When she's not on stage or at the barre, Benedicte Bemet always has her head in a book. A voracious reader, the Principal Artist at the Australian Ballet shares with us her essential reads, childhood favourites and the books that changed her life.
The last book I read was... 'Your Own Kind of Girl' by Clare Bowditch. It was a thought-provoking, and sometimes heart-breaking read dealing with anxiety, body image and trauma. She describes certain feelings and moments from her life honestly and reflectively. I like how she captured the complex beauty of life.
I am currently reading... 'The Resilience Project' by Hugh Van Cuylenburg. With all that's happening in the world right now, I thought this would be a great read to keep me feeling motivated and grateful for the beautiful things in life. Hugh passionately shares his learnings from interactions with students living in poverty in India, to world renowned athletes to show how gratitude and empathy can positively affect our lives. I think we can all take something away from this book.
Images left to right: by Kate Longley and by Coco Mathieson
My favourite book... 'A Little Life' by Hanya Yanagihara. This book completely tore me apart. Delicately written and thoroughly explored, Hanya tells the story of four close friends affected by one's hidden trauma. Although much of the content is heavy and devastating, Hanya drew thoughts and emotions out of me that I didn't realise were there. I honestly couldn't put it down.
My actual favourite book... 'A Fraction of the Whole' by Steve Toltz. A hilarious adventure about a boy trying to understand his paranoid father.
I was laughing out loud in one moment and on the verge of tears the next.
You are transported into his world and can't believe where the story ends up, definitely a must read!
The character I most identify with is... This is a hard one. I don't know that there is one specific character, but qualities in characters that I relate to. Anyone that is tenacious, wears their heart of their sleeve and is curious to learn captivates me. I also love when a character or story is swapped around and you're made to question everything you thought that was right. There's so much to learn about yourself from a good book.
The book that changed my life is... 'Grit...The power of passion and perseverance' by Angela Duckworth. This book was actually a gift from my boyfriend during a really difficult period in my life. I was injured and had been for a while. There wasn't much sign of recovery and I knew the path ahead was going to be long and difficult. After I finished the book, I immediately read through it again with a pen to make notes.
I'm grateful for it because it reminded me of my passion and that there are no failures, only lessons learnt. If we can keep that mindset great things can be accomplished. Everyone should read this book.
The best book I ever received is... besides 'Grit' it would be 'A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius' by Dave Eggers. This was given to me as a 'chookas' present (a good luck present) before a debut show. I have loved Dave Eggers' writing and this was no exception. It was witty, honest, heartbreaking and (can I say?) genius. True to style, his flowing sentence structure is unique and has the uncanny ability to make you feel like you are living inside the head of the characters.
The book I would give as a gift is... 'The Museum of Modern Love' by Heather Rose. This book follows fictional characters who attend a performance by Marina Abramović – a real-life performance artist. The themes of love, connection and understanding perfectly encapsulate why art is important and how it brings people together. The characters are diverse, complex and nuanced. How they come together and what they observe over the course of the fictional re-telling of Abramović’s performance is deeply moving.
My childhood favourite book is... 'Jasper Jones' by Craig Silvey. Funnily enough I wasn't much of a reader growing up but I remember the first book I fell in love with was this one. Jasper is witty, smart and going through teenage drama. I really related to everything he was going through at the time. I completely fell into his world and loved it. A great one for teens.
My favourite writer is... this is too hard, I can't have one! Aside from the author's mentioned, I love Zadie Smith, Donna Tart, Meg Wolitzer and Bri Lee just to name a few. These are all authors that I connect with. When I read their work I understand more about myself and the world around me.
I like that it forces me to consider different opinions and reflect on what I think and why.
I love this about reading! It gives you an opportunity to learn, reflect and grow.
The book everyone should read at least once is... 'Educated' by Tara Westover and 'The Body is Not an Apology' by Sonya Renee Taylor. 'Educated' blew me away! It was eye-opening to read how Tara had grown up and what she had to overcome to get an education. Stories like this are so important. We need to understand the different backgrounds people come from in order to have empathy for each other. 'The Body is Not an Apology' is such an empowering read for anyone who has struggled with body image issues. Understanding how we think about our own bodies is so important to help dismantle negative thought patterns and body shaming. Our bodies are beautiful things.