Monday, January 7, 2013

Brief Reading and Writing Reflection, 2012

Brief Reading and Writing Reflection, 2012


Swamplandia! Karen Russell

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves Karen Russell  (collection)

A Fine Balance Rohinton Mistry

Eleven Kinds of Loneliness Richard Yates  (collection)

Writers [on Writing]: Collected Essays from The New York Times  

Tales of Old Earth Michael Swanwick (collection)

Gentlemen of the Road Michael Chabon

Black Juice Margo Lanagan (collection)

I, Lucifer Glen Duncan

Specimen Days Michael Cunningham

Red Spikes Margo Lanagan  (Collection)

Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson

The Master of Ballantrae Robert Louis Stevenson

Brave New World Aldous Huxley

The Kite Runner Khaled Hosseini

Stories ed Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio (anthology)

The Midnight Examiner William Kotzwinkle

Transition Iain Banks

New Australian Stories 2 ed. Aviva Tuffield (anthology)

Aristotle : A Very Short Introduction Jonathan Barnes

Claw of the Conciliator Gene Wolfe

Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons

The House on Mango Street Sandra Cisneros (novella)

The Hobbit JRR Tolkien (reread – children’s novel)

Super-Cannes J.G. Ballard

Tomorrow When the War Began John Marsden  (Young adult)

Good Omens Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Stieg Larsson

My Favourites:
Most books on this year’s list I’d happily recommend. There were, however, some personal favourites:

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell was superb.  A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry was also excellent although I felt overly (and unnecessarily) pummelled in the final scene.

Collections: St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell and Richard Yates’ Eleven Kinds of Loneliness were two of the best collections that I’ve ever read.  Black Juice by Margo Lanagan and Tales of Old Earth by Michael Swanwick were also very strong, with some superb stories.

Disappointment: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Less said the better.

Almost Finished

I’ll comment on the following next year

The Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror, 2011 ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene (which includes my Overland story: “Reading Coffee”)

Religion for Atheists Alain de Botton

Short Stories

I read 134 short stories this year and I’ll produce a list of recommended standouts soon.


It’s pleasing to say that I already have a couple of stories in line to be published in 2013. I’ll keep you posted.


In terms of celebrations, the Aurealis Awards night in Sydney for the short listed story 'Reading Coffee' was certainly a highlight. 

PS As always, feel free to email or comment if you want feedback on any book mentioned.


  1. A very healthy looking list Ant. I am definitely putting Swamplandia and the Richard Yates collection on my list for next. Currently reading John LeCarre's Karla trilogy (ie Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy etc).

    Well worth a look when you want a break from your literary binge!

  2. Hi - what did you think of Transition - Iain Banks?

    24 books? That's doable....

  3. Great to hear, Mark. Will take a look at LeCarre's too then. Think you'll appreciate both Russell and Yates.

    Hi Jeremy. 'Transition'was good. Had a nice pace about it and Iain Bank's ability to change narrative voice in such a convincing manner impressed.