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

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Look What I'm Reading! Zoe Bechara Publicity Manager

Zoe Bechara is a Publicity Manager for Young Readers at Penguin Random House, based in Sydney. She has worked in publishing for a decade. As a publicist for some of Australia’s most celebrated and emerging authors she is frequently on the road: rattling about in radio or TV studios, wrangling pull-up banners and filing young children into signing queues at events. She loves big newspapers and small coffees and thinks that small humans are usually the best kind of humans.

Which children’s book are you currently reading?
A book by debut children’s author Nat Amoore called Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire (out June.)

Can you tell us in two sentences what the book is about?
It follows two best friends who find a million dollars in the backyard, and all the trouble they get themselves into. 

How much did you enjoy/are enjoying this title?
It’s hilarious and I’m loving the harebrained schemes, entrepreneurial tips and emphasis on treats from the funny, flawed characters.

What made you choose this title? Was it a review, advertising, the cover, the blurb, the author/illustrator, or the subject/genre?
Often I’ll pick up a new book while in a bookstore in a Publicist capacity: I’ll nip to the counter as the author is signing books for a child and grab something new for myself. Last week that was Schadenfreude which I’m rather enjoying (the book that is, not other people’s horrid misfortunes.) Naturally book reviews will influence me, however I still haven’t read 2018’s Lenny’s Book of Everything – I’ll get to it soon!

What other titles are on your bedside table /To Read Pile?
I’m really looking forward to rereading Vincent and the Grandest Hotel on Earth, a middle-grade book out in July. I read an early version and I just adore Lisa’s writing: witty, whimsical and irreverent. I’m also looking forward to Melina Marchetta’s The Place on Dalhousie.

How did you come by these titles: personal choice/request, publisher’s review copy, or other?
I usually have a minimum of two books on the go, often three. One will be a Young Readers book I’m reading for work; presently that is the aforementioned Secrets of a Schoolyard Millionaire. Often there will be another book, for grown-ups, in my handbag for reading on the ferry, on flights, and at the hairdressers and various other public places where I don’t want to talk to anyone. Then by my beside are a smattering of comforting reads that don’t challenge me too much before sleep; presently stacked there are How to Eat by Nigella Lawson (simply brilliant writing) and a couple of books about tidy houses in Sweden.

Do you have a favourite genre? If so, what is it, and why do you prefer it?
Publicists tend to be a broad church by necessity, and like most voracious readers I’ll consume all matter of the written word from newspapers to design magazines to ALDI catalogues. I can’t say I have a favourite genre but I am passionate about middle grade writing; it’s a rich area of storytelling for readers who are at a time of their lives when the world seems at once both enormous and suddenly (and thrillingly) accessible. I like the hope that represents. There’s an art in telling big stories in succinct prose that excites, moves, motivates. I particularly love children’s books that acknowledge a child’s capacity for complex thought, big ideas and clever humour, like RA Spratt’s Friday Barnes series and my beloved childhood favourite Hating Alison Ashley.

Do you read from printed books or some other medium? Please expand a little on the why of your choice.
Printed, for preference, as my husband (handy bookshelf-installer and book-packing-house-mover that he is) can attest. I do also find audio books particularly companionable when pottering around the house cooking or doing housework, and they’re terrific for car trips. Interestingly audio books also allow for a heightened appreciation for good writing; being read to highlights a beautiful sentence or a clever bit of dialogue in a way similar to hearing poetry or theatre performed. Rereading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone read by the inimitable Stephen Fry certainly affirmed this for me: an excellent bit of writing read by an excellent storyteller.