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Books given and received for Christmas, in 2017

December 26, 2017

Claire G Coleman, Terra NulliusIn what is becoming a Boxing Day tradition – I have many traditions it seems at the end of the year – I am doing, again, a post on the books I gave and received this Christmas.

  • For Ma Gums, who has worked as a lexicographer, another word-oriented book (giving her such books is becoming another tradition!): Ann Patty’s Living with a dead language: My romance with Latin. My mum loved Latin at school and how it’s helped her with language throughout her now long life. I hope she likes this book.
  • For Daughter Gums, who reads widely but perhaps less so in the classics: A classic Australian, Christina Stead’s Little hotel.
  • For Brother Gums, who reads broadly, including keeping up with new Aussie releases: Robert Drewe’s latest, Whipbird, which was recently reviewed favourably by Lisa (ANZLitLovers).
  • For Sister-in-law Gums, who’s always interested in diverse authors and subjects, another recent Aussie book: Claire Coleman’s Terra nullius.
  • For Gums’ Californian friend, to whom I always like to send something Aussie: Stephanie Buckle’s short story collection, Habits of silence (my review). Not only is it a great read that appeals particularly, I think, to older readers, but it’s also a light one to post!

Peter Carey, A long way from hereAs for what I received, a varied but a much appreciated bunch:

  • From Parent Gums: Three books, because, strangely, they know I like to read. What a bonanza: Peter Carey’s A long way from here, Michelle de Kretser’s The life to come, and W. Bruce Cameron’s A dog’s way home.
  • From Son and Daughter Gums, who heard about my reading group schedule: Claire Coleman’s Terra nullius and Richard Flanagan’s First person. (I think I’m set for our next schedule now. I just have to find time to read them now.)
  • From Brother and Sister-in-law Gums, who, I’m pleased to say, usually give me books from their southern state: Rachel Leary’s novel Bridget Crack, which has been getting some good reviews around the blogs, and Tasmanian poet Robyn Mathison’s gorgeous little poetry collection Still bravely singing. I love reading books from our southern state.
  • From my Californian friend who gave me Viet Thanh Nguyen’s wonderful Pulitzer prize-winning The sympathizer last year: Viet Thanh Nguyen’s follow-up book The refugees, which fits beautifully into what seems to be my current reading trend, stories about displacement.
  • From a Jane Austen group member who organised a lucky dip of her duplicates at our end-of year-plus-Jane’s-birthday-celebration. An inspired idea – at least we all thought so (!): Paula Byrne’s Jane Austen: A life in small things. I have been tempted to buy this book several times, so am thrilled to have a copy.
  • From my now Octogenarian volunteer from my working days, with whom I keep in contact for semi-regular lunches: A gift voucher from a bookshop. Woo-hoo!

What about you? Any Christmas book news you care to report

52 Comments leave one →
  1. December 26, 2017 23:15

    I didn’t give Terra Nullius, though I think it’s a great present, but did give Bloodlines, Nicole Sinclair, and the follow up to Robert Edeson’s Weaver Fish, Bad to Worse. Doing my best to support WA writers.

  2. December 27, 2017 00:02

    You have some great reading ahead, Sue!

  3. December 27, 2017 01:27

    No books. I really liked A Little Hotel. My fav. Stead so far.

  4. December 27, 2017 10:25

    My family doesn’t have members who read at all. They are all right wing American republicans who get all the information they need to know from Fox news. Mr Penguin thinks I have enough books so no books from him either. I usually take a wad of cash to Fullers book store in January and pick out several books in order to get over the depressive Christmas I leave behind. There’s a short story in this. Haha.One day I will learn that I was adopted I am sure.

    • December 27, 2017 10:58

      Oh dear! I can see, perhaps, why you escaped to the other end of the world then Pam. I’d like to see your short story!

  5. Neil@kallaroo permalink
    December 27, 2017 13:21

    No books to me, just games and puzzles and nibbles, and a small suitcase to make hospital stays easier (and yes, been in hospital a fortnight). And no books given, but I did give the missus the card game “Once Upon a Time”, where you make up a fairy tale based on the cards you have in your hand. Does that count?

