRB, Europe’s leading literary magazine. Chaired by Sally Heath.

I think it’s fair to say that by the end of Saturday my brain will be well and truly full, and I’ll be able to go home and fall in a happy heap.

The Melbourne Writers Festival program is out now, and you MUST take a look! If you’re going to be attending, please feel free to connect with TBYL… I’ll be on Facebook and Twitter the whole time and no doubt loitering around Fed Square on and off, I’d love to hear from you!

Here’s to the countdown to August 22nd!


Phew, that was a quick one…

I don’t know about you, but 2012 seems to have passed by in a blink of an eye. It’s been fun, but phew, I’ve barely kept up…

Of course, when I stop and think about it, 2012 has brought with it some amazing achievements – I’ve read a bundle of brilliant books and ‘recruited’ some amazing TBYL Reviewers. I’ve made lots and lots of new bookish friends, and seen a wonderful community grow around That Book You Like…

Screen shot 2012-12-31 at 10.50.06 AMThe TBYL Store has grown, moving from strength to strength and promises to keep getting bigger and better, whilst the TBYL Book Club has taken shape as an amazing place to share reading experiences.

On a personal note, I’ve managed to see one child through kindergarten and another through his final year of primary school. I’ve had my fair share of health ‘interventions’ again this year, but despite this, finish the year feeling the strongest and healthiest I have in three years. I’ve got my eyes firmly set on ‘getting back to go‘ in the year to come.

In short, it’s been a great year!

Heading into New Year’s Eve, I find myself making a mental list of what 2013 might hold…

I’d say that more books, reading and reviewing is an absolute certainty, I’ve already got some great titles on the Reading Pile for January. Hopefully 2013 will bring loads more friends to TBYL – once we get to 1500 likers on Facebook, there’ll be a big book give-away, and we’re not far off now.

TBYL stallI’ve got lots of great ideas for new goodies in the TBYL Store, and the Store will be making a few ‘public appearances’ throughout the year at markets and pop-up shops – I can’t wait! Also, I’ve got some great book ideas for the TBYL Book Club so that we can keep reading together.

Setting my sights a high – I’m hoping to start running some literary events in 2013. There’s a little planning work left to do on this one, but with your help I’m sure we can get this new idea of the ground!

Finally, and most excitingly, the TBYL website will have had a major facelift. Check in on the 1 January and you’ll see a brand-new, easy to use website. The site is the easiest way to make sure that you don’t miss out on anything that is going on with TBYL. With all that I’ve got planned for the new year, you’re not going to want to miss a thing!

Thank-you so much for your involvement in, and support of That Book You LIke… It’s my pride and joy and it just thrills me that other people are getting enjoyment out of what’s going on here. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy our reviews, activities and give-aways for another bookish year.

All the best for 2013, best wishes to you all, and of course, happy reading!