Kicking off my Aussies Rule Challenge

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(Please note this post references Aboriginal people who are deceased.)

As I’ve been on leave from work this week I thought it would be a good opportunity to get a head start on my reads for the Aussie Rules Challenge.

My first pick was for prompt 6 (featuring a character/person with a chronic illness or disability).

I picked up Between a Wolf and a Dog by Georgia Blain last year as it was shortlisted for the Stella awards. I discovered that she had tragically passed away from a brain tumour (the same affliction suffered one of her characters). I spotted this book on Litsy a few weeks ago and luckily my library had it available.

In The Museum of Words, Blain tells her own story after the writing of Between a Wolf and a Dog. She had been dealing with her mother’s (author Anne Deveson) descent into Alzheimers and the stress that comes with having an unwell, aging parent who is in denial about their own weaknesses, when her close friend and mentor (author Rosie Scott) was diagnosed with a brain tumour in the speech centre of her brain. Not long afterwards, Blain suffers a seizure which leads to her own diagnosis and battle with a brain tumour attacking her speech centre. This is an incredibly sad but beautifully written memoir of what it is like to see death coming and to have illness threaten to take away the things you value most.

My second read for the challenge is Dhuuluu-Yala: To Talk Straight by Dr Anita Heiss. This is for prompt 5 – a nonfiction book by an Aboriginal author. Heiss explores what it means to be an Aboriginal writer, how white structures of language and book editing can be used to hinder the Aboriginal voice. She looks at how little support is available for our emerging Aboriginal writers, and also discusses that at the time, the academic world of Aboriginal writing was mostly dominated by white men. Heiss explores her own experiences and those of her peers, and then discusses the different structures in place for the First Nations people of Canada and the Maori people in New Zealand. There are also extensive lists of Aboriginal, First Nations and Maori literature up until the time of publication provided as appendices.

I learnt so much from this book, and it saddens me to think that it is still so very relevant although it was published in 2003. Australia should be doing better.

I’ve also been spending some time getting together a bunch of books that I want to read for the first prompt. I’m pretty sure I’ll be reading multiple books for each of the prompts, and I’ve been very happy with how much material I’ve been able to access through my local library.

One of the books I definitely want to read is Charles Perkin’s autobiography A Bastard Like Me. I was born in the early 70s and grew up in the 80s, and two of the Aboriginal people I remember most admiring during that time are Charles Perkins and Oodgeroo Noonuccal (whose biography is also in my pile.) I have found it relatively difficult to locate a copy of A Bastard Like Me. It’s currently unavailable on my usual book purchasing sources, my usual second-hand purchasing sources also don’t have it, and neither do the local libraries. I did manage to locate a copy at the State Library and have requested it (which is the first time I’ve tried that process, so I’ll let you know how it goes).

Have you started selecting books or reading for the challenge? Let me know what you’re going to read!

Aussies Rule Challenge – some quick hints and prompts 1 and 2

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(Please note this post references Aboriginal people who are deceased.)

Thank you everyone who has given me feedback about the Aussies Rule Challenge. It’s very gratifying to see people excited about it and wanting to actively increase their Aussie reading.

A couple of hints first – as with most challenges, this one has been designed so you can use one book to cross off two or more prompts. Feel free to challenge yourself to find a unique book for each prompt if you wish, but it’s not a requirement.

The second hint is to get yourself acquainted with Dr Anita Heiss’s Black Book Challenge lists. You will find them invaluable for the Indiginous prompts on the list. You can find them here, here and here. There are plenty of other lists on the interwebs and in Goodreads which will help you with the prompts. If you get stuck, let me know!

Also the state prompts for 8 and 9 will (obviously) differ for everyone. Rather than talk about those prompts seperately, I’ll include states on each of the books that I mention to make life a bit easier.

Everything I suggest for the prompts are exactly that – suggestions! I am very keen to see your lists and to hear any suggestions you may have.

Onwards!

