Archive for December, 2010

December 31, 2010

Here is a list of the books and journals I’ve read this year, in vaguely chronological order:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo / Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played with Fire / Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest / Stieg Larsson
Readings and Writings: Forty Years in Books / ed. Jason Cotter and Michael Williams
Dead until Dark / Charlaine Harris
Living Dead in Dallas / Charlaine Harris
Kill Your Darlings Issue 1
Pippi Longstocking / Astrid Lindgren
Under Stones / Bob Franklin
Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking / Malcolm Gladwell
I Will Surprise My Friend / Mo Willems
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus / Mo Willems
When You Reach Me / Rebecca Stead
The Knife of Never Letting Go / Patrick Ness
The Theory of Light and Matter / Andrew Porter
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders / Daniyal Mueenuddin
Will Grayson, Will Grayson / John Green and David Levithan
The Road / Cormac McCarthy
Kill Your Darlings Issue 2
Known Unknowns / Emmett Stinson
Miscellaneous Voices / ed. Karen Andrews
Kissing Frogs / Andee Jones
Possum Tale / Lucienne Noontil
Exposure / Joel Magarey
My Pilgrim’s Heart / Stephanie Dale
The Nine Flaws of Affection / Peter Farrar
Ondine / Ebony McKenna
Offset Journal
Thirty Something and Over It / Kasey Edwards
Palimpsest / Kathryn Koromilas
Crackpot / Fiona Trembath
Love Machine / Clinton Caward
Cottonmouth
In Lonnie’s Shadow / Chrissie Michaels
Putting Pen to Paper / Caroline Webber
harvest magazine issue 5
This is Shyness / Leanne Hall
The Family Law / Benjamin Law
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ / Philip Pullman
Speak to Me / Sarah Hopkins
Growing up Asian in Australia / ed. Alice Pung
Unpolished Gem / Alice Pung
Little Paradise / Gabrielle Wang
The Wildkin’s Curse / Kate Forsyth
The Brain that Changes Itself / Norman Doidge
Tokyo Vice / Jake Adelstein
The Byron Journals / Daniel Ducrou
Lunatic in My Head / Anjum Hasan
Torpedo 5 / ed. Chris Flynn
How a Moth Becomes a Boat / Josephine Rowe
Kill Your Darlings Issue 3
Sleepers Almanac 6 / ed. Zoe Dattner and Louise Swinn
Light Boxes / Shane Jones
Having Cried Wolf / Gretchen Shirm
Tamara Drewe / Posy Simmonds
Catching Fire / Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay / Suzanne Collins
The Dead Fish Museum / Charles D’Ambrosio
The Dirt / Mötley Crüe with Neil Strauss
Once upon a Time in the North / Philip Pullman
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis / Lydia Davis
India Dark / Kirsty Murray
The Beautiful and Damned / F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Penguin Book of the Ocean / ed. James Bradley
Beloved / Toni Morrison
Freedom / Jonathan Franzen
The Easter Parade / Richard Yates
A Curse Dark as Gold / Elizabeth C. Bunce
Half a Life / Darin Strauss
Into the Woods / Anna Krien
Land’s Edge / Tim Winton

(Re-read:
Persuasion / Jane Austen
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows / JK Rowling)

For a total of 72 73 books, two of them re-reads. Which is by no means a boast; three of the books listed above are children’s books, sixteen of them are young adult books, and there’s a sprinkling of page-turners in there for good measure. I did not post about about all these books, but if you click on the ’2010′ tab to the right, you can find out which ones I did write about. Pop over to Killings, too, for interviews and reviews with some of these authors.

The main thing that strikes me about this list is how many new titles it contains. That’s not a surprise: this year I’ve done some book reviews and author interviews (although this list doesn’t count books I’ve edited or proofread), which means I’ve read many more new books than I usually would. Forty-two of the 72 73 books here had a work output, such as an interview or a review, which means that my reading this year was predominantly governed by new publishing.

The other thing that strikes me about this list is the absences: no poetry, and few journals apart from Kill Your Darlings. That’s mostly because this list doesn’t include partially read books; if I did add those, I would be obliged to mention the excellent Torpedo 4, for example, which is a tribute to Richard Brautigan, some issues of Overland, Meanjin and McSweeney’s, and The Lifted Brow 6. On the poetry side, I’m troubled not to have had more time with the Oxford Book of Sixteenth-Century Verse, which is infinitely more fun than it sounds, and Nathan Curnow’s The Ghost Poetry Project. There are no magazines on this list, either, so thanks to The New Yorker for being my constant breakfast companion.

Further, there are plenty of books I didn’t get a crack at this year, which I will verily attempt to rectify in the early parts of 2011. (Read: Lloyd Jones’ Hand Me Down World, Sloane Crosley’s essay collections, John Cheever’s short stories, Black Inc.’s end-of-year collections, Russell Brand’s My Booky Wook, Lili Wilkinson’s Pink, etc. ad infinitum.)

On the one hand, these lists seem to do nothing but instil in me a sense of panic, as they’re a reminder not only of what I’ve read but of what I haven’t. Yet, on the other hand, it’s a great way to look back on a year of outstanding books, including many I’ve not been able to post about here. I loved John Green and David Levithan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and the larger-than-life, heart-of-gold character Tiny Cooper, who warrants any hyphenated clichés I attach to his name. Anna Krien’s excellent Into the Woods is alone responsible for my resolution to read more non-fiction next year, and Tim Winton’s Land’s Edge, recently re-released, cemented him in my mind as Australia’s best communicator of our oceans’ crashing surfaces and mesmeric depths.

Happy new year to you – and here’s to a giant ol’ 2011.

I think I should rename this blog – 12 BOOKS. One book a month. That seems to be the going rate right now. Not exactly a bargain. Sorry guys!

I read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned for the Kill Your Darlings Culture Club podcast. I was joined by Lorelei Vashti, who writes a weekly column in The Age‘s Green Guide (which used to be my bible in the days of Seaquest DSV) and Anna Krien, author of Into the Woods (one of my favourite books this year). I quite like podcasts, and I hope you like this one. Good company for any drives to the beach you might be taking this Christmas, any holiday baking times, leisurely walks in the park, and also good as a precursor to a nap.

This is the third Fitzgerald book I’ve read, which hardly makes me an expert – I think there are five novels, eight short story collections, some essays, some letters…a veritable font of words. I certainly think that anyone with an interest in Fitzgerald would enjoy reading this – it’s so uneven as to be intimate, and many of his famous themes get a wringing out here. As expected, Fitzgerald writes beautifully about his lovers and society, but there are a couple of surprises here, particularly in form.

Not sure if I will get in another post before Christmas. If not, happy holidays! And if you’re still present hunting, Kill Your Darlings has a nifty $50 subscription, which comes with a free book (your pick of a rather good bunch: Scribe’s New Australian Stories 2, Black Inc.’s Best Australian Essays or Andrew Mueller’s Rock and Hard Places).

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