And We’re Off: Australia Reading Month Gets Underway

AusReading Month, hosted by Brona @Brona’s Books, is now in its eighth year but this is the first time I’ve participated.

Australia Reading

Brona has chosen the themes of Celebration, Anticipation and Promotion for this year’s event. We kick off by celebrating the Australian books read so far this year. Which for me is going to be a very muted celebration since my tally of books by Australian authors this year stands at 0. Yep that’s right: zero, nada, null.

It’s my worst showing in five years.

Not that I’ve ever read very much Australian literature in the past โ€“ usually just two or three titles per year โ€“ but even that’s better than this year’s miserable performance. Hence why I decided to join the AusReading Month: I need a good old Aussie kick up the rear end!

In the absence of a reading list from which to highlight favourites this year, I thought I’d just share three from recent years.

Shell by Kristina Olsson

I don’t understand how this book hasn’t had more attention and accolades. Set against the background of construction of the Sydney Opera House, it’s a lyrical novel featuring two fragile people whose lives converge. One is a glassmaker from Sweden commissioned to create an artwork for the opera house; the other is a journalist strongly opposed (for personal reasons) to the war in Vietnam into which Australia is being dragged. I would never have known about this book if it hadn’t been highlighted by Lisa @ANZlitlovers

The Sugar Mother by Elizabeth Jolly

A deceptive novel that contains unsettling elements beneath the facade of comedy. It concerns Edwin, a middle-aged professor who is obsessed about his health. When his (younger) wife takes off for a fellowship abroad she thinks she has left him in the care of their sensible friends. But she hadn’t bargained on a new neighbour who moves in next door with her 20 year-old daughter, and gets her claws into Edwin tout suite.

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

This is a thought provoking novel set in a period when the country we now know as Australia saw an influx of white settlers. The plot focuses on a convict who gains his freedom and wants to cultivate his own piece of land to provide for his family. Through this, Grenville explores the clash between Aboriginal people who already live in New South Wales and consider the land to be theirs, and the incomers who want to take it away.

BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

23 thoughts on “And We’re Off: Australia Reading Month Gets Underway

  • November 16, 2020 at 2:32 am
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    I was going to drop a couple of additional recommendations for you but I’m having trouble narrowing it down! ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜‚ Enjoy!

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    • November 18, 2020 at 5:06 pm
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      Thanks to you and the other bloggers from Australia I have no shortage of suggestions. My problem is finding them at reasonable price…oh and then of course finding time to read them

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    • November 18, 2020 at 5:12 pm
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      I was afraid you wouldn’t love me any more if I ignored Australia ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • November 11, 2020 at 8:44 pm
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    I’m not very good at reading Australian fiction either, one or two a year for me, as well. Often a Virago book, and I have one for this month which I must pick up soon! This is a good set of reads.

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    • November 11, 2020 at 10:15 pm
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      I was determined to read at least one – glad to say it’s proving to be excellent. Richard Flanagan’s The Sound of One Hand Clapping

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  • November 10, 2020 at 7:24 pm
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    The only Aussie author I’ve read this year is Garth Nix, and his book was set in Blighty so it scarcely counts! My tally of Antipodean writers is sadly small — Nix, P L Travers, Alison Croggan, and Trudi Canavan spring to mind — and their stories tend to be set either in fantasy worlds or a Britain where magic is present. I have a Ngaio Marsh mystery waiting but unfortunately she was a New Zealander…

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    • November 10, 2020 at 9:25 pm
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      Do you think Chris that the reason we’re not reading more Aussie authors is the lack of visibility they have in the UK or the cost of the books?

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      • November 10, 2020 at 9:32 pm
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        It’s very possible, but it may only reflect my timidity that I haven’t sought out more fiction set there: the last novel I’m conscious of having an Australian setting was Tim Winton’s thriller In the Winter Dark.

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  • November 9, 2020 at 9:50 am
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    i wish I had the time to get to this, as there are some wonderful sounding books – but I think I will run out of time…

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    • November 10, 2020 at 9:25 pm
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      I love these short reading events because I feel I can join in even with just one book – no requirement to do much more

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  • November 9, 2020 at 12:01 am
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    Oh dear me, I’ve failed badly in my mission to spread the word about Australian books if I haven’t enticed you yet to read even one!
    But yes, you are dead right about Shell. A sublimely beautiful book, I don’t understand why it didn’t scoop up every award there is.

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    • November 10, 2020 at 9:26 pm
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      All is not lost – I am currently reading Richard Flanagan’s The Sound of One Hand Clapping. Simply outstanding!

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      • November 10, 2020 at 11:15 pm
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        Oh yes! One of the most thrilling books I’ve ever read, the mixture of fear, hope and despair is with me still. Can’t wait to see your review!!

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  • November 8, 2020 at 9:28 pm
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    The Secret River is one of my favourites too. Curiously I struggled with Shell, which upset me as I thought it was right up my historical fiction alley! I loved Olsson’s memoir from a number of years ago, so went in expecting to love the writing as well. Oh well, sometimes the right book comes along at the wrong time I guess.

    Thanks for joining in and I hope you find some inspiration for your 2021 Australian book list ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • November 10, 2020 at 9:27 pm
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      Interesting that our reactions were so different to Shell because it was the quality of the writing I enjoyed the most ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • November 10, 2020 at 11:22 pm
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        I have wondered since if I picked it up at the wrong time. I’m a mood reader, if the mood is wrong, then the book, no matter how good, will suffer!!

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  • November 8, 2020 at 8:07 pm
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    I’d missed Shell but it sounds right up my street. Add it it to my list. Thanks, Karen (and Lisa).

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    • November 10, 2020 at 9:28 pm
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      The book had me longing to be in Sydney looking at the opera house as I read the book

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  • November 8, 2020 at 7:04 pm
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    I just finished Jane Harperโ€™s newest release so Iโ€™m a legit participant in Australia reading month I guess! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ™Œ

    Reply

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