    • December 27, 2017 15:17

      Oh yes, I think that counts, Neil, though it would terrify me. I’m a reader of stories not a maker of them!! We gave my mother a small hospital bag for her last birthday. After their downsizing we realised she didn’t have a suitable small bag with wheels. The first one to use it though was Dad!

      Are you out of hospital now? I do hope so. (BTW Quite coincidentally, my brother gave our mother Our souls at night!! When he told me he was doing that, I told him that I’d only just been suggesting it to her in the preceding week for her reading group, and had suggested it to another friend too who had liked it a lot.)

      • Neil Bloomfie permalink
        December 27, 2017 19:40

        Alas, still in hospital. Had Christmas in hospital, and was good fun. Three shifts of visitors, so three lots of present exchanging, and we had time to enjoy others opening presents. My main complaint was I’m not eating brilliantly, so the fruit and cheese platter escaped with only a nibble of one cheese! No idea when I’ll be out. Not doing all that much reading, spending too much time on puzzles!

        • December 27, 2017 21:32

          I’m sorry to hear it Neil, though am glad you had spaced present giving. That’s always good!

          As for puzzles, you sound like my Mum. There’s nothing wrong with puzzle-doing.

        • December 27, 2017 21:33

          Oh, and meant to say I do hope you are out soon.

  6. Deepika Ramesh permalink
    December 27, 2017 14:07

    I love this post, WG. Thank you for sharing. In one way, it’s scary to gift books to voracious readers, lest they would have already read the books or own copies. I am so glad you and yours sharing book-love generously. I want to read so many of it and I look forward to reading your thoughts on these books. I have read and watched Cameron’s ‘A Dog’s Purpose’. For the first time, I loved a movie more than its book. I want to read ‘A Dog’s Way Home’ too.

    One of my friends sent me a gift card for Christmas. Using that, I bought a Tamil book, Daniel Kehlmann’s ‘Measuring The World’, and Dan Gemeinhart’s ‘Some Kind of Courage’. Our harvest festival takes place in mid-January. I wanted to gift books then. But unfortunately, I haven’t found a job yet. So, my book-gifting spree is now postponed. I hope it would happen soon.

    • December 27, 2017 15:24

      It sure is difficult Deepika. My brother and partner are lucky that their local independent bookstore in Hobart will often exchange a book I bought them if they’ve read it, even though I bought it here – if it’s in mint condition and it’s the sort they would sell, which it usually is!

      I hope it’s ok to read A dog’s way home, without reading the first one. I’m assuming it will be. (I saw the trailers for A dog’s purpose but not the film.)

      I hope your gift-giving spree will be soon too, because it will mean you have a job!!

      • Deepika Ramesh permalink
        December 27, 2017 15:29

        Thank you, WG. I am so excited for you! 😊

    • December 27, 2017 15:25

      Oops, and Deepika, you reminded me that I got a book voucher too that I was going to mention in the post. I’ve now added it!!

      • Nawnim permalink
        December 27, 2017 18:38

        I am boring but I gave and received Dymocks book vouchers. I have not decided what I am going to buy yet, but I am thinking of buying my own copy of His bloody Project by Graeme McRae Burnet. I have read it and loved it so much that I want to own it as well because it is a book that I will enjoy re-reading at my leisure, a bit like my ‘host of golden daffodils’.

  7. Nawnim permalink
    December 27, 2017 18:54

    Stephanie Buckle would love to know that her book of short stories has gone to California. Can someone let her know. I don’t have contact details.

    • December 27, 2017 19:04

      I don’t, I’m afraid, but perhaps some people who know her read the blog? I’d love her to know myself!

  8. December 27, 2017 20:54

    I gave quite a few of my relatives and friends books:

    To my friend D I gave Jennifer Egan’s “Manhattan Beach”
    To his wife I gave “Ka: Dart Oakley in the Ruins of Imyr” by John Crowley
    To my brother I gave “Tool of War” by Paolo Bacigalupi and Gnomon by Nick Harkaway
    To my niece I gave The Marianne Trilogy by Sheri Tepper and “The Bear and the Nightingale” by Katherine Arden
    To my great niece I gave Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” and “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman

    My friend D gave me “Sagaland” by Richard Fidler and Kari Gislason and my brother gave me a Readings gift card which I have yet to redeem

    • December 27, 2017 21:09

      Oh, I hear Manhattan Beach is great Anne. And also Sagaland. But as always you name some books I have never heard of, including the John Crowley and Paolo Bacigalupi books. I have heard of Gnomon, which is a start. Thanks for joining in. I love hearing what people give and receive.

