Posted by: Lisa Hill | December 16, 2017

Reading Bingo 2017

Emma at Book Around the Corner is first up with Reading Bingo this year. Can I find the books I’ve read this year to complete the bingo card?

A Book with more than 500 pages : My longest book was the feminist classic Damned Whores and God’s Police by Anne Summers. It had 772 pages. Young feminists might do well to find the time to read it because too many of them have obviously forgotten how things were, just a short while ago.

A forgotten classic : The Dyehouse by Mena Calthorpe was a forgotten classic until it was released in the Text Classics series to celebrate the release of their 100th title in this brilliant collection of previously out-of-print Australian books.  I wish there were more writers tacking issues like exploitative working conditions today.  You’d think they would be, wouldn’t you, since so many writers are supporting themselves in casual jobs?

A Book That Became a Movie: Does a mini-series count?  Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.  Mind you, it’s a slow-moving novel, so I don’t know how they padded it out to make a series of it.  I liked the book but I wouldn’t be bothered watching the TV series…

A Book Published This Year: I’ve read 63 new releases so far this year (64 when I finish reading The Town by Shaun Prescott) so I have lots to choose from, and there have been so many wonderful books this year it’s very difficult to choose.  But I’m going to go with Storyland, by Catherine McKinnon.  It’s one of the most imaginative and cleverly constructed books I’ve read for a while, showing that the best writers of Australian fiction are confronting our real history in a creative and respectful way. It’s on the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards shortlist and the 2018 Indie Book Awards longlist but it ought to be on more.

A Book With A Number In The Title: One-Two by Igor Eliseev. Ok, that’s two numbers but they are hyphenated.  And that’s because the story is about how conjoined twins find ways to survive in the cruel world of the new Russia.  As I said in my review, the resilience of these two girls who suffer appalling insults, neglect and exploitation in the Perestroika period in Russia is emblematic of the resilience of the Russian people and the suffering they have experienced during the 20th century. 

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty:  I reckon this one is really hard because I rarely know the age of the authors I read, and *chuckle* all emerging authors look young to me. But this year, I’ve found one because Google has given me the birth date of Fiona Mozley, shortlisted for the Booker with her debut novel ElmetShe’s 29.  (And it’s an exceptionally good novel.  It tackles, amongst other things, the casualization of the workforce in Britain).

A Book With Non Human Characters: I’m going to go with Pincher Martin by William Golding because the malevolent sea is a character in that one.  I still feel cold, just thinking about it.  Proof positive that William Lord of the Flies Golding was not a one-hit wonder.

A Funny Book: Death of a She-Devil by Fay Weldon.  The follow-up to the original Life and Loves of a She-Devil which had us all in stitches in the 1980s. Sharp incisive satire, but not quite in the same league as her early work, or maybe the world has changed.  Or I have…

A Book By A Female Author: The female/male percentage of books I’ve blogged remains steady around 45%/55%.  Of the new releases I’ve read, 29 are by women and 30 by men; but of the debut authors I’ve read 13 are women and only 5 are men.  So obviously I have lots to choose from.  But I’m going to skip all the new releases and go with a classic from the 20th century that I was prompted to read by Nathan Hobby who is writing a biography of its author.  Haxby’s Circus, by Katharine Susannah Prichard is great reading with its unforgettable central character Gina and its vivid descriptions of the Australia of small towns and the travelling entertainments that came their way – often at great cost to the performers.

A Book With A Mystery: Blessed are the Dead by Malla Nunn.  Her Emmanuel Cooper series is terrific and the thoughtful portrayal of apartheid-era South Africa manages to break through my lack of interest in this genre.

A Book With A One Word Title: I have three in Oxford’s Very Short Introductions series that qualify for this one: Existentialism, Postmodernism and Goethe. but I’m going to go with the most recent one I’ve read because it was so good, so very, very good. Goethe, a Very Short Introduction by Richie Robertson.  It just makes me want to read Goethe’s books, and IMO that’s what a VSI should do.

