In January many book bloggers tend to publish plans — or reading resolutions — for the year ahead. Normally, I don’t bother. But last October, when I was travelling around Australia, an idea slowly began to ferment in my brain: could I devote a whole year to reading exclusively Australian literature?
You see, every time I go back “home” I stock up on Australian books to bring back to the UK with me. I’m a light traveller, so it’s not normally a problem to squeeze up to 12kg worth of novels in my suitcase on the return leg. But what happens to those books when I get back to London? Sometimes I read one or two, but most go on the top shelf of my wardrobe — and get promptly forgotten about.
Indeed, over Christmas and New Year, as I sorted out my enormous TBR — an exercise which took three days — I found titles I cannot even recall buying (hello Together Alone by Jeff Apter and Wake in Fright by Kenneth Cook).
As well as weeding out about 150 novels to go to charity, I also filled a 90-litre plastic box with translated fiction and another with British and American fiction, both of which have been put into storage for a year. I then created space on top of my wardrobe for Irish fiction (about 140 novels) and a shelf in my living room for fiction from Canada, New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries. That left me with a huge pile of Australian literature, all of which has now been scanned into GoodReads and shelved in a prominent position. The grand total?
So, over the course of the next 12 months, in an attempt to make a dent in my TBR, I’m going to read nothing but those Australian books. Fortunately, because my tastes are so wide-ranging, this collection of Australian literature — bought here in London and in various book shops in Australia — includes an eclectic mix of old classics, rock biographies, memoirs, psychological thrillers, literary fiction and non-fiction. I tend to let my mood dictate what to read next, so there’s plenty here to ensure I never feel as though my reading is being dictated by an inflexible agenda.
You can see all the books in my reading list on my Australian literature shelf at GoodReads. I don’t expect this to remain a static list — publishers invariably send me books for review (usually non-solicited) and these may well include an Australian title or two, which will get promptly added to the mix. My aim is to read around 80 books in total. The only rule is that the book needs to be written by an Australian (or by someone who lives in Australia and has been published by an Australian publisher).
I hope you’ll enjoy following my exploits and perhaps I’ll introduce you to a new favourite book or author along the way. Do feel to join in in whichever way you feel able — perhaps you could read an Australian novel (or two), suggest ones for me to read or simply comment on my reviews. I’m really excited about the reading year ahead…
I’ve signed up to do the Australian Women Writers Challenge, so books reviewed this year by Australian women will count towards my goal of reading at least 30 books by women.
You can find out more about the challenge via the official website.