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What Canberrans read this year…

Emma Macdonald

What’s the scoop on our most borrowed books of 2016?

It’s no surprise that Canberrans are fond of a political read, but did you know that we are apparently obsessed with tidying up?

A list of this year’s most popular books requested at our public libraries featured an interesting range of fiction and non-fiction titles, according to City Services Minister Meegan Fitzharris.

The city’s top five borrowed books contained not one, but two decluttering guides, and an insight into the Tony Abbott leadership implosion.

The top five most requested books (fiction and non-fiction) in 2016 were:

  1. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo
  2. Reckoning: A Memoir by Magda Szubanski
  3. Spark Joy: A Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  4. The Road to Ruin: How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin Destroyed Their Own Government by Nikki Savva
  5. The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood

The minister noted that “The theme of tidying up and organisation carries on from last year, as The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up was also in the top five books in 2015. And it might be a sign of living in the nation’s capital that a political biography has made it into the top five books six years in a row.

“Canberrans borrow around 2.85 million items every year from ACT public libraries. It’s great to see our libraries still play an important role in many people’s lives, whether it’s for information, entertainment or education. In 2015-2016 around 1.96 million visitors came through our doors.”

Meanwhile, we asked around to see what some of Canberra’s movers and shakers were reading and what they would recommend to those enjoying the downtime over Christmas.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr is currently immersed in The Shadow Game by Steve Lewis and Chris Uhlmann.

“It’s a fast paced and entertaining holiday read for political junkies,” he says.

Minister Fitzharris herself nominates The Circle by Dave Eggers “for an unnerving glimpse of a possible future if we’re not thoughtful about the social impacts of technology.”

ABC radio personality and bibliophile Alex Sloan loved Boy Behind the Curtain by Tim Winton which she “read at a time of change in my life (she recently announced her retirement from the ABC) and it made me look upon life in a big, broad way. From discussions of childhood hurt, religion and biodiversity, Winton’s wisdom and quality of writing is so special it lifts you to a much higher place.”

Owner of Braddon fashion and shoe boutiques Rebel Muse and Peachy Keen Alicia Xyrakis is trying to make sense of a politically tumultuous year and is currently reading Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father while coming to terms with Donald Trump as the incoming US President.

“I have just started my own book club of two (me and my boyfriend!) to try and stop neglecting my reading. This one is really timely as I want to know more about Obama as I try and come to grips with everything that is going on in the world.”

Meanwhile, over at HerCanberra headquarters, our bookish leader Amanda Whitley can vouch for the number five book The Natural Way Of Things by Charlotte Wood.

“I am usually exclusively a crime novel girl because I read to escape, but this book really got to me. I can’t say I ‘enjoyed it’ but it’s one of those books that has stayed with me long after closing the covers.”

Emma Macdonald (that would be me) sheepishly admits that not much reading for pleasure went on this year but highly recommends Shaun Usher’s Letters of Note, which collates some of the most moving, hysterical and historically significant letters of our time into one, beautifully-composed book. You can dip in and out as the mood strikes you.

Our newest team member Ashleigh Went nominates Remarkability by Lorraine Murphy “a fabulous guide for being successful and productive without burning out or losing your marbles”, while our online editor Beatrice Smith is knee-deep in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, which offers her “pure escapism while soaking up so much history and learning something at the same time”. (And if you are curious about which historical themes it is that Bea is soaking up exactly, Gabaldon’s homepage describes her novels as encapsulating “history, warfare, medicine, sex, violence, spirituality, honor, betrayal, vengeance, hope and despair, relationships, the building and destruction of families and societies, time travel, moral ambiguity, swords, herbs, horses, gambling with cards, dice, and lives, voyages of daring, journeys of both body and soul…”!!!)

To find out more about the Libraries ACT’s variety of programs, as well as their opening hours over the Christmas and New Year period, please visit www.library.act.gov.au





Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author

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