It’s been a while since I’ve done a general reading update so I thought I would throw one your way. I also though I’d tell you about a bunch of little side projects I’m reading for at the moment.
Apart from the challenges on my 2019 Challenge page , I’m also reading for the following:
Around the World Reading Challenge: This has been picked up by my lovely online book group, which has given me the impetus to keep going in a more strategic fashion (and actually update what I’ve been reading, which I’ve been very bad at.) So far as a group we’ve read for the Marshall Islands and Mexico.
Stella Project: This is being hosted by Ely who you can find around the place at Earl Grey Books . This is basically what it says on the tin – there are a number of us reading our way through the Stella Prize back lists. Laurinda by Alice Pung and The Natural Way of Things are up for June. (My library hold on The Erratics, this year’s winner, also came in, so I’ll no doubt be reading that as well.)
Reading Shakespeare: Another one with my lovely online book group – we’re reading a Shakespeare play every couple of months. We’re just about to finish Macbeth, and Much Ado About Nothing will be our June/July read. I don’t often talk about my love of the Bard, but it runs deep.
AusYABloggers Buddy Reads: I’ve also been keeping up with the AusYABloggers Buddy Reads which has been heaps of fun. These folks do a lot for the #LoveOzYA community – both authors and bloggers – so make sure you are following them on their social media. The next book is When Michael Met Mina and the chat happens on Twitter on June 4. My helpful assistant is very excited.
Okay, let’s get down to some awesome books.
This book is brilliant and absolutely broke me. Told from the perspective of a number of different characters, There There focuses on the Native American experience across a different generations. Orange skilfully weaves together a number of voices into a bigger story which will leave you reaching for the tissues. Removal from country, estrangement from culture, family and society at large, issues of growing up in poverty with parents who are absent because of their own trauma or who are too busy working to try to support their children, There There relates the experience of these Indigenous people dealing with the ongoing crap that colonialism has forced on them. It is beautiful, heart-breaking, angry and necessary, and you should absolutely read it.
The Runaways by Fatima Bhutto blew my mind. I picked this one up after listening to the Ramadan Reading episode of the Reading Women podcast. The story follows three young Muslim people who all feel estranged from their societies, despite the sacrifices made by their parents for things to be better for them, and the assurances of their faith. As they search for meaning, they become radicalised by very different means and all end up in terrible situations. This book is a journey of heartache, sorrow and anger.
My first Elizabeth Bear! And certainly not my last. I really enjoyed Ancestral Night and the way Bear explored the ideas of family, coercion, consent and the way an individual’s identity forms and expresses itself. (It may not seem like it, but it is an interesting companion read for The Runaways). I’m looking forward to the next in the series.
Another book I picked up for Ramadan Reading, A Place for Us tells the story of a an Indian couple who has emigrated to the US and raised their family there. The story opens at the final wedding preparations for the oldest daughter Hadia. This is a beautifully told story of family as both parents, Layla and Rafiq, think back on the many moments over the years that have brought them to this point, including the difficult circumstances around the estrangement of their son Amar and his various issues. It is a passionate, heartfelt story of the complications of raising children in faith, especially when that faith is not shared by the majority culture, and the ways that hopes and dreams of parents can painfully clash with those of their children, despite their best intentions, causing so much pain for everyone. I was mesmerised by the skill and insight of this book, I can’t wait to see what this author does next.
Do You Dream of Terra-Two? was not what I expected, but damn, I enjoyed it. A crack team of young people have been trained from their early teenage years and then chosen to be part of a mission to travel 23 years through space to Terra-Two, which is an Earth like planet that people believe will be the future home of the human race. The day before the mission is due to leave with it’s six teenagers and four veteran astronauts on board, there is a terrible accident, which leaves the teens grief stricken and changes the mission line up. Launch goes ahead as planned, leaving a shell shocked and different crew stuck together to deal with the next 23 years together. This was a wonderful story of personality, expectations, family and grief with a healthy injection of government/political based side eye.
If you’re reading from outside Australia, you may not be aware that it was our Federal election last weekend, and Australia (mostly my home state of Queensland) voted back in the racist, climate change deniers. In my search for something to make me feel less like wandering around my electorate randomly slapping people, I read Heartstopper by Alice Oseman, which is a delightful graphic novel about two boys falling for each other, and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay. I’ve spoken about my love of Oseman’s work previously, but Gay was new to me thanks to bookstagrammer Read by Rod Kelly . This volume of poetry is utterly delightful, and while it does carry sadness, anger and grief, Gay’s writing is just so beautifully wrought that it does your heart good. These are both worth your time!
That’s it for me. If you are also in Australia tell me how you are dealing with your election woes. Otherwise, what are you reading that I should have on my radar?