Arts & Culture

The mysterious 'Wagga Bump'

Published: 14 Feb 2020 1:25pm

Wagga Wagga City Library launched their largest book club, One Book One Wagga, on Valentine’s Day – also affectionately known as ‘Library Lovers’ Day’.

Over sixty copies of this year’s selection – Charlotte Wood’s The Weekend – are now available thanks to the Friends of the Library.  In addition, several Riverina Regional Library Book Clubs, including members of the 47 Wagga clubs, will be reading and discussing the book in 2020.  The author will be guest speaker at the annual One Book One Wagga Gala Dinner in May during Library Week.

Library Programs Officer Wendy Harper said in the years since One Book One Wagga had been running, staff had noticed a curious phenomenon they had coined ‘The Wagga Bump.’

“The book we chose last year was Chris Hammer’s Scrublands. We’d booked him early on; it was his first fiction novel. Then after coming to Wagga, he went on to win all these amazing awards, including one of the world's most prestigious crime writing prizes, the New Blood Dagger Award,” Ms Harper said.

“We chose Michelle de Kretser’s The Life to Come, and Sofie Laguna’s The Eye of the Sheep, both of which went on to win the Miles Franklin Literary Award. And we booked Liane Moriarty just before Big Little Lies became a series (on HBO). It was an amazing opportunity for locals to be able to meet her. Between agreeing to be our author and the dinner, things went crazy for her – we got in just at the right time,” Ms Harper said.

The Wagga Bump seems to be continuing. Since acquiring Charlotte Wood for One Book One Wagga, The Weekend was selected for the 2020 Stella Prize longlist.

With such an enviable track record in book selections, how do our librarians select which book we’ll all be reading come mid-February? Ms Harper said the team generally chose a recent release by an Australian author.

“We want to support Australian writers, and it’s more realistic getting them here. We try to mix it up, with a blend of female and male authors. We haven’t done a whole lot of non-fiction – with one exception we’ve had mainly fiction,” Ms Harper said.

With no need to register for One Book One Wagga, Ms Harper said anyone with a library card could borrow The Weekend. You may even find yourself in a conversation about the book with the person next to you.

“With so many locals reading the same book, we do find it sparks a lot of discussion. People come to the desk to return it and each of them will highlight different things they enjoyed about the book, or things they really didn’t like about the book! It’s a fun way we can connect with each other,” Ms Harper said.

Charlotte Wood will be coming to Wagga on 29 May, with more details to come. In the meantime, drop into the Wagga Wagga City Library to borrow your copy of The Weekend. And keep your eye out for Charlotte’s name – the 2020 Stella Prize shortlist is announced Friday 6 March 2020.