I can read a book a day but I can’t blog a book a day

At the beginning of the year I said I would read a book a day. I am mostly up to date with this aim (thank you very much Picture Book obsession). However, I’m a crappy blogger and have given up posting individual items.

So today, in a phenomenal show of catch-up, I’m listing the books I’ve read with minimal commentary.

Books 26-30:

Fancy Nancy books are awesome. Pretty, colourful and all about a fancy girl discussing her daily life. She lurrrves fancy words and this is where author Jane O’Connor brilliantly entices kids into broadening their vocabulary without being preachy. This set was a quintet (a fancy word for 5) of readers – a perfect reader set! My favourite amongst this lost was The Boy from Paris.

Fancy Nancy at the museum – car sick
Fancy Nancy & the dazzling book report
Fancy Nancy poison ivy expert
Fancy Nancy sees stars
Fancy Nancy & the boy from paris

Books 31-36

Sandra Boynton is very amusing. My staple purchase for friends’ kids, she seems to be one of the few authors who can get side-splitting laughter from toddlers. Red Hat, Green Hat seems to tickle the funny bone of an 18 month old like no other book. Bravo, Ms Boynton and thank you.

Titles I read to my nephew last week:

Doggies
Red hat, Green Hat
Hippos go beserk
But not the hippopotamus
Moo, baa, lalala
15 Animals

37-38
Faces (board book) fascinating (for a toddler) illustrated expression.
The Gashlycrumb Tinies by Edward Gorey is an abecedarium that is macabre and delicious. Having read a review of this old children’s book at Love2Read (thanks Amy) I read it online and relished it.

39-44

Sara Craven: I’ve been on a mini-glom of Sara Craven’s books. Dark and sad they are classic Mills & Boon. But I won’t go into detail here as I mean to write a post on her, soon.

One Night with his virgin mistress (brill but such an awful, untrue title)
Innocent on her wedding night (meh)
The Santangeli Marriage (torrid, objectionable, full of melodrama)
Dark Paradise (TSTL heroine)
Escape Me Never (autocratic, controlling alpha brute. Horrid story)
Sup With the devil (one of teh best evah M&B)

45-46

Miranda Lee – Beth and the Barbarian weird weird weird. Imagine a romance on a set from The King and I and throw in a feisty (read grating) female protagonist with the alpah male dressing weirdly. I will write about this book at a later date.

Lucy Ellis – Innocent in the Ivory Tower is a brilliant debut. Dark but simply divine book.

47

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

So I’m pretty late to the Harry Potter party. I read the first instalment to my son and we finished it in a week. An easy page turner read, I am now a fan. And I get the Harry fan sqee.

I still have read more books that I ended up listing. But at least I have now made a kink in my bloggi g backlist.

Fugly Built Environment: Reading Photo Essays – Books 15-20

Tim Winton and Mick Mischkulnig’s Smalltown is a photo essay of the ugly characterisitcs of far flung Australian towns.

There is nothing so bleak and forbidding in country Australia as the places humans have built here.

Reading through Tim Winton’s essay in Smalltown I was struck by his insight on Australian’s militant unfusiness and I’m in some way annoyed with myself for not having come across this essay before my home renovation. We had nice builders. They weren’t patronising, they listened to our needs – though they didn’t necessarily deliver what we asked for. But it is this quote about Australian tradespeople that stood out for me:

Tradespeople are not immune to this spirit of untouchable carelessness, for when it comes to a service rendered to others, rough enough is often still good enough. Robin Boyd died before ‘she’ll do, mate” made way for ‘fuck you, mate’ and worse. Militant unfussiness can seem amusing or even charming at a distance, but when you’re on the receiving end, paying for rubbish, getting it late and having to say thank you for the privelege, it’s ugly and deeply unfunny, a form of moronic bullying. Sometimes only the bravest amongst us dare to be fussy.

It was when our builders were putting up out ceilings and walls that I asked them why they had only bothered pulling out half the electricals. They laughed and said “Can’t make the electricians life to easy”. Well that was a big “fuck you” to me. Not only did they make the electrician’s work harder, therefore making his work longer therefore helping him earn more but under more stressful conditions but it also left me with disgust for a group of builders who I had started out thinking were lovely people. In future, I will keep Winton’s essay in mind when I am choosing tradespeople. Getting back to the book, Mischkulnig’s photography perfectly illustrates the sparseness, the impermanence of construction that Winton discusses.

Having completed Smalltown I went to my bookshelves to revisit old favourite books Meat, Metal and Fire and Blokes and sheds both by Mark Thomson. I wanted to look at them, not in the joyful celebration of man spaces that they were intended and in which I have always regarded them but as a reflection of Winton’s essay of celebrating this “good enough” culture. Instead of seeing the ingenuity of creating sheds, barbeques and the like, I chose to see them from the eyes of not needing to build things to last, denying permanance because this was not a space to stay in. This lends a tinge of unexpected sadness to these favourite books.

To add to this list, I also read Shack: in praise of an Australian icon By Simon Griffiths (yes, all these books in the same day. It helped that they were all pictorial essays). Shack celebrates the rough and tumble shack. Some as holiday homes, others as workplaces and others as permanent homes. And though beautifully appointed, I couldn’t help but reflect back to Winton’s stark essay. It is not that Winton’s essay changed any of my perceptions. I would say he validated opinions that I have held for a very long time.

Late at night, I decided to cap off my fugly built environment reading day with a touch of irony by reading Dorothea McKellar’s poem My Country. As it is not this brown, plague-ridden, drought-stricken, flooded land that is at fault. Our land is wonderous. It is what we build on it that needs to be rethought.

366 books for 2012

It is the National Year of Reading here in Australia and I have decided to read a book a day for the whole year. It’s already not boding well as it is the 3rd of January and I still haven’t posted anything. In my defense, I only thought of doing this today. I have already read 2 books so I only have to play catch up on one.

To add to this, I have also decided to join the Australian Womens Writers Reading and Reviewing Challenge so it will be an interesting year!