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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Posts Tagged ‘reading’

2012: A Year in Reading

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Trying something a bit different for my reading round up this year – I found this Annual End Of Year Book survey and decided to try out the questions for myself. Note I’ve already done a Pleasures of Reading etc. post over at Ambling Along the Aqueduct, and covered my experience with the AWW reading challenge. I talk about books a lot, all right?

At 175 titles, including graphic novels, audio books, ebooks etc, I’ve come the closest to my pre-motherhood reading levels than ever before! If nothing else, my ‘don’t buy without shifting books from To Read Shelf’ system seems to be guilting me into finding more reading time, which I am happy about.

Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)

Best Fantasy Novel: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Best Science Fiction Novel: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Best Collection: Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan
Best Anthology: Under My Hat, edited by Jonathan Strahan
Best Young Adult Novel: Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, only just edging out The Diviners by Libba Bray and Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan.
Best General Fiction: Last Chance Cafe by Liz Byrski
Best Comic: Hawkeye & Captain Marvel
Best Graphic Novels: Astonishing X-Men #1-5 by Joss Whedon & John Cassaday
Best Doctor Who Book: Chicks Unravel Time! Yes, I’m in it. I still love it BEST!

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My AWW Reading Challenge in 2012

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Will you be doing the Australian Women Writers Challenge in 2013? I certainly will! I’ve enjoyed the community aspect of the challenge, and the focus on Australian women writers – while I tend to read a majority of women writers anyway, I do have a tendency to stay within certain genre comfort zones, and often to neglect Australian writers over international ones, unless they are very close friends. And while my list for this year’s reading definitely involved a bunch of books by my friends (did I mention how many talented friends I have? A WHOLE BUNCH) I also tried to challenge myself by trying new authors, reading some books that have languished on my To Read Shelf for too long, and in the case of Kate Forsyth’s Bitter Greens, NOT neglect a certain title that I know is going to be wonderful just because it’s the size of three regular books.

I met my own challenge parameters back in June (the Franklin – 10 books, review at least 6) but have continued to add to the list and was delighted today to count up and realise that I hit 25. Sounds impressive, though considering I read 175 books this year (including graphic novels & audio books), it’s still only a small proportion.

DEFINITELY coming back for more next year, at the same level. We have some great female writers in Australia and they really do miss out on the recognition that is due to them, in general book media.

“Four times as many living Australian male writers than female writers appear on First Tuesday Book Club’s list of Top 50 Aussie reads.”

On a personal note, I really think that the AWW has helped me as a writer, too – I noticed far more reviews going around of the Creature Court trilogy and Love and Romanpunk in 2012 than in previous years, and I think the Challenge has a lot to do with that.

What will you be reading next year? How will you be reading next year? What great books by Australian women can we look forward to next year?

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Our Christmas in Books

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

I got a Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas! I can’t stop grinning at it, especially as my honey managed to make me think it was an impossible dream – they’re only letting them into Australia two at a time or so. But it is MINE and so pretty. Have already been stocking up on books from Wizards Tower, Project Gutenberg and even (gasp) the Amazon store. And I’ve already read a whole novel on it (peeking at the ‘how many minutes to the end of this book’ feature the whole time) – the extraordinary, raw and compelling ‘WWII heroines’ novel Code Name: Verity by Elizabeth Wein which had me sobbing buckets over the leftover roast potatoes this morning.

In other news, the Very Grown Up Raeli received an iPod Touch and some snazzy yellow headphones which means she can play Angry Birds AND listen to Ood Cast music without begging for my phone, and also that little Jem can mainline her way through her Christmas DVDs without fighting with her sister for control of the remote.

But this was a Christmas of books, from extended family as well as each other (and of course, Santa). Let’s take a look at a sample of the dead tree hoard:

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A Year in TansyRR.com

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

The response to my Tor.com post on “Historically Authentic Sexism in Fantasy” has been pretty overwhelming. Not only have there been many, many readers over there (the comments thread is still going strong, though it has turned overnight into a discussion about gender in children’s fiction which… is not a bad thing to be talking about?) but over 2500 people have tuned in to this blog to check the post out here, since Thursday. That’s… a lot, by my standards.

So if you’re here for the first time, hi, I’m Tansy! I write books, and talk a lot.

Here are some other Gender & Pop Culture posts from this year that I’m quite proud of:

Sexing Up the Classics
Mothers & Daughters, Battle-Embroidery & Bears
Babies & Bicycles: Watching Call the Midwife
Hack, Slash, Squish: Gender and Sex In Season One of Game of Thrones
What Geek Girls Wear (is none of your business)

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Agathon #9: The Mystery of the Blue Train [1928]

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012


Kathryn and I started out with a challenge to read every book written by Agatha Christie, in order of publication – we’re blogging as we go along. We spoil all the things!

KATHRYN:

So my favorite part of reading ‘The Blue Train’ this time round, was the first sentence of the afterward, which accompanied my copy:

‘In an interview published in 1966, Agatha Christie declared that ‘The Mystery of the Blue Train’ was certainly the worst book she had ever written’. She further described it as ‘commonplace, full of cliches, with an uninteresting plot’.

Like ‘The Big Four’, which preceded it, ‘The Mystery of the Blue Train’ falls in that period of Chiristie’s life when she disappeared and ultimately divorced her husband. While the circumstances in which Christie wrote the book probably colour her opinion, it’s not great, and certainly the cliche part is very true. On many occasions, particularly in the first opening chapters, Christie uses the nationality of a character as shorthand for their personality. Even the heroine of the piece, Miss Katherine Grey is characterised as cool and very English.

