Bestsellers: 19-25 October

Well that was an anticlimactic weekend announcement. We are back to waiting, with baited breath, until we can welcome you back again. In the meantime, here is what you’ve been reading this week.

Ghosts
Dolly Alderton

32-year-old Nina Dean is a successful food writer with a loyal online following, but a life that is falling apart. When she uses dating apps for the first time, she becomes a victim of ghosting, and by the most beguiling of men. Her beloved dad is vanishing in slow motion into dementia, and she’s starting to think about ageing and the gendered double-standard of the biological clock. On top of this she has to deal with her mother’s desire for a mid-life makeover and the fact that all her friends seem to be slipping away from her . . .

Dolly Alderton’s debut novel is funny, tender and painfully relatable, filled with whip-smart observations about relationships and the way we live today.

All Our Shimmering Skies
Trent Dalton

Darwin, 1942, and as Japanese bombs rain overhead, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger’s daughter, turns once again to the sky for guidance. She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag next to the map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: Greta, a razor-tongued actress and Yukio, a fallen Japanese fighter pilot.

‘Run, Molly, run,’ says the daytime sky. Run to the vine forests. Run to northern Australia’s wild and magical monsoon lands. Run to friendship. Run to love. Run. Because the graverobber’s coming, Molly, and the night-time sky is coming with him. So run, Molly, run.

All Our Shimmering Skies is a story about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. It is an odyssey of true love and grave danger; of darkness and light; of bones and blue skies. A buoyant, beautiful and magical novel abrim with warmth, wit and wonder, a love letter to Australia and the art of looking up.

The Survivors
Jane Harper

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal town he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a community which is bound, for better or worse, to the sea, that is both a lifeline and a threat. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

Flavour
Yotam Ottolenghi

Flavour-forward, vegetable-based recipes are at the heart of Yotam Ottolenghi’s food. In this stunning new cookbook Yotam and co-writer Ixta Belfrage break down the three factors that create flavour and offer innovative vegetable dishes that deliver brand-new ingredient combinations to excite and inspire. Ottolenghi FLAVOUR combines simple recipes for weeknights, low effort-high impact dishes, and standout meals for the relaxed cook. Packed with signature colourful photography, FLAVOUR not only inspires us with what to cook, but how flavour is dialled up and why it works. The book is broken down into three parts, which reveal how to tap into the potential of ordinary vegetables to create extraordinary food: Process explains cooking methods that elevate veg to great heights; Pairing identifies four basic pairings that are fundamental to great flavour; Produce offers impactful vegetables that do the work for you. With surefire hits, such as Aubergine Dumplings alla Parmigiana, Hasselback Beetroot with Lime Leaf Butter, Miso Butter Onions, Spicy Mushroom Lasagne and Romano Pepper Schnitzel, plus mouthwatering photographs of nearly every one of the more than 100 recipes, Ottolenghi FLAVOUR is the impactful, next-level approach to vegetable cooking that Ottolenghi fans and vegetable lovers everywhere have been craving.  

Northside
Warren Kirk

From the photographer behind Westography and Suburbia.

The past doesn’t disappear. It leaves its traces everywhere. – Christos Tsiolkas

From West Brunswick to Reservoir, Fitzroy to Hadfield, Warren Kirk turns his keen eye upon the streets, buildings, and inhabitants of Melbourne’s northern suburbs, which are as iconic as they are rapidly changing.

Both a tribute to the things we remember and a reminder to look anew at the world around us, the photos in Northside are a triumph of craft from an artist who invites us to really see.

The Living Sea of Waking Dreams
Richard Flanagan

An ember storm of a novel, this is Booker Prize-winning novelist Richard Flanagan at his most moving—and astonishing—best.

In a world of perennial fire and growing extinctions, Anna’s aged mother is dying—if her three children would just allow it. Condemned by their pity to living she increasingly escapes through her hospital window into visions of horror and delight. When Anna’s finger vanishes and a few months later her knee disappears, Anna too feels the pull of the window. She begins to see that all around her others are similarly vanishing, but no one else notices. All Anna can do is keep her mother alive. But the window keeps opening wider, taking Anna and the reader ever deeper into a strangely beautiful novel about hope and love and orange-bellied parrots.  

The Mother Fault
Kate Mildenhall

Mim’s husband is missing. No one knows where Ben is, but everyone wants to find him – especially The Department. And they should know, the all-seeing government body has fitted the entire population with a universal tracking chip to keep them ‘safe’. But suddenly Ben can’t be tracked. And Mim is questioned, made to surrender her passport and threatened with the unthinkable – her two children being taken into care at the notorious BestLife.

Cornered, Mim risks everything to go on the run to find her husband – and a part of herself, long gone, that is brave enough to tackle the journey ahead. From the stark backroads of the Australian outback to a terrifying sea voyage, Mim is forced to shuck off who she was – mother, daughter, wife, sister – and become the woman she needs to be to save her family and herself.  

Vegan With Bite
Shannon Martinez

In Vegan With Bite, Australia’s number one vegan chef, Shannon Martinez, presents more than 80 thoughtful but easy meals (complete with shopping tips and cheffy hacks) that are guaranteed to take the meal beyond the meat-and-dairy-free predictable.

It is all part of Shannon’s mission to show readers that generous, delicious and environmentally sustainable food is entirely achievable – regardless of budget. Alongside her recipes, Shannon shares her essential kitchen larder, a did-you-know guide to ingredients that are not actually vegan (but that many cooks think are, and vice versa), plus advice on leftovers and cutting back on waste.

There’s also a chapter on dips, condiments and sauces described by Shannon as the essential glue that brings her meals together.

Vegan With Bite is everything you wouldn’t expect of a book presenting winning meals on a shoestring.

Shuggie Bain
Douglas Stuart

It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive.

Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town.

As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves.

It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he shares his mother’s sense of snobbish propriety. The miners’ children pick on him and adults condemn him as no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.

Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain lays bare the ruthlessness of poverty, the limits of love, and the hollowness of pride. A counterpart to the privileged Thatcher-era London of Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty, it also recalls the work of Édouard Louis, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist with a powerful and important story to tell.

Sorrow and Bliss
Meg Mason

This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going.

Martha told Patrick before they got married that she didn’t want to have children. He said he didn’t mind either way because he has loved her since he was fourteen and making her happy is all that matters, although he does not seem able to do it.

By the time Martha finds out what is wrong, it doesn’t really matter anymore. It is too late to get the only thing she has ever wanted. Or maybe it will turn out that you can stop loving someone and start again from nothing – if you can find something else to want.

Bestsellers: 12-18 October

This weekend we’ve been granted the ability to take our books and read further from home than any of us have been in a LONG TIME. This is so exciting, and here are the reads you’re taking with you on this week of extended freedoms.

All Our Shimmering Skies
Trent Dalton

Darwin, 1942, and as Japanese bombs rain overhead, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger’s daughter, turns once again to the sky for guidance. She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag next to the map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: Greta, a razor-tongued actress and Yukio, a fallen Japanese fighter pilot.

‘Run, Molly, run,’ says the daytime sky. Run to the vine forests. Run to northern Australia’s wild and magical monsoon lands. Run to friendship. Run to love. Run. Because the graverobber’s coming, Molly, and the night-time sky is coming with him. So run, Molly, run.

All Our Shimmering Skies is a story about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. It is an odyssey of true love and grave danger; of darkness and light; of bones and blue skies. A buoyant, beautiful and magical novel abrim with warmth, wit and wonder, a love letter to Australia and the art of looking up.

The Lying Life of Adults
Elena Ferrante (tr. Ann Goldstein)

Giovanna’s pretty face has changed: it’s turning into the face of an ugly, spiteful adolescent. But is she seeing things as they really are? Into which mirror must she look to find herself and save herself? She is searching for a new face in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: the Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and the Naples of the depths, which professes to be a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves between these two cities, disoriented by the fact that, whether high or low, the city seems to offer no answer and no escape.

A powerful new novel set in a divided Naples by Elena Ferrante, the beloved best-selling author of My Brilliant Friend.

The Morbids
Ewa Ramsey

Caitlin is convinced she’s going to die. Two years ago she was a normal twenty-something with a blossoming career and a plan to go travelling with her best friend, until a car accident left her with a deep, unshakable understanding that she’s only alive by mistake.

Caitlin deals with these thoughts by throwing herself into work, self-medicating with alcohol, and attending a support group for people with death-related anxiety, informally known as the Morbids. But when her best friend announces she’s getting married in Bali, and she meets a handsome doctor named Tom, Caitlin must overcome her fear of death and learn to start living again.

Beautiful, funny, and universally relatable this story of hidden loneliness and the power of compassion and companionship reminds us that life is an adventure truly worth living.

