It was a huge year for our little traveling bookshop! We went from the city streets (Melbourne) to the country (Wye River), attending festivals (Clunes Booktown Festival) and markets (Fitzroy Mills) and delivering books to your doorsteps.
I get so much pleasure from finding new homes for books that I know readers will treasure. It is a practical way to combine my environmental activism with my passion for Australian literature and reading. It’s been lovely to find other people who are as enthusiastic about our project as we are, and who continue to buy books and champion our shop.
Here’s a little video with a roundup of our achievements this year.
We’re often asked when and where our mobile bookshop will be heading next. If you’re keen to keep track, the best way is to follow me on Instagram as this is where we announce our comings and goings.
We are about to do a few months of regular attendance in Fitzroy, for those Melbourne folks who have been looking forward to catching us in person. This August and September we’re in iconic Rose Street, Fitzroy. Come say hi!
The only thing better than getting books in the mail is getting surprise books in the mail.
Our Bookmail service puts all my years working in bookstores, libraries, literary events, writing organisations and obsessively reading to work finding the ideal books to add to your TBR or that of a loved one.
Each month we curate a selection of books based on a short survey that you (or your gift recipient) fill in and send excellent-quality secondhand books to your door.
Select a one-off delivery, or pick one of our subscription packages.
This service is the perfect way to break out of a reading rut, discover new authors or books, and have a word-nerd use your survey results to introduce you to something a little out of the ordinary.
I’ve been a lover of books since I could listen to them on my Fisher Price tape deck as a child. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with books, literature and writing in Australia for a long time and I have such deep respect for what it takes to get a book published and into the hands of readers.
Not long ago it came to my attention that some (not all!) op shops get so many donated books that every so often they just clear the shelves and throw all the books into the bin. To say I was horrified is not hyperbole. It’s true that many op shops are clogged with enough Clive Cussler books to build a structural wall, but hidden in these shelves are also amazing books, many written by Australian authors, that have lots of life left in them.
Enter On the Road Books. I’m saving great books that are languishing on op shop shelves and curating the best of these to be sold online and on this cute-as-a-button mobile bookstore.
It is my hope that this venture will find new homes for secondhand books which may otherwise languish unappreciated on op-shop shelves or (horror of all horrors) end up in landfill. None of us have the space to keep all the books we read, no matter how much we love them. Ending up in an op shop is not an indication of a book’s worth and there are so many amazing books available.
With a curated collection of high-quality titles on offer, On the Road Books gives great literature another round of life in readers’ hands.
As August draws to a close I thought it might be worth checking in on my reading goals for this year. As in previous years, I set myself the goal of reading 52 books this year. One per week always sounds entirely reasonable, but I’ve been shocked to see how short I have fallen from the goal in some years. As I check in on my Goodreads stats for 2014, it tells me I’ve read 46 thus far, and am nine books ahead of schedule. Awesome. I’m pretty sure I got a substantial boost from the large collection of books I managed to devour while on holiday in the UK, and more recently on a trip to Cairns, but I’m still really pleased to that I might finally reach my goal. One of the factors that has definitely helped has been my Kobo, which I can now pop into a bag and take anywhere with hundreds of books at the ready. Previously I’ve had to consider whether I should lug various big or bulky books with me, particularly on holiday, but with the Kobo it is all so much easier.
Of these titles, I’d say my favourite is Ambelin Kwaymullina’s The Tribe series, which blew me away for its technical prowess in structure and character story arcs, and in impeccable world building and beautiful use of mythology. I also found a beautiful collection of short stories that finally offered Josephine Rowe’s Tarcutta Wake and my classic favourite Peter Carey’s The Fat Man in History some competition for my favourite collection of Australian short stories. I only just finished Maxine Beneba Clarke’s Foreign Soil, so I’ll see if its stories haunt me over the coming months the way Rowe’s did, but I think it is safe to say they are some of the finest examples of what short story collections can and should do.
Of my 46 books 32 were written by women, 12 were by Australian authors (this is much lower than it would usually be thanks to my ‘reading books about the UK or by UK authors while in the UK’ challenge) of which only two were men (sorry lads (not sorry)). Only 7 were non-fiction and 8 were young adult. I noticed my reading had lacked writers of colour, and thanks to some generous advice was able to put together an enviable selection of books by authors from diverse cultures and backgrounds, some of which I’ve already managed to read. I’m looking forward to adding more in as the year progresses.
All in all, the reading year is going well. Melbourne Writers’ Festival draws to a close today, so I’m looking forward to some of the excellent books I’ve added to my reading pile after seeing authors speak at various events. Any recommendations for me?