I reread a lot of books this year. Mainly it was old favourites and I was trying to figure out what made them so good (turning reading into learning, fun!). I also started off the year by reading a lot of non-fiction, which is unusual for me but turned out great. I then ended the year on a more commercial note, when I just needed something to look forward to in the evenings when my brain didn’t want to work.

I’ve already written about some of the best books, this is the whole list (not including Harry Potter x 2.3 times). This year, with stars!

  • Oranges are not the only fruit by Jeanette Winterson ****
  • Rings of Saturn by W.G. Sebald****
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert ***
  • Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance *****
  • 117 days by Ruth First **** After finishing this I was determined to read more about South Africa. That didn’t happen, but there’s still time! 
  • The year of magical thinking by Joan Didion *****
  • When will there be good news? By Kate Atkinson *** I think Kate Atkinson is great. So readable but not trashy at all.
  • Blue nights by Joan Didion ****
  • Dreams from my father by Barack Obama ****
  • The caged virgin by Ayaan Hirsi Ali ****
  • Stet by Diana Athill ***
  • Born to run by Christopher McDougall ***
  • Do no harm by Henry Marsh *** This is from the eighties, an account of being a neurosurgeon in Britain. It is interesting, and was a bit of a silly choice to read after my operation.
  • The husband’s secret by Liane Moriarty ***
  • Trio by Sue Gee **
  • Revolutionary road by Richard Yates **** I knew this story from the movie, but the book is so well written it didn’t matter. Unlikable characters but in such interesting ways.
  • Good me, bad me by Ali Land ***
  • Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout *****
  • The English patient by Michael Ondaatje ****
  • Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee *****
  • Pride and prejudice by Jane Austen *****
  • The blackwater lightship by Colm Toibin *****
  • Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum *** A reworking of Anna Karenina apparently, which I didn’t realise until the end. Loved about the first two thirds of it.
  • On Chesil beach by Ian McEwan ***
  • Station eleven by Emily St John Mandel *****
  • The tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte***
  • The light between oceans by M.L. Stedman ***
  • Blindness by Jose Saramago *****
  • Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey *****
  • Conversations with friends by Sally Rooney ****
  • The futures by Anna Pitoniak ***
  • The naïve and the sentimental novelist by Orhan Pamuk ****
  • The circle by David Eggers ***
  • Wishful drinking by Carrie Fisher ***
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote ***
  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett **** Loved this, one of the highlights of the year. A perfect opening scene. I need more Patchett in my life.
  • Reading like a writer by Francine Prose ****
  • Abide with me by Elizabeth Strout ****
  • The magician’s assistant by Ann Patchett ***
  • The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden ****
  • Swimming home by Deborah Levy *** I’ve been wanting to read this for a long time, but it was a bit disappointing. The mysterious quirky loner girl trope is a bit old, even though it was written so well.
  • Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas ***
  • Only daughter by Anna Snoekstra **
  • Sense and sensibility by Jane Austen ***
  • Frog music by Emma Donoghue **** I don’t usually read historical fiction, but I love Donoghue and this novel set in San Francisco around a 19th century murder was great.
  • The misunderstanding by Irene Nemirovsky ***
  • Negotiating with the dead by Margaret Atwood ***
  • The Martian by Andy Weir ***
  • Position doubtful by Kim Mahood ***** Very interesting thoughts about land and life and connections in Australia.
  • Big little lies by Liane Moriarty ***
  • Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout ***** The perfect novel.
  • Hidden figures by Margot Lee Shetterly **** I saw the movie of this first, and then got annoyed when I read the book and realised how much had been unnecessarily changed. The writing style is very casual and a bit funny – like an aunt’s diary – but the amount of information is amazing. Also, I didn’t realise just how complicated segregation and its removal was.
  • The wonder by Emma Donoghue ***
  • Quartet by Jean Rhys ***
  • The dry by Jane Harper ****
  • The point by Marion Halligan *** I wanted to like this because it was set in Canberra, but Halligan fell for the 90s/early noughties fashion of not using speech marks, so I spent a lot of time being annoyed that I couldn’t follow who was speaking.
  • The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel ***
  • The good son by Paul McVeigh ****A boy growing up in Belfast during the Troubles. Often compared to Roddy Doyle, but I found it better – more sympathetic and genuine, with less caricatures.
  • The end of Eddy by Edouard Louis ***** I’ve been wanting to read this all year and it didn’t disappoint. Northern French working-class boy, gay, trying to figure out the endless violence and apathy around him. 


