Highlights of 2012: Blogging and the Reading Life
It’s been a busy year chez Gums and so I’ve decided to write two highlight posts – one listing some favourite reads, and this one for other blogging and reading highlights. Here, in no particular order, they are …
The challenge to do when you don’t do challenges
I decided when I started blogging that I wouldn’t take part in challenges, much as some intrigued me. I wanted to be mistress of my own reading choices and not get drawn into “having” to read something to comply with a challenge. But then, along came the Australian Women Writers Challenge, and I couldn’t say no. It’s a bit of a cheat, really, to say I’ve engaged in a challenge because reading Australian women writers is not a challenge for me. It’s what I do anyhow, it’s my reading preference. And so, readers, I completed the challenge – and will take part again next year. Look for tomorrow’s Monday Musings for my challenge wrap-up …
Other blogging activities
This year I took part in two other blogger-initiated literary activities. One was the Shadow Man Asian Literary Prize team (which actually started in late 2011 but ran through the first quarter of 2012). With a team of 6 (Lisa, Fay , Matt, Stu and Mark), we reviewed the full longlist and chose our winning book, Kyung-Sook Shin’s Please look after mother, which was also chosen by the official judges. It was a great experience, and some of the books I read will be among this year’s reading highlights. However, I have not joined the team this year because I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I’m missing reading some great books though, I know.
The other activity was the Bah-Humbook virtual gift exchange instigated by Guy Savage and Emma. My exchange partner was Stu (see Shadow Man Asian team above!). Stu chose two fascinating sounding books for me, so you can expect reviews of these in the coming months!
It has been a pretty exciting year for Whispering Gums blog. Firstly, I finally decided in October to buy my own domain name so that I’m now the proud owner of “whisperinggums.com”. It doesn’t mean much really – except that Google “lost” me for a few months – but it somehow feels more authentic. I’m still hosted by WordPress, giving me, for my needs, the best of both worlds.
Around the same time, an excerpt of my review of Gillian Mears‘ wonderful novel Foals’ bread was included, along with those from another blog (Reading Matters) and several newspaper/magazine reviewers, in the front pages of the “C” paperback edition of the novel.
And then, in December, my blog was added to the Pandora web archive by the National Library of Australia, meaning that, if I ever disappear, my blog will be available online in perpetuity (or until a librarian decides to deselect it!).
I attended a number of literary events this year … though never as many as I’d like to! The highlight was probably the inaugural Canberra Readers’ Festival. With writers like Kate Grenville, Anita Heiss and Frank Moorhouse speaking, it had to be a winner, and it was. We Canberrans hope it continues next year.
I also attended the Prime Ministers’ Literary Prize post-announcement panel, and the launches of The invisible thread anthology, Nigel Featherstone’s novella I’m ready now and Suzanne Edgar’s poetry collection Love procession.
This heading is a bit of a misnomer, as I don’t set formal reading goals. However, I do have in my mind works and authors I’d like to read, and this year I achieved an important one, Gerald Murnane. He’s been on the Australian literary scene for a few decades but I had never managed to read him until now. And why now? Because of Text Publishing’s new Text Classics series – the publication of which is another highlight of my reading year. Text has made available, at a good price, a wonderful and diverse collection of Australian classics. I’m glad I finally met this goal, and look forward to more Murnane in my reading future.
I wrote a post in September about the number of ways people were reaching my blog by asking about the film Red Dog, particularly by asking whether Red Dog dies in the movie. Three months later – and some sixteen months after my review – my Red Dog post is still in my top five posts for the year. That movie seems to have really hit a chord. This doesn’t mean I am now going to tell you the answer, but I’m sorry to tell you that Koko, who played Red Dog in the movie, died this month. He was only 7 and had, apparently, won awards for his role. I didn’t even know there were awards for animal stars but apparently there are. All I can say is, Vale Red Dog, oops, I mean Vale Koko!
And that’s about it from me for my blogging/reading life highlights of the year. I’d love to hear if you have any highlights of the literary or blogging kind that you’d like to share …