AusReading Month – Week One

AusReading Month Badge
November 2022

Happy AusReading Month!

2022 is the tenth year of AusReading Month. Over the years, I have experimented with various formats and challenges. But simply, the main aim for AusReading Month is to read Australian fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Australian bloggers tend to read Australian books all year round, but I know that some of our international friends save their Australian books to share with us every November. It’s always exciting to see which Australian books are being published overseas or have made a splash on the international scene.

I wonder which Australian books caught your eye this year?

One of my all-time favourite AusReading Month’s was 2015 – the year I read just one book – Henry Handel Richardson’s – The Fortunes of Richard Mahony. I love a slow read, where I take my time to dig deep into the story, the author and the genre. It’s my favourite way to read, when I have the time and the right book to hand. I believe the bookish stars have aligned once again for AusReading Month 2022. This year I will be reading Patrick White’s Voss (see below). I hope some of you will join me.

This is the MASTERPOST for all our reviews.

  • Via a blog post or the comments section below, let us know about what you hope to read and how you plan to combine the various reading challenges taking place throughout November.
  • Please add your review links in the comments or use pingbacks if you have a WordPress blog. I will collate all the reviews for everyone to easily access.
  • It’s now time to start reading!

AusReading Month Review List

(alphabetical order author surname)

  1. Limberlost | Robbie Arnott (reviewed by Kim @Reading Matters)
  2. Telling Tennant’s Story | Dean Ashenden (non-fiction reviewed by NancyElin)
  3. Dark As Last Night | Tony Birch (short stories reviewed by NancyElin)
  4. Little Pago | Lauren Briggs (children’s picture book reviewed by Carol @Jounrey & Destination)
  5. Marlo | Jay Carmichael (novella reviewed by Kim @Reading Matters)
  6. Cannon Fire | Michael Cannon (memoir reviewed by Lisa @ANZ LitLovers)
  7. Say No to Death | Dymphna Cusack (reviewed by Nancy Elin)
  8. Springtime: A Ghost Story | Michelle de Kretser (reviewed by Cathy @746 Books)
  9. A House is Built | M Barnard Eldershaw (reviewed by Lisa @ANZ LitLovers)
  10. Soil | Matthew Evans (non-fiction reviewed by NancyElin)
  11. Not Now, Not Ever | Julia Gillard (reviewed by Theresa @Theresa Smith Writes)
  12. Born to Fly | Patrick Guest & Jonathan Bentley (picture book reviewed by me)
  13. The Lost Man | Jane Harper (reviewed by Hopewell’s Public Library of Life)
  14. The Evening of the Holiday | Shirley Hazzard (novella reviewed by me)
  15. Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia | edited by Anita Heiss (reviewed by Liz @Adventures in Reading)
  16. Jack and Jill | Helen Hodgman (reviewed by Lisa @ANZ LItLovers)
  17. Salonika Burning | Gail Jones (reviewed by Lisa @ANZ LItLovers)
  18. The Lucky Laundry | Nathan Lynch (non-fiction reviewed by NancyElin)
  19. Goodbye From Vanilla | Christine Mathieu (reviewed by Bill @The Australian Legend)
  20. Below the Styx | Michael Meehan (reviewed by Lisa @ANZLitLovers)
  21. The Salt of Broken Tears | Michael Meehan (reviewed by Lisa @ANZLitLovers)
  22. Stormy Weather | Michael Meehan (reviewed by Lisa @ANZLitLovers)
  23. A Brief Affair | Alex Miller (reviewed by Kim @Reading Matters)
  24. The Electrical Experience | Frank Moorhouse (reviewed by Lisa @Anz LitLovers)
  25. Two Sets of Books | Ruairi Murphy (reviewed by Lisa @ANZLitLovers)
  26. Accidentally Kelly Street | Tim O’Connor & Briony Stewart (picture book reviewed by me)
  27. Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence | Doris Pilkington Nugi Garimara (memoir reviewed by Liz @Adventures in Reading)
  28. Lowitja | Stuart Rintoul (biography reviewed by Nancy Elin)
  29. Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here | Heather Rose (memoir reviewed by me)
  30. Beyond the Black Stump | Nevil Shute (reviewed by Carol @Journey & Destination)
  31. Runt | Craig Silvey (children’s novel reviewed by me)
  32. Cut | Susan White (reviewed by Bill @The Australian Legend)
  33. Cloudstreet | Tim Winton (reviewed by FanFiction)

Related Posts

  1. I will cross Australia | Bill @The Australian Legend
  2. Classic Australian Novellas | Sue @Whispering Gums
  3. Canberra’s Children’s Picture Book creators | Sue @Whispering Gums

Today is also the beginning of the Voss Readalong.

