#BookBingo2020 – Coming of Age

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Today is round two of Book Bingo 2020 hosted by Theresa, Amanda and Ashleigh, and I am crossing off the Coming of Age box with A Map of Days by Ransom Riggs. I have quite enjoyed reading this series and am now onto book five, The Conference of the Birds, published just this year. A Map of Days was also the feature of my last Book Snap which you can check out here, if you like old clocks and vintage snapshots.

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Jacob is back where his story began, in Florida. Except now Miss Peregrine, Emma and their peculiar friends are with him, and doing their best to blend in. But carefree days of beach visits and normalling lessons are soon interrupted by a discovery… Now the stakes are higher than ever as Jacob and his friends are thrust into the untamed landscape of American peculiardom – a world with few ymbrynes, or rules – that none of them yet understand.”

Book four of the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series continues Jacob’s story as he comes to grips with his place in the peculiar world. His peculiar friends have lived most of their life under the protection of the ymbrynes, trapped in a time loop where they never age. But now they are in the real world and the relationship between the ymbrynes and their charges, now ageing normally one day at a time, will start to be tested. Taking risks, rebelling against authority and navigating the minefield of first love are all part and parcel of that messy journey we call coming of age. 

 

#BookBingo2020 – A Classic I’ve Never Read

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This year I am joining in once again with the Book Bingo Reading Challenge hosted by Theresa, Mrs B and Ashleigh (The Book Muse). It’s been simplified this year with just 12 squares, one for each month of the year, and a range of themes which could be easily applied to both fiction and non-fiction. The Bingo card is a very pretty and sparkly pink, purple and blue, that is perfect for celebrating the beginning of the 2020’s.

I  quite enjoy reading the classics but I had not read The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James despite having seen the movie starring Nicole Kidman. I usually prefer to read the book before I see the film, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.  First published in 1881, The Portrait of a Lady, revolves around Isabel Archer, a young American woman, who has come to England to travel, to experience life in Europe and get to know the relatives she never knew. Isabel is bright, confident and determined to experience life while preserving her independence and liberty.

However, after inheriting a large fortune on the death of her uncle, Isabel becomes caught in the machinations of two people: one a supposed friend, Madame Merle; the other, Mr Osmond, the man who becomes her husband. Tragically Isabel finds her freedom, independence and spirit cruelly crushed in a restrictive and oppressive marriage.

Independence is a theme throughout the novel. At a time when marriage was seen as the ultimate ambition and career for a woman, and usually a material necessity, Isabel’s inheritance grants her financial independence. But what does it mean to be independent? This question is raised quite early in the book.

…is it used in a moral or in a financial sense? Does it mean that they have been left well off, or that they wish to be under no obligations? Or does it simply mean that they are fond of their own way?

According to the Macquarie Dictionary, independent can mean all of that and more, including….

 not influenced by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself 

Isabel prides herself on being completely independent in her decision making. Even as she recognises the role that her friend, Madame Merle, played in her marriage, Isabel clings to her belief that she has acted independently.

It was impossible to pretend that she had not acted with her eyes open; if ever a girl was a free-agent, she had been…the sole source of her mistake had been within herself…she had looked, and considered, and chosen.

Is it possible to be a free agent? Can we really act or choose completely independently, without any sense of obligation or influence? Growing up we are exposed to the influences, both implicit and explicit, of our family, our society, our education, the media, and the world around us. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we are the sum of a complex mix of inherent tendencies, experience and influence. Even when we think we are making an independent decision, there’s a whole lot of previous experience and influence that unconsciously guides us in the way that we think and act.    

The most tragic part of Isabel’s story though is not only her stubbornness in believing she must accept her fate but that she cannot bring herself to admit she made a mistake.

“I don’t know whether I am too proud. But I can’t publish my mistake. I don’t think that’s decent. I would much rather die.”

Does Isabel remain trapped in a miserable marriage or does she reclaim her independence and liberty?

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Book Bingo 2019 – Challenge Completed!

