Fleur Morrison is a former journalist, public relations practitioner and radio producer who is now a stay-at-home mother of three. She tries to write and read whenever she gets a chance... which isn't often enough these days.
She has established Readability books blog to throw around some ideas about books and reading, and to try to put a stop to her habit of starting a book and only realising 20 pages in that she's already read it.
Fleur also runs copywriting and editing business The Word Store to help businesses and organisations communicate better.
It is a dichotomy that is familiar to many siblings, who are tied together in a relationship that is strange and complex, full of contradictions, and veering wildly between love and resentment, complicity and rivalry.
I still love to read books set all around the world. I want to experience the lives of those far removed from my own, to visit bustling markets, stone castles and arid deserts in the pages of a book. But I will not dismiss the value of reading about my own country, in the words of those who know it best.
And although the focus on empathy in the workplace and the new breed of business books is heartening, I wonder whether non-fiction is the best place for business managers and leaders to gain an understanding of empathy. I believe that Cloudstreet, Animal Farm or Harry Potter could be a better place to start.
The experiences of the characters in The Natural Way of Things, by Charlotte Wood, are extreme and shocking. But, what is even more shocking is that there is more than a touch of familiarity in the female women's experiences.
Some people swoon over Ryan Gosling in 'The Notebook'. Others prefer Brad Pitt in 'Thelma and Louise'. A twist of Mick Jagger's hips drives some people wild. Others can't get enough of Ricky Martin's rumba. But all it takes to pique my interest is an intricate plot and clever turn of phrase.
It is one of the greatest skills of writers to expose the human condition by holding a mirror to readers' lives, personalities and aspirations. But the reflection isn't always a pretty one, as our vanities, insecurities and fears are laid bare.
I want to gather and devour all of the books I can before I die, even if that means skimming over multi-layered brilliance and tasting a mere morsel of genius. But it is a children's series that has given me cause to reevaluate my approach to rereading.
And that is one of the problems with leaving a book unfinished -- when you put it down, you realise you are never going to know what happened. Will there be a twist at the end? Will everything be miraculously and beautifully tied up? Or it reach the dead end where you had an inkling it was headed, confirming all your doubts?
In rediscovering Dahl's books while reading to my son, I have been surprised by the cheekiness, sometimes bordering on offensiveness, of the language. At a time when children's self-esteem is cushioned with bubble wrap, the brutal depictions of his characters is decidedly un-PC. The fat, the skinny, the short, the tall, the elderly, the smelly and the drunk are all fair game for Dahl.
Whenever the issue of reading comes up among my friends and family, it seems like everyone says they don't have time to read books. Stay-at-home mums complain they are too busy running after their kids to sit down with a book. Those with high-powered jobs say they don't have time to read anything but work reports or briefs.
There is no promotion as swift and terrifying as new parenthood. In a fog of exhaustion and confusion, you turn to the 'experts' for help. No, I'm not referring to your mother, your maternal health nurse or your midwife. I'm talking about baby books and websites.
The quality of a children's book is in many ways more important than an adult book because, in all likelihood, a children's book will get read over and over and over again. And it is a special kind of hell to read the same irritating, repetitive kid's book every single night.
It seems to be a condition of our time that the temptation for constant distraction or entertainment is so strong that we forget to put our gadgets down. Or when we put them down, we pick up a pencil and start colouring.