I read some great books this year but all up it was a slightly scatty, underwhelming year. For the first time in a long time I found myself finishing books and not knowing what to read next, which lead to starting and stopping many books I would normally enjoy simply because I was not prepared for them.

  • The lost dog – Michelle de Kretser
  • Boyhood island – Karl Ove Knausguaard. The third and most disappointing of the My Struggle series.
  • We need to talk about Kevin – Lionel Shriver. I’ve been meaning to read this for a long time and it didn’t disappoint. There were many lines that struck me, in particular: “To answer one life with a successive life is simply to transfer the onus of purpose to the next generation; the displacements amounts to a cowardly and potentially infinite delay.” Controversial, but it struck a chord with me. 
  • Catcher in the rye – J.D. Salinger
  • Snow – Orhan Pamuk
  • Adela Pankhurst: the wayward suffragette – Verna Coleman
  • An evil cradling – Brian Keenan. Keenan’s experience as a hostage in Lebanon in the eighties. A story that I was too young to know about at the time but which I now find incredible.
  • Why I am not a Christian – Bertrand Russell
  • Story of the lost child – Elena Ferrante
  • Persuasion – Jane Austen. Forever my favourite Austen.
  • Climbing the coconut tree – S.C. Karakaltsas
  • A spool of blue thread – Anne Tyler
  • Divergent – Veronica Roth
  • Room – Emma Donoghue. A highlight of the year. So absorbing that my 30 minute train trip just didn’t feel long enough. 
  • Sparrow migrations – Cari Noga. Another highlight and comforting that it started as a self-published novel. Several stories linked by the Hudson river crash and sparrows.
  • The strays – Emily Bitto
  • Hideous kinky – Esther Ford. I read this while we were in Morocco, which felt fitting. Told from the point of view of a child whose mother is a wandering hippy on the Moroccan trail in the seventies. 
  • Great expectations – Charles Dickens
  • All the light we cannot see – Anthony Doerr. Every time I read a story about the second world war I think I can’t possibly read another one that sheds more light, and yet I do. There are so many nuanced experiences outside those of the camps and they continue to intrigue me.
  • The door – Magda Szabo. I found this on a list of best translated fiction. It’s incredible and Emerence is a character I’ll never forget. See the New Yorker article
  • Why not me? – Mindy Kaling
  • Not that kind of girl – Lena Dunham
  • 20 fragments of a ravenous youth – Xiaolu Guo
  • Silas Marner – George Eliot. I was only disappointed that this was so short. It is an incredibly succinct story of the interweaving of lives and how we see people.
  • The garden of evening mists – Tan Twan Eng. I wanted to love this, and the second world war information about Malaysia was interesting but the actual writing I found over the top.
  • First love, last rights – Ian McEwan
  • The history of love – Nicole Krauss
  • A little life – Hanyu Yanagihara. Everything is just so big in this novel. The violence is nauseating and the characters often frustrating, but it is a must-read.
  • Insurgent – Veronica Roth
  • Still Alice – Lisa Genova
  • The wandering falcon – Jamil Ahmad
  • A god in ruins – Kate Atkinson
  • Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout. Elizabeth Strout was the best thing about this year! I feel like I’m lowered into her novels in a glass sphere, the characters are so real that it is easy to believe I am simply visiting them for a time.
  • Purple hibiscus – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • The Burgess boys – Elizabeth Strout
  • The eye of the sheep – Sofie Laguna
  • North and south – Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Farewell to the East End – Jennifer Worth
  • Dark places – Gillian Flynn
  • In the woods – Tana French
  • The girls – Emma Cline. I kept seeing this on lists of books to read in 2016, so I did. It’s a fictionalised account of the Manson murders, and it was engaging until the writing style got a bit much. Still, an amazing debut.
  • Emma – Jane Austen
  • Notes on a scandal – Zoe Heller. The best unreliable narrator I’ve ever read. Completely fascinating.
  • A murder is announced – Agatha Christie
  • Dancing in the dark – Karl Ove Knausguaard. Fourth in the series and it made me look forward to the fifth. I’m a fan once again.
  • Moments of reprieve – Primo Levi
  • Waiting for the barbarians – J.M. Coetzee
  • The lonely city – Olivia Laing. The third of Laing’s books, and I loved it. Non-fiction about how loneliness informed the art of artists including Edward Hopper. Heart-breaking and optimistic at the same time.
  • My name is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout
  • Slammerkin – Emma Donoghue. I’m not usually one for historical fiction but this was great. Three years of a teenage girl’s life as she goes from prostitution in London to servitude in a Welsh country house.
  • Amy and Isabelle – Elizabeth Strout
  • Reckoning – Magda Szubanski
  • A streetcat named Bob – James Bowen
  • Plus all of Harry Potter, of course.



