Storytime: Growing up with books (Jane Sullivan, Ventura)
Storytime is a delightful collection of essays by literary journalist Jane Sullivan on her favourite childhood books, revisited as an adult. Best known as the scribe behind the Saturday Age’s weekly column ‘Turning Pages’, Sullivan has always been besotted with books. In Storytime, she turns her attention to some of the world’s most beloved titles: Little Women, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Winnie-the-Pooh, The Magic Pudding and The Enchanted Castle. She reflects on what she enjoyed about them as a child and what she noticed upon re-reading through a considerably darker adult lens. But this is more than a simple exercise in nostalgia—Sullivan also delves into the history of the books and their critical reception over the years. This yields fascinating insights: did you know The Wind in the Willows was judged ‘monstrous and elusive’ when it was first published? Sullivan also includes musings from other Australian writers including Alice Pung, Graeme Simsion and Melina Marchetta on their childhood favourites and the emotional experience of reading. The only criticism that can be made of Storytime is that it may not include your childhood favourites—but that is all the more reason to consider what your own shortlist might be. For book nerds and trivia fans everywhere, this book is heaven, rich with perspicacity and humour.
Hilary Simmons is a former assistant editor at Books+Publishing and a freelance copywriter, journalist and editor