R*BY Award Finalists and the availability of the shortlist in Australian Libraries

The Romance Writers of Australia Awards were announced today. These awards are voted on by readers and I was pleased to see so many of my favourite Australian Women Writers listed. As I am saving all my pennies to get my bookshelves built, I thought I’d borrow some of the titles through interlibrary loan so I searched through Trove (the National Australian Library’s database for the uninitiated) and I thought I would share the results with readers of this blog.

Short Sweet
Molly Cooper’s Dream Date – Barbara Hannay (18 public libraries/4 State or National)
How To Save a Marriage In a Million – Leonie Knight (1 public library/2 State/National)
Abby and The Bachelor Cop – Marion Lennox (19 public libraries)
Single Dad’s Triple Trouble – Fiona Lowe (16 public libraries/1 State/National/1 University)

Short Sexy
The Fearless Maverick – Robyn Grady (1 State/National/1 University)
The Man She Loves to Hate – Kelly Hunter (12 public libraries/1 State/National)
The Wedding Charade – Melanie Milburne (19 public libraries/1 State/National/1 University)
Her Not-So-Secret-Diary – Anne Oliver (7 public libraries/1 State/National/1 University)

Long Romance
Midnight’s Wild Passion – Anna Campbell (39 public libraries/2 Universities/3 State/National)
Boomerang Bride – Fiona Lowe (0 holdings – this seems very odd to me)
The Best Laid Plans – Sarah Mayberry (11 public libraries/1 university/National)
The Voyagers – Mardi McConnochie (53 public libraries/4 Sate/5 universities/National)

Romantic Elements
The Trader’s Wife – Anna Jacobs (52 public libraries/2 State/National/2 University)
The Shelly Beach Writers’ Group – June Loves (63 public libraries/3 State/3 Universities/National)
Busted In Bollywood – Nicola Marsh (0 – this seems very odd to me)
Shattered Sky – Helene Young (54 public libraries/4 universities/3 States/National)

I’m not sure how anyone else feels about this list but, with the exception of 5 of the titles, it doesn’t feel as though there are many loan choices. At first glance 15 might seem a lot but break that down by State and it doesn’t represent many holdings. I’m not sure how the authors themselves would feel about this. Is it a case of “Good – they’ll go out and buy my book instead” or “For heaven’s sake! Will librarians start buying up in romance! I want my books to be read by library borrowers who ultimately become buyers”.  Hopefully, now that libraries have a shortlist to select from, this list will look quite different by August when the awards are announced.

NOTE: I know that, in terms of ILL’s libraries do have other avenues to search for titles, but as a reader searching from home, I rarely explore these other options. If it isn’t listed by Trove I either don’t read it or I buy it. I also understand that Australian Librarians can’t all buy every single title that comes out – and perhaps this is where I sometimes get all nostalgic and bemoan that libraries no longer have schemes such as the wonderful Sydney Subject Specialisation Scheme – Fiction Reserve program in place. This scheme gave each library in the Sydney region a Dewey span and a Fiction letter span to specialise in – for example, one library I worked at had the span of authors with surnames Koc – Let (cheeky librarians). The loss of this program has resulted in everyone catering to the middle ground and some less well known, less read but still interesting books are not being purchased.

Love and the Dead Scientist

“Do you know why you’re afraid when you’re alone? I do. I do.” Vincent Gray

I have recently read 2 novels, both of which had romantic elements and both of which had the female protagonist conducting an imaginary relationship with a dead scientist.

Both books had a great plot, were well written and were engaging but I had trouble dealing with the dead scientist conversation. It was odd. It didn’t sit right with me. I phoned my scientist sister and asked her if she knew any of her male/female scientist counterparts who talk to their imaginary hero/mentor/role model. She told me she was busy and not to bother her with ridiculous concepts. I took this to mean “No”.

The language in Addition by Toni Jordan captured me. The heroine has OCD and is constantly counting. This agitated me but rightfully so as it was able to make me, the reader, understand how the protagonist feels. The protagonist also spends a lot of her time relating her actions back to Nikola Tesla. The dead scientist dialogue is as odd as the rest of the book but it all makes sense as you near the end. The romantic lead totally enamoured me. I liked that he is fashion-challenged, seriously – he wears boaters, and I liked his patience and steadfastness!

In Loving Richard Feynman by Penny Tangey the letter writing to a dead scientist seemed out of place for me. The various storylines worked well and I would recommend this book but I struggled with the concept of a teen finding solace in an imaginary relationship with Richard Feynman. This would ring alarm bells as to my child’s sanity. Nonetheless, the relationships in this book are wonderful and I adored the beautiful ending.

Having come across two Australian publications with a similar premise I hope that this is not going to become a favourite storyline. To me, it made no sense and it detracted from two books that would have otherwise been great. I understand that I am supposed to suspend disbelief and somehow relate to different peoples’ experiences but does anybody know anyone that has enriching and enabling conversations with dead scientists, teachers, Kennedys…..anyone other than the kid from The Sixth Sense?