A Book of Short Stories: Easy. Karenlee Thompson’s collection of short fictions titled Flame Tip.  Unforgettable stories and poems in commemoration of the 1967 Tasmanian bushfires.

Free Square: ooh, decisions, decisions… I think I’ll brag about my second attempt to read a book in French.  La Rendez-vous de Venise by Philippe Beaussant.  It’s one of those stories of a departed relative who turns out to be different to the carefully curated image cultivated during a lifetime.  A lovely book, and you can read it in English too: Rendezvous in Venice is translated by Paul Buck and Catherine Petit and published by Pushkin Press.

A Book Set on a Different Continent: This year’s Vogel winner was The Lost Pages by Marija Peričić, set in the Czech Republic.  As I said in my review it’s a brave reimagining of the relationship between Franz Kafka and his literary editor Max Brod, and it develops an unstoppable momentum as the pages fly by towards an ending that I definitely did not foresee.

A Book of Non-Fiction : Return to Moscow by Tony Kevin. It appeals to my iconoclastic nature, and I like books that unravel the rubbishy stereotyping that gets fed to us by politicians and the media.  As I said in my review,  if we’re going to get involved in US/Russian squabbles that may become more serious, we should at least have some idea of the Russian point-of-view.  I would hope that our foreign minister and her counterpart in the Opposition at the very least have read this book by now, but it’s not just a must-read for politicians, it’s one that we all should read because it shows you how demonising of The Other takes place.  So it’s relevant to the current anti-Chinese rhetoric as well.

The First Book by a Favourite Author: Home by Larissa Behrendt.  Behrendt has only written two novels, Home (2004) and Legacy (2009) and has gone on to write some must-read non-fiction notably Finding Eliza but I would buy another of her novels in a heart beat.

A Book You Heard About Online: And that would be most of them, thank you to all by book-blogging friends without whom my reading would be much less interesting.  (You know who you are!) But I’ll choose the most recent, which was A Boy in Winter by Rachel Sieffert, thank you to Tony from Tony’s Book World. 

A Best-selling Book: This is usually a tough one for me because the label best-seller usually means I won’t like it, but Peter Carey’s new novel A Long Way from Home will of course be a best-seller not to mention under many a Christmas tree, and I really, really liked it.  (And not just because I went rallying in my misspent youth.  Though not, I hasten to add, in a before-my-time Redex trial.  We rallied an R8 Renault Gordini).

A Book Based on a True Story: Billy Sing by Chinese-Australian author Ouyang Yu is a WWI centenary novel with a difference.  The story is based on the real-life story of the famed Gallipoli sniper, William Edward Sing who received the Distinguished Conduct Medal for ‘conspicuous gallantry’ and the Belgian Croix de Guerre for his service on the Western Front.  But Ouyang Yu being the author he is, there is more to the book than the bi-racial identity issues you’d expect…

A Book at the Bottom of your To Be Read Pile: This one makes me feel as if I ought to feel guilty, but (apart from the second-hand ones) every book in my nearly 900-title TBR has been a sale for an author whether I read it or not, so I don’t feel even the least little bit guilty.  I think the book that had the longest wait this year was The Leopard, by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, translated by Archibald Colquhoun and I read it after reading the VSI on Italian literature. by Peter Hainsworth and David Robey.

A Book Your Friend Loves: Kim from Reading Matters reviewed The Peculiar Life of the Lonely Postman by Denis Thériault (translated by Liedewy Hawke) and I couldn’t resist it.  Every bit as interesting as she said it was.

A Book That Scares You: What’s Yours is Mine, Against the Sharing Economy by Tom Slee.  This book showed me what we risk losing if we let the sharing economy run on unchecked.  I wish lots of people would read this, especially (a) our state politicians who need to know what exactly they are belatedly trying to regulate and (b) our federal politicians who need to gang up internationally and make the billionaire owner-predators pay their share of tax.

