Retirement should have seen me ploughing through the library of books I purchased, in my last few years of teaching, to tide me through when I’d be time rich and too financially poor to be handing over any extra dosh on new releases, or so I’d assumed. I didn’t foresee that, as far as the latter was concerned, I would be comfortably placed, nor that Hobs and multiple televsion platforms would offer me a rich menu from which to choose alternate experience. So I am still roughly reading the same amount of books per year as in my teaching days, as well as coping with being frustrated that favourite authors continue to produce enticing titles – and rave reviews being handed to some new to me. I just can’t help myself. I keep on buying so said library remains in credit at roughly the same amount. I’m not sure whether that is a positive or a negative as far as time management is concerned. All I know is that I am more than happy with my lot in life – and reading great books just enhances it.
So these are the cream of what I picked up in the last twelve months and delighted in consuming:-
1. ‘The Music Shop’ – Rachel Joyce. A tale for all of us who find it hard to give up the way we’ve always done something to embrace new technology, only to discover the what used to be finds a way through in any case. This was just a whimsical delight from cover to cover – one of those lovely, lovely reads you hope will never end.
2. ‘The Reason You’re Alive’ – Matthew Quick. Who’d have thought a potty-mouthed Vietnam vet could be such a sweetheart underneath all his bluff, bluster and cussin’.
3. ‘Commonwealth’ – Ann Patchett. As with Quick and Joyce, I was new to Ms Patchett’s work, but her tale of familial dysfunction won me over. I’ll be a customer of hers in future, along with the above.
4. ‘Hold’ – Kirsten Tranter. There’s an unexpected death and the rebuilding of a life, with a little assistance from the surreal.
5. ‘Full Bore’ – William McInnes. Always terrific for a good hearty chortle and the former ‘SeaChange’ heartthrob duly delivers.
6. ‘The Dry’ – Jane Harper. Kudos for having your first book, as an Aussie author, optioned by a Hollywood studio. Whether it ends up on the screen or not, this outback police procedural is a dash good read.
7. ‘The Things We Promise’ – JC Burke. The scourge of AIDS is sweeping the globe and it gets up close and personal for Oz YA heroine Gemma.
8. ‘Dumplin’ – Julie Murphy. Hollywood has gotten hold of this novel too, but it’s already been cast. Another feisty teenage heroine, in Willowdean, has the odds stacked against her from the get-go. Can she overcome them? You bet she’ll have a darn good try.
9. ‘Goodwood’ – Holly Throsby. The songsmith demonstrates she’s perfectly adept with wordsmithery, as well, with this very fine coming of age tale.
10. ‘The Rules of Backyard Cricket’ – Jock Serong. You do not have to be a fan of leather on willow to enjoy this slice of Aussie life from Serong.
Hms to Joanna Trollope (Circle of Friends), Jock Serong (On the Java Ridge), Julie Murphy (Ramona Blue), Len Vlahos (Life in a Fishbowl), Roxane Gay (Hunger- a Memoir for My Body), Andrew Daddo (One Step), Laura Barnett (Greatest Hits), Michael Robotham (The Secrets She Keeps), Lee Battersby (Magrite) and TC Boyle (Terranauts)