Best Reads 2017

Nov. 7 2017 was the centenary of the “October Revolution”, the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in Russia

I read a few new releases in 2017 though nowhere near enough to have an informed opinion about the “best”. Still, they were all very good.

Heather Rose, The Museum of Modern Love (review)
Kim Scott, Taboo (review)
Claire G. Coleman, Terra Nullius (review)
Jane Rawson, From the Wreck (review)
Odette Kelada, Drawing Sybylla (review)
Sarah Goldman, Caroline Chisholm (review, interview)
Tony Hughes-d’Aeth, A Literary History of the Wheatbelt (review)

The further back we go the better informed less uninformed I am, though as it turns out there is only one review (by me, two by Nathan). So, here are my lists for 50, 100 and 150 years ago drawn from Annals of Australian Literature.


There were 17 novels published (23 in 1966), none really notable and some mildly interesting non-fiction.

Dymphna Cusack, The Sun is not Enough
Shirley Hazzard, People in Glass Houses
Thomas Keneally, Bring Larks and Heroes
KS Prichard, Subtle Flame (Nathan Hobby)
Kylie Tennant, Tell Morning This
Donald Horne, The Education of Young Donald (autobiog.)
Marjorie Barnard, Miles Franklin (biog.)


33 books published, about the same as 1916, including 9 novels and some relatively notable verse and short stories. Australia Felix was the first book in the Richardson’s Fortunes of Richard Mahoney trilogy.

Barbara Baynton, Cobbers (s) (review, biography)
Randolph Bedford, The Silver Star
Marie Bjelke-Petersen, The Captive Singer
Capel Boake, Painted Clay
CJ Dennis, Doreen (v)
CJ Dennis, The Glugs of Gosh (v)
Sydney de Loghe, Pelican Pool
SG Fielding, Australia AD 2000 or the Great Referendum (one copy on Amazon!)
Mary Marlowe, Kangaroos in King’s Land
Adela Pankhurst, Betrayed (play)
AB Paterson, Saltbush Bill (v)
Tarella Quin, Paying Guests
Henry Handel Richardson, Australia Felix
Steele Rudd, The Old Homestead (s) (biography)
Steele Rudd, Steele Rudd’s Annual (magazine 1917-1923)
EL Grant Watson, The Mainland

Writers born in 1917 included Nancy Cato, Jon Cleary, Frank Hardy, Sumner Locke Eliott (whose mother, Sumner Locke died), James McAuley, D’Arcy Niland.


15 books published including 6 novels, much better than the previous year – four books, no novels.

James Bonwick, John Batman, Founder of Victoria (bio)
Charles de Boos, Fifty Years Ago
Matilda Evans (Maud Jeanne Franc), Emily’s Choice (Nathan Hobby)
John Houlding (Old Boomerang), Australian Capers
Thomas McCombie, Frank Henly or Honest Industry Will Conquer
Edward Maitland, The Pilgrim and the Shrine
James Neild (Cleofas), A Bird in a Golden Cage

Henry Lawson was born – I don’t recognise any of the others.


James Bonwick was born and that’s it. I have my father’s copy of Bonwick’s Western Victoria: The Narrative of an Educational Tour in 1857 which I will add to my TBR.

Have I reminded you about Australian Women Writers Gen 1 Week 15-21 Jan. 2018?


Joy Hooton and Harry Heseltine, Annals of Australian Literature, 2nd Ed., OUP, Melbourne, 1992

see also:
Robert Graham’s Voline: The Bolshevik October Revolution (here)

12 thoughts on “Best Reads 2017

  1. In 1817 I would probably have been too busy doing the washing and baking the bread and making my own pickles and having 12 children to have time for reading, but still, wouldn’t that have been awful, to have nothing Australian to read…
    BTW I’ve read Bring Larks and Heroes and I’d call it notable. Keneally in his early books is not the Keneally we know now.


  2. I love this take on the ‘best of the year’. I have a friend who used to work at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat (the gold rush ‘living museum’). Anyway, we had an eighties party and while everyone else was in neon, 501 jeans, ruffle skirts and shoulder pads, he was wearing full Colonial dress, saying “The invite didn’t specify 1980s so I went 1880s” 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Enjoyed your different take on Bests Bill – and your a propos of nothing (in the literary bests sense anyhow) poster. Good for you. I like your new releases, even though I’ve only read one of them. I plan to read at least two more, and may get to others if I’m lucky.


  4. Fun fact connecting your 1967 and 1917 list: Katharine Susannah Prichard spent six months in 1905 as a governess on the Tarella Station in far-west NSW, owned by the Quin family. Tarella Quin the writer was named after the station and Katharine tutored her in drawing (I think), even though Tarella was older; Katharine seems to have been a little jealous of Tarella and in her autobiography only makes a disparaging remark about one of the Quin sisters ‘writing fairytales’.


    • That’s a great fact, that the ‘pupil’ was published in 1917 and the teacher was still being published 50 years later. I suppose KSP never commented on Quin’s writing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s