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Zozette’s 2020 Challenge

2020 Category Challenge

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Edited: Nov 25, 2019, 6:20pm Top

I considered my last challenge to be a success though I stop posting in late September due to being ill. As I tend to get ill every spring I will try to complete this challenge before September (when spring starts in my part of the world). However I will add to the challenge after that if I am well enough to.

I have chosen 20 categories and I will read at least two books in each category. I have tried to avoid categories that are too broad, instead I have narrowed those categories down to a subcategory or two.

I plan to try to read 50% non-fiction. I will try to limit the amount of books I buy this year by trying to select books off my shelves, books available at Scribd or books I already have in the cloud.


I will try to read more Australian books.

Edited: Feb 13, 9:05pm Top

My first 10 Categories are fiction



The Suburbs of Hell by Randolf Stow
Scrublands by Chris Hammer
Force of Nature by Jane Harper (would need to buy)

CATEGORY 2 - SCI FI (either short story collections, or Australian Sci fi)


Terra Nullius by Claire G Coleman Finished 13 Feb 4/5
From The Wreck by Jane Rawson
Machine Man by Max Barry (would need to buy)
Pink Winds, Green Cats, Radiant Rocks by Frances Deegan Finished 6 Jan 3.5/5

Edited: Mar 5, 1:56pm Top

CATEGORY 3 Australian General Fiction (especially from my Text Classics Collection)


Blue Skies by Helen Hodgman
The Multiple Effects of Rainshadow by Thea Ashley
The True Story of Spit MacPhee by James Aldridge
To the Wild Sky by Ivan Southall

CATEGORY 4 - Novels set in libraries or bookstores


Elementary She Read by Vicki Delaney
The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith
Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey Finished 5 Mar 3.5/5.

Edited: Apr 1, 3:42am Top



Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow
The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia

CATEGORY 6 - HORROR (Australian horror preferred)

The Hamelin Plague by A. Bertram Chandler Finished 1/1 3.5/5.

The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott
The Girl With No Hands by Angela Slatter

Category 7 - NON HUMAN NARRATORS (or I might also include non human main character


The Humans by Matt Haig Finished 31 March4/5
My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherill
Horse Destroys the Universe by Cyriak Harris

Edited: Jan 18, 10:53pm Top



Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier Finished 13 January 4/5
The Queen’s Fool by Phillippa Gregory
maybe a book by Jean Plaidy, I loved her books as a teenager but have not read one in my than 40 years.

Category 9 - Penguin Modern This are little sampler books


Investigations of a Dog by Franz Kafka
The Missing Girl by Shirley Jackson
Four Russian Short Stories by Gaito Gazdanov and others
The Cracked Looking-Glass by Katherine Anne Porter
Three Japanese Short Stories by Akuagawa and others

CATEGORY 10 - CHILDREN’S BOOKS (middle grade)


Children on the Oregon Trail by A. Rutgers van der Loeff
The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier
Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis Finished 2/1 4/5
The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban
Tik-Tok of Oz by L. Frank Baum Finished 18 January 3.5/5.

Edited: Nov 25, 2019, 5:11pm Top

The remaining 10 categories are non-fiction

CATEGORY 11 - PEOPLE biographies, diaries, letters, notebooks

I have many unread books on my shelf that would fit into this category, about authors, artists or scientists. It is going to be hard to choose which ones to read.


Another category that I already own many books to choose from.

Edited: Feb 19, 3:22pm Top

CATEGORY 13 - TRUE CRIME especially Australian but might include books from other countries.


Bowraville by Dan Box Finished 4 January 4/5
unmaking a Murder: The Mysterious Death of Anna-Jane Cheney by Graham Archer Finished 19 February 4/5.
Death on the Derwent by Robin Bowles (need to buy)
The Devil’s Grip By Neal Drinnan


Another category I have a multitude of unread books on including several books in the Reaktion Animal series (including Vulture, Cockroach, Spider, Hyena, Donkey, Tortoise, Parrot and some others)

Other possibilities include

Turacos by Joseph M Forshaw
Birdmania by Berns Bruner
The Hedgehog’s Dilemma by Hugh Warwick

Edited: Feb 24, 5:02am Top

CATEGORY 15 - HAVING FUN pop culture, toys, games etc


A History of Video Games in 64 Objects Finished 30 January 4/5.
Trekonomics by Manu Saadia Finished 24 February 4/5
Shultz and Peanuts by Davis Michaelis
The Moose That Roared by Keith Scott
The Addams Chronicles by Stephen Cox
The Jigsaw Puzzle by Anne D Williams



Flames of Fear by Roger McNeice Finished 27 January 4/5
Three Famines by Thomas Keneally
The White Cascade by Gary Krist
The Great Halifax Explosion by John U Bacon
Southern Storm: The Tragedy of Flight 242 by Samme Chittum



The Bookshop Book by Jen Campbell
The History of the Book in 100 Books by Roderick Cave
Golden Legacy: The Story of Golden Books by Leonard S Martin
The Book Smugglers of Timbuktu by Charlie English

Edited: Mar 14, 6:51pm Top


Ten Drugs by Thomas Hager Finished 9 Jan 4/5

The Secret Life of the Periodic Table by Dr. Ben Still
Women in Science: Then and Now by Vivian Gornick
Rabid by Bill Wasik and Monica Hughes Finished 16 Jan 3/5
Epidemic: Ebola and the Global Scramble to Prevent the Next Killer Outbreak by Reid Wilson Finished 13 March 3.5/5.
Ebola: The Natural And Human History of a Deadly Virus by David Quammen
Mr Darwin’s Incredible Shrinking World by Peter Macinnis



What’s Your Pronoun: Beyond He and She by Dennis Baron Finished 26 January 3/5
Spell it Out by David Crystal
The Language of Light by Gerald Shea



The Phantom Atlas by Edward Brooke-Hitching
Lost Islands by Henry Stommel

Nov 25, 2019, 7:33pm Top

Is it allergies that make you ill in the spring? I hope you are feeling better soon.

I'm looking forward to following your reading, especially to learn more about Australian books.

Nov 25, 2019, 7:45pm Top

Welcome back, Zozette. I have lots of Australian books on my wishlist for next year, so look forward to sharing our discoveries. Garry Disher for your mystery category!

Edited: Nov 26, 2019, 3:12am Top

>10 sallylou61: Sudden weather changes badly affects my arthritis - I have arthritis in both ankles, both knees, both shoulders and some of my fingers. It also affect my sciatica and asthma. A few days ago it reached 37C, today it is 13C. Once summer sets in it probably will be better. I also have problems in autumn but it is nowhere near as bad.

Nov 25, 2019, 8:22pm Top

>11 pamelad: Thanks for the suggestion. I just added The Dragon Man to my Audible Wishlist. Unfortunately the book is not available on Scribd though the next five in the series are.

Nov 25, 2019, 8:27pm Top

I hope The Great Halifax Explosion makes the cut for your reading this year -- it's on my to-read list as well.

For short stories and sci-fi, I really enjoyed The Future is Female!.

Nov 25, 2019, 9:12pm Top

I too suffer from arthritis and am having a very bad time right now - the cold weather doesn't help but for me, the dampness that we get here on the west coast of Canada is really bad.

Lots of great categories here, looking forward to seeing how you fill them.

Nov 25, 2019, 10:09pm Top

You must be from Australia then, like me! Great categories - I look forward to following along. I love the Text Classics Collection, I am slowly adding to them. We have a few categories in common next year - books about books, middle grade.
Happy reading in 2020!

Edited: Nov 25, 2019, 11:15pm Top

>14 rabbitprincess: It probably will make the cut especially as I plan to do the KITastrophe this year. It probably will fit in under Industrial/Technology in that KIT. I have made a note of The Future is Female

>15 DeltaQueen50: Sorry to hear that you are also a sufferer :(

>Yes, I am from Tasmania. I have 17 Text Classics on my shelves and I have only read 4 of them so far. I have banned myself from buying anymore until I get 4 more read at least.

Nov 26, 2019, 1:48am Top

>17 Zozette: I will look forward to seeing which ones you read! And I love Tassie - that is where I would live, if I could.

Nov 26, 2019, 5:03am Top

Welcome back! I'll be very interested to see your choices, as I don't know all that much about Australian literature.

Nov 26, 2019, 1:00pm Top

I thought I had a suggestion for your mystery category but realized it's set in New Zealand instead of Australia. It was Molten Mud Murder by Sara E. Johnson. I heard her speak at a mystery book convention and thought the book sounded good. I'm hoping to get to it next year.

Good luck with your challenge!

Nov 26, 2019, 2:09pm Top

>12 Zozette: I am sorry anyone has to deal with that type of pain. Hopefully you will get some enjoyment out of your 2020 reading challenges. I like your categories, especially "Having Fun." :-)

Nov 26, 2019, 9:32pm Top

Welcome Zozette! I'm fascinated with Australian literature (I loved two long trips I took to Australia about 10 years ago) so will follow with interest.

>20 LittleTaiko: Very interesting! I'm always on the lookout for NZ mysteries.

Nov 27, 2019, 7:34am Top

Thinking of your true crime category, I have seen a few books about the Snowtown murders which were discovered in 1999.
And The Tall Man by Chloe Hooper is good - about an Aboriginal death in custody.

I am thinking of using The Minotaur Takes A Cigarette Break as my weird title for BingoDOG - it sounds great!

Australian general fiction - so many! One of my favourites is Cloudstreet by Tim Winton. I love Rosalie Ham - The Dressmaker is fabulous. I assume if you have Force of Nature on your list, you have read The Dry? I am looking forward to the movie coming in January as it was filmed near where I live.

