2018 reading review, including my book of the year

In 2018, I was aiming to read 52 books. I hit 80 this morning on 28 December, I’ll explain why I posted this early at the bottom of the post.

For one of my “19 in 2019” I want to get to 100 books, which means less time on social media (can only be a good thing) and broadening my reading repertoire (can only be a good thing). The hardest part of getting to 100 books will not be turning books I love around to promptly re-read them – I will be strong! This year has been a period of growth for me, mostly thanks to two women:

  • Mel Robbins, The 5 Second Rule I read this twice and listened to it twice this year.
  • Brené Brown, with Daring Greatly and Dare to Lead which I promptly brought for the Management Team at work. Yes, seven additional copies. Mine is already dog-eared, highlighted all the way through. Both of these got listened to and read at least twice as well.

As you will see from the list, I’m also addicted to Agatha Christie, with a penchant for audiobooks Joan Hickson reading Miss Marple and Hugh Fraser reading Poirot. Agatha Christie has been a companion for 30 years, I don’t see that changing any time soon. I also finally got round to reading His Dark Materials trilogy, Book Club gave me a couple of books I wouldn’t have picked up, and also one that I could not finish. My rule of thumb is 100 pages plus my age; if I’m not in it by then, I close the book and move on.

Stand out reads of the year include:

  • Uncommon Type, Tom Hanks – damnit, the man can do everything.
  • Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern – a book I hugged with joy when I finished it.
  • Promise Me Dad, Joe Biden – read with tissues, then tell everyone you love that you love them.
  • Not My Father’s Son, Alan Cumming – I listened to this, then went back and watched his Who Do You Think You Are episode, which prompted the book. Glorious but heartbreaking and his Scottish burr in your ears is really rather lovely.
  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Samin Nosrat – I think I’ve watched the Netflix special eight times (see a pattern here when I get excited about something?) I ordered this for my Christmas present, to me!

Book of the year though, has to be Osher Günsberg’s Back, After The Break. I cannot stress how well this book captures what it feels like to live with ‘a different brain’ as Osher puts it. The book also addresses via Audrey his wife, what it’s like to live with someone who lives with a different brain. I’m up to my fourth reading of it, it is now a permanent fixture on my bed side table.

Thanks to the book and subsequent media attention, Australia is now, (at last), catching up with those who’ve been listening to his podcast and had heard from the man behind the TV presenter persona. Sharp suits and counting roses is one thing, but Osher is also proud about sharing his mental health and sobriety journey. I really recommend his podcast; Osher is a skilled interviewer, not being afraid to go ‘there’ in conversations. Also as they are long-form interviews, the conversations are wide-ranging, intimate and every single one of them brings an “a-ha!” moment.

What I really love about the podcasts though is Osher still getting goofy talking about his family, Audrey and Georgia. Audrey recognised how scared he was in one of his fragile moments and told him “It’s ok, because I’ll be there with you” which started leading him towards the light again. Here’s Osher talking about that moment with Todd Sampson – when Todd interviewed him after the release of the book.

I’m so bluddy proud of him. It has been an extraordinary year, Men’s Health cover and all. Here’s me, bursting with joy to meet him back at the Melbourne Writer’s Festival.

Happy Second Anniversary to all of you. I was going to post this review on 31 December, with my final number but brought it forward to today after he popped a wedding photo up. There was no doubt what my book of the year was as soon as I’d finished reading it.

Osher

 

Father’s Day, weekend redux

Had an odd Saturday, on the one hand – excellent as I got to meet one of my favourite humans; on the other sh!t-house because of a poorly managed night out that left me in the middle of a room on my own staving off anxiety. C’est la vie.

On Friday night Osher Gunsberg shared on Instagram he was whizzing into the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, and was doing a signing in the Atrium at 12:30pm on Saturday. I told Hubs I wanted to head into the city to get my book (re) signed, as I’d brought a signed copy from Booktopia.

