Friday 27 December 2019

My favourite books this year.

I often read writers' blog posts about their book reccomendations because it's a great way to discover new books and authors but I tend to avoid those written by very well known writers because I'm sure some pick books they think they should pick rather than the ones that they really enjoyed.

I don't read only books that have just been published because my bookshelves and those at my library contain books published over the last 200+ years.

Neither do I read only books that have been listed for a literary prize, choosing anything that takes my fancy. Sometimes I'm delighted, sometimes disappointed. Here are the ones I particularly enjoyed in the order I read them.

Hanna's Daughters  Mariane Fredriksson. This Swedish novel has been on my bookshelf for ages. It spans 150 years and 3 generations of a family from rural Sweden to modern urban.

Burnt Shadows Kamila Shamsie. Another novel of family links spanning a time frame from the dropping of the Nagaski bomb to post 9/11.

The Killing of Louisa Janet Lee. A reimagined take on the true story of Louisa Collins, the last woman to be hanged in New South Wales. Convicted of murdering her husband there is doubt about her guilt. The first three of four trials failed to convict her. A great find in my local library.

Milk Fever Lisa Reece-Lane. Mentioned in my previous post. Another gem in my library.

Shepherd Catherine Jinks. Also mentioned in my last post and borrowed from my library.

Extinctions Josephine Wilson. Also borrowed from the library and mentioned in my last post.

The Far Field Madhuri Vijay. Another library book, this one set in India is the story of Shalini who travels from her city of Bangalore to find the salesman from Kashmir who regularly visited her home as a child and became a friend. She learns of the tribulations suffered by both Muslim and Hindu Kashhmiris.

The Passengers Eleanor Limprecht. I spotted this one in one of my local bookshops. Hannah travels from the US to Australia with her Australian born grandmother and learns about her life as a war bride.

Nine Days Toni Jordan. Set in Richmond, Melbourne another story told by members of 4 generations of a family from WWII to the 2010s. Yet another library book.

Love and the Platypus Nicholas Drayson. A fictitious take on the real scientist, William Caldwell, who was awarded a fellowship in 1833 to determine whether the platypus, a mammal, did or did not lay eggs. A library book that has taught me quite a lot about platypuses. (NB: Not platipi because the word is not of Latin origin.)

Looking at my list I see there tends to be a theme of family stories and history which was not intentional. Of the 58 books I read, 45 were by women which wasn't intentional either, I simply pick books that appeal. Just under a third were Australian authors, but they made up 70% of my best reads.

I did check out  a couple of library books including the Booker winner Milkman and within the first page abandonned them. It might well be brilliant but it struck me as pretentious writing and I can't just be bothered to read sentences that ramble on forever.