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A few days before Christmas I wrote that I had completed my Goodreads challenge for the year and was just four boxes short of completing my Book Bingo card. It was a big ask – 4 books in 10 days, with Christmas in between. But as of 3.25pm this afternoon, it has been achieved. And in addition, I have added an extra five books to my Goodreads challenge, making it a nice round 70 books for the year. So the last 4 squares were…

  • Book set on the Australian Coast: Bluebottle by Belinda Castles
  • Book set in the Australian Mountains: Palace of Tears by Julian Leatherdale
  • Author with same initials as me: That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott
  • Non Fiction book about an event: Australia Day by Stan Grant

I have really enjoyed doing the Book Bingo challenge even if it was a race to the finish and I am looking forward to Book Bingo 2020 with a very pretty card but less squares. This time I hope to keep on track and remember to post on the 2nd Saturday of every month. Here’s a look at next year’s card.

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Until next year…

Happy Reading!

Book Bingo 2019 Update

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With only 10 days to the end of this reading year I am madly trying to complete the challenges I set for 2019. At the beginning of the year, moving house again couldn’t have been further from my mind and it has been a major disruption in the reading and blogging program. However, since my last reading update at the end of October I have managed to cross off another 5 squares on the Book Bingo card.

  • Themes of Culture: The Bone People by Keri Hulme
  • Themes of Justice: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  • Themes of Inequality: The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth
  • Book Set in the Australian Outback: We of the Never-Never by Jeannie Gunn
  • Book Set in an Exotic Location: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

That leaves 4 squares to go and 10 days to the end of 2019. And there is Christmas. Can I do it?

Well, I am halfway through the book set on the Australian Coast. I have the books for the Australian Mountains and an author with the same initials squares. But the non fiction book about an event is causing some difficulty. There are plenty of books about events, but it has to be one I would enjoy reading. So that cuts out sport, politics, military history…and then it depends on how you define “event”, and it can’t be too long if I’m going to read it by the end of New Years Eve. Perhaps I need to browse the USQ library catalogue.

The good news is that I have completed my Goodreads Challenge for 2019. I do like the My 2019 Year in Books on Goodreads – cute graphics and some interesting data about my reading.

  • 65 books…and counting
  • 21, 439 pages
  • shortest book – 61 pages
  • longest book – 848 pages
  • most popular – Pride and Prejudice, read by almost 3 million people!
  • my average rating – 3.9

Hopefully I’ll have some more good news to report in 10 days time.

Until then, Happy Reading!

That’s what I have to do. Right now.

Sep-Oct Reading Update

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The last two months have been quite busy again with final essay writing and moving house being top priorities. Still, over the last two months I managed to read…

11358751The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton

 First published in 1908, The Man Who Was Thursday is a thrilling and humourous read featuring a guy called  “Thursday” as well as a bunch of other characters all named after the days of the week. Thursday infiltrates an organisation of anarchists and discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. 

 

 

23018751Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

It is difficult to find the words to do justice to this novel. Adichie brings to life the devastating and heartbreaking consequences of the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970). It has been suggested that up to 2 million people, mostly women and children, died from starvation – a deliberate tactic of war willingly embraced by the Nigerian government, and its allies, against the Biafran rebels. The title is a direct reference to the emblem on the Biafran flag – a rising sun on a background of red, black and green horizontal stripes.

  • Red for the blood of the siblings massacred in the North
  • Black for mourning them
  • Green for the prosperity that an independent Biafran state would bring
  • A rising yellow sun for the glorious future that beckoned  

A half of a yellow sun could also have a different meaning. It could also depict a setting sun, as the Biafran hopes and dreams for independence slipped away from view, crushed by violence, starvation and the vested interests of major world powers. A very sobering read.    

910576The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler

Winner of the National Book Critics Circle award in 1985 and made into a film of the same name, Tyler’s story depicts the wonder of life – beautiful, painful, wonderfully chaotic but also very full. As Macon slowly opens himself up to love again, he learns that life is messy, no one escapes unscathed but that there is always hope and love.

