20 Books of Summer – it’s a wrap

As the clock strikes midnight, the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge will draw to a close. Those extra few hours won’t make a difference to my final tally. I read 21 books (but I’m a little behind on reviews…). Continue reading

20 Books of Summer (except that it’s Winter)

Cathy at 746 Books is hosting the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge again this year. By Cathy’s own admission, she doesn’t have a great track record with her own challenge… But I do! As I’ve done in previous years, I’m using this challenge to read from my to-be-read stack (with a particular focus on hard copies). The challenge is straightforward – read twenty books between June 1st and September 3rd. Continue reading

The Top 47 from the Best Books of 2017 List of Lists

This is my community service to book-bloggers – a list of the books that appear most frequently on all of the lists (32 of them) I listed on Best Books of 2017 – A List of Lists.

So here it is, the 2017 Commonly-Agreed-by-the-People-Who-Publish-Best-of-2017-Book-Lists-Before-December-31 top 47 books. Continue reading

Six Degrees of Separation – from The Casual Vacancy to Wonder


It’s six degrees of separation for books. Created by Emma Chapman and Annabel Smith. Check out the rules if you want to play along.

We begin with J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. Haven’t read it. In fact, haven’t read a single word by Rowling. Zero interest. It horrifies people. “What about Harry Potter?!” they sputter. “Nope. So shoot me,”  I say. Continue reading

You MUST read this!


Books that intimidate. That is the topic of  The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday for this week. It had me thinking for a bit… And then had me facing an uncomfortable truth.

Size of a book? Not a problem, although big books and I do have commitment issues (Edward Rutherford’s New York is case in point – at 860 pages in the world’s tiniest font I’m not sure I have the stamina).

Topic? I can’t think of a topic that intimidates me as such, although there are some things that I have simply no interest in reading about.

Here’s the thing. I’m an absolute book pusher (that’s the uncomfortable truth bit). Ask anyone who’s told me they’ve never read any John Irving. And so to the intimidating bit – books that are favourites of friends/bloggers, whose taste in reading matter I trust.

When someone says that I must read a particular book I automatically get nervous – what if I don’t like it? And yet I’m always pressing books on others. So, it’s time to man up. I either read all of the books on the list below (the favourites of friends and other bloggers, you know who you are) or I stop pressing books that I love on other people. Fair’s fair and all that. Continue reading

‘Black Box’ by Jennifer Egan

Did you follow Black Box by Jennifer Egan on Twitter?

The short story was serialised over the span of ten nights (ending this morning) and was delivered via The New Yorker’s NYerFiction Twitter account. One tweet was posted per minute over one hour each day (it was between the hours of 8 and 9 p.m in the US which meant mid-morning for Aussies).

It was my first Twitter-fiction experience. I’ve since discovered that there are other twitter authors out there doing a similar thing although none with the status of Pulitzer-Prize-winning Egan.

Black Box was billed as a spy’s mission log, with each tweet representing an entry into the log. The language quickly clued the reader into the fact that it was very much a science-fiction spy story (references to other spies as ‘beauties’, the surveillance targets as ‘Designated Mates’ and ‘Dissociation Techniques’). I was hooked from the very first tweet –

Continue reading

Jennifer Egan’s publishes her next story, Black Box, on Twitter

Jennifer Egan Black Box Twitter

Shameful admission: I haven’t read anything by Jennifer Egan. I usually read all the major prize-winning books each year but somehow A Visit From the Goon Squad passed me by.

But I will be reading her next short story. It’s to be published, in its entirety, on Twitter. If there’s one thing I love as much as books, it’s Twitter.

The story, titled Black Box, is an 8,500-word piece that will be serialised over the span of ten nights (starting today) via The New Yorker’s NYerFiction Twitter account. One tweet will be posted per minute between the hours of 8 and 9 p.m (US time). Each tweet is a new entry in a spy’s mission log.

The concept is brilliant. Will this spark a whole new publishing trend? Does it fly in the face of what Twitter is all about?

On The New Yorker’s books blog, Page-Turner, Egan writes:

“I’d also been wondering about how to write fiction whose structure would lend itself to serialization on Twitter. This is not a new idea, of course, but it’s a rich one – because of the intimacy of reaching people through their phones, and because of the odd poetry that can happen in a hundred and forty characters. I found myself imagining a series of terse mental dispatches from a female spy of the future, working undercover by the Mediterranean Sea. I wrote these bulletins by hand in a Japanese notebook that had eight rectangles on each page.”

I’ll be intrigued to see if Egan can pull it off. Stay tuned for a review of Black Box.