The Book That Made Me – edited by Judith Ridge

A collection of 32 personal stories

A celebrations of the books that influenced some of the most acclaimed authors from Australia and New Zealand

My GoodReads’ Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5, which means: It was amazing!

Artuccino’s bookish observation

In 2017 at my favourite Sydney literary event, the Sydney Writers’ Festival, I was browsing Gleebooks’ pop-up bookshop, which is always a source of unique treasures, when I discovered The Book That Made Me, edited by Judith Ridge. The book is a collection of mini-bibliomemoirs ((Note from the Artuccino Team – the meaning of bibliomemoir: a memoir about the books one has read.)). They are personal reflections on books that had a profound impact on the writing life of some well known Australian and New Zealand authors.  Each story led me down new pathways, introducing authors and books unfamiliar to me.

All thirty-two mini-bibliomemoirs are interesting, in particular Alison Croggon’s story of reading J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in one 24-hour sitting when she was ten. (I’ve never been able to achieve a reading session for longer than a couple of hours straight. I can manage a couple of two-hours-sessions within a day, but never straight through.) To be able to do read The Lord of the Rings in one sitting at the age of ten, well … that’s a person who I would identify as a seriously focussed reader. There was so many more anecdotes within each story; it was a good read.

The book supplied some very useful indices, i.e. writers mentioned in the collection; books mentioned in the collection, and; short biographies of each of the contributing writers. A well structured book.

Note: All author and anthologists’ royalties for The Book That Made Me went to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF) which was founded by Suzy Wilson ((Suzy Wilson is the owner of Riverbend Books and Teahouse in Brisbane)) and set up by members of the Australian Book Industry in 2005 with the core aim of drawing upon their skills and expertise to raise literacy levels and improve the lives and opportunities of Indigenous children living in remote and isolated regions by providing books and literacy resources. In addition, the Foundation advocates to raise community awareness of Indigenous literacy issues. It works with the support of the Australian Publishers Association, the Australian Booksellers Association and the Australian Society of Authors, along with a team of ambassadors, volunteers and four full-time staff. Source: Adapted from page 245 of The Book That Made Me. ((We here at Artuccino discovered that if we donate $50 to the foundation the funds will put five books into the hands of Indigenous children in remote communities. Sounded like a good idea, so we did it. It’s a good cause, for more information go to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF).))

Listed below are the names of the authors who contributed their stories. We’ve linked all the authors’ names to their pages at Wikipedia or at the authors’ websites where you can find more information about each one. The intricate task of linking each of the names was very fruitful: we learned more about the interesting literary careers and intriguing lives of the contributing authors.

  1. Randa Abdel-Fattah
  2. Bernard Beckett
  3. Cathy Cassidy
  4. Felicity Castagna
  5. Queenie Chan
  6. Kate Constable
  7. Rachael Craw
  8. Alison Croggon
  9. Cath Crowley
  10. Ted Dawe
  11. Ursula Dubosarsky
  12. Simon French
  13. Mandy Hager
  14. Simmone Howell
  15. Catherine Johnson
  16. Will Kostakis
  17. Ambelin Kwaymullina
  18. Benjamin Law
  19. Julia Lawrinson
  20. Sue Lawson
  21. Brigid Lowry
  22. Emily Maguire
  23. Catherine Mayo
  24. Sue McPherson
  25. Jaclyn Moriaty
  26. Mal Peet
  27. Judith Ridge
  28. James Roy
  29. Shaun Tan
  30. Jared Thomas
  31. Fiona Wood
  32. Markus Zusak
A little about the author

Judith Ridge is internationally recognised as one of Australia’s leading experts on literature for children and young adults. In a career spanning more than 20 years, she has worked as a teacher, writer, critic and editor. Judith has taught children’s literature at several universities and has been invited on numerous occasions to speak at conferences, festivals and seminars in Australia, Ireland, the UK and the USA. She has been a judge on the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards, is a Churchill Fellow and has an MA in children’s literature. Source: Better Reading Website

Genre – Non Fiction

Bibliomemoir, Anthology

First Published