Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 31, 2012

2012: ANZ LitLovers A Year of Great Books

Well, everybody’s doing it, and now with less than 24 hours left of 2012, I guess I’d better get my skates on and do it too.  Come up with my Top Ten for 2012, that is …

But how to choose which books should make the cut?  I read 167 books this year, and I enjoyed nearly all of them.  I found it hard enough to choose A Suitcase full of Books for Sylvia Johnson back in November, and that selection was limited by her criteria that the books had to be only those published this year, 2012.

Here’s the break-down:

Fiction 132; non-fiction 35

77 Female authors; 86 Male authors; and 4 jointly authored by males & females.

100 Australian authors including 8 by indigenous authors and 14 first-time novelists; 8 from New Zealand including one by a Maori author (I must do better than that in 2013); Russia 12; USA 9; UK 11; and the rest from the four corners of the globe, including 31 works in translation.

2 Nobel Prize Winners (Happy  Valley by Patrick White and Silent House by Orhan Pamuk), and 3 Miles Franklin winners  (All That I Am by Anna Funder; Bring Larks and Heroes by Thomas Keneally and The Irishman by Elizabeth O’Conner, and the entire longlist for 2012.

10 Classics (but I haven’t finished Herodotus yet) and 20 from the Backlist.

I hosted Indigenous Literature Week and coordinated the Shadow Jury for the Man Asian Literary Prize and was a Shadow Juror for the International Foreign Fiction Prize.

So as you can see, I had a very satisfying year of reading and it’s not easy to choose a Top Ten or indeed a Top Anything.  When I tried rating these 167 books out of 10, 20 scored 9; 43 scored 8 and 52 scored 7 and I hesitated over about half of those and nearly made them 8s too.  I have read some really, really great books this year.

But there were 8 books that rose to the top and scored 10, (a rating I reserve for unforgettable books like Ulysses and Pride and Prejudice and That Deadman Dance.  These were the books that have stayed with me, have changed my mind about things, opened my eyes to different ideas and possibilities, walked me through life in a different pair of shoes.  Here they are:

This year I had the honour of being awarded 2012 Winner of the Best Australian Blog in the Writing Category.  But as I said at the time, if it were not for the wonderful authors about whose work I write, my blog would not exist.  My thanks to each and every author from my 2012 Year of Great Books.  You just don’t know how much pleasure you bring!

PS January 3rd, 2013 The members of the ANZ LitLovers online reading group are sharing their 2012 Top Tens on this blog too.  They are a bunch of very discerning readers from all over Australia, so have a look to see what they liked best as well.


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  1. Lisa, I do enjoy reading your blog so much and while I know I will never read all the books that you do I love reading about them. Your reviews are always insightful and certainly direct much of my reading. Congratulations too on your awards and speaking engagements for 2012.. An acknowledgement of the great contribution you are making to Australian literature, reviewing and blogging. So , a big thank you and I look forward to sharing more of your posts in 2013 .


  2. It’s quite ridiculous how many books we book bloggers read isn’t it. I’ve not counted up this year but its pretty horrifying to think how much time I spent with my “head in a book”!. Huge congrats on the award – well-deserved I’m sure.

  3. Congratulations on the award and a fabulous year of reading!

  4. A fabulous year, Lisa. Roll on 2013!

  5. How many books did you read???? Bloody hell. I read approx 85. Clearly I’m spending too much time in the pub / on Twitter / playing games on my iPhone / riding my bike!!

    But thanks so much for all these reviews… you keep me in touch with Oz lit, which prior to the advent of the internet and blogs was impossible to do from this side of the world. And huge congrats on your award — very well deserved.

    Finally, your list is an intriguing one — I’ve not read any from it, and I don’t even think any are lingering in my TBR. Dare I check to see if they are in stock on Amazon? Or maybe I will try my library first……..

    Happy New Year to you! Looking forward to seeing what you read/review in 2013.

  6. Margaret, Alex, Tom, Kim and John, you are very kind and I want to thank you for your visits and the great conversations we’ve had, both here and on your own blogs. What a great community we have here in cyberspace!

  7. Oh my goodness, how do you manage to get through so many(!!)? Kudos to you, and thanks for the year’s worth of fantastic reviews!

    • *chuckle* It’s easy, I don’t do a whole lot of other things on my To-Do list!

      • haha

  8. My congratulations as well on your well-deserved award. Like Kimbofo, your blog is my “eye” on Australian literature — I already have a number on the pile for the next few months, so it would be fine with me if you read a few “not so good” ones while I catch up.

    • ROTFL Kevin, I’m not sure I can oblige with that!
      But back-at-You with my ‘eye’ on Canadian lit, and I have some catching up of my own to do there *blush*.
      My very best wishes to you and Mrs KfC for the New Year, good health and happy reading:)

  9. Great wrap-up Lisa …. love the sound of your 10s and remember pretty well all of those reviews though haven’t read many of them. I don’t know how you read so much either. There are days when I only seem to find half an hour to read … and rarely more than an hour or so. I have to do better time management next year as this year has been particularly frustrating.