A Book That Is More Than Ten Years Old: The Collected Stories of Pinchas Goldhar.  Technically the book is a new release but the stories are from the 20th century, they just hadn’t been collected in one title until Hybrid broke the jinx and successfully published the book this year.

The Second Book in a Series: Usually a difficult one for me because I tend not to read series, but Steven Carroll’s Eliot Quartet captivated me, and the second in the series, A World of Other People was great reading.  (Mind you, I was not impressed by its cover.  As usual this year, I have gone out of my way to pontificate about bad cover design and this one really annoyed me because it is such a stupid representation of a scene in the book, a woman wrapped in a blanket looking out of a wartime blackout curtain.)

A Book With a Blue Cover: Mirror Sydney by Vanessa Barry, a book which has changed the way I look at my environs as I take my daily walks with the dog.

Oh, gosh, how about that, another opportunity to share a picture of my dog!



  1. I’ve read some of these, and share your good opinion of Storyland. I watched Olive Kitteridge in a binge and loved it (recommended it too to Resident Judge, so hope she backs me up). After that I read a couple of Strout’s books, she’s very good.


    • Ok, maybe I should hunt out a copy.
      Have just found it at the library:)
      Thank you!


  2. The series Olive Kitteridge was really good. I haven’t read the book (yet)


    • Was it you who recommended Line of Separation to me? I just watched it this last week and it was terrific:)


      • Yes. I wrote a post on it for GLM. There’s a second series in the works.


        • That’ll be good. We just started watching the Weissensee Saga last night, I think that was one you recommended too.


  3. As an ardent Strout fan who usually steers clear of screen adaptations, I’d recommend the miniseries. Frances McDortmand was born to play Olive!

    There’s a sequel to the Lonely Postman, told from Tania’s point of view. Equally eccentric but well worth reading.

    Delighted to hear that the Carey hit the spot. It’ll be out here next month.


    • It sounds like the jury is in on this one, I’ve ordered it from the library and will watch it soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this post, Lisa. So many reminders of books I need to read. I have an ARC of Storyland on my Kindle kindly sent to me by the publisher, so I must dig that out. I’m looking forward to the Carey… I bought a ticket to see him in Dublin on 19 January, a great excuse for a long weekend over the water to drink Guinness and buy Irish novels!! Thanks for the link to my review to Peculiar Life…


    • You’re welcome, thank you to you for recommending it.
      Need I say I am green with envy re Dublin?