Talkin’ Up To The White Woman
Dr Aileen Moreton-Robinson

In this ground-breaking and timeless book, Distinguished Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson undertakes a compelling analysis of the whiteness of Australian feminism and its effect on Indigenous women. As a Goenpul woman and an academic, she operationalises an Indigenous women’s standpoint as she ‘talks up’, engages with and interrogates western feminism in representation and practice.

Through an examination of an extensive range of feminist literature written predominantly by white scholars and activists, Moreton-Robinson demonstrates how whiteness dominates from a position of power and privilege as an invisible norm and unchallenged practice. She illustrates the ways in which Indigenous women have been represented in the publications and teachings of white Australian women. Such renderings of Indigenous lives contrast with the way in which Indigenous women re/present and understand themselves.

Persuasive and engaging, Talkin’ Up to the White Woman is a timely and necessary argument for the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in the teachings and practices that impact on Australia’s pluralistic society. First published twenty years ago, this new edition proves the continued relevance of this classic work as a critique of the whiteness of western feminism.

Shuggie Bain
Douglas Stuart

It is 1981. Glasgow is dying and good families must grift to survive.

Agnes Bain has always expected more from life. She dreams of greater things: a house with its own front door and a life bought and paid for outright (like her perfect, but false, teeth). But Agnes is abandoned by her philandering husband, and soon she and her three children find themselves trapped in a decimated mining town.

As she descends deeper into drink, the children try their best to save her, yet one by one they must abandon her to save themselves.

It is her son Shuggie who holds out hope the longest. Shuggie is different. Fastidious and fussy, he shares his mother’s sense of snobbish propriety. The miners’ children pick on him and adults condemn him as no’ right. But Shuggie believes that if he tries his hardest, he can be normal like the other boys and help his mother escape this hopeless place.

Douglas Stuart’s Shuggie Bain lays bare the ruthlessness of poverty, the limits of love, and the hollowness of pride. A counterpart to the privileged Thatcher-era London of Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty, it also recalls the work of Édouard Louis, Frank McCourt, and Hanya Yanagihara, it is a blistering debut by a brilliant novelist with a powerful and important story to tell.

Northside
Warren Kirk

From the photographer behind Westography and Suburbia.

The past doesn’t disappear. It leaves its traces everywhere. – Christos Tsiolkas

From West Brunswick to Reservoir, Fitzroy to Hadfield, Warren Kirk turns his keen eye upon the streets, buildings, and inhabitants of Melbourne’s northern suburbs, which are as iconic as they are rapidly changing.

Both a tribute to the things we remember and a reminder to look anew at the world around us, the photos in Northside are a triumph of craft from an artist who invites us to really see.

The Shadow King
Maaza Mengiste

With the threat of Mussolini’s army looming, recently orphaned Hirut struggles to adapt to her new life as a maid in Kidane and his wife Aster’s household. Kidane, an officer in Emperor Haile Selassie’s army, rushes to mobilise his strongest men before the Italians invade. Meanwhile, Mussolini’s hundreds of thousands of Italian soldiers march on Ethiopia expecting an easy victory.

As the war begins in earnest, Hirut, Aster, and the other women long to do more than care for the wounded and bury the dead. When Emperor Haile Selassie goes into exile and Ethiopia quickly loses hope, it is Hirut who offers a plan to maintain morale. She helps disguise a gentle peasant as the emperor and soon becomes his guard, inspiring other women to take up arms. But how could she have predicted her own personal war, still to come, as a prisoner of one of Italy’s most vicious officers?

The Shadow King is a gorgeously crafted and unputdownable exploration of female power, with Hirut as the fierce, original, and brilliant voice at its heart. In incandescent, lyrical prose, Maaza Mengiste breathes life into complicated characters on both sides of the battle line, shaping a heartrending, indelible exploration of what it means to be a woman at war.

A Life on Our Planet
David Attenborough

See the world. Then make it better.

‘I am 93. I’ve had an extraordinary life. It’s only now that I appreciate how extraordinary. As a young man, I felt I was out there in the wild, experiencing the untouched natural world – but it was an illusion. The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day – the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity. I have been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet is my witness statement, and my vision for the future. It is the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake – and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right. We have one final chance to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited.’

All we need is the will do so.  

Earthlings
Sayaka Murata

Natsuki isn’t like the other girls. She has a wand and a transformation mirror. She might be a witch, or an alien from another planet. Together with her cousin Yuu, Natsuki spends her summers in the wild mountains of Nagano, dreaming of other worlds. When a terrible sequence of events threatens to part the two children forever, they make a promise: survive, no matter what.

Now Natsuki is grown. She lives a quiet life with her asexual husband, surviving as best she can by pretending to be normal. But the demands of Natsuki’s family are increasing, her friends wonder why she’s still not pregnant, and dark shadows from Natsuki’s childhood are pursuing her.

Fleeing the suburbs for the mountains of her childhood, Natsuki prepares herself with a reunion with Yuu. Will he still remember their promise? And will he help her keep it?

Too Much Lip
Melissa Lucashenko

Too much lip, her old problem from way back. And the older she got, the harder it seemed to get to swallow her opinions. The avalanche of bullshit in the world would drown her if she let it; the least she could do was raise her voice in anger.

Wise-cracking Kerry Salter has spent a lifetime avoiding two things – her hometown and prison. But now her Pop is dying and she’s an inch away from the lockup, so she heads south on a stolen Harley. Kerry plans to spend twenty-four hours, tops, over the border. She quickly discovers, though, that Bundjalung country has a funny way of grabbing on to people.

Old family wounds open as the Salters fight to stop the development of their beloved river. And the unexpected arrival on the scene of a good-looking dugai fella intent on loving her up only adds more trouble – but then trouble is Kerry’s middle name.

Gritty and darkly hilarious, Too Much Lip offers redemption and forgiveness where none seems possible.

Lockdown 2.0: Top Twenty

Lockdown 2.0 has been tough, for all of us. The end is tantalisingly close, the daily numbers have us swinging from hopeful to despondent. But nothing has brought us more joy than the books you have been leaning into during the last few months. We couldn’t be prouder to bring you such diverse reads! 

Of course, Honourable Mentions must go to Luke Horton (The Fogging) and Laura McPhee-Browne (Cherry Beach) for their debut novels.

The Yield
Tara June Winch

The Yield in English is the reaping, the things that man can take from the land. In the language of the Wiradjuri yield is the things you give to, the movement, the space between things.

Knowing that he will soon die, Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind. August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company.

Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, Tara June Winch’s The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.

Talkin’ Up To The White Woman
Dr. Aileen Moreton-Robinson

In this ground-breaking and timeless book, Distinguished Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson undertakes a compelling analysis of the whiteness of Australian feminism and its effect on Indigenous women.

As a Goenpul woman and an academic, she operationalises an Indigenous women’s standpoint as she ‘talks up’, engages with and interrogates western feminism in representation and practice. Through an examination of an extensive range of feminist literature written predominantly by white scholars and activists, Moreton-Robinson demonstrates how whiteness dominates from a position of power and privilege as an invisible norm and unchallenged practice. She illustrates the ways in which Indigenous women have been represented in the publications and teachings of white Australian women. Such renderings of Indigenous lives contrast with the way in which Indigenous women re/present and understand themselves.

Persuasive and engaging, Talkin’ Up to the White Woman is a timely and necessary argument for the inclusion of Indigenous perspectives in the teachings and practices that impact on Australia’s pluralistic society. First published twenty years ago, this new edition proves the continued relevance of this classic work as a critique of the whiteness of western feminism.

Kokomo
Victoria Hannan

When Mina receives an urgent call from her best friend back in Melbourne, her world is turned upside down. Her reclusive mother, Elaine, has left the house for the first time in twelve years. Mina drops everything to fly home, only to discover that Elaine will not talk about her sudden return to the world, nor why she’s spent so much time hiding from it. Their reunion leaves Mina raking through pieces of their painful past in a bid to uncover the truth. Both tender and fierce, heartbreaking and funny, Kokomo is a story about how secrets and love have the power to bring us together and tear us apart.

The Vanishing Half
Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities.

Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined.

What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?  Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing.

Girl, Woman, Other
Bernardine Evaristo

Teeming with energy, humour and heart, a love song to black Britain told by twelve very different people. Grace is a Victorian orphan dreaming of the mysterious African father she will never meet.

Winsome is a young Windrush bride, recently arrived from Barbados. Amma is the fierce queen of her 1980s squatters’ palace. Morgan, who used to be Megan, is blowing up on social media, the newest activist-influencer on the block.

Twelve very different people, mostly black and female, more than a hundred years of change, and one sweeping, vibrant, glorious portrait of contemporary Britain.

Bernardine Evaristo presents a gloriously new kind of history for this old country- ever-dynamic, ever-expanding and utterly irresistible.

A Room Made of Leaves
Kate Grenville

In her introduction Kate Grenville tells, tongue firmly in cheek, of discovering a long-hidden box containing that memoir. What follows is a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented.

