Well, I did it. I joined the 21st century. I realise that probably happened when my books appeared as ebooks on Amazon. It might also have happened when I started being allowed to submit queries by email. Or, I might have considered myself ‘modern’ the first time I Skyped. But no, today outstripped all my other technological advances. Today I signed a Kindlegraph!
I learned from Danielle Ferries recently, that according to the BBC, ‘most people’ will only have read about six books from the list I’ll post below. I counted. I’ve read seventy of them from cover to cover (I think…as I scroll I lose count. So I can read but can’t count), some of them multiple times. It occurs to me now, that this is why nobody computes when, if asked a deep and meaningful question to which nobody can possibly know the answer, I often shrug and reply “forty-two”.
Aside from the obvious problem of having a sense of humour only I can appreciate, I’m glad I’ve read these books. There’s not one on the list I’ve read that I would consider a waste of time. Some, I would consider my all time favourites.How about you? How many have you read? Which were your favourites?
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
11 Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch – George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion – Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm – George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding
50 Atonement – Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52 Dune – Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
66 On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72 Dracula – Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses – James Joyce (Couldn’t get through this one)
76 The Inferno – Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal – Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession – AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94 Watership Down – Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo
When I was in grade seven or eight, I had a favourite book. It was called Your Friend, Rebecca. In the book, Rebecca was a loner without any real friends at
all. At that stage of my life, I really identified with her and thought that perhaps, this would also be the rest of my life.
Today I hosted the official launch of Foley Russel And That Poor Girl. I’m always nervous of events like this, because I’m not sure of how many people will show (you know the nightmare about the room full of food but no friends to share it). When they do appear, I worry about sharing myself across so many people without having anyone feel left out.
On the other hand while circulating today, I took a moment to stop and just gaze across the crowd. In that moment I felt incredibly lucky. “Just look,” I thought to myself. “Just look at all those people who showed up in support of me. I must be the luckiest person on Earth.” Even more gratifyingly, it’s been the same faces, that of late, have appeared at so many milestone events for me. They’re constant, these friends of mine.
The new friends who came along today, are people I’ve met since moving house. How generous to come along in support of the new girl, just to be sure she’s not lost, lonely or left out.
Rebecca Fogarty drove for three hours to come to this event with her son, Cory and her husband Kim. Cory has CF and Rebecca read this book when it was still in manuscript phase. I was so thrilled to have her there, I couldn’t say so often enough.
There were sponsors too. Mindfood Magazine, Fine Wine Partners, Belgian Delights Chocolates, Legs Eleven Stockings, Gold Coast Studio of Beauty and Eufloria. These people donated their products and skills in support of a great cause (The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation).
Of course some people couldn’t make it. Lots of them texted and emailed to wish me luck. That they could be wrapped up in the midst of busy lives but still take time to remember me, is a thing of wonder.
Together these people donated almost four hundred dollars to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. They bought books and stories for relatives and friends and children of friends. They told me their own stories and wrapped me up in their care and their warmth.
So to all of you, I say thank you. Thank you for everything.
Your friend, Rebecca
I have a massive glut of lemons in my garden at the moment, so I today I made up three jars of preserved lemons. They don’t look quite as pretty as the ones you buy in the shops, but I’m sure they’ll taste the same. The bonus related to doing this now, is that in the middle of winter, when I’m all dismal and miserable (as I always am in the middle of winter), I will be able to whip up the odd chicken tagine, complete with preserved lemon! Complete with an accompaniment of fluffy couscous, I can’t imagine anything more likely to make me feel warm, inside and out!
In addition to excellent winter food, I’m also looking forward to some excellent winter reading. I’m doing it already actually. I’ve had my had stuck in a series called Savants Blood by Will Greenway. It’s a brilliant series, keeping me in the perfect frame of mind while I write/edit my own fantasy novel (yes, I’m always reading the same genre in which I’m writing).
All I need now, is to locate the necessary warm spot in my new apartment (like a cat I lay myself out in the warmest patch of sunshine I can find), in order to partake in all this early winter loveliness!
Book Week isn’t until August but I’m already excited.
The Logan City Library has asked me if I’ll be their Young Adult author during book week. Presumably this means I get to talk to kids about books. How wonderful. Being that I love books, kids and talking, I think this is going to be a marvelous experience.
Book Week was always one of my favourite things when I was a kid. A whole week devoted to my favourite thing and the chance for that one week, to be an expert on something. Everyone has a specialty. Mine was never really Math and it was only sometimes English, but books, books and I were a match made in heaven. I was never without my head in one and there was always a spare ‘support’ book in my bag, just in case I should finish one more quickly than expected and then find myself bereft. Imagine, alone at a bus stop with nothing to read (gasp!).
Hopefully now, I’ll get the chance to pass on some of this passion to other kids, if not via my books, at least through my enthusiasm for other people’s work. And for those kids who already love books, maybe I’ll be a sign for them, that books can lead to great things, fun things and life full of wonder.
Yes, I’m excited. Now I just hope, I haven’t peaked too early!
No, I’m not talking about the delicious stir-fry I had for dinner last night. I’m talking about my proposal to the Auslib people. Auslib are a group of Australian library related people who specifically deal with young people. I rang them with the idea that I might be able to do a presentation at the upcoming conference on ‘re-engaging disenfranchised teens with books’. That sounds really boring, so it became “With A Bit Of A Mind Slip, You’re Into a Paradigm Shift”. Rocky Horror buffs like me will get a chuckle.
Anyway, the crux of the idea is that young people take up information and ideas differently than ‘us oldies’. Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and a myriad of other social networking sites now enable people to review products and books easily and quickly. Teens have become especially good at finding out what new technologies are great and what are not. ‘Viral’ images etc are a direct result of these social networking systems. ‘Viral’ footage is representative of what kids like and where kids are spending their time/money.
What does this mean for people in the book trade? It means we have to change the way we present our product to teens. These are my ideas so far:
- It’s not only about presentation and promotion: a dodgy product won’t go viral, so first, write a GREAT book.
- Present yourself to kids. Real people doing real things and being honest about it, is something kids can appreciate.
- Have an online presence. That’s where most kids spend lots of time nowadays, if you want to interact with them, you should be there too.
- Be happy to talk about what you do. In fact, just be happy, nobody’s interested in a sad-sack!
- Book networks are actually not networks, in fact they’re usually very linear, the writer->agent->publisher->bookseller. Kids work in networks, great big webs of interconnections, what does that say about the design of our process?
Any young ‘uns out there want to have a say? What should librarians and booksellers be doing in order to encourage you back to books?