My Year of Reading Australian Women Writers (#aww2012)

In my post ‘In Praise of Australian Women Writers (#aww2012)‘ I wrote about how and why I’d decided to spend 2012 reading as many Australian Women Writers as possible.  I’m very supportive of Australian Women Writers, their Reading and Reviewing Challenge and The Stella Prize.

I’ve also been educating myself further about some of the stats about gender bias in book reviews. Have a look at the pie charts on James Tierney’s blog post The Stories We’re Told because they really cemented this issue for me. His analysis (and lovely pie charts) prove that less than a third of the books reviewed in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian each Saturday are written by women.

My own quest: I’m hoping to spend the year expanding my knowledge of our vast array of female writers who are Australian.

I’m also approaching this as an experiement in two ways:

1. Reading by Recommendation

Anyone looking to market their product is well aware of the power of recommendations from a trusted person when making a purchasing decision. This year I’ve decided to use the power of social media to provide my reading recommendations. Already in 2012 I’ve received many recommendations of what to read and this post will be a method of keeping track of what those are, who recommended them and a few lines about what I thought about the book. I’ve never actually tracked my reading so this post will be continually updated with what Australian female writers I’m reading. Please keep the recommendations coming!

2. Reading on different ereading platforms

I’ve previously discussed on the blog how Kobo really managed to gain the lions share of my ebook reading because they were early to market in Australia. Since then I have also purchased books from iBooks and yes, Amazon, and recently Google Ebooks. But I really want practice what I preach – go local. With the launch of ReadCloud with Australian independent bookshops I experimented with them but had neglected other platforms. I’m now reading on BookU and is next. (Although now that have been acquired by Overdrive they’re not really local any more?!)  Yes, price does matter and there is no doubt the Big Amazon can undercut but I intend to read via local booksellers as often as I can.

A Note on Formats and Genres

I read ebooks on my iPad, so I prefer titles that are available in digital format. I do love books as well but when you read as many books as I do the cost is harder to justify… reading CAN be a costly addiction! The exception is kids books where my preferred format is always print. I do see the conflict that as a digital evangalist I still like to read print to my toddlers! They love book apps like The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore  but they are not condusive (in my opinion) to settling down two weary children. I LOVE rhyming books for kids, just love them. One of my favourites at the moment is Ella Kazoo Will Not Go to SleepIf you have any recommendations for rhyming books for kids (nearly 3 and just 4 years old) by Australian Women Writers then I’d love to hear them.

I read all genres, although the really scary books about stalking and axe murders keep me awake at night. I have a fondness for YA and already I’ve enjoyed some great examples in that genre. By the way – does YA have sub-genres? It should!

Recommendations received for my year of reading Australian Women Writers

These are the recommendations I’ve received either through the Digireado Facebook PageLinkedIn, blog comments or Twitter. Some came through my original call out through Twitter (as mentioned in this post) and others I’ve received as a result of that post. Those that I haven’t purchased have been placed on my reading list. And yes, please recommend books you’ve loved by Australian Women Writers!

Claire Corbett: Sean the Bookonaut (who introduced me to the delights of reading Margo Lanagan) suggested via my blog that that When We Have Wings is a  brilliant lit/sci-fi release. Ok Sean, I’ve just finished this and I loved it. The first few pages I wasn’t sure, but then I was hooked. An amazing, immersive read. I didn’t just read this book, I saw the book. If I see movie based on a book I am rarely satisfied. The rich detail of a novel can be lost in translation to the view of the director. But still, it would be crazy if this book wasn’t made into a movie at some stage. And I’d be keen to buy a ticket. Claire is an amazing writer, and this book had twists, turns and loops. Taking ten years to write, this book was worth the wait. (March 2012)