Grenville’s Elizabeth Macarthur is a passionate woman managing her complicated life-marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her own heart, the search for power in a society that gave her none-with spirit, cunning and sly wit. Her memoir reveals the dark underbelly of the polite world of Jane Austen. It explodes the stereotype of the women of the past- devoted and docile, accepting of their narrow choices. That was their public face-here’s what one of them really thought.

At the heart of this book is one of the most toxic issues of our times- the seductive appeal of false stories. Beneath the surface of Elizabeth Macarthur’s life and the violent colonial world she navigated are secrets and lies with the dangerous power to shape reality.

Women and Leadership
Julia Gillard & Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

An inspirational and practical book written by two high-achieving women, sharing the experience and advice of some of our most extraordinary women leaders, in their own words.

From their broad experience on the world stage in politics, economics and global not-for-profits, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard have some strong ideas about the impact of gender on the treatment of leaders.

Women and Leadership presents a lively and readable analysis of the influence of gender on women’s access to positions of leadership, the perceptions of them as leaders, the trajectory of their leadership and the circumstances in which it comes to an end. By presenting the lessons that can be learned from women leaders, Julia and Ngozi provide a road map of essential knowledge to inspire us all, and an action agenda for change that allows women to take control and combat gender bias.

Featuring Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Theresa May, Michelle Bachelet, Joyce Banda, Erna Solberg, Christine Lagarde and more.

The Lying Life of Adults
Elena Ferrente

Giovanna’s pretty face has changed: it’s turning into the face of an ugly, spiteful adolescent. But is she seeing things as they really are? Into which mirror must she look to find herself and save herself? She is searching for a new face in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: the Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and the Naples of the depths, which professes to be a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves between these two cities, disoriented by the fact that, whether high or low, the city seems to offer no answer and no escape.

Intimations: Six Essays
Zadie Smith

Deeply personal and powerfully moving, a short and timely series of essays on the experience of lockdown, by one of the most clear-sighted and essential writers of our time.

Crafted with the sharp intelligence, wit and style that have won Zadie Smith millions of fans, and suffused with a profound intimacy and tenderness in response to these unprecedented times, Intimations is a vital work of art, a gesture of connection and an act of love – an essential book in extraordinary times.

Phosphorescence
Julia Baird

A beautiful, intimate and inspiring investigation into how we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness – the ‘light within’ that Julia Baird calls ‘phosphorescence’ – which will sustain us even through the darkest times.

Over the last decade, we have become better at knowing what brings us contentment, well-being and joy. We know, for example, that there are a few core truths to science of happiness. We know that being kind and altruistic makes us happy, that turning off devices, talking to people, forging relationships, living with meaning and delving into the concerns of others offer our best chance at achieving happiness.

But how do we retain happiness? It often slips out of our hands as quickly as we find it. So, when we are exposed to, or learn, good things, how do we continue to burn with them? And more than that, when our world goes dark, when we’re overwhelmed by illness or heartbreak, loss or pain, how do we survive, stay alive or even bloom?

In the muck and grit of a daily existence full of disappointments and a disturbing lack of control over many of the things that matter most – finite relationships, fragile health, fraying economies, a planet in peril – how do we find, nurture and carry our own inner, living light – a light to ward off the darkness?

Absorbing, achingly beautiful, inspiring and deeply moving, Julia Baird has written exactly the book we need for these times.

Flavour
Yotam Ottolenghi

Flavour-forward, vegetable-based recipes are at the heart of Yotam Ottolenghi’s food. In this stunning new cookbook Yotam and co-writer Ixta Belfrage break down the three factors that create flavour and offer innovative vegetable dishes that deliver brand-new ingredient combinations to excite and inspire.

Ottolenghi FLAVOUR combines simple recipes for weeknights, low effort-high impact dishes, and standout meals for the relaxed cook. Packed with signature colourful photography, FLAVOUR not only inspires us with what to cook, but how flavour is dialled up and why it works.

The book is broken down into three parts, which reveal how to tap into the potential of ordinary vegetables to create extraordinary food: Process explains cooking methods that elevate veg to great heights; Pairing identifies four basic pairings that are fundamental to great flavour; Produce offers impactful vegetables that do the work for you. With surefire hits, such as Aubergine Dumplings alla Parmigiana, Hasselback Beetroot with Lime Leaf Butter, Miso Butter Onions, Spicy Mushroom Lasagne and Romano Pepper Schnitzel, plus mouthwatering photographs of nearly every one of the more than 100 recipes, Ottolenghi FLAVOUR is the impactful, next-level approach to vegetable cooking that Ottolenghi fans and vegetable lovers everywhere have been craving.

A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing
Jessie Tu

Growing up is always hard, but especially when so many think you’re a washed-up has-been at twenty-two.

Jena Lin plays the violin. She was once a child prodigy and now uses sex to fill the void left by fame. She’s struggling a little. Her professional life comprises rehearsals, concerts, auditions and relentless practice; her personal life is spent managing the demands of her strict family and creative friends, and hooking up. And then she meets Mark – much older and worldly-wise – who consumes her. But at what cost to her dreams?

When Jena is awarded an internship with the New York Philharmonic, she thinks the life she has dreamed of is about to begin. But when Trump is elected, New York changes irrevocably and Jena along with it. Is the dream over? As Jena’s life takes on echoes of Frances Ha, her favourite film, crucial truths are gradually revealed to her.  A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing explores female desire and the consequences of wanting too much and never getting it. It is about the awkwardness and pain of being human in an increasingly dislocated world – and how, in spite of all this, we still try to become the person we want to be. This is a dazzling and original debut from a young writer with a fierce, intelligent and audacious voice. 

Such A Fun Age
Kiley Reid

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her young black babysitter, Emira Tucker, is accused by a security guard of kidnapping the Chamberlains’ toddler at the supermarket one night. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right. But Emira herself is aimless, broke and wary of Alix’s desire to help. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other. With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the awkwardness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone ‘family’, the complicated reality of being a grown-up and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.  

Rodham
Curtis Sittenfeld

What if Hillary hadn’t married Bill? The sensational long-awaited new novel by the acclaimed bestselling author of American Wife.

‘Awfully opinionated for a girl’ is what they call Hillary as she grows up in her Chicago suburb. Smart, diligent, and a bit plain, that’s the general consensus. Then Hillary goes to college, and her star rises. At Yale Law School, she continues to be a leader— and catches the eye of driven, handsome and charismatic Bill. But when he asks her to marry him, Hillary gives him a firm No. The rest, as they say, isn’t history.

How might things have turned out for them, for America, for the world itself, if Hillary Rodham had really turned down Bill Clinton? With her sharp but always compassionate eye, Sittenfeld explores the loneliness, moral ambivalence and iron determination that characterise the quest for high office, as well as the painful compromises demanded of female ambition in a world ruled by men. Uncannily astute and witty in the telling, Rodham is a brilliant reimagining – an unmissable literary landmark and truly a novel of our times.

Dark Emu
Bruce Pascoe

Dark Emu argues for a reconsideration of the ‘hunter-gatherer’ tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians and attempts to rebut the colonial myths that have worked to justify dispossession. Accomplished author Bruce Pascoe provides compelling evidence from the diaries of early explorers that suggests that systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia’s past is required.

Dark Emu is a much-loved book and for very good reason. For many it has revolutionized their understanding of pre-colonial Australia. Pascoe examines first-hand accounts of explorers and early settlers, offering us a glimpse of an idyllic land, carefully managed by the Indigenous population, who had extensive knowledge of agriculture as well as an advanced fishing industry. This is an absolute must read for anyone interested in Australian History.

Death In Her Hands
Ottessa Moshfegh

While on her daily walk with her dog in the nearby woods, our protagonist comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with stones. Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body. Shaky even on her best days, she is also alone, and new to this area, having moved here from her long-time home after the death of her husband, and now deeply alarmed. Her brooding about the note grows quickly into a full-blown obsession, as she explores multiple theories about who Magda was and how she met her fate. Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world, and the fog of mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape. But is there either a more innocent explanation for all this, or a much more sinister one – one that strikes closer to home? In this triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, we must decide whether the stories we tell ourselves guide us closer to the truth or keep us further from it.  

After Australia
ed. Michael Mohammed Ahmad

Climate catastrophe, police brutality, white genocide, totalitarian rule and the erasure of black history provide the backdrop for stories of love, courage and hope. In this unflinching new anthology, eleven of Australia’s most daring Indigenous writers and writers of colour provide a glimpse of Australia as we head toward the year 2050.

Featuring Ambelin Kwaymullina, Claire G. Coleman, Omar Sakr, Future D. Fidel, Karen Wyld, Khalid Warsame, Kaya Lattimore, Sarah Ross, Zoya Patel, Michelle Law and Hannah Donnelly. 

The Mother Fault
Kate Mildenhall

Mim’s husband is missing. No one knows where Ben is, but everyone wants to find him – especially The Department. And they should know, the all-seeing government body has fitted the entire population with a universal tracking chip to keep them ‘safe’.

