2012: National Year of Reading & my reading challenges

Despite the fact that I am still working through 2011’s challenge (20 classics) I am going to add books by Australian women (for reasons laid out in the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading & Reviewing Challenge page, here) to my ‘challenges’ for 2012. 2012 also happens to be the National Year of Reading in Australia.

I’ve got a few more Elizabeth Jolley books in the pile, thanks to Fremantle Press. Plus Kirsten Tranter has a new book and Paddy O’Reilly’s is due soon. Ruby Murray’s debut is set for 2012 as well. I’m sure there are plenty more coming to add to the to-read list. I just read Gillian Mears’ Foal’s Bread and Carrie Tiffany’s Mateship with Birds and I’ll share some thoughts on those soon. I bought a stack of books from the Writers Victoria library sale recently and they include books by Jean Bedford, Jessica Anderson, Belinda Castles, Dorothy Johnston, Thea Astley, Debra Adelaide and Glenda Adams.

Some books I’ve enjoyed in recent years include Dreams of Speaking by Gail Jones (I’ve enjoyed all her books), The End of the World by Paddy O’Reilly, The Danger Game by Kalinda Ashton, How a Moth Becomes a Boat by Josephine Rowe, The Children and Animal People by Charlotte Wood, Omega Park by Amy Barker, Hollywood Ending by Kathy Charles, Inherited by Amanda Curtin, The Asking Game by Rose Michael, Under the Influence by Jacqueline Lunn, Affection by Krissy Kneen, Smoke in the Room by Emily Maguire, The Spare Room by Helen Garner, The Voyagers by Mardi McConnochie, Path of the Stray by Kim Falconer, Feather Man by Rhyll McMaster, Addition by Toni Jordan, Utopian Man by Lisa Lang, Dog Boy by Eva Hornung, Black Glass by Meg Mundell, The Paperbark Shoe by Goldie Goldbloom, Where Have You Been by Wendy James, and Dark Roots by Cate Kennedy.

When I started that list I just couldn’t stop! And I realise they are all fiction (bar one memoir), though there are some different genres in there: romance, fantasy, historical, SF, commercial, short stories and lit fic. Mainly lit fic, but that’s just what I’m often drawn to.

Please also note that some of those links go to old reviews that aren’t great, but will still give you an impression of the book. Excuse any flowery/vague language!

I probably won’t start the challenge in earnest until after March. At this stage I’m locked into a couple of festivals and a few interviews/reviews for the first part of the year. That said, there will be books by Australian authors in there, so I can count some of that reading towards it.

I also want to slowly start (at some stage) my ‘read all the works of Vladimir Nabokov’ challenge. I would call Nabokov one of my favourite authors, though I’ve only read two of his books. It’s time to fix that. For the sake of pleasure! This challenge can, of course, go on for years.

And then there’s continuing to read for my thesis…

It’s the trying that counts, ay? What reading goals are you setting for 2012?

14 thoughts on “2012: National Year of Reading & my reading challenges

  1. Love the idea of reading Aussie female writers. I’d like to read a few of those in your list – more Elizabeth Jolley sounds great. As for Nabokov, Lolita was my latest read actually – he’s brilliant isn’t he? I’d just like to read more fiction in 2012 – I have an addiction for reading books about writing (probably not good). Good luck with your challenge! What’s your thesis topic by the way?

    • Lolita is incredible. I’ve read it a few times. Good luck reading more fiction in 2012! If you want a book on writing that will actually inspire you to read more fiction, read Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer (if you haven’t already).

      My thesis is about the limits of resistance and non-conformism in consumer society. It’s a DCA, so I’m writing a novel and an exegesis which both draw on that topic/theme.

  2. As usual my goals are simple, but I will be reading Aussie Women’s lit of which Foal’s bread will be an early starter. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say about the Carrie Tiffany as I loved and regularly recommended her first novel.

    Another goal, as always, is to read every book for my reading group. I usually meet that goal as it’s my number one priority.

    And my third goal will be to make inroads into the TBR. Some years I do better than others. 2010 was pretty good, 2011 not so. I have a few Jolleys (love, love, love her) and Astleys on it, plus other Aussie women so this could, if I play my readin cards cleverly, help with goal 1, eh?

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  4. Just perusing your list of people you’ve read or want to read, and a few names jump out at me:

    – Jessica Anderson: “Tirra Lirra by the River”? Apparently a lot of Gen X people (a little bit older than me) have read this one because it was a high school text. I tried to read it at fifteen and couldn’t. I tried again a few years ago and loved it.
    – Glenda Adams: I have a first edition of “Dancing on Coral” (can’t do italics for some reason, I’m afraid) waiting for me to pick up and read…along with a myriad other titles, of course.
    – Helen Garner: Have read quite a lot of her older stuff, up to and including “The First Stone”. My copy of “The Children’s Bach” is opposite me as I type this. I am really curious to try “The Spare Room”, though.
    – Nabokov: I have a copy of “Speak, Memory” here somewhere, which I intend to read in conjunction with a bunch of other writers’ memoirs when I get round to it.

    I want to ask if you’ve started on Doris Lessing yet, and how you’re finding her. But I won’t tempt you to pre-empt things.

    Since I went back to work full time, I have had real trouble finding enough time to pay enough attention to a novel to get it finished. When I put a book down for more than two or three days I lose all the connections and get fed up. I haven’t finished a novel since I had a month’s holiday in September. So I’ve been reading lots of short stories and articles. But I would like to do something about my mound of novels that aren’t being read.

    I have a nagging sense that I should be reading more contemporary fiction. But I’m not too fussed about that. Since I dropped out of my bookclub, I’ve tended to read old novels and new short stories. Both categories seem to suit my tastes. I want to brush up on my Greek myths, too.

    Finally, is Perth one of the Festivals you’re visiting early next year?

    • Hi Glen,

      The Jessica Anderson I have is actually Taking Shelter, which sounds fabulous. A cover quote says: ‘A provative blend of Jane Austen domesticity, Iris Murdoch androgyny, and Australian sensuality’. Her novels Tirra Lirra by the River and The Impersonators won the Miles Franklin, but this one sounds right up my alley.

      The Glenda Adams I have is the same as you, Dancing on Coral. And I haven’t read early Helen Garner, I’m afraid, though I know I must.

      I’ve heard Speak, Memory is an amazing book.

      When I worked full time I used to read on my one hour lunch break, and also a little over breakfast. I don’t know if this is possible for you, but I found I got through quite a lot that way. But short stories and articles can be very rewarding, of course. Don’t feel bad about it! It is always hard when you have so many good novels sitting there, though. And it doesn’t matter if you’re reading all old stuff. If you feel like something new, a quick tour around the literary blogs you like can often help you pick something (or ask someone you trust or who has similar tastes what they’ve recently enjoyed). There are great booksellers & librarians who will help you out, too, of course.

      As for Perth – unfortunately, no. I was invited, but I decided I’d try to get to Adelaide Writers Week in 2012, as it’s only every two years. But that isn’t confirmed and now I’ve missed out on going to Perth. It’s a shame, as it’s one of my favourites. I think I’ll be there for sure next year. Thanks for asking!

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  6. Thanks for the great list – even more ideas to add to the TBR pile. What a great idea for a challenge bearing in mind the inaugural Stella Award. This is my first reading challenge, hopefully not my last. I thought I’d dust off a few classics as well courtesy of Henry Handel Richardson and Miles Franklin.

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