 

 

 

25015111Leap by Myfanwy Jones

 Shortlisted for the 2016 Miles Franklin Literary Award, Leap follows the journey of Elise and Joe, living on opposite sides of the city, yet both dealing with the pain of loss, grief and guilt. While Elise is drawn to the tigers – sleek, solitary, deadly – Joe runs, climbs and jumps, preparing to make the leap. Highly recommended. 

 

 

3244505Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx

This collection of short stories set in  Wyoming, features a wonderful array of characters, depicting the lives and times, the poverty and hardship of rural families.  One of the most well-known stories is “Brokeback Mountain”, adapted for film starring Heath Ledger. Some of the stories are sad as the old world of ranching passes away. Some are a little gruesome, yet darkly funny. My favourite story was “The Contest” in which the men of Elk Tooth sign up for a beard growing contest over the Winter. 

 

Book Bingo

Another three squares completed and just nine more to go. I’ve been really enjoying this challenge as it has encouraged me to read outside my usual fare and deliberately seek out books that will meet the criteria.

  • Romance: The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
  • Title with a Place Name: Wyoming Stories by Annie Proulx
  • Literary: Leap by Myfanwy Jones

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Until next time, happy reading!

July-August Reading Update

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Another two-month update. This idea of doing monthly updates hasn’t been working out so well of late.  July didn’t turn out to be the greatest month for reading with only two books but I regained some ground in August reading eight books. Some of those I have already commented on in the Book Bingo Catch Up which you can read here.

Since my last reading update I have joined in with Sharon’s #booksnapsunday. The idea is to take a creative photo of a book and post it somewhere on social media on Sunday. So far I have managed to post three booksnaps – Mrs M, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, and Pride and Prejudice. It’s challenged me to think about the book and its themes as I am reading and how I might represent that in a photo. It’s also an opportunity to explore the local area for just the right setting. I’m still thinking about this week’s challenge.

Onto the books…

 

The Pier Falls by Mark Haddon

Haddon is known for his novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which I am yet to read, however I came across this book of short stories in our town library.  I’m not usually a reader of short stories. I generally find them, well, rather short. You just get into a story and then it’s finished. But this collection was engaging, shocking at times, and thought provoking. My favourite story, “The Pier Falls”, is set in a beachside town during the 1970s. A pier collapses. People drown. Others are seriously injured. And this is all before the advent of mobile phones.

Lady Helen and the Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Goodman is a home-grown author who has won the Aurealis award. I picked up this book last year at the Brisbane Writers Festival and I loved it. It is the first in a series, so I will be tracking down the next two as soon as I can. An urban fantasy set in 19th Century England, Lady Helen discovers that she is a Reclaimer, gifted with special abilities that enable her to see the Deceivers – evil spirits that feast on the human life force. How is a young woman supposed to act in a lady-like manner, attract a husband of good fortune and save humanity at the same time! Excellent fun.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

It’s Pride and Prejudice – what else is there to say! 

Home by Larissa Behrendt

I first read this novel a few years ago while studying Australian Stories. It tells the story of Elizabeth or Garibooli, as she was known to her family, a child of the stolen generation. Taken from her home at the age of 12 to become a servant in a wealthy white man’s house, she is subject to abuse, exploitation and loneliness. Elizabeth never saw her family or her home again. But it doesn’t end there. The consequences of the loss of family, home and identity continue to impact on her children and grandchildren – until they come home.  

Book Bingo

Over the last month I have ticked off another eight squares on my bingo card for…

  • Memoir about a Non-Famous Person: One Life by Kate Grenville
  • Written by an Australian Woman: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
  • Written by an Author Under 35: Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
  • Written by an Author Over 65: A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie
  • Historical: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Fictionalised Biography about Person from History: Mrs M by Luke Slattery
  • Beloved Classic: Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Book Written by Australian Woman More Than 10 Years Ago: Home by Larissa Behrendt

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Here’s hoping that September will be a good month for reading too.

Happy Reading!

