Annette Marfording’s Best Reads of 2015

Annette & bookThis is the time of the year that everyone publishes their “best of 2015” list – mainstream and social media has been full of the 10 best coffees of 2015, the 10 best red carpets and of the course the ten best books. Not wanting to be left out Rochford Street Review turned to Annette Marfording for her views on the best reads of 2015.

Annette is perfectly positioned to provide such a listing having been a voracious reader all her life. After arriving in Australia in 1985 Annette fell in love with Australian writing. In 2007 she became a broadcaster at Bellingen’s community radio station 2bbb FM, where she created a program on Australian writers and their work. From 2011 to 2015 she was Program Director of the Bellingen Readers and Writers Festival. Her book Celebrating Australian Writing: Conversations with Australian Authors features 21 in-depth conversations with Australian authors on their books, central themes in their body of work, writing methods, central tips for aspiring writers and more.

Annette’s top reads of 2015 were all reviewed on her radio program and are focussed on Australian fiction. She points out that a list of top reads will always be subjective, and while she read about 100 books during 2015, there will always some that are still on “to read pile”. Joan London’s The Golden Age and Tony Birch’s The Ghost River, for instance, are high on her list of books yet to be read.

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Annette Marfording’s Best Reads of 2015


alex millerBook of the Year: Alex Miller, The Simplest Words: A Storyteller’s Journey
(Allen & Unwin), a collection of novel extracts, memoir pieces, short stories and passionate essays, plus a wonderful novella linked to Conditions of Faith and a surprise poem   (https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/ general-books/literature-literary-studies/The-Simplest-Words-Alex-Miller-9781743313572)

 

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soulsGregory Day, Archipelago of Souls (Picador), the dualist story of Wesley Cress as a soldier under British command on the Greek island of Crete in WWII, and his life on King Island after his return, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. (http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781743537190)

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chimesAnna Smail, The Chimes (Sceptre), by a NZ author who has drawn on her skills as a poet and classical violinist to compose a symphony in a dystopian world and society ruled by “the Order” through its vast musical instrument, the Carillon, which has the effect of destroying people’s memories and making it impossible for them to form new ones. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. (http://www.annasmaill.com/the-chimes.html)

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where's there smokeWhere There’s Smoke: Outstanding Short Stories by Australian Men (Black Inc), which presents the crème de la crème of short fiction written in the last fifteen years or so by Australian male authors. (http://www.blackincbooks.com/books/where-theres-smoke)

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the world without usMireille Juchau, The World Without Us (Bloomsbury), set in an alternative community in northern New South Wales (http://www.bloomsbury.com/au/the-world-without-us-9781408866504/)

 

 

 

 

 

The HandsStephen Orr, The Hands: An Australian Pastoral (Wakefield Press), a novel set on a cattle farm in South Australia, experiencing severe drought, and featuring an extended family undergoing tragedy and betrayal. (http://www.wakefieldpress.com.au/product.php?productid=1238&cat=0&page=&featured=Y)

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certain circlesElizabeth Harrower, In Certain Circles (published in 2014 by Text Publishing), her first published novel since the famous The Watch Tower in 1966, tells the story of the son and daughter of a wealthy academic couple and an orphaned brother and sister, and once again demonstrates her great psychological insight. (https://www.textpublishing.com.au/books/in-certain-circles)

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eye of the sheepSofie Laguna’s 2015 Miles Franklin winning novel, The Eye of the Sheep (published in 2014 by Allen & Unwin), a story about domestic violence, general family dysfunction, social disadvantage and a mother’s strong love for her autistic and difficult son. (https://www.allenandunwin.com/ browse/books/fiction  /literary-fiction/The-Eye-of-the-Sheep-Sofie-Laguna-9781743319598).

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joe's fruit shopZoe Boccabella’s memoir Joe’s Fruitshop & Milk Bar (Scribe), in which she plays tribute to her Italian ancestors, the first of whom migrated to Australia in 1926, and which is a fantastic record of social history. (http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780733333828 /joes-fruit-shop-and-milk-bar)

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a piece of my mindProfessor Gordon Parker, A Piece of My Mind: A Psychiatrist on the Couch (Macmillan), the 2012 memoir by the founder of the Black Dog Institute, which is an eye-opener about mental illness and how it should be treated. (http://www.panmacmillan.com.au/9781742610740)

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 –  Annette Marfording

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Annette Marfording runs a program on Australian writers and their work on 2bbb FM (Bellingen, NSW). Her book, Celebrating Australian Writing: Conversations with Australian Authors, features 21 in-depth conversations with Australian authors on their books, central themes in their body of work, writing methods, central tips for aspiring writers and more. Authors interviewed include literary authors and poets (David Malouf, Cate Kennedy, Peter Goldsworthy), crime writers (Michael Robotham, Barry Maitland), commercial fiction authors (Di Morrissey, the late Bryce Courtenay), and narrative non-fiction authors (Robert Dessaix and Kate Howarth). All profits from the sale of the book go to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

Celebrating Australian Writing: Conversations with Australian Authors is available in Sydney from Gleebooks, Berkelouw Books, Better Read than Dead, Abbey’s Bookshop, Dymocks George Street, as well as the city, Uni Sydney and UTS branches of the Co-op Bookshop and online at www.coop.com.au. It is also available at Bookface in Port Maquarie, the Book Warehouse in Coffs Harbour and Lismore, and at the Alternative Bookshop in Bellingen.It can also be purchased from  http://www.lulu.com/shop/annette-marfording/celebrating-australian-writing/paperback/product-22192469.html