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Book Week: Tuppeny, Feefo and The Blue Umbrella

Friday, August 24th, 2012

What kind of childhood half-remembered book is it all but impossible to recapture despite the wide and marvellous tool that is Google?

a) the one with the name you are remembering incorrectly
b) the one with the name so common that it appears on many, many different book listings

One of the first things I tried to use the internet to help me reclaim was a beloved Enid Blyton book about three goblins who basically came up with the concept of The Goodies 20 years earlier – any job, anywhere, anytime. Of course they get into dreadful trouble, but all is well at the end.

I craved this book, and searched and searched for it, but this was before Google came along (I know, right? Dark days of the internet) and the fact that I had misremembered the order of the goblins names, and thus was searching for Feefo, Tuppeny and Jinks (which I maintain is the better title).

Then the book fell into my lap one day, courtesy of a second hand bookshop (ohh, second hand bookshops, remember them?) and I realised to my horror and surprise that TUPPENY’s name went first.

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Book Week: Modern School Days, or do you remember TV tie-in novelisations?

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

For the most part I think I’ve managed to use this blog to expose pretty much every obsession I’ve been through in my past and present, but there are always a few which slip through the cracks. For instance, I’m pretty sure I’ve never touched on my deep and detailed history of obsessing about Grange Hill.

It’s pretty easy to be a geek about Doctor Who, or superheroes, or fantasy novels, or even history. But the more mainstream/genre-free a piece of culture is, the harder it is to, for instance, collect merchandise and be madly, publicly geeky about it.

I first became aware of Grange Hill through my childhood in the 80′s. It was a British TV series set in a London comprehensive school, which started in the year I was born an ran for 30 years. It was harder to obsessively follow TV in those days, but I did my best! I seem to recall that sometimes at least a whole season would run on the ABC through the school holidays.

The first year I am certain that I watched was Season 8, which introduced first year characters Gonch, Calley, Ronnie and Hollo (my generation of students!) but still featured older characters who had been around for a while like Stewpot, Claire and Zammo. Some time around then, the series “Tucker’s Luck” also screened, a sequel which followed up the very first students who were the protagonists back in 1978, particularly Tucker (Todd Carty). I remember watching this with my Mum.

But what has this to do with books, you ask? EVERYTHING.

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Book Week: Google Buns and Midnight Feasts

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

So, Enid Blyton. I don’t even know where to start with talking about Enid Blyton books, and the influence they had on my reading as a child. I know that I was reading chapter books early enough that I don’t recall starting, and that when I was 4-5 my Dad moved away for a year and sent me a book a week – Blyton paperbacks, for the most part. I remember walking to the Post Office to collect my regular parcel!

I know that I read and loved the mystery and adventure books – The Famous Five, the Secret Seven, The Adventure Of and The Mystery Of – and those characters and stories are deeply entangled in my heart. I also loved the random children books, and the various Toy stories, especially Amelia Jane (I think I was always a bit old for Noddy). But thanks to some world travelling in my mid-childhood years, I sold almost all of my collection, and the ones I cared about enough as an adult to re-acquire were not those ones at all.

Instead, the Blyton books I was most desperate to own again, and to reread, were the school stories and the magical classics: Malory Towers, St Clares, Naughtiest Girl, Faraway Tree and the Wishing Chair.

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Book Week Blog Challenge!

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

It’s the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book Week which means that across the country, primary schools are gearing up for a bunch of fun reading activities, culminating in book parades where kids get to dress up as characters from their favourite books.

Heh which in practice means that they figure out who they want to dress up as (princesses and Batman) and then try to find a book that fits it. BUT NEVER MIND THAT.

I decided this year I want to do something fun on the blog to celebrate Book Week, as I usually forget about it until it’s too late. So I’m going to write some posts about my childhood reading, not only favourite books, but how I read them and why I still remember them.

If anyone out there wants to join me in blogging about their childhood in books, please let me know about your posts, either in comments, by Twitter (@tansyrr) or via email to tansyrr (at) gmail dot com. I’d love to be able to do a round up next weekend of various people blogging about their childhood reading and the books that made them happy.

my daughter age 7 reading beside a papier mache portrait my mother made of me at the same age – we never got a perfect photo of me with the statue because by the time she had completed it, I had grown several inches!

Pratchett’s Women IX: The Truth Has Got Her Boots On

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

The Truth, by Terry Pratchett

I almost wasn’t going to write a Pratchett’s Women post for The Truth. Like Night Watch, it’s a marvellous book, one of Pratchett’s absolute best, and happens to be almost entirely about male characters and their issues. Considering that gender imbalance is no longer the case for every Discworld novel or even almost every Discworld novel, (as could be argued that it was the case in his earlier days) it feels churlish to criticise it on those grounds. It is a love letter to moveable type, and a fun take on the history of the printing press, with the usual layers of humour and cleverness, and a rich cast of characters, so I am going to forgive it for being a mostly male cast. This was actually the book that brought me back to the Discworld after a period of what felt at the time to be lacklustre releases but may well have been my own loss of interest in the series, and its many repetitions.

But I wasn’t alone in that. The Truth was a huge success for Pratchett, and one of the books which really helped to cement his ‘legend’ status. While he had previously written other novels with a similar formula (standalone male character faces the Discworld’s version of a particular historical industry and chaos ensues) there was something about this book, and its maturity, and perhaps the solid link to the history it was replicating that made it popular among non-fantasy readers. In fact, apart from the vampire, Death and the other side effects of a Discworld setting, this is largely not a story about magic gone wrong and trying to kill you, which sets it apart from almost every previous Discworld novel. This is instead a story of PEOPLE gone wrong and trying to kill you, and how a new industry can be every bit as terrifying and confrontational and dangerous as anything from the Dungeon Dimensions.

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