Bookends

As I look at the pile of books I’ve read this year I can’t decide whether I should hoot triumphantly or slump dejectedly. Maybe I’ll do both. This has a lot to do with the reading and writing goals I set myself earlier in January this year.
Goal #1        I knew I had to read theory, politics, history and writing manuals.
Goal #2        I knew I wanted to read new and pre-loved writers 🙂
Goal #3         I knew I had to finish writing a reasonable draft of my own novel (!!)
So, here are some of the books I read for the first goal.

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They sat on my desk and I dipped into them, daily, weekly, monthly, escaping into slim volumes of poetry and collections of short stories to absorb all the new information attempting to colonise my depleted brain cells.

Signing up for the Australian Women Writers Challenge meant I could read these.

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I’ve reviewed some of these earlier on my blog and that taught me another skill – I became a book reviewer. I learned to read closely, reflect on what worked in these extraordinary books and then try to convey something of what I felt without quoting extensively from the writer and other reviewers. So I give myself permission to quote from a couple here, because it doesn’t get any better than this.

Listen. There are people who are saints, and temples thousands of years old, Laura, and camel trains crossing the deserts. Cities are broken to pieces, and people are climbing mountains and making pilgrimages to Mecca. There’s beauty and terror and so much more than we know. Nothing is this small. The Watch Tower by Elizabeth Harrower.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately, lambsie, how strange it is that sometimes we manage almost to erase the memory of pain to spare ourselves, and other times it’s as though we’ve taken to it with a polishing cloth. That day in August 1909 is one of those memories. I can pluck it from the past, brutally whole and clean. Elemental by Amanda Curtin.

There were some great books I read on Kindle too, and the three that stand out are Margaret Atwood’s Year of the Flood, Thrity Umrigar’s Bombay Time and Marlish Glorie’s Sea Dog Hotel. Not a big fan of Kindle, but find it useful on those short trips where reading a book a day is as essential as seeing the sights or sampling local cuisine.

Aussie blokes also managed to squeeze their way into my reading life, and I returned to crime with David Whish-Wilson after a long time, and what a satisfying return it was too! Arrhythmia was surprising, worldly and particular at the same time and Eyrie thumped a fist at my heart and revived me after a stint of self doubt, fear and loathing, which involved ranting at my unfinished novel and sobbing.

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And here’s the ‘Rest of the World.’ I think I picked the best. All of these, different, satisfying, unsettling, poetic.

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As for my last goal – a reasonable draft of my own novel – well – is a third draft of about 20,000 words considered reasonable? Only another 50,000 to go before December ends, so I guess I better get on with it. Hoot. Slump.

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13 responses to “Bookends

  1. You’re nearly there, Rashida, and you need to keep giving yourself a bit of a cheer (or a large container of macadamia ice-cream) as well as a push along this last stretch! I am looking forward to the day when your novel is in the world; I’ll be first in line to buy it. Thank you again for your wonderful support for Elemental. xx

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  2. How loyal to West Australian writers; how industrious – how committed you are! I like the one, two, three element too. I’ll be standing behind Amanda in that long line – can’t wait to read your writing again. Shame we caught up in such sad circumstances on Monday, when you can take a breath again maybe we could have coffee?

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    • I know … there wasn’t much time to read anything else and there were still so many West Australians I wanted to read. This is good! We are blessed to have such a vibrant writing community. Yes, let’s catch up. Will message you for some possible times and thanks again, xx

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  3. Thats an impressive reading haul Rashida! And the ‘reasonable draft’ is … reasonable! Amanda, you may find you have quite a bit of competition in that queue (in the nicest possible way, of course. How rough or quick are your elbows?) 😇😊. No pressure Rashida, but we are waiting in sweet anticiation …………..

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  4. Wow! You have read so many — from local to international, and you’ve included a few men. I must admit, I’m skewed towards the female authors, although I am currently reading Eyrie and loving it — I feel like I’m reading a true master and learning so much as I read.

    You have another reader here, chomping at the bit to read your novel when it’s published. But I understand how long these things take, and sometimes they can’t be hurried.

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  5. Rashida! That is an impressive list. You’ve done so much. I feel challenged and inspired! And as for the draft, it’s mellowing like a beautiful, rich, deep wine…time is nothing compared to this!

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    • Thank you Kim. I hope you’re right! It had better be mellowing…at least that’s a justification for this limbo!
      We’d better both finish writing these books and have a combined book launch, then? 🙂

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