Saturday, December 28, 2013

Worst nightmare

We were his worst nightmare.

"We're going to forget how to make conversation," he said as he bore witness to my four children each deeply engaged with an electronic device.

"Oh, it's not so bad," I said, wishing he'd come past 20 minutes earlier when my little boys were playing their version of chess.

"I was watching these teenagers," he continued. "A girl asked a boy a question. He got up, walked behind a tree, and texted her the answer."

I laughed and told him that when my teenager's friends visit they spend most of their time jumping on the trampoline. And talking. He didn't hear me. At all.

He was actually quite lovely, not in the least bit cranky but rather mystified by the current state of the world; but if listening is a key part of conversation I have to wonder exactly who had lost the art of it in this exchange.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My "best" books of 2013

I have been avoiding writing this post as it feels unfair. I enjoyed most of the 52 plus books I read this year so how do I decide which are "the best"?

The truth is I can't, and I could easily add another 10 books to this list and continue to agonise over my choices right up until NYE. Instead, I am going to commit to this list of 10 plus a few more great books from 2013:

Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings

Liz Gilbert, The Signature of All Things

Jo Baker, Longbourn

Claire Messud, The Woman Upstairs

Romy Ash, Floundering

Jayne Anne Phillips, Quiet Dell

Jennifer du Bois, Cartwheel

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland

Hannah Kent, Burial Rites

Alice McDermott, Someone

Kate Atkinson, Life After Life

AM Homes, May We Be Forgiven

Elana Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend

Short stories

Rebecca Lee, Bobcat and other stories


Christa Parravani, Her

Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The perils and pleasures of a creative life

All of the above were published in 2013. Three of my very favourite 2013 reads were published in 2012:

Adam Haslett, The Orphan Master's Son

Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins

Maria Semple, Where'd you go, Bernadette?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

#52books52weeks 2013

With just over two weeks left of 2013, I am really pleased to be able to say that I have met my #52books52weeks reading challenge. (I will update this post on December 31st).

It has definitely pushed me to read more than I normally would and I enjoyed it so much that I plan to do it again in 2014.

The List (to date)

56/52 Lynn Crosbie, Liar
55/52 Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland
54/52 NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names
53/52 Rebecca Lee, Bobcat and other stories
52/52 Caroline Leavitt, Is This Tomorrow
51/52 Alice McDermott, Someone
50/52 Richard Ford, Canada
49/52 Jo Baker, Longbourn
48/52 Ursula Duborsarsky, The Golden Day
47/52 Elizabeth Gilbert, The Signature of All Things
46/52 Jess Walter, Beautiful Ruins
45/52 Dani Shapiro, Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life
44/52 Shane Jones, Light Boxes
43/52 Julian Barnes, Levels of Life
42/52 Susan Vreeland, Girl in Hyacinth Blue
41/52 Emma Chapman, The Good Wife
40/52 Fiona McFarlane, The Night Guest
39/52 Jayne Anne Phillips, Quiet Dell
38/52 Jennifer du Bois, Cartwheel
37/52 M L Steadman, The Light Between Oceans
36/52 Ira W. Lit, The Bus Kids: children's experiences with voluntary segregation
35/52 Diane Ravitch, Reign of Error
34/52 Tracy Chevalier, Girl with a Pearl Earring
33/52 Hannah Kent, Burial Rites
32/52 Khaled Hosseini, And the Mountains Echoed
31/52 Jean Thompson, The Year We Left Home
30/52 Curtis Sittenfeld, Sisterland
29/52 David Gilbert, & Sons
28/52 Jessica Lott, The Rest of Us
27/52 Amity Gaige, Schroder
26/52 Maggie Shipstead, Seating Arrangements
25/52 Paul Yoon, Once the Shore
24/52 A.S.A. Harrison, The Silent Wife
23/52 Kate Atkinson, Life After Life
22/52 Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin
21/52 Romy Ash, Floundering
20/52 Elana Ferranti, My Brilliant Friend
19/52 Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
18/52 Adam Haslett, The Orphan Master's Son
17/52 Claire Messud, The Woman Upstairs
16/52 Ramona Ausubel, A Guide To Being Born
15/52 Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings
14/52 Virginia Wolff, Mrs Dalloway
13/52 AM Homes, May We Be Forgiven
12/52 Christa Parravani, Her
11/52 Maria Semple, Where'd you go Bernadette?
10/52 Ryan McIlvain, Elders
9/52 Elizabeth Strout, The Burgess Boys
8/52 Nadine Gordimer, No Time Like The Present
7/52 Junot Diaz, This Is How You Lose Her
6/52 Karen Russell, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
5/52 Paula McLain, The Paris Wife
4/52 Kathleen Jamie, Among Muslims: Meetings at the Frontiers of Pakistan
3/52 Stewart Nan, Emily Alone
2/52 Tessa Hadley, Married Love
1/52 Mary Gordon, The Love of My Youth

Now I am going to indulge in some stats from my year of reading (which is peculiarly heavy on 66%):
92% of my reads were fiction.
77% of books by women.
66% of reading digital (I have a nook), 33% paper.
66% by American authors.
66% by authors I have not read before.
66% published in 2013.
35% of books were first books published by the author.

I read 42 novels, 5 short story collections, 4 memoirs, 1 Young Adult and only 4 books by Australian authors.

In 2014 I plan to tackle Wolf Hall, Margaret Atwood's Year of the Flood trilogy and knock over all the books I bought in 2013.

Before the year is out I will put together a list of my favourite reads, hopefully drawing attention to a few you may have missed, as well as some more general reflections on my year with books.

Did you take the 52books52weeks challenge? What did you read and love in 2013?