    • Neil Bloomfie permalink
      December 27, 2017 21:20

      Fantastic choices for your grand niece!

      • December 27, 2017 21:30

        I’m not surprised you like some of Anne’s choices, Neil. Anne, please meet Neil who likes speculative fiction and the like! Neil, please meet Anne who likes, well, speculative fiction and the like!

        • Neil@kallaroo permalink
          December 27, 2017 22:31

          LOL. I’m chasing up the Tepper books. She is one of my favourite authors, can’t recall any Marianne’s, so I am checking out the first in the series. She was a funny story teller. A lot of her stories used to fall over right at the end. Just didn’t quite work. But I couldn’t stop reading her, such an imagination!

        • December 27, 2017 22:41

          Sounds tempting, but probably not someone I’m ever going to fit into my schedule unless I find a lot more time to read! I do love a good imagination though.

    • Neil Bloomfie permalink
      January 2, 2018 19:23

      Knocked off the Marianne trilogy. Hangs together all the way, with a clever and satisfying end. If your niece doesn’t enjoy, she is beyond redemption!

  9. December 27, 2017 21:55

    Love this post every year – thanks Sue! At my office Xmas lunch, I gave a book to each of my colleagues (along with a little speech of thanks for each). Movie buff colleague received latest Bruce Beresford memoir. Art lover colleague received a novel: The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose. Finance Manager also received a novel: The Break by Marian Keyes. Retiring colleague and family historian received Brenda Niall’s family history, Can You Hear The Sea. And for the Managing Director, George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo. For myself I bought Michelle de Kretser’s The Life to Come and John Clarke’s Tinkering. And on Christmas Day lovely husband gave me (amongst other things) a big glossy book called 200 Women – interviews with 200 women “who will change the way you see the world” and a local history of Hanging Rock. Can’t wait to get started!

    • December 27, 2017 22:46

      I love that you love this post Michelle. And I love hearing about the books in your Christmas. Your office-mates are very lucky!

      I have the Bruce Beresford n my pile and hope to get to it fairly soon. I gave the Niall to a friend for her birthday in October but was so tempted to get a copy for myself, and I’d love to read Lincoln in the Bardo. My Mum gave my brother’s partner the Marian Keyes book.

      • December 27, 2017 23:07

        Dead keen to know what you think of Lincoln in the Bardo. It was an absolute stand-out read for me. Loved it.

        • December 28, 2017 01:52

          I was hoping to get it onto my reading group schedule as one of our ex-members (ex because she moved away) loved it and recommended it, but one of our members had tried it and gave it the thumbs down, which means I’ll have to find another time and excuse to read it. It sounds really intriguing.

  10. December 28, 2017 07:51

    You’re lucky to have so many readers in your family.

    Nice harvest of books!

  11. Neil@kallaroo permalink
    December 28, 2017 09:12

    “… worked as a lexicographer, another word-oriented book …”

    I’m a bit of a word buff myself. Could you list the other word-oriented books please Gums? Thanks.

    • December 28, 2017 11:12

      Neil, here are the ones I believe I’ve given her over the last several years:
      John Simpson, The word detective: A life in words from serendipity to selfie (she is reading this now and loving it); Mary Norris, Between you & me: Confessions of a comma queen; Diana Athill, Stet: an editor’s life (published in some places as Stet: A memoir, I think); Ammon Shea, Reading the OED: One man, one year, 21,730 pages. And one I have but haven’t got to yet: Craig Munro, Under cover: Adventures in the art of editing.

  12. sharkell permalink
    December 28, 2017 12:57

    I love your Boxing Day posts (even though it sometimes takes me a while to get to them). I read First Person on Boxing Day (my day off after the build-up to Christmas). I enjoyed it but didn’t know the back story and feel like I missed some things along the way… I was given Terra Nullius by Clare G Coleman, Taboo by Kim Scott and City of Crows by Chris Womersley. Have started Terra Nullius and finding it well written and intriguing so far.

