Rob’s Reader of the Week – Kathleen (Magik Quilter)

Aways quick to give great reading suggestions, or to provide valuable support and advice, Kathleen is another reader I’ve meet through my novel reading challenge, and I’m so glad I did. Her love of reading and her passion for books is a huge boon to any fellow bibliophile.

In the number of  ‘booky’ discussions we’ve had (mainly based around one of our favourites – Cormac McCarthy’s The Road), an admiration has grown for Kathleen’s profound thinking. Kathleen is also the one solely responsible for introducing Kazuo Ishiguro to my reading world, through the novel Never Let Me Go, which I’m indebted to her for.

In the short time I’ve known her, I’ve always found Kathleen to be warm and friendly, and one of the few people I know who truly speaks from the heart. It’s an absolute pleasure to know her, and such is her passion for reading, that she’s wholly deserving of being in this week’s spotlight as my Reader of the Week. So without further ado – here’s Kathleen:

Hi my name is Kathleen, I live in Sydney, Australia and I am a designer artisan who makes homewares and clothing and accessories. I have been blogging for one year now and have had some interesting and not always pleasant experiences but it has opened up the world and is a great boon to me as am not as mobile as I would like to be….this way I can explore the world and its people and especially the cultures of different creatives.

1. Favourite Genre? My favourite genre is crime followed by speculative fiction and then fantasy and/or magic realism.

2. Favourite Book? Good grief…….if I had to say then: non fiction – Eli Wiesel’sNight; fiction – “The Road” by Cormack McCarthy, “Earth Abides” by George R Stewart or “Blood Music” by Greg Bear.

3. Why do you love reading so much? In my childhood I escaped an intensely jealous and violent sister by retreating into the safety of books. As I grew older…my teens I escaped the restrictions of an authoritarian family by reading. My family are not readers and have never understood why I read then or now. I enjoy it immensely and have virtually educated myself all my adult life by reading. I love to discuss books and their impact upon me and society and also love to discuss people’s differing reactions to the same book. I also like to reread books at later stages to see if I have changed in regard to my reading tastes. Currently I am not as mobile as I would like to be due to arthritis but I can still get around via my reading.

4. Favourite reading place? Snuggled under a home made quilt or knitted blanket in a really comfy armchair…with neck support. Due to the arthritis I cannot read in bed any more and need support for my neck so I slouch down and get good and comfy. …feet on ottoman of course!

5. How BIG is your reading addiction? I used to be really addicted when I was younger but it was really an escape mechanism ….then in my twenties I read to educate myself [not allowed to have university education or for that matter education past 16 because I was a girl ] read a lot of the classics that Krista is currently reading. Now that now I am older I have other obsessions ….you have no idea how addictive creativity is until you indulge in it so now I tend to read in spurts……several crime in a row and then several fantasy or speculative fiction. I may have a few weeks where I do not read but during that time I am involved heavily with reading art books and quilting and design books etc. I do however have to own all the books by all of my favourite designers so am really addicted there!

6. How do you normally add books to your collection? Thrift shops and from sales held at our local library all year. I read so much that I now refuse to pay second hand shop prices unless it is a hard to find speculative fiction or art book. The library today had a sale of five fiction hardcovers in as new condition for $1….amazing. Normally they are $2 per hardcover! Now I do love a nice hardcover and often get rid of small paperbacks but will never get rid of a hardcover…if I like it that is.

I always am given the current new books by my favourite authors for my birthday and Christmas, although I have been heard to say that if I had the money for those gifts over the years I would have enough for a studio now! They have cut back because really I do not feel it is worth thirty dollars Australian for a book which I will probably read in one sitting…..even if I do reread it at some stage in the future.

7. How do you decide what to read? I do not care much for advice from columns etc….and I never read something because it’s on the bestseller list. We read books from the current and past science fiction awards list for two years in a book group…my adult son and I…. and it put us off current science fiction….really! Loved some of the old ones though that we discovered.

8. Ebooks – love or hate? That is tricky as I am always years behind everyone else with technology….only started using a computer last year. So I have never used one. I think it would be good for me though as I do have trouble due to the weight of books and also am so fed up with dusting them and moving them from chair to floor to table to floor again as six bookcases just is not enough for my books….and I have got rid of heaps…really!!

Yesterday my son and I listened to an audio book which was especially recorded for performing…is that audio performing? It was by Saturday Night Live regular Julia Sweeney and it was brilliant! Coupled with her black humor the life altering events became so vivid and indeed I felt as if I knew her…it was a sublime experience. I shall definitely be using these type of books through Audible myself while on the laptop blogging etc. I would like to read her books as well but there is something about her voice…shatteringly honest and well….real.

9. Has reading inspired you to do any serious writing yourself? When I was young I was always saying when I write my book and even early in 2001 a therapist I was seeing every month for a chat about life after a lot of bad experiences in a short period of time said that he was surprised I did not write…he said my background reminded him somewhat of Edna O’Brien. When I left, lets face it my life was so boring that he fell asleep during the sessions….and when he was awake I counselled him about his loneliness since his divorce…by that I mean …no sex…he said he would miss my stories! Since then though my creative need has been taken care of by the crafty type things I do and especially the design aspect of that work.

However I did write a sort of ebook based around Flat Stanley for a blog friend’s daughter. I wrote a story around some photos which I took locally, using Flickr to create a group and then uploaded them to that so that the class could access them in America. Since then a teacher here in Sydney has asked me if I would print it up in hard copy…she called it …and offer them as a school and parental resource for early readers in year two and three and also slow readers in year five and six…who are somewhat sophisticated yet have reading problems. So that was interesting …the link is HERE on Flickr and also HERE on my blog. Any feedback most appreciated!

10. What single piece of advice (or tip) would you give to fellow readers? Join a book group or book club where you can enthuse about books with others whom you would not necessarily have met otherwise …this ensures you read outside of your comfort zone. If you cannot meet in person try an online one.

Kathleen, thank you for giving such a full and frank insight into your reading life.  I’ve got to say I love Flat Stanley and I hope to hear more about his adventures soon. If he ever wants to be included in a photographic tour of Edinburgh then just stick him on a flight :o)

Note: If you missed the link before, Kathleen can be found at her own blog @

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. Hi Rob I changed the link in my post informing people that I had been interviewed to this new blog as well.

  2. Copied this from your other blog Robert…is that okay?

    Thanks Robert for your exemplary introduction…I appreciate the “speaking from the heart” bit although as you can imagine it has got me in trouble in blogland!

    Am currently having an arty reading spell which means I will soon be diving into some fiction…have so much to choose from as my library is going to be refurbished and they are selling a lot of their stock off for ten cents a book!!

  3. Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)

    Thanks Kathleen – and sorry to put you to all the trouble :o)

  4. No trouble Robert, am a whiz now with copying and pasting…to think I could never actually see what CJ did when he copied and pasted months ago…it was so fast it was all a blur!


  1. […] blog (which is well worth a visit) Sydney-based writer CJ Levinson (who is also the son of former Reader of the Week Kathleen), has compiled an excellent series post on his primary blog, on the ‘books that have […]

  2. […] #3: Kathleen (featured August 30 2008) – “Join a book group or book club where you can enthuse about books with others whom you would […]