Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chosen Reading

The Age Green Guide recently posted a list and details of the top twenty, or was it fifty, tv shows for the year. I may have seen one or two of them. I have seen some wonderful tv shows this year, yet very few made the list.

I am more at home with The First Tuesday's Book Club list of ten Australian books you must read before you die. I think I have read them all and I connect with them. The list went on for more than ten books on the website.

  1. Cloudstreet - Tim Winton (not read, but has long been on my list)
  2. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak (not read, I've heard more than enough about WWII and the holocaust. Yes, your point that I have not read them all is valid)
  3. A Fortunate Life - A.B. Facey (brilliant. I was steered to it by Mother)
  4. The Harp in the South - Ruth Park (she is a wonderful writer and before I die, I will read all of her books. Not too many fiction writers can bring on a Royal Commission)
  5. The Power of One - Bryce Courtenay (recently became 'the late'. Despised by the literati, but loved by the common types, including me)
  6. Jasper Jones - Craig Silvey (What? Never heard of it)
  7. The Magic Pudding - Norman Lindsay (A fantastic book that I only got to appreciate in my teens)
  8. The Slap - Christos Tsiolkas (Great contemporary writer. He spoke to me and I have rarely disliked every character in a book)
  9. The Secret River - Kate Grenville (I've read something of Kate's, but not this one)
  10. Picnic at Hanging Rock - Joan Lindsay (Classic)
  11. Seven Little Australians - Ethel Turner (Another classic)
  12. My Brother Jack - George Johnston (Just brilliant)
  13. My Brilliant Career - Miles Franklin (Good, but do see the movie)
  14. True History of the Kelly Gang - Peter Carey (One can only take so much Carey. Not read)
  15. Eucalyptus - Murray Bail (Missed this one too)
  16. Power Without Glory - Frank Hardy (If you want to know Melbourne, it is a must read)
  17. The Broken Shore - Peter Temple (Worthy, I am sure. But I haven't read it)
  18. Monkey Grip - Helen Garner (She talked to me and almost my generation)
  19. The Riders - Tim Winton (Better read Cloudstreet first)
  20. The Tree of Man - Patrick White (Indigestible. The only thing White wrote that was pleasing to read was his autobiography)
My own additions, Elizabeth Jolley's, The Well and Sally Morgan's, My Place. 


  1. Jasper Jones and The Book Thief are both terrific and well worth a read. So is Bereft, After The Darkness, The Good Daughter and I Came To Say Goodbye .... all Australian. Love my Kindle! I can read whatever I hear is good.

    1. Bliss, given it takes me a month or so to get through a book now, perhaps a Kindle is not for me, well not yet. Your recommendations are noted. I've just realised I have read The Book Thief. Yes, it was good, now I remember it.

  2. Colin2:32 pm

    Well I have heard of a few of these books, but the stand out one by the length of the Flemington Straight is "The Power of One".

    Now this I have just read on "Breaking news":
    "PUBLIC transport users in Victoria will be slugged almost seven per cent more for fares from New Year's Day.
    Travellers will pay $7 for a full daily myki fare for zone one from January 1, 2013, an increase of 44c, while zone one-two daily tickets will increase by 76c to $11.84.
    The full fare for a seven-day pass for zone one will rise $2.20 to $35.
    Transport Minister Terry Mulder said fare hikes were announced by the previous Labor government, with an 8.6 per cent increase taking effect from January 1, 2012 and a 6.8 per cent rise from January 1, 2013.
    "Labor left behind fare increases and a public transport system that was failing Victorians," Mr Mulder said". etc etc. of course the "blame game" has started!
    Christ, I suppose with more vehicles clogging roads, the governments will get more revenue with petrol price hikes?????
    I have been told that travel costs here also on public transport will rise on January 1st.
    They say there are only two things in life - death and taxes. Well the taxes will ensure your demise!
    Best I not comment on the "brilliance" as reported by our Federal Minister for Agriculture,the one and only Senator Ludwig, he who doesn't know the difference between a canary and a cow. God, or someone help us. Amen.

    1. Colin, I don't know that they want more people on already overcrowded public transport. The whole transport thing is a mess. Sadly, we cannot take a leaf from Queensland and fix it up. I expect your Mr Newman will ensure there is a decent rise for your fares, come the new year.

