My 2013 reading list

Bumper reading year, 2013 was. I started using Goodreads in 2012 to keep track of things I wanted to read, because I hate when you give yourself permission to buy something and can’t remember anything you wanted to read, or when it gets to birthday time and people ask if you’d like a book and you’ve forgotten all those reviews. Now when I go through the SMH weekend reviews I put anything that looks interesting into Goodreads. For my 2012 and 2013 birthdays dad got very technical and used Goodreads to choose three books for me that he then bought on the Kindle. Genius! This list is pretty much in chronological order rather than the order of awesomeness. I only had a couple of duds this year, which is why I’m going to consider this a bumper reading year.

  • Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides. I’m several years behind on this. I appreciated it, but found it really dense a lot of the time. It wasn’t really a book I looked forward to picking up, even though when I always enjoyed it when I did.
  • The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach. Loved it. Don’t know anything about baseball but still loved it.
  • Child of God, by Cormac McCarthy. I try to read lots of McCarthy because he wrote The Road which is one of my all-time favourites, if not the favourite. But this was weird. Well-written, of course. But weird.
  • Quiet, by Susan Cain. Life changing, as I wrote about here. Probably my book of the year for that reason.
  • The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides. I enjoyed this more than Middlesex. Not as dense and I empathised a lot with some of the storyline.
  • A Possible Life, by Sebastian Faulks. Faulks is prolific, but I don’t think I’ve ever read anything else he’s written. This was a Christmas 2012 gift from my parents and it took a couple of attempts to get into it, but once I did I loved it.
  • Hospital by the River, by Dr Catherine Hamlin. My mother in law gave me this, she visited the hospital in question this year and met Dr Hamlin (the book was even signed). This was a great story about Dr Hamlin and her husband setting up the hospital in Ethiopia, but I struggled a bit with some of the un-PC wording and phrasing she used that sometimes came across as patronising or downright racist. I also struggled with how it seemed that the hospital was only focused on the cure and they never seemed to put any thought into how to actually prevent all the terrible traumas that were happening to women that landed them in the hospital. 
  • Bossypants, by Tina Fey, a gift from Andy. Brilliant, of course. I’m a big fan of Tina and her career advice to women which is to not wear tube tops and only cry when you really want to frighten people.
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, by Mark Haddon. I inherited this when my sister moved to London and was getting rid of books. I’ve seen it around for years and been intrigued by the title. It was a good read (and short, which is always nice).
  • Farther Away, by Jonathan Franzen. I loved Franzen’s Freedom but haven’t read anything else of his until this collection of essays, which I think I bought because it was $5 from the bookstore at Majura Park and I was like, “Five dollars for Jonathan Franzen?!” Yeah, you get what you pay for. I did learn some interesting things about bird watching (don’t laugh) but mostly he came across as a grumpy old man.
  • Watching You, by Michael Robotham. Mum always buys Robotham’s books because he’s a cousin of dad’s. Luckily, he is also an awesome crime writer and mum and I both ripped through this one. Dad can’t read them because they sound too much like Michael apparently.
  • How It Feels, by Brendan Cowell. I bought this second-hand, intrigued because I usually like Brendan Cowell acting in things and also he once dated my cousin who is also a writer. It was terrible. Very self-conscious, rambling, pointless, etc etc. I keep meaning to tell my cousin how terrible it was, just in case she would like to feel superior (probably not, she is a nice person).
  • There’s No Place Like Home, by Caroline Overington. I’m pretty sure this is on my Goodreads list because I read a good review of it in the SMH. It was awful. The story was okay but the writing was terrible, the editing dreadful, it felt misogynistic in its descriptions of women and especially women who had jobs (I think “office girls” was used multiple times, as though that’s an actual job, while actual jobs like executive assistant were put in inverted commas as though they are pretend jobs), it was repetitive, it felt like just a chance for Overington to hate on government policies – and I hate the same policies, and I still hated it. I  wish someone else had gotten the story and done it some justice instead. Its main saving grace was that it was super easy to read so it was over and done with really quickly – otherwise I probably would have given up. Life’s too short to read things like this.
  • The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. I was so excited to get this because Tartt’s The Secret History is another one of my all time favourites. I’m still in progress with this one but it is definitely not a disappointment. Brilliant.
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