The first month of 2024 has flown by and it’s time for my round up of what I read in January. I feel like I spent most of the month reading, so was surprised to realise I only finished 9 books – but that’s because a lot of my reading has been research – bits of books, war diaries, journal articles, archives and the like. I have been researching for the book I am hoping to write during my current academic study leave. But, in between that fun, but sometimes heavy, reading, I have also managed the following nine books – an eclectic mix as always
- Duck Boy , by Christobel Mattingley (Angus & Robertson, 1983). I hadn’t read a lot Mattingley’s work until last year, when I picked up several of her books at second hand book sales. It was almost like the universe kept putting her books in front of me to ensure I plugged this gap in my reading. I loved this one – with Adam, the youngest of three siblings staying on a farm, who proves to be not just resourceful but also compassionate and brave in helping a duckling family, the owner of the farm, Mrs perry, and even his older siblings.
- The Jetty, by Christobel Mattingley (Hodder & Staughton, 1978). Another of Mattingley’s works, a gentle story of a boy who, amidst the grief of losing his fisherman father, has a complicated relationship with the jetty his town revolves around.
- Jack’s Island, by Norman Jorgensen (Fremantle Press, 2008). Not my first read of this adventures, social commentary and all round good story, but I enjoyed getting reacquainted with ack and his friends. Coincidentally, a new edition of this book with a stunning new cover is coming next month.
- Poetry Speaks to Children , edited by Elise Paschen (Sourcebooks, 2015). This absolute treasure became mine when I happened upon a free street library. It seems to be in brand new condition which is a shame because it suggests it wasn’t loved by its previous owner – but, rest assured, it will be long treasured by me. With poems from 95 poets, and an accompanying CD offering the opportunity to hear many of them read aloud by the poets, as well as sumptuous illustrations, this is amazing.
- Almost There and Almost Not, by Linda Urban (Atheneum, 2021). I know I am not the only person who buys books sometimes just because of their covers. This divine cover is visually sumptuous and I had to pick it up, stroke it, hug it and then buy it. It’s a hard cover book with a dust jacket that is silky to touch and shimmery, with an amazing illustration by Charles Sentoso. And, because the designer deserves a mention, I went looking fin the credits and found that the designer was Debra Sfetsios-Conover. The story didn’t disappoint either – a beautiful tale of the friendship between California Poppy and the two ghosts she meets at her Great-Aunt’s house. As they help her heal, she, in turn, helps them.
Books for Adults
- Swallow the Air, by Tara June Winch (UQP, 2006). How to describe this book? Breathtaking is the closest I can get to a book that is tender, shocking, sad, and beautiful, all in one very accessible tale of a Koori girl’s quest to find identity and belonging following her mother’s death, and a childhood impacted by violence, poverty and lack. Melissa Lucashenko’s discussion of the book here is really excellent.
- Frank, by Jordie Albiston (NLA Publishing, 2023). Although labelled a collection rather than a verse novel, this has the feel of the latter – and I adored it. Written using the redacted and reorganised journal entries of Frank Hurley, the photographic pioneer who travelled to Antarctica with both Mawson and Shackleton. Sadly Albiston’s last work, as she passed away before it was published.
- Illuminate, by Margaret Gibson Simon & John Gibson (Border press, 2013). More poetry, this a delightful little collection that was a gift from the poet as part of the Poetry Friday Holiday Poetry Swap. I love the combination here – Margaret has responded in poetry to the beautiful pointillism images of her father.
- Year I Met My Brain: A travel companion for adults who have just found out they have ADHD, by Matilda Boseley (Penguin, 2023). This was recommended to me by a fellow ADHD-er and, since it is a subject pretty close to my heart I got the audio version and listened to it over my next two trips up and down to Perth. A really honest look at the author’s own experiences with ADHD both before and after diagnosis, plus a look at the research and strategies for working with both the strengths and challenges of having an ADHD brain.
So, my total for 2024 so far is 9, with lots more reading ahead on my quest to read allll the books in the world (or maybe even all the books in my to-be-read cupboard). I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading.