Hello and welcome back for 2020! Earlier I waved my children back to school and then I got to thinking about the day and date and realised – oh! I’d better do my reading check-in here on the blog! There is a fair bit to cover – and these titles are just a selection of what I’ve finished over the holiday season. I decided against doing a complete list because I don’t have the time to cover them all.
I read No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg at the very start of the new year, sitting at the kitchen table while the nearby television fed through updates of the devastating bushfires across the country. Her message, that everyone can make a difference, offered a dose of hope amidst the feelings of helplessness I was experiencing (and still am) about climate change and what our future holds. Since then I’m happy to say my hometown – affected in the November fires – has received some good rain; a big relief. But I still worry. This is why I found the poem ‘Wrack’ so resonant in Viva the Real by Jill Jones. (It is a terrific collection of poems that “celebrates resilience and continuity in everyday life”, as so states the back cover blurb.) ‘Wrack’ has the phrase “the rain/that never rains will rain” and I’ve been repeating that to myself since.
It’s also been a month of reading shorter books, thus allowing my preoccupied state of mind a bit of a chance to feel relief in the accomplishment of turning over a final page. I’ve also ticked off a goal and that is to familiarise myself with the work of writers I haven’t yet read. In this case it’s renowned historian Mary Beard, and I was in my local library when I came across Women and Power: A Manifesto and you can believe I’ll be looking up more in the future.
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is an international bestseller and this SMH piece charts its exceptional trajectory to success. I think there were over 70 people ahead of me in the line when I put a hold on it at the library and I thought I’d be waiting an age for it to come in. So you can imagine my delight when it arrived earlier than I expected – and then the library got it back within a few days because I read it so fast! I connected most with Owens’s writing about place – her descriptions of the wild marshes of North Carolina were terrific. I wanted to go stand on those beaches with Kya, navigate the diverse waterways and spot the remarkable wildlife for myself.
Finally, we come to Solaris by Lem Stanislaw. This month I was also struck down for a few days with a bug and let me just say that reading this book in bed with a high temperature was a trip. I just love coming to classic novels with no prior knowledge of them (or their movie adaptations, if any) beyond their reputation. In this sense, Solaris is the latest in a line of joyous speculative/science fiction discoveries, dating back here on the blog to Planet of the Apes, I Am Legend, Under the Skin, Slaughterhouse-Five and more. Terrific.
What are you reading this month?