I loved so many books this year. The emphasis was on European literature – prompted by last year’s Christmas books from mum and dad. I’m also slowly discovering that there is a lot of great non-fiction around which is lyrical as well as informative.

  • No Great Mischief – Alexander McLeod
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera. One of the books from mum and dad last Christmas, and so much bigger than even its enormous reputation suggests.
  • We are all Completely Beside Ourselves – Kay Joy Fowler
  • Yes Please – Amy Poehler. Hilarious.
  • Stoner – John Williams
  • The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt. I am now on the Donna Tartt bandwagon. This was incredible – art and families and the different faces we all flit between. Few writers can write about extremely changeable characters without just seeming like they don’t know who they are writing about, but Tartt definitely pulled it off.
  • The Empty Family – Colm Toibin
  • A Death in the Family – Karl Ove Knausguaard. Knausguaard was talked about everywhere this year. One of those books where I found myself holding my breath, as if breathing might distract me from the observations of daily life which he manages to make so universal.
  • The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
  • The Thornbirds – Colleen McCullough
  • Walden – Henry David Thoreau
  • My Own Way – Emmeline Pankhurst. A free kindle book I came across, written during the First World War when the suffragettes had yet to win the vote. An incredible story and so frustrating to read about, even 100 years later. Also, she makes interesting comparisons between the IRA and the suffragettes.
  • The Spy who Came in from the Cold – John Le Carre
  • A Clash of Kings – George R.R. Martin
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou. I intend to read the rest of Angelou’s memoirs, but this was so raw and distressing that it might have to be only one a year.
  • The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer. One of those characters who is so real that he has stayed with me all year, although I forget large parts of the actual story.
  • The Thrill of it All – Joseph O’Connor
  • My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante. Ferrante has also been written about a lot this year. Absolutely incredible to be inside this woman’s head, and the only book I’ve ever read which manages to show the difference between how we see ourselves and how others see us.
  • The Happy Prince and Other Stories – Oscar Wilde
  • History of London – Sir Walter Besant. Fascinating. Free kindle book which was written in the mid-nineteenth century which makes it so strange when he talks about how much London has changed and modernised.
  • Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe. I was distracted by this book’s reputation, and all those stupid things people say like ‘The African Novel’.
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan. Absolutely amazing and deserving of the Booker. A part of the Second World War I have heard little about.
  • Trip to Echo Springs – Olivia Laing. This was about the tendency for writers to be alcoholic, focusing on six American novelists of the twentieth century including Tennessee Williams and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Laing went on a road trip tracing various parts of their lives. Beautifully written as well as interesting.
  • A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  • Bossypants – Tina Fey
  • The Children’s Act – Ian McKewan. I think about this a lot, though mainly because it’s set on the road where I work. I was a bit disappointed it didn’t go deeper into the issue of medical consent for ‘minors’ who are seventeen.
  • Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng. Fascinating story of a family, their history and how they were falling apart even before they truly fell apart.
