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Q&A with Ben Hobson on the Australian Reading Hour

September 11, 2017

Thursday 14th September 2017: pick up a book and read for an hour.
Find out more about the Australian Reading Hour here.

What is Australian Reading Hour?

Australian Reading Hour is where, on the 14th of September, you choose to read for one hour, any time, day or night. It’s encouraging people to read and be super-awesome in general.

What are some of the benefits of reading?

The biggest benefit of reading, to me, is how it makes you a more empathetic person. In our modern world it is extremely easy to judge people based on your perception of them – reading puts us in their shoes, and helps us understand that these people we disagree with are people too, and deserve respect, and care.

When and where is your favourite place to read?

My favourite place to read is in bed, before I fall asleep. I’ve developed this habit since I was a kid, and it’s way healthier to fall asleep after reading than after watching YouTube on your phone. The flickering of electronic devices stimulates the brain in a pretty bad way when you’re trying to get a good rest.

Where will you be reading on Thursday, 14 September?

I’ll be in the last week of the school term, so I think I might read at home, after the kids are in bed.

Why are Australian stories and Australian books important?

They are vital. Books shape and reflect culture, and we’re still learning what ours is all about. There has been so much written about the Australian way of life – from a multitude of perspectives – that we’re slowly discovering who we are. I remember reading Wake in Fright and finding out about a side of Australia I never knew existed – same goes for any Paul Jennings story when I was a kid.

What is your favourite Australian book?

Honestly – probably The Narrow Road to the Deep North. That book is a work of stark beauty. I find it difficult to understand a person wrote it. It felt it was born naturally out of the dirt, like it has always been written, and Richard Flanagan just unearthed it.

What will you be reading on 14 September?

I’m preparing to do a few author talks coming up, so I’ll either be reading Parting Words by Cass Moriarty, or Bridget Crack by Rachel Leary.

Why are bookshops and shopping centres such important community hubs?

I think they breed thought and discussion by sheer dint of housing so many books. Some of the kindest people work in book stores, and some of the best people frequent them!

Ben Hobson’s first novel, To Become A Whale, is published by Allen & Unwin.


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