An even spread of excellent books and some truly memorable author events has made 2019 a terrific reading year.
As I’ve done in previous years, I’ll focus on the books that have continued to resonate with me (as opposed to those I gave five stars to as soon as I’d finished reading).
I read a lot of memoirs and 2019 was no exception. My standouts were all quite different (perhaps I am breaking away from my favourite memoir sub-category, the ‘misery memoir’?) – Kate Rossmanith’s account of how society manages remorse combined with her reflections on inter-generational trauma in Small Wrongs was fascinating; Vicki Hastrich’s quiet reflections on fishing and writing in Night Fishing, was a rich and tranquil reading experience; and Lori Gottleib’s account of therapy, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, was insightful and engrossing.
Of course, I can’t ignore misery-memoirs entirely and this year, The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs had me sobbing – it’s exquisitely written and almost unbearably heartbreaking.
Child characters, when done well, always strike a chord with me and this year, four Australian women writers delivered – Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany; The Choke by Sofie Laguna; Little Gods by Jenny Ackland; and There Was Still Love by Favel Parrett.
Two outstanding books focused on teen characters – Sofka Zinovieff’s challenging Putney, and Sally Rooney’s Normal People. I know many readers didn’t see what the fuss was about regarding Normal People but I absolutely love these types of ‘relationship stories’, and one that has pathos and humour will always win me over.
My absolute standouts this year were two very different books – Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe, which I was absolutely dazzled by. Any book that makes me laugh and cry will always win my heart. Lastly, Charlotte Wood’s The Weekend – a deceptively simple story about a group of friends but one that was also richly layered.
Thanks for your readership and I look forward to sharing more books in 2020.