Bri Lee is a writer and editor. Her first book was Eggshell Skull. Her latest, Beauty, is published by Allen & Unwin.
The Natural Way of Things
This book broke me out of a serious reading rut and helped turn a lot of my useless sadness into a lot of useful anger. It came out when I was about halfway through my year as a judge’s associate, and I read it when I was away from home and very lonely. It was a great source of encouragement and reminded me that I wasn’t alone in feeling like I was always punching up.
Orchid & The Wasp
The people around me must be just about sick of hearing me rave about this book. I believe Caoilinn Hughes is in the early stages of a career that will see her lauded more and more in decades to come. Reading this book in 2018 was like a slap in the face, reminding me that the rules of fiction can always be rewritten. I don’t know if it made me want to write fiction or give up before I ever started, because she’s just that good. Also the protagonist confronted me with some personality traits I’m not stoked I frequently display.
Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal
It’s a bit of a cheat to mention this one because I reference it so heavily in my new book, Beauty, but it is true that it has changed me. Heather Widdows gave me language to understand my own thought processes around my body, and that framework freed me from years of accidentally accumulated bullshit thinking. I’m grateful I stumbled onto it. I think of it frequently.
So much of how I think about morality, bravery, and friendship comes from this series. I was born in 1991 and so was the perfect age for the anticipation of each new instalment, feeling myself growing up as Harry, Hermione, and Ron did. There’s a line in the books somewhere where Harry differentiates between types of bravery – that it’s easy to be brave in a quick burst, but a long slow march toward pain is harder. I carry that lesson with me through life; the grind is always the greatest challenge.