Book Club / People

RUSSH Book Club: the forever must-reads

What makes a classic? In celebration of our ‘Time’ issue, five enthusiasts share the books they’ll always return to. These are the must-reads you’ll want to keep on your list.

Andréa Tchacos

Deputy Editor, RUSSH Magazine

Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem: This could have very easily been The White Album (partially for the opportunity to cite that famous packing list). The important thing is that it’s Didion. And her essays, always her essays. The first time I read On Self-Respect I felt a sense of peace, having discovered a guru I could relate to (it was enough to drown out my inferiority complex: she wrote it to an exact character count at age 26). As a human, Didion reminds me what a pleasure it is to think. But also that the associated pain is universal. As a writer, she reminds me what a privilege it is to get it down on paper. Each revisit to her efficient prose is a lesson in saying what one really means.

Anna Harrison

Contributing Editor  /  Founder, Words of Note

Rainer Maria Rilke: Letters to a Young Poet: The gems of insight in this tiny sliver of a book are invaluable. Not just for a poet, not just for a writer, but for anyone who seeks to plumb the depths of their own soul and create something true. To a young poet seeking his sage advice, Rilke offers words of immense beauty, depth and sincerity of heart. Letters to a Young Poet is an illuminating, gently confronting, timeless piece of work that arrived in my life as a young writer and has remained a reliable lifeline throughout the years. It never fails to reveal something new, something golden, right when I need it.

Georgia Graham

Writer

Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews by Calvin Tomkins is a work I find myself recommending to friends again and again. A long-form interview between the artist and Tomkins, his biographer and friend, Duchamp’s wit, ingenuity and general charm exude effortlessly from the pages of this slim 100-page volume. Perfect for putting in your pocket and re-reading for an easy dose of inspiration.

Winnie Dunn

Writer / Arts Worker

Sweatshop Women: Volume One is an exciting and contemporary collection of prose and poetry designed, edited and written by women from Indigenous, migrant and refugee backgrounds. As a mixed-race Tongan-Australian woman from Mount Druitt, seeing myself reflected truthfully in the stories of other women like me, shows me that women of colour have a unique ability to create and reclaim fiction from the most hardest and marginalised of places.

Jess Blanch

Editor In Chief, RUSSH Magazine

The Early Diary of Anaïs Nin: Volume Three: What constitutes a classic truly depends on who we are. Anaïs Nin lives permanently on my bedside table in many forms, but especially via her diaries which, although written in the 1920s, speak loudly to me when I feel like I am living in the in-between. She writes this: “I know why families were created with all their imperfections. They humanise you. They are made to make you forget yourself occasionally, so that the beautiful balance of life is not destroyed. When the labour of art obsesses you, when creation and thought isolate you and congeal your heart, they come with petty requests and little tyrannies totally unrelated to your mind’s life – and you take care of their colds, shop with them, help them with their hobbies, tolerate their intrusions, and you live their life with them for a little while.”