I am so looking forward to seeing your reading as Australian literature was one of my categories that didn't make it into 2020 - I have saved it for 2021!

Nov 27, 2019, 11:18am Top

I have The Tall Man on my wish list but I am putting books that I do not have to buy before it. Force of Nature has been on my list since I read The Dry and luckily it is on Scribd so despite saying in my opening post that I would have to buy it I will not :) Cloudstreet is also on my wish list but the only Tim Winton books available on Scribd are The Shepherd’s Hut and Breath. No Rosalie Ham on Scribd at all :(

Nov 27, 2019, 3:18pm Top

>3 Zozette:, >16 JayneCM: I've just bought a Kobo so that I can download books from the library (tried using a tablet, but didn't like it). It will be an economy, really! Anyway, you can download ebooks using Overdrive (easiest) or by using Adobe Digital Editions with any of the odd apps that libraries use. I've just started The Commandant by Jessica Anderson, a Text Classic. Lots of Text Classics are available. The library could be a good source of Garry Disher's books too.

There's the Internet Archive as well. Lots of free ebooks to borrow.

Nov 27, 2019, 3:44pm Top

I tend to prefer audiobooks because I often have a hard time holding a book though I will read eBooks if there is no audiobook available. Swiping is easier than turning a printed page.

The selection of audiobooks at the State Library of Tasmania is poor which is why I use Scribd.

Nov 28, 2019, 6:30am Top

>25 pamelad: Jessica Anderson brings back memories - I studied Tirra Lirra By The River in high school. I truly cannot remember if I have read The Commandant, so definitely worth reading.

>26 Zozette: Can you borrow audiobooks from other states? Might be worth seeing if you can borrow from Victoria as it is not like they have to physically send you the books. Through my local regional library in Hamilton, I can borrow from anywhere in Victoria, which makes the choice pretty wide.

Edited: Nov 28, 2019, 8:02am Top

I read Tirra Lirra by the River back in the 1980s. It is a book I maybe should read again, it is quite a short book. I had The Commandant on a long list of books I wanted from Text Publishing but it got edged out by other books.

I have not considered asking about borrowing from other states, maybe I will look into it if my supply of books get low. I own about 1100 audiobooks so I have enough to do me for a while.

Nov 28, 2019, 2:48pm Top

1100 should keep you going for a while. I also read Tirra Lirra by the River in the eighties and can still remember it, not the case with so many of the books I've read over the years.

Nov 30, 2019, 1:34am Top

I just bought 6 second hand books from Brotherhood Books some of which are suitable for my challenge or for the KITastophe.

Nov 30, 2019, 4:44am Top

>30 Zozette: Don't you love Brotherhood Books?! Too tempting that they had a sale - I bought a few too.

Edited: Dec 8, 2019, 8:31pm Top

> Yes, they are great. I am expecting three more books from them this week.

I am currently putting all my Audible books onto LibraryThing. I have over 1100 Audible books so it is going to take some time. I have managed to do about 300 books so far and I have finding books I have forgotten I had.

Sometime, next year, I am going have to add my Kindle books to LibraryThing.

Dec 8, 2019, 3:27pm Top

>32 Zozette: I have finally managed to catalogue all my Kindle and Audible books, it took some time and like you, I found books I didn't even know I had!

Dec 8, 2019, 7:39pm Top

>33 Tess_W: I am doing that with my physical books at the moment. It is such fun to discover all my old friends! But it is taking a loooong time.

Dec 11, 2019, 10:55am Top

Have a great year of reading!

Dec 21, 2019, 5:43pm Top

I plan to also do an audiobook challenge organised in a Facebook group I belong to. I hope that there will be considerable overlap between the two challenges and I will be able to use most of the same books for both. I am hoping to get to Master Level on this challenge (21 to 30 books).

Dec 26, 2019, 5:53pm Top

>36 Zozette: I think I probably don't qualify for the "addict" category. I only use my 2 libraries' audiobook collections. It's much easier than paying for stuff at Audible.

Edited: Dec 26, 2019, 7:33pm Top

I pay for two credits a month at Audible and I also have a subscription to Scribd. I will look first for a book on Scribd to see if it is available there and will only get it at Audible if it is not available on Scribd. Scribd costs me $AUD12.49 a month (about $US8.70) and I usually listen to about 6 audiobooks for that price. Scribd often has the books that come up as Audible Daily Deals so I don’t often buy the Daily Deal unless it is a book I want to own.

My state library has a rather poor collection of audiobooks at this point in time :(

Edited: Dec 31, 2019, 11:17pm Top

A little after 2pm here in Tasmania and I have finished my first book of the year The Hamelin Plague by A. Bertram Chandler. Audiobook, narrated by Scott Aiello. The narration was OK except the Australian accents did not sound Australian and many place names were not pronounced the Australian way.

It has been decades since I read anything by Chandler. He mainly wrote sci-fi but this book is more of a horror story with mutant rats leading an attack against humans. Most of the action takes place in Sydney and on a ship desperately trying to escape the carnage. Placed in my Horror category. 3.5/5.

Dec 31, 2019, 10:35pm Top

>39 Zozette: First book - congratulations!

You wouldn't think it would be too difficult to get an Aussie to read the audiobook or at the very least research the pronunciation.

Edited: Jan 1, 1:48am Top

It was mainly Brisbane and Melbourne that he pronounced incorrectly. I can forgive him for mispronouncing Launceston as Tasmanians pronounced that different from other Australians. The mistake that irritated me the most was he pronounced ‘quay’ to rhyme with way instead of pronouncing it ‘key’. I thought even Americans pronounced it ‘key’

I wished Humphrey Bowers had narrated it. He is one of the best Australian narrators.

Jan 1, 2:32am Top

>41 Zozette: That would be irritating!

Oh yes, Humphrey Bowers did The Tree of Man which was good. I do like to listen to the books read by someone from the same country as the author. Just makes it more authentic.

Jan 1, 3:52am Top

I just realised it is Bower not Bowers. I might actually have a Humphrey Bower category in 2021 as he narrates many good Australian books. I have listened to several of them but there are others I would like to listen to.

Jan 1, 4:22am Top

>43 Zozette: I read all the Bryce Courtenay books long ago and I see he has done lots of them.

Jan 1, 3:43pm Top

>41 Zozette: So, I (an American) have always pronounced "quay" as "kway" in my head...never knew there was another way to pronounce it! But I just looked it up in Merriam-Webster, and it gives three pronunciations, in this order: "key," "kay," and "kway." So it definitely looks like "key" is the safest way to go!

Edited: Jan 2, 7:00am Top

>45 christina_reads: I guess it might depend on which part of the US a person lives in as to how they pronounce “quay”.

>44 JayneCM: I have read The Potato Factory trilogy but I have most of Bryce Courtenay’s books still to go. Which one do you recommend the most?

Just finished listening to my second book for the year The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis, narrated by Derek Jacobi. I think that the last time I read this book was when my children were looking at the mini-series back in the late 1980s. Place in with my Children’s Books category. 4/5.

I am currently do a year long read of This Day in Tudor History by Claire Ridgway. I follow Claire on YouTube and find her very informative. I am reading the Kindle version.

I am also doing a month long read of Flames of Fear which is about bushfires in Tasmania. It is a large book and very heavy so I have to read it at the table which is not the most comfortable way to read.

Jan 2, 5:25am Top

I loved The Potato Factory trilogy too - The Power of One about apartheid is very good.

I will have to look for the Tudor book as I have a bit of an obsession with the history of this era.

Jan 4, 11:46am Top

Good luck with your reading.

Edited: Jan 4, 8:09pm Top

Bowraville by Dan Box, narrated by author. Australian true Crime.

In a five month period during 1990/91 three children disappeared from the same street in the small town of Bowraville, NSW. The were Colleen Walker (16), Evelyn Greenup (4) and Clinton Speedy-Duroux (16). All three children were aboriginal. Each time when the parents reported a missing child the police told the parents that the child had runaway or had gone walkabout. The second child who went missing was only four years old and local police just dismissed her mother’s concerns. Later they insisted that the child was probably with someone in the extended family. Eventually the bodies of two of the children were found but even then the police refused to accept that the children’s cases were connected or that it was the work of a serial killer. There was no way that the police would have acted like this if the children had been white.

Not only did I get angry at the parents’ treatment by the police I also appreciate the effort that the police detective, Gary Jubelin, put into the case once he was assigned to it even though he was woefully under resourced and had other cases to work on at the same time.

This book really shows how poorly the justice system serves the Aboriginal community. 4/5.

Jan 4, 6:43pm Top

>49 Zozette: It is a crime that our justice system does so little for the Aborginal community. Aborginal deaths and mistreatment in custody is an issue I have been reading about as well.

Jan 9, 11:08pm Top

Two more books to add

Pink Winds, Green Cats, Radiant Rocks by Frances Deegan. To my SF category as a collection of short stories. It seems that Deegan wrote 21 short stories that were published in SF magazines between 1944 and 1952. This book contains 6 of these stories. Judging by these stories her male protagonist was usually a rebel who was always ready for a fight while the women were beautiful and seductive. I thought the settings of her stories were quite imaginative. If they publish more of her stories I would read them. Overall I would rate the stories between 3 and 4 and overall I give the book a 3.5/5.

Ten Drugs by Thomas Hager. A look at the development and use of ten different drugs including opium, the first antibiotics, first anti psychotic drug, Viagra, statins, monoclonal antibiotics etc. Placed into my science/medical category. Found this book quite interesting. 4/5.

Jan 13, 5:34am Top

Just finished Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. Historical fiction. A novel about fossil hunter Mary Anning and her friendship with Elizabeth Philpott. This is the first Tracy Chevalier book I have read and I plan to read more by her. I have previous read a biography about Mary Anning but I rate this book slightly higher than that biography. 4/5.

Jan 14, 1:06am Top

>52 Zozette: I really enjoyed Remarkable Creatures too. I read it quite a while ago and have it down for a reread this year.

Jan 17, 12:20am Top

Rabid by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy. A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus.

I did enjoy the parts of the books that dealt with scientific side of this disease especially the chapter about Louis Pasteur developing the vaccine. Also found the chapter about the people who survived the disease to be interesting.

However I though the chapters about zombies, werewolves and vampires to be rather boring as the authors rambled on so much during these chapters.

I have put this in my science/medical category. 3/5.

Jan 17, 9:06am Top

>52 Zozette: Remarkable Creatures looks good. I've heard of Tracy Chevalier but I haven't read anything by her yet. Maybe this will be the first!

Jan 17, 5:26pm Top

Hello, I am late in getting around and wishing everyone a Super New Year of Reading in 2020. I like your categoreis, especially the audible one. Is the book Hunger the one by Knut Hamsun?

Jan 17, 6:26pm Top

>56 Kristelh: No, it is Hunger: An Unnatural History by Sharman Apt Russell. It is about the science and history of hunger/famine.

Jan 17, 9:00pm Top

I also liked Remarkable Creatures.

Edited: Jan 18, 11:03pm Top

Myself, and the little girl I have been looking after the last three Saturday mornings have finished listening to Tik-Tok of Oz which she really enjoyed. She comes from a bookless home and this is the first audiobook she has listened to. She loves my beautiful Wizard of Oz book (illustrations by Maraja). I did want her to listen to the second Oz book but she really liked the cover of Tik-Tok of Oz so wanted to listen to it instead. We were colouring while we listened to it. She gave the book a 5/5 but I can only give it a 3.5/5. She liked the fact that there were so many girls in the book.

Jan 19, 3:27am Top

>59 Zozette: How wonderful that you can share a love of books with her. The Oz books would be great to listen to. It is sad how many children are growing up without books around them.

Jan 19, 9:40am Top

>59 Zozette: That sounds like a wonderful Saturday morning ritual! :) It is good that she has you to share books with.

Jan 27, 1:49pm Top

I'm still getting around to many of the 2020 threads for the first time!

I liked your comments on Bowraville and will add it to my list.

It reminded me that I have an Australian true crime book that I got from the Early Reviewer program that I need to get to: Trace: Who Killed Maria James?. Have you heard of this case or the book? She was murdered in the back of her Melbourne bookshop in 1980. I've just realized that this would be a better choice for the January Non-fictionCAT Journalism topic than the other book I was considering - thanks to your thread for helping me to remember it!

Jan 28, 8:25pm Top

Two more books to add

What’s Your Pronoun: Beyond He and She by Dennis Baron, which fits into my Language Category. It is about the problems that arise from the lack of a gender-neutral single third person pronoun in English and the search for a word we could use. I found this book a little repetitive. 3/5.

Flames Of Fear by Robert McNeice. Tells the history of bushfires in Tasmania between 1820 and 2015. About 60% of the book deals with the devastating bushfires in 1967. In the post below I will include An count of my own memories about these fires. I wrote this account back in 2007 (40th anniversary of the fires). I wrote it quickly and in plain English for a friend’s daughter who was doing a school assignment on the fires.

Edited: Jan 29, 1:32pm Top

The 7th of February 1967 is the day I remember most clearly from my entire childhood. It was our first day back at school after our summer holiday break. I was in grade 4, and my sisters were in grade 5 and 6. I would turn 9 years old later in the month.

I remember nothing of the morning. My father picked us up at around noon to take us home to a cooked dinner and I remember discussing over dinner how hot it was. Dad then drove us back to school. I don’t remember our little brother being with us, he would have been starting grade 1 in 1967, maybe Grade 1 did not start on the same day as the older classes (?).

Once the lunch break was over I remember being in class when it became dark and the teacher turned the lights on but soon after the power went off. It was very dark, almost like night. Next there was a knock on the door and the teacher answered it. I heard someone tell the teacher that there was an emergency meeting for all teachers in the staffroom. Our teacher left the classroom. Usually when the teacher left a classroom we would muck around but this time we just quietly sat. I remember a couple of children whispering ‘What is happening?’ and someone answering ‘it must be something bad’.

After about 20 minutes our teacher came back and said all children had to assemble in the quadrangle. Instead of lining up in our classes like we did for morning assembly we just mingled with all the other classes. Someone said ‘Look at the sun’ and we looked up and the sun was just a small red ball. One girl became upset and said that nuclear war must have started. An older boy told her that if it was nuclear war it would between the USA and Russia and no one would worry about nuking Tasmania. Another boy said that there must be bad fires around because there was ash in the air.

