2021 is finally underway…

I think I have my thoughts organised around my book challenges this year enough so I can say it out loud.

2021- Stay focused

First off will I say no challenges ahead of time except to read my TBR books and library copies? However, I guess my TBR is a challenge. I am going to follow blogger Book Snob and begin reading them alphabetically by author. I need to not just read the books I am always drawn to on my shelves but to get the impulse buys I thought I’d love, then lost the mood. How many of those do we own?

Right now, I’m reading Charlotte Wood’s The Weekend. Three women in their 70s gather at their friend’s place for a weekend to clean it out after she dies. Throw in a very old arthritic, incontinent dog and the dynamics should be interesting.

I know I am probably the last reader to dig into this popular Austraian book. I’ve heard so much about it. I’m not far into it but I am enjoying the writing. I have no idea how these three women and Finn the dog are going to cope in this run down house of their friend without killing each other. For friends of long standing they sure have a go at each other behind their backs. So far it is Finn, the dog I’m enjoying the most. But it is pulling me into the story and I am looking forward to seeing how they all cope.

Once finished I will begin other books. I want to have an essay or short story read of the day. So that will be one book on the go. I will either start with Chekhov’s short stories or The Bookseller’s Tale by Martin Latham. I might rotate between them as I am looking forward to both of them.

I will also get one book at a time from the library. There are so many books I discover through fellow bloggers but I don’t want to purchase those books. I have my own extensive library but I feel it is important to always support the library and even if I don’t get to all the books I place on hold, I want to contribute to their usage statistics. I don’t trust government funding for libraries. Fortunately our library seems to be well supported and in safe hands but one just never knows.

I also have photography and magazine articles to read. I regularly read Photography magazines from the library online, own a subscription to the Monthly and Australian Book Review magazines, not to mention Womankind. I can stick those in a bag and read them while waiting for appointments or the bus.

Did I mention kindle books and the audible books I listen to nightly? Or the bookish podcasts and author interviews? (sigh)

So there you have it.

My baseline goal is to read 50 pages per day from one of the above challenges. I should not call them challenges as that is the fastest way I know of to fall off the wagon, so to speak. Anyway, that’s the plan and we’ll see how we go. I won’t mention my daily journal writing and learning to draw book. I’m making myself laugh now.

Other catch up news is both good and also sad. The good news is my health is finally settling down after major surgery. I will pass the five week mark on Thursday and can start driving again soon. Feeling better but probably won’t be fully recovered until end of January or February. I can start taking longer walks and need to get Ollie to the beach again. I’m sure he misses it but you wouldn’t know it.

The sad news is we had to euthanise our old dog Molly. She would have been 16 in March. She had a bad fall and ruptured her cruciate ligament. We knew she couldn’t have surgery at her age and with her very advanced arthritis complicating matters we would not have put her through that. She had an extremely peaceful end with both of us with her and knew no anxiety. She was more than ready to go. I like to think of her running with her old mates Odie who we lost to cancer last year and Wally who died 4 years ago of old age. I will put another bell in the maple tree for her, next to Odie and Wally’s bell. Ollie hasn’t indicated he misses her but then again he is such a little narcissist it is hard to tell. Our old cat, Uncle Buck, seems to know she is gone though. They were great mates for the last 14 years.

Our lovely three friends are all together again and their bells ring gently in the wind. L-R Odie, 2019; Molly 2021; Wally 2016.

Well, enough of that and forward we move. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens politically in America the month of January then I’m going to forget all about it and concentrate on Australia!!

Stay well my friends, especially those of you in North America and the UK. I think of you daily and am saddened by what is happening in both countries. Just stay safe. Think medical and not political. Enough said.

Until next time…

January Reading And A Bit Of Serendipity

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Our Fuller’s Bookshop Book for February is The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker. It is a retelling of the Iliad from the point of view of a woman. Our group meets the first Thursday night of February so I will write more about it after we have discussed it.

I recently finished The Arsonist by Chloe Harper. Our group will discuss this book the first week of March. Chloe Harper is an Australian writer who writes about the Black Friday bushfires in Victoria that happened several years ago. Again I will wait until after the group meets to write about it.

I am currently reading our April book, The Everlasting Sunday by Robert Lukins about boys living in a boarding school in England in 1962. I’m not that far into it yet but I feel it might become quite ominous. More on that later.

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In the meantime, I can talk about the recently read The Shepherd’s Hut by Australian writer Tim Winton. I imagine most people who live in Australia who read this blog have read it. I will say I loved it very much and couldn’t put it down. It was a slowly drawn  story of a young man who lives in Western Australia. He had a very abusive father who had abused him for years and it became worse once his mother died of cancer. He often wished his father dead and when he does die in an accident while working on his car in a shed, the boy fears he may be blamed and heads off into the bush and desert of Western Australia.

In my opinion nobody writes about Western Australia better than Tim Winton. You feel the heat, the dust, the young man’s hunger. He comes across an elderly man living in a shack in the desert in the middle of nowhere and the story continues with the development of their relationship, the life and trials that happen upon them.

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My only criticism of the book, which some don’t agree with is I thought Tim Winton wrapped up the ending too quickly. This is a drawn out story that seemed to follow a certain, consistent pace throughout. Then suddenly the end is upon the reader and it seemed to quickly finish. I can’t say more than that as I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone. I will leave it at that for now. I did really enjoy this book though.