    Congratulations on all your achievements over the year … you’ve had a great one!

    • Congratulations to you too, your articles about different aspects of OzLit enrich my knowledge of it and I know I draw on that knowledge when I write my reviews. I am really pleased that Pandora is archiving Whispering Gums so that your posts will be available in perpetuity.
      BTW did you know that the Brits are archiving Stu’s blog too? These endorsements that book blogging is worth preserving is a great compliment not just to us as individuals but to our collective efforts as well, eh?

      • Oh no I didn’t know that … yes, it is a great recognition isn’t it? Makes all the work worthwhile to think it is contributing to our contemporary cultural scene as well as being, hopefully, useful in the future.

        And thanks re Monday Musings. Sometimes they are a bit trivial. I’d like to spend more time sometimes exploring themes and ideas but time usually defeats me. I just hope throwing things out there might spark and interest in people, here and there.

        • Ah yes, but the conversations are great too: they draw out of the woodwork people who are also widely read in Oz Lit, or interested in it. I hope the chat gets archived as well…

          • Yes, they are (I mean great). I’d guess the comments are archived … hmm … instead I saying “I’d guess” I thought I should check, so I did, and yes, mine was archived on December 5 and when you click on the archived link the comments are there.

            • Good-oh!

  10. Congratulations Lisa on the award – well deserved, its amazing how many books you manage to review even though you hold down a full time job. All the best for 2013.

    • Thank you Caroline, and thank you for sending me that lovely book to review: I hope Chefs of the Margaret River is selling well!

  11. that has been a great years reading Lisa been pleasure following your blog as ever ,all the best stu

    • Thanks, Stu, I’m sure you would have noticed that I’m reading more books in translation now, thanks to you:)

  12. I don’t know what I’d do without this blog, I really don’t…

    • Hi Sylvia, did you have a lovely time in Oz?

      • Lisa – it was quite perfect. I’d forgotten how much I loved the place. Plus there was family. Also, books :)

        • *smile*

  13. Wonderful post, Lisa! I haven’t read any of the books in your top 10 list but have heard of Vasily Grossman, Annabel Smith and Patrick White. I loved this phrase of yours – ‘walked me through life in a different pair of shoes’ – so beautifully put! Congratulations on winning the Best Australian Blog award! Wish you a very Happy New Year filled with lots of wonderful new books and beautiful reading moments!

    • Hello Vishy, greetings of the season!
      I’m glad you dropped by, I’ve lost the URL for your blog, (probably when I suspended all my subs when I was overseas) – could you post the URL here again please?

      Update, later the same day
      No worries, I’ve found it:)

      • Sorry I couldn’t reply to you on time. Glad to know that you found the link to my blog :)

  14. wow, 167 books, that is really an astounding number. And I feel so honoured to be in your top ten. Seeing The Factory in there too makes me want to read it even more. I’ve signed up for a challenge to read at least one book in translation each month of 2013 as that has been a sadly neglected area of reading for me lately. So I’ll be following your reviews of translated books with extra interest. Here’s my year end top ten:
    You won’t think much to my #1 choice!

    • *chuckle* Hey Amanda, I was wondering when you’d drop by and notice your book in this august company, I wish you could see the grin on my face!

      I’m pleased to see that you’re going to venture into translation, I like your top ten but there’s a lot of American books there. As an author you obviously know what you’re doing, and you don’t need advice from me, but I like to see Australian authors reading widely from around the world and getting a sense of what is preoccupying The Rest of the World as well.
      If you want a really good source of reviews for fiction in translation I’d suggest you subscribe to Stu’s blog, because he reviews a lot of contemporary works in translation and has certainly broadened my horizons.

      PS *blush* I’m afraid I still haven’t done what I said I’d do, and taken another look at No#1…
      PPS I hope you had a lovely Christmas. The ones you have with little kids are always the best:)

      • You’re absolutely right Lisa, I do need to read more widely, and using Goodreads this year has really opened my eyes to that. Thanks for the link to Stu’s blog – I’ll definitely have a look around there.

        • That’s the joy of/the trouble with the Web: everywhere we look we find we need to read more widely. Today I saw a Tweet about a Bosnian novel, I mean, who’s ever read a novel from Bosnia? And it looked very interesting too *sigh*.

        • I think I’ll join you, Annabel – I’ve been trying to work on reading French and haven’t yet made it very far beyond sixth grade… Translations (and Stu) here I come!

          • Is there a Translations group on GoodReads we can play in?

  15. Impressive, Lisa. Congratulations on your award. :-) Hope 2013 will be better.

  16. […] I’m especially grateful to Lisa Hill of ANZ Lit Lovers who included WCF on her list of favourite books of 2012; given that she read 167 books last year, that is quite a prestigious list to appear on! I’d […]

  17. […] Murphy. I’m especially grateful to Lisa Hill of ANZ Lit Lovers who included WCF on her list of favourite books of 2012; given that she read 167 books last year, that is quite a prestigious list to appear on! I’d […]


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