 

Book Bingo 2019 Catch-Up

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This year I am having a go at the Book Bingo Challenge run by Theresa, Ashleigh and Amanda. The idea is to read a book in each category over the course of the year and complete the Bingo card. With 30 squares it works out to be about one book every fortnight with a few double ups. You can read more about the challenge here.

Initially, as I finished a book I would check to see which category would fit and tick off that square. This strategy worked quite well for a while and at first it was quite easy to tick off some squares. But then it started getting a bit harder. None of the books I was reading seemed to fit any of the categories that were left to be filled. Obviously, I needed a different strategy. 

So one evening I pulled out my paper copy of the Bingo card, sat in front of my 2019 TBR bookshelf and started pulling out books. My TBR list is a never-ending, constantly growing, work in progress. I actually don’t know how many books I have sitting on my shelves waiting to be read, except that it would be a very big number. And that doesn’t count the ebooks on my iPad – you know, out of sight, out of mind. At the beginning of each year I select a range of books from my shelves that I want to read during that year and place them in a special bookshelf next to my bed. Currently it is called the 2019 TBR shelf. Next year it will be called the 2020 TBR shelf – you get the drift. I try to choose a bit of everything – some historical fiction, some SF, some crime, some fantasy, some non-fiction, some prize winners, some off the 1001 list and so on. A bit of everything.

After perusing the 2019 TBR, the Bingo card was partly covered in pencil scribbles of potential titles for at least some of the remaining squares, but there were still some gaps. I had to widen my search. So I went on a book hunt – up to the shelf by the front door, around the corner to the bookshelf by the kitchen table, past the bookshelf by my desk, to the two remaining bookshelves across the other side of my bed. This scavenger hunt had three main outcomes.

  1. I now have even more books on my 2019 TBR list.
  2. I have almost all of the remaining squares scribbled on.
  3. I have broadened my usual reading zone – which is one of the greatest benefits of completing a reading challenge. 

Of course, I still have to read said books, but at least there is a plan in place.

If the last six weeks are anything to go by, the Bingo card is back on track. Today I am checking off…

Memoir about a Non-Famous Person: One Life by Kate Grenville                                       Kind of a biography-memoir, Grenville’s book tells the story of her mother’s life. She wasn’t famous, but a remarkable woman none-the-less.

Written by an Australian Woman: The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland     The book is visually gorgeous, the prose is beautiful, and the story packs a punch.

Written by an Author Under 35: Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta                 Growing up is never easy.

Written by an Author Over 65: A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie                            Christie is always a winner. Nothing is ever as it seems.

Historical: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco                                                                       Now this was a hefty read. Intriguing mystery set in the late medieval world.

Fictionalised Biography about a Woman from History: Mrs M by Luke Slattery                  Mrs M is Elizabeth Macquarie, wife of Major General Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales from 1810-1821. An enjoyable, if very fictionalised account of their time in Sydney, told from Elizabeth’s point of view.

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I now have one whole row completed!

There’ll be a bit more of a write up about these books, as well as the other books I have been reading, in my next reading update at the end of the month, but until then…

Happy Reading!

May-June Reading Update

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The last two months have been somewhat dismal on the reading front with only a total of five books, and one of those I began quite a long time ago. Oh well, there’s always July.

A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguru28920

Ever since reading Remains of the Day, Ishiguro has become one of my favourite authors. Although he was born in Nagasaki, he moved to the UK when he was quite young and he credits growing up in a Japanese family for giving him a different perspective than his English peers. He has been nominated for the Man Booker prize four times, winning it for Remains of the Day, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017. 

A Pale View of Hills, published in 1982, was his debut novel. Set in both Japan and the UK, the story centres on Etsuko as she reflects on her life after the recent death of her daughter. Ishiguro’s novels often don’t end with the kind of neat resolution that we have come to expect and this book is no exception. The ending was a little disturbing as we discover that things are not always what they seem. A thought provoking if unsettling read.   

