Monday, March 29, 2010

Ten Best Books ... sort of

I hate best-of book lists. I can never include all the things I want in them, and they give you the impression that number 1 is better than number 10, or that those not on the list aren’t loved as much as those on it. Reading is not a ranked activity: it’s too rich for that.

Nevertheless, thanks to Persnickety Snark, it’s interesting to think of the books that made a big impact on me as a teenager, and so I include these as a beginning, rather than an exhaustive, list (of ten lines, rather than ten books!):

• Second Star to the Right and Hey Dollface by Deborah Hautzig
• Narziss and Goldmund by Herman Hesse
• The Collector and The Magus by John Fowles (even though I still can’t work out what the hell The Magus was about)
• Carrie by Stephen King
• 1984 by George Orwell
• The Little House on the Prairie series (which I re-read every few years even now, and each time find it an enriching experience)
• Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner (why, oh why did Judy have to die?!)
• A Patch of Blue by Elizabeth Kata
• The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
• A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry

It tells you a lot about Australian publishing in the mid 80s that there is only one Australian author on that list. And yes, it's not strictly YA, all of it, but it's what floated my boat way back when.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chess Nuts in reviewland

It's always nerve-racking to receive your first reviews for a book - almost as nerve-racking as wondering if you're going to get any. So I was very pleased that Chess Nuts has had two great reviews, last week by Jane Barry in The Courier Mail and this week by Susan Hewitt in The West Australian's West Weekend magazine.

Jane Barry commented:

Lawrinson addresses a salient topic in her writing. Why can't teenagers feel free to pursue different interests and not worry so much about losing face with their peers? Over the years towards maturity, how many opportunities are lost, or passions suppressed, just for the sake of worrying what others will think? She also writes with a clear understanding of the intricacies of chess and the almost complete absorption it demands. References to famous quotes from chess masters appear throughout, lending an air of credibility to the author's research. A good book for any teenager, especially those who need prompting to follow their own interests.

Hewitt says:

This book is aimed at primary school kids, and even those who can't read it themselves will find it easy to engage in the story. All the lessons about acceptance and getting on aren't daggy or teacherly, they just kind of work themselves in.

It's interesting that the two reviewers have a different take on the audience for the novel: I think it's because kids read differently, it would entirely depend on individual interests and reading levels. Hence the madness of the age-banding proposals that were (are?) being debated in the UK.

On another note, it's delightful that The West has entirely modernised its reviewing of books, thanks (I believe) to new books editor Will Yeoman. At last!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Changing sites

I am changing blog-sites, in the hope I will get a little more functionality from this one, and in response to Sarah Dessen's concern that LiveJournal might fold. Who knows, I might even be able to post more frequently.

Previous blogs can be found here.