  3. Have never been able to read Winton or Carey.
    Have read enough about the holocaust to last six lifetimes.
    Have only seen the fillum of A Fortunate Life, but the book is on my list.
    More Ruth Park is also on the list – didn’t know about the Royal Commission.
    The Power of One is a book I have given a copy of to a number of tweenage boys because it is such a great and inspiring read.
    Had very few books as a child so missed the kiddies’ ones listed.
    Picnic was so-so, and My Brother Jack bored me witless.
    Power Without Glory – over and over.
    Monkey Grip – bloody depressing.
    Love any Elizabeth Jolley, while the fillum of Mile’s Franklin’s My Brilliant Career was enough, thanks.
    Have read so many negative reviews of White that I’ve not bothered trying.
    Joan Makes History was so-so – if I read Grenville again it will only be to re-visit Lillian’s Storey.
    As for The Slap, reading about some bloke with a drug problem and difficulty respecting women has no appeal. I threw the book away after his second Barclay’s Bank. Seriously, if I ever want to step inside the mind of the worst kind of male there is, I hope somebody shoots me. In fact if there really were a lot of pigs like this in the world I would shoot myself.
    Don’t know the other titles.

    An interesting post.

    1. FC, which of Ruth's books stimulated the Royal Commission? Was it Poor Man's Orange. I can't remember now. But her book painted a picture of Sydney's inner city slums, and it led to a royal commission.

  4. Hmmmmm. I haven't read:

    True History of the Kelly Gang - Peter Carey
    Eucalyptus - Murray Bail
    Power Without Glory - Frank Hardy
    The Broken Shore - Peter Temple
    The Tree of Man - Patrick White
    Elizabeth Jolley's, The Well

    ..... but may leave Patrick White until the very very last.

    1. Yes Kath, White is best left to your death bed. Can I suggest that you read Power Without Glory.

  5. aaah I love Monkey Grip. I studied it in Year 11 and re-read it again this year.

    1. It was naughty Fen, but it was local naughty, which was extra good.

  6. I've read Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Power of One, both of which were far better than the movies made of them, Seven Little Australians was read over and over when I was a kid. I've read The Magic Pudding, but only once. Jasper Jones and The Book Thief are on my list. I tried to read The Slap but can't get even the first chapter finished. it's on my shelf, unread, I can't even give it away, no one wants it.

    1. River, your Aussie literary credentials are not in doubt. I may have been influenced about The Slap because it was a gay author who sent me a note. Not really, though. The book was challenging, but I thought well written.

  7. Starting with Ruth Park, Ethel Turner and Joan Lindsay, I read most of the great books over a long long time. What surprised me was that many of our modern writers are equally as seductive, especially Winton and Carey.

    Did you read any great books written by Judah Waten and Thomas Kenneally (sp)?

    1. Hels, Juday Waten? No idea who that is. Father in law of ex NSW Premier, yes, well read but a bit hard work at times.

    2. Both novelists were on the Year 12 reading list in The English Expression curriculum in Victoria and probably in the other states. Well worth following up on, noting that both are very definitely post-war in their world views.

    3. Along with a rather controversial Gabrielle Marquez book too. Ok, I got her name wrong. It is late and I am tired.

  8. Anonymous11:26 pm

    The Magic Pudding was good but what about The Muddled-Headed Wombat???? Oh and Blinkey Bill?

    Have you read any Dorothy Porter? I enjoyed Monkey Mask and Akenaten. V.

    1. V, Muddle Headed Wombat is my sister's vintage, not mine. I recall her liking it. Blinkey Bill, I know about it but not read it.

      I don't think I have read anything of Porter's. I recall our conversation just after she died.

    2. Anonymous11:34 am

      Gee I'd forgotten about that until now! V.

    3. V, that's because you are a selfish person, whereas I am a caring and sharing person :-P

    4. Anonymous11:46 am

      Ah, you know me so well... :) V.

  9. Who has time to read Andrew!! Actually I'm going to make time soon, it's one of my fav pastimes and I have a stack of books awaiting my attention!!

    1. I don't have the time to read Grace. Well, I don't make the time to read. I should and plan to, in the future.

  10. This simple post reveals a humiliating truth about myself. I won't embarrass myself by stating how many of these works I have read but let me suggest the number is a low - very low - single figure.

    On the other hand of those works which either have been filmed or staged I can confidently state I have seen almost all in that format.

    Not a complete Neanderthal but I come close.

    1. Victor, most of the books were read when I was between 25 and 40. I think I felt I had a lack of education and reading acclaimed books would help, but I enjoyed them too.

      I envy your dedication to the filums and the performing arts.