The plan is to read FOUR chapters each week throughout the month of November.

Every Tuesday I will put up a check-in post with some reading prompts to hopefully enhance our quest from the drawing rooms of colonial Sydney to the deserts of central Australia.

The reading prompts are exactly that – prompts to guide our reading and research. You can follow them or ignore them. You can dig as deep as you like, go down whatever rabbit hole looks most appealing, or simply just read the book as it presents itself to you.

I have not read Voss before, so the reading prompts have emerged out of my pre-reading research. I hope they will be useful, thought-provoking prompts. I have tried to divide the story into four main sections, followed by influences plus some of the main themes, styles, symbols etc. Some of the prompts are framed as a question, others are merely points for consideration, for you to make of them what you will.

Week 1: chapters 1 – 4

  • What have you learnt about early Sydney society? The role of class? The outsider? Women?
  • Drawing room drama – set pieces – comedy of errors – compared to Jane Austen & Henry James
  • Influences – Edward Eyre & Ludwig Leichhardt, Georgiana Huntley McCrea’s journals, Petrarch’s Laura
  • Patrick White loves a good metaphor & simile – which ones are your favourites?
  • Modernism

Week 2: chapters 5 – 8

  • The quest begins. How does White contrast the idea of garden vs desert?
  • This part has been compared to Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness – civilisation vs savage? conquest vs discovery?
  • Letter writing – communication, meaning and language
  • The nature of passion, obsession, destiny?
  • Love/hate relationship with Australia – descriptions?

Week 3: chapters 9 – 12

  • The psychic bond between Voss and Laura has been compared to Ulysses (one of White’s favourite books) and the unspoken bond between Leopold Bloom & Gerty MacDonald. What do you make of this ability?
  • Religious symbolism – the Exodus, the Garden of Eden, the Devil, mercy, redemption, salvation, godliness vs godlike?
  • Aboriginal lore vs Christian myth?
  • Plato’s cave

Week 4: chapters 13 – 16

  • The comet – what does it mean? To Voss, Patrick White, the Aboriginal tribes?
  • Illness & suffering, madness & heroism, humility vs pride, agony & ecstasy – interiority
  • Practical vs visionary characters?
  • Often compared to Moby-Dick – is the ‘outback’ Voss’ whale, or is it Laura?
  • How does White portray Aboriginal characters? What is their role or purpose in the story?
Voss Readalong

Voss Readalong – Introduction

  • This post was written on the traditional land of the Wangal clan, one of the 29 clans of the Eora Nation within the Sydney basin. This Reading Life acknowledges that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are this land’s first storytellers.

74 thoughts on “AusReading Month – Week One

  1. Good for you Brona. I will read a couple of Aus books this month, including maybe a couple of local author children books, and a recent release. If I can do some poetry, I will. Right now, though, I’m reading Elizabeth von Amin whom, much as I’d like to, we really can’t call Australian.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sue, I look forward to seeing which ones you have picked.

      I finished two Australian books last week – hopefully I will find time to review them this monrh [one memoir (the new book by Heather Rose), and one novella (Shirley Hazzard’s first book)]. I’m also working on a couple of children’s posts, but we’ll see how I go!

      Which EvA are you reading? I’ve been meaning to read more by her ever since loving the bio’s about her last year.

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      1. Wait and see which EvA, says she cheekily. I’m laughing out loud even though the protagonist’s situation is serious. I can be cruel! (This is my 7th or 8th EvA. I love her.) Will hopefully post it early next week. We are off to Melbourne for a week on Thursday so my time is a bit stretched.

        I’ve booked to see Heather Rose later this month – will hopefully write it up and could link It if you like.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think that’s why we love EvA so, her ability to laugh at misfortune, she says as she waits patiently for the big reveal 😆

          We’re having a long weekend away – it’s 5 yrs since my FIL died so we’re having a little road trip in his honour.