Boys Will be Boys by Clementine Ford40737717._SY475_

At the beginning of May I attended a live and local screening of Ford’s session at the Sydney Writer’s Festival and then I read her book. Ford has a reputation as a radical feminist but I didn’t get that impression from either the panel discussion about toxic masculinity or her book. Yes, there’s “language”. Yes, she’s often sarcastic. But I believe that she is right about the negative and damaging impact of patriarchy and toxic masculinity not just upon women, but especially on men. I devoured this book in one day and was filled with anger, sadness and frustration.

 In a recent article about domestic violence,  Hayley Gleeson quotes Margaret Atwood,

 “Men are afraid women will laugh at them and women are afraid men will kill them.”

One of the most common responses to the issues of domestic violence, toxic masculinity and misogyny is “not all men”. True. It’s not all men and we know that it is not all men. But that’s not the point and Ford addresses the “not all men” response. There has been too much silence for too long. If we wish to create a society in which all people are respected and valued, then men and women need to stand together to call out bad behaviour, to intervene and to speak up.     

 Are Women Human by Dorothy L Sayers 320481

Dorothy L Sayers (1893-1957)was an English crime writer and poet, friend of C.S Lewis and one of the first women to receive a degree from Oxford. Although she finished with first-class honours in 1915, she had to wait a few years to receive her degree, as degrees were not awarded to women at that time. Typical! She is probably better known for her Lord Peter Wimsey mystery novels, however she also wrote many essays, of which two, ‘Are Women Human’ and ‘The Human-Not-Quite-Human’, are contained in this little book. 

Sayers discusses the way women are always seen in reference to men, always as the “opposite sex” and she wonders if there is a “neighbouring sex”. After all, as she points out, “women are more like men than anything else in the world. They are human beings.” Sayers was writing in a time when women’s access to education and employment was restricted, so her main arguments focus on firstly, that women are human beings, just like men, and secondly, that every human being needs to have purpose and occupation. The upshot is that women want to be respected as individuals in their own right, with their own unique combination of abilities and interests, and not as a single homogeneous class. Perhaps the same could be said of every human being. 

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams 841628

Douglas Adam’s (1952-2001) science fiction cult classic, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy contains time travel, aliens, a depressed robot, as well as the end of the world. It is a hilarious and madcap ride around the galaxy and through time and I loved it. Labelled a “trilogy in four parts”, the book also included The Restaurant at the End of the Universe;  Life, the Universe and Everything; and So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. Apparently there is also a fifth book in the trilogy, Mostly Harmless, which I will obviously have to track down. Originating as a radio program, the “trilogy” has gone on to include plays, comics, computer games as well as television and film adaptations. A definite must read for those with a warped and zany sense of humour.

Paradise Lost by John Milton 13455114

First published in 1667, Paradise Lost has been described as “the greatest epic poem in English literature.” In poetic form, Milton (1608-1674) recounts the Fall of Man, the temptation of Adam and Eve, and their exclusion from the Garden of Eden. Teskey (2005) says “Growing to understand Paradise Lost is a lifelong adventure”, which is good because it has taken me five years to finally finish my first reading and I think I got the gist of it. One of the problems is that it was an ebook, so because it wasn’t sitting right in front of me on my bedside cupboard with a bookmark sticking out, I would tend to forget all about it. It was also a book that required a fair bit of concentration. Anyone who has ever read Shakespeare would understand what I mean. I found that the best way of reading Milton, was to read it out loud (you should probably do this in private to avoid strange looks though.) Reading it out loud helped me to both get the rhythm and a sense of the drama. I definitely would like to read again, perhaps in another five years, but next time I will use an edition that I picked up from a Lifeline sale, which includes footnotes and some critical commentary.

Book Bingo

I have been getting a bit behind on Book Bingo. Recent reads have not really been fitting into any categories but this month I am claiming The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy as my comedy read. After all it did me make me laugh – a lot.

