I recently returned from a trip to Australia, and two of the books I picked up while I was there were particularly illuminating about current society in Australia. They also happened to be excellent reads.
The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb
Annabel Crabb is a political commentator, journalist, and an extremely funny and witty writer. The Wife Drought is about gender imbalance in home and work life in Australia, and how women are doing the brunt of domestic and childcare work despite also being in the workforce. It isn’t just a book whining about how unfair it all is for women, though. Crabb also talks about how this is unfair on men, too, and how expectations for both mums and dads ought to change. This book came out in 2014 but I only read it a few weeks ago, and I think now was the right time for me to read it. I definitely would not have appreciated it as much if I’d read it five years ago. A highly recommended read for all mums and dads out there, even if you’re not Australian.
A Squash and a Squeeze by Julie Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
There’s a woman who lives in a house who thinks it’s a bit small. She asks a wise old man what to do, and she dutifully follows his advice (which culminates in her basically squeezing a farm of animals in her single-room cottage). In the end, she realises that her house is quite roomy after all and things could be a lot worse. I picked this as the accompanying children’s book for The Wife Drought because there aren’t really any picture books about gender imbalances in domestic and paid labour, and this has a nice element of domesticity to it. Plus I love the book.
Banking Bad by Adele Ferguson
What a depressing, fantastic book. The financial industry in Australia is basically awful and Adele Ferguson was the journalist who has been covering how terrible it is for years. Banks and other financial institutions are immersed in a culture of greed, selfishness, and shortsightedness. The regulators who are supposed to keep an eye on things were basically useless. And people were (are) getting screwed. All of this resulted in a royal commission last year, with the final report released in February 2019. It wasn’t promising. We (consumers and non-bankers) will probably continue being screwed. But this book is great! I didn’t realise that reading about the banks and the finance industry could be this interesting.
The Smartest Giant in Town by Julie Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffler
The children’s book to ‘match’ Banking Bad is almost the complete opposite. This is a book about generosity and kindness, and about giving what you have to others who might need it more. I would say that this should be compulsory reading for anyone entering the financial industry, but they probably wouldn’t get it. Another fabulous book from one of my favourite children’s writer/illustrator pairs.