'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Monday 13 August 2018

Look What I'm Reading! Claire Saxby

Claire Saxby writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry for children. She has too many brothers but just the right number of sons. She lives in a house with too many bedrooms and just the right number of husbands. She finds inspiration all around her. Her latest books include Bird to Bird (illustrated by Wayne Harris, Black Dog Books) and Dingo (illustrated by Tannya Harricks, Walker Books Australia).

Which children’s book are you currently reading?
I have two enormous piles of books, one by my bed; the other in my office. I’m often reading more than one at a time. And then there’s research. But to answer the question: I’ve just finished Scythe by Neal Shusterman. It’s a YA future novel about a perfect world where there is no government, no numbering of years, no disease or aging, Oh my!

Can you tell us in two sentences what the book is about?
In a dystopian future world, death is obsolete and people can live forever unless ‘gleaned’ by a scythe. Two teenagers are plucked from their ordinary lives, apprenticed to a Scythe, and then set against each other.  

How much did you enjoy/are enjoying this title?
I found this story riveting. There are so many moral and ethical questions bound up in this twisting turning flipping novel, I needed to keep reading. I’m still thinking about it. It’s a fascinating insight into human nature, in all its good and badness.

What made you choose this title? Was it a review, advertising, the cover, the blurb, the author/illustrator, or the subject/genre?
This was an advance copy courtesy of The Book Bird, where I work part time, so it didn’t have the proper cover. It was recommended by a fellow Book Birder. We often try to get more than one of us to read a title so we can help readers choose books we hope they will enjoy.

What other titles are on your bedside table /To Read Pile?
There’s a question. There are review books for Aussie Reviews, advance copies from The Book Bird and books I have heard or read about that I need to read. I begin to panic if I have less than a dozen. Here’s a few: A Little History of the World by EH Gombrich (re-read), Androgynous Objects by Maureen McKenzie; Bird of New Guinea by Pratt and Beehler, Cinnamon Rain by Emma Cameron; Hive by AJ Betts; Endsister by Penni Russon; Far From the Tree by Robin Benway; Turtle Tracker by Samantha Wheeler; Break Your Chains by Emily Conolan and The Goose Road by Rowena House. There is also a pile of picture books but because I can read them at a single sitting, that pile changes often.

How did you come by these titles: personal choice/request, publisher’s review copy, or other?
A mix of ways. I buy books, I borrow from friends, I am sent review books, and I have access to advance copies. I am so lucky to have access to many books. I buy mostly new, but will source second-hand if I can’t find either new or in libraries. I do borrow books from my library too, but when my piles are so tall, I tend not to as I won’t get them back in time.

Do you have a favourite genre? If so, what is it, and why do you prefer it?
I read widely, both by choice and as part of my work. I love really literary books and I love much lighter stories. I read crime for escape (I know, odd). I’m a big fan of YA fiction as well as middle-grade stories. I like history, and contemporary realism. I like to mix it up. Particularly if I’m in the middle of writing something that has needed a lot of research. I can’t really separate reading for pleasure and reading for work, but I do love it when one book serves both. I love to read picture books and source them as widely as possible. There are such different sensibilities in books from different places, I feel I’m getting insights into culture as well as being entranced by language and image and the way they speak together as a story.

Do you read from printed books or some other medium? Please expand a little on the why of your choice.
I research online and in books, but reading for pleasure is always in printed books. I’m sure there are times where an e-reader is wonderful, e.g. when travelling, but I’ve always managed to find ways to travel with printed page. I spend enough time with a screen in my office, whereas I can take my book anywhere, and do!