15. A book that takes place on an island

And very conveniently, and homophonic, Ireland.

I did not like this book very much. At least, not as much as Kent’s first book Burial Rites which I read a few years ago.

This is another truish story about an alleged crime, inspired, as they say, by true events. I just didn’t really care about those events. Though I didn’t dislike it enough to put it down either. As you all know I never finish a book I don’t like (I’m looking at you Ian McEwan).

Set sometime before running water and electricity in rural Ireland, this book looks at the transition between pagan and church ways of thinking. It questions customs and beliefs, and tries to get the reader to understand how these can come and go out of fashion.

I think I had a hard time reading this book because I read so much fantasy. In those books fairies and magic are ‘real’ whereas in real life they are not. So I just couldn’t get my head around this as historical fiction with all the talk of the Fey. Her writing couldn’t make me believe that people really used to think this way. I wasn’t convinced, perhaps because I now have running water and electricity.

She is a good writer, don’t get me wrong. She evokes the period and tells the story in an enthralling way. It just wasn’t a topic that really drew me in.

Like her other novel the build up to the event took a long time too. Though this was written in the present tense, rather than looking back like the other one. It still had the same sense of foreboding though, that dramatic irony where you know something is going to go wrong. It just wasn’t the injustice of the other novel. It was just a bit meh for me.

3. A book set in your home state

I’m not sure how I feel about this book.

I did read it in about two days which means I must have liked it because I stop reading when I don’t like a book.

I think it is a good book. It’s set back on the early 1990’s and I like that because I’m a child of the nineties. It’s also set in rural NSW and I like that too because I’ve spent a lot of time there.

Normally I don’t like modern Australian fiction. Too much of the convict mentality taints it. Or perhaps that’s just David Malouf. But I’ve found myself reading a little more of it lately. Last year I read all of Inga Simpson’s novels and I can’t wait for her to right more. And I love all Helen Garner’s true writing.

In this novel, I think it’s the way it unfolds that I like best. Because the narrator is writing from the future, after all the events have taken place, she tells the story on real time, as it happens, even if she didn’t know the information in real time. This way the mystery unfolds chronologically and I’m not confused or kept in the dark as a reader, something I loathe. 

All good mystery/crime fiction should allow the reader to become the sleuth. There should be just enough information for you to have a stab at picking the killer but not so much that you actually do. The twists and turns of this story really fit with the rural community setting, reflecting both the historical time and some contemporary concerns.

The ending was a little abrupt but I was unsatisfied, just a bit taken aback that it was finished.

My problem at the moment is that I dont know what to read next because there is no YA fiction on my shelf and the ones I want to read haven’t been published yet.

16. A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy

There has been much debate in my household as to what is actually meant by this category. How do we define joy? How can it be seen and measured? As avid readers don’t all books bring us joy? 

I feel like this is a gimme category that I should perhaps be saving for later when I find a book I can’t categorise. But unlucky for me (or really lucky for me, because it’s the best book ever) I have already found that uncatergorisable book.

My mum got me this for Christmas because she knew I would love it. And I do. 

I love a book about books. I’ve got many a book which lists other books and explains why they are important. And that’s why this book brings me joy. It has shown me so many other books that I need to read, or that I need to share with other people.

Each of those post its represent another book that needs to be read. It’s the book that keeps on giving. I think.you can never have too many books. I’m moving house soon and my husband went round counting our bookshelves and right now we have 8. All full. And that’s even after I did a huge cull when I rearranged our furniture last year. I don’t even keep many of them to reread, I just keep them because I like looking at them.

They bring me joy.

30. A Book from a Non-human perspective

First of all I can’t believe there is no graphic novel on the reading challenge list this year. I don’t read many but I like the opportunity to read at least one, especially as I have this series that I need to keep up with.

This could have been my blue cover book, but I don’t want to read a book from an animal’s perspective, so fantasy is a good fit for non-human characters (no one said they couldn’t be humanoid).

My favourite characters in this series are a little seal, a lie detecting cat and a prince who has a television for a head (in fact their entire race a TV headed robots, but I like the prince best).

This is one of those Romeo and  Juliet fantasy stories set to the back drop of war. Two people not supposed to be together, let alone fall in love, and well what do you know they do and have a kid to boot. 

The whole story is told from the kid’s perspective and follows the journey of her parents, and others, as they try to find her. It’s got all your classic fantasy/sci-fi alien lessons about understanding and prejudice and war and peace. And therefore it’s also got all your non-human characters and so fits this category perfectly. There is not one human, as we are human, human characters in the whole thing.

Reading Challenge 2017

Every year I complete a reading challenge. For the past three years this challenge has been set by my colleagues at work and is based on the Read Harder model.

