Observation Note 73: Home writing. I am too tired to write about my reading today. So instead, I am posting a favourite photo of my view when I sit outside to write. I have a small table and chairs that a friend gave me. My dogs sit on old chairs I hate, and the greenery shades my dirty white Greek milk bottle columns. I love how the afternoon sun hits my corner where I sit, and makes the Sydney sandstone bricks a warm honey yellow. I’m fortunate to have this space. During the pandemic lockdown, my husband and I ate most of our lunches here, sometimes with our sons and sometimes alone. It is a lovely spot.
I am going to combine SuperWendy’s TBR topic with my Reading Notes this month. Hopefully this works well enough that I can repeat it through the year. The topic is Short Shorts here are some are various books I have been reading including one romance novel.
Reading Note 13: Home inspiration. I read through two interior decorating books in succession that had been languishing in the library TBR for only a month. Both heavy, hard back books printed on substantial paper stock. The sort of design books that costs a lot and you are loathe to put in any discard pile for years to come.
The first I looked at was The Kinfolk Home – an offshoot from the magazine by the same name, it purports to support the “Slow” movement. It was definitely slow. So slow that I got bored of both the pictures and the stories of the families that lived in these homes. I am Marie Kondo’s nightmare, I am not a minimalist. I believe that design lovers are now referring to people like myself as being “maximalists”. I love vibrant colour and a home filled with books and curios, art and bibelots reflecting the life adventures of the occupants. Which is the opposite of what this book contains. All beige, grey, linen and black. Perhaps the slow movement requires homes to be uncluttered so as to encourage contemplation. I found no joy in the sleek interiors but I certainly can understand that someone who has the opposite approach to my own desire for home aesthetics would love this book.
In contrast, Little Big Rooms: New Nurseries and Rooms to Play In was delightful and full of colour and deep understanding of how a home works when young children need to feel that they are completely in the home, and not an adjunct design that could at any time disrupt an adult space. Even though my own children are now (young – ahem) adults, there were elements of young children’s play design that reflected how I used our own home space when they were little, albeit with a much tinier budget. I loved this book.
Reading Note 14: Quasi rural romance. I praised Penelope Janu quite a lot last year. In December I read On The Right Track which has the hero from In at the Deep End’s hero’s twin brother.. I enjoyed this book espite my deep dislike of horse racing. The book isn’t as rural as the book cover lets on. I liked the movement between the Southern Highlands and the Eastern suburbs of Sydney. But I do like my story telling a bit tighter than most standard novels, and though it was well done, I found that the storyline on the 25 year old crime that may have been committed that the international-man-of-mystery-spy hero was investigating through the whole book dragged on just a tad. And there was just such overriding sadness in this book especially with the complex (and thankfully unresolved and unapologetic) mother who had rejected the heroine Golden at birth with her grandfather raising her. I also liked heroine Golden’s lovely relationship with her sister.
Observation 53: Sunday Librarian no more. I have resigned from my library job. This took months (and could I say years) of contemplation. 2019 had sickness find both my husband and me this year. Tiredness, illness and the need to complete studying have led my decision. Having worked 11 of the last 18 years as a regular (weekly with the exception of annual and sick leave) Sunday Librarian across 3 different employers, I am now looking for a Monday – Friday job. I have paid my dues in LibraryLand and no longer can bear sacrificing every weekend. I don’t mind if I am asked to do a rotation of one in four, or one in three but I cannot take on weekend work as my standard weekly contracted hours again. In light of the work that women do, I have willingly taken on these roles because it helped facilitate my family’s decision to do tag-team parenting as well as supporting my study regime. But it is now time for future thinking and my future involves weekends not working. Considering that the majority of public library work that is advertised these days have a Monday-Sunday clause, I am not sure if my future includes public libraries. Watch this space.
Reading Note 15: David Sedaris. Last night I saw David Sedaris do a reading of his essays and diary entries at the Enmore Theatre in Sydney. I am long a fangirl of both Sedaris, and the theatre which holds such special memories for me as it was one of Sydney’s two Greek cinemas back in the 1970s and 1980s. Sedaris was, as ever, funny and erudite – his observances so sharp, his loyalty to his family, his wry love of his boyfriend Hugh, his love of jokes – I just lapped it all up. I especially love that he does book signings where he sits for hours talking to people. Two hours of waiting in line, John and I were 4th from the end, when we finally got to speak with him. He signed our books, I gave him my Greek cinema trivia (to which he was surprised) and then he offered me the remnants of his T-bone steak for my dogs. I hesitated for a moment before turning him down. I may be a fangirl, but I draw the line at taking an author’s food remnants home with me.
Reading Note 16: Bruce Pascoe’s Dark Emu. I will do this book a disservice and just describe it as incredible and seminal writing that is necessary reading for all Australians and anyone who is interested in the colonial systems of displacing and misrepresenting the knowledge practices of first nations people. I am only half way through the audiobook for now, but I also mean to return to the print version which also has illustrations and photographs. Hopefully, I will write more about it next month.
I still have a way-high TBR. However, I don’t believe that the reading pile can every be completely read.
Manspace: A primal guide to marking your territory
by Sam Martin
a shallow review
Home decorating books, for the most part, are glitzy, glamorous and though beautiful, they are highly impractical. As much as I would like Michael S Smith or India Hicks to help me fine tune my home, the reality is that most of the books in this genre are either low end DIY guides or high-end “hey look! you too can have a 747 hangar just like John Travolta“.
However, Manspace is one of those books that falls well within the realm of practical, visually pleasing and humanly possible examples of interior decorating. Showcasing rooms of all styles with predominately male interests, from the classic car collector to the tech geek to the international hunter. With chefs kitchens, theatres, model railways, baseball collections, cards, wine distillers, houseboats, caravans and rock-climbing walls every manspace in this book reflects their owner but also gives the reader the scope to imagine creating their own space.
I live in a testosterone driven house. 3 males and a (used to be) male dog. I was never a girly girl but once I had sons I felt the need to buy chintz. Now, apart from a set of flowery tea cups and my many romances strewn around the house, my home has masculine undertones. Ships, maps, and trains are present in most rooms and, of course, there is the garage for the spare TV, nerf gun wars and bikes. My men love their “manspaces” and this book has helped inspired them. So whether you call it your mancave, manroom, manshed or manspace this book is all about encouraging men to reclaim their homes and leave their decorating mark.