The serendipity I refer to is regarding a page I have put in my 2019 journal. I read a lot of book reviews. I get them from my bookshop, other blogger’s posts, the newspaper, everywhere.

I also receive publishers newsletters and magazines and often see older books referred to at times. I often exclaim to myself, “My gosh I have that book on my shelf!” and think I should get it off the shelf and read it so I can then pass it on. So for 2019 as I read reviews and notice books that are named by other bloggers, I will get that book off my shelf and place in a pile to finally have a serious look at it. If I’m not going to read it then maybe it is time to pass it along.

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So far on my journal’s Serendipity page, as I call it, I have Persuasion by Jane Austen. It is one of her books I have seen the film for but never read. So onto the pile it goes and I might finally get to it. As it is early in the year I don’t have any other books listed but I do have books by a couple of authors that have been in the winds of 2019.

I read a blurb in the Weekend Australian just before New Year’s Eve written by Mandy Sayers about her favourite books for 2018. I have a book on the shelf by her so I may grab that one. I have several books on the shelf by Helen Garner unread and I know I must read them. I hear so much about Helen Garner especially from Australian bloggers I follow. So onto the pile they need to go. I can’t think about their latest books while I still have their previous books on the shelf.snip20190124_6

February will have me listening to audible books, mainly in the car. I’m currently listening to Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick who is a New York City writer I love. I heard her speak at the Sydney Writer’s festival a few years ago and enjoyed her very much. Most of her books are memoirs of her life growing up in a tenement building of 20 apartments in the Bronx. Some of her books are of her life later in life. She is close to me in age so has lived quite a bit of life.

I love tales that take place in Brooklyn or the Bronx especially in the 1950s and 60s. She deals with a very exasperating mother which I find interesting and I feel as though I am on the streets of New York with her, trying to figure out life. Fierce Attachments has most of the book taking place in her first 25 years. They live in an apartment building that has 20 apartments in it and the interaction between the neighbours and families really draw me in. I love the New York Jewish phrases and sometimes hysteria as many of the women deal with their husbands and children.snip20190124_4

February is going to be a very busy month for us but I’ll write more about that in a couple of days. I’m trying to finish off books in January because I’m not sure I’ll get a lot of reading completed in February.

More on that later. Until then, I leave you…

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The Weekend Wander – Jane Harper in Hobart

I know a few of you have read the Jane Harper books. Those are the books I keep meaning to read but haven’t got around to.  On Friday night a friend and I went along to the Fuller’s Book Shop launch of her most recent book, The Lost Man.

Snip20181111_6As there were quite a few people expected to come it was held in a conference room at the RACV Hotel across the street from Fuller’s. It was very flash sitting in reception with our drinks waiting to enter the room. The event had a good turnout but wasn’t mobbed.

I really enjoyed hearing her talk about how she writes and the research she conducts for her books. I love research and this sounded like so much fun.

Jane is a journalist who lives in the city of Melbourne. Very urban. However her books, of which there are three, all take place in the outback.  She talked for quite awhile about her experiences researching the isolation of the outback, the people she met, the pubs she visited. She also spent time with organisations such as the Royal Flying Doctors. She said she enjoyed it so much she didn’t want to leave. She spent most of her time in western Queensland.  Australia’s drought ridden country plays a role in all of her books so far. She stated her journalistic background was instrumental in succeeding in the research she did for these books.  She talked quite a bit about how she had to get the dialogue right as the country folk of rural Queensland speak differently than those urban dwellers of Melbourne.Snip20181111_7

She also mentioned The Dry has been optioned for a film by Reece Witherspoon’s outfit so look out for it in the future.  One audience member asked her about who would be cast as Aaron. She couldn’t tell us due to confidentiality clauses but stated she was happy with the person chosen if it goes ahead.  It will also be filmed in Australia and not America.

She presents as a really down to earth author and everyone in the audience seemed to enjoy her.  I came home and began to read the copy of her first book I have, The Dry. It features a federal policeman, named Aaron Falk. He returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, Luke Hadler. Luke and he had hung out as part of a group of four, including their girl friends when they were young.

Luke Hadler killed his wife and son, then shot himself. The younger daughter was spared.  There was a history that involved a death of one of the girls. The classmate from years gone by and the town people still think he killed her. His reception in his home town after 20 years doesn’t go that well.

I am enjoying this book and now Aaron and the local town cop are beginning to think things just don’t add up around Luke’s family’s death when they visit the scene of the crime…well… let’s say, the plot thickens.  The Dry is Jane’s first book and I am right into it. I think I am not alone in thinking this is a very good book.

Since then she wrote a second book with the same protagonist called Force Of Nature.

Snip20181111_5The launch I attended was about her third and latest book that is a stand alone novel that doesn’t include Aaron Falk.   It is titled The Lost Man.

During question time one of the audience members asked if Aaron would come back in the future.  She stated she didn’t see a long term series as she didn’t want to do that, but she felt she owed him quite a bit, so don’t be surprised if he reappears in future. That got a laugh from the audience.

It was a lovely, fun way to spend an evening with a friend and I plan on reading her other novels once finished with The Dry.

If you’ve read any of her books what did you think?

Published by Pan MacMillan
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