Women & Their Books: Vita O'Brien

Somehow we are in December and it's time for the final Women & Their Books post for 2018. Today we have the lovely Vita aka exlibrisvita on Instagram. She is currently studying English Literature at Victoria University (the dream) and also contributes to Undone Journal. When she's not studying, she reads-a lot! Her answers below will be testament to that.

what are you currently reading
*Technically, I've been reading a handful of books all year because I'm very good at starting books and forgetting about them! But, the one that I'm really actively reading right now is Ali Smith's collection Public Library which I am really loving. My first Smith and I cannot wait to read more of her work.

you've studied children's literature. is there a book you've found through it that you wish you'd read as a child?
*I honestly loved Watership Down by Richard Adams, and I think it would have been a great one to have been read by my Mum or Grandma. It's not as blood and guts as people hype it up to be! I also think I would've really enjoyed A Stitch In Time by Penelope Lively, back when I was obsessed with history and reading as much historical fiction as possible. It's a really lovely coming of age story that I think would resonate with a lot of imaginative young girls.

seeing as it's nearly the end of 2018, what has been your favourite book of the year and why?
*How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee. I read this just after finishing a course in creative nonfiction at uni and it was the exact right thing to read at that time. I was so inspired by Chee's ability to play with the form and make it whatever he wanted it to be. I'd really recommend it to anyone who loves personal essays-you don't have to know anything about him to enjoy this work. I didn't and I absolutely loved every word! My favourite essay was 'The Rotary' which you can read here

what books are currently on your wishlist?
*Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, Orlando by Virginia Woolf and I'd love to read The Diary of Frida Kahlo at some point soon too.

a book you wish would be adapted for film or tv?
*This is SO hard. I would usually say the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman. I think that it's already being adapted for TV (we won't talk about that dreadful movie). I've just glanced over at my bookshelf and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern jumped ou at me. If they could pull that off I would love it so much. I think it'd be better suited to TV than film though-to be honest, I think most books are. Film often has difficulty pulling off the nuances of books. 

what's your favourite book or piece of writing by a writer and why?
* #1 The Three Loves of Persimmon by Cassandra Golds. This book got me through a really tough patch in high school and I still love the imagery and story so deeply. A coming of age story with a healthy dash of magic and painful honesty about life as a young woman. Who doesn't love a story starring a mouse and a florist? #2 Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote. I'll be honest, I read this one because I was obsessed with Audrey Hepburn at the time but it's now one of my all time favourites in its own right. I find Capote's use of language so captivating and the nuances of Holly and the narrator are incredible when you consider what a short little novella it is. #3 The Story Girl by LM Montgomery-she ain't just about those Green Gables books. This book just stuck with me. Maybe because the heroine was a badass dreamer who was determined to get famous by telling stories or maybe it was just Montgomery's wonderful way with words. Either way it is a book i'll always cherish and I hope I get to pass it down to my kids one day.

finally, what is one book you think every woman should read?
*The first book that came to my head was The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. I read this one in high school and it really found me at the perfect time and is a book I think about quite frequently. I think as women we're often expected to be understanding of other people's needs before our own and often get placed in the role of "mothering" others when it's really not appropriate. I'm really lucky to have grown up in a generation where that is changing but there are still aspects of that attitude that are highly present in our society. Palmer's book talks a lot about the power of asking for help when you need it, speaking up and making yourself be seen. She also talks about making an effort to really see other people-to stop and pause and look around ourselves. I know it's talked about a lot, but the intensity of our social media age is really scary sometimes and any book that reminds us to really look at the people around us, and to speak up if we need help, is truly valuable.

-Thanks to Vita for being December's Women+Their Books interviewee! I'll be bringing this feature back in 2019 so keep an eye out for more interviews then.

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