What I’ve been reading, what I stopped reading, what I want to be reading

But first, congratulations to Sofie Laguna for her Miles Franklin win, for THE EYE OF THE SHEEP. You can read more about that here at Allen & Unwin’s website. I found out that Sofie had no idea she was going to win, in fact had been told not to expect a win, so what a triumph, and how exciting for her and her publisher (aka my publisher.) Also she is probably the only MF winner in history also breastfeeding an 8-month old at home and with a four-year-old as well. Great stuff.


My reading has been sketchy the last few weeks, as follows:

Number 28: Yes, Please! Amy Poehler. This was a good, fun read. A bit light though, and probably not really brilliantly written or conceived? Just a feeling. Would like to check out Tina Fey’s couple of books to compare. I’m more familiar with Fey’s work, too.

Number 29: The Little Paris Bookshop – abandoned. Just not for me. I’ve given it to a friend to see if she likes it, with the instructions to pass it on if not.

Number 30: The Little Friend – Donna Tartt. This is the third time I have completely read this book (there have been others when I’ve dipped in, or looked at structure or something like that). The first time I read it, I remember really loving it in the first third and then it losing me when it switched to different point of view characters (the antagonists). Second time, I had a similar feeling, but less so. I still battled the density of it, and think I skimmed quite a lot. This time, I made sure I read everything, even the [formerly] boring bits and found, they aren’t boring! They are really insightful, and connected to the larger themes of the book. I have earlier said that this book is either a genius work, or the absolute opposite, like a Never Mind the Bollocks literary equivalent, but I testify here and now, that I love it, it’s my favourite Tartt, and I think she is a brilliant, brilliant writer. She took the foot off the pedal for Goldfinch, and compared to The Secret History, The Little Friend blows that out of the water. I think she’s an amazing writer, her sentences, the words chosen, she writes about place very gorgeously, but not in that breathy, overwritten way that is the mark of a less-experienced writer. I think I have to say she is one of the most exciting writers around, and the reason we only get a book a decade is because she is working so hard, for so long, building these structures that are like the Taj Mahals or Dolmabahce Palaces of literature. There. I’ve said it.

What I’m reading now

– still part-way through Station Eleven. Not sure if I’ll go back to. Maybe.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August – ditto to above
– still partway through a reread of Hotchner’s Papa Hemingway. Probs won’t bother to go back to. I dip in and out of Hem bios. I believe Hotchner has another Hemingway book coming out, I will get that one.
– Omar Musa’s DOGS and Maxine Beneba Clarke’s Foreign Soil – I WILL FINISH THESE
– Rachel Cusk’s Outline. Will get back to it.

Recently started:

Orange is the New Black. I’ll finish. It’s quick pap.
Relativity by Antonia Hayes. Am only a little way in. Not sure but will keep going because of the attention it’s getting.

What I’m wishing I was reading, and why the hell don’t I just:
Karl Ove’s fourth book and the Elena Ferrante second book.

Maybe I will. I’m feeling a little lost after finishing The Little Friend. But what I need to be thinking about is my writing. Yeah.



Orange is the New Black, Season 3. It’s gone off the boil for me.
Orphan Black.
Missing Game of Thrones. A bit bereft there as well.


Making lots of soup these days, am using the food processor more than I have in the last eight years. Yesterday, I went to a friend’s house, and tried to make chai in her Thermomix, and having never used one before, and my friend being in the other room, I managed to tip in 2 tablespoons of chai and then FLOOD the kitchen by pouring in a whole litre of soy milk, but the thingy inside the machine wasn’t thinged, so it all went through the bottom, over the bench, down the sides of the cupboards and onto the floorboards, and in between the floorboards. Luckily she is a beautifully spirited woman, and I don’t think she hates me for it! [Hey, T 😉 ]

9 thoughts on “What I’ve been reading, what I stopped reading, what I want to be reading

  1. Haha, Jenny, your kitchen mishap made me laugh. Just as well it wasn’t in your kitchen, eh? Just joking.

    You know I haven’t read anything by Donna Tartt. Is that terrible? It’s amazing the gaps in our reading we keep building up.

    You really are reading a lot. I try not to have too many on the go. Usually just a couple, though at present, if I were honest, I’d have to admit to about 4.

    1. I know Sue, it was so bad. At least we could laugh about it! The thing is I’m one of those people who thinks all that machinery isn’t necessary, so I wonder whether my attitude meant the Thermomix got revenge?

      I get the reading gap. There are plenty of authors I haven’t read, and you’d be surprised. I find I never used to have lots on the go at once, and now when I do, I can settle to one and read right through. I think it’s about mood and also now I read for different reasons. I forgot to put some others on that list. I’ve also stalled in ‘All The Light We Cannot See.’ Have you read that one?

      1. Haha, maybe it did. Must say that I’m a bit with you on kitchen machinery. I have the basics – microwave, electric mixer and food processor. My brother, who’s even less into appliances than I am shamed us into getting a toaster years ago. I just used the griller until then. We don’t have an electric kettle, I just use a kettle on the stove. And I absolutely resist a rice cooker. Really? You need a rice cooker to cook rice? Oh well, I guess we all draw the line somewhere don’t we.

        No I haven’t read that one. A group I’m in read it recently but I didn’t manage to join them. Are you liking it?

  2. That kitchen mishap sounds like something I would do LOL 😉

    I’m absolutely thrilled that Sofie Laguna won the Miles Franklin – I’ll be reading The Eye of the Sheep this summer 😀

  3. Not digging ‘Station eleven’? I read it all, very quickly and kind of obsessively, and then wondered why it wasn’t as good as I’d wanted it to be.
    As for ‘what I wish I was reading and wonder why the hell I’m not’ – this is my eternal struggle.

  4. Sue, I didn’t fall into All the Light We Cannot. I think the super short chapters, not even chapters, made it difficult to settle. Also, I dunno. Just didn’t grab me. Some of the writing so beautiful but mostly I found it uneven? And not as compelling as others seemed to find it. Can’t remember really what my objections were, other than it being a bit ‘meh’ for me.

  5. So I’ve tried to read The Little Friend. Twice. I grind to a halt midway though… why?! I have loved her other books. I wonder if it’s because I don’t get a good sense of place or time in The Little Friend? The beginning feels like it should be in the 1950s… and there’s a household drug lab… Perhaps third time lucky?!

    Finish Foreign Soil – I so much admired the distinctiveness of each story.

    All the Light We Cannot See – equal favourite-of-the-year for me in 2014. Beautifully written.

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