We caught up with much loved ABC RN hosts James Carleton, Kate Evans and Michael Cathcart to ask them to share their thoughts on refuge, sanctuary and the books that shaped them.

Both Kate and Michael bring their wisdom and wit to the Festival once again this year, hosting everything from the biggest gala events to intimate author conversations.

Kate Evans

BooksPlus, ABC RN

For me, refuge is…  

No longer a comfortable cosy word, much as I’d like to imagine a safe reading space that lets in the imagination instead. But as ‘refuge’ is contested and fought over, it makes the place of reading and empathy, imagination and history, as well as solid investigative and analytic pieces all the more important.  


Is there a book (or piece of writing) that you consider to be your sanctuary?

I reread A.S. Byatt’s Possession and Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient a lot... as well as whatever the latest piece of fantasy fiction has caught my attention, especially in times of stress (lately it’s been Lev Grossman’s Magicians series or Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London).  


What physical environment is your favourite place to read?

Anywhere that’s not a bus or a car (queeeeasy): but especially sitting up, in a chair, with an armrest to lean on. Some books require sitting up straight or even on the edge of a seat (hello, Joy Williams), while others can lean against pillows or tables. Although I have to read every night before going to sleep, of course.

'I want books to expose me to the elements. To shake up the way I think about the world. I like a novel which hits me like an earthquake. '

— Michael Cathcart, ABC RN

Michael Cathcart

Books & Arts, ABC RN


For me, refuge is…  

A safe place where I can be with the people I love. A place like home.  


Is there book (or piece of writing) that you consider to be your sanctuary?

I don’t look for sanctuary in books. I want books to expose me to the elements. To shake up the way I think about the world. I like a novel which hits me like an earthquake.  


What physical environment is your favourite place to read?

I have no favourite place to read. I find that reading is its own place – whether I’m at my desk, on the train or home in bed.

James Carleton

God Forbid, ABC RN


For me, refuge is…  

Being at home on the weekend with my wife and three boys.  


Is there book (or piece of writing) that you consider to be your sanctuary?   

Each and every one of Patrick Seale’s insightful eight books on the Middle East; on each reading I feel comforted that I have understood something new and important about a crucial global theme — one often rife with misunderstanding and confusion.  


What physical environment is your favourite place to read? 

Bed.


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