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Monday musings on Australian literature: Autumn Book Binge 2020

March 16, 2020

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!)

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:

Other lives (biography about someone who inspires you)

In translation

Fact to fiction (fiction based on true stories)

Sawako Ariyoshi, The doctor's wifeAs with translation above, I have aimed here to traverse the globe.

Book to screen

  • Jane Austen, Emma, PenguinJane 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)

Other worlds (set in an alternate world to your own)

Jamil Ahmad Wandering falcon coverI 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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander writers

Ali Cobby Eckermann, Ruby Moonlight

I’ve focused on fiction for this list, but click here for all my posts on Indigenous Australian literature.

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 Comments leave one →
  1. March 17, 2020 1:17 am

    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:)

    • March 17, 2020 7:08 am

      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…

      • March 17, 2020 8:20 am

        Well you might win the Hilary Mantel in my draw for a winner at the end:)

        • March 17, 2020 9:08 am

          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!!

  2. M-R permalink
    March 17, 2020 5:49 am

    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 ..

    • March 17, 2020 7:13 am

      Thanks M-R. BTW You tell that Boodie to behave!

      • March 17, 2020 8:39 am

        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.

        • March 17, 2020 9:10 am

          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!

  3. March 17, 2020 10:45 am

    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!

    • March 17, 2020 10:53 am

      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.

  4. Meg permalink
    March 17, 2020 11:03 am

    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!

    • March 17, 2020 11:08 am

      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.

  5. March 17, 2020 4:14 pm

    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!

    • March 17, 2020 5:51 pm

      Thanks Kate … “free range” sounds perfect to me! And isn’t it nice that we can all still meet here in cyberspace.

  6. March 19, 2020 3:15 am

    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!)

  7. March 19, 2020 9:38 pm

    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.

  8. March 20, 2020 9:25 am

    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!

    • March 20, 2020 6:50 pm

      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.

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