The headmaster told us that he was sending us home early as there was no power or water at the school. He said children who caught buses home would have to stay at the school.

My sisters and I and some other children started out in a group to walk home which included going up a steep hill called Lynton Avenue. We only got to the bottom on the hill when we saw that a house midway up the hill was on fire. We discuss the situation and some of the kids thought we might be able to get pass the house safely if we stayed on the other side of the road. My eldest sister said something about snakes coming of the long grass near the burning house. I said the snakes were only trying to escape the fire and would not bite us. My sister insisted snakes are very dangerous (all Tasmanian snakes are venomous) and she made us turn back. My sister was a rather bossy child so she was able to get about 12 children to turn back. A group of boys made it passed the burning house but about half of them were bought back to the school by the police because their houses were beyond a road block that the police had set up.

We arrived back at the school and went into one of the classrooms where a male teacher was sitting on one of the desks. We were telling the teacher about the fire we had seen when a boy called Teddy rushed in. He lived in the house that was burning in Lynton Avenue. He was screaming that his mother and little brother were burning to death. He grabbed the teacher’s arm and pulled and pulled, begging the teacher to go and rescue them. Teddy became more and more hysterical and the teacher slapped his face. A female teacher arrived and took Teddy to the staff room.

My sister said ‘There’s Dad’ so the three of us ran out to our father. He told us that he was taking us home. Some other children asked if he could take them home too. Dad said yes. Dad only had his ute (pickup truck) and he wanted the boys to ride in the tray but they said the smoke was hurting their eyes, so 6 children all piled into the cab of the ute. Dad drove the other children home, knocking on their doors to make sure each child’s mother was home.

After he dropped the other kids off he drove us home. My mother was on top of the roof blocking off the drainpipes and filling the gutters with water. My dad said he thought our home was safe but mum became more concerned when we told her of the fire in Lynton Avenue which only about 400 metres from our home. Dad told mum he was going to to take the car and take more children home from the school and after that he would go and help fight the fires.

We lived South Hobart, in D’Arcy Street on the corner of Ferndene Avenue. A roadblock was set up at the beginning of of our street (near Lynton Ave) to stop cars going up Huon Road, another roadblock was put up at the end of our street at the start of Cascade Road to stop card going up towards Strickland Avenue. A third roadblock was set up in the middle of our street to stop cars going up Ferndene Avenue into other streets that joined with Cascade And Huon Roads. Though the electricity was off, we still had mains gas so Mum made cups of tea and sandwiches for the policemen outside our house. A neighbour saw Mum giving out cups of tea and asked if we had power. Mum said our gas was still working. The neighbour ask if she could boil her kettle at our place and of course Mum said yes. Other neighbours who didn’t have gas stoves also came over to boil water at our place. I remember that the water pressure was very low.

My aunt Joan (my father’s cousin’s wife) arrived at our place asking if her children (my second cousins) were with us. They lived nearby but went to a different school than us. My aunt had gone to the school and found it completely empty so she thought they might have walked to our place as their house was past the Cascade roadblock. After finding they were not with us she went off to continue to look for them.

I remember going outside and that I saw the hills to the south were on fire. When I went to the front of the house I saw that the hill to the west was also burning. I went back inside and listen to the radio. Only one of our radio stations managed to stay on air and they were broadcasting details of the fires and messages from people telling people they were safe. We heard that the children from our cousins’ school were at the Army Barracks. The teachers had been marching them into the City but on the way the soldiers at the Army Barracks had offered to shelter them. When my aunt returned to see if the children had turned up at our place my mother was able to tell her where they were. I remember how relieved my aunt was to find out they were safe. She drove off to get them and returned with them. She was pretty sure that her house had been destroyed and decided that they could stay at her mother’s place.

After Auntie Joan left, my cousin Tommy turned up. He was 17 years old and was working in the City. He asked us if we had heard from his parents (my father’s brother and his wife) or from our grandparents all who lived in a small town called Snug which was located on the D'Entrecasteaux Channel, south of Hobart. We had not heard from them and Tommy told us he had been told that things were extremely bad down the Channel. He decided to go and join the firefighters.

My mother kept trying to phone my grandparents and also my uncle and aunt but could not get an answer. We were really worried about them.

My aunt from Snug (June) managed to make it up to our place in the evening after the fires had died down. She said that Snug had been almost destroyed. My grandparents’ house had burned but my aunt and uncle’s place was standing. My uncle and aunt had over 20 people staying at her house and she had come up to Hobart to get supplies for them.

The next morning our Auntie Joan popped in to tell us the good news that her house had survived with only minor damage. Her garage had been burned and both her neighbours’ houses on either side had been destroyed.

The fires only lasted about 5 hours. In that short time 2642.7 square kilometres (653,025 acres) burned and almost 1300 houses were destroyed and 62 people died. 10 people died in our suburb (South Hobart) and about 110 houses in South Hobart were destroyed.