  • Amongst Women – John McGahern
  • Reading Around the World  – Ann Morgan. One woman’s quest to read a book from every country in a year. Very interesting to know more about translation and the pervasiveness of English language books.
  • Wild – Cheryl Strayed. Fantastic story and writing, and the movie really does it justice.
  • Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
  • The Mill on the Floss – George Elliott
  • The Tiger’s Wife – Tea Obreht. I’m not sure why this isn’t better known considering how great and interesting it is. A two-fold story about a modern-day doctor in an unnamed Balkan country, and her grandfather’s story of his childhood and village.
  • Quiet – Susan Cain. My whole family has read this, and I found it interesting in a lot of ways. I didn’t understand why there wasn’t more about how to learn to overcome introvert tendencies sometimes – surely no one wants to be exhausted all the time?
  • Too Much Happiness – Alice Munro
  • Notes from an Exhibition – Patrick Gale
  • A Man in Love – Karl Ove Knausguaard. This was even better than the first one.
  • To the River – Olivia Laing. Laing walked the length of the river Ouse, and recounted its history including Virginia Woolf’s fondness for it and her eventual drowning in it.
  • Story of a New Name – Elena Ferrante. This was even better than the first one as well.
  • A Storm of Swords Part 1: Steel and Snow – George R.R. Martin
  • Suite Francaise – Irene Nemirovsky. A side of the Second World War that I had never really heard – citizens in German-occupied France, including the initial attempts to flee. Stories of refugees are particularly mesmerising these days. Also, the story about how this was written is incredible: it was discovered by Nemirovsky’s daughter in the late nineties and is only two novels of five which she planned. Nemirovsky died in Auschwitz before she could finish it, but the version I read had excerpts from her diary, showing her drive to write it when she saw her capture and death as inevitable.
  • Nora Webster – Colm Toibin
  • The Woman who Went to Bed for a Year – Sue Townsend
  • The Sea the Sea – Iris Murdoch
  • Call the Midwife – Jennifer Worth
  • Alan Turing: The Enigma – Andrew Hodge
  • Voices from Chernobyl – Svetlana Alexievich. Incredible first-hand accounts from Chernobyl. Alexievich writes that she felt like she was writing about the future, and that’s the impression I got as well. It is so apocalyptic it is hard to believe it happened. Also, very interesting to see how different people react to the same situation – for some it controls their whole life and identity, while others are able to put it behind them.
  • Surfacing – Margaret Atwood. One of Atwood’s earliest books and one I hadn’t heard of. Except for the last few chapters when it goes mad, it was really good. A woman goes back to the remote place where she grew up to try to find her dad who is missing. The friends she goes with are a great (if annoying) bunch of characters too.
  • On Writing – Stephen King
  • As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
  • Long Grey Beard and Glittering Eye (short story collection) – Various
  • Lady in the Van – Alan Bennett
  • Austerlitz – W.G. Sebald
  • Shadows of the Workhouse – Jennifer Worth
  • The Unknown Terrorist – Richard Flanagan. I was distracted by Flanagan’s overt rage and the way he was so dismissive of everyone as though he was the only non-apathetic person in Australia who noticed things like racism and consumerism. That said, the story was interesting and a real page-turner, as the reviews all say.
  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay – Elena Ferrante
  • Amazing.
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling. Technically finished this on the 1st, but I count it because it rounds out the trio of awesome female comedians (along with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler).


