Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Wilder World of Books ~ 2013 in Review

Here's a list of everything I read last year, and what I thought of it. I know, I'm such an original.

The Corrections ~ Jonathan Franzen

This took me a while to get into, but once I was in it was a doozy. So awesome and yet completely awkward and uncomfortable. The thing that I love about Franzen is that he writes some deplorable characters, and yet every time they make a decision or action that I completely hate, I understand exactly why they are doing it.
"What you discovered about yourself in raising children wasn't always agreeable or attractive."
Truth, Jonathan Franzen. Truth.

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit ~ Judith Kerr

There is a plethora of WWII/holocaust literature out there for children and young adults. This isn't one of the better books I've read that fit that category. I feel a bit 'meh' about this book. Kind of because it's a kids book, rather than young adults, and kind of because it just wasn't that exciting.
Picnic at Hanging Rock ~ Joan Lindsay

So, so creepy and mysterious and magical and strange. You can read more about what I thought of it here.

Quillworker: A Cheyenne Legend ~ Written & Adapted by Terri Cohlene, Illustrated by Charles Reasoner

Sometimes when I am on a road trip, or playing chauffer for Apa, I'll buy a book at an op shop just to have something to read in the car. This was one of those books. It was beautifully illustrated, and included information on traditional Cheyenne life as well as the Quillworker legend. I've added it to Kowhai's bookshelf, as I'm trying to ensure her library is representative of as many cultures as possible.

Te Puea Herangi: From Darkness to Light ~ Michael King

This was another one picked up second hand to read in the car. This book had some personal relevance, as Apa and Kowhai are Herangis, so reading this was like researching a branch of their family tree. Te Puea is an amazing Wilder Woman, and I'd love to learn more about her.

Dreamhunter & Dreamquake ~ Elizabeth Knox

When I get out of the reading habit I often reread a young adult fiction that I've liked in the past. That's what these were.
The Alex quartet ~ Tessa Duder

Dreamhunter and Dreamquake obviously weren't enough to get me re-inspired to read new books, so I reread the entire Alex series as well.
Sydney Bridge Upside Down ~ David Ballantyne

A New Zealand novel that seems to be experiencing a rise in popularity, perhaps because a stage production of this story toured last year. This reminded me a lot of The God Boy, in that it is told from the point of view of a boy/young man whose take on what is happening around him isn't entirely trustworthy. It is dark and odd and unsettling.
The Rosie Project ~ Graeme Simsion

If you are looking for holiday reading that is light and fun and still really, really good, then this is the book I recommend. It is a quirky love story that is sweet and funny.

The Great Gatsby ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald
(I realise this isn't the classic cover with the Francis Cugat artwork, but I'm trying to use the covers of the editions that I read, and my copy of The Great Gatsby is a Penguin Classic.)

The release of Baz Lurhmann's version of this classic was the motivation I needed to finally read this. Thanks, Baz! I'm so glad I finally ticked this one off my 'to read' list. It was brilliant. The language! The hedonism! The conflicted characters! The tragedy! Wonderful.
My Friend Dahmer ~ Derf Backderf

A random trip to Newtown library had me checking this out from the graphic novel section. Derf Backderf went to school with the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer. Here he reminisces about Dahmer as a deeply troubled teenager, and tells the story of the teen before he became a serial killer. 

Lone Wolf ~ Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is my literary junk food. I'm pretty sure I'm losing my taste for her though. If you've read any of her work before you'll know she is incredibly formulaic, and it's starting to get a little old. I think I need some new book candy to sink my teeth into.
The Grey Family ~ Noel Streatfeild

Oh, Noel Streatfeild! You with your quaint British families, full of daughters both plain and pretty, dogs that need feeding, mothers that have trouble paying the bills, slightly incompetent fathers, bolshy boys, and nannies that run the show! You win me over every single time. Your genius speaks right to my heart. I love you, Noel Streatfeild.
World War Z ~ Max Brooks

My brother raved about this, and after reading a couple of complimentary reviews I thought I'd give it a go for myself. I listened to this as an audio book. It was good, but not the best book I've ever read heard. I am incredibly fussy when it comes to anything with multiple narrators, and if you have ten characters that all have the exact same voice, then you've lost me. This was a good effort though. I recommend the audio book version if only to hear the fantastic Henry Rollins be as awesome as ever.

The Thoughtful Dresser ~ Linda Grant

Ugh, this book. I loathe the woman who wrote this book, and as this is non-fiction I pretty much loathed this book as well. On the whole I struggled through this book on people's relationship to fashion, though I have to admit there was the odd piece here and there that I found interesting. This being one of those few good moments:
"At the core of misogyny is this paradigm: that men judge women by how they look, their physical beauty and its adornment by dress, while characterising the need to look beautiful as concrete evidence of female triviality."
Telesa ~ Lani Wendt Young
I will be writing an in depth review of Telesa asap, but in the meantime let me just say this: a young adult romance with fantasy/mythological elements, set in Samoa.
Mister Pip ~ Lloyd Jones
This was another one that I was finally spurred to read because of the impending release of a movie version. This is also another one that I will be writing a more in depth review of in the near future.
Enough ~ Louise Wallace
This is the second poetry collection by my incredibly talented friend. Even if she wasn't my friend I would be telling you to rush out now and buy this. And also buy her first collection, Since June. Seriously. Poetry excellence.
The Luminaries ~ Eleanor Catton
I wasn't sure if I was going to get this finished in 2013. It was touch and go, but on the afternoon of December 31st I knocked the bastard off. All 800-and-something pages worth. And every single one of those pages was thoroughly enjoyable. So much so, in fact, that this is another one that I will be writing a full review of.
And that's it. A year's worth of reading. My goal for 2014 is to read a whole lot more Pacific, Maori and New Zealand literature. How about you? What did you read this year? And do you have a reading goal for 2014?

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