But suddenly Ben can’t be tracked. And Mim is questioned, made to surrender her passport and threatened with the unthinkable – her two children being taken into care at the notorious BestLife.

Cornered, Mim risks everything to go on the run to find her husband – and a part of herself, long gone, that is brave enough to tackle the journey ahead. From the stark backroads of the Australian outback to a terrifying sea voyage, Mim is forced to shuck off who she was – mother, daughter, wife, sister – and become the woman she needs to be to save her family and herself.  

All Our Shimmering Skies
Trent Dalton

Darwin, 1942, and as Japanese bombs rain overhead, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger’s daughter, turns once again to the sky for guidance. She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag next to the map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: Greta, a razor-tongued actress and Yukio, a fallen Japanese fighter pilot.

‘Run, Molly, run,’ says the daytime sky. Run to the vine forests. Run to northern Australia’s wild and magical monsoon lands. Run to friendship. Run to love. Run. Because the graverobber’s coming, Molly, and the night-time sky is coming with him. So run, Molly, run.

All Our Shimmering Skies is a story about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. It is an odyssey of true love and grave danger; of darkness and light; of bones and blue skies. A buoyant, beautiful and magical novel abrim with warmth, wit and wonder, a love letter to Australia and the art of looking up.

Me and White Supremacy
Layla F Saad

‘White supremacy is a violent system of oppression that harms Black, Indigenous and People of Colour. And if you are a person who holds white privilege, then you are complicit in upholding that harm, whether you realise it or not. This is not my opinion. This is fact. And if you are person who holds white privilege, the question you should be asking isn’t whether or not this is true, but rather, what are you going to do about it?’ 

Between June and July 2018, Layla Saad ran a 28-day Instagram challenge under the hashtag #MeAndWhiteSupremacy, for people with white privilege to unflinchingly examine the ways that they are complicit in upholding the oppressive system of white supremacy.  The challenge quickly went viral, with thousands of people from all over the world (including USA, Canada, UK, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Russia, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Qatar, among others) diving deep for 28 consecutive days to examine and take responsibility for the ways in which they uphold white supremacy. The challenge catalyzed a worldwide awakening for thousands of white-privileged people to begin to take ownership of their personal anti-racism work.  This workbook was born out of that challenge.

Bestsellers: 21 – 27 September

We can see that light at the end of the long lockdown tunnel. We’re so happy to see those new case numbers falling each day, and so grateful to still be here, still be strong. That’s down to you folks! You and your wonderful book reading has been keeping us going through this year, and we cannot stop gushing about how much we love it.

The Survivors
Jane Harper

The compelling new novel from Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry.

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal town he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a community which is bound, for better or worse, to the sea, that is both a lifeline and a threat. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

The Mother Fault
Kate Mildenhall

Mim’s husband is missing. No one knows where Ben is, but everyone wants to find him – especially The Department. And they should know, the all-seeing government body has fitted the entire population with a universal tracking chip to keep them ‘safe’. But suddenly Ben can’t be tracked. And Mim is questioned, made to surrender her passport and threatened with the unthinkable – her two children being taken into care at the notorious BestLife.

Cornered, Mim risks everything to go on the run to find her husband – and a part of herself, long gone, that is brave enough to tackle the journey ahead. From the stark backroads of the Australian outback to a terrifying sea voyage, Mim is forced to shuck off who she was – mother, daughter, wife, sister – and become the woman she needs to be to save her family and herself.

Join Em in conversation with author Kate Mildenhall for Lockdown Lit, Wednesday 21st October.  

Ottolenghi Flavour
Yotam Ottolenghi

Flavour-forward, vegetable-based recipes are at the heart of Yotam Ottolenghi’s food. In this stunning new cookbook Yotam and co-writer Ixta Belfrage break down the three factors that create flavour and offer innovative vegetable dishes that deliver brand-new ingredient combinations to excite and inspire.

Ottolenghi FLAVOUR combines simple recipes for weeknights, low effort-high impact dishes, and standout meals for the relaxed cook. Packed with signature colourful photography, FLAVOUR not only inspires us with what to cook, but how flavour is dialled up and why it works.

The book is broken down into three parts, which reveal how to tap into the potential of ordinary vegetables to create extraordinary food: Process explains cooking methods that elevate veg to great heights; Pairing identifies four basic pairings that are fundamental to great flavour; Produce offers impactful vegetables that do the work for you. With surefire hits, such as Aubergine Dumplings alla Parmigiana, Hasselback Beetroot with Lime Leaf Butter, Miso Butter Onions, Spicy Mushroom Lasagne and Romano Pepper Schnitzel, plus mouthwatering photographs of nearly every one of the more than 100 recipes, Ottolenghi FLAVOUR is the impactful, next-level approach to vegetable cooking that Ottolenghi fans and vegetable lovers everywhere have been craving.  

The Morbids
Ewa Ramsey

Caitlin is convinced she’s going to die. Two years ago she was a normal twenty-something with a blossoming career and a plan to go travelling with her best friend, until a car accident left her with a deep, unshakable understanding that she’s only alive by mistake.

Caitlin deals with these thoughts by throwing herself into work, self-medicating with alcohol, and attending a support group for people with death-related anxiety, informally known as the Morbids. But when her best friend announces she’s getting married in Bali, and she meets a handsome doctor named Tom, Caitlin must overcome her fear of death and learn to start living again.

Beautiful, funny, and universally relatable this story of hidden loneliness and the power of compassion and companionship reminds us that life is an adventure truly worth living.

Mayflies
Andrew O’Hagen

Tully ignite a brilliant friendship based on music, films and the rebel spirit.

With school over and the locked world of their fathers before them, they rush towards the climax of their youth: a magical weekend in Manchester, the epicentre of everything that inspires them in working-class Britain.

There, against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded, a vow is made: to go at life differently. Thirty years on, half a life away, the phone rings. Tully has news – news that forces the life-long friends to confront their own mortality head-on.

What follows is an incredibly moving examination of the responsibilities and obligations we have to those we love. Mayflies is at once a finely-tuned drama about the delicacy and impermanence of human connection and an urgent inquiry into some of the most important questions of all: Who are we? What do we owe to our friends? And what does it mean to love another person amidst tragedy?

The Lying Life of Adults
Elena Ferrante (tr. Ann Goldstein)

Giovanna’s pretty face has changed: it’s turning into the face of an ugly, spiteful adolescent. But is she seeing things as they really are? Into which mirror must she look to find herself and save herself? She is searching for a new face in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: the Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and the Naples of the depths, which professes to be a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves between these two cities, disoriented by the fact that, whether high or low, the city seems to offer no answer and no escape.

A powerful new novel set in a divided Naples by Elena Ferrante, the beloved best-selling author of My Brilliant Friend.

The Yield
Tara June Winch

In English, to yield is to reap; the things that man can take from the land. In the language of the Wiradjuri yield is the things you give to, the movement, the space between things.

Knowing that he will soon die, Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind. August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. 

Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.

A Room Made of Leaves
Kate Grenville

In her introduction Kate Grenville tells, tongue firmly in cheek, of discovering a long-hidden box containing that memoir. What follows is a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented.

Grenville’s Elizabeth Macarthur is a passionate woman managing her complicated life-marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her own heart, the search for power in a society that gave her none-with spirit, cunning and sly wit. Her memoir reveals the dark underbelly of the polite world of Jane Austen. It explodes the stereotype of the women of the past- devoted and docile, accepting of their narrow choices. That was their public face-here’s what one of them really thought.

At the heart of this book is one of the most toxic issues of our times- the seductive appeal of false stories. Beneath the surface of Elizabeth Macarthur’s life and the violent colonial world she navigated are secrets and lies with the dangerous power to shape reality.

A Room Made of Leaves is the internationally acclaimed author Kate Grenville’s first novel in almost a decade. It is historical fiction turned inside out, a stunning sleight of hand that gives the past the piercing immediacy of the present.  

Hysteria
Katerina Bryant

When Katerina Bryant suddenly began experiencing chronic seizures, she was plunged into a foreign world of doctors and psychiatrists, who understood her condition as little as she did. Reacting the only way she knew how, she immersed herself in books, reading her way through her own complicated diagnosis and finding a community of women who shared similar experiences.

In the tradition of Siri Hustvedt’s The Shaking Woman, Bryant blends memoir with literary and historical analysis to explore women’s medical treatment. Hysteria retells the stories of silenced women, from the ‘Queen of Hysterics’ Blanche Wittmann to Mary Glover’s illness termed ‘hysterica passio’ — a panic attack caused by the movement of the uterus — in London in 1602 and more. By centring these stories of women who had no voice in their own diagnosis and treatment, Bryant finds her own voice: powerful, brave and resonant.

Neighbourhood Nonfiction Bookclub discusses Hysteria on 10th November.

