This will be my first 2021 recap post. I meant to post this last month, but everything got away from me thanks to work and Covid-19.
My book group meets on the second Thursday of every month (except January). Our Christmas meeting does not include a book discussion, but does feature a secret Santa-style book exchange. The idea is to wrap a pre-loved book and to come prepared with a few bookish questions. If you answer the question correctly you can pick a parcel then ask the next question. Given how many books I read each year, my group is a little nervous when I pick their book, but in four years I have not had a reread.
- Year 1 – The Picture of Dorian Gray | Oscar Wilde
- Year 2 – a crime book that I cannot remember for the life of me. I gave it to Mr Books to read.
- Year 3 – Talking to My Country | Stan Grant
- Year 4 – The Red Haired Woman | Orhan Pamuk
February is a picnic meeting. The rest of the meetings are hosted in our homes. The host gets to select the book the group will read in two months time. A number of books each year are ones I have already read, but the majority are new to me. Most of the time this is a good thing.
Given my working life, if a book is one a really do not want to read, I won’t. Nasty crime and rural crime in particular are not my cup of tea and never will be. The group seems to accept this about me. Five of the ten books read in 2021 were by Australian writers. Eight out of ten were written by women.
Books read by our book group during 2021 included:
- February | Honeybee | Craig Silvey | picnic meeting
- March | Circe | Madeleine Miller | I missed this discussion due to a migraine
- April | This is Happiness | Niall Williams
- May | Migrations | Charlotte McConaghy
- June | Butterfly Man | Heather Rose
- July | The Silent Listener | Lyn Yeowart | first lockdown ZOOM meeting of 2021 | I did not read this book
- August | The Yield | Tara June Winch
- September | Ariadne | Jennifer Saint
- October | A Room Made of Leaves | Kate Grenville
- November | Piranesi | Suzanna Clark | our first in person meeting after lockdown ended & my book choice
This year, for the first time, I asked the group to vote for their top three books of the year.
The clear winners were This is Happiness and Piranesi with six votes each.
Coming in next was A Room Made of Leaves with Honeybee a close fourth. I may have skewed the vote unintentionally, though, by declaring that I wouldn’t vote for The Yield as it had been my favourite read of 2020 instead.
Below I have added a few comments for each of the three most popular books that came in with the voting or from earlier emails.
Piranesi: “some books seem to take on a world of their own – their impact grows the more you reflect on them…Piranesi is such a book…each person’s face seemed to take on a luminous intensity as they spoke about their interaction with Piranesi…an initial hesitation as we grappled with the enigma…that hesitation then gave way to a total immersion in Piranesi’s world….we were all drawn to Piranesi (his kindness, his resourcefulness, his nurturing of the dead, his industrious documentation…)”
This is Happiness: “exuded kindness and compassion for family and strangers alike in a delightful, lyrical way.”
And “Niall Williams has created a beautifully written novel (some saw similarities with Dylan Thomas) with sensitive, poignant and often amusing accounts of Noe and his grandparents, their lives and the lives of the people of Faha. We had all marked favourite sections, paragraphs and sentences and there were many of them.”
A Room Made of Leaves: “the beautiful writing was captured in vignettes/chapters, so meaningfully expressed in just a few words…the mixture of historical fiction and non-fiction, truths/untruths, fake news and hidden memoirs…the boldness and strength of Elizabeth’s choices”
Our February meeting will be discussing After Story | Larissa Behrendt. I’ve already read this book, but enjoyed it so much, I would like to read it again before Feb. But I’ve said THAT before!
Our March read is by Archie Roach | Tell Me Why. It will be our first non-fiction read for quite some time.