I wanted to write about some of the best books by other Australian writers that I had read and been blown away by during 2016.
And then I thought – why not ask them who they read in 2016 that was amazing AND an Australian author? So that then I could have a list of books to then go read myself in 2017?
So I did. I yelled out into the Twittersphere:
Australian #writers: what was the best book by an Australian that you read this year? I want to write a blog post & will link back to you.
— Marisa Wikramanayake (@mwikramanayake) December 24, 2016
And true enough, over the next few days, amidst the chaos of the holiday season be they celebrating or not, they responded.
But what happened was a chain reaction.
Yen-Rong Wong’s pick: Julie Koh’s Portable Curiosities
@juliekoh's Portable Curiosities FO SHO
— Yen-Rong Wong | 黃彥蓉 🌈 (@inexorablist) December 24, 2016
So then I asked Julie Koh what her pick would be…
Julie Koh’s pick: Rajith Savanadasa’s Ruins
— Julie Koh (@juliekoh) December 24, 2016
Julie Koh is hilariously funny and thought provoking as a writer. You can find her at her own website The Fictional Julie Koh because she herself is built of nothing but the best hand-picked words and surreal moments.
Rajith Savanadasa’s pick: Jennifer Down’s One Magic Hour
a few this year. I'll pick Our Magic Hour by @jenniferdown. So good!
— Rajith Savanadasa (@RajithSHS) December 25, 2016
Fellow Sri-Lankan-Australian writer Rajith Savanadasa has pipped me to the post with the publication of Ruins. I am starting to think we Sri Lankan writers all like one word titles.
Jennifer Down’s pick: Ellen van Neerven’s Comfort Food and Elspeth Muir’s Wasted
rajith! thank you! if I can choose poetry, then ellen van neerven's comfort food!
— Jennifer Down (@jenniferdown) December 25, 2016
Jennifer Down wrote this book about friendship and suicide and I am soooo intrigued because that’s partly what Sedition is about.
Ellen van Neerven is a darling. And by darling, I mean cheeky, totally under the radar snarky and smart as a person and if you are ever lucky to meet her at a writer’s festival or event you will know what I mean. Elspeth Muir’s memoir of the loss of her brother and the ideas surrounding alcohol and drinking has come up before on Australian Women Writers but I have yet to pick it up and have a read so this is a book I will be reading in 2017.
We move on to another chain of the chain reaction. Jess Healy Walton replied to me with her pick.
Jess Healy Walton’s picks: Clementine Ford, Maxine Beneba Clarke, Lucy Treloar, Anna Spargo-Ryan and Charlotte Wood
— Jessica Walton (@JessHealyWalton) December 24, 2016
I am assuming the books meant were Maxine Beneba Clarke’s The Hate Race (picked twice and featured below), Anna Spargo-Ryan’s the Paper House (read my review of it here), Clementine Ford’s Fight Like A Girl, Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things and Lucy Treloar’s Salt Creek.
Anna Spargo-Ryan dutifully jumped in then:
Anna Spargo Ryan’s pick: Music & Freedom by Zoe Morrison.
Music & Freedom was my favourite read by any writer from anywhere
— Anna Spargo-Ryan 🥑 (@annaspargoryan) December 24, 2016
Anna is pretty cool. She has a grumpy cat called Norman who delights us all and has his own Twitter account, two awesome kids and a Twitter account of her own that is in turns both hilarious and inspiring to follow because she herself puts it: “I have no filter.”
— Norman (@EmergencyNorman) December 18, 2016
Norman is too adorable.
Mark Smith’s picks: Maxine Beneba Clarke’s The Hate Race and Michelle Wright’s Fine
— Mark Smith (@marksmith0257) December 25, 2016
Mark Smith is the author of The Road to Winter. He was the second person to pick Maxine Beneba Clarke’s The Hate Race and has also offered up Michelle Wright’s Fine – a collection of short stories.
Thank you to all the writers who offered me their picks of the work they read in 2016. Leave suggestions for your top picks in the comments – the books can be published in any year, any genre so long as they are by an Australian author and were read in 2016. I have made headway on a reading list and I would like to read more and try to get to 52 books this year.
So what was my top pick? I think I am torn too – between The Paper House and Portable Curiosities. I will write a post listing my own personal list of top picks for 2016 a little later on.
Over to you
What was your favourite Australian authored book that you discovered and read in 2016? Were you unable to choose just one? Have you read any of these books? And do you have any suggestions for what I should read in 2017?