Schindler’s Ark, by Thomas Keneally

Schindler's ArkThis is my 300th book read, since starting this blog in November 2009.

I wanted to mark my triple century with something of significance and worth, and thought this book met those conditions.

As a Booker prize winner it has literary recognition. As the inspiration for an Oscar winning film it gained a wider appreciation and appeal.

And the book’s topic and themes make it worthwhile representative of many of the books preceding it on my reading list.

Literature, war, Jewish history and the extremes of human nature;  some of the significant characteristics of the other books I’ve read in the past (almost) 7 years.

Schindler's ark 2

I’ve had this book for a long time, firstly in a paperback released as a movie tie-in, with of course the changed title of Schindler’s List. And then I came across the first (Australian) hardcover edition illustrated above. I bought it and gave the other one to my mum.

The book then sat on my bookshelf for a few years unread – until now.

In the beginning Keneally makes it clear that his book is not a history book, but a novel based on historical research and personal interviews with many of the people who appear in it as “characters”. I’m not entirely sure of the distinction he tries to make. It doesn’t seem any different to many of the military histories I’ve read over the past year. Maybe he wanted to distance his book from potential readers’ assumptions about the dryness of history telling.

Now that I’ve committed myself to making this my 300th book – it’s restricting me from starting something else alongside it, just in case I forget myself and finish that “something else” first.







Since I started my “books read” list in November 2009, I’ve read 298 books (as of today).

That means I’m only 2 books away from the triple century milestone and have read an average of 40+ books per year for the past 6-7 years.

Now, what do I do?

Just continue reading and ignore the “significance” of my 300th book? Or do I make sure I hit that target with a book of significance? But what would be a suitably significant book to read as my 300th?

I don’t have much time to make the choice. I’ll be starting book 299 today.



Not Working, by Lisa Owens

not workingThe subject of Lisa Owen’s book appealed to me.
Claire leaves her job of six years, hoping/expecting the newfound time and freedom will create the opportunity to find her “purpose” in life.

I understand.
It’s the kind of thought I’ve often had.
It’s the kind of idea I’ve acted on more than once; firstly when I ceased fulltime work to study, then several years later when I left my job and home in the city to start again in country New South Wales.
In neither case did my desired outcome ultimately lead to anything different, but both times it seemed like it was necessary to at least try to break out from the rut I’d worn for myself, if I wanted to find a better path in life.

Therefore, as soon as I heard about Not Working I wanted to read it.

Apart from the appeal of the story itself, I really like the structure of the book. Each chapter is subdivided under headings identifying locations, events and times. The text within those subdivisions can be  gems of “wisdom”, Claire’s personal observations, or part of the ongoing narrative of her quest for purpose.

Lists Each section adds to our unfolding understanding of Claire and her situation, with varying degrees of subtlety sometimes with pathos other times with humour; sometimes with clarity and other times more cryptically.

It’s the kind of approach I could see myself using – IF in some other reality I’d actually taken the literary path I’d wanted. If I’d disciplined myself to put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, on a regular basis without the pressured incentive of deadlines and university demands.

karmaBut maybe there’s still hope.

I now see a way to use disparate ideas, isolated thoughts that of themselves have promise but aren’t amenable to stretching into a more extensive story.
Maybe they can be used without expansion, a scattering of them throughout a larger narrative, helping to pause the story flow: but not without significance. Each one in some way adding to the story, revealing more about its characters and their relationships,  and not merely serving as padding.

availabilityA larger story created out of shorter, seemingly incomplete, isolated incidents that over time the reader can piece together as common elements start to coalesce.

I may seem to have digressed from the book itself, but in fact the book has helped me return to the main reasons for creating this blog: encouraging me to read (and finish) more books and to reinvigorate my long-time neglected ambition/desire to be a writer.
Not Working is the type of book I genuinely enjoy to read. The kind I can’t wait get back to. It’s a book with an engaging story that re-stirs my desire to write, written in a way that presents some practical and interesting story writing possibilities.

pillow talk