About the Reading Project

We started the Reading Project at the beginning of 2017. bikerbuddy was interested to learn website design and has had a lifelong passion for books, so he encouraged it. We told friends we would be starting a website and invited anyone interested to contribute. Naturally, a stack of people opted in, knowing that none of us knew anything about websites, I suspect, and assuming that we would lose interest in a short time. When we didn't lose interest and started to get a few pages together, we found there was actually only three of us willing to review regularly.

We had read about reading challenges on social media that tried to encourage reading a wide variety of books in a year. We wanted this site to be more encouraging than competitive, so we called it a project, rather than a challenge. While most of our friends haven't written for the site, we still encourage them to look at it and engage in discussions about books, which was the site's original intention.

We all live in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, in a town called Springwood. The pictures scrolling below try to give a sense of where we live. We'll add some more as time goes on.

We will happily accept reviews from anyone interested enough to write one. For more information on how to submit reviews to us, click here.

The Turning Page Bookstore, Springwood

A Street Library, Springwood

Dr Baxter Gates, Springwood War Memorial

Springwood Presbyterian Church and main street of Springwood shops

Springwood Train Station

Braemar Gallery, home to Springwood art exhibitions and library, and The Hub, used for live entertainment

Main Reviewers

bikerbuddy

bikerbuddy

I had the idea to start this website because I wanted to learn a bit about website design. I suggested reviews because I've been an avid reader all my life and I knew that reviewing would give us an endless source of new material to post.

I studied English literature and Communications many years ago, now. I worked as an English teacher for 25 years.

I prefer 'literature' rather than genre fiction, and I enjoy reading non-fiction, too. However, I try to read a variety of books. My reviews tend to be favourable since I choose which books I wish to read and review, unlike a professional reviewer.

My site tag is taken from my love of mountain biking. The Blue Mountains west of Sydney is a great place to do this. Unfortunately, as I get older, I've become unfit. I tend to work on this site and read books more these days.

I once received an email addressed to the "staff of the Reading Project". That amused me, since there is really only three of us and we make no money from this site. It's just a hobby.

REAL NAME: Mark

Toriaz

Toriaz

I enjoy reading and thought that reviewing for this website would encourage me to read more often. Bikerbuddy and I came up with the idea while we discussed reading challenges we were seeing on social media.

I studied physics and have taught physics at university. I have worked as a scientist, but in my later career I now work for the government.

I like a range of fiction and non-fiction books, and I think this shows in the books I have reviewed for this site so far.

However, my favourite genre is Crime Fiction. I have read most of the Sherlock Holmes stories and Agatha Christie novels. I prefer the cosy detective branch of Crime Fiction most.

My site tag is based upon my real name.

REAL NAME: Victoria

WaywardWoman

WaywardWoman

I am a retired teacher who taught Social Sciences in high school, with a focus on Geography and Asian Studies, initially, but Legal Studies and Business Studies later on. I still work a day a week in a Blue Mountains school.

Now, I like spending my time with family, friends and Lucy, our wonder dog, watching movies and TV series, traveling as much as possible and getting out geocaching (a worldwide treasure hunt using a GPS to find things).

When I get time (though I’m mostly retired, there often isn’t a lot of it) I like to read books that are funny, especially those aimed at women. I also like crime thrillers and more recently, biographies. I also keep my brain active with my daily dose of word games.

My site tag is abased on a joke name I was given years ago. It is based on my love of chocolate rather than anything nefarious.

REAL NAME: Jenny

Occasional Reviewers

Hasty

Hasty

I am an entity who enjoys reading and writing words, occasionally pictures. I used to pay a big organization to read and write words for four years. Later, I was paid to write words by a smaller organization. Now I have a strictly sexual relationship with words and the writing of them, no organizations allowed.

I was originally born as a Ford 3910 Tractor but thanks to hard work, the socioeconomic status of my family, and the gift of a multi-directional energy stone from a mysterious stranger who simply addressed himself as "M. Jordan," I was able to transmogrify into a mostly human looking male, though my features are distinctly more abstract and "alarming" than the current pinnacle of human male desirability, one Mr. John Stamos.

I'm hoping that reviewing books for this webterzone will be my ticket to strike it rich. I've packed up all my belongings into my wagon and set my compass westward, with nothing else but the dream of gold in my eyes and a song in my heart. Surely a book review at no more than one per month is a fool-proof way to become rich and famous, right?


Hasty is the designer and author of Shiitake Worsthand another website hosted here on Neocities. It includes essays and opinions, podcasts and fiction.


REAL NAME: Mike

NickoHeap

NickoHeap

I'm 20 years old and like reading, although music and video games take up most of my free time.

I'm a student at the University of Sydney. I am studying speech therapy.

I plan to write more, but other interests usually take up my time.

My site tag is based upon a character in a book I liked when I was a kid.

NickoHeap is the designer and author of Latest Spin, a music review website.

REAL NAME: Layton

One-time Reviewers

Gigzymandias

Gigzymandias

I'm 22 years old with a degree in Graphic Arts. I spend most of my free time on the Net playing video games, mostly Rainbow 6 Siege.

