A Blogger’s Year In Books (So Far)

This post is part of a blog collaboration with others in the Pip Lincolne Alumni, and an interesting recap of all the books we have read to date.

A book is a dream that you hold in your hand. Neil Gaiman

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Here’s my list to so far. The majority of books I have reviewed, and you can click on links if you are interested in finding out more about them. For those books I haven’t reviewed, I’ve provided a brief synopsis.

January

Emma by Jane Austen and Emma by Alexander McCall-Smith

Emma was Austen’s fourth published novel, and the last to appear before her death in 1815. And like all Austen novels, Emma is a novel of courtship and social manners, and focuses on the question of marriage: who will marry whom and for what reasons they will marry: for love, practicality, or necessity?

This was background reading for Alexander McCall-Smith’s Emma whose novel presents the reader with a 21st century Emma Woodhouse. Just like her 18th century predecessor, the modern Emma is noted for beauty and cleverness. She still lives with her widowed father at their estate, Hartfield. Again like her 18th century counterpart, this Emma takes great delight in match-making. I found this a delightful book but others in my book club were not quite so enarmoured with McCall-Smith’s reinterpretation.

I am a bit of an Austin aficionado (some might say freak) so I have attached Rolling With The Homies Part I and Rolling With The Homies Part II to provide further background. If you can take or leave Jane, it might be best not to click on these links.

February

I’ll Drink To That – New York’s Legendary Personal Shopper And Her Life In Style – With A Twist by Betty Halbreich with Rebecca Paley

I adored this memoir it is both entertaining and educative. Betty Halbreich, a woman from a different era, who was born into a wealthy Chicago family and raised with the intention of her parents “not to have to work a day in her life” but she found solace in working, and continues to do so although she is more than half-way through her 80s. Want to know more, click on I’ll Drink To That – New York’s Legendary Personal Shopper And Her Life In Style – With A Twist. .

Eat Clean, Green and Vegetarian by Lee Holmes.

Lee is a certified holistic health and wellness coach and a qualified wholefoods chef with a certificate in food and nutrition, who believes that people should think about optimum health rather than weight loss, and our bodies will respond naturally.

March

To Name Those Lost by Rohan Wilson

The second novel from Rohan Wilson, who won the 2014 Vogel prize for his debut novel, The Roving Party, and is again set in Tasmania. The year is 1874 and the story is set in Launceston – a city which aspires to be respectable, a place of commerce and industry, and one of self-government – but there is a deep class division between its citizens. There were those that lived in neat white-limed houses with plum trees in ceramic pots by the door in Brisbane Street, and those who lived in shacks, with a great many of the city’s children living rough on the street. Want to know more, click on To Name Those Lost .

April

Only the Animals  by Ceridwen Dovey.

The book contains ten stories, all of which feature an animal that meets its death as a result of human conflict. A wide knowledge of literature is needed to understand the nuances and subtexts of the stories. Somewhere Along The Line The Pearl Would Be Handed To Me is narrated by a mussel in the Jack Kerouac-esque stream of consciousness style. Want to know more, click on Only the Animals .

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

A Rotary Exchange to Iceland at the end of Year 12, resulted in a ten-year obsession with Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the last woman to be executed in Iceland for Hannah Kent. Burial Rites, her gothic-style novel, is a tribute to Agnes Magnúsdóttir. Want to know more, click on Burial Rites .

May

The Truth About Frenchwomen by Marie-Morgane Le Moel

Freelance journalist, Marie-Morgane Le Moel undertook a two-year project to try and pinpoint where the idealised French woman stereotype, as the slim, designer-clad, sexually sophisticated free spirit originated, and whether or not  this archetype is, in fact, true. Want to know more, click on The Truth About Frenchwomen.

One Life: My Mother’s Story by Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville’s loving memoir to her mother, Nancy (Nance). Born in 1912 to the narrow confines of country working-class life, Nance grew up “riding every wave of opportunity” that came her way – and luckily quite a few did. Want to know more, click on One Life: My Mother’s Story .

Sentenced To Life by Clive James

A published collection of 37 poems, all composed over the last four years after Clive James was diagnosed with terminal illnesses – leukemia, emphysema and kidney failure. This volume of poetry reflects on Clive James’ life, and what it feels like to expire. Want to know more, click on Sentenced To Life .

June

Style Is Eternal by Nicole Jenkins

I collect fashion books and this a valuable addition to my collection. Melbourne vintage Queen and costume designer, Nicole Jenkins shares her experience as a fashion buyer and stylist to navigate the essential additions to your wardrobe without breaking the bank, use accessories to create new outfits, convert your fashion faux pas into chic statements and travel with only hand luggage and still look classy. Want to know more, click on Style Is Eternal .

