Favourite Reads 2006 - A Personal Perspective

My reading didn't progress as well in 2006 as in 2005. I fell about 6 books short of my 60 book goal. I suspect this occurred mainly in the last quarter of the year, after I came back from an extended holiday and discovered the joys of West Wing on DVD. Watching the first six seasons - 22 episodes a season, and 40-odd minutes an episode - chewed into my available reading time. Added to that, I had my daily commute to work curtailed and lost about 20 minutes or so reading on the train each day. It all adds up in the end.

The big plus for the year was the amount of Australian fiction I read - some 27 novels of all genres, about half the overall total - and not a dud one among the lot. Some were a little so-so but none I'd actively warn people against.

So, like last year, I'll give you the "benefit" of my reading experiences.

Australian Fiction

A big year in Australian fiction for me, and even then I didn't read M.J. Hyland's latest (which was shortlisted for the Booker), nor the MacDonald, which won the Miles Franklin Award. I tossed up between the first two listed here but finally came down the side of the Bradley, on the basis of the overall emotional response I felt to the book. I have a feeling people are going to love it or hate it. I put the James novel here - even though it won a Ned Kelly crime fiction award during the year - because I read it as a piece of literary fiction in the first instance. Interesting to note that it fits into either category.

The Resurrectionist by James Bradley
The Wing of Night by Brenda Walker
Out of the Silence by Wendy James
Soundings by Liam Davison

Australian Speculative Fiction

A number of people might argue with me that McGahan's novel is speculative fiction but it fits all of my criteria for the genre. Similarly for the Harwood. It won a major Horror award a few years back and if we use the term "speculative" to cover sf, fantasy and horror, then I feel comfortable about including it here. D.M. Cornish gets my nod, however, for producing a wonderful work of world construction, peopled by humans and monsters in such a way that it sometimes difficult to tell them apart. I'm looking forward to the others in the series.

Monster Blood Tattoo: Foundling by D.M. Cornish
Underground by Andrew McGahan
The Ghost Writer by John Harwood

Australian Crime Fiction

A big year for Garry Disher (5 novels) and Shane Maloney (4 novels), and I was tempted to include all nine but thought I'd better show some sort of restraint. There are another couple of Maloney's to read before a new Murray Whelan novel is published in 2007, and I have a number of Jack Irish novels by Peter Temple to catch up with. Bodes well for another good year.

Snapshot by Garry Disher
Bad Debts by Peter Temple
Stiff by Shane Maloney
The Dragon Man by Garry Disher

Australian Non-Fiction

Hard to go past the Flannery as the most "important" book I read this year. Whether it will make a basic difference to the way Australia deals with the climate change crisis remains to be seen, yet it is possible to see attitudes changing, and this book might have had more than a little to do with it.

The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery

Non-Australian Fiction

I was getting guilty about being behind in my reading of the Booker winners when I picked this one up late in the year - the word was that it was pretty boring. And what a misjudgement that was. The style is reminiscent of Sebald's work, though no-one I've spoken to about it agrees with me. So what do they know?

The Sea by John Banville

Non-Australian Speculative Fiction

I've read Martin's work on and off for almost 30 years, since "A Song for Lya", but not for some time. He's been working on this epic fantasy series for about 10 years and I was reluctant to tackle it - I've met the author and big fantasy epics are not my usual reading matter. Now that I've started I have to stop myself from ordering the next four and reading them back-to-back.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Jack of Shadows by Roger Zelazny

Non-Australian Crime Fiction

A quick count reveals that I read 10 non-Australian crime novels during 2006 - more than I had originally thought. Ian Rankin has produced one of his best ever. The realisation that there are probably only one or two left in his Rebus series is rather bittersweet. You know the next novels are going to be terrific, you just don't want it all to end. Macbride makes a re-appearance in this category after his debut last year. He tells a good story: bloody and gruesome, personable and humorous. He would have been the pick if Rankin hadn't popped up. The Goldberg was just very funny and had the added bonus of being read in Hawaii where the bulk of the book was set.

The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin
Dying Light by Stuart Macbride
Mr Monk Goes to Hawaii by Lee Goldberg

Non-Australian Non-Fiction

Dawkins is the man of the moment with his latest non-fiction work attacking religion and the concept of God. This book was written thirty years ago and yet still seems so fresh. If I ever had any ambitions of being a chef they would be blown out of the water by Bourdain.

The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 5, 2007 1:28 PM.

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