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.

Goodreads

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.

Goodreads

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 (and much valued!) 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 No Happy Nonsense (formerly Hastiest Handiworks - also Shiitake Worsthand - also Strange Crust) another website hosted here on Neocities. It includes essays and opinions, podcasts and fiction.

REAL NAME: Mike

incessantpain

incessantpain

I'm a former child from California living in Yokohama, Japan. I mainly read historical non-fiction and post-war Japanese novels. Sewing and taking photos on a film camera take up most of my free time. My username is from a sound clip of a friend saying "exceptional pain" later used as a ringtone.


incessantpain is the creator of the Neocities site incessantpain, chock full of personal writing and thoughts.

NickoHeap

NickoHeap

I 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, and has also begun a YouTube channel of the same name.

REAL NAME: Layton

▼ One-time (but still valued!) Reviewers

Gigzymandias

Gigzymandias

I have a degree in Graphic Arts and I spend most of my free time on the Net playing video games.

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.


Gigzymandias reached world number 1 rank for Doom Eternal in November 2021. On 27 November 2021 he competed in Friday Night Fights: Battlemode which is available to see on YouTube. He is interviewed after his win. If you're interested to watch it, follow this link, then skip 8 minutes and 12 seconds from the beginning in, to get past the wait screen.

Gigzymandias also has his own YouTube channel.

REAL NAME: Lachlan

Raven

Raven

I live in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney.

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

16 May 2022

Our return to the Book Barn

Back in February I returned to the Book Barn in Berrima, otherwise known as Berkelouw, for the first time in over thirty years. I placed pictures of the Book Barn in my blog post back in February if you wish to view the archived post.

This weekend Toriaz was heading back to the area for another parkrun, this time for a new course. She suggested I come and we head to the Book Barn again after her run.

We didn’t stay as long this time, but I found some treasures I was quite excited about. I’ve written in this blog recently that I had editions of The Tale of Genji on order. I had hoped to get at least one hardback edition, but hardback editions of Washburn’s translation were going for over $800 last time I looked, and I’d found the hardback edition of Royall Tyler’s translation north of $500. I had ordered the paperback editions of these two translations.

I found a hardback edition of Genji on the shelves for recently acquired books almost immediately after we entered the Book Barn . This was the Seidensticker translation, and it was quite lovely, although it was slightly damaged. As I looked in the main part of the store I found the Tyler edition I still have on order, in hardback. It was in beautiful condition and only $100. I decided to get it.

I also found a few copies of Samuel Pepys’s diary. The Book Barn has an edition of the complete diary for $400, which is in beautiful condition, but that set is unfortunately missing three of the eleven volumes. I had long considered reading the diary and Toriaz had bought a cheap short version in Everyman’s edition a few weeks ago. This is the three volume set Toriaz bought:

The Book Barn had that edition, but I also found a single volume edition of The Shorter Pepys, edited by Robert Latham, which was in mint condition. It includes a good introduction and background as well as pictures, and it was only $3 more than the Everyman edition. So I bought that too. Here are my two new books:

The Genji is actually in a slipcase and is in two volumes. These are the covers of the two volumes:

The book is illustrated throughout, including illustrated notes at the back of the second volume. This is an example of what the pages look like:

I’m still waiting for my paperback edition of Tyler’s Genji to arrive. I’ve had no update on that at the moment. I’m not worried about having two copies, since I’ll be happy to travel with the paperback version and even write notes in it. Also, I did a search for the edition of Genji I bought. Both the book website I buy from in Australia and Amazon now list the book as no longer available. I think I got lucky!

- bikerbuddy

10 May 2022

Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

I had just started writing a blog post about something else this morning when Lucy, our dog, started barking, and I realised that her arch nemesis, the postman, was heading to our front door. Apart from waiting for my second translation of A Tale of Genji, I didn’t know of anything else due, and Genji wasn’t due until Friday this week, at the earliest. When I held the package in my hand I knew it was either not Genji, based on the thickness of what I presumed to be a book, or my order was terribly wrong.

Instead, it was something better than that. Pan Macmillan had sent us an advance copy of Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor. It’s due out 31 May in Australia.

This is Hayley Scrivenor’s first book. She has a PhD in Creative Writing. An earlier version of the book was shortlisted for the Penguin Literary Prize and it won the Killing Your Darlings Unpublished Manuscript Award.

At the moment, I am halfway through reading Vasily Grossman’s Stalingrad. But I will try to juggle my time and reading priorities to get Dirt Town read and reviewed as soon as I can.

For further information from the publisher, you can visit the Pan Macmillan website by clicking here.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan and Hayley Scrivenor for the advanced copy!

- bikerbuddy

5 May 2022

Three New Books

I had had two editions of the unabridged The Tale of Genji on order from an internet company for a month, and I had had no word about the order despite the estimated delivery date passing. Then, when I went into Sydney on the weekend I saw one of the editions – the translation by Dennis Washburn – in Abbeys Bookstore for less than I was paying online. So I rang the online company the next day and cancelled the order for that edition. They apologised and updated their estimated delivery for the Royall Tyler edition I still had on order: a further two weeks! I’m not convinced it will be here that soon.

After I partially cancelled the order I went back to Sydney and did some book shopping. I bought the Washburn translation of The Tale of Genji, along with Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman and Steve Toltz’s new book, Here Goes Nothing. Here are the covers:

Here Goes Nothing by Steve Toltz Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman The Tale of Genji by Mursaki Shikibu Translated by Dennis Washburn

I bought Life and Fate because I am currently reading Grossman’s other major novel about the defence of Russia against Germany in World War II, Stalingrad. I bought Toltz’s new novel (it was only released that very day) because I’ve read Toltz’s two other novels (before we started this website) and I enjoyed them both. Toltz is an Australian novelist. His first novel, A Fraction of the Whole, was an example of a gifted writer who could tell an outrageously tall tale which was highly entertaining, but also had something to say about Australian culture at the same time. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2008.

As for The Tale of Genji, I recently reviewed the original English translation by Kenchō Suematsu. That edition only included the first 17 of the work’s 54 chapters, so it is heavily abridged. I hope to do something with the two complete translations by Washburn and Tyler, perhaps something along the lines of what I did with The Count of Monte Cristo. I took the following picture to give a sense of the vast difference between the abridged version by Suematsu and the complete Washburn edition:

A comparison between two editions of The Tale of Genji

- bikerbuddy

2 May 2022

A simple preference for the International Booker winner

Last month we wrote in this blog about the Women’s Prize for fiction shortlist and the International Booker Prize shortlist being announced, along with the Stella Prize announcement, a literary prize in Australia for female authors, which was won by Evelyn Araluen for her book of poetry, Dropbear.

The winner for the Women’s Prize will be announced on the 15 June. More immediately, the winner for the International Booker Prize will be announced on 26 May.

I haven’t read any of the International Booker shortlist this year and I acknowledge I simply don’t have time. I saw a few of the nominated books on the shelves of our Sydney bookshops yesterday, but I could form no opinion as to which I would prefer. So, given my time constraints and my commitment to try to read and review all Booker Prize winners for this website, eventually, I decided the only preference I might express is that the winner is one of the shorter entries. Last year, David Diop won for his brilliant book about war, At Night All Blood is Black. It was short enough that it could be read in one sitting.

- bikerbuddy

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