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!

Blogging highlights

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!).

Literary events

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.

Reading goals

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.

Red Dog

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 …

28 thoughts on “Highlights of 2012: Blogging and the Reading Life

  1. Yay, well done, I am so pleased that Pandora are archiving your articles, I think they are a veyr special addition to perspectives on Australian Literature and theywill be a wonderful resource in years to come.

    • Thanks Lisa … I was going to tell you when they told me they’d started but they didn’t tell me so I just thought I’d check in case, and there it was! I think you’re right that Pandora will be a good resource.

  2. What a fruitful year! I’ve really enjoyed the the depth and variety of your blog posts, plus their engaged tone. There is always so much to read and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your recommendations. So much work involved here too – this almost sounds like a full time job! Best wishes for a well-read and satisfying 2013!

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  4. No real highlights, but over the holidays I’ve been thinking how lucky I am to love reading. Grateful to all the authors who keep me so entertained. And then there are the bloggers who point the way to great books…

    • Some years are like that I think, aren’t they, Guy … Good but not with highlights. And of course I agree with all you say about reading … You can never be alone if you have a good book … And other bloggers.

  5. Congratulations on a wonderful year, and it’s absolutely fantastic that Whispering Gums is now in the National Library’s PANDORA program. Thanks for everything you do for Australian literature, and I look forward to another year of regularly dropping in to this great on-line place. All the best to you for 2013.

  6. Congratulations on the Pandora inclusion- and the Foal’s Bread blurb. At least your most read post is about a book- mine is about jellyfish! Happy blogging for 2013

  7. Glad you’ve had a rewarding reading year, WG. One thing about Challenges, it is you who choose which one(s) to take on and what books to read. So you’re still your own mistress in that sense. Usually I don’t do challenges either, but this year I’ve taken up the Graham Greene and the Irish ones (my choice), and have enjoyed my own selections of the GG books and the different genres of Irish literature I’d chosen for myself. Anyway, I’m glad it worked out well. As we near the new year, I wish you all the best and another year of great reads and blogging! You’ll step into 2013 earliest, I’m sure you’re celebrating already. 😉

    • LOL Arti … not quite but we will be soon. We are heading off to see Quartet … can’t resist all those English actors even though it’s probably going to be a bit predictable and schmaltzy, but I may be surprised!

      Yes, I know you are right about challenges … you choose the challenge that enables you to read books you want to do but even those I fear will adjust my priorities (which the AWW didn’t do one iota). Somehow my life is so driven right now I feel I can manage anything else driving it (even if it’s things I know I’d enjoy … does that make sense?).

      All the best to you for 2013 also … and now I’m going to pop over to your blog to comment on Les Mis!

  8. Happy 2012 of reading joy, and here’s to an even more page-turning, lyrical, emotive (can I use that word here?), and exciting 2013 of reading exhilaration!

  9. A most excellent year! Thank you for introducing me to so many “new” authors and getting me to read some of them! Happy New Year! May you 2013 be filled with happiness and love and lots of good books!

    • And back at ha Stefanie … Through you I’ve read some great articles, been introduced to some interesting ideas, kept up to date with literary concerns, and, as I recollect, was introduced to a great short story or two … Not to mention some novels I’ve wanted to read but didn’t quite make!

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  11. Many thanks for mentions and when you look back it has been a great year ,I recently brought red dog on video as I had read the book when it came out ,my love of dog connected books made me read it but is a lovely little book ,all the best stu

    • I read the book when it came out too, and enjoyed it, so was thrilled to see the film. Hope you enjoy it. It’s VERY Australian in humour, landscape and social history. I’d love to hear what you think when you’ve seen it.

  12. Thanks for the mention and Happy New Year, and we are of course missing you on the ‘Shadow’ Jury this year! There’s been some great stuff so far. If there was one book I’d pick out, based roughly on what you liked last year, I’d suggest Nayomi Munaweera’s Island Of A Thousand Mirrors is worth checking out…

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