We spent the rest of the morning sort out which of our clothes we should take down to Snug to give to the children whose houses had burned. My father filled the boot (trunk) of the car with clothes and we all piled in for the 30 km drive down to Snug. We had to pass through one roadblock as the police were stopping people who were out sightseeing or who might be planning to loot. The police phoned the command centre at Snug and were told to let us through as we were relatives and also because Dad was an insurance assessor and many people at Snug were issued through his firm.

I am not sure why my Dad took us with him on this trip to Snug. What we saw was very upsetting - hundreds of burned houses with only their chimneys standing and even worse many dead cows and sheep in the fields. At one point we saw men armed with guns and I asked my father why did the men have guns and he answered that they were putting badly burned animals out of their misery as they would be in so much pain. I said ‘Can’t they just take them to the vet’ and my mother told me not to be so silly.

We turned the corner into Snug and my mother said ‘Oh, my God!’ We were not prepared to see how badly Snug had suffered. 11 people had died at Snug. More than 2/3rd of the houses were gone. We drove around to look at the remains of my grandparents’ home, then we drove to my uncle’s place. We sat down at the long dining table and my grandparent’s joined us. My grandfather sat down and started to cry. It was the first and only time I saw my grandfather cry. We asked our aunt about our grandparents’ cockatoo, chickens and little dog. She told us that the chickens and cocky were dead but the little dog had run away. We wanted to go and look for the dog but were not allowed to. My aunt said it was too dangerous to.

I only ever saw my grandfather once again after that. He died about 9 weeks after the fires.

When we returned to school the day after we found out that Teddy’s mother and brother were out shopping when their house caught on fire. The house next to the school had burned, and some of our playground was scorched but the teachers and other people in the neighbourhood had prevented the fire from reaching the school buildings. Quite a few of the children at our school lost their homes.

Jan 28, 10:11pm Top

>64 Zozette: Thank you for sharing your memories. It made for a very poignant read.

Jan 28, 10:30pm Top

>64 Zozette: At the time we were shocked at the devastation caused by the Tasmanian fires, but I hadn't realised that they were so close to the city, or that they burned so fiercely for such a short time. It seems that you have remembered every detail of that day, despite being only nine. I am sorry that it was the last time you saw your grandfather.

Jan 29, 2:15am Top

>64 Zozette: How terrible. So much damage in such a short time. Thank you for sharing your memories of that day.
We have been very fortunate that despite living rurally, we have not had a major fire near our home. But I am starting to feel it is only a matter of time before it will happen here. It seems inevitable.

Edited: Jan 29, 5:01am Top

My experiences were mild when compared to the children at Snug School. When it was realised that the township was in great danger it was decided to move all the children into the school hall which was in the main brick building. The smoke was so thick that the children had to hold each other hands in a long line to make sure no child was lost. Once inside the hall the teachers only had a small amount of water to wipe the children down with. It was extremely hot. The teachers pulled the blinds so the children could not see what was happening outside and the children were made to sing songs in an effort to keep them calm.

At some point it was realised that the clock tower in the main building was on fire. As the smoke was too thick to see more than a couple of feet in front of oneself it was deemed that trying to walk the children down to the beach was too dangerous and the teachers did not have anywhere near enough cars to transport all the children. It was decided that all they could do was to close the door of the clock tower and hope that the fire would not spread.

Then the teachers realised that the service station across the road was on fire. They thought the petrol tank might explode so they moved the children to the far wall and the teachers and other adults lined up in front of them hoping that if the tank exploded that the adults’ bodies would provide a shield for the children.

One by one parents arrived to pick up their children and take them to the beach. Sometime after the last person was evacuated the school burned.

At the 40th anniversary I was talking to a man who was among the last of the children to be evacuated. As he told me about his experience and how frightened he had been he was overcome with emotion.

No children died in the fires, though 4 of the students at Snug (three sisters and their brother) were orphaned.

Jan 29, 11:29am Top

>64 Zozette: Wow. Thank you for sharing your moving story.

Jan 30, 1:35pm Top

Edited: Jan 30, 4:59pm Top

Finished A History of Video Games in 64 Objects last night. I really enjoyed it especially those bits that covered Atari games and some of the computer games of the 1990s. My children and I used to have a great time playing the Atari and the old computer shareware games. I placed this book in my Having Fun category. 4/5.

I finished 11 books this month which means my challenge is going quite well.

Apart from my 2 Audible credits and my Scribd subscription, I only spent money on 2 books this month. I cancelled my Kobo subscription and my Kindle Unlimited Subscription.

Jan 31, 1:05am Top

>71 Zozette: Sounds like a fun book!
You are very dedicated - I am on a book budget at the moment as well, so purchasing the Gracelin O'Malley trilogy has used up all of February's allocation already.

Feb 1, 10:47pm Top

>64 Zozette: & >68 Zozette: Thank you for sharing your experience.

