Last night I watched a recording of the first Tuesday Night Book Club’s “10 Aussie Books to Read Before you Die.” For much of this year the show’s website asked people to select their choice from a list of 50 Australian authored books.
I voted a while back and I can’t remember if I went for The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes, The True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey or Capricornia by Xavier Herbert. At the time I had read nine of the books on the list, I have since read one more.
After the program had listed ten to five, I was thinking how well read I am, as I had read three of the six books (The Secret River, The Slap and The Power of One). I was very hopeful that The True History of the Kelly Gang would be number one. But I had forgotten about Cloudstreet by Tim Winton which consistently wins polls for favourite Aussie novel.
The ten books people selected were:
1. Cloudstreet - Tim Winton
2. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
3. A Fortunate Life - A.B. Facey
4. The Harp in the South - Ruth Park
5. The Power of One - Bryce Courtenay
6. Jasper Jones - Craig Silvey
7. The Magic Pudding - Norman Lindsay
8. The Slap - Christos Tsiolkas
9. The Secret River - Kate Grenville
10. Picnic at Hanging Rock - Joan Lindsay
I had never heard of The Book Thief or Jasper Jones. I plan to one day read Cloudstreet and The Harp in the South.
My Ten Aussie Books.
If they opened the list up to all Australian authored books then my list of the ten Aussie books people should read before they die would look like this:
1. The Sea and Summer - George Turner
2. The True History of the Kelly Gang – Peter Carey
3. Capricornia – Xavier Herbert
4. The Fatal Shore – Robert Hughes
5. The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
6. Power Without Glory – Frank Hardy
7. Genetic Soldier – George Turner
8. Blood – Tony Birch
9. Things We Didn’t See Coming – Steve Amsterdam
10. The Waterboys – Peter Docker.
My list is of books that I think say something about Australia and what is to be an Australian, unlike a few of the books in the First Tuesday list. My selections cover our past, present and future, whereas the future is not touched in the First Tuesday list. My list would be different if I was just selecting my favourite Aussie Books.
About a third of the books I read are written by Australians. I worry that a lot of Australian writers and wannabe authors appear not to read Australian authored books and somehow find more relevance in books written overseas.