2019, so far…

Seems trite to say the year is zipping by, but there you go, it is.

So far, I’ve read some excellent books. Stand-outs include Bridge of Clay, The Choke, Exploded View and Boy Swallows Universe (it’s shameful that I have not yet written a review of this marvellous book). If I was forced to make it a ‘top ten’, Lifelines, The Arsonist, Little Gods, Small Wrongs, First Love and In the Garden of Fugitives would be there.

I enjoyed reading the Stella Prize list this year (and the spirited conversations I’ve had about the winner), and I’m looking forward to the Melbourne Writers Festival.

I’m continually drawn to themes of grief in my reading, and this year has been no exception. Unintentionally, many have been about the Holocaust – Small Wrongs, Denial, Lifelines and I’m about to start Hannah’s Dress by Pascale Hugues.

Although my reading challenges are chugging along, let’s not talk about anything else such as NetGalley percentage or the stupid TBR stack. Because. It. Just. Never. Goes. Down (I blame my start-of-year Sample Saturday buying, Stella Prize reading and a recent ‘accident’ at Readings).

Lastly, I’m doing quarterly check-ins with Book Bingo, hosted by Theresa Smith Writes. I’ve made progress and completed two rows.

    • novel that has 500 pages or more: Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides
    • novella no more than 150 pages: The Cook by Maylis de Kerangal
    • themes of science fiction: Machine Like Me by Ian McEwan
    • themes of inequality: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
    • written by an author over the age of 65: The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie
    • crime: Wimmera by Mark Brandi

Have you made note of your favourite books ‘so far’? Are you like me and get a little antsy if you reach June and there are no stand-outs? (It’s only happened to me once – every time someone asked “Read anything good lately?”, I’d feel stressed about my general lack of enthusiasm. For the record, the answer to that question this year has been Boy Swallows Universe).

23 responses

  1. An ‘accident’ at Readings! 😁
    I am still eagerly awaiting your review of Boy Swallows Universe…
    Massive progress on the bingo!
    And I don’t want to talk about my NetGalley percentage either…

    • I fear that the longer I leave my Boy review, the harder it will be to write…
      Full disclosure, my Netgalley % is a measly 61% (and yet they keep approving my requests…).

  2. This must be an Australian version of book bingo?
    Yiu mentioned books on the Holocaust – would yiu have come across anything relating to the Dachau concentration camp. I have an American friend whose 16 year old daughter is doing a school trip next year and she’s wants her to read some literature as background.

    • No, haven’t read anything relating to Dachau but I have kept in mind your request (did you ask Twitter earlier in the year??).

      I took my kids to Dachau (and Sachsenhausen) last year – their reading in the lead up was kept to a few key books – Anne Frank, Night, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. Although not about the places we were visiting specifically, it was enough for them to have context for what they would see at the camps. Either way, it doesn’t ever truly prepare you for being there, as I’m sure you have experienced.

      Yes, Australian book bingo!

      • I did indeed ask on Twitter a few weeks ago. No-one seems to have anything I haven’t already heard of – nothing specific to Dachau . But I’m with you in thinking that general contextual reading is just as effective

  3. An “accident” at Readings 🤣
    I’ve abandoned Boy Swallows Universe… don’t understand why everyone loves it… might go back to it at some point, it did suffer from me being a bit distracted by THE move.

    • And I’m about to have another accident there (their latest newsletter arrived on Friday…).

      Boy Swallows Universe takes a little getting into but once a quarter through, I couldn’t put it down.

  4. I’ve read two standout books this year so far, Gerald Murnane’s A Million Windows and Behrouz Boochani, No Friend but the Mountains. Which is best I could not say.

    Theresa, are you still up there? What happened to AWWC Bingo?

    • I felt the same but it was so different to what I anticipated (style and story) that my expectations went out the window and instead I just went along with it.

  5. I might try and do a mid year review, it seems like I’ve had a good number of standouts that have stayed with me, the year started off for me full of them with, Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde and Sandrine Collette’s Nothing but Dust, Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga, The Atlas of Reds and Blues, Devi S. Laskar, The Turquoise Ledge, Leslie Marmon Silko (and three others by her, equally brilliant).

    I think by reading a higher number of older books, I increase the chances of finding books that are really going to please, though it’s always so tempting to go for something upcoming and new.

    I’m not sure I’ve come across my One Outstanding Read of the year yet, which is unusual as that often happens for me early on in the year, however in August I’ll be reading #WIT Women in Translation, there might be something in there that promises to be outstanding!

    Happy Reading!

    • Agree that older books can be a better bet – quality stands the test of time! I used to read a lot more new releases than I do now and they were hit and miss. If I request ARCs these days, it’s usually books by authors I’ve read before or one that comes recommended by trusted bloggers.

      Good luck finding your One Outstanding Read 🙂

  6. The RIver has been the closest thing to a standout for me this year, otherwise it has been kind of lackluster (and it is stressful!). My book I’ve been recommending has been Daisy Jones & The Six, because I think it’s got that everyday reader appeal.

    Also, my netgalley percentage is also dismal, and only one publisher routinely turns me down (Algonquin). Which, funnily enough, I got an email from the publicist for the Van Apfel Girls, noting I hadn’t provided my feedback yet – for a book they declined me for.

  7. Well done. I agree with you on the TBR etc. If I get a pre-copy to review, I usually discipline myself. With the TBR…as you say, tends to increase all the time. I checked my reading and found nine books that stands out. Not bad, of 54 read so far. But there are others that are good as well. I might write a post about it, good idea.
    I have not read any of the books you have.

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