The Birdman’s Wife author Melissa Ashley to talk at Port Stephens Library, Salamander Bay for 2018 One City, One Book event

TALK: Author Melissa Ashley will talk about her book, The Birdman's Wife, in Salamander Bay this week. Picture: Edwina Pickles.
TALK: Author Melissa Ashley will talk about her book, The Birdman's Wife, in Salamander Bay this week. Picture: Edwina Pickles.

Port Stephens Library is all about birds this month as it prepares to host Melissa Ashley.

The author of The Birdman’s Wife will visit the Salamander Bay library on Friday afternoon as part of the One City, One Book event that aims to further connect the Newcastle and Port Stephens libraries.

Sue Heenan, Tomaree’s branch librarian, said her staff were “very excited” for Ms Ashley’s visit.

“It will be absolutely wonderful,” she said. “Melissa will talk about the process in researching and writing the novel, about herself, and Elizabeth Gould.”

Mrs Gould was a 19th century artist who created more than 650 hand-coloured lithographs for a number of publications. She drew many of the birds featured in her husband John Gould’s books, The Birds of Australia

Mrs Gould was also a woman ahead of her time. She juggled the demands of her artistic life with her roles as wife, lover, helpmate and mother to an ever-growing brood of children.

Port Stephens Library assistant Jessica Roberts standing in front of some of the bird illustrations currently on display at the Salamander Bay library, holding some of the most read books from 2017. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Port Stephens Library assistant Jessica Roberts standing in front of some of the bird illustrations currently on display at the Salamander Bay library, holding some of the most read books from 2017. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

What started out as research for a PhD dissertation on Mrs Gould became Ms Ashley’s labour of love and first novel.

Newcastle and Port Stephens libraries made The Birdman’s Wife its One City, One Book summer read for 2018. One City, One Book was started last year as a way to further connect the two libraries and readers.

“We have a really excellent historical relationship with Newcastle,” Ms Heenan said. “We share a catalogue, meaning people have a much wider collection to access.”

Last year the One City, One Book event focused on Craig Silvey’s novel Jasper Jones.

Jasper Jones was the Tomaree library’s most borrowed adult fiction book in 2017. It was loaned out 1979 times. See below for the top 10 books loaned to Port readers last year.

The Birdman’s Wife was an easy pick this year as Newcastle Region Library is home to one of the country’s largest collections of John Gould’s Birds of Australia publications, which feature original lithographs created by Mrs Gould. 

Ms Ashley was due to speak at the Big Book Club at at the Conservatorium of Music in Newcastle on Wednesday night. Wednesday is also Library Lovers Day.

“The Big Book Club is a wonderful way to bring the community together around learning and discussing literature,” Kris Abbott, the Library Services Manager for Port Stephens Council, said.

“Wednesday is also national Library Lovers Day, and what better way to celebrate libraries than with a Big Book Club?” 

On Thursday morning (10.30am to 11.30am), Ms Ashley is scheduled to attend Newcastle Regional Library at view its Birds of Australia collection. 

The author's One City, One Book tour will end at the Salamander Bay library on Friday afternoon.   

The free talk will run 1.30pm to 3.30pm, however places are limited and bookings are essential.

Top 10 children’s fiction loans in 2017

(Title, author, number of times borrows in the year)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first released in 1997. It is still a favourite with readers 21 years later.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first released in 1997. It is still a favourite with readers 21 years later.

  1. Gary – Leila Rudge – 720 
  2. The 39-Storey Treehouse – Andy Griffith – 690
  3. Out – Angela May George, Owen Swan – 619
  4. The Snow Wombat – Susannah Chambers – 616
  5. The Bad Guys: Episode 5, Intergalactic Gas – Aaron Blabey – 586
  6. WeirDo 3: Extra Weird – Anh Do – 577
  7. Go Home, Cheeky Animals! – Johanna Bell, Dion Beasley – 575
  8. Home in the Rain – Bob Graham – 574
  9. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling – 572
  10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling – 562

Top 10 adult fiction loans 2017

(Title, author, number of times borrows in the year)

Jasper Jones was the most borrowed adult fiction book for 2017.

Jasper Jones was the most borrowed adult fiction book for 2017.

  1. Jasper Jones – Craig Silvery – 1979
  2. The Dry – Jane Harper – 1955
  3. Night School – Lee Child – 1905
  4. The Wrong Side of Goodbye – Michael Connelly – 1905
  5. Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty – 1346
  6. The Whistler – John Grisham – 1276
  7. Truly Madly Guilt – Liane Moriarty – 1213
  8. This Was A Man – Jefferey Archer – 1161
  9. The Good People – Hannah Kent – 1161
  10. No Man’s Land – David Baldacci – 1125
  11. All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr – 1091

Top 10 adult non-fiction loans 2017

Jimmy Barnes with his two books. In Port Stephens last year, Working Class Boy was the top adult non-fiction book borrowed.

Jimmy Barnes with his two books. In Port Stephens last year, Working Class Boy was the top adult non-fiction book borrowed.

  1. Working Class Boy – Jimmy Barnes
  2. The Barefoot Investor: The Only Money Guide You’ll Ever Need – Scott Page
  3. A Long Way From Home: A Memoir – Saroo Brierley with Larry Buttrose
  4. Reckoning: A Memoir – Magda Szubanski
  5. Flight Like A Girl – Clementine Ford
  6. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering – Marie Kondo
  7. When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi
  8. Light and Shadow: Memoir’s of a Spy’s son – Mark Colvin
  9. The House on the Hill – Susan Duncan
  10. Flesh Wounds [Kit] – Richard Glover

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