Poly
Paul Dalgarno

Chris Flood – a married father of two with plummeting self-esteem and questionable guitar skills – suddenly finds himself in the depths of polyamory after years of a near-sexless marriage. His wife, Sarah – a lover of the arts, avid quoter of Rumi, and always oozing confidence – wants to rediscover her sexuality after years of deadening domesticity.  

Their new life of polyamory features late nights, love affairs and rotating childcare duties. While Sarah enjoys flings with handsome men, Chris, much to his astonishment, falls for a polydactylous actor and musician, Biddy.  

Then there’s Zac Batista. When Chris and Sarah welcome the Uruguayan child prodigy and successful twenty-two-year-old into their lives they gratefully hand over school pick-up and babysitting duties. But as tensions grow between family and lovers, Chris begins to wonder if it’s just jealousy, or something more sinister brewing…  

A searing and utterly engrossing debut, Poly is a raw, hilarious, and moving portrait of contemporary relationships in all their diversity, and an intimate exploration of the fragility of love and identity. 

Em will be joined by author Paul Dalgarno for Lockdown Lit on Wednesday October 7th to discuss Poly.

Bestsellers: 27 July – 2 August

Well here we are. Mid-way through what was supposed to be six weeks of Stage 3 lockdowns, and we find ourselves with further restrictions, a curfew and a new deadline for lockdown. Things are scary out there, but we are always here for you.

There’s not much I can say here to comfort anyone, but here are some books y’all turned to this week.

The Yield
Tara June Winch

In English, to yield is to reap; the things that man can take from the land. In the language of the Wiradjuri yield is the things you give to, the movement, the space between things.

Knowing that he will soon die, Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind. August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. 

Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.

Kokomo
Victoria Hannan

When Mina receives an urgent call from her best friend back in Melbourne, her world is turned upside down. Her reclusive mother, Elaine, has left the house for the first time in twelve years.

Mina drops everything to fly home, only to discover that Elaine will not talk about her sudden return to the world, nor why she’s spent so much time hiding from it. Their reunion leaves Mina raking through pieces of their painful past in a bid to uncover the truth.

Both tender and fierce, heartbreaking and funny, Kokomo is a story about how secrets and love have the power to bring us together and tear us apart.

A stunning debut novel from the winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript.

Girl, Woman, Other
Bernardine Evaristo

Teeming with energy, humour and heart, a love song to black Britain told by twelve very different people.

Grace is a Victorian orphan dreaming of the mysterious African father she will never meet. Winsome is a young Windrush bride, recently arrived from Barbados. Amma is the fierce queen of her 1980s squatters’ palace. Morgan, who used to be Megan, is blowing up on social media, the newest activist-influencer on the block.

Twelve very different people, mostly black and female, more than a hundred years of change, and one sweeping, vibrant, glorious portrait of contemporary Britain.

Bernardine Evaristo presents a gloriously new kind of history for this old country- ever-dynamic, ever-expanding and utterly irresistible.

Women & Leadership
Julia Gillard & Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Almost every year new findings are published about the way people see women leaders compared with their male counterparts. The authors have taken that academic work and tested it in the real world. The same set of interview questions were put to each leader in frank face-to-face interviews. Their responses were then used to examine each woman’s journey in leadership and whether their lived experiences were in line with or different from what the research would predict.

Women and Leadership presents a lively and readable analysis of the influence of gender on women’s access to positions of leadership, the perceptions of them as leaders, the trajectory of their leadership and the circumstances in which it comes to an end.

By presenting the lessons that can be learned from women leaders, Julia and Ngozi provide a road map of essential knowledge to inspire us all, and an action agenda for change that allows women to take control and combat gender bias.

Featuring Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Theresa May, Michelle Bachelet, Joyce Banda, Erna Solberg, Christine Lagarde and more.

Talkin’ Up to the White Woman
Dr Aileen Moreton-Robinson

Dr Moreton-Robinson applies academic training and cultural knowledge in revealing the invisible position of power and privilege in feminist practice.

Talkin’ Up To The White Woman: Indigenous Women And Feminism is an accessible and provocative analysis of the whiteness of Australian feminism. A pioneering work, like Greer’s The Female Eunuch, it will overturn complacent notions of a mutual sisterhood and the common good.

A uniquely Australian contribution to the increasing global discourse on feminism and race.

Catch our mates at Blakfulla Bookclub in conversation with Dr Moreton-Robinson Tuesday night!

Read deeper: If you read this and loved it, we recommend Ruby Hamad’s White Tears/Brown Scars

Death in Her Hands
Ottessa Moshfegh

While on her daily walk with her dog in the nearby woods, our protagonist comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with stones. Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.

Shaky even on her best days, she is also alone, and new to this area, having moved here from her long-time home after the death of her husband, and now deeply alarmed. Her brooding about the note grows quickly into a full-blown obsession, as she explores multiple theories about who Magda was and how she met her fate. Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world, and the fog of mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape.

But is there either a more innocent explanation for all this, or a much more sinister one – one that strikes closer to home? In this triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, we must decide whether the stories we tell ourselves guide us closer to the truth or keep us further from it.  

A Room Made of Leaves
Kate Grenville

What if Elizabeth Macarthur-wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in early Sydney-had written a shockingly frank secret memoir? In her introduction Kate Grenville tells, tongue firmly in cheek, of discovering a long-hidden box containing that memoir. What follows is a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented.

Grenville’s Elizabeth Macarthur is a passionate woman managing her complicated life-marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her own heart, the search for power in a society that gave her none-with spirit, cunning and sly wit.

At the heart of this book is one of the most toxic issues of our times- the seductive appeal of false stories. Beneath the surface of Elizabeth Macarthur’s life and the violent colonial world she navigated are secrets and lies with the dangerous power to shape reality.

A Room Made of Leaves is the internationally acclaimed author Kate Grenville’s first novel in almost a decade. It is historical fiction turned inside out, a stunning sleight of hand that gives the past the piercing immediacy of the present. 

After Australia
Michael Mohammed Ahmad

Climate catastrophe, police brutality, white genocide, totalitarian rule and the erasure of black history provide the backdrop for stories of love, courage and hope.

In this unflinching new anthology, twelve of Australia’s most daring Indigenous writers and writers of colour provide a glimpse of Australia as we head toward the year 2050.

Featuring Ambelin Kwaymullina, Claire G. Coleman, Omar Sakr, Future D. Fidel, Karen Wyld, Khalid Warsame, Kaya Ortiz, Roanna Gonsalves, Sarah Ross, Zoya Patel, Michelle Law and Hannah Donnelly.

Me & White Supremacy
Layla F Saad

Between June and July 2018, Layla Saad ran a 28-day Instagram challenge under the hashtag #MeAndWhiteSupremacy, for people with white privilege to unflinchingly examine the ways that they are complicit in upholding the oppressive system of white supremacy. 

The challenge quickly went viral, with thousands of people from all over the world (including USA, Canada, UK, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Russia, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Qatar, among others) diving deep for 28 consecutive days to examine and take responsibility for the ways in which they uphold white supremacy.

The challenge sparked a worldwide awakening for thousands of white-privileged people to begin to take ownership of their personal anti-racism work.  This workbook was born out of that challenge.

See What You Made Me Do
Jess Hill

At the office of Safe Steps, Victoria’s dedicated 24/7 family violence response call centre, phone counsellors receive a call every three minutes.

Many women are repeat callers- on average, they will go back to an abusive partner eight times before leaving for good. ‘You must get so frustrated when you think a woman’s ready to leave and then she decides to go back,? I say. ‘No,’ replies one phone counsellor, pointedly. ‘I’m frustrated that even though he promised to stop, he chose to abuse her again.’

Women are abused or killed by their partners at astonishing rates- in Australia, almost 17 per cent of women over the age of fifteen – one in six – have been abused by an intimate partner. In this confronting and deeply researched account, journalist Jess Hill uncovers the ways in which abusers exert control in the darkest – and most intimate – ways imaginable. She asks- What do we know about perpetrators? Why is it so hard to leave? What does successful intervention look like?

What emerges is not only a searing investigation of the violence so many women experience, but a dissection of how that violence can be enabled and reinforced by the judicial system we trust to protect us. Combining exhaustive research with riveting storytelling, See What You Made Me Do dismantles the flawed logic of victim-blaming and challenges everything you thought you knew about domestic and family violence.

Winner of the 2020 Stella Prize.

Happy Birthday to… US!

2020 has been a wild ride, between bushfire book drives, Lockdown 1.0 and Lockdown 2.0 we have been working hard to get your essential reads into your hands. Which means we haven’t had a chance to celebrate our SECOND BIRTHDAY!

That’s right! Neighbourhood Books is TWO, and we would not still be here if it wasn’t for you excellent folks. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate and give thanks than to share it with you. Normally, we would throw a party and have you all into the shop for some tunes, drinks and bookish chats but Uncle Dan put a stop to all that (and rightly so!) so instead we present…

Belated Birthday Bingo!

