I used to be a strictly one book at a time reader. Recently someone asked what I was reading and I barely knew where to begin, I had so many books in play. These days I tend to have a novel on the go, as well as a poetry collection, an audiobook and a chapter book that I'm reading aloud to my kid.
My current read is for my book club, The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld. It's a novel that doesn't shy away from the grotesque, which can make it an uncomfortable and confronting read at times. But beyond all the gross scenes of bodily functions and childhood cruelty lies a family consumed by grief, trying to reposition themselves after a loss.
I've been making an effort to read more poetry this year, most recently finishing Tusiata Avia's The Savage Coloniser Book just in time to see her win the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry at the Ockhams. I share a love of angry poetry with my friend Chris, and he lent me collections by Danez Smith and Jericho Brown, which I've been working my way through. I also picked up a copy of Caleb Femi's Poor, after reading about it on the shortlist for this year's Rathbones Folio Prize. I'm looking forward to getting to that.
My kid and I have a standing date at our local library every Friday afternoon (big ups, Newtown!). Kowhai is really into graphic novels and often recommends good reads to me after they've finished them. We're both currently working our way through the Lumberjanes series, which is fun and smart and inclusive and wild. I can't believe it's taken me so long to get to.
One of my all-time favourite writers is Hanif Abdurraqib. He is publishing a series on basketball movies on The Paris Review and I'm eagerly awaiting the next instalment. So far he's taken on Love and Basketball and White Men Can't Jump. Abdurraqib + basketball + basketball movies is a trifecta of my favourite things. Even if you haven't seen the movies I highly recommend tracking down these essays, because they are exquisitely crafted, and about so much more than basketball movies in the most genius way. I get a bit evangelical about Abdurraqib's writing. I've also got his collection of music essays, They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, on my to-read pile.
Gemma Browne is programmes co-ordinator for Booksellers NZ, which is celebrating its centenary this year.