For the past two years, I have been reading Australian books and reviewing them on Little Swag of Books, in an attempt to increase my own reading of Australian books and to explore exactly what makes a book Australian. Initially, I intended to blog for a year, but I was enjoying it so much, I continued.
For now, I have decided to stop blogging on Little Swag of Books. It is time for me to move on to other projects, and I am not able to dedicate as much time to this blog as I would like. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading Australian books, confirming my beliefs of the wide range of writing found within Australian literature, and I cannot thank all of you enough for following me, reading my posts and engaging with my exploration of Australian writing. I may revive this blog at some point in the future, but for now, if you wish to continue following my blogging I will blog more general posts as not only a reader but as a writer too (I will still post the occasional book review) on my Tumblr website, www.raelkegrimer.com.
Thanks again for all your support, and, as always, happy reading!
Gary Crew is an author I first discovered through his picture books, most notably The Watertower. The Children’s Writer is the first novel I’ve read by Crew. The characters in his novel are really hard to like, with all their human imperfections, but despite that, or maybe in spite of that, I really enjoyed this book in the end.
Charlie Bloome is a uni student and an aspiring writer who all of a sudden finds himself in danger of losing his girlfriend Lootie to Sebastian Chanteleer, a children’s writer with a strong distaste for children. The charm of this book is the fact that these three main characters leave a lot to be desired. The flaws in these characters make them jump off the page, as though they are real people, and not fictional creations. Their imperfections made me take a good hard look at myself whilst I was reading. All the more so because I am a writer myself, and Sebastian Chanteleer embodies the fears and insecurities of a writer, albeit in him, those fears and insecurities manifest in smugness and snobbishness.
I personally feel that Crew is at his best with picture books, and while this novel was interesting, the plot didn’t pull me in and hold me there until the end. There were times I put it aside in frustration halfway through a chapter; although after a day or so I felt the need to pick the book up again. So while it was a novel I could put down, it wasn’t a novel I could put down and never pick up again. Once I started reading, I needed to know what happened in the end. And, for me, endings make or break a book. There have been many books I’ve loved until the ending, where those final pages have culled the book from my list of favourites. Similarly, books which had only mildly kept my interest have completely changed my opinion in those last few words, propelling the book onto my list of favourites.
While I wouldn’t call The Children’s Writer one of my favourite books, the ending features an unexpected twist, and overall it is a compelling read, exploring what it means to be a writer and what it means to be a reader.
Published HarperCollins, 2009
June is turning out to be a big month in Australian writing and Australian reading. June is National Young Writer’s Month, run by Express Media, where young writers set themselves a goal for the month and can participate in activities and opportunities online and offline. They have a blog, which is updated daily with advice and motivation for young writers, and they also profile some of the writers taking part. My goal for the month is to write two new short stories and finish writing a non-fiction piece I am working on.
June has also seen the launch of a nationwide search to find Australia’s favourite home grown books by Get Reading. Every year they put out a list of 50 Books You Can’t Put Down, and this year they’ve also decided to announce a list of Australia’s favourite books, as voted by Australians. It was tough deciding which books to vote for, as there are so many Australian books I love, but I decided to narrow my list down to the following books:
Saving Francesca, Melina Marchetta
Two Weeks with the Queen, Morris Gleitzman
The Arrival, Shaun Tan
My Brilliant Career, Miles Franklin
The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
Ice Station, Matthew Reilly
An Imaginary Life, David Malouf
All of the books on the list are the first I read of the authors, and the books which made me fall in love with their writing and their work. Voting closes on July 26th, and you can vote on the Get Reading website.
So if there was ever a time to rekindle your love for Australian writing, June is the month to do it. So put pen to paper, eyes to the page and read or write your way through the winter months!
This year, I’ve decided to join the Australian Women Writers Challenge. The challenge began when it became apparent that women writers were not as reviewed as male writers, and therefore their books were not as well-known and thus less-read than male writers. The challenge encourages readers and book bloggers to set themselves the challenge of committing to reading and reviewing, or just reading, a set number of books by Australian women writers this year.
You may be wondering if this is really necessary, especially in the twenty-first century. And I was asking myself that very same question. Do I discriminately read male writers over female writers? And, for that matter, do I discriminately read female writers who are not Australian over Australian women writers? One of my reasons for starting this blog a year ago was to explore Australian writing, as I felt I didn’t know enough about the literary and writing scene of my own country. I knew my reading of Australian books wasn’t very deep, and that must have included my reading of books by Australian women writers.
Therefore, I have decided to join the challenge, to motivate myself to continue reading even more Australian books this year, and to ensure I read a fair share of books by Australian’s women writers! I’ve chosen the Miles level, which means reading six books and reviewing at least four of those books throughout the year. Because from my experiences over the past year of reminiscing about old favourite Australian books and discovering new ones, there are a plethora of wonderful Australian women’s voices waiting to be discovered and shared, and that’s something I definitely want to be a part of.