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April Reading Update

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April turned out to be quite a busy month, with Easter, ANZAC Day, and an Australian history essay to get done somewhere in between.  So the reading was a little steady, however I did manage to read …

  • The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan 
  • Eden by Candice Fox
  • Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington
  • People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
  • Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell

… and ticked off two more boxes for Book Bingo.

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  • Novella (less than 150 pages) – Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington
  • Crime – Eden by Candice Fox

Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence by Doris Pilkington was both a reread and part of an Australian history assignment. It tells the story of three young Aboriginal girls who are taken from their home in the Pilbara region of Western Australia to a settlement far away from their family. Molly, the oldest girl and Doris Pilkington’s mother, decides they’re not staying and so begins their long journey back home, following the rabbit-proof fence.

 It is 1931 and the child removal policy is in full swing. The child removal policy was at best misguided and at worst rooted in prejudiced and racist ideology. Indigenous children were separated from their families in an attempt to destroy the link with their culture and assimilate them into white society. They are the Stolen Generations. Sadly Doris was also separated from her mother Molly for many years. She says that writing the book helped her to reconnect with her family and culture, and heal the pain and trauma of the loss of her family, culture and identity. 

Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence belongs to a genre of writing often known as Aboriginal Life Writing and I think it is helpful to understand a bit about Aboriginal Life Writing when reading Pilkington or any other texts from this genre. Aboriginal Life Writing is often different from the usual kind of memoirs or autobiographies that are written in the western tradition. Storytelling is a very important tradition in Indigenous culture and Aboriginal Life Writing continues that tradition. But it also serves as a mechanism for healing the pain and trauma of dispossession, for reconnecting Indigenous people with their history and culture, for teaching non-Indigenous readers about Aboriginal culture and their own history, and for promoting the necessity of reconciliation for all of us.

 In 1992, the then Prime Minister of Australia, Paul Keating, said….

[Reconciliation] begins, I think, with that act of recognition. Recognition that it was we who did the dispossessing. We took the traditional lands and smashed the traditional way of life. We brought the diseases. The alcohol. We committed the murders. We took the children from their mothers. We practised discrimination and exclusion. It was our ignorance and our prejudice. And our failure to imagine these things being done to us. (Attwood 2001, p. 201)

It is shocking to think that here we are almost 30 years later, and still little seems to have changed. Racism, inequity, poor health and shorter life expectancy plus numerous other social issues continue, but the capacity for Indigenous writers such as Pilkington to extend forgiveness and compassion is deeply humbling. In an interview with Anne Brewster, Doris explained how her involvement in the reconciliation process revealed her own need to forgive, saying

“…how can I expect them to say sorry to me, when I don’t have any forgiveness and compassion for them? ” (Brewster 2005, p. 145)

 Forgiveness. Compassion. Repentance. Respect. Dignity. Consideration. Equality. 

These are the building blocks of a kind, just and ethical society.

I live in hope. 

Happy Reading

 

Attwood, Bain 2001, ‘”Learning about the truth” The stolen generations narrative’ in B Attwood and F Magowan (eds) Telling Stories: Indigenous history and memory in Australia and New Zealand, Allen & Unwin: Crows Nest, NSW, pp. 183-212

Brewster, Anne 2005, ‘The Stolen Generations: Rites of Passage: Doris Pilkington interviewed by Anne Brewster’, Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Vol 41, No. 1, pp143-159

February Reading Update

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February turned out to be a stellar month for reading although I don’t expect that pace to continue. I tend to have a few books on the go at any one time. It can take a bit of juggling, but I like to read certain types of books at different times of the day. Books of a more serious nature I like to read during the day, when my mind is fresher and I can take notes for future reference.  Books that I read for pure escapism and fun, I tend to at night, in bed. The idea of reading something fun but not too demanding at night, is to help me sleep. It doesn’t always work out, though. Especially when you get to those exciting parts and you can’t bear to put the book down. Or when you’ve got only a few chapters to go, so you might as well finish it.

