In Praise of Australian Women Writers (#aww2012)

At some stage in early January I realised that the last five or six books I’d read had unconsciously been by Australian Women Writers. Some were for researching blog posts, one was a fellow panellist and I was curious, one because it was a gift, and one because I’d so loved her last book that I was champing at the bit to read her latest. Back in October I’d been given a copy of Kill Your Darlings (Issue Six) by a co-presenter at a panel at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. Rebecca Starford is Editor of this fine quarterly publication with commentary, fiction, interviews and reviews. Apart from loving the cover (great design Guy Shield), I simply devoured the contents and celebrated the existence of such an enjoyable and thought provoking publication. (In this blog post about the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival KYD also get a mention!)

The first piece in it was  by Sophie Cunningham called ‘A Prize of One’s Own‘ talking about the alarming gender bias in the shortlists for the Miles Franklin Awards (2009 and 2011), other major book awards, publishing salaries and book  reviews. I would really urge you to read this article before you make assumptions because it was enough to stay in my mind over the intervening months.

I must have been subliminally aware of the hashtag #aww2012 appearing on Twitter and hadn’t focussed on what this meant when I realised that I wanted to keep reading Australian Women Writers. But what should I read? We all know that discoverability is the buzz word these days, and a recommendation from a contact or friend is much better than just reading a reviews. So I put out the word on Twitter….

Now THIS is why I love Twitter: within a matter of minutes I’d received at least half a dozen recommendations of what I should read next. And THIS is why I love ebooks: An hour later I’d downloaded four books by Australian Women Writers. Talk about instant gratification! And I still have a ‘virtual pile’ of books waiting to be purchased and downloaded thanks to the recommendations. Some people bemoan social media; it’s  making us all little hermits isolated in front of our screens. But I have found that Twitter has connected me with like-minded people who are passionate about the subjects I am; digital, books, Australian authors and publishing. This is something I explored a bit in this (admittedly long) blog post. Twitter is now where I turn to when I want advice, whether that’s advice about what to do when you give your iPhone a dunking, or what to put on your reading list.

Towards the end of January the Australian Women Writers hashtag finally penetrated my consciousness (#aww2012) along with the Reading and Reviewing Challenge for 2012. I realised that it was  this that had influenced my decision that I will spend 2012 reading as many Australian Women Writers as I possibly can. It’s possible I will fall off the female-wagon at some stage, particularly when it comes to reading for my work. But with ALL the books available to me that I haven’t yet read I’d like to think that I will discover many more writers that just happen to be Australian and Female.

Here are my recommendations:

  1. That you find out more about the Reading and Reviewing Challenge for 2012, and read about The Stella Prize – an annual literary prize for Australian Women’s Writing.
  2. That you educate yourself on Gender bias by reading some of these articles.
  3. That you look at the various genres of Australian Women Writers available on their home page and find something to read (AND review if you have time). The genres include: Literary and Classics; Women’s Fiction; Crime; Romance; Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror; Poetry; Memoir/Non-Fiction; YA/Kids. There’s something for everyone, yes, men too!
  4. That you walk into your local bookshop and start reading!
  5. That if you are on Facebook you join the Aussie Bookshops page and support your local independent while staying across local readers and reviewers.

Buying print V’s Digital

I will always love books, you know, the paper kind. Anyone who has spent a good part of their career producing books is likely to be a paper-book-junkie. Hell, I even have a shelf on one of my bookshelves that is only for ‘beautiful books’, the kind I love to touch, adore their production values and, in some cases, feel proud that I contributed to their existence. But these days I am mothering two toddlers that are likely to destroy the neat shelves of any bookshop. I also have less time for the indulgence of reading and it’s mainly in bed late at night. Often beside a sleeping husband. My iPad IS my book, and a damn fine one at that. And yes, I buy at midnight, or anytime.

So if like me you like to buy ebooks then these lists should help you!

Australian Women Writers Ebooks

  • I’ve now created a post listing retailers who sell ebooks supporting the Australian Women Writers Reading and Reviewing Challenge.

Australian Women Writers I read in January 2012

By the time I put out the Twitter call I’d already read the following Australian Women Writers in 2012:

Felicity Pulman: I’d met Felicity at the NSW Writers Centre in December and wanted to interview her for the blog. Before that I wanted to finish up the Janna Mysteries series with the last book published by Random House and the two books she had self-published (Sage for Sanctuary and Thyme for Trust). I’d started reading The Janna Mysteries at Random House Australia when I was heading up Production. Loved finishing up the series and read all three books back-to-back. Felicity is a great writer and I loved reading about medieval life, and finding out if Janna discovers who murdered her mother.

