2016 in reading and writing

OK, the results are in. The spreadsheet has been updated. And just short of last year’s personal best, it looks like I averaged 1.4 books a week over the course of the 2016 reading year, finishing 72 in total (not including repeats or literary journals).

Fave reads and recommendations

Three YA books featured in my favourite reads for the year: Welcome to Orphancorp by Marlee Jane Ward, Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan, and Frankie by Shivaun Plozza (which came with the extra excitement of seeing my name listed in the credits – squeeee!)

In fiction, I think I have to go with The Spare Room by Helen Garner – though, as always, the line she walks between truth and imagination is deliciously blurred. And my non-fic pics have got to be Just Kids by Patti Smith and The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke.

I was blown away by Christopher Soto (aka Lomo) at the AWP Conference in Los Angeles, and his Sad Girl Poems were definitely my fave poetry read of 2016. Stunningly written and beautifully bound. Challenging and exquisite.

I recommend them all!

Australian Women Writers

My reading list included 26 books by Australian women writers for the #AWW2016 / #readwomen challenges, posting micro-reviews on Twitter for:

  • A Stairway to Paradise by Madeleine St John
  • Am I Black Enough for You? by Anita Heiss
  • Authentic edited by Huddle
  • Carrying the World by Maxine Beneba Clarke
  • Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry co-edited by Jessica L Wilkinson and Bonny Cassidy
  • Cooking the Books by Kerry Greenwood
  • Devil’s Food by Kerry Greenwood
  • Drone and Phantoms by Jennifer Maiden
  • Eating my Grandmother by Krissy Kneen
  • Formaldehyde by Jane Rawson
  • Frankie by Shivaun Plozza
  • Heavenly Pleasures by Kerry Greenwood
  • Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall
  • Lemons in the Chickenwire by Alison Whittaker
  • Lost and Found by Brooke Davis
  • Me, Antman and Fleabag by Gayle Kennedy
  • Our Tiny, Useless Hearts by Toni Jordan
  • Pine torch by Ainslee Meredith
  • Queen of the Night by Leanne Hall
  • Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall
  • The End of Seeing by Christy Collins
  • The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke
  • The Healing Party by Micheline Lee
  • The Spare Room by Helen Garner
  • Through the Fire by Rachael Treasure
  • Welcome to Orphancorp by Marlee Jane Ward

We Need Diverse Books

I recorded 14 books as part of the #weneeddiversebooks challenge: “books where people of color can be first-page HEROES rather than second-class citizens. Books in which LGBTQIA characters can represent social CHANGE rather than social problems. And books where people with disability can be just… people.”

  • Am I Black Enough for You? by Anita Heiss
  • Black Movie by Danez Smith
  • Broken Teeth by Tony Birch
  • Carrying the World by Maxine Beneba Clarke
  • Ghost River by Tony Birch
  • Iris and the Tiger by Leanne Hall
  • Lemons in the Chickenwire by Alison Whittaker
  • Me, Antman and Fleabag by Gayle Kennedy
  • Queen of the Night by Leanne Hall
  • Sad Girl Poems by Christopher Soto (aka Lomo)
  • That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
  • The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke
  • The Healing Party by Micheline Lee

RIP Terry Pratchett

While slowing down from last year’s 22-book marathon, I also continued the Terry Pratchett memorial reading project we kicked off following his death in March 2015, getting through 9 Disc World books by the end of the year.

2016 in Writing

At my April writing retreat in Castlemaine, I started a stochastic analysis of 27 years of New Year’s letters, and came back inspired enough to finally introduce a serious writing routine. As a result, it was a good year of writing – with word counts continuing to accumulate on a couple of key projects week on week.

It was a year of fewer residencies but more performances, including a win at the Emerging Writers Festival debate (with the argument that technology is the best thing to ever happen to language) and a feature spot at Girls on Key.

I celebrated the seventh anniversary of tweeting a poem a day, and started hawking a poetry manuscript around to prospective publishers.

Oh, and I also some uke lessons and wrote my first song for the ukulele.

All in all, it was another wonderful year in words. Happy New Reading/Writing Year to you all!

Author: katelarsenkeys

Arts, Cultural & Non-Profit Consultant. Reader. Writer (Our Hybrid Future, The Relationship is the Project). Researching the art of arts governance. larsenkeys.com.au

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