A big thanks to Lisa (ANZLitLovers) whose post on the Autumn Book Binge brought it to my attention. I knew immediately that I had to post on it – albeit with a little change, as you will see.
The Autumn Book Binge (love the wordplay on “bingo”) is being run by the State Library of Victoria. It involves reading (or listening to) a book of your choice for each of the categories on the bingo (oops, binge) card. What a great idea for this autumn (or, northern spring) given COVID-19 and the consequent encouragement for us all to social distance – no punishment for readers!
The Binge is explained here. Victorians can pick up a Challenge Card from participating libraries, while anyone can download it here. The formal “game” runs over our downunder autumn, that is, from 1 March to 31 May 2020.
As Lisa has done in her post (linked in my opening sentence), I am going to list the categories with suggestions from books I have read (with links to my reviews on the titles). I’m limiting myself to five options for each. Here goes …
Set in the ACT
This is where I’ve made my change. This Book Binge is a Victorian challenge, so its category is “set in Victoria”. To play the game to win the prizes, you need to choose a Victorian-set book, but you must be Victorian-based to win. If you’re not, I suggest you make this box your own jurisdiction. (Sorry Victoria!)
- Andrew Croome’s Document Z
- Julian Davies’ Call me
- Dorothy Johnston’s The house at number 10
- Lesley Lebkowicz’s The Petrov poems
- Frank Moorhouse’s Cold light
Recent releases (published in the last 12 months, more or less!)
I’m nominating only Australian writers because they need all the airing they can get:
- Carmel Bird’s Field of poppies
- John Clanchy’s In whom we trust
- Madelaine Dickie’s Red can origami
- Nigel Featherstone’s Bodies of men
- Karen Viggers’ The orchardist’s daughter
Other lives (biography about someone who inspires you)
- Bernadette Brennan’s A writing life: Helen Garner and her work
- Sarah Krasnostein’s The trauma cleaner: the subject, Sandra Pankhurst, is not famous, unlike the others here, but is inspirational for her warmth and empathy despite her own traumas.
- Karen Lamb’s Thea Astley: Inventing her own weather
- Hazel Rowley’s Franklin and Eleanor: An extraordinary marriage
- Michelle Scott Tucker’s Elizabeth Macarthur: A life at the edge of the world
- Anton Chekhov’s The lady with the little dog (Russian, translated by Ronald Wilks)
- Raphaël Jerusalmy’s Evacuation (French, translated by Penny Hueston)
- Valeria Luiselli’s Faces in the crowd (Mexican, translated by Christina MacSweeney)
- Sayaka Murata’s Convenience store woman (Japanese, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori)
- WG Sebald’s Austerlitz (German, translated by Anthea Bell)
Fact to fiction (fiction based on true stories)
As with translation above, I have aimed here to traverse the globe.
- Sawako Ariyoshi’s The doctor’s wife (Japan)
- Hannah Kent’s Burial rites (Iceland)
- Elizabeth Kuiper’s Little stones (South Africa)
- Janet Lee’s The killing of Louisa (Australia)
- Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (England)
Book to screen
- Jane Austen’s Emma (my posts, one, two and three): this category could be filled with Austens but I’ve just chosen Emma because it’s the most recent adaptation I’ve seen.
- Alan Bennett’s The lady in the van: adapted beautifully with Maggie Smith in the title role
- EM Forster’s Howard’s End: adapted to film in 1992 and a more recent television miniseries in 2017
- Pierre Lemaitre’s The great swindle: English film title, See you up there
- Madeleine St John’s The women in black: filmed as The ladies in black
Beastly titles (with animals in the title)
- Joyce Carol Oates’ Beasts
- William Lane’s The salamanders
- Gillian Mears’ Foal’s bread
- Mario Vargas Llosa’s The feast of the Goat
- Evie Wyld’s All the birds, singing
Other worlds (set in an alternate world to your own)
I think I can interpreted this to mean anything not my contemporary Australia, so I’ve chosen a wide variety of worlds, from the mythical past to dystopian futures.
- Jamil Ahmad’s The wandering falcon (set in the multi-tribal region on the borders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran)
- Jorge Amado’s Gabriela, clove and cinnamon (set in 1920s Brazil)
- Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad (set during the mythical time of Odysseus)
- Claire G Coleman’s Terra nullius (dystopian)
- Annabel Smith’s The ark (dystopian future, set in seed bank set not far from where I live)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers
I’ve focused on fiction for this list, but click here for all my posts on Indigenous Australian literature.
