This book was a birthday gift from my treasure of a cousin Jelena back in 2002.
The last book I read, David Sedaris’ Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977 - 2002, was full of anecdotes about humans being complete assholes.
I need a good and lovely fable after that.
Bring on the Coelho magic.
Christmas 2018 to Christmas 2019
Like many of us, some years I read a lot more than others. This year, I’ve taken a conscious step away from the screen and spent as much of my spare time with a real book in hand, and it’s been a real pleasure.
A couple of years ago, I imposed a ban on buying books after buying them far more quickly than I was able to read them. Of course, I have no regrets: one can never have too many books, and this year’s reading selections have by and large come from my home library. I also lifted the ban mid-way through the year, sadly coinciding with the closure of a favoured second-hand bookshop, Grub Street Books in Fitzroy from where I bought a number of stacks of books in the months preceding and on the weekend of its closure.
Here’s what I’ve read since Christmas 2018, in order of reading:
The Japanese Lover, Isabel Allende (We have a little library at work, started by a colleague. This book came from there.)
Le Testament Francais, Andrei Makine
Any Ordinary Day, Leigh Sales (I went along to hear Sales speak about this book at the Atheneum in Melbourne. I read it in instalments and shed many tears each time.)
Mailman of the Birdsville Track, Kristin Weidenbach (They built them tough back then. This is a biography of Tom Kruse, the rock solid man who delivered mail along the punishing 1,000km Birdsville Track from the 1930s. A fascinating slice of Australiana, it made me appreciate bitumen and air-conditioning in cars and fall in love with the reliable and oh so capable Kruse.)
The Clock that Wouldn’t Stop, Elizabeth Ferrars
Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe (Australia needs this book on school and university curriculums asap.)
Dingoes’ Den, B. Wongar (Written under a pseudonym, this autobiography of a Serbian man is a captivating tale not only of the life of a maverick, but also of his love and respect for Australia’s Indigenous people, among whom he lived for many years in the 1960s and about whom he wrote extensively. While published internationally, his work was not nearly as welcome in Australia for its exposition of the destructive impact of government policy on Northern Territorians. Wongar writes fearlessly and with deep emotion. Rather a treasure of a book.)
Only Say the Word, Niall Williams
Deadly Kerfuffle, Tony Martin (Kerfuffle. Good word. I love Tony Martin.)
Ripening Seed, Colette
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell (This was a first-time reading of this book. I missed it in childhood, and read it over a weekend away camping with a bunch of friends. I adored it. It brought back fond memories for others, too.)
Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray (Isn’t this a tome? I wasn’t sure it was worth it at first, but its humour finally dawned on me. How did he so convincingly depict the classes and the genders?)
Came Back to Show you I Could Fly, Robin Klein (I found this at Grub Street Books and bought it based on my remembered love at primary school of Hating Alison Ashley. I proofread young adult fiction fairly often, and enjoy it. They’re marketed a certain way, but age doesn’t matter when it comes to a good and interesting book. I wanted only the best for these protagonists.)
Border Districts, Gerald Murnane (After first hearing about Murnane only a few years ago on Chat 10 Looks 3, I was keen to read one of his books. This one was a birthday gift from my dear friend Judy this year. I now want to read all his other books. I found ‘A Season on Earth’ at Happy Valley Books in Collingwood. It’s on my to-read pile.)
Corfu: A Novel, Robert Dessaix
Ghost River, Tony Birch
Cheri and The Last of Cheri, Colette (Grub Street had a whole stack of Colettes, which I happily took off their hands.)
Voyage, Adele Geras (Another ‘young adult’ fiction, this was a lovely read about various passengers’ voyage to New York from 1904 Europe.)
Rituals, Cees Nooteboom
Heartburn, Nora Ephron
Paris Letters, Janice MacLeod (This was a spontaneous gift from my darling friend Sheridan to cheer me up after a break-up. It worked.)
Whitethorn Woods, Maeve Binchy
Wildwood, Colin Meloy (I’d given this book to my god son who loved it, and lent it back to me to read so we could discuss it in depth. Treasured moments.)
Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair, Steven Herrick (An Australian writer, these poems/short stories are for young people. I enjoyed traipsing round the Blue Mountains after the characters.)
The 39 Steps, John Buchan
Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs and Emily’s Quest, L.M. Montogomery (I’m an Anne girl. I had to read these. My mum lent me the first book in the series, as I’d found the others second-hand, but had no luck tracking down the first. Thanks, Mama.)
Mullumbimby, Melissa Lucashenko (This was also lent to me by my Mum, who’d read it with her book club and recommended it. I want to go to Mullumbimby again and see it in a whole new light.)
The Captain’s Daughter and Other Stories, Alexander Pushkin
Saturdee, Norman Lindsay
What’s it Like Out?, Penelope Gilliatt
Dubliners, James Joyce (After failing to persevere through the punishing Ulysses, I went back to the beginning. ReJoyce and all hail the Irish writer.)
Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977 - 2002, David Sedaris (This book was an impulse buy when I saw it in a bookshop window walking home from work on a rainy night in August. I first heard David Sedaris on an episode of This American Life years ago. My lovely friend Sarah introduced me to his many books, starting with Me Talk Pretty One Day and When You Are Engulfed in Flames. We went to hear him talk in Melbourne some years ago, and waited to meet him and have our books signed. Much to Sarah’s delight, he remembered her from at least a decade prior at a book signing in Sydney and called her ‘Boots’ noting her footwear from that time. What a treat! )