Right now, it feels like we’re a long way from autumn.
Sydney is still enjoying hot summery weather with weekend temps soaring high into the 30’s (we only use Celsius in Australia so I don’t know what that equates to in Farenheit).
A bushfire is destroying homes on the south coast of NSW, junior sport was cancelled and the elderly have been warned to stay inside.
It’s hard to imagine the leaves changing colour or snuggling under the covers and wearing jumpers and jeans again.
But when it does, I will be ready with this fabulous list of cosy reads.
My Top Ten Autumnal Reads for 2018:
The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier
A tour de force of history and imagination, The Lady and the Unicorn is Tracy Chevalier’s answer to the mystery behind one of the art world’s great masterpieces—a set of bewitching medieval tapestries that hangs today in the Cluny Museum in Paris. They appear to portray the seduction of a unicorn, but the story behind their making is unknown—until now.
The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry series is currently on show at the Art Gallery of NSW.
I’ve already seen it once and thanks to my multi-pass ticket I plan to see it a few more times before the exhibition finishes at the end of June.
Until recently I didn’t know that Chevalier had written a book based around these famous tapestries.
I didn’t enjoy reading Girl With a Pearl Earring, so I’m a little nervous about this one, but I hope it adds an extra dimension to my next visit to the AGNSW.
12 Rules For Life by Jordan B Peterson
What does everyone in the modern world need to know? Renowned psychologist Jordan B. Peterson’s answer to this most difficult of questions uniquely combines the hard-won truths of ancient tradition with the stunning revelations of cutting-edge scientific research.
Humorous, surprising, and informative, Dr. Peterson tells us why skateboarding boys and girls must be left alone, what terrible fate awaits those who criticize too easily, and why you should always pet a cat when you meet one on the street.
What does the nervous system of the lowly lobster have to tell us about standing up straight (with our shoulders back) and about success in life? Why did ancient Egyptians worship the capacity to pay careful attention as the highest of gods? What dreadful paths do people tread when they become resentful, arrogant, and vengeful? Dr. Peterson journeys broadly, discussing discipline, freedom, adventure, and responsibility, distilling the world’s wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life. 12 Rules for Life shatters the modern commonplaces of science, faith, and human nature while transforming and ennobling the mind and spirit of its listeners.
My life is not chaotic, but it is very hectic and harried right now.
A foreward by Norman Doidge is just icing on the cake.
Who wouldn’t want to know what the 12 practical & profound rules for life are?
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.
So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.
I thought this book was entirely set in Korea, but I found out recently that a large part of the story is also in Japan. Given my upcoming trip to Japan, this book suddenly got bumped up to the front end of my TBR pile. Min Jin Lee is also attending this year’s Sydney Writer’s Festival.
This story tells the extraordinary story of a geisha – summoning up a quarter century from 1929 to the post-war years of Japan’s dramatic history, and opening a window into a half-hidden world of eroticism and enchantment, exploitation and degradation. A young peasant girl is sold as servant and apprentice to a renowned geisha house.
This is the book that tops the Goodreads Best Books About Japan list.
I suspect it also might be the book that travels with me to Japan.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Toru Okada’s cat has disappeared. His wife is growing more distant every day. Then there are the increasingly explicit telephone calls he has recently been receiving. As this compelling story unfolds, the tidy suburban realities of Okada’s vague and blameless life, spent cooking, reading, listening to jazz and opera and drinking beer at the kitchen table, are turned inside out, and he embarks on a bizarre journey, guided (however obscurely) by a succession of characters, each with a tale to tell.
I love this series of covers that Vintage ran for the Murakami’s.
I’ve collected most of them over time.
The Tale of the Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
Written in the eleventh century, this portrait of courtly life in medieval Japan is widely celebrated as the world’s first novel. The Tale of Genji is a very long romance, running to fifty-four chapters and describing the court life of Heian Japan, from the tenth century into the eleventh.
I’m looking forward to this one a lot.
Ghosts of the Tsunami is a classic of literary non-fiction, a heart-breaking and intimate account of an epic tragedy, told through the personal accounts of those who lived through it. It tells the story of how a nation faced a catastrophe, and the bleak struggle to find consolation in the ruins.
We will be travelling through the area most affected by the tsunami of 2011.
I would like to read this before visiting so that I can be informed and sensitive to local issues.
Hiroshima by John Hersey
When the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in August 1945, killing 100,000 men women and children, a new era in human history opened. Written a mere year after the disaster, this work offers a heart rending account of six men and women who survived despite all the odds.
This is now considered a classic non-fiction title; I can’t believe I haven’t already read it.
Hardy’s powerful novel of swift sexual passion and slow-burning loyalty centres on Bathsheba Everdene, a proud working woman whose life is complicated by three different men – respectable farmer Boldwood, seductive Sergeant Troy and devoted Gabriel – making her the object of scandal and betrayal. Vividly portraying the superstitions and traditions of a small rural community, “Far from the Madding Crowd” shows the precarious position of a woman in a man’s world.
My current #ccspin book that I confidently predict I really will read this autumn since I started it last night!
The Kill (La Curee) is the second volume in Zola’s great cycle of twenty novels, Les Rougon-Macquart, and the first to establish Paris – the capital of modernity – as the centre of Zola’s narrative world. Conceived as a representation of the uncontrollable ‘appetites’ unleashed by the Second Empire (1852-70) and the transformation of the city by Baron Haussmann, the novel combines into a single, powerful vision the twin themes of lust for money and lust for pleasure.
What will you be reading this autumn (or spring if you happen to be reading this from the other side of the world)?