Each year I take some time to reflect on the books I’ve read throughout the year. I read 67 books in 2016, which is a recent record for me. You can see almost all of them on Goodreads, but I wanted to highlight some of the special ones in my unofficial awards below. These books are from all different publication years, not just 2016. And as for my personal tastes, I only really read genre fiction (apart from the intriguing non-fiction books).
At the start of the year I wrote about my goal to write a novel in a year. I’ve just finished the first draft, all in the space of nine months. I’m not the world’s fastest writer, nor am I the slowest. But the point is, I have 250 pages of work which make sense from start to finish.
I wanted to share some of the things I’ve learned in the last nine months of writing.
Every month I find myself meandering around a theme in my reading. Somehow all the books manage to link to each other via their subject matter. This month, most of the books revolved around the theme of anarchy and the world in chaos, especially in London. There’s something about this city which has attracted revolutionaries since its foundation, whether in Guy Fawkes or his various literary incarnations.
What better day than National Bookshop Day to start walking the Melbourne City of Literature? With my trusty literary companion, Edie Hawthorn, we set out to visit as many bookstores as we could in a three hour period (less than we thought, given how much time we spend in bookstores). But this is only the first part of a multi-part adventure – think Indiana Jones in a bookstore – as we try to go to all the bookstores in Melbourne in the upcoming months.
In June I read a bunch of neon noir books and comics, including Limbo, Leviathan Wakes and Phonogram. Inspired by 80s aesthetic, neon noir embraces the big, bold themes of the decade with the shoulder pads to match. There’s a reason why it’s often linked with supernatural or science fiction themes, given the number of great dark SF films which came out of the period – think Robocop, Aliens and of course, Blade Runner.
In researching a new novel, I stumbled across a curious tidbit within The Scientific Sherlock Holmes by James O’Brien. It briefly mentioned The Valley of Fear, one of the four Sherlock Holmes novels, as an early precursor to the hardboiled novel. Intrigued as Holmes coming across a mystery, I immediately sought out the story. I’m a perpetual dabbler in Sherlock Holmes – I’ve read and enjoyed many, but not all of the stories.