We all know how bingo works, right?

Make a five square line by reading a book from one of the categories shown, and you make a bingo. The centre square is a free space, so if your line traipses through that one you get to pick your own choice.

RULES

  1. You must read five books to create a bingo to gain one (1) entry to the draw.
  2. Books must be read through the month of August
  3. Multiple entries are permitted
  4. Send entries to emily@neighbourhoodbooks.com noting the titles and which squares each book was read for
  5. All entries must be submitted by midnight Tuesday 1st September
  6. Prizes drawn 8pm Wednesday 2nd September
  7. Open to Australian residents only (sorry!)

For every bingo you make, let us know and you’ll get an entry into the draw.

We have some cool prizes from our mates at Text Publishing, Scribe Publications and Penguin Random House, with more to be confirmed. Stay tuned for that news!

FAQ

How do I make a bingo?
Choose any line of five, and read books that match the categories within that line. You can run top to bottom, left to right, diagonally – its your choice! One row of five equals one bingo, or one entry!

So, you might choose the line running from top to bottom on the far left. You would read one novel by an Australian author released in 2020, a collection of poetry by an Indigenous poet, a read from our anti-racism reading list, something by a NZ author, and any year’s winner of the Stella Prize. That makes your bingo! Books must be read during the month of August to count for an entry.

Can I use the same book to tick off multiple squares?
If your aim is to have many bingo lines for multiple entries, then this is an excellent tactic. And yes you can! We just ask that in each bingo, there are five different books.

Do audiobooks and e-books count?
We love audiobooks. We also love e-books. We love accessibility. Audiobooks and e-books make reading accessible for all types of folks, so yes they absolutely count as “real books”. Our favourite platform for accessing audiobooks and e-books is via our local libraries, so check ’em out!

How do I send in my entries?
Note the titles of the books you read during August and send an email to emily@neighbourhoodbooks.com and we will take care of the rest.

What if I read five random books from the board?
You must make a bingo line with your reading. We suggest choosing titles that fit one of the lines.

Can I enter more than once?
Absolutely! If you can read them, then they count. Some people are big readers, and others aren’t. And that’s ok. That’s why the prize draw is completely random.

Can you suggest books for me to read?
Of course! You can ask for recommendations via our Quiz, or you can check out our blog series where Em has curated some reading lists specific to the bingo board, with more to come over the next few weeks. If you’re still stuck, you can email Em and she can make some suggestions for you.

Can I play if I don’t live in Australia?
Everyone is welcome to play along, regardless of location. Unfortunately due to postage costs all prize winners must have an Australian address.

Wait, I have more questions!
No problem, email our Bingo Elf Em. She will get back to you within 24 hours. Her email address is emily@neighbourhoodbooks.com

Ready?
Set…

READ!

Lots of love,
Leesa, Leni, Liam, Em and Rach

Bestsellers: 20 July – 26 July

We made it guys, two full weeks of Lockdown 2.0. How are we going? I’m seeing signs of Spring all over, but most notably in Lucy Treloar’s Instagram feed – did anyone else spy her gorgeous hyacinth in hydro?

Over the weekend I’m bringing you some solid recommendations for translated work by women, ahead of Women in Translation month next month. I spy some early purchases, I am glad to see I’m not the only one getting excited!

Here’s what you were reading this week.

The Yield
Tara June Winch

In English, to yield is to reap; the things that man can take from the land. In the language of the Wiradjuri yield is the things you give to, the movement, the space between things.

Knowing that he will soon die, Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind. August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. 

Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.

The Vanishing Half
Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities.

Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined.

What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?  Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing.

Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

The Fogging
Luke Horton

A compelling tale of the slow disintegration of a relationship and the unravelling of a man.

Tom and Clara are two struggling academics in their mid-thirties, who decide to take their first holiday in ten years. On the flight over to Indonesia, Tom experiences a debilitating panic attack, something he hasn’t had in a long time, which he keeps hidden from Clara.

At the resort, they meet Madeleine, a charismatic French woman, her Australian partner, Jeremy, and five-year-old son, Ollie, and the two couples strike up an easy friendship. The holiday starts to look up, even to Tom, who is struggling to get out of his own head. But when Clara and Madeleine become trapped in the maze-like grounds of the hotel during ‘the fogging’ — a routine spraying of pesticide — the dynamics suddenly shift between Tom and Clara, and the atmosphere of the holiday darkens.

Told with equal parts compassion and irony, and brimming with observations that charm, illuminate, and devastate, The Fogging dives deep into what it means to be strong when your foundation is built on sand.

Talkin’ Up to the White Woman
Dr Aileen Moreton-Robinson

Dr Moreton-Robinson applies academic training and cultural knowledge in revealing the invisible position of power and privilege in feminist practice.

Talkin’ Up To The White Woman: Indigenous Women And Feminism is an accessible and provocative analysis of the whiteness of Australian feminism. A pioneering work, like Greer’s The Female Eunuch, it will overturn complacent notions of a mutual sisterhood and the common good.

A uniquely Australian contribution to the increasing global discourse on feminism and race.

Catch our mates at Blakfulla Bookclub in conversation with Dr Moreton-Robinson Tuesday night!

Read deeper: If you read this and loved it, we recommend Ruby Hamad’s White Tears/Brown Scars

Death in Her Hands
Ottessa Moshfegh

While on her daily walk with her dog in the nearby woods, our protagonist comes across a note, handwritten and carefully pinned to the ground with stones. Her name was Magda. Nobody will ever know who killed her. It wasn’t me. Here is her dead body.

Shaky even on her best days, she is also alone, and new to this area, having moved here from her long-time home after the death of her husband, and now deeply alarmed. Her brooding about the note grows quickly into a full-blown obsession, as she explores multiple theories about who Magda was and how she met her fate. Her suppositions begin to find echoes in the real world, and the fog of mystery starts to form into a concrete and menacing shape.

But is there either a more innocent explanation for all this, or a much more sinister one – one that strikes closer to home? In this triumphant blend of horror, suspense, and pitch-black comedy, we must decide whether the stories we tell ourselves guide us closer to the truth or keep us further from it.  

Women & Leadership
Julia Gillard & Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Almost every year new findings are published about the way people see women leaders compared with their male counterparts. The authors have taken that academic work and tested it in the real world. The same set of interview questions were put to each leader in frank face-to-face interviews. Their responses were then used to examine each woman’s journey in leadership and whether their lived experiences were in line with or different from what the research would predict.

Women and Leadership presents a lively and readable analysis of the influence of gender on women’s access to positions of leadership, the perceptions of them as leaders, the trajectory of their leadership and the circumstances in which it comes to an end.

By presenting the lessons that can be learned from women leaders, Julia and Ngozi provide a road map of essential knowledge to inspire us all, and an action agenda for change that allows women to take control and combat gender bias.

Featuring Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Theresa May, Michelle Bachelet, Joyce Banda, Erna Solberg, Christine Lagarde and more.

A Room Made of Leaves
Kate Grenville

What if Elizabeth Macarthur-wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in early Sydney-had written a shockingly frank secret memoir? In her introduction Kate Grenville tells, tongue firmly in cheek, of discovering a long-hidden box containing that memoir. What follows is a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented.

Grenville’s Elizabeth Macarthur is a passionate woman managing her complicated life-marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her own heart, the search for power in a society that gave her none-with spirit, cunning and sly wit.

Her memoir reveals the dark underbelly of the polite world of Jane Austen. It explodes the stereotype of the women of the past- devoted and docile, accepting of their narrow choices. That was their public face-here’s what one of them really thought.

At the heart of this book is one of the most toxic issues of our times- the seductive appeal of false stories. Beneath the surface of Elizabeth Macarthur’s life and the violent colonial world she navigated are secrets and lies with the dangerous power to shape reality.

A Room Made of Leaves is the internationally acclaimed author Kate Grenville’s first novel in almost a decade. It is historical fiction turned inside out, a stunning sleight of hand that gives the past the piercing immediacy of the present. 

Rodham
Curtis Sittenfeld

What if Hillary Rodham had turned down Bill Clinton’s proposal of marriage?

In American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld painted a picture of an ordinary American girl who found herself married to a President – basing it on the life of Laura Bush. In this new novel, she takes another ordinary American girl, Hillary Rodham (‘You are awfully opinionated for a girl, Hillary’), and explores how her life might have turned out if she had stayed an independent woman.

Girl, Woman, Other
Bernardine Evaristo

Teeming with energy, humour and heart, a love song to black Britain told by twelve very different people.

Grace is a Victorian orphan dreaming of the mysterious African father she will never meet. Winsome is a young Windrush bride, recently arrived from Barbados. Amma is the fierce queen of her 1980s squatters’ palace. Morgan, who used to be Megan, is blowing up on social media, the newest activist-influencer on the block.

