The stars aligned last weekend with a triple threat – my birthday, the Auckland Writers’ Festival, and a couple of hundred dollars worth of backpay! The result was a book haul of epic proportions!
I almost feel bad for posting this because I used to watch Youtube haul videos and think the people in them were just showing off. But I think I get it now, this haul is just way too awesome NOT to show off! I do feel bad for my excess though, so I am hereby swearing to donate some of next week’s pay check to one of my favourite charities: Duffy Books in Homes NZ (I will forever be grateful to this charity for giving me my first ever real books of my own).
Anyway, I am so excited about my latest book buys! So without further ado, here are the precioussssss
NZ Authors: Adult Fiction Novels
Five Strings – Apirana Taylor
Billy Bird – Emma Neale
If you read my Writer’s festival recap you’ll know that I highly rated Apirana Taylor’s session, so I’m really excited about his new novel. What I didn’t mention was Emma Neale’s Billy Bird. I was lucky enough to hear Emma read the introduction out loud. This also looks like an excellent book that I can’t wait to read. Billy Bird was nominated for an Ockham NZ Book award this year. I will be very surprised if Five Strings isn’t nominated for the 2018 awards.
Adult Fiction Novels
The Wig my Father Wore – Anne Enright
An Untamed State – Roxane Gay
The Improbability of Love – Hannah Rothschild
New Boy – Tracey Chevalier
Hollow Heart – Viola Di Grado
The Sellout – Paul Beatty
I think New Boy might technically be a YA. Having not read it yet, I’m not sure. It is set in a school and focuses on kids, but it’s also a retelling of Othello so maybe there will be slightly more adult themes in there. Hollow Heart has also been referred to as a YA. Having read the first part of it, I’m not sure that’s correct. For one, the writing seems far too lyrical, almost poetic; and the suicide theme might require a slightly more mature audience to really get that this isn’t a glorification of death.
Roxane Gay talked about An Untamed State in her session. It sounds like it goes to some pretty dark places, but I’m determined to read it before the movie comes out!
I’ve read the first chapter of The Sellout. It immediately cracked me up, in one of those “I’m not sure I’m comfortable about laughing at this” kind of ways. This is going to be such a good read!
I’ve never read anything by Hannah Rothschild or Anne Enright before. But the blurb from The wig my father wore made me laugh out loud right there at the book stall. The Improbability of Love was recommended to me by the lady at Unity Books when I asked for something “light and fluffy, but good” to balance all the dark, depressing stuff I’ve been reading and buying lately.
The Lie Tree – Frances Hardinge
Illuminae – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Ripples on the Lake – Dawn Rotarangi
All the bright places – Jennifer Niven
I know these have all been around for awhile. But all four of these books are new to me. I was so inspired by listening to Frances, Amie, and Jennifer speak that I really hope next year’s Festival organisers make more room for YA writers. These three sessions had such a different vibe to the more adult writers’ sessions and it was lovely to see a lot of younger, largely female, Festival-goers. As an aside, Amie Kaufman said that she had been told by some men to “Get my lady parts out of sci-fi.” What the hell?? Honestly, no words. What is wrong with people?
Ripples on the Lake is the anomaly in this collection. I picked it up from the sales bin at Unity Books in Wellington. I’m so excited to read a YA fantasy book with Maori characters and Maori themes! We don’t get represented in a lot of literature and when we do it’s usually centred on poverty and violence. That doesn’t mean the stories are bad, they’re usually very good. But it’s so nice to see something a bit different!
Short Story Collections
Black Ice Matter – Gina Cole
Tenth of December – George Saunders
Gina Cole won the Best First Book award for Black Ice Matter at the NZ 2017 Ockham Book Awards. I didn’t know that at the time I bought it. I was attracted to the cool cover and drawn in by the description. The fact that Gina is a Fijian author was also a happy bonus (I’m biased, but I love Maori and Pasifika authors).
I had initially intended to buy George Saunders’s novel Lincoln in the Bardo but I’ve never read anything of his at all and he is always praised for his short stories. When it comes to well-known writers that are new to me, I always like to start with their best work first.
A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
Get a Life! The Diaries of Vivienne Westwood – Vivienne Westwood
Conclave – Robert Harris
These are the books my partner got me for my birthday. None of them were on my list, but he chose pretty well under the circumstances. A Fine Balance in particular has good reviews on Goodreads – and he didn’t even know that!
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Pounamu Pounamu – Witi Ihimaera
Both of these books are old friends. I gave my copy of American Gods to a friend of mine in a bid to introduce her to the wonderful writing of Neil Gaiman. This copy is absolutely beautiful and even has illustrations. It’s also bloody heavy. I’m going to get OOS from holding it up if I ever try to read it!
I have had a copy of Pounamu Pounamu with me in every house I’ve ever lived in since as long as I can remember. This book has been a constant in my life until very recently when I decided to leave behind my last copy because it was falling apart and missing a few pages. I’m so happy to have this in my home again!
Hera Lindsay Bird – Hera Lindsay Bird
Fale Aitu: Spirit House – Tusiata Avia
Milk and Honey – Rupi Kaur
I’m going to come clean; I am not a poetry person. Or at least, I wasn’t. I think I might be coming around to it thanks to the poetry readings I attended at the Festival. Rupi Kaur was just so good, as were all the other poets there! I’ve always just read poetry, I think maybe I need to hear it out loud a bit more to really appreciate it.
And that, my friends, is my big beautiful book haul! My partner has me on a strict book budget for a little while. That’s probably for the best! Let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought. But please no spoilers!! I’m not sure which one to start with but I was thinking maybe New Boy? I’ve always loved Othello, and I’ve heard good things. Then again, I’d quite like to read Illuminae because the second book is already out and apparently the third one isn’t too far off either. Agh!! Where to start!!??