Welcome to this month’s Six Degrees of Separation, a literary meme created by Annabel Smith and Emma Chapman in which we link a book to six others in any way that comes to mind. After months of beginning Six Degrees with books I’ve not yet read, April starts with one I have: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.
After hearing so much hype about The Rosie Project, I wondered if I would be disappointed. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. The main character, Don, reminded me of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, and from early on, I wondered whether they were both on the autism spectrum.
The protagonist of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon is on the autism spectrum, although very different to Don and Sheldon. The Curious Incident stayed with me for a long time after I read the last page, and caused me to reevaluate how I viewed and interacted with people on the autism spectrum as well as others with a range of special needs or disabilities.
My daughter is currently reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time with her class and thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve had to talk her out of borrowing it from the library and reading ahead of the teacher. Another book she loved is Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts. In fact, she has declared that it may just be the best book she’s ever read – although she added that there was some bad language, and was possibly better suited for someone a little older (she’s 10 and it is classified as a YA novel).
A J Betts is a Western Australian writer of YA fiction, as is Kate McCaffrey, who has written Crashing Down. I had the pleasure of meeting Kate last week at an event Fremantle Press held for their authors – of which I am now one, apparently. But more of that in another post.
A writer I haven’t met, but would like to, is Anita Heiss, who wrote Am I Black Enough for You? This memoir breaks through many stereotypes about what it means to be Aboriginal, and explains that identifying with her Aboriginal heritage has nothing to do with the colour of her skin. It offers an insight into her experience of dealing with prejudice and misinformed judgement. And while many aspects of our life and background are different, I also discovered we had numerous things in common.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee also challenges the way we treat those who are different to us. One of my favourite quotes of all time comes from this novel and has become a driving motivator in writing and in life:
Another quote I love comes from Maya Angelou:
While I discovered the To Kill a Mockingbird quote by reading the novel, it was people sharing well-known Maya Angelou quotes after her death that led me to the eloquence and wisdom in her poetry and books, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
I started with a light-hearted read about a man in search of a wife. I side-stepped to a couple of YA novels before ending with several books that have impacted me in some way. But all of them invite me to consider things from someone else’s perspective, to ‘climb inside of his [or her] skin and walk around it.’