I've taken my reviewer name from the username I use on gaming sites.

‘Gigzymandias’ is a combination of computer terminology (eg ‘gigabytes’) and ‘Ozymandias’, the title of the poem by Percy Shelley, which was a large inspiration for my final year art major work in high school.

REAL NAME: Lachlan

Raven

Raven

I live in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, and attend high school.

My passion is dancing. I have been attending a dance school since I was little, learning both contemporary and classical dance, including ballet. I have only recently gone en pointe.

I have only written one short review for this website. I might write more sometime in the future.

REAL NAME: Niamh (pronounced Neev (an Irish name))

Seppy

Seppy

No one has seen the mysterious Seppy since he posted his one review and then went into hiding from the government.

REAL NAME: Seppy

Blog Contributions

24 September 2020

My Old Doctor Who Book

Alicia, who produces the thedigitaldiarist website on Neocities, posted a link to one of her follower’s YouTube channels, Clever Dick Films, about a series of documentaries on Doctor Who. I wrote in a note to her yesterday of an old book I have from when I studied Film Theory way back when. My lecturer, John Tulloch, had written a book on Doctor Who with Manuel Alvaredo. Tulloch used episodes from the show in his course. I thought that rather than trying to say anything further through the Neocities notes, I would put a short blog post here about the book. I checked Amazon and they currently have one paperback and one hardback copy remaining. Naturally, you could look that up, but I like to feel useful. The Amazon link is here.

Some of the material in the book might be considered a bit out of date now, especially given that the series was rebooted in 2005. The book examines the show in the context of the television industry and its audience, and applies Marxist and Structural approaches to analyse the show, overall, as well as specific episodes. It takes a roughly chronological approach by focusing on the different doctors, and follows the development of the show and its ideology over time, including its development from a science fiction show to its increasing use of self-parody and self-reflexivity during Tom Baker’s period when Douglas Adams was script editor for a short time. The book also considers how the show approached the social dynamics of power as well as issues like the environment. There are two Appendices. The first lists every episode in table form from the first season with William Hartnell as the Doctor (‘An Unearthly Child’), through to the end of season 6 with Peter Davidson as the doctor (‘The Five Doctors’). The table includes the name of every episode, the writers, directors and designers, script editors and, of course, the actor playing the doctor. Unfortunately, it doesn’t also list the doctor’s companions for each episode.

The second appendix gives a short reading list. Again, this is probably woefully out of date by now.

I had other books on the show years ago, but they weren’t academic texts and I’m not really sure if I still have them.

My apologies to Alicia who wrote that she would love to know more about the book, given that her interest may merely have been a politeness. But I don’t mind the opportunity to ramble on about an old book that took my interest many years ago. Rambling on about books is what this website was made for!

- bikerbuddy

20 September 2020

Book Library Books

I went to our local Salvation Army Store yesterday to see if I could pick up a few cheap books for my new Street Library. A lady in my street told me she likes thrillers, whichI don't read, so I wanted to pick up a couple, along with anything else that might be interesting. I placed James Patterson's The Big Bad Wolf in my library yesterday afertnooon. I noticed this morning that it had already been taken, replaced by a Wilbur Smith book!

I guess picking up some thrillers was a good idea!

- Toriaz

18 September 2020

New Books!

I went to Penrith last night with the intention of buying Susanna Clarke’s new book, Piranesi. I read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell years ago and loved it, so I was always going to buy Clarke’s new book, especially since it’s been released as a beautiful hardcover.

But as a sign of my weakness whenever I enter a bookstore, I also bought Ken Follett’s prequel to The Pillars of the Earth (another great read from years ago), The Evening and the Morning, and Avni Doshi’s Burnt Sugar, which appealed to me most out of the Booker shortlist this year. I’ve also read Follett’s sequel, World Without End, but another indicator of my addiction is that I’ve had the third book in the Kingsbridge Novels, A Column of Fire, sitting on my shelf for several years waiting to be read. I just have so many books I want to read and so little time to read them!

- bikerbuddy

16 September 2020

Booker Prize 2020 Shortlist Announced

The 2020 shortlist for the Booker Prize has been announced, with Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light not making the cut. I admit I was disappointed. I read the book earlier this year and thought it was more than worthy of winning Mantel a third Booker for her Thomas Cromwell series. It would have made her the only author ever to have won three times.

What’s more, this will be the first time since we started this website in 2017 that I haven’t picked/guessed the winner. Naturally, I will read the winner some time after it is announced in November. I will probably enjoy it and think it good, but know secretly my book should have won!!!

I’m about halfway through Erin Morgenstern’s The Starless Sea, but won’t get that finished until early next week, given my week ahead. I will be starting this year’s International Booker winner after that, The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld.

