Books I couldn’t live without

Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
When my brother was born, my dad took over bed time reading. I was two years old and the book my father decided we would read together was Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Apparently it was the first book he’d read by himself when he was little and so we read it together, and when we got to the end we went back to the beginning and read it again.
I re-read Treasure Island when I was about 17 and meeting Jim Hawkins again was like a chance meeting with a childhood friend.
Thanks to this book I’ve spent hours of my life in maritime museums staring at models of boats and in galleries looking at pictures of boats and on the Young Endeavour being on an actual boat. As a grown-up I’m fascinated by the way Robert Louis Stevenson portrays evil, the greyness which pervades his work. This book shaped an awful lot of who I am, I guess.
The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
I got omnibus edition of Hitchhikerfor Christmas when I was 14. That Christmas holiday is one of the best I can remember and I think I owe a little of that to how happy these books made me. I read it, lying in an “open plan” (read: with no walls to speak of) beach house between running in the rain and climbing sand dunes and playing hide and seek in the dark.
The funny thing is I haven’t actually read the books in a while. I hit a point where they became quite difficult to read because I know them too well. I know these stories back to front. They’re what I go to when I’ve got no idea what to read, when I can’t sleep, when I’m too stressed to concentrate on anything else.
48 Shades of Brown – Nick Earls
Every year during high school I went to Kids Day at the Byron Bay Writers Festival with my mum and my brother. One year I decided I’d try and read a book by every author who was coming. In the month or so before the festival I think I’d read at least two or three Earls books. My mum and I were already fans by the time the festival rolled around.
There’s something about Earls’ voice that my teenage self found incredibly comforting. They were characters who thought like me, who reacted to the world in a way I could relate to and more than anything it was how I wanted to write. According to one edition, 48 Shades is about “being not quite 17, when everyone gives you advice but no one takes you seriously”. I think I felt like that a lot.
Kitchen – Nigella Lawson
A friend gave me Nigella’s Kitchen for Christmas the year we finished school. I have a lot of nice memories of this book: sitting on my back deck, flicking through it while the sun set around the trees in my backyard. Memories of meals I made with its instructions. This book kept me company when I left home and when I moved into this beautiful house that, at first, I was nowhere near grown-up enough for.
I’ve cooked more recipes from this book than any of the other cookbooks I own. I made grasshopper pie and carried its vivid green on the bus to a party. I made strawberry crumble when strawberries were so cheap we’d eaten more than we could stand. I made Vegemite spaghetti when I was staying in a strange house because you can borrow all the ingredients without anyone noticing. Then there’s all the ordinary nights when I made food and we ate it and it was nice.

Further reading

December – home

I spent the first minutes of 2018 on the beach. I’ve never actually spent New Year