It was a good year of reading. I continued with Iris Murdoch, who I still love and still have loads more to read. I continued working my way through the free kindle classics and read my second George Eliot, Middlemarch, which I immediately wanted to read again. I read the oddly captivating A Girl is a Half-Formed Things by Eimear McBride. I read two slave memoirs which made me disgusted with the human race, and I Am Malala which gave me some hope again. Also, all of Harry Potter of course but I decided not to include them this time around J

  • Coming through Slaughter – Michael Ondaatje
  • Beyond Black – Hilary Mantel. The first Hilary Mantel book I’ve read. Fascinating characters who are playing the psychic circuit in small town England, but there is something about her style that keeps me at a distance.
  • The Italian Girl – Iris Murdoch. Love love.
  • The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins. I was a bit late coming to this series but it is a great story.
  • The Nazis – Laurence Rees
  • Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
  • A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing – Eimear McBride. A friend had to explain to me that it begins as the thoughts of a baby, which is why it makes no sense. Seeing her thoughts develop as she grows up and goes through rather distressing experiences is fascinating.
  • The Sign of the Four – Arthur Conan Doyle
  • The Sisterhood – Helen Bryan. A free kindle book with a chocolate bar. Yes I am that person.
  • The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald. A classic for a reason and one I tried to inflict on my English class.
  • Life After Life – Kate Atkinson. Great idea that I think was probably prompted by a metaphysics class about non-linear time. However, it’s difficult to care about characters that just keep dying!
  • The Works of Simone de Beauvoir. Excerpts from her works, actually, bloody Amazon lied.
  • 12 Years a Slave – Solomon Northup. Brilliant, and the inability of most slaves to escape is explained much better than in the movie.
  • Sarah Thornhill – Kate Grenville
  • Jimmy Jazz – Roddy Doyle
  • The Children’s Book – A.S. Byatt. I keep thinking I should like A.S. Byatt more than I do, but her style is even more remote than Mantel’s, I find. Interesting, but more from a historical point of view about the Victoria and Albert Museum.
  • The Prophet – Kahlil Gibran
  • Middlemarch – George Eliot. So many characters! I loved all of them and immediately forgot them all when I finished. Will have to read it again and again.
  • Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  • Bring up the Bodies – Hilary Mantel. For some reason I started with #2 of this series. I liked it a lot, but I haven’t gone back to read Wolf Hall yet.
  • The Wine of Solitude – Irene Nemirovsky. I think I will fall a bit in love with Nemirovsky if I keep reading her. Gentle writing about France and Germany in the first half of the twentieth century.
  • World War Z – Max Brooks
  • Mansfield Park – Jane Austen. Poor Fanny Price! I now understand the comments made about her in pop culture. Fantastic read, and the movie unfortunately does not do it justice.
  • An Unoffical Rose – Irish Murdoch
  • The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass – Frederick Douglass
  • Hombre – Elmore Leonard. My first Western but certainly not my last. Fabulous movie as well.
  • Hello Mr Bones/Goodbye Mr Rat – Patrick McCabe. Oddly written and took me a while to settle into the headspace, but very entertaining.
  • The Age of Innocence – Edith Wharton. If you imagine the Bennett’s with their fortune move to the States and have grandchildren, this might be their story. Very entertaining.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood. I studied this at school and loved coming back to it again.
  • Star of the Sea – Joseph O’Connor. Unputdownable, which is totally a word, though I’m still not sure I liked it exactly. Possibly because of the unlikeable characters.
  • Frankenstein – Mary Shelley. Fantastic and not done justice by pop culture.
  • Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier. Unexpectedly brilliant. Why is this not talked about more?! Brilliant characters, brilliant story. So clever and so chilling and Hitchcock totally changed the ending!
  • How to be a Woman – Caitlin Moran. Read it in a day on the couch, cackling to myself. Oh the joys of unemployment!
  • Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. My new favourite author, why hasn’t she written more? Also, watch her Ted talk.
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith. I’m not really a crime novel person and I have to accept that, even when J.K. Rowling is writing it.
  • Into the Wild – John Krakauer. Made me want to buy a ute and drive into the hills. But hopefully not die. Very very good journalism.
  • Half of a Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Brilliant.
  • I am Malala – Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb. A remarkable story made more amazing by the completely humble way it is told. This girl is a hero for very good reasons.
  • The Luminaries – Eleanor Catton. So long and so entertaining, the style is very easy to sink into. Still not 100% sure of the story but I don’t think I’ll read it again, even though it was great.
  • A Game of Thrones – George R.R. Martin
  • Brighton Rock – Graham Greene
  • The Female Eunuch – Germaine Greer. I got annoyed at a lot of the vast generalisations about women only wanting to read romance novels, meet Prince Charming and get married (even in the sixties that wasn’t true!) but very interesting from a sociological point of view. Equal pay had only just come in, which seems so ridiculous, and there are plenty of things that have changed which we can celebrate. The occasional nasty asides about gay and transgender people come as a shock.



It’s been a pretty underwhelming year of reading, I must say. There were a few standouts but there were some disappointments from old faithfuls as well. It was nice, however, reading or re-reading some books set in England now that I’m here.

