In which Netty sums up the good, the bad and the ugly of the 2013 Reading ChallengeJanuary 30, 2014
So it’s that time of the year again in Andy and Netty’s Reading Challenge. Where we cast our literary gaze backwards and sum up a year’s worth of books – the good, the bad, and the downright despicable.
Last year there was all three for me.
Because of the nature of the 2013 ANRC – with Andy and I reading six books apiece, and 12 books separately – I have decided to do not one, but two lists of my 2013 roundup.
Exciting, yeah? Are you excited? I’m excited. I love lists. Almost as much as I used to love mac cheese, before I stopped eating cheese. It’s really hard to make a mac cheese without, like, actual cheese. But I digress …
THE SHARED CHALLENGE
The real-life story of the Rosenbergs, executed in the US in the 1950s for communist activity, told via the fictionalised Isaacsons. Stunning, compelling, difficult, rewarding reading. The epitome of ANRC books.
US cult writer (see also Brautigan in the Separate Challenge) who lived like a devil and wrote like an angel. Could very easily be sitting atop this list. Both men are my literary finds of the year.
The dysfunctional family drama that wrote the book on dysfunctional family dramas. Everything that came after it, from Cloudstreet to The Corrections, owes Stead a debt.
Sprawling love letter to NYC of the early decades of the 20th century. Far more worthy of your time than my initial review may have suggested.
This book went straight from being read to the recycling bin.
This book went straight from being read to the rubbish bin.
THE SEPARATE CHALLENGE
Get thee to a bookshop, stat. Best thing I read all year.
The incredible, real-life story of seven American men who were strapped into tiny capsules on top of muthafucka big rockets and blasted into space. As told by possibly the finest journalist of his generation, in Wolfe.
Half-memoir, half travelogue, take an absorbing, beautifully told journey through the dark continent with travel writer par excellence Theroux. The second best thing to having actually done it yourself. Ahem.
Just a hands-down, cracking, rollicking yarn from a firing-on-all-cylinders writer whose reputation is well-established – and well-earned.
Fantastic, touching tale of an extremely odd couple – a young boy and a Bengal tiger – adrift in the Pacific Ocean, improbably comes up trumps. PS: See the movie. In 3D.
Quaint, unlikely love story, set in the Australian bush. With eucalypts. Plenty of ’em.
Spiritual salvation or mystic mumbo-jumbo? A bit of both, actually.
The leader of an ultra-violent teen gang gets taught a lesson in humanity, via medical science. Dated but worthy.
In all fairness, this probably wouldn’t still be in print if it wasn’t for the very long literary shadow looming over it. A curio for Fitzgerald completists.
Dreamy, deranged, drug-soaked, dissatisfying (is that a word?). A curio for Morvern Callar completists.
Dull, frequently unnecessary short stories lacking a destination. And often a story.
Now, the more astute of you will have noticed that it’s the arse-end (bit of a theme in this blog post) of January now, so stand by for the 2014 list, coming to a computer screen near you, in five, four, three, two …