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

Friday 19 June 2020

Look What I'm Reading! Steve Spargo

Steve Spargo is Head of Marketing at Walker Books Australia. He has worked in publishing for almost 15 years and can’t think of anything better than working with kids’ books.

Which children’s book are you currently reading?
Burn by Patrick Ness

Can you tell us in two sentences what the book is about?
It’s set in an alternate 1950s USA, where Sarah and her father hire a dragon to work on their farm, unwittingly playing their part in an ancient prophecy.

Meanwhile, there are dragon-worshiping cult members closing in who are being followed by two FBI agents. All eventually meet with Sarah and the dragon, turning the story on its head.

How much did you enjoy/are enjoying this title?
I absolutely loved it! It was fast paced and fresh with some great twists. While not the main focus of the book, there was also a complicated yet touching gay story thread running through it, which is something I always appreciate in books I’m reading. Patrick Ness has a way of treating characters (and his readers) with a respect that shines though on the page. He can push characters to their limits without ever heading into contrived plot points.

What made you choose this title? Was it a review, advertising, the cover, the blurb, the author/illustrator, or the subject/genre?
Although it was a book I had to read for work, I was a Patrick Ness fan long before I started at Walker Books and I’ll read anything he puts out.

What other titles are on your bedside table/To Read Pile?
I have the unhealthy habit of stopping books part-way through, possibly never returning to them, even if I was enjoying them. I often drop something I’m reading for pleasure, to read something for work and then something shiny and new will come along and grab my attention. I’ve just started the second in the Book of Dust series, The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman. Shamefully, I’ve only just read Charlotte’s Web, having loved the movie as a kid but never actually reading the book. I’ve read about half of the stories in Growing up Queer in Australia, edited by Benjamin Law; plus of course, a never-ending pile of books for work!

How did you come by these titles: personal choice/request, publisher’s review copy, or other?
I keep a look out for new books by my favourite authors and I love getting recommendations from friends and others in the industry – but for the books I mentioned above I picked them up when browsing bookshops.

Do you have a favourite genre? If so, what is it, and why do you prefer it?
I have a few favourite genres.  I like to mix them up a bit. I love really whimsical junior fiction and middle grade, I’ve had a long-standing love of horror (I was a non-reader as a kid – I discovered Goosebumps, then quickly went to the Fear Street series, then on to Stephen King). I’m keen on a bit of pop-nonfiction like Jon Ronson and as I mentioned earlier, something with a strong queer storyline.

Do you read from printed books or some other medium? Please expand a little on the why of your choice.
Print is always the first choice and I usually have an audio book on the go as well. Reading for work is usually digital.