Michelle & Roy are back from holidays!

Crater Lake - Cradle Mountain

Crater Lake - Cradle Mountain

What an amazing holiday in Tasmania, we hired a motorhome and managed to cover most of the state, paying particular attention to the wild west coast. Tasmania has so much to offer and we were blown away by the amount of tourists in the state. Tourism has grown 15% from last year and everywhere we went, from the major towns to the smallest remote location, we could see the positive impact that tourism was having on the state.

This made us wonder why Armidale has the reverse happen during peak holiday times, the town gets very quiet as locals rightfully head to the coast or elsewhere. Where are our tourists? Driving back into Armidale last night it was apparent that the encouragement to stop in Armidale was not seen as we experienced in Tasmania. Is it the lack of restaurants or the lack of activities available for tourists?

We have come back energised and have plans for some major changes to our store during the coming year.

As usual books filled our mornings and late afternoons and below is a summary of what we read during our 2 weeks away.

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The Overstory

This story is about trees, it unravels in concentric circles much like the rings of a tree. Perhaps it was that I read this while in some of the old growth forests but I thought the story was well deserving of the man Booker short list.

We have sold out but expect more copies in this week.

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A Gentleman In Moscow

I know this is not a new book but I have had so many customers telling me to read it I couldn’t wait any longer.

Have you ever fell in love with the main character in a book - Count Rostov is the one, a gentle soul who sees the world through very special eyes. If you haven’t read it please pick up a copy and treat yourself.

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Defectors

Joseph Kanon has been compared to the great Le Carre, I think this is a bit of a stretch but he does do a very good rollicking spy story.

Set in the Soviet Union it is the story of an American defector who decides to defect back to the USA. But it’s not as simple as this. Came out a couple of years ago we have a copy in the store if you are looking for a quick exciting read.

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Testament

The story of a Hungarian Jew who survived the camps and became a very famous artist based in the UK. His life was not as he portrayed to those he loved. After his death his Granddaughter starts to uncover much more about her much loved Grandfather.

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Unfettered and Alive

Michelle devoured this on our trip (a very big read) and the parts that she shared with me blew me away. Her close association with Canberra opened our eyes to what politicians have been responsible in the fundamental alteration of our fabric of life.

A great read and is highly recommended by Michelle, we still have copies in the store.

Looking out the Readers window

Once again this week politics has taken ridiculous to an all new level, locally, nationally and internationally. The governments, not just ours but internationally, purport to reflect the consensus of the wider population. Unfortunately this is no longer the case and governments appear to create populist policy to retain their positions. Richard Flanagan at a recent address to the press club expressed it very well when he said --

Politics, which ought to have as its highest calling the task of holding society together, of keeping us away from the chasm, has retreated to repeating divisive myths that have no foundation in the truth of what we are as a nation, and so, finally only serve to contribute to the forces that could yet destroy us. Or worse yet, openly stoking needless fear and, with the refugee issue, a xenophobia for short-term electoral advantage. Richard Flanagan - Press Club address April

It is well worth a read of the full transcript of this speech, the Guardian online have this available HERE

Following on from our last blog we have a book launch happening this Saturday 28th April @ 12 noon. The book is called "Women, Oxford & Novels Of Crime" by Alison Hoddinott. Her emphasis is on novels written by women and the ways in which their fiction deals with both the mystery and its solution and with the situation of women within the university and in the wider community. Following on from our last blog this book shows exactly how hard it was for a woman in the '50's to make their way in a male dominated environment. We have progressed but not far enough. 

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Next week Armidale is hosting the CWA conference. What would we have done without the CWA cookbook. In all seriousness the CWA has been an important part of country NSW since 1922 helping women and families through good times and tough times. To welcome these delegates to town their will be a market in the mall on Thursday 3rd May, this will extend into the evening. Lets hope the weather is fine as their will be food stalls and live music. The shops will be open for late night shopping as well.

This Saturday at Charlie's Last Stand there is a very special event. The Haberdashery Club presents a sustainable workshop series as part of the Fashion Revolution. 

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On 24 April 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed. 1,138 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history.

That’s when Fashion Revolution was born.

There were five garment factories in Rana Plaza all manufacturing clothing for big global brands. The victims were mostly young women.

This is a social movement that we need, where do your clothes come from? The event starts at 12 noon and everyone is welcome. The evening culminates with a prize draw and cocktail party. Check out the events page for more information - EVENTS

This week I'm reading a great book that is due for release in June - The Consolation Of Maps by Thomas Bourke. This is an amazing read moving across countries and cultures it charts an attempt to understand the tide of history, the geography of people and the boundless territory of loss.

We are listening to a couple of great albums this week - Joe Jackson Trio live in Europe in 2010 and Portishead "Dummy". Anyone who has an interest in jazz we have a couple of copies (on vinyl) of Miles Davis and John Coltranes last concert together in Copenhagen - amazing!

See you next time.

View from a bookshop

Welcome to our first blog from Readers Companion. Michelle and I will be adding various topics to our blog as we go along, not all of the blogs will be related to books, music or even our store.

In this first blog I wanted to write about a few topics, one of which is male authors and the writing of female characters. There was an interesting article in the Guardian this week regarding this (Guardian link). Why is it so difficult for a man to write from a womens perspective? 

The male/female relationship has been discussed a lot lately, unfortunately not for good reasons. The continued misogyny in our society is heartbreaking, why can't we move ahead in this area? To think that women are still paid less, respected less and listened to less is a frightful indictment on our society.  Tim Winton has written an article for the Guardian on how toxic masculinity is shackling men to misogyny (find the article here). I suppose the positive we can take out of all this is that it is being discussed across the whole of our society.

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Last Saturday there was a wonderful event "Locally Made and Played", this gave musicians the chance to play at various venues around the CBD. Everyone who came to the event had a great night, lets try and keep this event as a regular on the local calendar. 

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This Saturday (21st April) we have Record Store Day. This is a celebration of the independent record stores around the world. With the growth of the large companies (Sanity, JB HIFI, etc) a lot of the smaller stores disappeared. The joy of browsing eclectic selections risked being lost forever and this generation would have missed the pleasure that gives. Thankfully the industry pushed back against these huge stores and record stores have started to flourish again. Being able to find an obscure Frank Zappa or Bowie as you flick through the record boxes is a joy that never grows old. For the event this time we will have the Kombi parked out the front of the store with two great musicians playing under the awning (Crooked Tree). Later at our bar (Charlie's Last Stand) you can bring your new record and play it in the bar and share the joy of music with everyone.

What are we reading/listening to this week

Tom Waits has been played non stop in the shop as Warner has finally released remastered copies of his classic albums. Currently I'm reading "Into The Void" by Joe Simpson which will guarentee I will never go mountain climbing.