Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Twenty books I read in 2014.

I love to read. Anyone who has known me since I was a child will know that I was a book worm, always reading something. I usually had several books on the go – one on my bedside, one at the dining table, one in the living room – and as an adult, not much has changed.

Here's a list of books I read in 2014. Not making the list are the countless text books, case law and journal articles I have read – I'll spare you that!


Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey
Possibly the best Australian fiction I have read, ever. Being made into a film directed by Rachel Perkins (see here). Familiar, confronting, raw.

The Road by Cormack McCarthy
I didn't really enjoy reading this but I did appreciate the starkness and the monochromatic, post-apocalyptic horror of the world depicted. I didn't enjoy the lack of apostrophes. Pissed me right off. So did the incomplete sentences.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Set in Iceland, I enjoyed the richly tactile and textural descriptions of the landscapes; the dim, cold interiors; the smells, sounds and touch of the characters and their environs (as previously noted in this post). This book tells story of the last woman in Iceland to be publicly executed.

Room by Emma Donohue
Do you ever think sometimes that every story is the variation of a theme, that nothing is new in this world? Sometimes I think that books are like this. When I was reading Room, however, I honestly thought that this is a story I don't think has been told in this way before. Took a bit of getting used to the voice, but an unusually fascinating read.

Tracks by Robyn Davidson
I wrote about my thoughts in this post.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
I have a feeling this one will be on the bestsellers lists for a long time, and deservedly so. This was one of my top reads for the year. Art, drugs, lust, love, coming of age, family, identity, wealth, furniture restoration. All the important topics in life.

Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy
Technically this was a re-read, prompted by my regular visits to Darwin and memory of having read this at school. It becomes more interesting the more I learn about Darwin during that period of time before Cyclone Tracy. I wrote about re-reading it here.

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas
Read more in this post.

From Alice with Love by Jo Dutton
Read more in this post.

The Elegance of a Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Read more in this post.

Triptych by Krissy Kneen
I picked up this book on sale at the local bookshop. I really enjoyed Kneen's style of writing. The subject matter, not always. The genre is erotica. Sometimes, with animals.

The Vagenda: A Zero Tolerance Guide to the Media by Holly Baxter and Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett
Ironically, I was reading this on a flight where I was seated next to two gentleman representing the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship, who spent the flight reading their Bibles. The irony of it was when they asked was I travelling for business or leisure? Would I have time for shopping while I was in Darwin? Hopefully I had some workmates who would look after me while I was there? Were they intentionally patronising? I don't believe so. Is that the crux of the problem? Absolutely. More here.

Deeper Water by Jessie Cole
I really liked this book. The descriptions of place were rich and vivid; I could almost smell the damp forest air. The story was well told and raised some interesting thoughts about the parallel life of a young woman growing up a step removed from mainstream culture and technology. The sense of place and character development were well done. The sense of 'other' was nicely explored without making the reader (me!) uncomfortable.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
I enjoyed the voice of the protagonist in this book and felt it stayed true throughout the different stages of life being described. This is a book with quirks and twists and chimpanzees. There, I spoiled it...

Gravity by Mary Delahunty
A fascinating glimpse into the final year, both political and personal, of Australia's first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard by former journalist and Victorian state politician (and bearer of my family's surname) Mary Delahunty.

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham
Do you like 'Girls'? I asked this question of my sister-in-law before I realised how it sounded. Of course, I meant the series created by and starring Lena Dunham. You don't need to have seen the show to appreciate the book. There's a great review of it here.

Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Rapunzel meets French Revolution. This book has the lot: legend, myth, magic, history, wealth, poverty, fashion, romance, deceit and even the Plague. There's bodice-ripping and there's gore.

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
I found myself nodding in agreement to many of the points explored in this book. Before reading it, I'd prepped myself to expect a corporate woman style of American evangelism. I consider myself as professional but not particularly 'corporate' in my approach to work. I didn't feel like I was reading the wrong book, if that makes sense. Highly recommended.

Affection by Krissy Kneen
Another one on sale at the bookshop, so I went back for a second try. This is a personal memoir of Kneen where she grapples with sex v love and her need for both, sometimes concurrently. Also gives a glimpse into Brisbane as a student in the 80s. I enjoyed this more than Triptych; Kneen really is a fabulous writer.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan
Deserving recipient of the Man Booker Prize 2014. An epic of love and war told with beauty and devastation. Interspersed are beautiful haikus. I generally don't like war stories and had to push myself through episodes of dysentery, amputations, beheadings and cruelty. But the focus is on the characters, not the history of the war and fighting. I love the way Flanagan tells a rich story and includes elements of the mundane; these serve to make it richer still. Moreso, I love that Flanagan gave his $40,000 prize winnings, awarded for the Prime Minister's Literary Award, to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. Kudos.


I was surprised at how much I managed to read throughout the year!

What was your top read of the year? What would you like to read this year? My pile of books to read doesn't seem to get any smaller  – does yours? Here's to happy reading in 2015!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Taking stock: December.

Making // list upon list upon list (and ticking things off... Capricorn style).

Cooking // simple pasta with fresh basil from the garden.