Twelve very different people, mostly black and female, more than a hundred years of change, and one sweeping, vibrant, glorious portrait of contemporary Britain.

Bernardine Evaristo presents a gloriously new kind of history for this old country- ever-dynamic, ever-expanding and utterly irresistible.

The Wandering
Intan Paramaditha

The Wandering‘s jumping-off point is the story of Dorothy and her ruby slippers, which readers are invited to slip on, allowing them to roam on a path of their own choosing between New York, Berlin, Jakarta, Lima and beyond.

Sydney-based Indonesian writer Intan Paramaditha has been heralded as one of a growing group of brilliant female writers ‘giving strength to Indonesian literature’s newly empowered female voice’ (South China Morning Post). Paramaditha’s writing is exhilaratingly wild, fun and feminist, and she digs deep into ideas surrounding desire, identity and isolation, the highs and lows of global nomadism, and the freedoms and limitations of the choices we make.

The Wandering is fierce and unconventional, inviting readers to step out of their comfort zones and to empathise with other people.

Bestsellers: 13 July – 19 July

Melbourne returns to lockdown, and this is what you chose to read this week. We love it. A good mix of topical fiction, nonfiction to make you think, and some of you are back to the baking. No surprise who took out the number one slot -we are still celebrating our mate Tara June Winch’s Miles Franklin win. Did you catch her acceptance speech? Check out the entire announcement here.

The Yield
Tara June Winch

In English, to yield is to reap; the things that man can take from the land. In the language of the Wiradjuri yield is the things you give to, the movement, the space between things.

Knowing that he will soon die, Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind. August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. 

Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.

Rodham
Curtis Sittenfeld

What if Hillary Rodham had turned down Bill Clinton’s proposal of marriage?

In American Wife, Curtis Sittenfeld painted a picture of an ordinary American girl who found herself married to a President – basing it on the life of Laura Bush. In this new novel, she takes another ordinary American girl, Hillary Rodham (‘You are awfully opinionated for a girl, Hillary’), and explores how her life might have turned out if she had stayed an independent woman.

Women & Leadership
Julia Gillard & Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Almost every year new findings are published about the way people see women leaders compared with their male counterparts. The authors have taken that academic work and tested it in the real world. The same set of interview questions were put to each leader in frank face-to-face interviews. Their responses were then used to examine each woman’s journey in leadership and whether their lived experiences were in line with or different from what the research would predict.

Women and Leadership presents a lively and readable analysis of the influence of gender on women’s access to positions of leadership, the perceptions of them as leaders, the trajectory of their leadership and the circumstances in which it comes to an end.

By presenting the lessons that can be learned from women leaders, Julia and Ngozi provide a road map of essential knowledge to inspire us all, and an action agenda for change that allows women to take control and combat gender bias.

Featuring Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Theresa May, Michelle Bachelet, Joyce Banda, Erna Solberg, Christine Lagarde and more.

Dark Emu
Bruce Pascoe

Dark Emu argues for a reconsideration of the ‘hunter-gatherer’ tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians and attempts to rebut the colonial myths that have worked to justify dispossession. Accomplished author Bruce Pascoe provides compelling evidence from the diaries of early explorers that suggests that systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia’s past is required.

WINNER – 2016 Indigenous Writer’s Prize in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

WINNER – 2016 Book of the Year in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards

SHORTLISTED – 2014 History Book Award in the Queensland Literary Awards

SHORTLISTED – 2014 Victorian Premier’s Award for Indigenous Writing

A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing
Jessie Tu

Growing up is always hard, but especially when so many think you’re a washed-up has-been at twenty-two.

Jena Lin plays the violin. She was once a child prodigy and now uses sex to fill the void left by fame. She’s struggling a little. Her professional life comprises rehearsals, concerts, auditions and relentless practice; her personal life is spent managing the demands of her strict family and creative friends, and hooking up. And then she meets Mark – much older and worldly-wise – who consumes her. But at what cost to her dreams?

When Jena is awarded an internship with the New York Philharmonic, she thinks the life she has dreamed of is about to begin. But when Trump is elected, New York changes irrevocably and Jena along with it. Is the dream over? As Jena’s life takes on echoes of Frances Ha, her favourite film, crucial truths are gradually revealed to her.  

A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing explores female desire and the consequences of wanting too much and never getting it. It is about the awkwardness and pain of being human in an increasingly dislocated world – and how, in spite of all this, we still try to become the person we want to be. This is a dazzling and original debut from a young writer with a fierce, intelligent and audacious voice. 

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race
Reni Eddo-Lodge

Award-winning journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge was frustrated with the way that discussions of race and racism are so often led by those blind to it, by those willfully ignorant of its legacy.

Her response, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, has transformed the conversation both in Britain and around the world.

Examining everything from eradicated black history to the political purpose of white dominance, from whitewashed feminism to the inextricable link between class and race, Eddo-Lodge offers a timely and essential new framework for how to see, acknowledge, and counter racism.

Including a new afterword by the author, this is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of color in Britain today, and an essential handbook for anyone looking to understand how structural racism works.

Beatrix Bakes
Natalie Paull

For Natalie Paull, baking is a gift. It’s also a powerful elixir of pleasure, connection, generosity and joy. In Beatrix Bakes, Natalie indulges in baking’s sweetest moments with more than seventy recipes inspiring bakers of all kinds to mix and match to make recipes their own – whether it’s a Lemon curd cream crepe cake or Pecan maple cinnamon scrolls.  

Sparkling with Natalie’s distinct voice, and packaged with full-colour photography, illustrations and rock-solid tips for a perfect bake, Beatrix Bakes also includes ‘Adaptrix’ suggestions (offering ways readers might do things differently, including short cuts) and is peppered with infographics to help them follow their baking heart.  

While Natalie’s creations are inspired by classics the world over, they are irreverent too, and in Beatrix Bakes she delights in showing readers that – once they get the foundations right – the truest magic will come from a willingness to play (with the insurance of her many clever ideas and back-up plans in their apron pocket!).   Beatrix Bakes will guide anyone who loves the adventure of baking to perfect their skills and break the baking mould. 

Blueberries
Ellena Savage

Blueberries could be described as a collection of essays, the closest term available for a book that resists classification; a blend of personal essay, polemic, prose poetry, true-crime journalism and confession that considers a fragmented life, reflecting on what it means to be a woman, a body, an artist.

It is both a memoir and an interrogation of memoir. It is a new horizon in storytelling.In crystalline prose, Savage explores the essential questions of the examined life: what is it to desire? What is it to accommodate oneself to the world? And at what cost?

Throat
Ellen Van Neerven

not in Aus, mate
bad things don’t happen here
our beaches are open they are not places where bloodied mattresses burn

Throat is the explosive second poetry collection from award-winning Mununjali Yugambeh writer Ellen van Neerven. Exploring love, language and land, van Neerven flexes their distinctive muscles and shines a light on Australia’s unreconciled past and precarious present with humour and heart.

Van Neerven is unsparing in the interrogation of colonial impulse, and fiercely loyal to telling the stories that make us who we are.

No One
John Hughes

In the ghost hours of a Monday morning a man feels a dull thud against the side of his car near the entrance to Redfern Station. He doesn’t stop immediately. By the time he returns to the scene, the road is empty, but there is a dent in the car, high up on the passenger door, and what looks like blood.

Only a man could have made such a dent, he thinks. For some reason he looks up, though he knows no one is there. Has he hit someone, and if so, where is the victim?

So begins a story that takes us to the heart of contemporary Australia’s festering relationship to its indigenous past. A story about guilt for acts which precede us, crimes we are not sure we have committed, crimes gone on so long they now seem criminal-less. Part crime novel, part road movie, part love story, No One takes its protagonist to the very heart of a nation where non-existence is the true existence, where crimes cannot be resolved and guilt cannot be redeemed, and no one knows what to do with ghosts that are real.

A Room Made of Leaves
Kate Grenville

What if Elizabeth Macarthur-wife of the notorious John Macarthur, wool baron in early Sydney-had written a shockingly frank secret memoir? In her introduction Kate Grenville tells, tongue firmly in cheek, of discovering a long-hidden box containing that memoir. What follows is a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented.

Grenville’s Elizabeth Macarthur is a passionate woman managing her complicated life-marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her own heart, the search for power in a society that gave her none-with spirit, cunning and sly wit.

Her memoir reveals the dark underbelly of the polite world of Jane Austen. It explodes the stereotype of the women of the past- devoted and docile, accepting of their narrow choices. That was their public face-here’s what one of them really thought.

At the heart of this book is one of the most toxic issues of our times- the seductive appeal of false stories. Beneath the surface of Elizabeth Macarthur’s life and the violent colonial world she navigated are secrets and lies with the dangerous power to shape reality.

A Room Made of Leaves is the internationally acclaimed author Kate Grenville’s first novel in almost a decade. It is historical fiction turned inside out, a stunning sleight of hand that gives the past the piercing immediacy of the present. 

