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This is a long one so you might want to get a glass of wine before you start…
Some books you could read
The books I enjoyed most this year (not necessarily the best books I read, but the ones that meant the most to me) were:
- East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
- The story of a new name, by Elena Ferrante
- A fine balance, by Rohinton Mistry
- The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson (2015)
- A death in the family, by Karl Ove Knausgaard
- Life and fate, by Vasily Grossman
- See you in Paradise, by J Robert Lennon
- Clade, by James Bradley (2015)
- H is for hawk, by Helen Macdonald
- N, by John A Scott
- The weight of a human heart, by Ryan O’Neill
- Gold Fame Citrus, by Claire Vaye Watkins (2015)
(Click to read my reviews.) The Argonauts and N are both incredible, incredible books and I am indebted to James Tierney and Lisa Hill respectively for recommending them. Now you should read them too.
There were some great Australian debuts this year. Emerging Australian authors are very good and you would, in fact, be doing yourself a favour if you checked out:
- And you may find yourself, by Paul Dalgarno – a raw, funny, bleak, gripping memoir about fatherhood, marriage and displacement
- The secret son, by Jenny Ackland – Turkish and Australian families intertwine in a clever, finely executed piece of historical fiction
- Resurrection Bay, by Emma Viskic – like crime? Try this. Caleb Zelic is a deaf PI whose friends are being picked off by brutal, mysterious forces
- The end of seeing, by Christy Collins – a Viva la Novella winner and a beautiful thriller about love, disappearance and the search for asylum
- Welcome to Orphancorp, by Marlee Jane Ward – another Viva la Novella winner. A smashing, harsh-edged and funny futuristic read about one girl’s struggle with an industrial orphanage.
Some books I read, with graphs
Look, I know a lot of people (particularly writers) hate Goodreads, but I love it. How handy is it to have a record of everything you’ve read and what you thought of it? Very handy. And now you get to reap the rewards, in the form of unnecessary graphs.
All these stats are for 1 Jan til 5 Dec 2015. Some of the numbers don’t add up because I’m not super-methodical at tagging stuff, and I read some collections with multiple authors.
This year I got a bit queasy about giving books star ratings. Some books have so many reviews there didn’t seem much point agonising over 3 v 4 stars, and some are by people I know and giving them a rating just seemed too odd. But overall, I read a lot of pretty good books.
This is a new field in ‘books unnecessarily graphed’. In my never-ending quest to hit on the formula for finding my perfect book first time, every time, I tried to keep track of why I chose the books I chose. I discovered almost nothing. I hoped I’d find that my favourite books were all by people I knew, or were exactly the books hyped in all the blogs and papers. But my favourite books were totally random. So much for that idea.
Some books I wrote
In case you missed it, I’ve had three books published this year. I know you’ve already read them, of course, but perhaps someone you know and love would like a copy too?
- The Handbook – has some awesome DIY tips, great for people who hate stuff and think Christmas is stupid.
- Formaldehyde – perfect for your weird niece or nephew, or someone you got in Kris Kringle (it’s cheap).
- Best Australian Comedy Writing – includes funny writing by people who are famous and not me; ideal for people you don’t really know but who seem like they like funny things.