a year in review (this is only about books i read, sorry, not much cancer).

i’ve had two ER trips in the middle of the night since Christmas. neither anything to worry about – i turned out fine from both of them. but it’s left me sleep deprived – and sleep deprivation is my number 1 mania trigger. it is good, bad, terrible, and useful all at once. probably most of all though, it makes me fairly irritating. apologies to my twitter followers. trust me, for every rant i share, there’s about 1000000 more i wanted to.

SO. i do a yearly write up of what i read during the year. this is my third year of doing so, and sadly, it’s a particularly lame number of books, with 18 titles making it. i don’t count here all of the Dragonlance books i read, mostly because it was in the haze of initial diagnosis. probably 10-12 of them? My review of them is as always, Raistlin is the best anti-hero/hero ever, i really like the Twins trilogy, and dragons are real cool.

SO: this is what i read in 2014 that wasn’t about the magical world of Krynn.

Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living Carrie Tiffany
Under the Net Iris Murdoch
may we be forgiven A M Homes
the progress of love Alice Munro
the safety of objects A M Homes
a personal matter Kenzaburō Ōe
the aunt’s story Patrick White
the vivisector Patrick White
we have always lived in the castle Shirley Jackson
ancillary justice Ann Leckie
the children’s bach Helen Garner
the fifth child doris lessing
the white castle orhan pamuk
lila marilynne robinson
salad days ronnie scott
all the birds singing evie wyld
wolf in white van john darnielle
MxT sina queyras

I try and keep my gender balance good, and i am pretty pleased with the face i overwhelmingly read women writers this year. also, a lot of australian writers, which i’m trying to be better at.

i’m never good with picking favourites, and i am a terrible book reviewer because my experiences of reading are intimately shaped by the circumstances under which i read them. it’s partly why i just stuck with old familiar books around the time of diagnosis – they were safe and comforting, and took me to the place i was when i first read them – early teens, hungry for more dragons.

May We Be Forgiven has stuck with me in a really profound way. i remember reading a lot of it while waiting around a hospital in Sydney when my partner had surgery early this year, and it was one of the most solidly transported reading experiences i’ve had. The Vivisector was shatteringly good, and is next to Tree of Man for my favourite Patrick White novel now. i didn’t overly like The Aunt’s Story though. Sorry, Patty.

i read Ronnie Scott’s Salad Days while flying back from a trip to melbourne to visit my dear friend’s infant. As someone who spends too much money on food, it really resonated with me, and made me spend the flight thinking about my meal at Alinea, the most spectacular meal of my life, as well as other beautiful meals i’ve had, and the memories that go with food. It made me think back on the abject misery i experienced in the six months leading up to diagnosis when each favourite food was snatched away from me, one at a time, rendering me vomiting at almost everything i ate. now, i’ve returned to my normal state of being; a digestive system that takes issue with most things i put in there, but not puking! i can pretty much deal with any GI issue that’s not puking. Salad Days is beautifully written, sharp and short, and a joy for people who like extravagant meals. I want to go to Sepia in Sydney as my Last Supper before the liver extraction. i lose my sense of taste for a month, and i can’t say how much that horrifies me.

Lila was perfect. i don’t feel a need to review Marilynne Robinson, because if you haven’t read her, you should. i feel like life is gifting me something sacred with another new book of hers comes out. read it.

MxT is probably the only poetry book i’ve ever read cover to cover, like a novel. i can’t really talk about it, it was so good. (nb. i am a really shitty book reviewer. seriously, seriously bad). she talks about grief and around grief and under grief and walks with grief. and for anyone who is grieving – for the living, the dead, those you will never speak to again but are still alive, or your own life, and loss of it – the fact we’ll all die – read it.

pretty much everything on that list i enjoyed – Wolf in White Van was splendid and felt like reading a Mountain Goats song, and Alice Munro is Alice Munro so obs read more. A Personal Matter was… i think there was something a bit off in the translation, to be honest – i’ve read that Ōe is really hard to translate, and i think some of the core concepts he’s talking around in A Personal Matter might not have come across very well in english. the dialogue is disjointed and strange, which i also think is a translation thing.

this year’s reading goals are to make it to 30 books, read more stuff in translation, finish:
The Tin Drum
Life, A User’s Manual
Independent People

read more Nobel winners (which two of the above are), read a bit more non-fiction. also, as with all my 2015 goals, we include the important ‘don’t die yet’ as a caveat.


About elizabeth

various things.
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7 Responses to a year in review (this is only about books i read, sorry, not much cancer).

  1. Cordelia says:

    What a great list. Most of my reading is aloud to Anna. That last book was Anne of Windy Poplars However, I’m half ashamed to admit that the last 2 books I read for me were, The Devil Wears Prada, and the Undomestic Goddess. Pure fluff. Read a little fluff if you feel inclined.

  2. vivzilla says:

    My biggest problem writing about books is that I rarely read them the year they were published so my “best of 2014” list is impossible to work out. That being said, I have read may we be forgiven. I like the start and the end. Also, I think the book struck a bit close to home (family dramz) for my liking.

  3. katiedavis says:

    Books are inextricably interlinked to the context I read them in for me too. I blubbered reading the time traveller’s wife on a contiki tour bus driving around Italy. At sunset the day I finished it we heard a group of cloistered nuns singing as we walked around a chapel… The book will always be linked to that time and place. I’ll never read lord of the rings because I was reading it when my grandfather died and I just can’t go there. Books are like my tethers to time and place and memory.

    Now I’m going to raid your list 😉

  4. Wozka says:

    I still love Draonlance, esp. the Twins trilogy. Now I have twins, I can show them a really cool book about twins to read…
    And I think my brother is still sad I didn’t name the girls Caramon & Raistlin, particularly as one came out bawling and fat and hungry, and the other was jaundiced and scrawny…
    To date, Rose has not run off to join Magic school, but it’s still early, and she loves horses. And Mae really REALLY likes diggers and machinery, not swords so much. But she loves food. Food is her favourite food.

  5. Pingback: 2014 Reading List » flexnib

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