Friday, July 7, 2017

Six in six for 2017

Jo at the Book Jotter came up with this meme and it is the first time I have participated, although it has been going for six years.  The lovely Jane at Beyond Eden Rock made me aware of it though via Facebook - bless her.

2017 has not been a good year for me in terms of quantity of books read.  I seem to be falling behind the 8 ball rather badly and seriously doubt my ability to get to my usual goal of 50 books.  Where am I going wrong?  I have certainly borrowed over 60 books from the library where I work in the past six months.  Well - discovering Boston Legal rather late in the game (thanks for that friend Karen) and devouring five seasons as quickly as I can hasn't helped. What is this obsession with James Spader???

However - for what it's worth - here are some musings about the 11 books I have read this year, as well as from last year...and a few musings about bookshops as well...

Six New Authors to Me

Maurice Gee - In my Father's Den - I had heard of the movie and was desperate for a talking book to get me through an extended commute while I worked at another library for 3 weeks.  This did the trick...hooking me from the get go...never really sure who dunnit...Talking books are tricky beasts particularly as far as the narrator is concerned and I am delighted to report that Humphrey Bower did a great job.  

Nathan Dylan Goodwin - Hiding the Past - all my genie friends had been raving about this series on Facebook for a while so I couldn't stand it anymore and bought the first in the series.  It was a very good light read of the crime/ministery genre with a bit of genealogy thrown in.  I was delighted to find the rest of the series in my local family history society lending library so I am sure to enjoy more.

Saroo Brierley - Lion. As soon as I saw the movie a month or so ago, I knew I would have to read the book. This is an extraordinary story and deserving of a film adaptation. But the film left many questions unanswered and so I wanted to get the book as quickly as possible. It's a very easy read and yes - it has a map of India - which I referred to numerous times. 

For anyone who has ever lost a child - even if only for a few minutes - the story is a bit like your worst nightmare only with a very happy ending. Who could want more than that? And it doesn't matter that you know the ending really because the journey as they say, is always the interesting bit.

As a family historian I loved this story from so many angles - the research, the obsession with finding family/identity, the love of parents and of good citizens who understand that it takes a village to raise a child and who wanted to look after those most vulnerable in society. Thank goodness for the Brierleys and all those who care for "lost" children. What special people they are and how lucky we are to have them in our world.

Clare Atkins - Nona and Me - I was delighted to be recommended this book by a self-confessed non-reader, friend Loani.  It's a great YA read, tackling the oft times thorny issues of friendship and identity.  I loved its honesty and heart.

Kate Summerscale - The Wicked Boy - the mystery of a Victorian child murderer.  When my bookclub friend, Antonia, gave me the gist of this story over a cup of coffee one morning it sounded so preposterous and outrageous a story that I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and raced upstairs to Kenmore Library to nab a copy.  I devoured it.

Mark Colvin - Light and Shadow - Memoris of a Spy's Son. This was such a thoughtful Christmas gift from my step-brother and his wife who are never put off by buying books for a librarian.  They manage to find stuff I've never heard of and just love.  This was no exception.  Mark Colvin's voice has been with me just about every day of my working life either as host of the World Today or PM.  Reading his autobiography was a bit like six degrees of separation....his time in Canberra, his time at the ABC....whilst not mirroring my life, certainly shades thereof.  This was a fascinating read by one of our best and much mourned.  

Six authors I read last year - but not so far this year

  1. Helen Garner - just about my favourite author - Joe Cinque's Consolation was even better than I hoped.
  2. Mark Tedeschi - always writes so well about such interesting cases
  3. Alison Goodman - had a bit of fun with this YA author
  4. Kent Haruf - exquisite writing
  5. Akhil Sharna - lots  to think about in Family Life
  6. Joanne Drayton - The Search for Anne Perry was gripping and un-put-downable. 