Talkin’ Up to the White Woman
Dr Aileen Moreton-Robinson

Dr Moreton-Robinson applies academic training and cultural knowledge in revealing the invisible position of power and privilege in feminist practice.

Talkin’ Up To The White Woman: Indigenous Women And Feminism is an accessible and provocative analysis of the whiteness of Australian feminism. A pioneering work, like Greer’s The Female Eunuch, it will overturn complacent notions of a mutual sisterhood and the common good.

A uniquely Australian contribution to the increasing global discourse on feminism and race.

Read deeper: If you read this and loved it, we recommend Ruby Hamad’s White Tears/Brown Scars

Ask The Author: Kate Grenville

Kate Grenville is one of Australia’s most loved authors and has been writing since she was 16 years old. Her first short story collection Bearded Ladies was published in 1984, to rave reviews.

Lilian’s Story was her first published novel (1985) and won The Australian/Vogel Literary Award. It was loosely based on the story of Bea Miles, known in Sydney for her eccentric public behaviour. It quickly became one of Australia’s best-loved novels and was adapted to film in 1996.

Kate is the author of sixteen novels, including her most known work, The Secret River, as well as a biography, a memoir and a nonfiction work on fragrance. Her work is highly awarded – Kate has collected an Orange Prize for Fiction, NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and the aforementioned Vogel Award during her career. She has also been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Miles Franklin Award and too many more to list here.

We were very excited and grateful for the opportunity to sit down with Kate to discuss her new work, A Room Made of Leaves.

The idea for A Room Made of Leaves first came to Kate when she was researching The Secret River. Both are set in the earliest years of colonial Australia, and for me as a reader it has been a gift to return to the place and time of The Secret River. When I asked Kate to tell me more, she said this book has been a “discovery in the stories that mislead us.” Discovering the letters of Elizabeth Macarthur sparked an idea, a small flicker of a story and one which I am very glad Kate has returned to.

Kate is arguably the most prolific author of Australian historical fiction. As we all know, Australian history is “a bit light on” when it comes to the stories of marginalised people, and especially the stories of women and Indigenous people. When we look at the stories of women through history, it is difficult to piece together the real story. Other than letters, so little was left behind and as Kate reminds me, letters were “not always accurate since they were not private. One could not pour their heart out in a letter and therefore women had no choice but to be bland.”

Elizabeth Macarthur presents a slightly different story. Without any power over any aspect of her life, she would have been obliged to go along with the social and legal system of the time, a system that treated women almost as property.  Life in a raw, violent colony would have been difficult beyond our understanding for a young wife and mother. Her letters certainly are no different to her contemporaries, they read as cheerful, unrevealing missives of her new adventure in fledgling Sydney, until William Dawes entered her life.

Readers of Kate’s previous work will remember William Dawes, a junior officer in the Sydney of 1790 we first met in The Lieutenant. Historically, Dawes emerges from the pages as a very likeable man, the colony’s resident astronomer. We know from letters and other sources that Elizabeth Macarthur asked him for lessons in the stars. In a letter to a friend in England, Elizabeth “let her mask slip just a little and she says, “I mistook my abilities, and I blush at my error.””

And so the idea for A Room Made of Leaves was sparked nearly twenty years ago. Kate has given a voice to Elizabeth Macarthur, one that is partially based in fact and partially in fiction and the distinction is cleverly blurred. “It was a joy to bring Elizabeth’s voice to readers… even if at times she did not behave in ways I wanted her to. Seemingly she is as stubborn and wilful in fiction as she was in life.” In this fictional retelling of Elizabeth’s life, Kate has given us a new historical heroine, one whom “made the best of her life, and everything that was thrown at her.”

“This book isn’t history, and I am not a historian. This book is fiction, but like most historical fiction, it starts in the same place history does: in the record of the past left to us in documents. Historians devise one kind of story from those sources and as fiction writers we devise another kind. What we have in common is an urge to understand the past and how it has shaped what we have become today.”

The lesson of looking deeper at our history runs through the book, alongside themes of mental health, Indigenous voices, what love and family is and what it could be. I found it an easy book to dip in and out of, with a structure that lends well to anyone currently finding it difficult to focus on long form work. Short and snappy vignettes reveal little teasers of Elizabeth at certain moments of her life.

A Room Made of Leaves is available in store now.

July New Releases

Here’s what is coming to shelves this month…

A Lonely Girl Is a Dangerous Thing
Jessie Tu

Jena Lin plays the violin. She was once a child prodigy and now uses sex to fill the void left by fame. She’s struggling a little. Her professional life comprises rehearsals, concerts, auditions and relentless practice; her personal life is spent managing the demands of her strict family and creative friends, and hooking up. And then she meets Mark – much older and worldly-wise – who consumes her. But at what cost to her dreams?

When Jena is awarded an internship with the New York Philharmonic, she thinks the life she has dreamed of is about to begin. But when Trump is elected, New York changes irrevocably and Jena along with it. Is the dream over? As Jena’s life takes on echoes of Frances Ha, her favourite film, crucial truths are gradually revealed to her.  

A Lonely Girl is a Dangerous Thing explores female desire and the consequences of wanting too much and never getting it. It is about the awkwardness and pain of being human in an increasingly dislocated world – and how, in spite of all this, we still try to become the person we want to be. This is a dazzling and original debut from a young writer with a fierce, intelligent and audacious voice. 

The Fogging
Luke Horton

Tom and Clara are two struggling academics in their mid-thirties, who decide to take their first holiday in ten years. On the flight over to Indonesia, Tom experiences a debilitating panic attack, something he hasn’t had in a long time, which he keeps hidden from Clara.  At the resort, they meet Madeleine, a charismatic French woman, her Australian partner, Jeremy, and five-year-old son, Ollie, and the two couples strike up an easy friendship. The holiday starts to look up, even to Tom, who is struggling to get out of his own head. But when Clara and Madeleine become trapped in the maze-like grounds of the hotel during ‘the fogging’ — a routine spraying of pesticide — the dynamics suddenly shift between Tom and Clara, and the atmosphere of the holiday darkens.

Told with equal parts compassion and irony, and brimming with observations that charm, illuminate, and devastate, The Fogging dives deep into what it means to be strong when your foundation is built on sand.

A Room Made of Leaves
Kate Grenville

What if Elizabeth Macarthur – wife of the notorious John Macarthur, a wool baron in early Sydney – had written a shockingly frank secret memoir? In her introduction, Kate Grenville tells, tongue firmly in cheek, of discovering a long-hidden box containing that memoir.

What follows is a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented. Grenville’s Elizabeth Macarthur is a passionate woman managing her complicated life-marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her own heart, the search for power in a society that gave her none-with spirit, cunning and sly wit. Her memoir reveals the dark underbelly of the polite world of Jane Austen. It explodes the stereotype of the women of the past- devoted and docile, accepting of their narrow choices. That was their public face -here is what one of them really thought.

At the heart of this book is one of the most toxic issues of our times – the seductive appeal of false stories. Beneath the surface of Elizabeth Macarthur’s life and the violent colonial world she navigated are secrets and lies with the dangerous power to shape reality. A Room Made of Leaves is the internationally acclaimed author Kate Grenville’s first novel in almost a decade. It is historical fiction turned inside out, a stunning sleight of hand that gives the past the piercing immediacy of the present.  

The Bluffs
Kyle Perry

When a school group of teenage girls go missing in the remote wilderness of Tasmania’s Great Western Tiers, the people of Limestone Creek are immediately on alert. Not long ago, six young girls went missing in the area of those dangerous bluffs, and the legends of ‘the Hungry Man’ still haunt locals to this day. 

Now, authorities can determine that the teacher, Eliza Ellis, was knocked unconscious, so someone on the mountain was up to foul play. Jordan Murphy, father of missing student Jasmine and the town’s local dealer, instantly becomes prime suspect, but Detective Con Badenhorst knows that in a town this size – with corrupt cops, small-town politics, and a teenage YouTube sensation – anyone could be hiding something, and bluffing comes second nature.

When a body is found, mauled, at the bottom of a cliff, suspicion turns to a wild animal – but that can’t explain why she, like all victims past and present, was discovered barefoot, with her shoes found nearby, laces neatly tied. 

What happened up there on the bluffs? Somebody knows… unless the local legends are true…

Living on Stolen Land
Ambelin Kwaymullina

Living on Stolen Land is a prose-styled look at our colonial-settler ‘present’. This book is the first of its kind to address and educate a broad audience about the colonial contextual history of Australia, in a highly original way. It pulls apart the myths at the heart of our nationhood, and challenges Australia to come to terms with its own past and its place within and on ‘Indigenous Countries’.

This title speaks to many First Nations’ truths; stolen lands, sovereignties, time, decolonisation, First Nations perspectives, systemic bias and other constructs that inform our present discussions and ever-expanding understanding. This title is a timely, thought-provoking and accessible read.

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