  5. I’ve had a go also, will try to keep it brief:
    A Book with more than 500 pages : 4,3,2, 1 by Paul Auster. 866 pages and more like four books in one.
    A forgotten classic: Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahatiin Ali is a Turkish classic having a revival.
    A Book That Became a Movie: I didn’t end up finishing it but I read 1/3 of The Secret Scripture, the movie reviews aren’t that great either
    A Book Published This Year: Most of the books I’ve read were published this year but if I have to pick one, I’ll go with Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, a delightful read.
    A Book With A Number In The Title: the Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott.
    A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty: Had to do some research for this one but Weike Wang who wrote Chemistry is 29. Highly recommend.
    A Book With Non Human Characters: Sing, Unburied Sing has a few ghosts in it.
    A Funny Book: I laughed out loud for much of The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyle.
    A Book By A Female Author: I make a point of reading more female authors than men so this is easy, I’ll go with The Book of Emma Reyes by Emma Reyes, a great read.
    A Book With A Mystery: An Isolated Incident by Emily Maguire
    A Book With A One Word Title: Beartwown by Fredrik Backman.
    A Book of Short Stories: This one is a bit of a stretch because I don’t read short stories but Ziniz Clemmon’s What We Lose is sort of linked stories. Cut me some slack for this one
    Free Square: Instead of free square, this Bingo could have had a translated book. One pick for that category is Beside the Sea by Veronique Olmi, a devastating read from beginning to end. We should all read more books in translation so we can learn about the world we live in.
    A Book Set on a Different Continent: Different to where? I am in Australia so lots of my books were set elsewhere but I’ll go with Ghachar Ghocar set in India by Vivek Shanbhag.
    A Book of Non-Fiction: The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir by Alexaandria Marzano-Lesnevich was one of the best books I’ve read.
    The First Book by a Favourite Author: This one seems like an easy one but I struggled to find one. I have chosen another stretch, Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen. Let’s just say it’s his first book and I have enjoyed all his other writing.
    A Book You Heard About Online: I spend way too much time reading about books online. The hype around The End of Eddy was huge so I had to read it and so glad I did.
    A Best-selling Book: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
    A Book Based on a True Story: Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton is based on true events and she includes an author’s note with historical information at the end
    A Book at the Bottom of your To Be Read Pile: I’ve been meaning to read something by Kent Haruf and this year go to Our Souls at Night
    A Book Your Friend Loves: My daughter recommended Blindness to me and it was a very thought provoking read.
    A Book That Scares You: No is Not Enough: Resiting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need by Naomi Klein, made me glad I live in Australia.
    A Book That Is More Than Ten Years Old: Bread Givers was oringinally published in 1925, a fascinating story about the migrant experience.
    The Second Book in a Series: I thoroughly enjoyed reading One Good Turn (Jackson Brodie #2). I chose it because I went to Edinburgh this year and wanted to read something that was set there..
    A Book With a Blue Cover: I loved Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran, very topical with Trump’s stance against Mexicans.


    • Wow, what a fabulous collection of books for me to explore! I agree with you about the translation, this bingo card is actually quite bland in its expectations – perhaps designed to maximise participation from all sorts of readers while offering some options that can be tweaked.
      BTW re Blindness… do you mean Saramago’s Blindness? That was indeed a thought-provoking read.


  6. Sorry, I see I left out some of the authors.Yes, it was Blindness by Jose Saramago. One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson, Bread Givers is by Anzia Yezierska, The End of Eddy is by Edouard Louis and Sing, Unburied Sing is by Jesmyn Ward. I had a lot of fun finding books to fit all the categories!


    • I shall see what I can find at the library, it can be quite good for translations:)


  7. I’m thinking of doing this too – but will see if I can find time to write it up. I have one plan category that I’ll have to see if I can fudge – second in a series because I don’t read series. And, I have a cheeky answer, of a different type, for best-seller. Oh, and I just have to check my non-human character one though I have an idea that will work I think. Hmmm. Tomorrow’s Monday musings comes first though!


    • It takes longer than you’d think. I had to consult My Year in Books 2017 at Goodreads for some of them, e.g. the blue cover.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes you’re right. I drafted it laat night… The cover I had to scroll through my posts looking at pics. I think, really that a smaller bingo would be better. A list of 25 is not only a lot to write but an imposition on (or turn off?) for people to read particularly if they follow a lot of bloggers.


        • It is a lot! I don’t mind the reading side, but it definitely involves more researching/writing than I would be willing to undertake. No stats at all from me this year.


          • I didn’t realise how much effort I’d have to put in until I was halfway through, and by then I’d invested too much time not to finish it.


  8. Great bingo.

    I’ve only read Le rendez-vous de Venise (which I loved) and congratulations for reading it in French. The style is elaborate, so it’s rather difficult for a foreigner. Your French has improved a lot.


    • Ce n’est pas trop mal pour lire, mais je suis toujours désespérée dans la conversation!


  9. Hi Lisa. You are missing out by not watching the TV series of Olive Kitteridge. It’s a masterpiece. Frances McDormand is wonderful as Olive. It’s a very true rendition of Elizabeth Strout’s beautiful novel.


