Forget watching television or browsing the internet — Australians rate reading as the leisure activity they enjoy the most.

Whether it’s escaping into a thriller or engaging with challenging literature, reading a dog-eared paperback or an e-book, Australians report spending an average five hours a week reading.

As Australian Reading Hour — a national initiative to raise the profile of the written word — kicks off, we asked 11 Australians what they’re reading right now and what role reading plays in their lives.

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