What Library Staff are Reading . . .

Gucci Mamas by Cate Kendall – Another wonderful Chicklit book but based in Australia! Mim Woolcott, our heroine,  wakes up to find she is keeping Prada, Louis Vuitton and numerous day spas in business and her life has descended into a merry-go-round of shopping, backstabbing and snobbery. Welcome to the world of Gucci Mamas, where every day Mim has to negotiate the other Mums and their disapproving eyes as she drops her children off at the most prestigious school in Melbourne. But in between keeping up with the Joneses, cracks are starting to show in Mim’s perfect life as money gets tighter and her husband works ever longer hours. A great holiday or aeroplane read.

Bereft by Chris Womersley – Winner ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year, Winner of Indie Award for Best Novel, Shortlisted for The Age Book of the Year, Shortlisted for 2011 Miles Franklin Award, Shortlisted for ASL Gold Medal for Literature, Shortlisted for Ned Kelly Award for Fiction, Longlisted for Dublin IMPAC Award. And the book chosen for the first meeting of the New Katoomba Library Book Group. It is 1919. The Great War has ended, but the Spanish flu epidemic is raging through Australia. Schools are closed, state borders are guarded by armed men, and train travel is severely restricted. In the NSW town of Flint, Quinn Walker returns to the home he fled ten years earlier when he was accused of an unspeakable crime. Aware that his father and uncle would surely hang him, Quinn hides in the hills surrounding Flint. There, he meets a mysterious young girl called Sadie Fox, who encourages him to seek justice — and seems to know more about the crime than she should.  Not a book I would ordinarily read but it was a page turner and I had to find out more. 

The Idea of Home by John Hughes – In The Idea of Home John Hughes writes about growing up in the Hunter Valley coal-mining town of Cessnock, in a household dominated by memories of the Ukraine, which his mother and grandparents were forced to flee during the Second World War.  I was determined to hate this story and only read it because it had won the Our Story for NSW competition in the 2012 National Year of Reading. http://www.love2read.org.au/our-story.cfm      I wanted the NSW story to be Ruth Park’s, Harp in the South.  So I was pleasantly surprised when this book won me over, slowly, page by page I became entranced.  John has a beautiful style of writing and I loved the snippets of family life he shared.  

Ruby by Meg Henderson – The MacLean family has more than their fair share of secrets. They live in a close-knit community on Glasgow’s High Street and the men work on the railways. They’re hard-working, ordinary, respectable people but, behind the facade, they are a family in crisis. Ruby MacLean has to face a personal crisis just as the Second World War is about to start. She’s seventeen, pregnant and forced to marry Gerry Reilly, a railway worker whose main aim in life is drinking heavily whenever he can. As their daughter is born, Gerry joins up and heads off to war, leaving Ruby to cope alone with a new baby and a family falling apart at the seams. And when her mother dies and the family secrets start to unravel, Ruby has to find the strength to build a new life. Great saga and I loved how all the stories interwined and fell into place at the end.

I’ve been reading Rocks in the Belly by Jon Bauer – it was a book group read that I see in LibraryThing I gave 3.5 out of 5. I don’t really remember what it was about but I do remember that that book group meeting was not the best attended, with only myself and the chooser of the book in there (out of 14 members!!).

AA Gill is Further Away; Helping with Enquiries by AA Gill – see Readers in the Mist blog post here.

Capital: a novel by John Lanchester – the global financial crisis, terrorism, life and death all impacting on life in a leafy London street. Luckily I read it on my iPad so I didn’t know how thick it was, but I found it a quick read and really enjoyed it.

Family Romance: A love story by John Lanchester – biography of John Lanchester’s mother and father. The introduction has John’s mother telling him that if he ever gets a note from her where the grammar is wrong, it’ll be because she’s been kidnapped – how could I resist?

Now I’m reading The Women by TC Boyle – about the women in Frank Lloyd Wright’s life. I wish I was reading it on my iPad because, while the book is not a difficult read, Boyle uses a lot of words I don’t know and on the iPad you can just highlight the word and get the meaning. There are too many for me to be constantly looking up in the dictionary so I’m not learning them as I’d really like to. I was thrilled with several mentions of ‘galluses’ though – braces to hold your trousers up in Scotland.

Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn trilogy, more fantasy fiction for a tragic!

T.C. Boyle  The women  – interesting story but rendered almost unreadable by the use three or four syllable words when a one syllable word would have been perfectly adequate.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami- A walking advertisement for E books. This is huge and doesn’t fit in my bag, and will take several library borrowings to get through. Can’t read it on the train, can’t read it in the bath…

Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs – If only a fraction of it is true OMG! Also my first E- book borrowed from a library.

The Happiest Refugee by Ahn Do – Compared to Augusten Borroughs this guy has nothing to write about, but the first half was interesting enough. I ended up skimming the end. Who cares about happy endings?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Who cares about happy endings? I do! I have read this more times than I can count, but it is my ultimate comfort food. My first Sony Reader book. Small and portable, and excellent for  commuting.

Noah Barleywater Runs Away by John Boyne (he wrote The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas) – A delightful fairytale for young (and not so young) readers. Noah thinks he is running away from his problems.

The Secret Fate of Mary Watson by Judy Johnson – a mostly fictitious take on the true story of Mary Watson, heroine of Australian folklore history. I loved it, especially the rich characterisation.

Just finishing  The light between the oceans by  M Stedman – This first novel has been a good read, and I plan to finish it tonight to see what is resolved. The storyline has been great . . a real moral dilemma.

Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive (Sprawl trilogy) by William Gibson

The culture club by Craig Schuftan

Hamlet’s Blackberry by William Powers

Me and you by Niccolo Ammaniti

Maus by Art Spiegelman

The walking dead (Volumes 1 – 8) by Robert Kirkman

My friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf

Club Zero-G by Douglas Rushkoff

And This is True, by Emily Mackie – I’m ¼ way through this, enjoying the disingenuous voice, and the rather creepy atmosphere being created. The voice is that of Nevis, a young man whose itinerant father, Marshall, is a writer. Nevis clings to his father (they’re all alone in the world) and seeks to emulate him. Life changes for them when Marshall’s car breaks down near a farm, and they are allowed to camp there a while.

People like us: how arrogance is dividing Islam and the West  by Waleed Aly. You’ve heard him on ABC radio; he’s intelligent, balanced, curious, informed, experienced in current affairs – and he’s bringing these personal qualities to his discussion of this vexed subject. He shows that both sides of the ‘divide’ are culpable, and in what ways they are. There’s a chapter devoted entirely to Islamic women, and the seething mass of assumptions that seek to box them in.

Animal People by Charlotte Wood. I read this after hearing Charlotte speak at Writers Week. The central character fears and avoids animals. The whole story takes place in the course of one tortured day in his life, and begins with his decision to break it off with his girlfriend. The animal issue plays out all day in various ways. So, an ingenious novel dealing with an issue that strikes a chord with some of us. Reccommended, with some reservations: I wondered if Charlotte was too close to her central character to acquire the necessary distance.

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