          My work also has a Heather Rose night but most of them are after work & I’m too tired most midweek nights!! Thankfully we record them so I can catch up later. Rose’s book was fascinating – not what I was expecting at all from her. (Not that I knew any personal details about her before reading the book except that she used to work in advertising).

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          1. It is … and haha … patience is a virtue they say.

            I understand about being tired after work … retirement stopped that but now I get tired because, we’ll, I’m getting old. The event here is an afternoon one. I know a little about her through my Tasmanian connection but just bits and pieces.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Many congratulations Brona! Thank You for hosting this event, and making us understand Australia and the complex layers of this country over the years! We appreciate it! Is there a easy but substantial Aus Read book you can recommend? In my current state, my mind cannot focus on heavy stuff or when it does, it takes FOREVER! But I have always enjoyed your reading event and do want to join!

    Like

    1. Thank you 🙂

      Some classic recs that are easy to access on your eReader via Project Gutenberg would be Ada Cambridge, Henry Handel Richardson, Ethel Turner and Miles Franklin. More recent books would be The Sun Walks Down by Fiona McFarlane, This Devastating Fever by Sophie Cunningham, and anything by Robbie Arnott. I hope this helps!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve got four books put aside for the challenge and have started reading “Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence” already (it covers Nonfiction November and Novellas in November as well!). I will be linking to this post with my state of the TBR post and a picture of the books later today. All my choices are nonfiction and look at social justice around Aboriginal peoples’ experiences.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Someone snagged the one and only ebook copy of Voss from the LA Public Library but I am able to read an ebook online via archive.org They only allow me to read for 1 hour at a time, but that was more than enough time to read Chapter 1 so I should be able to keep up just fine with the buddy read. Woo hoo!

    Thanks for hosting!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m thrilled you could make in work! Well done.
      I’m now just trying to work out if I should post a running page each week where I can make notes for the rest of you to comment on or add to in the comments. That is, I have a draft post where I have been doing exactly that, but it’s rough & not sure if it’s handy for anyone but me?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes!!! Whenever I read a book like this that might be a bit challenging for me, due to the writing style or whatever, I have to take notes for myself. At least until I get into the flow of the book and start to know the characters. My mind is always all over the place so I need my notes to ground my brain, if that makes sense.

        My main question after Chapter 1 is “Why so grumpy, Voss???”

        I mean, I read Chapter 1 late at night so maybe I got it wrong, but weren’t there a few references to Voss being a bit irritable? Did he storm out of the house or something? Since it was so late at night and that website cuts you off after an hour I didn’t dare stop reading in order to jot down any notes. LOL I may need to give Chapter 1 a quick skim before I start Chapter 2 today.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. ‘Why so grumpy Voss?’ gave me a good laugh Jinjer!! I’ve been thinking about it all weekend (I didn’t take my copy with me while we were away, so like you I have been going on my memory alone).

          I wonder if Voss would now be described as being on the spectrum – some obsessive behaviours, obviously brilliant in some areas, but socially awkward.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Hahaha. After 4 chapters I don’t think Voss actually grumpy, I think he’s impatient to set off on his expedition and get away from humanity. He’s ready to commune with nature and see all there is to see.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. Update on my most recent comment — Chapter 1 is still up on my screen so I was able to re-read it and, WOW!!!! I am so in love with this writing already!!!! I’ve just taken a billion notes. Almost every sentence is one I want to jot down and remember. Unfortunately, I have to clock in for work now, but I’ll have more to say later! How do we do that without spoilers though??? LOL

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Delighted to hear you are enjoying the writing too. Like you I am underlining almost every second line. I love the descriptions and imagery being built up, and the precise, careful way that White builds up what we know about each character – what they look like, how they talk and react and treat others.

          I’m also loving the early glimpses of old Sydney.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry, I’ve been away for a long weekend Nancy and just catching up with comments missed etc.

      China is one of the big non-fiction topics at work at the moment. Our shelves are groaning with commentary, analysis and speculation about China, although I have not read any of them yet.

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  5. Hi Brona — but wait there’s more!
    I’ve got seven so far, but I forgot to post some of them here at the time I published them.
    This tag https://anzlitlovers.com/category/category/fiction-australian/ will find them for you back to the beginning of the month and you can just copy them into your list by swiping right to left and it will bring the hyperlink with them.
    I am reading a wonderful Frank Moorhouse at the moment, The Electrical Experience from 1974. The review for that will up there soon too.

    Like

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