Paddy O’Reilly: via @kjmgardiner. Kelly recommended The Fine Colour of Rustand this quote alone was 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.” I loved this book and I loved Loretta. I felt I could be Loretta – if I was a single Mum and lived in Gunapan v’s Sydney. And if Loretta wasn’t another version of me, then we’d be friends. She’s quirky, doubts herself all the time and yet keeps her drive and passion focussed on making a difference in her small dusty town. I devoured this book and I’d love to read more of Loretta at some stage in the future! (Read March 2012)

One of my favourite Australian writers Anita Heiss  mentioned on Facebook she was re-reading Unpolished Gem by Alice Pung and that it inspired Anita’s latest book – Am I Black Enough For You? Anita’s comments and those from some of her friends have encouraged me to put this one to the top of my virtual reading pile and I am engrossed in the story of her upbringing and life. A child between two cultures, Alice shares the wonders and confusion of trying to bridge both worlds. This is my first memoir in… well, put it this way I can’t ever remember reading a memoir! But through reading Unpolished Gems has taught me so much already I’m planning to do more. (Reading March 2012)

Am I Black Enough For You  by Anita Heiss is due out April 2012 and is also on my ‘virtual reading pile’.  Booktopia bookshop asked Anita Six Sharp Questions and you can read the answers here on their blog as well as pre-order her book. I’ve read all of Anita’s fiction and loved it so I’m looking forward to hearing about the life and influences of someone who is a wonderful role-model. Anita is running her own reading and reviewing challenge for the National Year of Reading – 52 Books in 52 weeks. She’s also a National Ambassador for the 2012 National Year of Reading. (Downloaded ebook and will be April 2012 read)

Wendy James: Book reviewer Shelleyrae from Book’d Out is participating in the Australian Women Writers Challenge and has been very supportive in helping them with social media. Her own personal challenge this year is to read and review 100 books by Australian Women Writers and you can read about this on her blog. Shelleyrae recommended since I had enjoyed reading Carline Overton that I should read The Mistake by Wendy James. Instead I chose to read Where Have You Been?  Wendy set the novel in a seemingly normal suburban family where their lives are turned upside down by the sudden reappearance of a long-missing sister. Is she who she says she is? What are her motives for reappearing and what will be the impact on the Middletons? We watch as Ed and Susan open their lives and home to Karen/Carly and when reading I was very keen to work out what is at the heart of this troubled woman. (February 2012)

Happy News! I’ve won a copy of The Mistake by Wendy James over on the Book’d Out Blog! Will update you on this as I read.

Margo Lanaganvia @SeandBlogonautBook reviewer Sean recommended Sea Hearts, but as this released in February 2012 (this was in January) I couldn’t buy at the time I was creating my virtual bookshelf. Instead I purchased another one recommended which was Tender Morselsdescribed by SeandBlogonaut as “powerful”. I’m absolutely blown away by the worlds created by Margo in Tender Morsels. Haunting. They remind me of childhood fables – these days considered too “dark” for young children – that seared themselves into my imagination. I love Margo’s worlds that she created in Tender Morsels and will definitely put Sea Hearts on my reading list. (Read February 2012)

Cath CrowleyGraffiti Moon via @sarahhazelton. Loved it and I can guarantee you’ll see the art in more graffiti if you look. This book reminded me of the anguish and power of first love, and the beauty that can be found in words and art. (Read February 2012)

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. (Read February 2012)

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. (Read January 2012)

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 REALLY MISS Dan and Estelle! This book touched me in so many ways. What a read! (Read February 2012)

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. (Ok, I admit it. I actually read this in 2011.)

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. (Read January 2012)

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. (Read January 2012)

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. (Read January 2012)

Kirsten TranterThe 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.  (Read January 2012)

On The Virtual Book Pile

Sara Foster was also recommended by Shelleyrae of Book’d Out. I’d forgotten how much I’d enjoyed Come Back to Me and Beneath the ShadowsHer next book is not due out until the end of the year so I hope I have time to fit Shallow Breath in this year.

Other author suggestions from Book’d Out are Sulari Gentill and Katherine Howell so I’ll have to choose which of their titles I will read. If anyone has a favourite of theirs to recommend I’d love to hear from them!