  • Chocolat – Joanne Harris
  • First they killed my father – Loung Ung
  • Small Island – Andrea Levy
  • Harry Potter and the Half-blood prince
  • The Lost Executioner: the story of the Khmer Rouge – Nic Dunlop
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • She Came to Stay – Simone de Beauvoir
  • First Love – Joyce Carol Oates
  • Youth – J.M. Coetzee
  • My life as a fake – Peter Carey
  • 9/11 Was there an alternative? – Noam Chomsky
  • The Clefts – Doris Lessing
  • J.K. Rowling – Marc Shapiro
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Sons and Lovers – D.H. Lawrence
  • The Outsider – Albert Camus
  • The Amateur Marriage – Anne Tyler
  • Best Stories of 2006 – Various
  • Breathing Lessons – Anne Tyler
  • The Secret History – Donna Tartt
  • Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
  • Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
  • Jacob’s Room – Virginia Woolf
  • Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
  • Of Human Bondage – W. Somerset Maughan
  • Little Men – Louisa May Alcott
  • Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
  • Sweet Tooth – Ian McEwan
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • The Secret River – Kate Grenville
  • Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  • The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • The Winter of our Discontent – John Steinbeck
  • Brooklyn – Colm Toibin
  • Against all Gods – A.C. Grayling
  • Maps for Lost Lovers – Nadeem Aslam
  • Questions of Travel – Michelle de Kretser
  • The Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling
  • The Childhood of Jesus – J.M. Coetzee
  • Daniel Deronda – George Elliott
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • First book of poems – Emily Dickonson
  • The Moons of Jupiter – Alice Munroe
  • Buriel Rites – Hannah Kent
  • Jo’s Boys – Louisa May Alcott
  • Daddy love – Joyce Carol Oates
  • A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
  • The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Barnett
  • Dumb Witness – Agatha Christie
  • The Dark – John McGahern
  • Tess of the D’Urbivelles – Thomas Hardy
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • The Child in Time – Ian McEwan
  • The Time of the Angels – Iris Murdoch


Of Human Bondage – W. Somerset Maughan

A free book on Kindle, and an incredibly good story of a young man trying to figure out what he wants from life and women.

Questions of Travel – Michelle de Kretser

A story set between Australia, London and Sri Lanka. The most interesting and thought provoking account of travel, both recreational and unavoidable, that I’ve read.

The Time of the Angels – Iris Murdoch

My first foray into Iris Murdoch but I think we will become much better acquainted in 2014. A story of dark relationships told beautifully and simply.


Maps for Lost Lovers – Nadeem Aslam

A story of Pakistani families living in England. The complexity of cultural misunderstandings was interesting, though overall it was just too long.

The Secret River – Kate Grenville and Burial Rites – Hannah Kent

Both great stories, generally well written although in need of editing.

Brooklyn – Colm Toibin

I do love Colm Toibin and this is one of his better ones, though not quite in the same league as The South or Blackwater Lightship.

A Whole lot of Meh:

I still can’t see the fuss about A Secret History, and this was my second reading of it. Wutheirng Heights is seriously overrated, and J.K. Rowling was trying far too hard to be edgy in The Casual Vacancy. I usually love Simone de Beauvoir but She Came to Stay, a semi-autobiographical account of the three way relationship she had with Jean-Paul Sartre and another young woman, was not her best by far. They are all readable and occasionally enjoyable, but difficult to feel anything more about.


Daddy Love – Joyce Carol Oates

She is a bit hit and miss, and this is definitely a miss. A bizarre story of a child who has been abducted. Perhaps would have worked better without the horrific details of child abuse.

The Childhood of Jesus – J.M. Coetzee

I’m a big Coetzee fan, and was excited to find his most recent book in the library. But it was just a bit odd in a very nothing sort of way for me. Perhaps I completely missed the point, or perhaps as wikipedia tells me, there just isn’t much of a point.

The Clefts – Doris Lessing

I’ve heard good things about some of Lessing’s works but this was just weird. The ‘cleft’ in the title refers to female anatomy and the story is a mythological type of thing about the first humans (who were all women). Very strange, particularly when the group sex starts.

I think for 2014 I will stop reading whatever is free on Kindle, and fork out a pound or two if I need to. Any recommendations at this point would be greatly appreciated!


Once again I’ve kept a list of the books I read this year. I love looking back at them and remembering what I was doing at the time. The Simon and Garfunkel book was read while I was recovering from an operation; Birdsong was read while I was studying CELTA; A Wasted Vigil was read during lunchtimes at a horrible job. Last year was a year of Simone de Beauvoir, short stories and vaguely middle eastern fiction. I’m running out of Simone books to read now, what will I do?