    • December 28, 2017 15:28

      Thanks Sharkell, but wow, you read First Person in one day! It’s so long since I’ve had the time to do something like that, but I live for the day. I already have Taboo, but haven’t got to it yet, and would certainly be interested in City of crows.

      I’m looking forward to Terra Nullius but will be patient until my reading group does it!

      • sharkell permalink
        December 28, 2017 15:35

        Yes, one day – it is the only day of the year I am “allowed” to sit and read. I take some time picking the book that I will read. Last year I read The Underground Railroad, which I must say I enjoyed a lot more than First Person.

        • December 28, 2017 15:43

          I’ve been reading The Weaver Fish since Xmas eve and am so far at p.130. Still, I’ve eaten well.

        • December 28, 2017 15:52

          Haha, that sounds more like me Bill!

        • December 28, 2017 15:52

          Haha, sharkell, making that decision could be very stressful! Anyhow, you have me interested now because most people have really loved First Person, though I’ve seen a few naysayers. I didn’t get to read The underground railroad at all, much as I’d like to have.

  13. December 28, 2017 16:12

    I forgot to mention another book I received from an old friend, who out of the blue sent me one of her mother’s books. It’s a 1946 edition of a book by noted publisher Michael Joseph called Cat’s Company. I’ve never heard of it before, but cat lover that I am, will surely enjoy.

    Apropos John Crowley, he’s probably the most underrated author of all time even in his own country (USA). His dedicated readers know how good he is and treasure each of the 13 novels he has written.

    I must admit I am fond of American writers, not necessarily in the speculative fiction field.

    • December 28, 2017 16:31

      Oh thanks Anne. I have not heard of it either. Sounds like they know you well. I rather like American writers too though haven’t read as many recently as I used to. I love some of the early women like Wharton, Cather, Chopin, in particular.

  14. Lithe lianas permalink
    December 28, 2017 17:35

    Yes, Ma Gums is enjoying The Word Detective. Fascinating to read in a style as informal but informative revealing the development of the methodology of dictionary writing between the 1970s and the 21st century. What wouldn’t Dr Johnson have given for a computer! I am champing at the bit to do more than the already dipped into the Patty, too, but so many books await me, many already tantalisingly dipped into, ‘cos, after all one has to keep up with one’s fiction reading, too. Retirement doesn’t always bestow extra time on retirees, especially when they move house.
    And Neil, I have to confess that puzzles may have something to do with my slowed down rate of reading – after all, we have to make sure our minds can still work, don’t we?
    Hope you are soon out of hospital, too.

    • December 28, 2017 22:10

      Thanks Lithe Lianas (aka Ma Gums) for confirming what I told Neil. I’m glad your champing at the bit to read more of the Patty. I’m champing at the bit to read my novels too!

    • Neil@kallaroo permalink
      December 29, 2017 00:25

      Thanks, Ma Gums. Latest diagnosis is low calcium, and as I write I am being pumped full of it. Hoping to be out by end of next week.

      I have a daughter who bought a whole pile of Smart Games puzzles a while ago, and doles one out each Christmas, birthday, and Father’s Day. Tend to be fancy stuff with sixty different setups that start easy and get gradually harder to solve. So the house is gradually filling up with puzzles where I got up to #45, and then they got too hard. Whoops!

  15. Meg permalink
    December 28, 2017 20:01

    Hi Sue, I am glad you received a variety of books. I will be interested to read you blog on Bridget Crack. A brutal story but great read. I received four books, Ethics in the Real World by Peter Singer, The Art of Time Travel by Tom Griffiths, Absolutely on Music Haruki Murakami, and First Person by Richard Flanagan. I gave money to my daughter and her husband and grandchildren, who will visit “Fullers” and buy some books. All avid readers.

    • December 28, 2017 22:13

      Sounds like you received a nice book haul too Meg. I have the Griffiths and the Flanagan, but would also be very interested in that Murakami. And, of course, Peter Singer is also great to read, challenging our values and world views as he does.

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