I went to our end of the year Book Club Christmas get together the other night. Fullers book shop have 9 book groups of 12 people each. The event probably had close to 50 readers who turned up for drinks and nibbles at a lovely hotel in the city. We had a raging rain storm during the event with loud thunder which Tasmania rarely hears, lightning flashing past the windows and many areas around Hobart were flooding.
We calmly ate, chatted and then we had a ten questions trivia quiz about the books we read in a power point presentation. Book vouchers went to the top three who answer$20.00 book voucher to the store. It is always welcome.
Readers also had a survey to fill out before our end of year event and first and foremost we wanted to know what books were the most popular with the group. At the end of the event we were given a list of books for next year up until June, 2022. We were all itching to get that list. I am sharing all of it here with you.
The Group’s Most Popular Reads of 2021
- Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Octopus and I by Erin Hortle
- Here We Are by Graham Swift
- A Perfect Spy by John LeCarré
- The Yield by Tara June Winch
- Collected Stories by Shirley Hazzard
- Gilead by Marilyn Robinson
- The Master and Margarita by Mikail Bulgakov
- City of Ghosts by Ben Creed
I laughed at this list as my favourite book was City of Ghosts, followed by the Graham Swift then the Master and Margarita. Boy, am I ever out of step.
The list for 2022 is as follows:
February: Amanda Lohrey, “The Labyrinth” (2021) – Miles Franklin Winner / Tasmania
The Labyrinth is a hypnotic story of guilt and denial, of the fraught relationship between parents and children, that is also a meditation on how art can both be ruthlessly destructive and restore sanity. It also shows Tasmanian author Amanda Lohrey to be at the peak of her powers.
March: Abdulrazak Gurnah, “After Lives” (2020) – Nobel Prize Winner / Tanzania
In 2021, Abdulrazak Gurnah was awarded the world’s highest literary honour, the Nobel Prize, for “his uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents.” His most recent novel, Afterlives, follows the interlinked stories of a group of friends in East Africa who live and work and fall in love in the shadow of a war that threatens to snatch them up and carry them away.
April: Niall Williams, “This Is Happiness” (2019) — Ireland
This Is Happiness is a tender portrait of a small Irish community – its idiosyncrasies and traditions, its paradoxes and kindnesses, its failures and triumphs – and a coming-of-age tale like no other. Luminous and lyrical, yet anchored by roots running deep into the earthy and everyday, it is about the power of stories: their invisible currents that run through all we do, writing and rewriting us, and the transforming light that they throw onto our world.
May: Louise Erdrich, “The Sentence” (2021) – Indigenous / Native AmericanLouise Erdrich, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning author (and bookshop owner), is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant Native American writers today. In The Sentence, a small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted by the store’s most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls’ Day, but she simply won’t leave the store. In this stunning and timely novel, Erdrich creates a wickedly funny ghost story, a tale of passion, of a complex marriage, and of a woman’s relentless errors, and a bitter pandemic year many of us will never forget.
June: Damon Galgut, “The Promise” (2021) – Booker Prize Winner / South Africa
The winner of this year’s Booker Prize, The Promise is a taut and menacing novel that charts the crash and burn of an Afrikaans family, the Swarts. Punctuated by funerals that bring the ever-diminishing family together, each of the four parts opens with a death and a new decade. The characterisations are razor sharp, the dialogue dramatic, the action gripping. As we traverse the decades, accomplished author Damon Galgut interweaves the story of a disappointed nation from apartheid to Jacob Zuma.
July: Laura Jean McKay, “The Animals in That Country” (2020) – Arthur C. Clarke Winner / Science Fiction / Australia
As disturbing news arrives of a pandemic sweeping the country, hard-drinking, foul-mouthed grandmother Jean realises this is no ordinary flu: its chief symptom is that its victims begin to understand the language of animals — first mammals, then birds and insects, too. As the flu progresses, the unstoppable voices become overwhelming, and many people begin to lose their minds, including Jean’s infected son, Lee. Bold, exhilarating, and wholly original, The Animals in That Country asks what would happen, for better or worse, if we finally understood what animals were saying.
August (?): Sei Shonagon, “The Pillow Book” (1002) — Classic / Japan / Translation (depending if enough copies can be acquired).
Our Classic read of the year is The Pillow Book, a fascinating, detailed account of Japanese court life in the eleventh century written by a lady of the court at the height of Heian culture. Written at the same time as The Tale of Genji, this book enthralls with its lively gossip, witty observations, and subtle impressions of a vanished world.
In a final note, Fullers bookshop has another competition going. They have a large advertisement on the side of one metro bus that drives around Hobart. If you see it, snap a photo of it, send it in to them and each week they award a $50.00 gift voucher to the lucky winner. I spotted it this past week on my way to the gym. Snapped a photo, then photoshopped the beloved Penguin onto it and off it win. Here’s hoping!