February’s list below is a bit longer than January – 10 books! But with my nose back to the books (study, that is), I expect the reading pace to drop off. I’ll still be reading of course, it will just be Ethics and Australian History. So, the list… 

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

A well-loved Australian classic. This is a reread and probably my most favourite Winton. After personal tragedy, the Pickles family and the Lamb family relocate to Perth where they end up sharing a house on Cloud Street. I really like the way Winton captures the everyday life of ordinary people, their ups and their downs, showing how two very different families can eventually come together to be one.

Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser

An interesting book, this one. It took me a little while to get into but it explores themes of migration, travel and the role of the internet in changing the way we relate to each other. The internet gives us the opportunity to travel anywhere in the world from the comfort of our computer desk and the nature of modern life often means we are constantly on the move, flitting through life, meeting and leaving people. But where do we call home?

The Lambs of London by Peter Ackroyd

Loosely based on the real historical characters of Mary and Charles Lamb, Ackroyd explores literary forgery, the obsession with Shakespeare and the sad story of Mary Lamb. Scarred by small pox, restricted by social conventions and incarcerated in mental asylums following the murder of her mother, Mary didn’t have an easy life. It was an enjoyable read, quite funny in parts, as well as being a bit saucy too.

Shroud by John Banville

I didn’t realise that Shroud is book 2 of the Cleave Trilogy, although I had no trouble reading it as a stand alone. The title initially suggested a death shroud to me, but  foreign translations on Goodreads had  “imposter” in the title. Anyway, the main character, Axel Vander, does travel to Turin… the Shroud of Turin…so possible forgery… It explores themes of identity, who we are, who we try to be and how we are always wanting to be somebody else. It’s not an easy read, as the narrative wanders a bit and is interspersed with sojourns into the soul and mind, but it was thought provoking.

The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke

A memoir by Australian writer Maxine Beneba Clarke, this book portrays the racism she experienced growing up in Australia and continues to experience even now. Of African heritage, Maxine experienced racial abuse that was nothing short of abhorrent. The racial abuse was bad enough, but the fact that adults stood by, in silence, is even worse. I would call this my best read of the year so far.  A highly recommended read.

and I also read …

  • The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  • The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
  • The Throne of Fire by Rick Riordan
  • The Serpents Shadow by Rick Riordan
  • The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Yes, there’s quite a bit of Rick Riordan. That’s what I’ve been reading at night. If you’ve ever read Rick Riordan, you’ll know that probably wasn’t a good idea. Why am I reading so much Rick Riordan? Well, Bec is a great fan of Rick Riordan and has read just about all the books. When Bec first started branching into YA, I would read the books as well. Partly so that I could keep tabs on the content, but also because it meant we could talk about the books together. And it’s something we continue to do and enjoy to this day.

Right from the start, I have enjoyed reading YA. I know that sometimes there is a bit of a thing going around about adults reading YA, which I really don’t understand at all.         As C. S. Lewis says:

No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally and often far more worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.

As far as I am concerned, a good book is a good book is a good book. If children’s books and YA are not considered good enough for adults to read, then why do we consider them good enough for children and young people to read. Surely in those critical years of growth and development, we should be giving them the best books possible. Sheree from Keeping Up with the Penguins has a great post about this topic which you can read here.

So I’ve been churning through the Rick Riordan books. I actually started last year but only picked it up again in February. My goal is to read them all over the coming months. I’m just loving them. They’re fun. I love his sense of humour – seriously, laugh out loud. And I get to learn about Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology at the same time.   

It’s been another good month for Book Bingo – another 3 boxes ticked off. But again, I don’t expect this rate to continue. At some point all the easy boxes will be ticked off and I will be challenged to step outside my usual fare to tick off the last boxes, which of course, is the whole point of a reading challenge. This is how the card is looking so far….

book-bingo-2019

  • Prize Winning Book – Questions of Travel by Michelle de Kretser
  • Themes of Fantasy – The last Olympian by Rick Riordan
  • Written by Australian Man – Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

Well, that wraps up the reading for February. And yes, it is still called an update for want of a better title. Perhaps I will come up with something more interesting by next time.

Happy Reading!