The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion — Imogen Kandel, Online Editor
I often try to convince myself that I dislike romance novels – it’s a strict diet of David Foster Wallace and Camus for me, thank you very much. But I do suffer from the occasional blip and The Rosie Project is nothing more than a giant heart-shaped blip of fuzzy loveliness.
To convey the protagonist’s apparent autism the book is written entirely in robotic first-person. A normally painful writing technique, I thought I would claw my eyes out after the first chapter, but I didn’t. I kept reading and fell in love with the socially inept (and pretty hot thanks to a steady routine of martial arts) central character, Don. On a mission to find a suitable mate, Don stumbles across the occasionally irritating but ultimately likeable Rosie: hilarity ensues, romance blossoms, adventures are had.
The Rosie Project has indeed melted my icy-cold heart. Only after I put Rosie down, ate the last Tim Tam, and snuggled up in my fluffy blankie did I read about Graeme Simsion’s journey from RMIT screenwriting class to the finished book we see now. That this book started as a screenplay is telling, not only because it’s in first-person, but because the only thing I could think while reading it was that The Rosie Project is screaming out for a movie adaptation, Bridget Jones’s Diary-style.
All of the standard romance novel review words apply: heart-warming, funny, endearing. Yes, this book has some serious hype behind it, but unlike The Phantom Menace, the hype is well-deserved.
Girls Soundtrack, Vol. 1 — Stephanie Van Schilt, Online Editorial Assistant
Who would have thought that a girl with heavy bangs, dark rimmed glasses and a fondness for Brooklyn would suggest the Girls Soundtrack, Vol. 1: Music from the HBO Original Series as her Editors’ Pick? Whatever, you don’t know my life…well, maybe you do a little. While verging on hipster cliché and having a release date that’s beginning to curdle on the cool side of things, that doesn’t stop it from being the best thing that happened to my February.
Over the past year, Girls has been pulled apart, doted on, chewed up and spat out; as a topic, it’s definitely not new news, so may not seem like an original choice. But over the last month, this soundtrack has been a fabulous accompaniment on all my adventures, from cleaning (Belle and Sebastian) to running (Robyn), road-tripping (The Troggs) or party-dancing (Icona Pop eat. Charli XCX). A compilation of mostly hits – including Santigold’s anthem ‘Girls’ – with only a couple of misses, it serves as a fun reminder of how deftly the show utilises music, introduces some NYC artists to a broader audience and provides a good mix for social occasions.
Tip: As the second season of Girls ticks over, some wonderful Spotify strangers are collating the show’s weekly tunes, making for one killer, growing playlist, with brilliant bonuses like Azaelia Banks, M.Ward and Tom Tom Club.
I’ll also throw a nod out to the awesome multi-disc, epoch spanning compilation Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era. Trust me, you can’t go wrong – the Wikipedia page tells you all you need to know.
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain — Emily Laidlaw, Marketing Co-ordinator
For good reason, US author Susan Cain’s TED talk on introversion has been widely shared and liked across social media, racking up a million plus views. Her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which forms the basis for the talk, has also enjoyed enormous success, topping bestseller lists in the US and UK but so far success in Australia has been modest.
Cain’s argument is that Western society has internalised an extraversion/introversion binary with the former viewed as the ideal personality trait and the latter a sign of weakness – a deficit which needs overcoming. Being naturally reserved, I found this a highly emboldening read. For Cain, it’s not about one personality trait being better than the other, it’s about allowing both to coexist in a symbiotic partnership. The world needs extraverts just as much as it needs introverts. To some, this might seem an obvious statement but it’s one that has not been given a proper voice until now.
This is a very well written and researched book. On just about every page there’s an fMRI study or Harvard professor to back up her assertions, lending the book a lot more clout than other pop psychology books which enjoy commercial success.
You often hear people say a book changed their life: Cain’s book has definitely changed how I assess my own personality strengths and previously considered ‘faults.’ I would urge everyone to read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, no matter where they fall on the introvert-extrovert spectrum. It is second only to my favourite essay on shyness by Sian Prior, which appeared in Meanjin a few years back and thankfully lives on through their website.