Drinking // water... so much water! OK, and pinot grigio. And crisp, summer beer. And double-shot lattes.

Reading // 'Bitter Greens' by Kate Forsyth (for book club); 'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' by Richard Flanagan; 'Lean In' by Sheryl Sandberg; Dumbo Feather magazine; Women's Agenda.

Wanting // to feel a refreshing sea breeze on my face.

Looking // forward to swimming in the ocean.

Playing // Sufjan Stevens, 1 Giant Leap and other familiar favourites.

Deciding // which Law unit to take in Semester 1, 2015.

Wishing // that all my favourite people in the world lived closer.

Enjoying // the rain storms over Central Australia this week, breaking the unusually muggy heat.

Waiting // excitedly to see my Mum graduate with her PhD (Dr Mum!).

Liking // linen... everything.

Wondering // where 2015 will take me!

Loving // the thought of spending time with family over Christmas.

Pondering // opportunities for the year ahead.

Considering // my long-term goal and the steps to reach it.

Watching // Black Comedy - so good! And recently, First Contact. If you didn't see it, I highly recommend it.

Hoping // my plants survive the hot summer ahead.

Marvelling // at how quickly time goes.

Needing // to wear sunscreen more often.

Smelling // petrichor, when the rain hits the warm earth.

Wearing // clothes that are cool, comfortable and easy to ride a bike in!

Following // so many lovely Instagram accounts. I love scrolling through my feed!

Noticing // all the Christmas stuff and trying to ignore it.

Knowing // that all the Christmas stuff is inevitable, and will only increase.

Thinking // about an event I'm looking to plan in early 2015.

Admiring // the beauty and drama of the Central Australian landscape, even in the grips of summer.

Sorting // out my wardrobe, culling and simplifying.

Buying // NT mangoes... yum!

Getting // frustrated with the impact of decisions being made by the NT and federal governments (like this one, this one and this one).

Bookmarking // things to dream about!

Disliking // that my heels are getting desert cracks.

Opening // the windows when the air cools down outside.

Giggling // at my little niece and her antics.

Feeling // so many emotions; expressing not enough.

Snacking // on cheese and quince paste.

Coveting // a leather backpack.

Helping // my friends in the ongoing quest for Beautiful Things!

Hearing // the sound of birds in the mornings.

Thanks for the list, Pip! Find it over here.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Other places: Trip to Wollongong (and P.S., I'm back!)

Well hello there! That was a longer break than I intended. Which is to say, I didn't really plan on having a break from here, it just happened. What better to break the blogging ice-come-rut than a photo-laden post from my recent trip home to Wollongong for my best friend's wedding.

Since my last post in June, I have done approximately this many things:

  • Travelled to Darwin three times
  • Travelled to Cairns and Mission Beach for a wedding
  • Almost finished a semester of Contract Law
  • Drank at least 140 coffees
  • Attended one rodeo, one camel race, one 'bust the budget' rally, one fete, one eco fair, one festival and the Alice Springs Show
  • Rescued my phone from a coma
  • Received one strange parcel from Turkey*
  • Rescued/dealt with one wayward kelpie, on two occasions
  • Failed miserably at ten pin bowling
  • Read many books**
  • Read all your blog posts, and probably didn't comment (sorry!)
  • Got two head colds, one of them current, both of which I'm blaming on planes
  • Blogged nil times
  • Possibly purchased new shoes, a couple of times.

And now, about my trip home:
  1. One of my favourite things to do is get a big fat dose of ocean air. The weather alternated between moody and overcast, and bright and sunny. This day was the former: perfect for a walk along the beach followed by breakfast.
  2. The Continental Baths are the quintessential east coast saltwater pools. This day they were being refilled by the high tide, following routine maintenance.
  3. Wollongong City Gallery: I used to work here, starting out as a volunteer gallery assistant and guide during my uni days, to regular casual work as a gallery assistant working on front of house and in the gift shop, along with work as a curatorial assistant. The building was the former council chambers and was designed to commemorate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth.
  4. Mount Keira, through the grounds of the Botanic Gardens and Gleniffer Brae, an historic building that now houses the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music. Terrible photo, but nostalgic place.
  5. Lunch with a magazine and a sea breeze on the balcony at Lee and Me on Crown Street.
  6. Family lunch at Burrawang Village Hotel in the Southern Highlands.
  7. Beautiful flowers from my parents' next door neighbours' garden.
  8. Gorgeous sunny Saturday afternoon at Bulli. We spotted a humpback whale and calf frolicking off the coast and watched, mesmerised, as they splashed and played.
  9. Since I usually wear my Saltwater sandals in the desert, I thought it only fitting that they meet their namesake.
  10. Many a coffee was consumed, this one from Diggies at North Beach.
  11. Another beach stroll on another overcast day, with spots of rain.
  12. The wedding was just perfect, a day bursting with love. I was honoured to be a bridesmaid and share in a very special day.
  13. The earth turns red, which means I'm almost back in Alice Springs.
  14. It's not a trip away without bringing back new reading material.

* False alarm! It wasn't a stranger trying to hack my life, just my mum buying a scarf on Etsy.
** Will post about things I've read!

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