Australian Classics by Jane Gleeson-White

A bookish observation

The unexamined life is not worth living.


There’s always a sense of warmth when reflecting on a book just read and enjoyed. That’s how I feel today about Jane Gleeson-White’s well written book “Australian Classics”. I found the book a pleasure to read. Each chapter was dedicated to a particular book and was a comfortable length explaining the what, how and why, of the chosen “Australian Classic” followed by the author’s story, some dazzling, others sad.

Between each chapter members of Australia’s “Literatti” list their ten favourite Australian books. There’s lifetime of reading suggestions in these well considered lists.

Admitting my limited reading of Australian Classics is a little personally disappointing. Ms Gleeson-White made each one sound soooooo interesting and worthwhile. Her writing invited you to catch a twinkling glimpse of literature considered by the “real” readers as absolute classics in the Australian sense of the word. I’ve been left with a feeling that I must read Kate Grenville’s “Lillian” and I must read everything that Tim Winton and Peter Carey ever wrote but then I know myself well enough to say, no those books are not for me. Why?

Here’s why I think that is so. I don’t want to read about human relationships. There’s so many people struggling, so many people unhappy, so many people hurting others. I just don’t want to read about it. I see it everyday. The human condition is not one of my interests. I’m a “head in the sand” kind of person. A “looking through rose coloured glasses” kind of person. No give me an Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes or anything that is so far from reality that it give you a sense of order, a sense of completeness, a sense of “twee”. Yes give me “twee”. Recently I’ve enjoyed Alexander McCall Smith’s Sunday Philosophers Club. I’d call it “twee”.

Do I really believe “twee is for me”, I’m not sure. Hopefully the true nature of what I value will shine through as I write this blog.