Six books I abandoned

  1. Faithful by Alice Hoffman - I'm having difficulty connecting with any of the characters so far. Should I persevere?
  2. Coronation Summer by Angela Thirkell - this was offered to me as an eBook for review but I was having a hard time getting to the end.  Out of courtesy I must try and finish and review properly.
  3. Gifts for our Time by Anna Jacobs - sorry, I know she's popular but I thought it was sheer drivel and could not get past the first chapter.  I felt like I was sitting with a bunch of old narrow-minded gossips.
  4. Eileen by Otessa Moshfegh - tried but couldn't get into it...too dark me thinks. Should I have persevered?
  5. The Turner House by Angela Flournoy - I kind of got into it but not enough.
  6. Train to Australia by Lidia Kardos - there were some amazing stories in this book and I really admire the author's perseverance with publishing this story and giving an account of her family's story and life.  Ultimately I had some issues with the authorial voice/opinion and think that it could have done with some good editing to make it less rambling.
Six from non-fiction
  1. Speaking Volumes: The Victorian Parliamentary Library 1851 - 2001 by Patrick Gregory - this is not really one of those books that you read from beginning to end.  I used it as a reference I did for some of my family history which you can read about here.
  2. How writing works: a field guide to effective writing by Roslyn Petelin - such a good book I went ought and bought  my own copy.
  3. To Prey and to Silence: One Survivor's Story of Child Sexual Abuse and her fight for justice  by Joan Katherine Isaacs. So wonderful to meet this author at our library.  I only got about half way through the book and apparently I hadn't got to the really interesting bit yet.  You can buy it online here.
  4. Mrs Robinson's Disgrace: The Private Diary of a Victorian Lady by Kate Summerscale - I had little patience with the central character and it became a bit repetitive
  5. Introducing Genetics: A Graphic Guide by Steve Jones and Borin van Loon - it's only a little book given to me by my father for Christmas.  I really should be able to finish it.
  6. Pistols and Petticoats: 175 years of Lady detectives in faction and fiction by Erika Janik.  I heard about this on a radio interview and it sounded fascinating but I just haven't got the time to read it although I do wish I did. Maybe another time.
Six Bookshops I have visited

Well I have been out and about a bit this first six months of the year - Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra as well as my hometown of Brisbane.

We're a bit short on bookshops in Brisbane but I continue to be well-served by 

  1. Dymocks at Indooroopilly and when they come to our author events at the library service where I work. This year I purchased some Kathy Lette books for friends/family and a copy of Puberty Blues for me for old times' sake.
  2. The Library Shop at State Library of Queensland - where they gave me a discount recently because I am a librarian - how lovely.  You can get great cards and wrapping paper there and gifts for out-of-towners as well as all the best books - particularly books about books.
  3. When I was in Canberra recently it was all I could do to drag myself away from the National Library's Bookshop. They had Emporium: selling the dream in colonial Australia by Edwin Barnard on sale for $19.99. Score!
  4. When I was in Melbourne the weekend before I was in Canberra my friend and I visited the Van Gogh exhibition and then meandered happily in possibly the largest gallery bookshop I have ever seen.  Somehow I escaped.
  5. When in Sydney I am always happy to stop by the NSW Art Gallery shop.  They have quite a good craft book range there I find.
  6. Strictly speaking I did not visit this last bookshop this year but it certainly was most helpful for Xmas shopping last year....the Potts Point bookshop.  What a delight it was to spend quite a bit of time here. Thoroughly recommend this haven and hours of opening are very reasonable 9am - 7pm most days.

Six books that took me by the hand and led me into the past

  1. The Blessing by Nancy Mitford.  I read this and
  2. The Loved and Envied by Enid Bagnold for the #1951 Club meme and you can read my thoughts on them here.
  3.  Light and Shadow by Mark Colvin   
  4. The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale
  5. Come in Spinner by Dymphna Cusack - I loathed the talking book (mostly because of cheesy interstitial music and some mispronounciations by narrators) but hold out hope of reading the unabridged version one day when I have time.

Last but by no means least - Emporium by Edward Barnard which I have but dipped into and am relishing the thought of more opportunities to do so.

We're half way through our reading year.  You can contribute to this meme too in July.  How are you going with your goals?  Have you discovered any new authors? Any gripping reads? What bookshops do you frequent?


Jill Ball said...

Your activity looks pretty impressive to this person who has completely lost the plot with her reading.

Alex Daw said...

Dear Jill - but you have been MOVING! That's huge. I dread the thought of moving one day but relish the thought of losing the stuff.

Constance Martin said...

Quite a few of the books you mentioned are not familiar to me, which is surprising although I am not a librarian (daughter of one), I did work in publishing for 17 years and have extremely varied taste!

There was one summer when I was obsessed by Angela Thirkell - I collected an entire set and developed quite a crush on a character called Cecil Waring. However, I think one needs to create that sort of rhythm in order to enjoy without getting dragged down.

Alex Daw said...

Dear Constance - sorry to take so long to reply. It has been quite a month already hence the delay. I long to actually read the books I collect !