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

This novel might be short on pages (it is only 213 pages) but it examines the very large issues of what happens when an individual is given with the power to decide whether a child should live or die. In Western civilisation, these life or death decisions are given to the judiciary to decide. The reader meets respected High Court Judge, Fiona Maye, whose area of expertise is in family court matters involves children and divorce, and makes judgements that can and do alter lives irrevocably. Want to know more, click on The Children Act .

Craft For The Soul – Pip Lincolne

This books needs no introduction for most but for those not familiar with it can click on Craft For The Soul .

July

The Strays by Emily Bitto

The Strays is not a historical novel but it is inspired by a group of artists who were known as the Heide Circle and included Sam Atyeo and his wife Moya Dyring, Albert Tucker, Sidney Nolan, Joy Hester, and John Perceval, who worked and (sometimes lived) at Heide, the residence of art patrons, John and Sunday Reed. Want to know more, click on The Strays .

Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell

I am biased, I love Candace Bushnell. There are obvious parallels between Ms Bushnell’s own life and the novel, Killing Monica. It’s about a best-selling author, PJ Wallis, who is plagued by the success of her most popular character, Monica: an idealised, shoe-obsessed, girl-about-town, made famous on-screen by an actress called SondraBeth Schnowzer. Want to know more, click on Killing Monica .

August

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

This novel is part love letter and part lament to both Chigozie Obioma’s family and his country, Nigeria. The story is set in a small town in Nigeria and is narrated by Ben (Benjamin), an observant but not excessively precocious nine-year-old and the youngest of four brothers, whose ages range between nine and 15. When the boys’ father, Mr Agwu, is transferred to a bank in a nearby town, the boys use his absence to go fishing at a forbidden local river.

The brothers encounter Abulu, the local madman, who prophesies that Ikenna, the eldest, will be killed by one of the other brothers. From this point onwards, the strong family bond is broken and a tragic chain of events ensues. Want to know more, click on The Fishermen .

That’s it for now but it’s not the end of the year yet!

11 Comments on A Blogger’s Year In Books (So Far)

  1. Isabel
    August 16, 2015 at 10:23 pm (2 years ago)

    What a cracking list, Ines. I also loved The Strays. I found it so atmospheric, that house and rambling garden, and all the jealousies going on between the characters. I love the sound of Kate Grenville’s book about her mother. I loved The Secret River so I’m sure I will like this…on to the list it goes!To Name Those Lost also sounds interesting. I’m a bit obsessed with Tasmania these days. If you want to hear a really lovely interview between my online pal Phillipa Moore and Hannah Kent, you can find it here: http://s52.podbean.com/pb/fbffb6929af0e803771c2d2f9ae38b6d/55bf75d3/data1/blogs55/567483/uploads/BEE13.mp3
    Thrilled you also read Emma (x2!). I can’t get enough of Jane Austen. I could read her books every year and not get bored. Thanks for getting me excited about what to read next, Ines x

    Reply
    • The Hipsterette
      August 17, 2015 at 1:41 pm (2 years ago)

      Wonderful to connect with a fellow book lover! Thanks so much for the link to the online interview – I will listen to it tonight!

      Reply
  2. Clare
    August 16, 2015 at 11:34 pm (2 years ago)

    This is a great list of books! I am getting so many recommendations from all of the posts.

    Reply
    • The Hipsterette
      August 17, 2015 at 1:41 pm (2 years ago)

      Yes, totally agree, I can see the stack on my bedside table getting much bigger!

      Reply
  3. sue elliott
    August 17, 2015 at 8:50 am (2 years ago)

    Lovely meeting you on the weekend.

    Reply
  4. Jacquie
    August 17, 2015 at 10:15 am (2 years ago)

    Great post, Inese! I loved Burial Rites and Craft for the Soul so much – both great reads. I’d be interested to read Alexander McCall-Smith’s take on Emma in the 21st century (though I should probably read Austen’s Emma first! :/) Not quite the same but I loved Lost in Austen, the BBC series with a twist on the classic Pride and Prejudice story.

    Reply
    • The Hipsterette
      August 17, 2015 at 1:44 pm (2 years ago)

      Hi Jacquie

      I liked Alexander McCall-Smith’s take on “Emma” – you can message me your mailing address co of The Hipsterette facebook (there’s a link on the blog) and I’ll post to you. Books are best distributed around for all to enjoy, rather than being lonely sitting on a shelf, don’t you agree?

      Reply
  5. Reannon @shewhorambles
    August 17, 2015 at 1:52 pm (2 years ago)

    Burial Rite & The Strays are two of my stand outs this year. I ADORED them 🙂

    Reply
    • the hipsterette
      August 17, 2015 at 5:33 pm (2 years ago)

      Agree, and debut novels for both which is impressive!

      Reply

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