- bikerbuddy

10 September 2020

Women's Prize for Fiction Announced

This year marks the 25th anniversary for the Women’s Prize for Fiction. It was originally set to be announced on 3 June this year, but was delayed due to COVID-19. After the long wait, Maggie Farrell was announced as the winner in an online ceremony overnight, for Hamnet, her novel inspired by the death of Shakespeare’s son from the plague at age 11.

Others on the shortlist this year were:

  • Bernadine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other (co-winner of the 2019 Booker prize);
  • Hilary Mantel for The Mirror and the Light (longlisted for this year’s Booker prize – the shortlist will be announced next week);
  • Angie Cruz for Dominica;
  • Natalie Haynes for A Thousand Ships;
  • Jenny Offill for Weather.

The Women’s Prize website has a reading challenge/digital bookclub to mark the 25th anniversary. You can join in as the book club reads all of the 24 previous winners (one per week) then vote for your favourite before November. Each of the books has a downloadable reading guide and discussion points.

- Toriaz

8 September 2020

Visit the Reading Project Street Library Page

Toriaz’s Street Library has now been published on the Australian Street Library site. For anyone interested enough to take a look at the page, click on the image below:

Meanwhile, Toriaz emailed me a review last night for Nick Bradley’s The Cat and the City, and then messaged me, asking whether I could pick up her copy of the book to scan parts of the cover not available online. I decided to make it a walk this morning and took Lucy, our dog, to visit. Lucy had the privilege of being the first dog to be tethered to the carabiner attached to the library for wandering dog lovers. To be truthful, it was done for the photo:

- bikerbuddy

7 September 2020

Toriaz’s Street Library Complete

Over the weekend I helped Toriaz complete her Street Library. I first wrote about Street Libraries in this blog back in March, which put the idea into Toriaz’s head to have one outside her house. Toriaz decided to document the final stages of its construction for this blog post, so what follows is a small photo gallery of the progress of her Street Library towards completion:

Toriaz's Cat
It’s taken us a couple of months to get around to finally putting up the library. During that time, Toriaz’s cat happily made use of the space while a comfy bed recently bought for him remained unused.
Constructing the Pole and Platform
The first step: I constructed the pole and platform Toriaz had painted. I used 150mm batten screws driven through the top of the platform and down into the post to secure the platform which would support the library. I used 75mm batten screws to secure the angled supports to the post and the underside of the platform.
Inspecting the Hole

I checked the hole for debris. As previously described in this blog post, we dug the hole a few weeks ago, primarily to see if the position was feasible and to gauge the proper height to cut the post

Bracing the Post

This is how I braced the pole to get it level. It’s not professional looking but it does the job. Last year when I constructed a dog enclosure in our back yard I had to put eleven poles in the ground, and I did it all like this.

Levelling the Post

Some of the photos, taken at an angle, make the Street Library look crooked. But there’s the bubble, right in the middle of the post leveller

Mixing the Concrete

The instructions on the bag of concrete say the concrete can be poured into the hole and water added. I know this is a common technique, but I’ve always preferred the old way: mixing it in a wheel barrow. I feel more confident it’s properly mixed that way, and there’s less risk of knocking the post out of level.

Securing the Post

Putting in the concrete. It took three 20 kilogram bags to fix the post. Videos on the American Little Library sight suggest tamping the earth back into place is fine, but we wanted to make sure the library was secure. We’ve seen a few wobbly examples in the mountains where we live.

Attaching the Library to the Platform

I used 50 mm batten screws to secure the library to the platform, along with a 75 mm batten screw through the centre of the library so that it also sunk into the post, between the 150mm batten screws already holding the platform to the post.

A Final Coat of Paint

Toriaz had seen a hook for Library users to secure their dog on the American site. She liked the idea and wanted something similar for her library. But before we could install that she gave the post and supports another coat of paint.

The Dog Clip

We couldn’t find anything exactly the same as Toriaz found on the American site, so we installed a carabiner to secure dogs while their owners browsed.

>Side View of the Library

The last thing to do was to attach the door. We’d already installed the Perspex and attached the hinges to it earlier.

Toriaz with her New Libary

Toriaz with her completed Street Library. We inserted a little sign in the window which explains Street Libraries and also gives a link to this website.

- bikerbuddy

2 September 2020

Book Giveaway Promotion Ended

I wrapped up the book giveaway promotion for TCK Publishing.com this morning. I’ve contacted the winners and have sent their emails to the publisher to facilitate them receiving their prize.

This was an unexpected request from the publisher, but it has been welcomed as a new experience and because it suggested that we could do more than just review books on this site in the future. I’d like to thank TCK Publishing.com for considering us for their promotion. Advertisements for the two giveaway books will remain on our front page until the end of the week. There are links at the bottom of those advertisements which will take you to the authors’ websites and their pages on Amazon.com.

- bikerbuddy

1 September 2020

Street Library Progress

I helped Toriaz make some more progress with her Street Library over the weekend. She bought a post and platform for the library and I cut her some diagonal supports from wood I had. The pictures show her putting on the undercoat, and the finished purple on the pieces. The plan is to construct the whole thing next weekend if the weather cooperates.

- bikerbuddy

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