First off, let’s acknowledge the fact it’s been a year since I blogged anywhere. One of the things I’ve learned about myself in the last year or two is that I’m much more of a reader and never really was any kind of writer, and that’s okay. I mean, I did waste all that time trying to be something I always dreamed of being but never really worked at and did all kinds of courses to become a better writer, but now the only writing I do is work briefings which get changed a billion times before they’re signed off anyway, so bugger that. I’ve spent the last 12 months enjoying a book a week, and plan to read a lot more again this year. So, to get into my review…
Although my blogging was pretty much non-existent in 2018 (again!), I did actually manage to get a decent amount of reading done, which made for a refreshing change. I had set myself a goal of reading 40 books/short stories/comic trades for the year, and I managed to exceed that, reading 51 in total. I joined a second book club during the year, so this has helped to focus my time. Anyway, from the ones I read in 2018 (published in any year), these are the ones I thought were worth mentioning:
I thought I would start doing a bit of a monthly wrap-up of books and comic trade paperbacks I’ve purchased and read each month, as I love list making! I was going to attempt to keep track of my comic issue reading too, but that proved to be too difficult because I don’t currently catalogue these in any way, and as soon as I’ve read an issue I bag, board and store it away.
October was a huge month for purchases, but a small month for reading. This was because there were a couple of comic fairs in October, and because my husband and I frequented a gazillion (approximately) second hand book stores during our travels in Tasmania last month. Oh, and then when we returned home, Oxfam also had a huge $1 book sale, so who am I to resist that?
How was your October?
Thirteen years. That’s how long it’s been since one of my top 5 favourite books of all time, The Book Thief, was released by Markus Zusak. For thirteen years I’ve been waiting, mildly impatiently, for him to write another novel. On the day of its release, I thought I had a foolproof plan. I was flying from Adelaide to Hobart, stopping in Melbourne for three hours, so all I needed to do was grab the new book, Bridge of Clay, at the airport, and I would be all set for my flight and wait time reading. Alas, airport book stores seem to be lacking when it comes to stocking books for their release dates, and so I had to wait until I could get to an actual store in Hobart. We were off to a rocky start.
The first book I finished in 2018 was My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier, recommended to me by my cousin. This seems fitting, as the main character of the novel, Philip Ashley, is raised by his cousin Ambrose on a property in Cornwall. Cousins for the win! Ambrose travels to Florence where he meets Rachel, they marry, and he falls ill and dies suddenly. Philip suspects Rachel may have been to blame, but when Rachel arrives in England unexpectedly and the two finally meet, Philip is left questioning his opinion of his cousin Rachel. Is she actually as evil as he imagined, or is she a victim of circumstance who has now been left widowed and destitute?
Not only have I neglected to update this blog for almost an entire year (!), but I also didn’t read as much last year as I usually do, only managing to read 30 books/short stories/comic trades in 2017. This fell well short of my goal of reading 40 books over the 12 months, so I am trying again this year. Thanks to a book club I’m a member of, I was able to finally read some books that have been in my ‘to read’ pile for ages, and I also squeezed a little non-fiction in. Here are the books I thought were worth mentioning:
Each year I set myself a reading goal using Goodreads, and in 2016 it was the first time I didn’t meet my target of reading 40 books for the year. So in 2017 I’m trying again. This, however, is a rather broad long-term reading goal, so I thought I’d break this down into smaller chunks. After recently being introduced to bullet journals, I’m really loving this ‘smaller chunks’ idea and love ticking things off my daily lists. So, I present the list of my… um… reading goal list! Smooth, Mel…
I find memoir essay collections a bit hit-and-miss after reading a disappointing collection from Jonathan Franzen, one of my favourite authors. So late last year when another favourite author of mine, Tim Winton, released his collection titled The Boy Behind the Curtain I thought I’d meet him half way and borrow the book from the library before deciding whether to add it to my collection or not. My anticipation to read it grew after I heard an interview with him on Books and Arts Daily. I really recommend taking the time to listen to the episode if you’re not sure whether this book is for you or not. So, was this collection a hit or a miss?
This year I aimed to read 40 books, and fell well short of the mark, finishing at 34 books read. The books I’ve read this year can be categorised into three main themes: books read as part of my research; self-published short reads; and ‘big’ fiction. All of these categories have included great and ‘meh’ reads, but here I present the ‘big’ fiction of note I read in 2016 (i.e. not necessarily published in 2016).
Charlotte Wood has recently won the Stella Prize for her novel The Natural Way of Things, so I thought it was timely that I provide my review of this award winner. I recently saw Charlotte discussing this book at Adelaide Writers’ Week and I immediately put it on hold at my local library as it sounded like something I would very much enjoy.
The general story is about a group of girls who are imprisoned somewhere in the Australian outback because, we quickly discover, they have all been involved in some very public sexual scandal with a powerful man. The conditions the girls are kept in are awful; they are given old fashioned uniforms, their hair is cut, they are forced to work all day, and then they are locked into kennels at the end of the day, filthy and exhausted. Their jailers are two young men – one cruel and one who seems milder – and a woman who seems desperate to fit in with these men.