Reading our leading women

awwbadge_2013Are you up for a reading challenge this year? I’ve already started mine, with a Miles Franklin-related project called Reading Stella, which you can learn about on a new dedicated blog, but it ties in with the broader national Australian Women Writers Challenge (see previous post), and I’ll be broadening my reading list accordingly.

With My Brilliant Career out of the way already this month, I have several days free to read non-Miles Franklin works before moving onto My Career Goes Bung in February.

I’ll be starting with The Secret River, because the Neil Armfield directed Andrew Bovell theatre adaptation is coming to Canberra next month. It’s top of a long list of must-reads by Australian women (many of which have coincidentally been shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award, or are contenders for the inaugural Stella Prize, also named for Franklin):

  • The Secret River by Kate Grenville
  • The Harp in the South by Ruth Park (for its ranking in the First Tuesday Book Club top 10 Aussie books to read before you die list)
  • Two Steps Forward by Irma Gold (because it was a finalist in the Small Press Network’s most underrated book award last year, and Irma is a fellow Canberran)
  • The Point by Marion Halligan (a novel set in Canberra by another local author to mark the Centenary of my home city)
  • Am I Black Enough For You by Anita Heiss (because Anita is one of my favourite writers and Andrew Bolt one of my least)
  • Love and Hunger by Charlotte Wood (because it has received such rave reviews and is about her passion for food, which we love to cook, eat and share)
  • Us and Them by Anna Krien (because animal welfare matters to me as a committed vegetarian)
  • All That I Am by Anna Funder (the Miles Franklin Literary Award winner in 2013)
  • Miss Peabody’s Inheritance by Elizabeth Jolley (I found it on GoodReads while reading up on Jolley and liked the sound of it!)
  • Madeleine by Helen Trinca (a biography to be published by Text in March, and a must because aside from Helen Garner, Madeleine St John is perhaps my favourite Australian woman author)
  • Destroying the Joint edited by Jane Caro (due out through UQP in May, on a topic close to my heart and compiled by a favourite commentator)
  • People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks (a multiple award winner which only pips her earlier bestseller, Year of Wonders, due to its subject matter, an illuminated manuscript)
  • Past the Shallows by Favel Parrett (another multiple award winner last year)
  • Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears (and yet another a multiple award winner last year)
  • Nine Days by Toni Jordan (I attended Toni’s writing course at the Sydney Writers Festival last year and loved it. Also this has received glowing reviews)
  • The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper (because it is such an acclaimed work of narrative non-fiction)
  • Of a Boy by Sonya Hartnett (because it’s been on my shelf for years waiting to be read)
  • Drylands by Thea Astley (it’s been sitting on my bookselves for years too)
  • Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay (for its ranking in the First Tuesday Book Club list)

It’s highly likely that many of these books will lead me to others by the same author – for starters, Grenville’s book is the first in a trilogy, and is complemented by a non-fiction work about the experience of writing it. It was extremely difficult to choose only one each of the works of Charlotte Wood, Toni Jordan and Geraldine Brooks too.

What a series of treats these reads will be! I hope you’ll join me in taking up the challenge.

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Charlotte Harper

Charlotte Harper is a Canberra journalist, blogger, editor and publisher who has worked in newspapers, magazines, books and online. She runs digital-first non-fiction publisher Editia and covered book industry developments at before joining A former literary editor of The South China Morning Post, Charlotte has also written about books and technology for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Canberra Times. She once edited a mobile phone and gadget magazine, and is a published author, of a book about digital publishing – Weird Wild Web (Penguin Australia 1999).