Conversations + Colour: Laura Brading (she is very WellRead. Literally.)
Honestly, she’s the kind of person you wish was your best friend. All the right kind of smarts: witty, well read (like - literally), beautiful, well-travelled. Likes a dinner party, lives in a small coastal town, loves her kids. The epitome of understated cool.
Laura Brading loves big (stacks of) books and she cannot lie. The former book publisher and co-founding brains behind book subscription service WellRead - eats, drinks and sleeps books (in between parenting and running a cult-like business).
We loved learning more about her love for the written word, her dreams of swimming in Mediterranean waters, and her go-to karaoke song.
Laura Brading, tell us who you are and what you want us to know about you: G’day, Laura here. I’m the co-founder of WellRead - a literary book subscription service. I live on the south coast of NSW with my husband Morgan and our kids Magnolia and Sidney. I studied literature at uni, went into book publishing and also worked as a bookseller, and then a few years ago launched WellRead. I can get a little evangelical about books - I’m one of those people!
Where do you live and why do you love it? We live in Austinmer which is located in the very north of NSW’s South Coast. The landscape is what drew us here - bush behind us and beach out front. It’s small enough to have a village feel, but on days when you need to escape the village, you can jump on a train and be in Sydney in less than two hours. I love this place!
How does WellRead work? We’re a curated book subscription service that handpicks the best new literary titles and delivers them to your door. We understand just how intimidating it can be to make decisions in a saturated market, and life’s too short to read duds. WellRead does the hard work for you, reading mountains of books every month and cherry-picking only the best books that we think are worth your time. Subscribers receive a book monthly or bi-mothly, and each selection comes with reading notes to inspire conversation and deeper thinking. Our selections represent the best new releases and hidden gems in publishing. We also have a picture book offering for kids. We want to keep everyone well-read!
Everyone loves the aroma of a bookstore - is this what your house smells like? Sadly not. I don’t know if they lose their smell or if I just need to acquire more books. Probably the latter.
There are so many great books - how do you select titles for WellRead? Look, it’s a tough job, but someone has to read all those books. Reading widely and copiously has always been my modus operandi and this is the approach my small team and I take each month to make a decision. The mountain of books becomes a shortlist. Sometimes a book will stand out so much that the decision is an easy one and takes care of itself. Other times, we consider how the book fits into the overall reading program to ensure that content, representation and the reading experiences of the books are both diverse and rich. We hope that the thing that links all of our selections is a certain magic quality.
Have you always loved reading? I don’t remember a time when I didn’t read. My mum called me the "readingest girl she knew" (Anne of Green Gables - if you know, you know). It’s always been a joy in my life and then became my work. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say I don’t know how I would live without it.
Do you have a reading routine? There’s not a lot of routine in my life, but like morning coffee or eating lunch, reading before bed is a non-negotiable. If it’s one of those weeks where I can only read two pages before passing out, I’m quite partial to setting my alarm and reading at the crack of dawn on the couch.
If you could only read one book for the rest of your life - what would it be? Would it be rude to decline to answer this? I don't like to pick favourites. The idea that when we read a book we love we aren't escaping but rathe being taken into ourselves, really resonates with me. So different books have meant different things to me throughout the different seasons of my life. Sometimes a book lands in your lap at the right time and it's like falling in love. Some of the writers who have meant the most to me and who have facilitated this love are Lorrie Moore, Raymond Carver, Elizabeth Strout, Yaa Gyasi, Sharon Olds, Jenny Offill, Virginia Woolf, Carmen Maria Machado. I could go on but I have diluted the question enough!
What makes you swing your feet out of bed in the morning? Two cute, tiny people called Maggie and Sid who then keep me on my feet for the rest of the day.
Favourite toasted sandwich set up? I have been waiting for someone to ask me this question my whole life. I’m a traditional ham-and-cheese girl, but I have some strict ideas around how the whole situation should be constructed. Two types of cheese please, let’s say gruyere and provolone. I prefer leg ham but wouldn’t be mad if it were prosciutto instead. Fermented chilli but only a little, and the same rules apply to whatever pickled vegetable is joining the sandwich. Generous salt and pepper, maybe a spread of béchamel sauce if it’s on hand. Ok, I’ll stop now, wouldn’t want to overdo it (wink face).
At a dinner party I am likely to be… I’m typically the host who spends 90% of the time in the kitchen desperate to join the conversation about sex and politics at the dinner table. For this reason, I’m the last to leave because I feel like the party is only getting started once dessert is served.
Favourite Little Tienda piece? I love the pop and nostalgia of my Melody Jaime blouse but I do have my eye on the new Layla Blouse. Tough choice, they’re all beauties.
If you weren’t in lockdown, Covid wasn’t a thing, and money was no exception - where in the world would you be? So I’m on some teeny tiny Italian island (think the setting of A Bigger Splash). I have an amaro spritz in hand and am poolside with a book that I keep telling people “might just be my book of the year”. My extended family are there and I can hear them playing with my kids in the background, which actually happens to be the beach - turquoise
Mediterranean water etc. We have nothing to do for the next two weeks except the odd trip to the market because we are also learning to make traditional Italian food which we then walk off with the occasional hike. Too much to ask?
You’re heading to karaoke - what is your song? I’ve wanted to try out Yes Sir, I Can Boogie by Baccara ever since learning that it’s Louis Theroux’s go-to karaoke song. Not sure I can hit those high notes though.
What is a book you find yourself recommending time and time again? There’s a few: Elizabeth Strout’s entire catalogue; Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing, George Saunders’ short stories specifically the Tenth of December collection; and The Pisces by Melissa Broder, because I think everyone should read merman erotica at least once in their lives.
Tell us - what’s coming up next for you? Getting to the end of 2021 is the current goal. Will reassess when I catch my breath!
Laura wears the Little Tienda Melody Jaime top throughout.