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The Year of Reading & Writing

I thought I’d recap on my year of reading during my Year of Writing (since my ‘six months off’ kinda snowballed there).

Goodreads tells me that in 2011, while I was allowing the bulk of my productive time to be sucked into the pitiful task of ‘earning money’, I read 26 books (plus another 23 entries in the Aurealis Award reading for Graphic Novel/Illustrated Work).

The highlights of the year were Patchett’s Kindle single, THE GETAWAY CAR (every writer should read this one), a re-read of Budrys’ WHO, Calvino’s IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT A TRAVELLER, Thompson’s BLANKETS (graphic novel) & Richard Parry Lloyd’s PEOPLE WHO EAT DARKNESS (deeply depressing & compelling non-fic). So, all up, 2011 was a better year for reading than I’d actually remembered.

In 2012, I’ve read 51 books so far (again, not counting around 25 Aurealis entries), 26 by women writers, though I didn’t plan for it to be quite so even. And since the 2 books I’m now reading are by men, well, I guess I’ve screwed up that balance.

I did focus on a) books by women writers, b) books on writing & c) books on positive psychology, though all of these categories combined don’t describe the full range of my reading. 

The reading highlights of 2012 have included Shirley Hazzard’s CLIFFS OF FALL (short story collection), Brubaker’s & Rucka’s GOTHAM CENTRAL (graphic novel), Rilke’s LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET, Frederickson’s POSITIVITY, Amsterdam’s THINGS WE DIDN’T SEE COMING, Hitchens’ MORTALITY, and Zelda Fitzgerald’s bracingly weird SAVE ME THE WALTZ. I haven’t finished Hughes’ BIRTHDAY LETTERS, but that will be book #52, & will be counted as a highlight as well. It’s brilliant.

In particular, I read 11 books by Australian women writers for the Australian Women Writers Challenge: 6 novels (if we count Garner’s THE SPARE ROOM as a novel), 3 short story collections, 1 memoir & 1 non-fic. This means I’ve met my Miles challenge level (read 6, review 3), & in fact met it before June, I think, with some very focussed reading. Thing is, I acquired so many books by Australian women that I have enough to do another couple of years of the challenge. 

So in 2013, I’ve signed up for the Franklin level of the challenge: read 10, review at least 6. I’m daunted, since this will put me at the edge of what I achieved this year, so some early focus is again in order. I’ve already lined up PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK as my first read (yes, it probably is cheating to start with a short one) & I figure it’s time to tackle that Ruth Park HARP IN THE SOUTH book. Plus CAREFUL HE MIGHT HEAR YOU is on the list – but not on the shelf. On the shelf I must read an Overington, a Brown (AFTER THE DARKNESS), a Ferreira, a couple of Astley’s (am sort of dreading reading more Astley), a Newton (THE OLD SCHOOL), a Hooper (THE TALL MAN), plus more Hazzard and Mears.

2013, eh? Looks like it’s going to be a big year.