    • I’m just waiting on my reserve to come through at the library:)


  10. […] Are you getting sick of memes and lists? If so, just ignore this post and come back when the silly season is over because it seems that we book bloggers can’t help ourselves at this time of year. Today’s meme is a bingo asking us to name books we’ve read this year that meet categories on a bingo card – and it’s a big one with TWENTY-FIVE categories. I got the card from Lisa (ANZLitLovers). […]


  11. I gave up on The Leopard about half way through – not because I wasn’t enjoying it but I never finished it in time for the book club meeting and somehow forgot about it.
    What’s Yours is Mine sounds like an interesting book. I’ve never joined knowingly in the sharing economy but on holiday just recently ended up doing so twice. First my husband booked an Airbnb on the basis it was the best option in the location we wanted to stay. We then discovered the owner had 15 other places in the same resort. I wouldn’t go for this option again. The second experience was much better – we found ourselves in an area of cape town where we didn’t feel comfortable and couldnt get any taxi out of there. A bar tender came to our rescue by ordering an Uber and we had a super conversation with the driver on the ride back to safety.


    • That sounds like a lucky escape. But equally, it could have been risky. Because Uber drivers don’t have the same character checks as taxi drivers do.


      • That’s an issue that bothers me, too, though travelling as a couple I’ve not been too concerned. I worry about my daughter Ubering alone in Melbourne which she does quite a bit. We’ve had some great conversations with Uber Drivers, far better overall than with taxi drivers – though I’ve been pleasantly surprised recently to find more open minds among taxi drivers than in the past.

        But the issue of character checks varies I believe with jurisdiction. The ACT was the first or one of the first jurisdictions in Australia to legalise Uber or Ridesharing, and it introduced a special licence which requires, among other things, a Police Character Check. (I finally decided to check this as I’ve been meaning to for some time. We mostly use taxis here but overseas, Uber was easier. No needing to hunt for local taxi numbers, just use the Uber app.)


        • BTW I think Victoria has similar requirements for Police and Medical checks.


          • Maybe, (I haven’t checked because I wouldn’t ever use Uber so I don’t need to) but as I understand it there’s not the same accountability if there’s trouble. With taxis, a report to the police leads to the Taxi Directorate (or whatever it’s called in different places) and the processes go into action. With Uber, *if you can identify the driver* your complaint ultimately goes to a foreign entity who, if this book is to be believed, isn’t (a) accessible and (b) is very slow to respond. I think it would be even more risky overseas, even if it is easier.


            • This book may not be up to date, at least for all Australian jurisdictions. However, you should be able to identify the driver wherever you are because their name is in the app. Of course in some less regulated jurisdictions people may be able to register with false names etc. (We had one issue in Sacramento where the driver didn’t seem to understand the UBER software and headed off to where we wanted to go rather than to where he was picking us up. We watched him on the app going there. We didn’t complain to him, because he was apologetic, but did advise Uber immediately after we were dropped off. They refunded the money within hours and said they’d ensure the driver had more training in using the software.

              Sometimes books like that only focus on the negatives. I’m not, as I’ve said before, completely PRO, but I think we need to accept the world is changing and that nothing is black-and-white. I’ve noticed in Australia that Uber is not that much cheaper than taxis, so the issue for many people is often convenience rather than cost. There are rideshare options now which ONLY have female drivers. A lot of women prefer that option.

              Your Taxi Services Commission manages licensing of drivers in Victoria. There are rules about drivers, insurance, and their cars.


              • I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. I don’t think there’s anything convenient about not being able to get a taxi because they’ve been squeezed out by Uber and the only way you can access Uber is with a phone. And I don’t like contributing to the wealth of zillionaires who don’t pay taxes or contribute to the communities they make money from.


                • Fair enough. I just don’t see it quite as either-or as you do, and will make decisions based on where I am and what is going to be safest/easiest at that moment. If we can do public transport that’s our preference, in fact. The cities where Google Maps is hooked into the public transport makes getting around pretty easy (depending, of course, on how good the public transport is!) But then of course you are using that other behemoth, Google!

                  I agree of course re the tax issue, worker rights issues, etc. but they are being worked on.


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