We headed into the city to watch Archie play hockey, his last session of the season, which means no more running by the Yarra for me on a Saturday for a few months. But I  spent a half an hour there doing the VA thing, supporting a project I’m passionate about. We drove into the CBD proper from South Yarra; driving past Melbourne Football Club training in a park, watched by fans from the sidelines. No extra security in sight, you can’t imagine any club in the Premiere League doing that.

We parked up, and went to get coffees from one of the coffee shops in the Atrium. I ordered a croissant for the boys to share, and a pear and almond friend for me. Both came out cold, which we weren’t expecting (#brrrr), but they were tasty. The boys headed off into the city to a model shop, I sat on a chair and started to read Osher’s book. I’d been saving it since I knew I’d inhale it, and I must say it’s been a PITA having to go to work and do stuff.

Then suddenly there he was. I’ve got an odd relationship with him, he’s a major party of my life, even if he has no idea who I am. I’ve been listening to his podcast since he was still living in the USA, so we worked it out that was five years. I think I was also the only person in the queue who doesn’t watch the Bachelor(ette), if anyone tries to get anything other than sport or cartoons on our TV at home – good luck.

Osher was as sweet and as gracious as he is to his guests on the podcast; he came round the other side of the table to meet us, when I got my phone out to take a photo, whoever was with him (his manager Lauren maybe?), offered to take a picture. For a nanosecond, I hesitated, then put my arms right round him and leant my head against his. We talked some more, he signed more in my book and after saying ‘Give my love to the girls’, I kissed him and left so other people could get a chance to spend some time with him.

I would so love to talk to him for hours though. It’s not like my schwarm for Tom Hardy or George Clooney; it’s more like how I feel about Stephen Fry, Oprah, Cmdr Hadfield, Brené Brown or Mel Robbins.

—o0o–

In the evening, I’d been invited to an 80s night at the RSL with some of the school mums. I brought my ticket from someone I’d never met and arranged to meet people in the foyer at 7:30pm. I arrived to find no-one waiting, and when I posted in the event on Facebook, I then found out that two separate dinners had been organised without anyone asking if I wanted to join either of them.

Okaaaay.

One school mum rescued me, introduced me to a friend of hers who arrived shortly after me and went back to finish her meal. We made small talk, two more people arrived that this lady knew, but I don’t follow the VFL so a lot of the conversation I watched. We went upstairs, I stood there while we tried to work out where to sit or stand, as there was nowhere free.

Texting my running buddy that as it was Father’s Day, I wouldn’t be able to meet with her as we normally do on Sunday mornings; having said that I then messaged ‘I’m not sure how long I’ll be out for. I’m standing here like a lemon with no one talking to me‘ As I typed it, my anxiety bubbled up and within three minutes over the text conversation, I was out the door and heading back to my car.

I wouldn’t mind, but I’d been updating Instagram stories with my exploits as I was so excited about going out with new people. Sigh. Bless her heart, she checked in on me first thing in the morning to make sure I was ok.

I was ok once I got home and talked it through with Hubs. We sat up in bed and read together like the old married couple that we are; I’m currently on American Wife, which is frickin amazing.

Sunday morning we were up and at ’em, outside of bacon and eggs and on the road to Werribee Zoo, we got there early, arriving in time to hop on the first bus heading off on the safari at 9:50. Archie wanted to show Hubs around as Hubs had never been there before. We got up close to the animals, walked round the African part, had a coffee and were out the door in two hours flat. Perfect timing as it was getting busy as we left, we had parts of the zoo to ourselves, talking the whole way round. We saw so many birds too it was wonderful. From Superb Fairy Wrens, to honeyeaters, eagles, kites and little Red-browed finches who look like they’re wearing superhero masks.

I also have perfected poached eggs, I think I’d done them once or twice before this weekend, but Archie and I did some serious YouTube research, cracking the eggs into a tea cup is the way to go folks. It’s amazing how you can learn stuff online so easily now.