In a year when many have been 'coloring' books, I've been reading them. (Not that there's anything wrong with a little art-therapy. I'm all for it!)
Goodreads to read seventy books. Initially, I thought I would struggle; after all, there are still only 365 days in a year and 24 hours in a day, where was I to find the time to read an extra twenty books? Turns out I should always back myself. I surpassed my challenge by reading over eighty books. I'm going to recommend some of my favourites below. Perhaps you could put them on your to-read list for 2017.
As usual, my reading was varied. I have tasted almost everything on the menu this year. Poetry. Essay. Memoir. YA. Anthology. Self-help. Art. Home decorating. Organisation. Fiction. Sewing. Psychology. Short Story. Reference.
Jandy Nelson is a new favourite of mine. Get your hands on her award-winning books, The Sky is Everywhere and I'll Give you the Sun. Yes, that's right, only two books. This is the only problem with falling in love with the work of a new author - waiting for the next book. Her books are classified as YA fiction but don't let that turn you away. As The Daily Beast said - "Those who think young-adult books can't be as literary, rich, and mature as their adult counterparts will be disabused of that notion after reading The Sky is Everywhere".
Claire Zorn, already a favourite from the time I read and reviewed her debut, The Sky So Heavy here. I can't rate The Protected as highly as her debut, but here's what I wrote on goodreads - "Claire Zorn knows how to write. She is especially good at portraying teenagers on the page. Teenagers in peril or in pain...I had to add it to my 'made me cry' list..." The other title, One Would Think the Deep, was amazing and heartbreaking, with many twists and turns.
Another favourite author I kept up with this year. A.S. King. Her novels I Crawl Through It and Reality Boy were a wonderful addition to my year of reading. Reality Boy joined Zorn's The Protected on my 'made me cry' list. King is a favourite of mine because she writes like a magician and explores serious themes in a no-holds-barred way.
The poetry books I gave five stars to were, Eating My Grandmother by Krissy Kneen and Night Writing by Kathryn Lomer. In all I read twenty-three books of poetry. I love contemporary poetry, especially by Australian poets. If you haven't read poetry since school I suggest you give some of the new poets a try.
I'm a big fan of short fiction. Like poetry, I suggest you give it a try if you haven't read any for a while. The collections I gave five stars to are, The Best Australian Stories 2014, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King and Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman. Short stories fit nicely into those small spaces we all have in our lives. If you feel you don't have the time or energy or focus to commit to a novel, try the short form. Short doesn't mean dull or superficial. Good short fiction packs a punch.
Nothing worse than an overly-long blog post, right? Well, even so, I can't leave without mentioning my five star non-fiction reads this year. Speaking Out: A 21st-Century Handbook for Women and Girls by Tara Moss and Use Your Words: A Myth-Busting, No-Fear Approach to Writing by Catherine Deveny.
Well, it's been a strange and challenging year for many different reasons and I'm happy to say goodbye to it. Let's hope 2017 is a great new beginning for everyone. Keep reading!!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!