The great thing about the New Year is that I get a chance to re-evaluate my reading goals. In 2017 I had two main goals: to read more and to read things outside of my usual genres. Whilst I accomplished my second goal, I did not accomplish my first. Looking back I realise that the problem was that even though I did read more diversely I forgot to still allow time for the genres I normally enjoy. I demanded that each new book I picked up would be something different. It meant that I was not always totally engaged with my reading because I was struggling through something different and new all the time and never allowing for something familiar and easy. With that in mind, I’ve reshuffled my current reading list to include one book of my normal interest for every three that I would not normally read.
This year, my goal of reading more diversely has moved from genre and topic to authors. A quick look over my bookshelf reveals quite a telling trend of white cis authors. Yes there’s the odd one here or there to break the mould, but this year my aim is to explore more diverse voices in my reading.
So with all this considered, what books did I decide to start the year with?
Firstly I’m dying to start Songs That Sound Like Blood by Jared Thomas.
Recently gifted to Underground Writers by Magabala Books this title immediately caught my eye. This is the tale of Roxy May Redding, a small town girl with ‘music in her soul and songs in her blood’. However, moving to the city to pursue her dreams exposes Roxy to a whole new world- and a whole new perspective on love when she finds herself crushing on local music journo Ana. Just from the blurb on the back I already identify with this character’s struggles as a ‘poor student’ and the idea of creating art for the sake of your next meal. There are themes here that any young person is likely to associate themselves with as Thomas’ writing is strongly influenced by ideas of belonging and culture. This story with all its various nuances is sure to leave an impression.
Next on the list is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins.
This book was gifted to me on my birthday by an aunty who insisted I’d love it. I trust her judgement and the blurb on the back has piqued my interest. The protagonist, Rachel, catches the same train every day and each day it stops at the same signal where she gets the same view of the same houses and the same back gardens- until one day, she sees something that will change everything. Something that will change the happy façade she’s envisioned for the inhabitants within. Something that will give her the chance to become a part of the story she’s concocted for them. Who doesn’t love a good thriller?
Onwards and the next book on my list is Us Women, Our Ways, Our World edited by Pat Dudgeon, Jeannie Herbert, Jilly Milroy, and Darlene Oxenham.
This collection of stories and personal essays from Indigenous women all over Australia promises to be an enlightening and thought-provoking read. With the debate around the date of Australia Day gathering momentum and the ongoing movement to close the inequality gap in meaningful ways, this collection of individual voices will surely expand upon the problems of trying to apply a one-size-fits-all fix to issues with inequality. As a white middle-class woman, 2017 was the year that saw me begin to critically engage with my privilege in our society. I plan to continue addressing this in 2018 by reading with an open heart and mind to understand what my role is in the ongoing difficulties with racism in Australia today.
To wrap up this list, I’m stepping back into my comfort zone (as promised) with a book I gifted my partner for Christmas but he’s already promised I can read after he finishes (the perks of having similar tastes in books!).
Hidden Empire by Kevin J. Anderson is the first instalment in an intergalactic sci-fi saga set in the far future where humanity has proliferated throughout the universe. Humans have now found the Klikiss Torch, a remnant of an ancient alien race with the power to create suns, and plan to use it once more. But there are reasons the Klikiss empire fell. Coming from the author of the X-File novels and the Jedi Academy Trilogy of Star Wars novels, this one is sure to satisfy my sci-fi cravings.
As always, there’s plenty more books on my list than I have space to write about on this list so if you want more recommendations feel free to check out my Goodreads page for a full TBR list or chat with me on Twitter.