Last book mail of the year, from Upswell.

It’s the last day of the year. Reading has been an endlessly healing practice for me this year in the face of complicated and difficult family circumstances. Here are the books that I have read. This doesn’t include journals (thank you, especially to Cordite, Mascara, Island, Westerly, Meanjin, SWAMP, Meniscus, Plumwood Mountain) that I have read. Also, thanks to Erin Vincent for introducing me to The Offing, and for her extraordinary essay ‘Fourteen Ways of Looking’, one of the pinnacles of my reading year, truly, brava, Erin!) or essays online, nor the extensive chapters and articles for my PhD. I remain eternally grateful for the gift of what I read. And for my local bookshop, Ink, and local and university libraries. I am very privileged to be able to read what I want to and to be able to buy a lot of books and support writers.

In no particular order, highlights were The Colony, Hamnet, My Name is Lucy Barton, Fugitive, The Keepers, Olive Kitteridge (my thanks to Katelin Farnsworth for the gift of E Strout), Small things like these, Salt and Skin, Limberlost, The Diplomat, Signs and Wonders, Leaping into Waterfalls, The Department of Speculation, On Earth we are Briefly Gorgeous. The Trees was the most surprising,and original, and I liked the ways that Sarah Manguso utilised the process of association that she has previously used in her nonfiction books to construct her first novel in Very Cold People. I loved returning to Micheal Ondaatje after some years and falling into his lovely prose again in Warlight. I admired the sense of landscape and longing in My Heart is a little wild thing. Mourning Diary, A tomb for Anatole, Time, lived without its flow and Anne Carson’s If not, winter will all stay with me for many years to come and will inform my creative and critical writing. I can’t not mention Anne Carson’s essay ‘Stillness’, which I read in two airports late this year in a space of my own stillness. And Nick Cave and Sean O’Hagan’s long conversations on grief, spirituality and creativity impact on me is marked by its many lines of pencilled underscores and notes, truly a gift in a year like this. Note, all of the poetry was amazing and life-affirming, I couldn’t live without poems.

Many thanks to those who have published my work this year, and for those who have read said work (these are all listed on my ‘writing’ page).


Hamnet, Maggie O Farrell

The Marriage Portrait, Maggie O Farrell,

My name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout

Anything is Possible, Elizabeth Strout

Oh Willliam! Elizabeth Strout

Lucy by the sea, Elizabeth Strout

Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout

The Burgess Boys, Elizabeth Strout

The Book of Goose, Yiyun Li

Small Things Like These, Claire Keegan

The Overstory, Richard Powers

Mayflies, Andrew O Hagan

Bewilderment, Richard Powers

More than I love my life, David Grossman

The Trees, Percival Everett

Very Cold People, Sarah Manguso

Stone Town, Margaret Hickey

Salt and Skin, Eliza Henry-Jones

The Colony, Audrey Magee

The Diplomat, Chris Womersley

My heart is a little wild thing, Nigel Featherstone

Cold enough for snow, Jessica Au

The Keepers, Al Campbell

The Fell, Sarah Moss

Cold Earth, Sarah Moss

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, Maggie O Farrell

On earth, We’re briefly gorgeous, Ocean Vuong

Devotion, Hannah Kent

Department of Speculation, Jenny Offill

The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson

Limberlost, Robbie Arnott

Warlight, Micheal Ondaatje

The Dutch House, Anne Patchett

Limberlost, Robbie Arnott

Warlight, Micheal Ondaatje

The Dutch House, Anne Patchett

All that’s left Unsaid, Tracey Lien

Pachinko, Min Jin Lee (in progress)


An Inventory of Losses, Judith Schlansky

If Not Winter, Fragments of Sappho, Anne Carson

Aurelia, Aurélia, Kathryn Davis

Notes on Grief, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The red of my blood, a life and death story, Clover Stroud

Mourning Diary, Roland Barthes

A tomb for Anatole, Stephane Mallarmé

Fugitive, Simon Tesdeschi

I am, I am, I am, Seventeen Brushes with Death, Maggie O Farrell

And when did you last see your father,  Blake Morrison

Leaping into Waterfalls, the enigmatic Gillian Mears, Bernadette Brennan

Tell me again, Amy Thunig

Grief Girl, Erin Vincent

Signs and Wonders, Delia Falconer

Faith, hope and Carnage, Nick Cave and Sean O Hagan

Found, Wanting, Natasha Sholl

Paris or die, Jayne Tuttle

Time lived without its flow, Denis Riley

Essays One, Lydia Davis

The writer laid bare, Lee Kofman

True North, Catherine Deveny

1913, Florian Illies (in progress)


Resilience, Mascara/Ultimo Press Anthology

A kinder sea, Felicity Plunkett

Ephemeral waters, Kate Middleton

Drop Bear, Evelyn Araluen

Trigger Warning, Maria Takolander

The Singer and other poems, Kim Cheng Boey

Look! Alex Selenitsch

Wings, Catherine Vidler

The Open, Lucy Van

Song of less, Joan Fleming

Walk back over, Jeanine Leane

Slowlier, Ella O’ Keefe

Frank, sonnets, Dianne Suess

Time is a mother, Ocean Vuong

The Book of Falling, David McCooey (in progress)

What follows are the books I bought in 2023 but haven’t yet read, though they too will have their moment! I would love to promise not to buy any other books until I make progress on this extensive list, but I’m unlikely to stay true to such an assurance, it will be a mix of this list and the other new must-read right now books that present themselves. Like Paul Dalgarno’s upcoming book, A country of eternal light, and all of Robbie Arnott’s previous books, oh, and Willowman by Inga Simpson. Obviously, I’d better get cracking.

Abandon every hope, Hayley Singer

Like to the lark, Stuart Barnes

On Freedom, Four songs of care and constraint, Maggie Nelson,

Grimmish, Micheal Winkler

Words are eagles, Gregory Day

Half the perfect world, writers, dreamers and drifters on Hydra 1955-1964, Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell

Wildflowers, Peggy Frew

The Passenger, Cormac McCarthy

Daisy and Woolf, Michelle Cahill

In memory of memory, Maria Stepanova

The Blacksmith’s Daughter, Selim Ödogan

Open Secrets, Essays on the writing life Anthology by Sydney Review of Books

My 1980s and other essays, Wayne Kostembaum

When I sing, mountains dance, Irene Solà

Mermaid Singing / Peel me a lotus, Charmian Clift

1835, James Boyce

We come with this place, Debra Dank

City of Trees, Sophie Cunningham

Maps of our spectacular bodies, Maddie Mortimer

My Sweet Guillotine, Jayne Tuttle

Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolver

The Furies, Mandy Beaumont

This devastating fever, Sophie Cunningham

A kind of magic, Anna Spargo-Ryan

Fishing for Lightning, Sarah Holland-Batt

Big beautiful female theory, Eloise Grills

Lincoln in the bardo, George Saunders

Wild Abandon, Emily Bitto

Our shadows, Gail Jones