Caroline Overington: I was given a copy of Caroline’s latest book Matilda is Missing and enjoyed it as much as her previous novels.  Caroline really seems to capture the Australian voice and keeps me turning the pages to find out just what happens until the very end. The reality of children being in the middle of bitter break ups is surely a familiar one to us all.

Airlie Lawson: I stumbled across Airlie’s book Don’t Tell Eve when researching my fellow presenters at a training course. Finding out that Airlie works in publishing AND set this novel in a Publishing House, well, I was hooked! Anyone who works in publishing, wants to work in publishing or just likes a good funny read should get this book. Couldn’t put it down.

Kirsten Tranter: The Legacy was high up on my favourite reads and I was waiting with anticipation for A Common Loss. We’re far from perfect beings, and this book highlights that somewhere, perhaps buried deep or just under the surface, a lot of us have got things we’d rather not be revealed. And loss? We all deal with loss in our own way.

The recommendations received on Twitter (so far!)

Cath CrowleyGraffiti Moon via @sarahhazelton. Loved it and I can guarantee you’ll see the art in more graffiti if you look. Reminded me of the anguish and power of first love, and the beauty that can be found in words and art.

Favel Parrett: Past the Shallows via @sarahhazeltonOn the virtual book pile.

Kylie Ladd: via @BooktotheFuture. Michelle recommended anything by Kylie but I chose to read After the Fall. Written from different points of view of two couples who become friends and then what follows when two of them begin an affair. Hot, steamy, uncomfortable and real, this is engrossing and reveals the faults and frailties of all involved. Wonderful writing, I’m going back for more.

Charlotte Wood: via @BooktotheFuture. Leaving it up to me to chose my title I jumped into Animal People. Why have’t I read Charlotte before??? I’ve clearly been missing out and now need to read The Children as  it was Stephen from THAT book that forms the main character in Animal People. What will be the conclusion to the worst day of his life? I had to keep reading to find out.

Fiona Wood: via @CathCrowley. How cool is that? Due to asking for Twitter recommendations I hear about Cath Crowley who THEN recommends I read Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood. Clearly since I loved Cath’s Graffiti Moon I was keen to try one of her recommendations. I should add that I read across all genres, with a fondness for young adult (this coming from a so-very-clearly-not-young-adult). Cath said “you have such a beautiful, funny read ahead of you. I love Dan and Estelle and Fred and Lou.” I’ve just finished this book and REALLY MISS Dan and Estelle! What a read!

Margo Lanagan: via @SeandBlogonaut. SeandBlogonaut recommended Sea Hearts, but as this was only released this month (February 2012) I couldn’t buy at the time I was creating my virtual bookshelf. Instead I have purchased another one recommended which was Tender Morsels, described by SeandBlogonaut as “powerful”. I’ve just started this book but I’m blown away…

Paddy O’Reilly: via @kjmgardiner. Kelly recommended The Fine Colour of Rust,out March 2012. I’ll check this out next month. This quote alone is enough to get me to read it “She has fantasies about dumping her two kids in the orphanage and riding off on a Harley with her dream lover.”

Kelly Gardiner: I’m going to sneak one of my own recommendations here!  I loved Kelly’s book Act of Faith AND because she was kind enough to answer my questions on authors and social media in this blog post. She runs rings around the rest of us, I stand in awe.

Ideally I’d like to keep adding to this post as I read this year, but don’t hold me to it! Deadlines are looming….

Feel free to recommend any Australian Women Writers you think I should read this year in the comments section, on the Digireado Facebook page or on Twitter! I love to receive recommendations and my virtual book pile is getting smaller!

9 thoughts on “In Praise of Australian Women Writers (#aww2012)

  1. You might also like to check out the AWW goodreads group where our bookshelf is steadily building http://www.goodreads.com/group/bookshelf/59176.Australian_Women_Writers_Challenge with over 800 books from Australian Women writers to choose from.
    My rec’s to add to your list – if you enjoyed Caroline Overton then make sure you check out Sara Foster – and The Mistake by Wendy James out later this month.
    Also rec Charlotte Wood, Sulari Gentill and Katherine Howell

    • Thanks for coming by and commenting on the post. I really appreciate your recommendations!

      I’d forgotten that I’d read Sara Foster (Beneath the Shadows) and loved it so I must go back. Wendy James my team produced when I was at RHA but didn’t get around to reading her (will fix that). Thanks also for your other recommendations, much appreciated! Anna

    • Thanks for the suggestions Michelle! Interesting some of the list above are on your pile too! If you have any other suggestions for me do let me know! And appreciate you liking the Digireado Facebook page! I’m thinking I’ll start a new post purely about the recommendations (this post is long enough, brevity is not my skill)

  2. Pingback: – Where to Buy Ebooks by Australian Women Writers (#aww2012) « Digireado

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