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

I’m only into the third month of the year but really enjoying discovering new writers or reading new releases by some favourites. I do need to build up my virtual book pile so please keep the recommendations coming!

As mentioned this post will be constantly updated as I continue to enjoy Australian Women Writers.

You may also like to read: Where to Buy Ebooks by Australian Women Writers

13 thoughts on “My Year of Reading Australian Women Writers (#aww2012)

  1. I always enjoy hearing what people are reading so that I can add recommendations to my ever-growing pile of books I want to read. In return, let me share a few of my favourites, starting with a beautifully written and very moving autobiography from Maggie Mackellar: When it Rains, about coming to terms with loss and finding the courage to carry on. I loved this book. Jaye Ford had my heart thumping with her debut crime novel, Beyond Fear. Of course Kerry Greenwood’s fun Phryne Fisher novels are getting a terrific trot with the new TV series, and I also enjoy Kathryn Fox’s crime novels. I have the greatest regard for Helen Garner and the tough choices she made while writing the thought-provoking The First Stone and Joe Cinque’s Consolation. And I absolutely loved The Book Thief (Marcus Zusak.) Australia is blessed with wonderful writers!

    • Thanks so much for taking the time to share some of your favourites Felicity. Of course Marcus Zusak is out (for this year) as he’s not a woman! 🙂 However thank you for giving me lots of ideas for where to go in my April reading list!

      • D’uh – of course he’s not a woman, what was I thinking!! I guess I just get carried away when talking about my favourite books. And thank you so much for the Janna recommendation which I noticed up above. I’ve got lots of m/e crime authors I love to read, when you feel like widening the net to include authors from o.s., but for straight historical fiction from Oz authors I also enjoy reading Isolde Martyn and Posie Graeme Evans.

        • Thanks Felicity! I’ll take you up on the o/s authors in 2013! Thanks also for the additional recommendations for historical fiction from Australian Women Authors.

  2. I just love the diversity in women’s writing in Australia- so many great books- only one I have read (Past the Shallows which I adore)!
    Definitely adding Animal People to my list, it sounds amazing.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. I need a self help book – e reading or paper back, I don’t mind. The title I seek would be called something like – How To Make 48 Hours out of Every 24… or How to pack more into every minute, or How to find another few hours in every day without getting arrested for punching the face out of clocks…There are So many things to read. I currently have about five books in various stages of pick-up and put-down, a couple more on the kindle, lists in my back pocket – and that’s just the contemporary stuff. I’m also trying to read backwards, if you know what I mean – I didn’t get enough of Ernest Hemingway of F Scott, or, or, or… and I’m interested in back-reading Annie Proulx and I wasn’t interested in short stories back then but I am now so Carver is in the bookcase getting a workover every so often and…and…and Oh yeah, and I’m trying to write, and think, and think about writing and read about writing, so there’s Anne Motte and Louise Doughty, and I’m into memoir, so there’s Patti Miller and a whole stack of great memories propping the study door open and there’s movies made of great writing so there’s a stack of DVD’s waiting for a rainy (or is it a clear) afternoon…..I just need to find more time in each day. Love your list Anna. I’ve printed it off and added it to the noticeboard, next to the list of writers I want to go and listen to – oh year and the shopping list of books I still have to buy..

    • Hi Jennifer, Glad you like the list! And I know what you mean about SO much to read and so little time! I read so much less these days due to small kids but cannot, just cannot go a day without reading. I’m interested in what you said about ‘reading backwards’. You should take a look at the blog ‘Book to the Future’ where Michelle is filling in the gaps in her reading. As she says ” I’m reading books from the 1900s, in the order they were published, with each week representing a different year.” Here is her blog:

    • Of COURSE I’ll be reading you next year Jenn! And thanks for the feedback. Australia has so many great writers it’s such a pleasure to be exploring them. In particular I’m enjoying listening to recommendations and venturing away from some of my familiar genres.

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