08.Dec.2012 10 Aussie Books to Read Before You Die
My favorite book club show The First Tuesday Book Club has recently come up with 10 Aussie Books to Read Before You Die, as voted by readers. You can go to their site to watch the whole show (this particular one is the latest show of the year December 2012).
The book list, plus comments from yours truly:
10. Picnic at Hanging Rock – Joan Lindsay
I’ve watched the movie a couple of years ago. Enigmatic, beautiful, and very Australian (the Hanging Rock is a real place in the state of Victoria). I’m not sure if I’ll ever read the book. In fact most of the people in the panel seem to have a hard time reading the book without being highly influenced by the movie. So this might be the case of the movie being better than the book. (You have to accept that sometimes!)
9. The Secret River – Kate Grenville
A historical fiction of an Englishman being transported to Australia for theft. Clash with the Aboriginal people. The panel agreed that it is a very important book, exploring an important topic, and there should be more books like this.
8. The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
A portrait of contemporary Australian suburban life, The Slap was #1 on any top book lists in the country for a long time. I happened to live there when it was out, so I went along and read the book. You may like it you may hate it, but it surely brings out strong reactions from people and interesting discussion points.
7. The Magic Pudding – Norman Lindsay
Norman Lindsay wrote The Magic Pudding in 1918 to settle an argument with a friend who claimed that children only liked to read about fairies. Lindsay insisted that they liked to read about food. I went to one of the exhibition when I was in Australia, but have not read the book. This seems to be the quintessential Australian children’s book. I’m sure I’ll get to it at some point.
6. Jasper Jones – Craig Silvey
Jasper Jones was everywhere in Australia when it was out just 3 years ago (I also happened to live there at the time). Somehow I never had the interest to read it. This book also seems to divide the panel, and Marieke went as far as saying it doesn’t deserve to be on the list. In short, Jasper Jones sounds like the Australian To Kill a Mockingbird (that I have read).
5. The Power of One – Bryce Courtenay
Bryce Courtenay is a very popular Australian author and he’s written tons of books though I’m never compelled to read any. The Power of One is not set in Australia, but in South Africa, with Anglo-African man as the main character. I don’t know what’s the connection between Australia and Africa. It reminds me of J.M. Coetzee, a South African who became Australian citizen a while ago (him, I have read). Courtenay was also born in South Africa, and he passed away very recently in November 2012.
4. The Harp in the South – Ruth Park
It’s very odd that I had never heard of this book prior to the show and the panel unanimously loved the book. It is set in Surry Hills – what used to be a Sydney slum. I lived in Sydney and my family live there, so I plan to read the book at some point.
3. A Fortunate Life – A.B. Facey
The only non fiction book that slipped into the list, A Fortunate Life is a non fiction account of a man who sounds like a very endearing character and master storyteller. Though the writing quality is arguable, the panel again unanimously loved the book. I still have doubts, but the book came up very high on the list!
2. The Book Thief – Markus Zusak
The Book Thief has been on top 3 New York Times best seller list for 200 something weeks, just lots and lots of years. This one probably does not need an introduction, and I’ve been meaning to read it for ages. It is now currently sitting with highest average rating on my 99 books-to-read on goodreads! (If you’re a fan of Markus Zusak, he joined the First Tuesday shows a few times which you can watch on the site, looking very good.)
1. Cloudstreet – Tim Winton
The number one on the list was not a surprise, to me or to the panel. Tim Winton is a much beloved author in Australia, he always tops the list of top Australian books, and it’s usually with Cloudstreet (published 1991). His last book published in 2008 titled Breath was huge when I lived there.
I’ve been meaning to read Cloudstreet, The Book Thief, and the Secret River for a while. Now I’m adding The Harp in the South and the Magic Pudding.
What do you think about the list? Do you have any favorites? Any book you intend to read?