Susan Johnson’sThe Broken Book was one of my favourites when it was published some years ago and her latest novel My Hundred Lovers is both lyrical and delicious; Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Studies with her autobiographical musings and exquisite art is something you should get for yourself and as a gift; and a classic Christmas treat I’d recommend to everyone – Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales.
Summer holidays for me are about lazy afternoons outside, the warm sun and good reads. I find myself particularly drawn to Australian fiction at this time of year. I often feel quite nostalgic at the end of the year and reading Tarcutta Wake by Australian writer Josephine Rowe, which explores memory, was a wonderful experience. Tarcutta Wake is a book of short vignettes and longer stories and is just so beautifully written. I highly recommend it.
I'm taking Jennifer Mills' new book of award-winning short stories, The Rest is Weight, on holidays. Her work has received praise this year and she was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald's Best Young Australian Novelists. I'm really looking forward to it.
Over the Christmas break I'm looking forward to sitting in the sun and reading The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson for a silly and charming read, andPaper: An Elegy by Ian Samson which traces the history of papermaking, its contribution to civilisation and its future in the face of digital publishing.
I'm also hoping to get The Vintage Tea Party by Angel Adoree from Santa, because it is just the kind of beautiful book I could never justify buying for myself!
I hope to spend most of my holidays lying on the beach reading a pile of exciting new books written by authors who *might* appear at SWF2013, but I am also excited that I will be spending Christmas in the same house as five of my nieces, all under the age of eight. I'm looking forward to introducing them (and myself!) to Sally Rippin's Billie B Brown, and revisiting classic Christmas picture books from my own childhood, including Santa Visits Australia!
I'll be spending a bit of time on airplanes over the summer, so I need to have a few options close to hand. I want to read the new Colm Tóibín,The Testament of Mary (there's a hint, Santa), because Tóibín is indeed a master writer. I will belatedly tip my hat to the late Robert Hughes by packing a copy of his major volume on one of my favourite cities, Rome. Ian Rankin was so entertaining when we met him last month that I'll happily take the latest Rebus novel for a bit of detective fun. And I'll be taking along a couple of books by authors we hope to present in May... I better get a bigger suitcase.
Augusten Burroughs' Running with Scissors has long been on my to-read shelf. Christmas seems an ideal time to enter the lives and minds of a dysfunctional family – either to remind you how lucky you are, or to let you know you're not alone. Burroughs' memoir may be an extreme adventure into the trials of childhood, but there must be something about the disorientating experience of surviving family that most could relate to. Or perhaps I should forgo a harrowing tale of tragic families and reach for the dry wit of David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries... what could be funnier than a self-deprecating Christmas elf?
Still stuck for gift ideas or a great summer read? Check out theGleebooks Summer Reading Guide for great savings and recommendations.
From the whole team at Sydney Writers' Festival we wish you a wonderful holiday season!