Happy New Year from Sydney, Australia! Throughout the past 2.5 years, I have been constantly ashamed to see I haven’t updated my blog since June 2016, when I was frolicking around in Finland – in fact, some of the posts on my homepage were from the glorious pre-Brexit days!
A lot has happened over the last 2.5 years (I was awarded my PhD, I moved back to Sydney semi-permanently, I started an English tutoring business, etc etc), but the one thing that’s remained the same is my passion for books. In fact, I am now more determined than ever to make time to reading – and I would very much like to share some coherent thoughts about the books I’ve read and loved (primarily because my memory has become quite shocking).
On that note, I’d like to say a few things about the best books I read in 2018. According to Goodreads, I read 69 books last year (yes, I did in fact excuse myself from family festivities for an hour on New Year’s Eve to finish Northanger Abbey, because I am evidently very mature). The full list and statistics can be found on my Goodreads page here.
Of these, my favourites are (in no particular order):
February turned out to be a lot busier than anticipated, primarily due to a teaching position I was offered at the university that was very, very last-minute. But yay, I managed to squeeze in four books during my (sometimes sleepy) bedtime reading!
4. Alexander Pushkin – The Queen of Spades and Other Stories (trans. Rosemary Edmonds; Penguin) (8 Feb)
5. Joanna Briscoe – You (17 Feb)
6. Jennifer E. Smith – The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (22 Feb)
7. Vladimir Nabokov – Despair (28 Feb)
Another batch of “reviews”! (I will always refer to these as “reviews” because I feel they more closely resemble ramblings.) I read 9 books in March, and, once again, they’re from a range of different genres, eras, and countries. Here’s the list:
14. Anne Maria Nicholson – Weeping Waters (1 Mar)
15. Diana Gabaldon – Outlander (3 Mar)
16. Diana Wynne Jones – Fire and Hemlock (6 Mar)
17. Franz Kafka – Metamorphosis and Other Stories (Penguin Modern Classics, trans. Michael Hoffman) (10 Mar)
18. Gaston Leroux – The Phantom of the Opera (Dover, trans. Alexander Teixeira de Mattos) (13 Mar)
19. Philippa Gregory – The Other Boleyn Girl (13 Mar)
20. David Gaider – Dragon Age: The Stolen Throne (17 Mar)
21. Kate Quinn – Mistress of Rome (22 Mar)
22. Henry James – The Golden Bowl (26 Mar)
23. Janet Fitch – White Oleander (31 Mar)
A few days before Christmas last year, I sat myself down at the dining table of my English housemate’s childhood home in a village tucked away in the Midlands. In between the hearty home-cooked meals, half-written sonnets, Christmas carols, and an essay on Edmund Burke, I began working on a short story that eventually became “Lily of the Valley”. Upon its completion, I entered “Lily” in the Newcastle University’s International Students’ Short Story Competition, where it was shortlisted early last month.
Last Saturday, I went to one of NCLA’s “Festival of Belonging” events, where I had the pleasure of meeting Hari Kunzru, one of the guest authors in attendance. To my utmost surprise and delight, he announced (on behalf of judge Tahmima Anam, who was unable to make the event) that I had won the competition. “Lily of the Valley” can be now found at the NCLA’s online archive.