Category Archives: Year in Review

2013 in review

It’s New Year’s Eve and the traditional time for me to reflect on my year of reading and make some observations.

This year I’m reflecting from the comfort of a day bed on the balcony of the most amazing room at the most incredibly beautiful resort in Fiji. Poor me!

Some observations of my reading this year:

I only read 25 books – very disappointing

13 of them were written by Australian authors – very pleasing

My favourite book, by far, was written by a friend!

I hardly read any non-fiction at all this year – most unlike me

Here’s my top 5 for the year…

5. Book 17 – High Sobriety

4. Book18 – The Night Circus

3. Book 23 – Blackbirds

2. Book 2 – The Laughing Clowns

and …

1. Book 21 – Wooing the Echo

My book reading plan for 2014 is to read more YA fiction and keep updating my book room at work, to read more consistently for pleasure by actually scheduling reading time into my day, and to buy books as gifts as much as humanly possibly all year.

Wherever you are and whatever your own reading plans, Bula from my little piece of Fijian paradise. I wish you a happy new year and hope that 2014 takes you on as many book adventures as possible.

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2012 in review

Another year is ending, marking two full years of book blogging for me. It’s a funny business, blogging. I have no real idea, each time I post, whether anyone is reading, or interested. Hopefully each post gets a reader or two and perhaps, occasionally, someone seeks out a book or doesn’t bother reading one, because of what I’ve written.

This is my 2012 reading in review.

My favourite non-fiction for the year was the very first book I read:

“Worse Things Happen at Sea” by William McInnes & Sarah Watt (2011)

…William and his [late] wife …  tell a meandering collection of anecdotes about their lives together, their children, their parents, their successes and their heartbreak. They tell it through words and pictures … One anecdote wanders off into another anecdote, before strolling casually back over to the original one. It’s a lot like having conversations in and amongst a group of people you know very well, when you stroll through different memories and funny tales, only to look at each other for a moment, as if to say, wait, where were we, and then the words take you back to where you started…

My favourite fiction was:

“Vernon God Little” by DBC Pierre (2003)

Vernon has moved into my heart, along with Jacob from “Water for Elephants”, Ed from “The Messenger” and Quick Lamb from “Cloudstreet”. He will stay with me, of that I am sure. I encourage you to invite him over and see if you like him too.

My favourite YA fiction was:

“Graffiti Moon” by Cath Crowley (2010)

I read it in one sitting. I couldn’t, didn’t want to, didn’t need to put it down. The characters are real, believable, engaging, flawed and fun. The plot is uncomplicated but not predictable. The language is poetic and fluid and a pleasure to read.

Browsing the blog, I came across a couple of comments that I thought were worth revisiting. I think I summed up my taste in novels effectively while discussing my 5 all-time favourite books, which are:

“Cloudstreet”; “Water for Elephants”; “The Orchard”; and everything by Markus Zuzak (yes, I know that’s cheating) (no, there aren’t any classics, so shoot me). There’s a common theme, actually. Each of my favourite books is character-driven and employs a simple narrative regarding simple folk. It is the absurdity and extraordinariness of ordinariness that delights me in a novel. And a descriptiveness that leans towards sparse rather than flowery, I suppose.

And then there was my reaction to my birthday present… a Kindle:

… man, I love my Kindle! I have been so dubious about e-books and using an e-reader, but I’m a total convert. I mean, real books are still delicious, but the Kindle is light, easy to use and the perfect accessory for the camping trip we’ve just been on. Best of all, the font size is adjustable which meant I could relax and read the book in a comfortable manner, even in the lower light of our unpowered nights at Bathurst. Since the Kindle is not back-lit, it means lighting is still important, but by being able to enlarge the font, it meant I could read by the light of my cute little string of LED lanterns.

Two years ago I suggested, when asked, that I probably read around 50 to 60 books a year. Then I started blogging, and it turns out I actually read about 35 books a year. That means that even if I don’t purchase or receive a single book, I have enough books waiting on my shelf and my Kindle to keep me going for the next 5 or 6 years. The question is, do I enjoy the feeling of wealth that 150 books waiting provides, or do I cull the collection down to a more manageable pile? This, perhaps, is a question without an answer…

See you back here for book 1 of 2013… a book I promised to read in 2012, and started yesterday! Oops! The deadline has eluded me.

Happy New Year, and happy reading.

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My Best Books – 2011

I’ve re-read all 37 of my Reading Notes from 2011, and I have to say, I read a lot of books that disappointed me over the year. That’s a bit sad. Hopefully 2012 will be a bit more satisfying in the book-reading department. In the meantime, here are my favourite lines from my top picks of the year. If I have to pick the very, very best, from the 6 finalists, it would have to be How to Make Gravy. Those non-fictions! They get me every time.

YOUNG ADULT FICTION:

Pig Boy by J C Burke – “This book grabbed me from the start. The last two nights I have sat up far too late because… I COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN.”

Gone by Michael Grant – “The premise of Gone is that, suddenly, every single person 15 or older vanishes. The children, who it becomes apparent are not all perfectly normal children, have to find a way to survive in the ‘Lord of the Flies’ type world they are left in. Added to this, they soon realise that as each of them reach their 15th birthday, they, too, will disappear. I really enjoyed this book because it leaves you guessing throughout. I also liked it because a lot of the things the children do once all the adults are gone seem like very plausible choices.”

NON-FICTION:

How to Make Gravy by Paul Kelly – “I feel privileged to have read this book. I feel satisfied and fed. This is a beautiful book… that you should read.”

Delete this at your Peril by Bob Servant – “A harmless, pointless, fun, little read. Well worth the dollar.”

FICTION:

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey – “This book offers up a conundrum. It is beautifully written, but it tells an ugly tale. Nevertheless, it made me laugh and it offered hope, so I’m glad I read it. The characters are complex and flawed. The small town setting is stiflingly realistic. The dialogue between Charlie and Jeffrey is laugh out loud funny.”

The Affair by Lee Child – “He kills people with his bare hands and he is totally and utterly irresistible.”

So, now on to my 2012 reads. I am saving a few pages of the book I started on Boxing Day – to finish on Sunday – so you won’t have long to wait for the first review of 2012.

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