Feb 13, 9:13pm Top

I have finished three books since I last posted but only one of these books fit into my categories.

Terra Nullius by Claire Colman. A novel about the alien era invasion of Australia. Placed in by Sci Fi category. 4/5.

The other two books were

Crooked River by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. 19th book in the Pendergast series. 4/5.
Terminus by Peter Clines. Only available on Audible at the moment. 4th book in the Threshold series.

Feb 19, 3:20pm Top

Unmaking of a Murder: The Mysterious Death of Anna-Jane Cheney by Graham Archer.

I have put this in my True Crime category though the book does convincingly endeavours to show there was no crime at all. In 1994, Henry Keogh found his fiancée dead in the bath. At first it was treated as an accidental drowning. In his first report the pathologist stated accidental drowning but a few days later he changed his mind. His autopsy of the body was poorly conducted and even more poorly documented. There were problems with many of this pathologist’s other cases.

Keogh first trial ended in a deadlocked jury. His second trial ended in a guilty verdict and he received a life sentence. From then on it was an uphill battle for him and his supporter to prove his innocence. He was to spend more than 20 years in prison. 4/5.

Feb 24, 5:06am Top

Just finished Trekonomics by Manu Saadia. A look at how economics work in the Star Trek universe. The Federation is a post-scarcity society where, thanks to replicators, the value of most items is $0. This means their society is quite different from what we currently have. This is a great book for Star Trek nerds like me. I put it in my having fun/pop culture category. 4/5.

Mar 1, 6:52pm Top

Only 5 books read in February, the worst reading month I have had for years. I blame the series ‘Star Trek: Picard’ for it as not only am I am watching the new series but I have watched many old episodes of The Next Generation and Voyager that are relevant to the new series.

I also DNFed two books but I might get back to one of them.

I will have to try and make up for it is March.

Mar 1, 7:33pm Top

>77 Zozette: Spending time with Picard and the various Enterprise crews sounds like a good time too! TNG is my favourite Star Trek series :)

Edited: Mar 5, 2:09pm Top

4 more hours until the next episode of Picard. I am avoiding Facebook and some other sites to avoid spoilers. That gives me more time for read.

I have finished two books since I last posted but only one fits into my challenge

Death Deserved by Jorn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger. A serial killer in Norway is murdering celebrities. Though it is a good book I did not enjoy this book as much as Horst’s other books, this is the first Enger book I have read.

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey. This is the first book I have ever read about gun-toting, lesbian librarians living in a dystopia. Actually one of the librarians is gender neutral and throughout the book the pronoun ‘they’ is used for them. Placed in my novels about libraries category.

Edited: Mar 24, 9:40pm Top

I finished Epidemic : Ebola and the Global Scramble to Prevent the Next Killer Outbreak a few days ago. What a frightening disease.

I have not been able to concentrate on reading of late. However today I learned I have been accepted as a vulnerable person by one of our larger supermarket chains. This means I will be able to order groceries online again. My last order, with a different supermarket chain, was cancelled two weeks ago when that chain cancelled all orders, and I have been worried since then.

I am going to go and find something light hearted to read.

Mar 24, 11:19pm Top

Good to hear from you. Tasmania is looking like the safest place in Australia right now.

Light hearted = Margery Sharp.

Edited: Mar 25, 3:21am Top

We have had 36 cases in Tasmania but we have put in some of the strongest travel restrictions which I guess are easier to enforce than in other states. Shutting down our tourist industry is going to have a very bad effect on the state.

My son who lives with me is taking 2 months off from work because he wants to make sure I am safe and that I won’t catch it from him so we are self isolating together. He has 24 days of holiday pay so it should not be too much of a hardship.

Mar 26, 7:06am Top

I was hoping to make a trip to Tassie this year. In fact, I was meant to be in Hobart this weekend for a 50th birthday. Let's hope all Aussies will take their holidays at home after this is all over to help our country get back on its feet.
Hope you and your son are keeping well and safe and enjoying each other's company.

Edited: Apr 1, 3:40am Top

My son and I are playing board games and card games which cuts down on my reading time. Also been looking at YouTube videos for new and exciting recipes that I can use with the groceries I have.

I have also spent time looking at Picard (now finished) and also looking at some older Star Trek.

As a result of this I only finished 4 books in March.

The latest one is The Humans (no touchstone?) Matt Haig which fit into my non-human narrator category. The narrator is an alien who takes over the body of a professor of mathematics. He has been sent to Earth on a mission and he has very little understanding of humans. 4/5.

Apr 2, 8:49am Top

>84 Zozette: The Humans looks interesting (found the touchstone and put it on my wishlist!).

Apr 2, 11:07pm Top

>84 Zozette: I have only read his Christmas series, starting with A Boy Called Christmas, which my boys loved. I will have to look for this one.

Group: 2020 Category Challenge

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