Friday, December 11, 2015

Summer Reading 2015

Somehow this year I've managed to do quite a bit of reading and I thought I'd share some of my somewhat eclectic list with you.

 The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane (2013)


This was one of my favourite books of 2015.  Ruth is recently widowed after many years of marriage and her sons are all grown.  One day Frida arrives at the front door announcing that she has been sent by the government to look after Ruth.  At first Ruth is very pleased with Frida because she is good company and looks after her.  But then things start to go haywire.  Ruth grew up in Fiji and a lot of her memories take her back to her childhood as a missionary child.  This is a beautifully written book, thought provoking and mysterious.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)

Recommended to me by a friend on Facebook, I read this book in a few days.  As many people know I really enjoy dystopian books (like The Hunger Games) but I also like post apocalyptic books - imagining what the world would be like if there was a major global catastrophe.  The book is set during and after a fatal flu virus has swept across the world.  The narrative centres around a troupe of travelling actors and musicians who travel around performing Shakespeare.  It's a great book - highly recommend it.

Our endless numbered days by Claire Fuller (2015)


I initially thought this was a young adult book (because of the cover) but it really isn't!  This is a book about a father who gets involved with a survivalist movement and takes his young ten year old daughter away from London to live in a hut in Germany.  He convinces his daughter that the world has ended and only the two of them are left in the world.  We know that this isn't the case because the story is intertwined with the present day where the daughter, now an 18 year old, is back with her mother.  I am a little fascinated by the survivalist movement and what drives people to want to pursue escaping from the norm.  The end is weird - still trying to work it out!

The Utopia Experiment by Dylan Evans (2015)



In 2006 Dylan Evans quit his job in a robotics lab after being convicted that the world was going to implode after being taken over by robots and that humans would need to learn how to survive off the grid.  This is the real story of Dylan Evan's survivalist experiment; the volunteers who joined him and how he eventually descended into a nervous breakdown.  It's a really interesting book especially because it is a real story and Evans is so open and honest about his idealism and disappointment in the project.

The heart goes last by Margaret Atwood (2015)



An adult dystopian writer, Atwood sets her latest book in the aftermath of a global financial crisis where an ordinary young couple find themselves living in their car after losing their jobs and home. They see an ad for social experiment 'Consilience'.  In exchange for their freedom every second month, they get to live in a protected, closed suburban community.  It all starts to get messed up when the couple get involved with their 'alternates' (the couple who live in their house in the months they aren't in prison) and spirals down into chaos.

The world beneath by Cate Kennedy (2009)


Rich and Sandy were part of the environmental crusades to save the Tasmanian Franklin river in the 1980's.  Despite having separated they both still live in the past, in the glory days of the protest movement. Their fifteen year old daughter Sophie lives with her mother Sandy and hardly knows her father. When Rich suggests that he take her on the Overland Track to celebrate her birthday, she jumps at the opportunity, partly to annoy her mother and partly to try and get to know her father. Both parents are a bit stuck, Sophie is stuck and the trek is life changing for them all.  An enjoyable read.

The narrow road to the deep north by Richard Flanagan (2013)


Lots of you have probably read this book by award winning Tasmanian writer Richard Flanagan, but if you haven't you should give it a go. The book tells the story of Dorrigo Evans, from his poor childhood in Tasmania, to his horrifying time in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in WW2.  The book is complex and confronting but also a gripping page turner.

The Boundary by Nicole Watson (2011)


Last summer I did a subject for my Masters degree on Australian indigenous literature.  I really enjoyed reading a variety of adult and young adult aboriginal writing and this one was one of my favourite adult books.  Nicole Watson is an aboriginal lawyer who sets her story in Brisbane against the backdrop of a native title claim by the Corrowa people against a multi million development.  If you don't know a lot about native title claims, or if you think it was all sorted post-Mabo, then this book is very eye opening about the reality of the complexity of winning a native title claim.  And it's a great story too!  

The Dinner by Herman Koch (2009)



Set in Amsterdam, two families meet for dinner.  They appear rich and successful but both families hide a secret.  Their fifteen year old sons have committed a horrendous crime yet neither have been identified by the police.  Their parents know and are pretending it is all ok but as the meal goes on it all disintegrates and the truth emerges.  It's a pretty dark book, but I was interested to see how the story resolved itself.

Still Alice by Lisa Genova (2007)


I liked this book because I know lots of women like Alice.  Smart, female academics who are highly intelligent and independent women.  I related straight away to Alice.  So it is completely devastating when she starts to lose her memory and is diagnosed with early onset dementia.  It's not an easy topic but this is a book that I've thought a lot about since I read it.


Happy reading!!

1 comment:

Maria said...

Thanks Jenny. Will see if I can find one of the first two at the air port. No more young adult for me this year. 😜