#read2016: Part 1

As I’ve mentioned, I love books. Real books, with paper and ink. None of those fancy ebooks. I spend enough time each day staring into screens. Plus, I like to read in the bath and the idea of accidentally dropping a $1000 device doesn’t appeal. (I’ve only ever once dropped a book in the bath. It was a library book. Go figure.)

The busier I get, the less I seem to read for pleasure. To redress this, my plan is to read 50 books in 2016. Fiction, mathematics, Australian politics, biographies, non-fiction, anything. Some books are short novellas which you might think of as ‘cheating’. Whatever. Despite the fact that I am counting, the number doesn’t count. It’s just a target to get me to read more.

I am tweeting 140 character reviews with #read2016, but I’ll also post the books here in three parts, one every four months. The maths ones (*) might be the subject of separate posts.

  1. Born to Rule: The Unauthorised Biography of Malcolm Turnbull, Paddy Manning. Australian politics has lost its way with five prime ministers in five years, including the worst PM in my lifetime1. Turnbull is the one currently having a crack. He is a well-educated multi-millionaire leading the centre-right Liberal Party2, and has the distinction of once being the preferred prime minister of voters of the centre-left Labor Party.
    #read2016: Fascinating view of the man who was apparently always going to become PM. Few ominous f’ups along the way.
  2. The Eye of the Sheep, Sofie Laguna. Winner of the 2015 Miles Franklin Award (an Australian literary award). Shines a light on the complex effects of domestic violence.
    #read2016: Deeply moving story through uncomfortable subject matter. Heartbreaking + beautiful. Well-deserved winner.
  3. Second Half First, Drusilla Modjeska. A memoir from an Australian contemporary writer.
    #read2016: Intimate. Raw. Like catching glimpses of a private journal.
  4. The Family LawBenjamin Law. The family memoir that precipitated the 2016 TV series. Probably the first sit-com centred on a gay Chinese-Australian teen and his riotous family.
    #read2016: Hilarious and unflinchingly honest.
  5. Intentional TalkElham Kazemi and Allison Hintz.
    #read2016: Powerful, deliberative discussion frameworks suitable at any level of maths teaching. (1/2) Think primary teaching is ‘easy’? Read the vignettes and note how hard the teacher works to support student learning. (2/2)
  6. Gratitude, Oliver Sacks.
    #read2016: A comforting view of contently approaching old age and the end of one’s life.
  7. Australia’s Second Chance, George Megalogenis. One of Australia’s finest journalists and political commentators.
    #read2016: A well-explained narrative of the development of the Australian population—both successful and shameful.
  8. Flesh Wounds, Richard Glover. Australian radio talk show host and journalist with a hilarious and heartbreaking portrait of his Australian childhood.
    #read2016: Balances levity and dark, raw moments. Funny. Sad. Beautiful reflection of being shaped by childhood.
  9. Big Blue Sky, Peter Garrett. Lead singer of Midnight Oil who made a high-profile move into Australian politics in 2004. Left in 2013 after the second Gillard-Rudd leadership spill.
    #read2016: Shared aloud with an avid Oils fan. Interesting account of music, activism+politics but needs 100pgs cut.
  10. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler. Shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize.
    #read2016: Captivating reveal early that makes for an engrossing read. Draws on fact for witty, well-written fiction.
  11. Not that Kind of Girl, Lena Dunham. Glad I didn’t pay for this. (Thanks, Qantas, for your $100 voucher to use in 10 minutes for screwing up our seats!)
    #read2016: Snooze. Self-involved. Completely shallow or deeply ironic — unsure which but suspect former.
  12. All the Birds, Singing, Evie Wyld. Winner of the 2014 Miles Franklin Award.
    #read2016: Spare. Unsettling. Moves backward to both the original sin and redemption. Masterful writing.
  13. One Life: My Mother’s Story, Kate Grenville. The Australian author pulls together the fragments of her mother’s memoir into an extraordinarily touching tribute.
    #read2016: A moving view into an ‘ordinary’ life that was anything but. One of countless stories that ought be told.
  14. The Road to Ruin, Niki Savva. Journalist and former Liberal party staffer reveals the ‘weirder-than-weird’ (in the words of Laurie Oakes) dependency between Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, which brought down the Abbott Government.
    #read2016: Simultaneously hilarious + horrifying. Does not hold back. But needs polish, structure + fewer typos.
  15. On Doubt, Leigh Sales. A short essay (packaged as a book!) by the leading Australian journalist and host of ABC’s flagship news and current affairs program, 7:30.
    #read2016: On the virtues of questioning + thinking twice, and the drawbacks of lack of certainty + strong passion.
  16. Mothering Sunday, Graham Swift.
    #read2016: The quiet, gentle description of a single day precipitating self-discovery + emancipation. Sweet novella.
  17. A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra), Barbara Oakley.
    #read2016: Frustratingly narrow view of maths. Some insight into neuroscience+learning but abandoned with 100pp left.
  18. * The Classroom Chef, John Stevens and Matt Vaudrey.
    #read2016: The analogy works. Raw. Real. Honest. Funny. Practical. Inspiring. I ate it up.
  19. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson. I’ve read this before but decided to read aloud to K. I will read anything Bill Bryson writes. His book ‘A Walk in the Woods’ is the funniest and yet informative book I’ve ever read.
    #read2016: Often can’t read aloud as already laughing hard. Enjoyed the re-read. Bryson has an unmatched wit.

[1] I’m not going to tell you which one it was, but no sane person eats a raw onion like an apple, right?
[2] Yep — our ‘liberal’ party is the party of the conservative elite. Go figure.

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