I read two to four books a month. Some years ago I began to keep a database of the books that I have read in order not to borrow or, even worse, buy the same book again. Nowadays, I no longer buy hard copy. In fact, I only buy a Kindle book if there is something I badly want to read and I am unable to borrow it from my local library.
I have an excellent local library with access to two types of electronic books that I read on my tablet. This is particularly useful if I am traveling. If I do acquire a hard copy book or paperback and I want to keep it, then a book from my library has to be discarded to make space. I have just three shelves of books in my real library, all triple stacked, and full.
So what do I like to read? In brief, biographies, travelogues and crime fiction. I much prefer British crime writers over those on the other side of the Atlantic. Some of my favourite crime writers in the past, including Jon Cleary and Arthur Upfield, are Australian. The best contemporary Australian that I have discovered is called Michael Robotham. He actually sets his novels in the UK or USA, in order to appeal to a wider audience I suppose, but it is nice to know that he is Australian. I was astonished to learn that he was reared in my home town of Coffs Harbour and taught by school teachers who are members of my walking group! My favourite UK crime writers are Ian Rankin and Val McDermid.
My favourite author used to be John Mortimer until I read a biography and learned what a dreadful man he was. However, Horace Rumpole is still my favorite character and his books are my bedside re reading if I ever need it. Did you know that we have our very own Australian version of Rumpole? No, not that dreadful Rake character on ABC television. However, there is a connection with the ABC. His creator, Stuart Littlemore, was the first presenter on Aunty’s “Media Watch”. Our Australian Rumpole is called Harry Curry and I just wish Stuart Littlemore would bring him out, dust him off and let him loose in a few more books.
I have read and enjoyed James Herriot for more than 50 years. If you are ever in Yorkshire then you must go to the James Herriot museum which is to be found in the former house from where the vet, Alfred Wight, aka James Herriot, actually practised in Thirsk, a few miles out of York. It was also where the second series for the BBC series of “All Creatures Great and Small” was filmed. If you hang around there for long enough then you may even get to meet James Herriot’s son, the retired vet Jim Wight, who wanders in from time to time to sign copies of his biography concerning his famous father. It is a cracking read, every bit as good as his father’s writing that will have you alternatively laughing out loud or weeping. Alfred Wight died in 1995 and I do know a nurse who cared for him during his terminal illness…
My favourite Australian writer is Tim Winton. It is quite fitting that his most famous book, “Cloudstreet”, is used as a high school literary text. Its prose is sheer poetry. I once saw the stage version that uses vast slabs of the text in dialogue and it is just brilliant. It was performed by an amateur group in Coffs Harbour’s Jetty Theatre but they were brilliant as well.
I am also a great fan of Peter Fitzsimons and have read most of his books excluding those that involve sport in which I have no interest. I think Peter is a great writer because he is primarily a journalist who assembles his material in a very organised and thereby readable fashion. My favourite Fitzsimons book is the autobiography of his childhood that is called “A Simpler Time”. It is really a very moving tribute to his parents. If you look under this title on Amazon, you can find my five star review of this book that concludes: “When you have finished this book then you feel as though you have been touched by something really good”. This autobiography is right up there with Anh Do’s “The Happiest Refugee”, another great contemporary Australian.
And so to my list, which now includes almost 1,000 books. In many instances I have just commented briefly on an author, whilst the number of books that I have read by this author will testify to my enthusiasm. Wishing you happy reading and, if you have something to add or some favorites of your own, why not drop a note on the Welcome Page to this website?