Dear Santa – if you feel so inclined, here are eight books I’d love to wake up and find miraculously waiting for me on Sunday morning. I’ve been good, I promise!
The Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami
Quite simply, I love this cover! I love the title! I love that it’s set in Tokyo! And I love the eccentric sound of the plot (‘When Hitomi takes a job on the cash register of a neighbourhood thrift store, she finds herself drawn into a very idiosyncratic community’). This is a definite for early 2017, whether thanks to Santa’s benevolence or not.
Lady Susan by Jane Austen
A recent Saturday night was made most agreeable by watching Love & Friendship, a film based on a largely unknown Jane Austen novel called Lady Susan. Apparently, Austen penned this when she was 19 or 20; it wasn’t published in her lifetime, and wasn’t even intended for publication. This excellent film has quite a scandalous ending and I’m keen to see whether it’s faithful to Austen’s plot. I somehow very much doubt it.
My Brilliant Friend by Eleana Ferrante
I’ve heard so much about Ferrante (and who she may or may not be) and about her Neopolitan novels. But I’ve not yet quite got around to reading any. I intend to address this oversight pronto.
Talking to My Country by Stan Grant
Earlier this year I heard Stan Grant on the radio talking about racism in Australia, and in particular, how the mistreatment of Indigenous Australians is woven into the very fabric of our nation and identity. He was so compelling; I stood still on the spot until his interview was finished. I don’t imagine that Talking to My Country will be an altogether comfortable read, but it’s a necessary one.
The Mysteries of Udolpho: A Romance by Ann Radcliffe
When Anika, my work book-buddy, recommended this to me I didn’t need much convincing to add it to this list. It was first published in 1794 and is the perfect gothic novel; it follows the fortunes of Emily St. Aubert, who suffers the death of her father, supernatural terrors in a gloomy castle and the ‘machinations of an Italian brigand’, whatever that is. What’s more, this book plays a prominent role in Jane Austen’s Northhanger Abbey. One of my book clubs is reading this in February. Can’t wait.
The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke
It was Maxine’s key-note address to the Melbourne Writer’s Festival earlier this year that put this book on my radar. Her address centred around identify and belonging, and what particularly grabbed my attention was her comments about identity in relation to children’s books. She told the audience that all children should be able to see themselves in books; children in wheelchairs or those who wore headscarves, for example, so rarely did. ‘Books render them invisible, that their stories are not important,’ she said. ‘It is the right of every child to see themselves in story’. I’ve just got to read more about what she has to say.
They All Love Jack: Busting the Ripper by Bruce Robinson
This one makes the list thanks to the 5 star recommendation from Jan Hicks @ What I Think About When I Think About Reading. I’m not sure I would normally reach for a book about Jack the Ripper – but I will now. In Jan’s words, ‘this is one of the best books I have ever read. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me boil with rage, but most of all it consolidated things I have long held to be true into a coherent appraisal of the fucked-up capitalist, neo-liberal society we live in’. Wow!
The Sellout by Paul Beatty
The blurb for this is intriguing: ‘a remarkable journey that challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement and the holy grail of racial equality – the black Chinese restaurant’. And if that’s not enough for you, it won the Man Booker Prize this year.
Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer
This comes thanks to another of my favourite book bloggers Kate @ Books Are My Favourite And Best. She gave it 4.5/5 and said in her review ‘I laughed out loud and bawled and bawled – what more can you want from a story?’. That commendation was all I needed to add it to this list. Cheers Kate!
And on that note, let Christmas roll on in…..
Happy Christmas everyone!
**Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the fiendishly popular The Broke and the Bookish. You should check out their musings…