Reading Harder means picking up books that you never normally would. It’s not about reading more in quantity, but makes you read more widely. Because we all know if I really had the choice I would just read YA non stop all year.

So this challenges gets you to read 50 different books that are each used to fill one category on the list.

Sometimes I plan what I am going to use for each category and other times I have to do a bit of tweaking to make the book I want to read fit. This year I think there is going to need to be a lot of planning as the categories are more specific than ever.

Category

Title

Author

1

A book based on a fairy tale

2

A Young Adult bestseller

3

A book set in your home state

4

A book translated into English

5

A book set in Europe

6

A book that’s becoming a movie this year

7

A book written by a celebrity

8

A book at least 100 years older than you

9

A book recommended by a family member

10

A book with a protagonist who has your occupation

11

A book that takes place during summer

12

A book with a blue cover

13

A dystopian novel

14

A book about a road trip

15

A book that takes place on an island

16

A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy

17

A book written by a local author

18

A book published this year

19

A book based on a true story

20

A book whose author has an X in their name

21

A ghost story

22

A book with a month in the title

23

A book by a female author

24

A book recommended by a librarian

25

A book that is a story within a story

26

A book with multiple authors

27

A book with a cat on the cover

28

A book by an author who uses a pseudonym

29

A book with a subtitle

30

A book from a non-human perspective

31

A steampunk novel

32

A book set in two different time periods

33

A book set in a hotel

34

A book that’s been mentioned in another book

35

A book from a genre you’ve never read before

36

A book with a synonym for chase in the title

37

A book by an indigenous author

38

A book of short stories

39

A book by your favourite author

40

The first book in a series

41

A book with more than 350 pages

42

A book about history or science

43

A prize winning book

44

A book by an author you’ve never read

45

A classic

46

A book of poems

47

A play

48

A book with an alliterative title

49

A book with a great first line.

50

A book you love – read it again!

And the cupboard was bare

So I’m not really one for resolutions, mostly because I don’t have the will power to stick to them. The only promise I make to myself every year is to read as many books as I possibly can (check out this year’s reading challenge in an upcoming post).

But then I saw this article on Twitter about not buying any clothes for a year and I thought 

Maybe I can do that

For those of you that know me, you know this is going to be a challenge. I see shopping as a sport, one I’d get a gold medal in at the Olympics if the world felt the same way as me about commerce. I go every weekend, and while I don’t always buy something, I’m not stopping myself from buying anything either.

But the article made me stop and think about why I buy new things at all. It’s not like I desperately need them. My wardrobe spans to one of my kids bedrooms and takes up half the space under my bed. Even with that much stuff to choose from I still end up wearing the same few things over and over. So then I thought maybe I should just stop buying things. The same day I read the article I went to the shops again (no surprises there) but I didn’t buy anything. Not because I didn’t see anything I liked, but because I chose not to. And it was totally liberating. 

Walking through those shops knowing I wasn’t going to buy anything just made it so much more stress free. I didn’t have to worry about.whay was on sale, or try anything on only to feel not good in it. I was simply at the shops.

Now don’t think I’ve completely lost my head. It’s only clothes shopping I’ve given up. On January 1 I was in IKEA purchasing up a storm. And there is no way in the world I would.ever stop buying books. But a smaller wardrobe starts with a single step away from the shopping centre.

(inter)national tourist

We seem to be starting a tradition on my family where every new born kid gets taken on a trip to Canberra around the time they are six months old. In 2015 I went during July, and last year (which is only really yesterday) I went between Christmas and New Year. 

I wasn’t really going to take the new kid. It’s not like a five month old really gets a lot out of a trip to the museum. Rather is went to see two spectacular exhibitions and he just had to come along because basically wherever I go he goes. 

The whole point of the visit was to see the treasures of Versailles exhibition at the national gallery. 

I have been to Versailles and seen everything in situ, but there is something really nice about not having to travel for twenty four hours to see important and interesting historical objects.

We lined up outside the gallery before it opened and as a result were the first ones to walk through. I can also tell you that that is a lot nicer than following an umbrella around the palace which is all you can see of your guide as she holds it above her head as there are just so many people there with you.

Some of my favourite things from the exhibition were the etchings.

Seing artwork like this always make me wish I could draw. Or that I had an art studio at the back of my house that I could retreat to to paint when it took my fancy. But alas, I have neither the talent nor the studio.

Because we were staying two nights the time needed to be filled and lucky for me the British Museum’s 100 objects was still open at the national museum.

I had seen this before also, and read the book. But again, there is something about getting to see these mind boggling objects in one’s own country that is just a little bit special.