Overcoming adversity is an effective literary theme, creating controversy and hope and edge-of-your-seat dynamics. It is also an apt reflection of the real world.
Looking back over our reading list in 2019, it’s easy to see how overcoming adversity dominated the featured titles.
From North Korean military control, to South African apartheid, from accidental shootings and drug fuelled poverty, to orphaned children and World War II life, this reading schedule was certainly adrenalin packed!
Yet misery or distress was not the overwhelming forethought when considering the booklist at our end-of-year dinner at Harbour Light Bistro. Rather it was the sense of appreciation for a life lived or a journey still to come that inspired the freerangers to name this list a tremendous one.
It was fair to say there were a number of shocking moments to discuss, but the two that remained with us (spoiler alert) were two rapes, one in A Clockwork Orange, and the other in Disgrace. Plus we were all shocked to read insights into North Korean life in The Orphan Master’s Son. Also troubling to learn was that two endings exist to A Clockwork Orange. Discovering that some of us obtained copies with one ending and some the other caused all sorts of chaos with our feelings about the book!
At the other extreme there were many couplings that filled us with joy, mostly Leisel and Rudy in The Book Thief and Simon and Robert in The Immortalists. And in a year of go-getter characters, we agreed that Arthur Less in Less was boring and lifeless and while we appreciate this was the intention, he remained uninspiring to us.
But all in all we loved the books so much it was the first year we agreed upon a three-tier favourites list, so difficult was it to choose only a runner up and a bestie!
Most memorable setting:
Jo: Parchment Prison in Sing Unburied Sing
Rachel: North Korea in The Orphan Master’s Son
Becks: Cat lady’s bedroom in A Clockwork Orange
Sonya: The writer’s retreat in Less
Jodie: The marsh in When The Crawdads Sing
Jo: David Lurie in Disgrace
Rachel: Alex in A Clockwork Orange
Becks: Alex in A Clockwork Orange
Sonya: Pak Jun Do in The Orphan Master’s Son
Jodie: Pak Jun Do in The Orphan Master’s Son
2nd runner up best book:
Rachel: The Orphan Master’s Son
Becks: The Immortalists
Sonya: Sing Unburied Sing
Jodie: The Orphan Master’s Son
1st runner up best book:
Jo: The Orphan Master’s Son
Becks: When The Crawdads Sing
Sonya: The Book Thief
Book of the year:
Jo: The Book Thief
Rachel: A Clockwork Orange
Becks: A Clockwork Orange
Sonya: The Orphan Master’s Son
Jodie: Sing Unburied Sing