Ahead of the launch of our 2017 program, we sat down with our Artistic Director to find out the books that shaped her, recent favourites and what's kept her up flipping the pages at night. 

What books are currently on your night stand?
An Uncertain Grace by Krissy Kneen, Swingtime by Zadie Smith, White Noise by Don Delillo, As I Was Saying by Robert Dessaix, Ache by Eliza Henry-Jones and The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky.

What’s the last great book you read?
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. It’s brutal and devastating, but also hugely impressive on a technical level.

What kind of reader are you? 
I usually have at least a couple of books on the go — a few for work that I might not read in full, and one for pleasure that I will. I’m a monogamous reader while on holiday though, and enjoy the opportunity to read one from start to finish without any distractions. I’ve got a pretty strict 50 page rule, and if I’m not enjoying a book by that point I’ll abandon it.

What book do you find yourself re-reading periodically? 
I pick up a copy of Joan Didion’s collected essays (Slouching Towards Bethlehem, The White Album and After Henry) quite often. There’s too much wisdom to take in all at once, and I always find a new sentence to admire or a different angle to appreciate.


'I’ve got a pretty strict 50 page rule, and if I’m not enjoying a book by that point I’ll abandon it.'

Michaela McGuire, Artistic Director

What's the last book that moved you?
I’ve been missing my Melbourne friends terribly since moving cities, and started re-reading A Little Life [by Hanya Yanahigara] because it’s such a beautiful meditation on life-long friendships. This is obviously a terrible thing to do when you’re feeling lonely, but I thought I could just stop reading it 200 pages before the end, when everyone still has their feet and is reasonably happy. I kept reading until the end and will probably never pick that book up again.

How do you organise your books at home?
Extremely fussily, by colour. I’ve got a few of those big Ikea cube bookshelves, and each cube is a designated colour. Red, orange, pink, yellow, light blue, dark blue, aqua, forest green, whole shelves of white and black and grey. One of my old housemates had probably a thousand books arranged in this system in our loungeroom and it’s ruined me forever. If I see a bookshelf that’s arranged alphabetically now I think it looks horribly messy.

What book have you bought for the cover?
The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus.

What section do you gravitate toward when you enter a bookshop?
I’m pretty methodical, so I usually start closest to the front door with the new releases and work my way around.

What's next on your reading list?
I’m starting to put together my post-festival reads, and A Separation by Katie Kitamura is the first on the pile.