This week we welcome Alissa Callen to the Books Spark Joy series.
USA Today bestselling author Alissa Callen is a country girl happiest living far from the city fringe. Alissa draws inspiration from the countryside around her and from the resilience of local bush communities. Alissa’s books are characteristically heart-warming, authentic and character driven. Alissa lives with her teenage family on a small slice of rural Australia in central western NSW.
Over to Alissa …
Books continue to be my compass. From the Dr Seuss stories that resonated as a child, to the horse books that lined my teenage bed head to the TBR piles spilling from my reading corner, stories anchor me in a busy world.
The bookshelves filling my house could only be described as curated clutter. The random assembly of titles might seem ad hoc but there is method in the madness. The reason why The Silver Brumby series by Elyne Mitchell sits beside the complete collection of Louis L’Amour westerns on the top shelf of the bookcase in my office is that they are a favourite snapshot of my reading life. In the days before the internet I’d write letters to book exchanges to track down any missing Louis L’Amour titles. While I still remember my aunt taking me (a bush kid) to a city bookstore to buy Silver Brumby Whirlwind. I’d never seen so many shelves of new books.
When I had my four children it was important to instill a love of reading. Each child had their own bookcase to fill with stories that inspired and touched them. For my non-reading son I spent years sourcing books about boy humour, yabbies and motor bikes. For my eldest daughter, it was all about when the next Harry Potter title would be released. Such books are now in boxes to be rediscovered by the next generation, but I still find myself adding to them.
As much as I savour the feel of a physical book in my hands, I also read on a tablet. There’s something to be said for being able to adjust the font size and background lighting. Some of my go-to authors also might have a novella or story out that is only available as an eBook. I don’t usually read while writing but when a book is done I binge read to refill the creative well. I usually select a genre different to mine (rural) and at the moment am loving inhabiting a regency world.
Even though books are exempt from any rare attempts to de-clutter, I do pass some onto family and friends and also like to support the local little street libraries. This is such a heart-warming concept and a perfect way to spread the love of reading. To see if there is a little street library near you search here – https://streetlibrary.org.au/find/
I am drawn to vintage books with their creased corners and cloth covers that tell a story even before the first page is turned. A particular book that brings me joy is one I found in Clunes, Victoria, which aptly is known as the town of books. The book is a 1916 edition of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and inside is the hand written name of its first owner beside the date 1918. It is incredible to think that this book was first read at the end of the First World War.
So wherever you are, I hope you can curl up somewhere with a story that speaks to something within you and that sparks a sense of joy.
You can connect with Alissa here: