Author: Michael @ Knowledge Lost

The 2024 International Booker Longlist

Posted March 12, 2024 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literary Prizes / 4 Comments

Adding this here as The International Booker Prize is my favourite literary prize to follow and I secretly hope to read all the books. At the time of posting this, I have not read any of these books, but now to start searching for all the books I currently don’t own.

  • Not a River by Selva Almada (translated by Annie McDermott)
  • Simpatía by Rodrigo Blanco Calderon (translated by Noel Hernández González and Daniel Hahn)
  • Kairos by Jenny Erpenbeck (translated by Michael Hofmann)
  • The Details by Ia Genberg (translated by Kira Josefsson)
  • White Nights by Urszula Honek (translated by Kate Webster)
  • Mater 2-10 by Hwang Sok-yong (translated by Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae Josephine Bae)
  • A Dictator Calls by Ismail Kadare (translated by John Hodgson)
  • The Silver Bone by Andrey Kurkov (translated by Boris Dralyuk)
  • What I’d Rather Not Think About by Jente Posthuma (translated by Sarah Timmer Harvey)
  • Lost on Me by Veronica Raimo (translated by Leah Janeczko)
  • The House on Via Gemito by Domenico Starnone (translated by Oonagh Stransky)
  • Crooked Plow by Itamar Vieira Junior (translated by Johnny Lorenz)
  • Undiscovered by Gabriela Wiener (translated by Julia Sanches)

Best Albums of 2023

Posted February 1, 2024 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Music / 0 Comments

Many people might not know this, but when I first started blogging, I was talking about music and trying to document my musical journey. I wish I kept copies of what I wrote, I would like to see if I have improved in anyway. I did stop listening to a lot of new music almost twenty years ago. There may have been albums from artists I love or the odd new discovery but actively, I was enjoying the music I knew and loved.

However, this year, with the discovery of AOTY (kind of like a Goodreads for music), I decided to track my musical journey. I found myself trying new albums, discovering new bands, and realising I like to listen to the full album. Sure, I actively like songs on Spotify or Apple Music and track everything on Last.FM, but AOTY was just a fun way for me to keep a record of what albums I was listening to. Part of my wanted to try and work through the 1001 albums list (like I want to do with the 1001 books list), but I was really drawn to checking out music from this year. I discovered some new favourite artists (like Sleep Token and Aviations), found some newly debuting artists (Blondshell and Kara Jackson), but also went back to some old favourites with some disappointing experiences (The Smashing Pumpkins, Avenged Sevenfold and Taproot).

As you can tell, my musical taste leans more towards the rock/metal but I do try to explore different genres. I think albums like Wallsocket by underscores, 93696 by Liturgy, SCARING THE HOES by JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown, Beloved! Paradise! Jazz​!​? by McKinley Dixon or STRUGGLER by Genesis Owusu are all albums outside my comfort zone that I really enjoyed and will continue coming back to. I ended up listening to over 150 albums from 2023 and enjoyed so many of them. So many albums were great but just missed out on my top 10. I contemplated doing a top twenty, so I could include Emarosa, Slowdive, 파란노을, Sampha, Jessie Ware, Metric, Mitski and Olivia Rodrigo on my list. Who knows, I might spend more time blogging about music in the future, but I really hope that I continue my journey of trying new music in the future. Here are my favourite albums from 2023.

10. Why Would I Watch by Hot Mulligan
I was not familiar with Hot Mulligan previously, but I saw some positive reviews coming out about this album, so one day, I randomly decided to give it a go. This is a Midwest emo band and I do love music full of angst, but what I liked about this album was that they do not try to sound like every emo band from the early 2000’s, they found what worked for them and just put their heart and soul into it. Plus, I do enjoy some interesting song titles, like It’s a Family Movie She Hates Her Dad, This Song is Called it’s Called What’s it Called, No Shoes in the Coffee Shop (Or Socks) and Shhhh! Golf is On

9. My Back Was A Bridge For You To Cross by ANOHNI and the Johnsons
I hadn’t heard a new album from this band for over 20 years, ANOHNI has been singing about gender and identity issues. This is a moving soul/art rock album, that is hard to define, this band is unlike anything else. I remember the harrowing song For Today I Am a Boy from 2005, and ANOHNI still delivers those same emotions with this album. So much is happening in this album, and it really is an emotional journey. The songs are about loss, friendships, existential dread and has a heavy focus towards social issues.

8. Why Does the Earth Give Us People to Love? by Kara Jackson
This was a late entry onto my list. I had this on my list of albums to try for most of the year, but I keep seeing mentions on other’s best of lists. Obviously, I have far too many albums still to try from 2023, but something in the back of my head kept reminding me to listen and I am glad it finally checked out Why Does the Earth Give Us People to Love? Hard to believe this is a debut album, because Kara Jackson delivers such maturity in her lyric writing, she is a poet and I struggle to find the words to describe the beauty here. This is a poetry, set to a chamber folk style and it is exquisite.

7. Sanguivore by Creeper
How do you describe Creeper (at least for this album); it’s like a blend of HIM, The Damned or The Misfits, but this album is more like a theatrical rock opera in the vein of Meatloaf. This is over the top, and I mean that in a good way. It’s a vampiric rock opera that really leans into the fantastical and is such a fun listening experience.

6. the record by boygenius
It’s weird to imagine that boygenius went from a side project to a supergroup so quickly. Since their first EP, Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus have all put out some amazing albums. In fact, I think it was only Phoebe Bridgers that hadn’t released anything prior to that 2018 EP and she has gone on to dominate the music industry. What works as an amazing collaboration, also feels like a good introduction to these three artists too, where most songs normally have one lead vocalist. I love this because I often find it hard to pick my favourite vocalist and, on this album, I don’t need to.

5. Luminaria by Aviations
They call themselves cozy metal, Aviations is a group that formed at Berklee College of Music and their love for progressive rock and metal is what makes this band great. I am a big fan of progressive music, and as I listen to this album, I am constantly in awe of their technical ability and they way they construct their music. This is an album that really brings out my music nerdiness.

4. This Is Why by Paramore
I just love Paramore, and what I think I like the most about their last few albums, is the fact that are willing to try something new. After Laughter was a dive into a new wave/electro pop style and I had a lot of fun listening to it, but This is Why might be their best album so far. Hayley Williams and the band take on a more indie style and it works. I love when a band is not afraid to take some risks and Paramore delivered here.

3. Blondshell by Blondshell
Name a song after my favourite TV show and you have my attention. I am reminded of indie rock from the late 90’s when listening to this album and it still surprises me that this is a debut. For fans of bands like Soccer Mommy, Hole or Veruca Salt, this is well worth checking out. I love this album greatly, I love the garage rock sound, but I grow up on 90’s music, so this felt like my style.

2. Javelin by Sufjan Stevens
It feels like everyone has Javelin on their best of list, mainly because it is such a good album. This album is beautiful but very depressing. Dedicated to his late partner, Javelin is such a stunning piece of art, and it is sad to think of all the pain and sorrow Sufjan Stevens went through. This album on the surface feels like a breakup album (with songs like Will Anybody Ever Love Me?) but known about his loss just make these songs hit so much harder. Also, I think Shit Talk might be one of the best songs on the year.

1. Take Me Back to Eden by Sleep Token
This is a new band to me, but I did go back to listen to their other albums as well. This really was the year of Sleep Token; they are a polarising but as you can see, I love them. Take Me Back to Eden saw a major increase in production value for the band and what I love about this record is that they are not afraid to blend genres. Even some of their songs like The Summoning shift genre styles multiple times and for me it really works.

Best Books of 2023

Posted January 31, 2024 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 4 Comments

One of my favourite things about the end of December and the beginning of January is seeing everyone’s best of lists. It seems like the only times I have posted on my blog are to share my best of lists of 2022 but once again, I am hoping to get back into posting more frequently. The most important first post of the year will be my best books of 2023. I am trying not to complain about my reading lately, and my goal for 2024 is just to have fun and enjoy my reading experiences. I do wish I read more in 2023 but I do have to say that I am very happy with this top 10 list.

10. Our Share of Night by Mariana Enríquez (translated by Megan McDowell)
I absolutely love Mariana Enríquez’s short stories; they are a blend of gothic horror told from a feminist viewpoint that depict the harsh sociopolitical realities that women face every day. Our Share of Night is her first full length novel to be translated into English and it is an overly ambitious one. This is a 700+ horror novel that is set through out the different Argentinean dictatorships. Enríquez uses the horror genre to explore the horrific nature of dictatorships and the effects they have on the people. If I was able to understand more of what each metaphor or scene symbolised, I am sure I would have loved this book more, but those horrors still sit in my brain, and I know I will need to reread in the future.

9. Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov (translated by Angela Rodel)
The winner of the International Booker Prize this year and I had a lot of fun with this, even if I think it kind of waned in the last few chapters. I think this is an exciting novel about human connection, it focuses on a clinic designed to help people with dementia and other memory issues. But this clinic uses a relic that makes their patients believe they are living in the world of their younger selves. This novel may be clever but, sometimes I think it is too clever for its own good.

8. King Kong Theory by Virginie Despentes (translated by Frank Wynne)
This is a manifesto of pure feminist rage. Drawing from her own experiences, Despentes investigates sex work and porn, through a feminist lens. This is a book about the exploitation and sexual assaults on women, not just in sex work but all over the world. This is a gritty, emotional collection of essays and one that will sit with me forever. No words of mine could ever do this book any justice, so I will leave a quote from the author; “I write from the realms of the ugly, for the ugly, the frigid, the unfucked and the unfuckables, all those excluded from the great meat market of female flesh, and for all those guys who don’t want to be protectors, for those who would like to be but don’t know how, for those who are not ambitious, competitive, or well-endowed. Because this ideal of the seductive white woman constantly being waved under our noses – well, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist.”

7. Miss Kim Knows and Other Stories by Cho Nam-joo (translated by Jamie Chang)
Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 remains a favourite of mine, it was one of those books, I finished and wanted to reread right away. In fact, I found the audiobook and listened to it with my wife while we travelled. It was a powerful book and when I saw this collection of short stories based around the book, I picked it up right away. I didn’t even know this existed until I randomly saw it in my local indie bookstore. This is what I loved about Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 but expended to different age groups, a mixture of different microcosms; a story set in a school, a work place, even one that is capturing growing old. I think Cho Nam-joo has found her style and I want to see more stories like this.

6. An Untouched House by Willem Frederik Hermans (translated by David Colmer)
This is a novel I knew nothing about, but it was so mesmerising and haunting that I think maybe Hermans should be judged alongside authors like Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut. Set in World War II, this book follows a Dutch soldier that is so exhausted from the war, that he finds an abandoned hour and just decided to inhabit it. This is a dark meditation on survival, the horrors of war and I found it both profound and unsettling.

5. Wifedom: Mrs. Orwell’s Invisible Life by Anna Funder
We all know who George Orwell is, but how much do we know about his wife Eileen O’Shaughnessy? Anne Funder decided to research more about her and what she found was very depressing. Of the six biographies she read that were written about George Orwell, there is little to no information about his wife. Almost like she had no importance, and yet the more Funder researched the more she how just how much of an impact Eileen had in shaping some of the greatest works written by Orwell. This is an exploration of just one of many unsung women whose work goes unnoticed and never mentioned in the background of these so-called great men’s lives.

4. Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel (translated by Rosalind Harvey)
I probably only read about half of the International Booker Prize longlist of 2023, but this is the one that I wanted to win. It reminded me of Ariana Harwicz’s Die, My Love, but maybe less depressing. This is a novel of Alina and Laura who have decided they didn’t want to have children; they wanted to enjoy life. Although, things change for Alina and then we are struck with the horrors of a complicated pregnancy. This is a very emotional book, and so much is happening in this novel. I have only read one other book from Guadalupe Nettel (After the Winter) which I also recommend but I know I want to read them all.

3. Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens by Shankari Chandran
Normally when I get given a book to read from my book club, I’m a little nervous. Not that I hate most of them, I just tend to like what everyone else dislikes. Chai Time at Cinnamon Gardens was the winner of the Miles Franklin Award this year, so I knew this was a popular pick, so I went in a little worried, but this was an extraordinary book. It is very Australian, but it also really focuses on the systemic racism that has been built into the Australian culture. Looking at the way the White Australia Policies of the past has started to really shape the country now and the effects that racism has on a small Sri Lankan run retirement home. This is not a feel good read as the cover and title might lead you to believe.

2. Loop by Brenda Lozano (translated by Annie McDermott)
It is so hard to explain this novel, so much is happening, but nothing is happening. This is a narrative following the life of a woman waiting for her boyfriend to return from his trip from Spain. She buys a notebook and begins writing down her every thought and feelings. On the surface it just feels like an insight into her diary, but there is something deeper happening here. We are getting a look into her thoughts on the world, love, relationships, music and her writing process.

1. This is Not Miami by Fernanda Melchor (translated by Sophie Hughes)
This is my first experience with the literary genre known as cronicás, a genre that blends journalism with fiction. I now need to read more of this style of writing. There is something about the way these stories blend humour with facts, but is told it in almost a conversational tone, I need more of this, and I need recommendations. Fernanda Melchor delivers her usual dark and creepy style but because of this literary genre, this might be my favourite of her books (so far).

The 2023 International Booker Longlist

Posted March 15, 2023 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literary Prizes / 4 Comments

The International Booker Prize is my favourite literary prize I like to follow. Every year I am excited to see the longlist and hope to be able to read it in its entirety. As I am in Australia, this is always a difficult task. When the longlist drops, I often scramble to see if my library has the books to reserve and every year I hope that I have read a large portion of the list to make things easier. This year is going to be a challenge, I do not own any of these books. I know I will not complete the entire longlist before the winner is announced, I create this post to make it easier for me to track my progress.

  • Ninth Building by Zou Jingzhi (translated by Jeremy Tiang)
  • A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding by Amanda Svensson (translated by Nichola Smalley)
  • Still Born by Guadalupe Nettel (translated by Rosalind Harvey)
  • Pyre by Perumal Murugan (translated by Aniruddhan Vasudevan)
  • While We Were Dreaming by Clemens Meyer (translated by Katy Derbyshire)
  • The Birthday Party by Laurent Mauvignier (translated by Daniel Levin Becker)
  • Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv by Andrey Kurkov (translated by Reuben Woolley)
  • Is Mother Dead by Vigdis Hjorth (translated by Charlotte Barslund)
  • Standing Heavy by GauZ’ (translated by Frank Wynne)
  • Time Shelter by Georgi Gospodinov (translated by Angela Rodel)
  • The Gospel According to the New World by Maryse Condé (translated by Richard Philcox)
  • Whale by Cheon Myeong-kwan (translated by Chi-Young Kim)
  • Boulder by Eva Baltasar (translated by Julia Sanches)

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.  

The 2022 International Booker Longlist

Posted March 10, 2022 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literary Prizes / 0 Comments

  • Paradais by Fernanda Melchor (translated by Sophie Hughes)
  • Heaven by Mieko Kawakami (translated by Sam Bett David Boyd)
  • Love in the Big City by Sang Young Park (translated by Anton Hur)
  • Happy Stories, Mostly by Norman Erikson Pasaribu (translated by Tiffany Tsao)
  • Elena Knows by Claudia Piñeiro (translated by Frances Riddle)
  • The Book of Mother by Violaine Huisman (translated by Leslie Camhi)
  • More Than I Love My Life by David Grossman (translated by Jessica Cohen)
  • Phenotypes by Paulo Scott (translated by Daniel Hahn)
  • A New Name: Septology VI-VII by Jon Fosse (translated by Damion Searls)
  • After the Sun by Jonas Eika (translated by Sherilyn Hellberg)
  • Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree (translated by Daisy Rockwell)
  • The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk (translated by Jennifer Croft)
  • Cursed Bunny by Bora Chung (translated by Anton Hur)

Who Gets to Be Smart by Bri Lee

Posted December 9, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Non-Fiction / 0 Comments

Who Gets to Be Smart by Bri LeeTitle: Who Gets to Be Smart (Goodreads)
Author: Bri Lee
Published: Allen & Unwin, 2021
Pages: 296
Genres: Non-Fiction
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

I  love the idea that Bri Lee decided to write this book even though she had an agreement with her publisher to write some fiction. There’s something about this that really sticks with me, just the idea that Bri Lee was so passionate about this topic that she neglected her other projects and focused on this topic. Who Get to be Smart is such a work of passion, anger and needing to understand the world and I really enjoyed that experience. I have seen reviews that talk about this book as being unfocused or “all over the place”, for me I think that was what made this such enjoyable read. I felt like this book reads in a way that makes it feel like Bri Lee was having a conversation with me.

The book starts talking about her friend Damian, who was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. Looking at the Rhodes Scholarship she came to the realisation that she was no longer eligible to apply for this scholarship due to her age . The requirements for this scholarship is tough, not only do you require some scholastic merit, you also have to have sporting achievements and “qualities of manhood, truth, courage and devotion to duty”. It wasn’t until a 2018 revision of the selection criteria that the wording was more gender neutral. Also, you must be 25 years and under if you were considering this international scholarship. The Rhodes Scholarship accepts about 0.7% of the global applicants.

Australia has recently attempted to do something similar to the Rhodes Scholarship, which has been a disaster. The Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation was launched by the former prime minister John Howard and has received plenty of backlash. Originally planned for the Australian National University, I believe it is now at the Wollongong University. Trying to set up a scholarship fund like this in 1902 would have been easier than trying to create it now. Many of the criticism revolves around the idea of awarding a very small group of people verses using the funding to lower education costs for everyone.

Who Get to be Smart focuses on the privileges provided to the wealthy, not just with these scholarship programs, but also private schooling and science grants. The majority of this book looks at the way location, wealth and race all play a part in the education of people. Bri Lee also looking into the effects of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests might have on the future of education.

There is so much in this book and I really enjoyed the way Bri Lee approached the topic. The writing style was the highlight for me, she takes this conversationalist approach that made this so easy to read. I really like the way this is written and would probably make for a great audiobook or podcast. Not only is she providing her thoughts and giving us the information,  but she is doing it in a accessible way, with a touch of anger, humour and self-deprecation. This is my first Bri Lee book and the topic really appealed to me, because I do like her writing style, I do wonder if I should try Beauty or Eggshell Skull. I want to read more non-fiction like this, not just about education but also the same ‘laid-back’ conversationalist style, so if you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them.

The Invisible Cities Tag

Posted December 2, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 2 Comments

This year The Invisible Cities Project has been so much fun. I have really enjoyed watching what people have been reading from around the world and even trying some new food to eat. I would have liked to do more world cinema but sometimes it is hard to concentrate on the subtitles when you have easy access to a phone, this is why I prefer to see these films at a cinema. I am excited to see what 2022 will bring for the project. In January we will be talking about books, food, cinema from Algeria and Singapore before heading to Guyana and Uganda in February.

As we head into the last month of 2021, we are hoping to find some more time to relax a bit and catch up on our reading goals, I know I have plenty of countries still to catch up on. In addition to that, December is traditionally the month of “end-of-the-year” book lists, tags, and recaps, so we are also announcing our very own Invisible Cities tag!

This tag emerged from our internal host discussions about the future of the project and our experiences during this year, and we realized that it would more interesting and worthwhile to open this discussion up to our community, so we decided to create a tag.

You can join in on the discussion by making your own video, social media/blog post (please use the hashtag #InvisibleCitiesProject) and/or sharing your answers in the dedicated channel on our discord server.

Below are the questions (and my answers)

What’s your favourite book from all the ones you read for the Invisible Cities?

One of my favourite books from the year has to be Minor Detail by Adania Shibli (translated by Elisabeth Jaquette), which was my pick for Palestine. This was such an intense and powerful read and I hope many people had the opportunity to pick this novel up for this reading project, or for any other reason.

Which author that you read for Invisible Cities are you interested in reading more from?

This is a hard question to answer because there are so many great authors out there. I read Mariana Enríquez for Argentina and I am eager to read what ever has been translated from her. Other authors would include Yu Miri, Melba Escobar and Bae Suah.

What’s a non-book related favourite (food, music, movie) you discovered via the Invisible Cities?

I love some of the food my wife made for this project, I think it was so much fun to explore different cuisines while reading books from these countries. I am not sure which was my favourite, but the first thing that came to my mind was the Madagascan vanilla curry.

Any countries you read from for the first time?

This the joy of this reading project, I would love to read from every country in the world. I think this year was the first time I’ve read from Madagascar and Palestine.

A geographic area/country you want to explore more?

I think I need to focus more on Africa. Europe and Asia probably have the most translations and I have spent so much time in South America. Would love to see more translations from Australian countries, especially some of the aboriginal languages.

Recommend one woman in translation book you read for the project.

I tried to focus on reading women in translation, so I think most of my books would work for this prompt, but can I direct you to Minor Detail by Adania Shibli (translated by Elisabeth Jaquette) again?

Do you have any Invisible Cities goals for next year? (reading goals or other activities/media)

I want to do better at keeping up with all the countries. My finances made it difficult this year and I had to rely mainly on the library and Scribd for accessibility, but I am hoping that next year would be easier. I love this project and I am surprised I am still a host after my 2021 efforts.

For more information about this project you can check out my post here: 2021 Reading Project: Invisible Cities

Join the Invisible Cities Discord community here: Discord Invite

Or join the Invisible Cities reading challenge on Storygraph: Invisible Cities

What’s in my Notes App

Posted November 13, 2021 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Writing / 2 Comments

Wanted to do something different, and this is inspired by a note I found in my Notes app regarding my wife from 2014. I am not going to share this note as it is too personal but recently I saw a TikTok trend asking what type of notes do men have on their phone, so it sparked this post. I want to post a few I found and try to see if I can explain them. While looking I have deleted so many notes because I have no idea what they mean.

Megan McDowell
Emma Ramadan
Sophie Hughes
Tina Kover
Hugh Alpin

Natasha Wimmer
Donald Nicolson-Smith
Frank Wynne
Oliver Ready
Deborah Smith

This one is pretty simple, I was working on a list of auto-buy translators. I always see people talk about auto-buy authors and I thought that was too boring, so I wanted to adjust it to suit my needs. I seem to have found five translators that are auto-buys and was brainstorming who else to add before maybe creating a post about this topic. I did also find an auto-buy authors list, but it only contained Mariana Enríquez and Anne Garréta.

conflictatus per aliis libris

Do I need to explain this note? It seems to be my life motto; it is Latin for distracted by other books. I wish I was better at planning my reading habits, I would like to be able to schedule some reading goals, but sadly I know I am a mood reader and am constantly being distracted by other books.

Descriptions of breasts
Love Triangles
First Person Past Tense in Post-Apocalyptic 
Like (comparisons)

I assume this was a list of turn offs in literature, maybe I was planning to write a post about literary bête noires. I have no idea about the first person past tense in a post-apocalyptic one, but it does sound awful, I just cannot think of a single example of when this has happened and why I would put it on this list.

Book adaptations

Norwegian Wood
Belle De Jour
My Brilliant Friend (TV show)
Let The Right One In

It feels rare to find a note with a title, but I am not sure where I was going with this one. Is it possibly a list of book adaptations worth watching?


    1. You don’t want an ereader because you want other people to know what you’re reading
      You see these people pretending to read paper books all the time. But really they’re glancing around the room, to see who’s noticing them.
    2. You like to take instagram photos of your food…with your book casually in the background of the shot
      Actually, I did this the other day.
    3. You now appreciate the works Stephen King produced in the 80s (but everything he wrote in the 90s was terrible)
      “The Shining is a brilliant interpretation of the American ghost story but Rose Madder was meaningless twaddle.”
    4. You are purposefully rough with your books when you read them so that it looks like you’ve read them several times more than you actually have.
      Not only have I read all the books I own, I’ve read them all at least seven times.
    5. You think you’re Hemingway
      You’re not.
    6. You have personalised book plates that say “from the library of (insert name)”
      You do not have a library. You have a bookshelf.
    7. You have a book bag
      Normal people call them ‘bags’.
    8. You like to hang out in independent book stores, but secretly shop on Amazon.
      You probably make purchases on your phone while you’re in there.
    9. You snort derisively at any book that’s popular without having read it
      *cough* 50 Shades of Grey *cough*
    10. Unlike music hipsters, you need authors to be verified by a major label before you’ll read them.
      Hipsters only like authors that you’ve never heard of…who are published by a major publishing house and who are preferably award winners.

I really have no idea. It doesn’t look like I wrote it but past me did not include a source.

Guilty reads?
How are books a guilty pleasure
Are there books that you are ashamed of some books you read
Don’t want to be judged on what you are reading
Sometimes that are a joy in reading for simply enjoyment
Books you’re afraid to read in public

Sounds like I was brainstorming new ideas for blog posts, this was written in 2012 but they might actually be good ideas.

Because I teach literature at the university level, there is, in fact, no way to avoid commenting on books that most of the time I haven’t even opened. It’s true that this is also the case for the majority of my students, but if even one of them have read the text I’m discussing, there is a risk that at any moment my class will be disrupted and I will find myself humiliated.

Obviously not written by me but I like the quote. I googled it and found out that it is from How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard, translated from the French by Jeffrey Mehlman. Yet another time, I wish past me would have referenced his notes.

Чтобы больше иметь больше производств
Чтобы больше производить надо больше знать

Not sure where this comes from because I clearly do not reference my notes, but it is Russian and it says “To have more, produce more. To produce more you need to know more” I am not sure what I was planning here, it was either a revolution or I just like to collect quotes about gaining knowledge.

1788–year of white settlement, rise of novel, encyclopedia, first dictionaries, newspapers

Yet again, I have no idea what was going on here. I must have thought it was useful to know this information. I know 1788 was when the First Fleet arrives at Botany Bay, so I do understand the year of white settlement part of this, but did all the other things really happen in 1788?

I think this is enjoy of a dive into my Notes app, there is a long description of the Norman conquest of England in 1066 and plenty of random book lists, including the World Literature Today’s 75 Notable Translations of 2020 (thankfully I referenced that one) and the past few longlists for the International Booker Prize, so I can mark off the books I have read. That is an insight into my thought process, I am assuming that most of these were written in the middle of the night because I do not appreciate having no references or titles. Let me know what weird notes are in your Notes app.