It is that time of the year again when favourite lists are put out for all to read. It is a bit early for me, as I feel that I have a whole month of reading ahead of me. But as I will be on 702ABC talking about my picks tomorrow, I thought I’d list my books from now. Having read over 80 books this year, I still feel I am reading well below my 2012 record of 367 books though I am up on last year’s effort. Of course, my PhDing ways do take me away from leisurely reading somewhat. If you want to look at my year’s reading here is my Goodreads list (though it is missing some titles).
FAVE READING 2014:
Supertato – Sue Hendra
A superhero potato fights an evil pea for supermarket domination. Funny, awesome and a guaranteed crowd pleaser amongst the under 5s (especially great because you get to use the sentence “This jelly tastes of pea” when reading to kids).
Love Life – Rob Lowe
Rob Lowe writes so beautifully that there are times that I stop reading and hug this book to my chest. Poignant essays about his life growing up in Malibu, his love for his children and his wife, his alcoholism, his family history (or what he so beautifully calls his epigenetic legacies), his career choices as well as stories about other actors and fame. It was a tad touch and go when he made one disparaging remark about libraries. I nearly had to break up with my fictional boyfriend but then I kept reading and I forgave him for his fleeting thought. This book made me feel so happy and allows me to feel good about all those TigerBeat and 16 magazines that I so fondly remember buying. Aahhh – nostalgia over my teen idol poster boys. These days I would be called a Fangirl. (And as a pssst! aside – I do track the #rob lowe hashtag over at Tumblr for purely scholarly reasons).
Just like every year – this was a difficult selection for me. Surprisingly, I didn’t read any category romances that have gained rereading status for me. This saddens me. Below I have listed my favourite for this year and two notables.
It Happened One Wedding – Julie James
Julie James writes great contemporary romance. The female protagonist Sidney Sinclair awkwardly finds herself as maid of honour alongside best man Vaughn Roberts, a man she forthrightly turned down when he tried to crack on to her a few hours before they met officially when their respective siblings introduced them at the announcement of their impending nuptials. The story develops as the two need to get along while they are part of the wedding arrangements. They stop disliking each other, they hook up but Sidney and Vaughn acknowledge that they want different things out of life than the other is offering. This creates heartache for both of them. Julie James’s dialogue is sparkling, the internal character struggles and the well paced plot devices make this book a great read. This is a definite keeper and reread. I have a longer review in an earlier post (last one on my list).
Notable mentions: When it comes to historical romance picks, I really enjoyed Miranda Neville’s Confessions from an Arranged Marriage which was poignant. Forced/arranged marriages are not so far from our past and having two people miserably joined and finding their way to happiness really touches me. I am looking forward to the rest of the series.
I also loved Victoria Dahl’s Looking for Trouble. This book has left me torn. I loved the characters, I loved LOVED the plot, I loved how on the mark Dahl’s librarian characters are in the workplace. However, I hated the last sex scene in this book. Not for its explicitness, which though it is a tad more detailed than I am interested in reading, it was well executed but because the hero calls the heroine “whore” while they are having sex. I found this confronting and I found it difficult to reconcile with these very troubled characters whose connection to each other resonated with me. I also appreciate that reading needs to sometimes shake you out of your complacency and this book (well, sex scene) certainly achieved this.
Fave YA AND Fave Australian book:
The Love Oracles: Nymph – Tonya Alexander
It has really been the year of Young Adult fiction both in heated debates and in books that have excited readers. The one I have chosen has not made a big splash but I think that the series will be a stayer. I talked about Tonya Alexander’s Nymph earlier in the year. Merope is cast out of Mt Olympus finding her mixing it up with mortals. This first book in the Love Oracle series has laid the foundation for several story arcs that will continue over a number of books allowing for deep characterisation based on lesser known Greek myths – with a particularly strong focus on the female gods. I know, I know. As someone with a Greek background, this choice makes me a My Big Fat Greek Wedding cliche but I don’t care. Greek myths still thrill readers because they are such engaging, thrilling stories.
Fave #hashtag/blog reading issue:
Rather than a fifth book, I have listed a reading issue. There is a move toward rallying for diversity in book awards, diversity in publications as well as diversity in writers’ festival panels. Earlier this year, my son came home stating that his English class was given a choice of 5 texts to examine. All five were written by white men, all having individual merit but the lack of diversity was concerning. There were no female voices, no indigenous writers, no-one that could challenge the world view of these students norms. My son’s class is the norm as this article on gender bias in HSC prescribed texts confirms. This need for diversity is an issue that will not go away. The conversation on Twitter, Tumblr, blogs and news articles is vibrant, interesting and has a number of voices from authors, publishers, literary critics, librarians and readers all contributing to this topic. To say that we need more books that show diversity in gender, sexuality, ethnicity and dis/ability representation is an understatement. . I recommend starting at the We Need Diverse Books website http://weneeddiversebooks.org/ and for regular updates following the We Need Diverse Books tumblr