Laura Brading, Austinmer, NSW
Images by Andrew ButlerLaura Brading is the co-owner of WellRead, a book subscription service that aims to foster a love of reading and build community through literature. We visited her at the home she rents in Austinmer, an elevated timber cottage with a generous deck and views over the verdant escarpment and ocean. Here lives Laura,her husband, Morgan, her two littles, Magnolia and Sidney and Winnie the dog.
“We’ve lived in our current home for three years. I was pregnant with Sidney when we moved in (he was actually born in my tiny bathroom!). Certainly not a large place but just what we need. We get good use out of our deck which looks out to the escarpment and ocean. Like any home with small children living in it there are stickers all over the floorboards and our couch is constantly covered in sheets to protect it and Morgan and I still haven’t upgraded our op-shop plates from our uni days. Would love an office one day but for now the dining table will have to suffice.”
“It’s such a special place, where to start… I think the landscape is my favourite part of Austinmer. There’s bush behind us and beach in front. The escarpment is a special thing to live beneath. I’ve always thought it seemed mystical, prehistoric, like it wouldn’t be weird to see pterodactyls flying around. I could look at it all day. The community here is beautiful: generous and welcoming and really supportive. I also really appreciate the proximity to the city and that I can still easily visit it to get my fix. Also both my babies were born here and I think that adds a magical layer to any place.”
The escarpment is a special thing to live beneath. I’ve always thought it seemed mystical, prehistoric, like it wouldn’t be weird to see pterodactyls flying around.
“The kids love a lot of the classics like Each Peach Pear Plum, We’re Going on A Bear Hunt and the Hairy Maclary Series. Some of their favourite new books are Hooray for Birds, All The Ways To Be Smart, Slow Down World. Sid loves Upside Down Sid – go figure! Oh and have to mention Walter the Farting Dog, we’ve read that book at least 200 times.”
“WellRead is all about the immeasurable power of reading. At its most simplistic, the goal of WellRead is to get people reading good books. I truly believe that books can change our lives, that they help us become better and more interesting people. I reckon that with the right books most people can love reading. I also believe that most people will find a good book more gratifying than binge-watching Netflix of spending meaningless time on their devices. So without getting too moralistic (I enjoy a good series just as much as the next guy), I want WellRead to be a way that allows people to access good books and that encourages a move away from the digital. I know it’s an overused word but WellRead is all about curation in a saturated market.”
“WellRead was born out of a bunch of circumstances: I had long held the romantic dream of opening up a bookshop but, alas, time, money and a couple of babies got in the way. I adjusted the plan to a book subscription service after being inspired by some great models operating in the US. I sat on the plan for a good couple of years until my friend and organisational extraordinaire Biz joined the party and brought with her a passion and impressive skill set for spreadsheets, ecommerce and, most importantly, a love of reading. WellRead is our way of sharing our passion for books in a unique and modern way.”
Beyond getting people to read good books, our aspirations are about creating community and conversation around books.
“I’m [currently] reading Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson. It’s really good. It’s about the way we explain our adolescence to our adult selves and what it’s like to be a black female in America. It’s not a long read, but in 200 odd pages Woodson manages to tell a deep and meaningful story of race and class across three generations. This is the first book I’ve read of hers but I’ll definitely be going back for more.”
On learning: “Wish I could say something impressive like i’m learning transcendental meditation or crochet but I’ve been focusing largely on lean startups and logistical efficiency and ecommerce at the moment. I’m about to get stuck into some study into Bibliotherapy though and I’m really excited about that. It’s a therapeutic approach that uses literature to support good mental health.”
Laura and Sid
“Biz and I just launched WellRead Kids which we’re really excited about. There is so much compelling research into the benefits of reading to children and, as parents ourselves, it’s a direction we always wanted to explore with the business.”
“Apart from growing the business I’m looking forward to time with my family. Having a satisfying job has really helped me to appreciate my kids at a fuller capacity, whereas full-time domesticity was a little ‘couldn’t see the forest from the trees’ for me. Life is good right now and I’m so conscious of the velocity of life, that our babies are babies so momentarily, so my focus is on enjoying it in all of its messy and challenging and rewarding glory.”