Some book bloggers complain how they only managed to read seventy books this year, rather than their usual one hundred. I read thirty-nine, which is still more than I have managed the last few years. I’m the tortoise of book bloggers.
Most of my reading has been related to biography and/or Katharine Susannah Prichard (the subject of my PhD), and it’s harder to judge these books which I have to read in a somewhat task-orientated way. But I had such a delightful year of books. It brings me pleasure remembering the highlights.
- Perth / David Whish-Wilson – A portrait of the city. The best work of creative non-fiction I’ve read, a blend of memoir, history, biography, and landscape writing. My review.
- Wild Oats of Han / Katharine Susannah Prichard – I’ve read eleven books by Prichard this year, and they fit together as a body of work. But let me pick this one out as probably her most under-rated work, a delightful evocation of childhood as free-spirited Han comes to grips with the world. It’s the most distinct of her books, and it possibly suffered from being marketed as a children’s book, when it is not really. My review.
- What Happened to Sophie Wilder? / Christopher Beha – A contemporary American classic, a dark Graham Greene-ish novel about writing and faith. My review
- The Narrow Road to the Deep North / Richard Flanagan
– Had to see what the Man Booker judges were so impressed by; I was impressed too. My review.
- Lila / Marilynne Robinson – A worthy companion novel to the other two set in Gilead. It is wise and hopeful while aware of the hardness of life in telling of one woman’s redemption. My review.
- Christina Stead: A Biography / Hazel Rowley – I hope to write a biography with some of the brilliance of this one, to balance historical and psychological insight with beautiful writing. My review.
- Unearthed / Tracy Ryan – Reading through these poems a second time, I was struck afresh by their power. My review.
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks / Rebecca Skloot
– A non-fiction biographical quest, so superbly written. My review.
- The Invisible Woman / Claire Tomalin – unearthing the hidden story of Dickens’ mistress, Nelly Ternan. Claire Tomalin is my favourite biographer.
- Moving Among Strangers / Gabrielle Carey
– I couldn’t put down this memoir in which Carey writes to family friend Randolph Stow just before he dies and uncovers lost stories of her family. My review.
Honourable mentions: A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists / Jane Briony Rawson (my review); Reading by Moonlight: How Books Saved a Life / Brenda Walker; Secret River / Kate Grenville.