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Annual Reading Diary 2015

January 4th, 2016 · 1 Comment · Admin, Reading Related

Every year I publish an Annual Reading Diary to create a place where I can put my hands on things I half remember reading in the past and to encourage me to stay on track with my aim to read one book a week.

2015 was a bit of a down year reading wise – the process of publishing a book took a major chunk out of the increasingly small window of time I have for any discretionary activities these days and my reading suffered. Similarly, in order to justify the time, I found myself reading a lot more ‘for work’ this year – reading into countries I was travelling to and books that I ‘needed’ to read for the day job for one reason or another. As a result my fiction to non-fiction ratio blew out to 1:3 this year which was really disappointing – but a nice example of why it’s helpful to track these things. Something to work on prioritizing more next year.

Summary:

  • Highlights:
    • Beauty is a Wound“, Eka Kuniawan –  Immersive, multi-generational Indonesian magic realism. Like a stranger and more disturbing, Asian version of “Love in the Time of Cholera”.
    • “Catch and Kill: The Politics of Power”, Joel Deane – Great insight into the exercise of power and beautiful writing. Shows why we need more poets in politics.
    • Between the World and Me“, Ta-Nehisi Coates – Visceral, psychical account of the modern experience of being an African-American in the United States. For a well-covered subject, it was impressive for avoiding cliche and offering a jolting and (for me at least) new perspective on racial inequality.
    • Confessions of a Failed Finance Minister“, Peter Walsh – Notwithstanding the outdated views on women and climate, possibly the best practical articulation of the rationale and mission of the Labor Right (regardless of his formal alignment).
    • Port Moresby Mixed Doubles: Stories of Expatriates in Papua New Guinea“, Michael Challinger – a series of fictional vignettes of post-colonial expat experiences in PNG. Bracing for the attitudes and behaviours it highlights but useful context for Australians interested in the country.
    • Comrade Ambassador: Whitlam’s Beijing Envoy”, Steven FitzGerald – lively and fascinating account of Australia-China relations over the past 4o odd years told from the perspective of Australia’s first post-war Ambassador to China. Captures the excitement of the Whitlam era and the possibilities opened up by a wave of new thinking. A satisfying reminder of what Australia can achieve internationally if we are willing to articulate an ambitious vision and back it with courage and political commitment.
  • Lowlights:
    • Fifty Shades of Grey“, EL James – just as bad as everyone says – both in style and substance. Possibly worse. 
    • 10:04“, Ben Lerner – People I respect love this guy. I just can’t get past the self-absorption and pretense.  His first book was an highly-autobiographical post-modernist prose-first abstraction about writing a novel and his second book is a post-modernist prose-first abstraction about writing a second novel? Meh.
  • Breakdown:
    • 30 Non-Fiction / 10 Fiction. I aim for a 50-50 balance here so not a great result.

The List:

  1. “The Wife Drought”, Annabel Crabb. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  2. “Australia’s Defence: Towards a New Era?”, Peter Dean, Brendan Taylor, Stephan Fruhling. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  3. The Power and the Glory“, Graham Greene. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  4. The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One“, David Kilcullen. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  5. The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a secret army and a war at the ends of the Earth“, Mark Mazzetti. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  6. War from the Ground Up: Twenty-First Century Combat as Politics“, Emile Simpson. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  7. Demokrasi: Indonesia in the 21st Century“, Hamish McDonald. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  8. 10:04“, Ben Lerner. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  9. Fifty Shades of Grey“, EL James. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  10. Diary of a Foreign Minister“, Bob Carr. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  11. The Last Vote: The Threats to Western Democracy“, Philip Coggan. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  12. The Rosie Project“, Graeme Simsion. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  13. Confessions of a Failed Finance Minister“, Peter Walsh. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  14. The Gillard Project: My Thousand Days of Despair and Hope“, Michael Cooney. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  15. The Girl on the Train“, Paula Hawkins. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  16. Geek Heresy: Reclaiming Social Change From the Cult of Technology“, Kentaro Toyama. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  17. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy“, John LeCarre. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  18. This House of Grief“, Helen Garner. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  19. Port Moresby Mixed Doubles: Stories of Expatriates in Papua New Guinea“, Michael Challinger. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  20. Throwim Way Leg: An Adventure“, Tim Flannery. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  21. The Long Green Shore“, John Hepworth. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  22. Between the World and Me“, Ta-Nehisi Coates. Buy Borrow – Toss
  23. Murphy’s Lore: Tales from the West“, Robert Murphy. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  24. Blood Year: Terror and the Islamic State“, David Kilcullen. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  25. “Catch and Kill: The Politics of Power”, Joel Deane. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  26. “The Long Haul: Lessons from Public Life”, John Brumby. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  27. “Watson’s Pier”, Joshua Funder. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  28. “Comrade Ambassador: Whitlam’s Beijing Envoy”, Steven FitzGerald. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  29. Growing Up Asian in Australia“, Alice Pung. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  30. Australia’s Second Chance: What Our History Tells Us About Our Future”, George Megalogenis. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  31. Restless Continent: Wealth, Rivalry and Asia’s New Geopolitics”, Michael Wesley. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  32. Faction Man: Bill Shorten’s Path to Power”, David Marr. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  33. Purity“, Jonathan Franzen. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  34. Holding the Man“. Timothy Conigrave. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  35. Imagined Communities“, Benedict Anderson. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  36. Condemned to Crisis?“, Ken Ward. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  37. Political Amnesia: How We Forgot How to Govern“, Laura Tingle. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  38. Start Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle“, Dan Senor and Saul Singer. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  39. Coming of Age: Growing up Muslim in Australia“, Amra Pajalic and Demet Divroren. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  40. Beauty is a Wound“, Eka Kuniawan. Buy –Borrow – Toss

Previous Annual Reading Diaries.

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