1. A biography about or a memoir by an Aboriginal Australian:

  • Charles Perkins – A Bastard Like Me (NT/NSW)
  • Bill Dodd – Broken Dreams (Qld)
  • Anita Heiss – Am I Black Enough for You? (NSW)
  • Rita and Jackie Huggins – Aunty Rita (Qld)
  • Ruby Langford Ginibi – Don’t Take Your Love to Town (NSW)
  • Stan Grant – The Tears of Strangers (NSW)
  • Peter Read – Charles Perkins: A Biography (NT/NSW)
  • Sally Morgan – My Place (WA)
  • Kathleen Cochrane – Oodgeroo (Qld)
  • Monty Walgar – Jinangga (WA)

2. An Aussie classic by a woman:

  • Miles Franklin – My Brilliant Career (NSW)
  • Henry Handel Richarson – The Getting of Wisdom (Vic)
  • Colleen McCulloch – The Thorn Birds (NSW)
  • Joan Lindsay – Picnic at Hanging Rock (Vic)
  • Germaine Greer – The Female Eunuch (Vic)
  • Ruth Park – The Harp in the South (NSW)
  • Ethel Turner – Seven Little Australians (NSW)
  • Melina Marchetta – Looking for Alibrandi (NSW)
  • Christina Stead – The Man Who Loved Women (NSW)
  • Jeanie Gunn – We of the Never Never (NT)
  • Helen Garner – Monkey Grip (Vic)
  • Kate Grenville – The Seret River (NSW)
  • Jessica Anderson – Tirra Lirra by the River (NSW)
  • Thea Astley – Coda (NSW)

What do you think of these? Are there any you haven’t heard of or don’t agree with?

The Aussies Rule Reading Challenge 2018

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Hi everyone! Sorry I’ve been in absentia – work has been completely insane.

I now have a break, just in time to get my crap together for the new year. One of the things I’ve taken up in 2017 is bullet journalling – nothing fancy like you will see if you search Pinterest but it’s keeping me organised which is great.

So this morning I was organising my reading challenges for the new year into my bujo so I could track them – I’m going to be doing the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge and the Reading Women challenge this year, as well as continuing my Reading Around the World kick. I was a little irritated at how US centric the challenges were – which is a dumb reaction. The challenges are put together by people in the US (mostly) so of course they are focussed there. I had only been talking to a Litsy friend (hi marchpane!) a couple of weeks ago who mentioned she was wanting to read more from the Aussie market, which I’ve been trying to do myself as well this year.

So with full credit to Rachel Manwill from Book Riot especially, and credit also the the Reading Women, I would like to present to you the Aussies Rule Reading Challenge.

This list is designed to help you to move outside your comfort zone when choosing Aussie books.

1. A biography about or a memoir by an Aboriginal Australian.

2. An Aussie classic by a woman.

3. A book about an Aussie true crime or tragedy.

4. A mystery or thriller by a female writer.

5. A non-fiction book by an Aboriginal author.

6. A book which features a character with a chronic illness or disability (can be non-Fiction).

7. A classic by an Aboriginal author.

8. A book from your home state.

9. A book from a state you haven’t visited.

10. A recent book about colonisation/white ‘exploration’. (Can be Fiction)

11. A book that features Aboriginal spirituality (by an Aboriginal author).

12. A book by an Aussie of colour who is an immigrant or refugee.

13. A book by an Aussie of colour who is not Aboriginal and was born in Australia.

14. A book of poetry released in the last 10 years.

15. A YA book with LGBT+ representation (extra points for #ownvoices).

16. A book published by a University press.

17. A book by an LGBT+ author (bonus points if also a person of colour).

18. Some Aussie sci-fi.

19. An Aussie debut novel.

20. An Aussie author writing about a different country or culture.

21. A book set in the outback or a small country town.

22. A winner of the David Unaipon Award.

23. A book by an Aussie NY Times Bestselling author.

24. A book that was shortlisted for the Stellas, the Ned Kellys, or the Miles Franklin award.

What do you think of my list? If you have any questions or want to discuss what books will fit each category, drop me a note in the comments.

Do you feel like joining me? Use #aussiesrule2018 if you do!

Have a safe and Happy New Year. I hope 2018 is totally awesome to you.