Another month down and we are halfway through 2021. Time flies! That means it’s time to take stock of what I read in June. I can report that after struggling to read in May, in June I got back on track and read 14 books, though some were picture books (I only include picture books in my total if it’s the first time I’ve read them, and if I take the time to really examine them). Some good ones here, but I think my favourite was Poems That Do not Sleep, because I am still thinking about it, long after I put it down. Isn’t that what poetry is supposed to do?
Books for Kids
- Our Home, Our Heartbeat, by Briggs, with illustrations by Kate Moon & Rachel Sarra. (Hardie Grant, 2020). How wonderful to come across this picture book adaption of Briggs’ song The Children Came Back. A celebration of Aboriginal legends from history, sport, music and more. A must have for every classroom and home.
- Dragonfly Song, by Wendy Orr (Allen & Unwin, 2016). I love Wendy Orr’s writing, so am not sure why it has taken me so long to get to this one, but I am really glad I finally picked it up. A mythic story set in the Bronze Age, with action, twists and turns and featuring a resilient main character, Aissa.
- Common Wealth, by Gregg Dreise (Scholastic, 2021).
- Hello and Welcome, by Gregg Dreise (Penguin, 2021)
- My Culture and Me, by Gregg Dreise (Penguin, 2019) You might notice a theme emerging in my picture book reads this month. I went looking for the voices of more First Nations poets because I felt there was a gap in my reading, and perhaps in publishing, too. I was heartened to find three books by Dreise, as well as the Briggs book above. Each very different, and all books that I will be sharing with my education students and recommending widely.
- Paws, by Kate Foster (Walker Books, 2021). A charming story of friendship, dogs and coping with change. Max, the main character, lives with autism, and is trying to navigate the challenges of his final year of primary school, and his desire to make friends.
- Wednesday Weeks and the Tower of Shadows , by Denis Knight & Cristy Burne (Lothian, 2021). This is the first in a series, and i am already looking forward to the second. Wednesday Weeks isn’t super keen on being a sorcerer’s apprentice but when her grandpa (the sorcerer) is kidnapped. Wednesday has to find a way to rescue him, along with the help of her best friend Alfie. Lots of magic and a satisfying mix of science too.
- A Boat of Stars, edited by Margaret Connolly & Natalie Jane Prior (ABC Books, 2018). Not my first read of this beautiful anthology, and I have dipped in and out of it many times, but a great pleasure to take the time to reread from cover to cover. The world needs more beautiful poetry books – and Australia needs more such books produced by Australian creators.
Books for Young Adults
- The Gathering, by Isobelle Carmody (Puffin Books, 1993). I had read this last year, after picking it up in an op shop, but somehow it went back into my to be read pile, and so I read it again. This is a gripping young adult story, about how Nat, and a group of other seemingly misfit teens find the way to tackle the dark force which is taking over their school and their town.
- We Were Wolves, by Jason Cockcroft. I have to confess to not enjoying this one, which says nothing about the quality of the writing and more about the events of the book. It was grim at the start, grim in the middle and grim at the end. Although there were glimmers of hope, I wasn’t sure the boy (he didn’t even have a name) was left any better off.
Books for Adults
- The Little Boat on Trusting Lane, by Mel Hall (Fremantle Press, 2021). The author of this one guest blogged on Aussiereviews earlier this month, inspiring me to pick up a read the book. I really enjoyed this book, though it’s hard to explain – it’s a gentle satire about religion, and new aged healing, and coping with pain. And, if you know Fremantle, the settings will resonate with you, as they did for me.
- The Emporium of Imagination, by Tabitha Bird. I raced off to buy this when I read an article about it in the paper in May, then had to wait a while to read it, because I was in the midst of grief and wondered if a book about grief was the best thing for me. I needn’t have worried – yes, this book has its sadness, but it also uplifting and even in places humorous. I loved it.
- The Night Village, by Zoe Deleuil (Fremantle Press, 2021). From my review pile (and actually not released until August), I enjoyed this, reading it over two evenings. Dealing with the realties of early motherhood – the birth experience, the impact of sleeplessness, the isolation and so on, against the backdrop of an air of threat/mystery.
Non Fiction Books
- The Way of Integrity, by Martha Beck (Audible). I found this one through a recommendation on Audible, and really enjoyed the messages of this book, as well as the easy to listen to narration, by the author. Clear messages about being true to yourself – ie living in integrity – if you want to be truly happy.
- Poems That Do not Sleep, by Hassan Al Nawwab (Fremantle Press, 2021). I picked this one late one evening from my to read pile, and then couldn’t go to bed until I had read every poem. Easy to read, in their accessibility, but sometimes hard to digest because they deal with such real, difficult experiences. The poet is a former Iraqi soldier and refugee. the title should have been enough hint to me of their challenge, but I am very glad I read them, and will do so again.
That brings my total to the year to 81. Not bad when I consider just how busy I really am. What have you been reading lately? I’d love to hear.