It’s been a couple of weeks since the last Books Spark Joy post due to all the Cross My Heart launch shenanigans but today we’re back with romance author Sasha Wasley. Sasha lives and writes in the Perth hills region with her partner and two daughters. A lover of animals, Sasha spends her free time pottering in the garden with her flock of backyard chickens. Although she’s in her forties, she still wants a pony. And what’s wrong with that?
Over to Sasha…
My bookshelves tell the story of my life.
I still have my first favourite book – the book my mother used to read to me before I could read myself (Dr Seuss’ Are You My Mother?). I have my favourites from when I learned to read: Humphrey the Friendly Camel, Percy the Platypus, Harriet the Spy, Alice in Wonderland. I adored historical fiction and kept my beloved old copies of What Katy Did, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and Jane Eyre. There are still some Agatha Christies in my collection and also I loved comics. I have kept Garfield, Footrot Flats and, from my teen years, The Far Side.
These were mostly hand-me-downs and birthday presents and, occasionally, loan items never returned to the school library. It wasn’t until the 1990s – my twenties – that I first began to buy my own books. That was after I’d moved out of home and had a meagre student income, was attending university and consuming a lot of fringe comedy. I have a solid collection from that period: my uni textbooks that included both fiction and non-fiction (I studied literature and cultural theory); from Marx, Freud, Derrida and Foucault to Dumas, Bronte, Chernin and Modjeska. I also collected comedic biography and parody: Helen Razer and Mikey Robins, Flacco and Sandman, Judy Horacek and Mr Bean. I needed things to read for pleasure in between the serious analysis!
Gradually, my theory books became more honed in topic. I commenced a PhD in feminist literature and built a collection of academic work: Irigaray and Kristeva, de Certeau and books about the various ways of doing feminism: Feminist Nightmares and The Lesbian Pillowbook. Simultaneously, kids’ books made a reappearance on my bookshelves. My two children came into the world and with them, new favourites developed: Mem Fox and Aaron Blabey; Hairy Maclary and Dear Zoo. There are pre-primary portfolios and baby books. There’s also a wealth of Austen and a goodly collection of non-fiction on art, birds, wildflowers, history and recipes. And crossword puzzle books.
In recent years, my bookshelves have welcomed more novels – both commercial and ‘literary’ fiction – especially mystery, psychological thrillers and a splash of paranormal. Since getting published, I’ve been sent books from other authors and publishers. Being sent books is not at all like selecting books for yourself. I don’t always like or even get the chance to read these; and sometimes I enjoy them but know I will never read them again. As a result, I have developed an in-rotation shelf. I keep these books on a small shelf near the front door and invite visitors to take a book or two. I hope the books will find a home with someone who loves them.
I don’t hoard books. Conscious of the scarcity of shelves and the desire not to accumulate too much stuff, I try to borrow from the library or e-read. Most of my books sit on my Kindle, these days. I download a lot of samples! It’s kind of the equivalent of browsing a bookstore for me. I clean them out whenever my Kindle starts to run slow.
I have four main bookshelves in my home. One is more of a storage unit for my sale copies of my own books. The second is a combination DVD, CD and bookshelf that houses my partner’s high geek and sci-fi collection. The third is my ‘life story’ bookshelf described above.
The last is new. It holds the various formats and editions of my own published books, some framed photos, my thesis, a vintage typewriter and my collection of bird ornaments. I’m working on it slowly and I think it will eventually hold my absolute favourites, my old faithfuls, my trusted reference books (including my beloved 1934 Oxford dictionary) and the special books in my life.
Books that Spark Joy
One book that sparks joy for me is Alice in Wonderland. When I pick it up, it generates memories of an old Disney animated film, a 45rpm vinyl soundtrack, Book Week costumes, comfort reading during newborn parenthood and heavy literary theory, reading to my kids, characters that inspire my own work, and a killer essay on the subversion of great British institutions.
Another book that sparks joy for me is my own first Australian publication, Dear Banjo. It has a beautiful cover and whenever I see or hold it, it brings back the joy of becoming a published author, the thrill of seeing my own book on the shelves of Australian bookstores and the wonderful support of my friends, family and readers.
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