Month: January 2023

On The Books That Made Us

Posted January 12, 2023 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 2 Comments

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation once aired a three-part special called The Books That Made Us. In this series acclaimed actor Claudia Karvan looked at the books that best defines our nation, Australia, under three topics: People, Place and Power. With over twenty books being used to form the Australian identity. This was a wonderful starting point to exploring Australian literature, I just with there was more.  

While I am not a big Australian literature reader, I really enjoyed the experience. I know I should read more literary works from my own country; I am just focused on my own niche of literature. I was surprised to discover books I hadn’t heard of before that I want to read, like They’re a Weird Mob by Nino Culotta and Power Without Glory by Frank Hardy. 

The series opened with the book that divides the country, a book I absolutely adored, The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. I think this was the perfect book to open the series with, just because it is one that caused readers so many different reactions. Though Claudia Karvan telling Christos Tsiolkas she didn’t like the book was a surprise, but I think he handled it well. I am sure he has heard all kinds of criticisms about the book but is probably happy to have written something that gets talked about so often.  

I have only read six of the books that were mentioned in The Books That Made Us, and highlights for me include The Slap, Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko and The Yield by Tara June Winch. The other three were The Choke by Sofie Laguna, The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood and Crimes of the Father by Thomas Keneally. I enjoyed the variety of books being talked about and while I will probably never read something like Big Little Lies by Liana Moriarty or Honeybee by Craig Silvey, it did make me question if I should try Puberty Blues by Gabrielle Carey & Kathy Lette.  

I had a lot of fun watching this short series and want it to keep going but I also wonder what books define other countries, or even continents. As someone that loves world literature, I began wondering which books I would include to define the continents of the world. Europe has so many well-known pieces of literature, but which English, French or Russian classic would you put on that list? I thought Europe would be the easiest list to create (because it has so much popular literature), but the only book I could think of that should be on a list to define Europe was Older Brother by Mahir Guven (translated by Tina Kover). I would add that book because of the way it explores outsiders trying to integrate into European society, plus it goes into religious and political division in a country, even in a family.  

The Books That Made Us was a great series that reminded me that my exploration into world literature should include more works for Australian authors. If I was to pick a few books mentioned in the show to read soon, it would include The Lebs by Michael Mohammed Ahmad, Monkey Grip by Helen Garner, Carpentaria by Alexis Wright and That Deadman Dance by Kim Scott. If you find an opportunity to watch The Books That Made Us I hope you give it a go, I am not sure if it is available outside of Australia anywhere. Nor do I know if it is relevant to many non-Australian readers but I wanted to document my thoughts on this series. The show went on to get two AACTA nominations (the The Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts Awards), one for Best Documentary or Factual Program and the other for Best Direction in Nonfiction Television.  

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Best of 2022

Posted January 4, 2023 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Film & Television, Literature / 3 Comments

It’s that time of year again where I tell myself I need to get back into blogging. I love talking about literature, and I tend to express my opinions on every social media platform known to humankind. However, I admit that I hate rewatching my old videos, and I never go back and listen to my podcast. This blog is meant to be a place to store my thoughts and remind myself of all the books I have read. In another attempt to get back into the habit, here I am, once again making it a new year’s resolution.  

2022 was not the best year for me when it comes to my reading journey, I read 63 books. While I have stopped making it a goal to read ‘x’ amount of books, it is hard not to compare myself with previous years. Honestly, I would love to read more, and I set myself a page goal on Storygraph of 20,000 pages. I fell short of this goal in 2022 by a few hundred pages, I am not worried, it is not important. What is important is the amount of books I enjoyed. Yes, this is the obligatory best of 2022 post, I am going to not only give you my top five books, but I want to expand and share my favourite movies, tv shows and music.  

Favourite Books 

  • Elena Knows by Claudia Piñeiro (translated by Frances Riddle) 
  • Best of Friends by Kamila Shamsie 
  • The Forgery by Ave Barrera (translated by Ellen Jones & Robin Myers) 
  • The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk (translated by Jennifer Croft) 
  • Boy Parts by Eliza Clark 

Elena Knows was the highlight of the year. While it was one of the first books read in 2022, it is the one I think about the most. I really hope more from Claudia Piñeiro gets translated into English, I want to read everything she has written.  I am late to the party for Kamila Shamsie and I read Best of Friends because of a book club, so I will be trying Home Fire in the very near future.  

Honourable mention needs to be given to Case Study by Graeme Macrae Burnet, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, Harsh Times by Mario Vargas Llosa (translated by Adrian Nathan West), The Netanyahus by Joshua Cohen and Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki. Looking at all these honourable mentions makes me wonder if I read enough translations this year, so I had to check my spreadsheet and only 30% of my reading were books in translation. 2022 was also the year I read Bear by Marian Engel, if you know you know.  

I have no real reading goals for 2023, I would like to enjoy my reading and maybe get into the habit of reading longer books. I always tell myself quality over quantity, but my brain keeps rejecting that.  

Favourite Films 

  • Everything Everywhere All at Once 
  • Broker 
  • The Menu 
  • The Tragedy of Macbeth 
  • Nightmare Alley 

Letterboxd has been helping me keep track of all my film watching, I watched 72 movies and 59 of them were new to me. In 2023 I hope to get to the cinema more, I love the experience and I would like to see more foreign films, which I find easier at the cinema where I am not being distracted by my phone.  

Favourite TV shows 

  • Our Flag Means Death 
  • Somebody Somewhere 
  • Heartbreak High 
  • A League of Their Own 
  • Yellowjackets 

I had a hard time remembering what I enjoyed this year in television. I feel like this list is not accurate but in 2023 maybe I’ll do a better job at tracking the TV shows I watched and enjoyed.  

Favourite New Albums 

  • Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos (1992) 
  • For Those That Wish To Exist by Architects (2021) 
  • Melodrama by Lorde (2017) 
  • Entertainment! by Gang of Four (1979) 
  • ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ by Ministry (1992) 

This is not an accurate depiction of my music taste; these are just five albums I listened to this year and realised I liked. I have been using the 1001 albums generator to make my way through the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die list. I am terrible at finding new music, so I have been making more of an effort. Who knows, maybe after I complete this list, I will even try some new releases.  

2023 Plans 

In 2023, my main goal is to get back into blogging, and I might post about more than literature. Who knows what will happen, maybe I will redesign this blog, maybe I will forget all about it. In 2022, I got a new job and I am unsure what the future looks like in this company. I plan to take advantage of any training opportunities and continue my journey of self-improvement. This career has meant I had to brush up on some of my technical skills, and maybe that will translate into some new skills. Personally, I would love to learn more about the data analysis side of this business, and maybe learn some new skills that I could use on my reading spreadsheet.