The Reading List: recommendations from the On Reading panel session

Words by UWA Publishing Publishing Officer, Charlotte Guest 

At the On Reading panel session, which took place as part of the 2015 WINTERarts Festival, we delved into the subject of reading habits and cognition. The panel was designed as an open forum for exchanging provocations to get us thinking about the ways in which reading practices may shape comprehension and communication. What eventuated was an expansive set of ruminations about where we may be taking reading and where reading may be taking us.

During the course of the conversation our panellists made reference to a number of works that had influenced their thinking about this topic, and we thought it worth compiling these notes into a Reading List. To reiterate the point made at the beginning of the session, On Reading was not about bemoaning the death of reading, or about the battle between print and ebooks. Instead we wanted to tease out ideas of reading experience and literary encounters, and whether the manner in which we interact with words impacts upon the way we receive and then repurpose them.

For the benefit of those who missed out on the event, our panel consisted of Ande Roestenburg, Director of the School of Life Perth; Will Yeoman, Literary Editor and Weekend West writer for the West Australian newspaper; Ross Gibson, artist, writer, and Centenary Professor in Creative and Cultural Research at the University of Canberra; Steve Heath, clinical and research psychologist and trained teacher, and Claire Jones, researcher and English and History teacher.

Some of the works listed below are dense scientific papers, some newspaper and magazine articles, others simply books we love and mentioned. 

Do take the liberty to comment with your reading recommendations, especially books or articles about the reading process itself.



Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions and Selected Non-Fiction, Penguin Classics, various editions.

Liz Burry, ‘Reading literary fiction improves empathy, study finds’, The Guardian, 8 October 2013.

Dante Alighieri, La Divina Commedia – Inferno, (various editions and translations).

Charles Dickens, Bleak House, various editions.

Antonia Case, ‘High reading’, Womankind Magazine, issue 2.

Lewis Carroll, A Random Walk in Science, CRC Press, 1973.

Alain De Botton, The Consolations of Philosophy, Vintage, 2001.

Stanislas Dehaene, ‘Reading in the Brain Revised and Extended: Response to Comments,’ Mind & Language, volume 29, issue 3, p. 320-335, June 2014.

John Frow, The Practice of Value, UWA Publishing, 2014.

Ross Gibson, 26 Views of the Starburst World, UWA Publishing, 2012.

Ross Gibson, The Summer Exercises, UWA Publishing, 2010.

Gerald Murnane (anything by this author).

Philip Koralus, ‘The Erotetic Theory of Attention: Questions, Focus and Distraction,’ Mind & Language, volume 29, issue 1, p. 26-50, February 2014.

Sara Maitland, How to be Alone, The School of Life, 2014.

Paul Mason, ‘Ebooks are changing the way we read, and the way novelists write’, The Guardian, 10 August 2015.

Flora Michaels, ‘Last words, the language wars,’ Womankind Magazine, September 2015.

Reading Australia website

PD Smith, ‘Look and Learn’, The Guardian, 12 April 2008.

Damon Young, How to think about Exercise, The School of Life, January 2014. 

Comments (1):

Rose Van Son on

I was sorry to miss this excellent discussion and am thrilled to see this list of recommended readings. Perhaps I could add another book to the mix: Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby, how the mind works to weave and process our readings and daily lives. It is the type of book you can dip into and out of at any time, open a page at random and be satisfied with the result.

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