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Yearly Reading Diary 2016

January 4th, 2017 · No Comments · Admin, Reading Related

Every year I publish an Annual Reading Diary.  It’s a utility and a discipline. It creates a place that I can return to years later to track down the half-remembered books I’ve read when the need arises, as well as encouraging me to stay on track with my aim to read a book a week. It’s daggy, but useful.

Breakdown:

  •  8 Fiction: 33 Non-Fiction – My worst year yet for maintaining some kind of balance between fiction and non-fiction reading. I have been doing a lot of reading for a few work projects I have on the go which was part of the problem. But ultimately, reading is a domestic activity and a stressful election year meant that I just couldn’t seem to clear my mind enough to concentrate on fiction reading. The Healing Party” by Micheline Lee was great, as was “The Eye of the Sheep” by Sophie Laguna, but in general I couldn’t really get in the groove. Something to work on in 2017.

Highlights:

  • How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS“, David France – Overly-long and US-centric, but still a powerful and instructive account of how a marginalised, often outlawed community overcame astonishing institutional hostility and indifference from the US government, the FDA, pharma companies, hospitals, funeral homes, landlords, families and the general public to fight a plague that would ultimately kill 40m people.
  • “The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between”, Hisham Matar – A memoir of exile and loss written by the novelist son of a Libyan dissident imprisoned and then killed by the Gaddafi regime that mines the rich seams of relationships between fathers and sons, between citizens and nations and between victims and escapees.
  • One of Us: The Story of a Massacre and its Aftermath“, Asne Seirstad – An account of white supremacist, Anders Breivik’s terrorist attack on a youth camp run by the Norwegian Labour Party. Gut wrenching reading but a timely insight into the process of right wing radicalisation given the return of fascism and the increasing prominence of white supremacist racists in Western democracies.
  • Not Quite Australian: How Temporary Migration is Changing the Nation“, Peter Mares – One of the most important books published in Australia in 2016. An impressive account of one of the biggest scandals in contemporary Australia; how we’ve sleepwalked into a policy environment that encourages the systemic exploitation of an underclass of millions of temporary migrants in our country.
  • The Speechwriter“, Barton Swain – Part farce, part political surrealism. An English literature graduate turned political speech writer’s memoir of life inside South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford’s office while he “hiked the Appalachian Trail”. Almost as cringeworthy as Weiner.
  • Big White Lie: Chinese Australians in White Australia“, John Fitzgerald – History told through the first person accounts of Chinese-Australians living under the White Australia policy. An invaluable antidote to nearly a century of myth-making that portrayed Chinese-Australians as a monolithic horde of coolies that threatened the very future of our nation through their supposedly unchangeable values, inimical to Australian egalitarianism and the ‘Fair Go’.

Lowlights:

  • It Can’t Happen Here“, Sinclair Lewis – recent developments might have made it newly relevant, but it’s functionally unreadable. Just dire.

The List:

  1. Kinglake-350“, Adrian Hyland. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  2. Australia and India: Mapping the Journey“, Meg Gurry. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  3. What I talk about when I talk about running“, Haruki Murakami. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  4. Big White Lie: Chinese Australians in White Australia“, John Fitzgerald. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  5. The Speechwriter“, Barton Swain. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  6. Fresh off the Boat“, Eddie Huang. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  7. The New Gold Mountain: The Chinese in Australia 1901-1921“, C.F. Yong. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  8. Is Australia an Asian Country?“, Stephen FitzGerald. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  9. Becoming Australian” Migration, Settlement, Citizenship“, Brian Galligan, Martina Boese and Melissa Phillipps. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  10. Australia’s Asia: From Yellow Peril to Asian Century“, Agnieszka Sobocinska and David Walker. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  11. The Eye of the Sheep“, Sophie Laguna. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  12. Firing Line: Australia’s Path to War“, James Brown. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  13. Balancing Act: Australia Between Recession and Renewal“, George Megalogenis. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  14. The Lucky Country“, Donald Horne. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  15. Mateship: A Very Australian History“, Nick Dyrenfurth. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  16. The Healing Party“, Micheline Lee. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  17. Visiting the Neighbours: Australians in Asia“, Agnieszka Sobocinska. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  18. Behind the Beautiful Rivers: Life and Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity“, Katherine Boo. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  19. Reclaiming Patriotism: Nation Building for Australian Progressives“, Tim Soutphommasane. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  20. The Australians“, John Hirst. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  21. Hammer of the Left: The Battle for the Soul of the Labour Party“, John Golding. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  22. Death of a Red Heroine“, Qiu Xiaolong. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  23. A Loyal Character Dancer“, Qui Xiaolong. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  24. The Road to Ruin: How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin Destroyed Their Own Government“, Niki Savva. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  25. A Murder Without A Motive: The Killing of Rebecca Ryle“, Martin McKenzie-Murray. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  26. City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World’s Largest Refugee Camp“, Ben Rawlence. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  27. Keating“, Kerry O’Brien. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  28. One of Us: The Story of a Massacre and its Aftermath“, Asne Seirstad. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  29. Exceptional People: How Migration Shaped Our World and Will Define Our Future“, Ian Goldin, Geoffrey Cameron, and Meera Balarajan. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  30. The Hate Race“, Maxine Beneba Clarke. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  31. Underground Airlines“, Ben Winters. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  32. Do Not Say We Have Nothing“, Madeleine Thien. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  33. Not Quite Australian: How Temporary Migration is Changing the Nation“, Peter Mares. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  34. Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS“, Joby Warrick. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  35. Black Water“, Louise Doughty. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  36. Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis“, Robert Putnam. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  37. It Can’t Happen Here“, Sinclair Lewis. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  38. CEO, China: The Rise of Xi Jinping“, Kerry Brown. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  39. The Man in the High Castle“, Philip K Dick. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  40. “The Return: Fathers, Sons and the Land in Between”, Hisham Matar. Buy –Borrow – Toss
  41. How to Survive a Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS“, David France. Buy –Borrow – Toss

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