I challenged myself to read more books by Australian Women Writers. So how did I go?
First the stats:
- Total books read in 2016: exactly 100!
- Total books by Australian women writers: 55
- Total number of full reviews: 14
The best books I read this year by Australian women writers were (in no particular order):
- The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt by Tracy Farr. I was enticed and saddened by the MC in this fictional memoir. I could taste the salty air at Cottesloe.
- A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald by Natasha Lester. 1920s’ attitudes towards women’s sexuality and roles.
- Reckoning by Magda Szubanski. Weepy and wow moments throughout as so much resonated with my family. Deserved award-winner.
- All That I Am by Anna Funder. Pre-WW2 espionage, based on true events of devastating betrayal. Narrative structure weaves memory with imagination, and the need for documentation as proof.
- The Dry by Jane Harper. Desperate measures to hold onto family.
- The Safest Place in London by Maggie Joel. Loved, loved, loved this historical fiction novel. So much narrative tension hinging on the question of ‘what would you do?’ Because nobody behaves as they think they would during war.
- The Good People by Hannah Kent. I marvelled at Kent’s wielding of language and finely crafted sentences. Immersive and evocative, stimulating all senses.
- The Locksmith’s Daughter by Karen Brooks. Gripping espionage thriller set in Elizabethan London, with a female protagonist, theatrical types, the Queen’s spymaster, and the most heart-clenching switch at the climax.
- Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta. Easily the best crime novel I’ve read this year. Gripping, complex layering of lives broken by anti-terror laws and a public that demands a scapegoat.
So what have I learnt?
First, that I hadn’t realised how many books I read in a year, otherwise I would never have listed them all on one scroll-down page.
Second, that I have discovered a new genre love–crime. And I am moving away from literary fiction, something to do with my towering TBR pile and too many books, too little time. If it’s not a page turner, I’m less interested these days.
Third, that I do not read diversely enough. In next year’s reading challenge, 50% of the books I read by Australian women writers will be by ‘diverse’ women writers.
Last, the ratings system doesn’t work; it’s too subjective. Next year, I’ll only star rate books that I thought were 41/2 or 5 stars.
How many books by Australian women writers did you read this year?