- Ali Cobby Eckermann’s Ruby Moonlight
- Melissa Lucashenko’s Too much lip
- Kim Scott’s That deadman dance
- Ellen van Neerven’s Heat and light
- Tara June Winch’s Swallow the air
And there you have the nine categories, with selected recommendations from me. (Not all are Australian, but this is an Australian library’s initiative, qualifying it for Monday Musings!) You can take part in the discussion, whether or not you are Victorian, but if you do, please use the hashtag #AutumnBookBinge.
Will you take part in any way?
21 thoughts on “Monday musings on Australian literature: Autumn Book Binge 2020”
I’e started. I have managed to read the first two chapters of a new novel by Vivian Bi, set in the Cultural Revolutions so it fits the Other Worlds category. It’s called Dragon’s Gate:)
Oh, good for you Lisa.
I guess I can count the book I’m reading niw, since I started it in March, Tara June Winch’s The yield, in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander category of course. But of course I can’t win the prizes. My next book will be a new release. After that, hmm…
Well you might win the Hilary Mantel in my draw for a winner at the end:)
Oh yes, of course,I could Lisa, thanks. Hmm I doubt I’ll finish the challenge given the review copy backlog I have that may not fit the criteria!!
Compliments to Lisa and to yourself – you are worthy ladies ! 🙂
If I can just work out a way of preventing my teeny moggy from trying to escape and rendering me incapable to thinking of anything else, I will have some time to concentrate on everything you write ..
Thanks M-R. BTW You tell that Boodie to behave!
Thanks, MR. I have the same problem with my dear little dog, a real attention-seeker, especially when she thinks it’s time for her walk.
We have just dog-sat a greyhound for a week. The easiest dog I’ve ever looked after in my life! She did want to climb up on my sofa with me, but couldn’t work out how to squash her tiny (haha) self between me and my books!
It’s such a brilliant idea!
Sue, you and Lisa are always amazing in your dedication to literature. I know I say this ad nauseam, but I don’t know how you do it.
I am honoured to see
Field of Poppies included in your list, and very very pleased to see John Clanchy’s powerful In Whom We Trust. Karen Lamb’s Thea Astley too – oh and so many beloved reads there.
The reading show goes on between covers!
Thanks Carmel. I wanted to include, of course, my special books, which meant that of the new releases you and John Clanchy had to be there. I wish you and all of us here much good reading over the coming weeks.
Hi Sue, I did enter my local library competition, but did not win – though good reading. All our libraries are now closed in Victoria, so I am going to catch up on my TBR. Though I may fail because I bought two books yesterday – Hilary Mantel’sThe Mirror & The Light and Lost Boys. I do recommend John Clanchy’s, In Who We Trust. I read it last week, a few tears but a good read. I had a Greyhound/Whippet cross, the most beautiful dog who did sit on the couch with me. I now have a Staghound/Whippet cross, and she too is beautiful and sits with me on the bed and the couch!
Oh good for you Meg. I nearly bought Mantel yesterday at Readings but resisted! Would have made my suitcase too heavy 🤣 I have a friend who is a whippet lover. What heat dogs these breeds are.
Excellent suggestions! I’m going to wait to see if we go into lockdown before I begin… after my failed Stella longlist reading, I need to take a ‘free range’ approach for a while – that might change if I suddenly have hours of reading tie available to me!
Thanks Kate … “free range” sounds perfect to me! And isn’t it nice that we can all still meet here in cyberspace.
What a fabulous initiative. Our libraries are still open but I wonder how much longer that will continue. Just as well I have a very well stocked personal library just a few steps away from my sofa (see I knew all those purchases would prove useful one day!)
Haha, Kate, I feel the same about the TBR. Now I just have to find time to read them. Time still seems to be the issue.
PS, I hope you are well there.
I possibly should have picked up the game card when I was at the library last night. Oops. Too late now as all the branches are now closed.
Darn it! Oh well, you don’t HAVE to HAVE the card to take part do you?
What a wonderful list, and what a thrill to be part of it – thank you! My local library has closed but I keep receiving the automated messages that tell me some long-awaited reserves are available!
When I saw the categories, Michelle, of course I knew you had to be on it!
So you can’t even get books you’d reserved? Wow.