I’m fairly sure that, besides takeout food, most of my money has gone to books this year. I’ve learnt to accept this. I’ve said this over and over: I am very easily marketed to. Books with a Western Australian backdrop, books I originally saw in their movies/tv series form, books from pretty Instagram pages beside cocoa-dusted mugs of hot chocolate—even books about writing books. Where there’s a book, there’s me (awkwardly reading in the corner, of course).
Here is my year 2021 of books in review:
The Little Book of Quirk
The Little Boat on Trusting Lane by Mel Hall
This book was so zany and threw me into a completely different perspective (how often do you get books based on the alternative healing community?). Fremantle vibes all round: just pure art, quirk and originality. The Little Boat on Trusting Lane follows a group of alternative healers (and their emotional journeys) aboard and off-board the Little Mother Earth Ship. It’s such a fun idea the author Mel Hall ran with and I probably won’t be able to think of any other book as quirky as this one. Pure West Aussie brilliance.
The Book I Read And Thought “This is Awesome”
Smart Ovens for Lonely People by Elizabeth Tan
I went to watch an author talk featuring local writer Elizabeth Tan for the Perth Writers Festival and found her so relatable. I bought her book Smart Ovens for Lonely People half because of its name, half because I thought I’d vibe pretty well with the book if the writing was anything like how the author talked. It was. Smart Ovens is filled with sharp introspective ponderings, humour, and the relatable thoughts of an introvert. And O.M.G. the cats: there’s one in almost every story.
The Book About Writing That Rocked
How to Be an Author by Georgia Richter and Deborah Hunn
I’m biased because I’m West Aussie, but How to Be an Author was just fantastic. I had Deborah Hunn as my tutor for my creative writing classes at uni and knew she’d have some amazing advice—and Georgia Richter is a publisher at WA’s independent publishing house Fremantle Press. It also felt great to get some perspective from authors who were also local to Western Australia: every section had a different authors input on the topic, be it writing the book or keeping in favour with your local bookstores. I should mention that Fremantle Press also runs a podcast called The Fremantle Press Podcast and it's based on this book. It features Hunn and Richter, the question of “How to be an Author”, and is worth the listen on your Spotify list.
The Book About Editing That Rocked
The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
Everyone who’s deep into writing and editing knows about The Elements of Style. Just get it. It’s such a simple read and it’s very straightforward on the reasoning behind all the grammar and punctuation rules. The book could fit into your back pocket. If I had this book a few years ago, my uni assignments would’ve looked so much nicer.
The Book That Everyone Needs to Read
Black and Blue: A Memoir of Racism and Resilience by Veronica Gorrie
I heard about this one pretty early on through social media and found its premise super interesting—particularly in line with everything that’s been going on between the police and Aboriginal deaths in custody. Gunai/Kurnai author Veronica Heritage-Gorrie wrote Black and Blue as a memoir to her time on the force as one of the few Aboriginal police officers in Australia, and, of course, her time there bore witness to a shocking amount of racism and sexism within the police force. A lot of lines were pretty breathtaking and I found myself finishing the book in the space of two days. Check out the article she wrote for Centre for Stories “No Amount of Black Cops Will Make Things Better” if you’d like even more of a reason to buy her book.
The Books That Creeped Me Out
Tender Is the Flesh by Agustina Bazterricca
Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke, Eric LaRocca
This part gets two mentions because I can’t decide. I’ll make my differentiations though…
Tender Is the Flesh is very gory and makes a lot of allusions to class imbalances, privilege and more. It’s based on a society where people now eat other people (specifically bred just for this purpose) and herd them like cattle. Sickening is one word, stunningly metaphoric is another.
Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke is vividly horrible in the aspects of it being very real and unnerving. Two girls meet in an online chatroom, form a bond, and then, through a series of letters, they both begin to lose their marbles.
The Book That Treated My Heart Like a Football
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
*Trigger Warnings Too Many to List*
Not for the gentle-hearted. A Little Life, while an absolute brick of a novel, will tear your heart out and kick it like a footy. It won’t even wait a few hundred pages. Hanya Yanagihara has that footy poised from the moment you start reading. I finished that book and hated everyone. The story is set in New York and follows four young men, all very different in nature and complications, right into their 40s and 50s. Keep the tissues near. Don’t read in public (or even right beforehand).
The Book That Was The Most Original
Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
So cool! I love the concept and the writing is magical. This book deserves all the press it gets. If you happen to be out of the loop on this one, Before the Coffee Gets Cold is about a mysterious coffee shop where patrons have the ability to travel back in time (and get this: you have only the time of a single cup of coffee… before it gets cold). Can you think of all the things in the world people wish they could go back in time for? The author Toshikazu Kawaguchi did. He thought about it so much he even gave this book a sequel.
The Book About Bookshops
Seven Kinds of People You Find In Bookshops by Shaun Bythell
Shaun Bythell is a total character. Bitter, over it, and bitingly sarcastic—just buy all his books and enjoy the show. If you’ve ever worked in customer service, you will love this. His Facebook page is also worth a follow if you like a little heavy-on-the-sarcasm with your daily social media scroll. Seven Kinds of People, as its name suggests, looks at the seven types of people you find in bookstores and all their peculiarities. I’m still undecided which one I fall under!
What’s the best book you’ve read this year? Let me know (judging by my previous track record, I’ll probably want to read it too).
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