  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – J.K. Rowling
  • The year of the flood – Margaret Atwood
  • A man of parts – David Lodge
  • A wasted vigil – Nadeem Aslam
  • Secret Lives – various
  • Rules of engagement – Anita Brookner
  • The double bind – Chris Bohjalian
  • Forcast: Turbulence – Janette Turner Hospital
  • Gypsy boy – Mikey Walsh
  • Simon and Garfunkel: Old friends – Joseph Morella and Patricia Barey
  • The reluctant Mr. Darwin – David Quammen
  • The marriage plot – Jeffrey Eugenides
  • For the term of his natural life – Marcus Clarke
  • The lost art of gratitude – Alexander McCall Smith
  • All said and done – Simone de Beauvoir
  • The comfort of Saturdays – Alexander McCall Smith
  • I saw Ramallah – Mourid Barghouti
  • North of nowhere, south of lost – Janette Turner Hospital
  • The map of love – Ahdaf Soueif
  • Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
  • That they may face the rising sun – John McGahern
  • Emily Dickinson – Rebecca Swift
  • Science and Poetry – Mary Midgley
  • Oranges and Sunshine – Margaret Humphreys
  • The prime of life – Simone de Beauvoir
  • Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks
  • The sleepers almanac #6 – various
  • The woman destroyed – Simone de Beauvoir
  • Anna Karenina – Tolstoy
  • The first stone – Helen Garner
  • The sleepers almanac #7 – various
  • All that I am – Anna Funder
  • Memoirs of a dutiful daughter – Simone de Beauvoir
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone – J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
  • The line of beauty – Alan Hollinghurst
  • Summertime – J.M. Coetzee
  • Ragnarok: The end of the Gods – A.S. Byatt
  • The comfort of strangers – Ian McEwan
  • Island: The complete stories – Alistair MacLoed
  • The heather blazing – Colm Toibin
  • Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
  • The Good Thief – Hannah Tinti
  • Letters to Sartre – Simone de Beauvoir
  • Surrender – Sonya Hartnett

Favourites from the year: all the Simone ones (except the letters), Island, All that I am, Oranges and Sunshine, both Janette Turner Hospital short story collections and A Wasted Vigil.

Highly recommended: Oliver Twist, For the term of his natural life, Gypsy boy.

Disappointments: The year of the flood, Ragnarok, The double bind, The marriage plot.


  • Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – Mark Haddon
  • L.A. Confidential – James Elroy
  • Barcelona – Robert Hughes
  • Australian Short Stories – Various
  • The Body in the Library – Agatha Christie
  • A Fair Maiden – Joyce Carol Oates
  • Speaking Volumes – Various
  • Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Complete Short Stories – David Malouf
  • Mr Norris Changes Trains – Christopher Isherwood
  • Hercule Poirot’s Christmas – Agatha Christie
  • Beloved – Toni Morrison
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Truman Capote
  • A Single Man – Christopher Isherwood
  • Saturday – Ian McKewan
  • The Sea – John Banville
  • Night – Elie Wiesel
  • The Master – Colm Toibin
  • Lighthouse Keeping – Jeanette Winterson
  • Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – J.K. Rowling
  • Taking Pictures – Anne Enright
  • Girl Saves Boy – Steph Bowe
  • Black Dogs – Ian McKewan
  • If This is a Man – Primo Levi
  • Get a Life – Nadine Gordimer
  • Postcards – E. Annie Proulx
  • Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
  • A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
  • The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
  • Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
  • The Road – Cormac McCarthy
  • Australian Colonial Gothic Short Stories – Various
  • Undue Influence – Anita Brookner
  • The Slap – Chris Tsiolkas
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – J.K. Rowling
  • Trans-Sister Radio – Chris Bohjalian
  • Blackwater Lightship – Colm Toibin
  • The Bonesetter’s Daughter – Amy Tan
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – J.K. Rowling
  • Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Virgin Suicides – Jeffrey Eugenides
  • I’ll Take You There – Joyce Carol Oates
  • Bereft – Chris Womersley
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J.K. Rowling
  • Boyhood – J.M. Coetzee
  • The Sunday Philosophy Club – Alexander McCall Smith
  • The Right Attitude to Rain – Alexander McCall Smith
  • Portrait of a Lady – Henry James
  • The South – Colm Toibin
  • The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios – Yann Martel
  • The Weight of Water – Anita Shreve
  • The Pilots Wife – Anita Shreve
  • The Children – Charlotte Wood
  • The Reason of Things – A.C. Grayling
  • The Careful Use of Compliments – Alexander McCall Smith
  • All the Pretty Horses – Cormac McCarthy