I had an ‘essential reading list’ at the start of 2012. There were books on the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the assassination of Indira Gandhi and the Hawke-Keating years in Australia sitting in a tall pile on my desk. Essential research, I told myself and diligently waded through most of them, making notes in the margins and colour coded notebooks. I felt enlightened. I also started writing the first draft of the novel I hope to complete by the end of this year.
Then, books I had turned firmly away from started leaping off my shelves and fastening themselves to my hands and I had no choice but to give in! The first of these wayward books was ‘The Bitter Shore,’ Australian journalist Jacqui Everett’s account of the incarceration of children in detention centres during the Ruddock years. I cried. Then moved on to ‘Inherited’ and ‘The Sinkings,’ both by Amanda Curtin. These are heartbreakingly beautiful books and I felt bereft after I’d finished reading them. It was going to be a year of reading local. My friend Nicola gave me a collection of poetry titled ‘Dark Diamonds’ while Glen Phillips gave me ‘Six Seasons,’ both of which I have read and re read as one does with poetry. Two other books by Perth based writers made my year – Liana Joy Christensen’s ‘Deadly Beautiful’ and Ffion Murphy’s ‘Devotion.’ Then there was the luminous Anna Funder and ‘All That I Am.’
J.K Rowling’s ‘A Casual Vacancy’ lights up that corner of the bookshelf whenever I walk past it. I’ve been having conversations with it. Soon, I say, soon, I just need to finish ‘Poppy’ first. Of course the ‘essential’ pile has grown, so I’ve re-shelved them in a pleasing and less eye catching manner. I already know what I need to read in 2013. And what I want to read. And of course in between try to finish writing the book that’s been in my head for at least 10 years and in my heart for as long as I can remember.
“This is not the story my father wanted me to tell. So it’s not history.”