Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Abbey's Bookseller Pick ~ Autobiography by Morrissey

With Morrissey hitting our shores in May 2015 for a run of concerts at the Sydney Opera House during the VIVID Festival. Sadboys and Sadgirls who haven't yet read his Autobiography ~ what are you waiting for?!

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK
Autobiography by Morrissey

For any Morrissey fan, this is a joy to read for the language alone. Steven Patrick Morrissey does most definitely enjoy and employ a poetic turn of phrase and indulge his passion for alliterative word play. The effect is such that you could just about take any passage from the book and, in your best Moz impersonation, sing it aloud (yes, of course I did this). More importantly it was a page turner which, for a big book with small print and no chapters(!), is a good thing.

My fandom is always focused on the art alone which in Morrissey's case is his unique vocal delivery so perfectly matched to his extraordinary lyrics. That meant I really knew nothing of Morrissey apart from the fact he came from Manchester. The first part, telling of early family life, school and the streets of Manchester, read very much like a Dickens novel - full of grim menace and florid characters. Striking observations paint the mood, such as the appearance of any man at the door being taken as a sign of danger.

We move through early music influences and the emergence of his own desire to create, and throughout the book there are instances of Moz's own fanboy impulses, nearly always and not surprisingly deflating experiences.

The Smiths. Here the battle begins. Morrissey's early artistic life seems almost entirely full of incompetence - that of label executives, managers, and also his own and Johnny Marr's. Everyone bumbles along. The young artist is easy prey. The invective is ripe.

When the book arrives at the legal battle that was to destroy The Smiths, the scar is a chasm. The bile that Morrissey spews onto the judge is infectious and I feel the rage, although I'm aware that I'm only getting one side of the story. Mike Joyce's name is mud and the possibility of a Smiths reunion seems laughable in the extreme.

The book then moves on to life post-Smiths and a gradual emergence and point-scoring against a perceived perennial snubbing by England's music press, and a succession of world tour love-ins where he finally receives the accolades and adoration he craves. I had noticed, with minor annoyance, the US spelling throughout the book. Odd for an autobiography from a person from the UK published by a UK imprint, but not so odd when we appreciate the world-wide nature of his fan-base and in particular that of the US.

Is Morrissey difficult? I guess so, but that is probably the prerogative of an artist trying to pull something out of the morass of mediocrity.

Is Morrissey happy? I guess so. Laughter is not something that features in the book and it would seem, in life his generally. If it was, could he have written the lyrics he does? Morrissey writes his life in his songs. He notes a memorable exchange with a producer who asked "Do you ever get tired of singing 'I,I,I,I,I,I,I'?" to which Morrissey replies with dripping derision, "I?"

Craig Kirchner

p.s. Sitting alongside Morrissey's glorious special edition hardback (full of interesting colour pics not included in the Penguin Black Classic edition) I spy a book titled Cowboys and Indies by Gareth Murphy. On the cover, at the bottom, is a quote by Geoff Travis, who was head of The Smiths' label, Rough Trade. Of Cowboys and Indies Travis says "If this book was a group, I would definitely sign them. It is that good." It makes me smile to think of Morrissey's response.



Available from Abbey's ~ abbeys.com.au or 131 York Street Sydney (next to the QVB and Town Hall).

Autobiography by Morrissey

The Singer sings to the Dreamer
I'm seeing Morrissey on May 27 and in my imagination it goes something like this...


Friday, 17 April 2015

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Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Notes from Eve Abbey ~ April 2015

Not everyone will immediately recognise the term Anchoress, which is the title for Robyn Cadwallader’s intriguing first novel.

In the Middle Ages an Anchorite or Anchoress was someone who has withdrawn from the world in order to devote their life to God. Cadwallader is a medieval historian and for her Ph.D she wrote a dissertation on the attitude to virginity in the Middle Ages, when a religious life was often a better choice for a woman.

I was surprised to learn that the anchoress, sealed into a small cell attached to the side of the church, also had a parlour and two maids who attended to her wants, while her expenses were guaranteed, in this case by the Lord of the Manor.

Sarah, our Anchoress, has chosen to escape her worldly problems after the death of both her mother and her sister in childbirth. She has already seen the desire in the eyes of Sir Thomas, heir to the manor. This is no romantic serial, but a thoughtful and interesting look at life in the Middle Ages and of the importance of the written word.

The Ancrene Wisse, or Guide to Anchorites, is called by Sarah her Book of Rules and she tries hard to obey. She has a small window and a thin narrow “squint” so that she can see into the church and take part in services and it is her duty to advise and pray for the people who come to visit her.

It seems a small story but is in fact quite thrilling and in places the religious descriptions are both sensuous and physical. An unusual but satisfying book.




Do you remember the amusing novels written in the late Sixties and Seventies by David Lodge? Still fun to read. Changing Places, Small World and Nice Work are now all in one volume called The Campus Trilogy. Lodge was an industrious writer and successful academic with many books to his credit including a big fat novel about H.G. Wells called A Man of Parts. He has now produced a memoir called Quite A Good Time to be Born: A Memoir: 1935-1975. Quite so. I agree as I am in that bracket. It is clear-eyed and honest with equal attention given to his writing life, his academic career and his Catholic conscience.

Not everyone will find this riveting but if you have any interest in literary criticism, or academic rivalry you will lap this up. He makes touching reference to Malcolm Bradbury, a colleague and friend at Birmingham University. People often confused them – who wrote what? Bradbury's most famous novel was The History Man, another very funny novel about the Swinging Seventies.





I greatly enjoyed reading Kate Grenville's latest book, One Life: My Mother's Story. It has a coveted sticker on the front bearing the words Women's Weekly Great Read, and indeed it will be for many, many women and some men as well. It is both domestic and literary as well as inspiring. Her mother's country childhood was difficult but this clever, sensitive, practical girl somehow got to university and became one of the few qualified female pharmacists. She even ran her own business several times, usually defeated by the lack of childcare opportunities. And like many other mature women, after the Whitlam Government brought in free university education, she obtained a B.A. with Honours and at long last became what she had always wanted to be – a teacher. It is a story that well illustrates the huge changes in social life since the Second World War, for both men and women.

I enjoyed reading Twiggy: The High-Stakes Life of Andrew Forrest by Andrew Burrell, which won the Business Book of the Year Prize. It is called An Unauthorised Biography and is absolutely fascinating. What a complex, brave and fascinating character! Not just the 'good guy' in the blue shirt and moleskin trousers. Whatever your verdict, people like him are an asset. I'm sending a copy to my son in Western Australia who now works for Woodside.





I have begun the Neapolitan Quartet novels written by Elena Ferrante, who is getting great publicity by remaining totally unknown! Who can she be? Who writes such a fascinating story? Who is really writing what is being called a 'modern masterpiece'? The first novel is called My Brilliant Friend.

Filled with characters, you really need the list of characters at the beginning. And, like a good Saturday afternoon serial, it finishes at a moment where you are left on tenterhooks! Where is the next instalment! For me there are rather too many details (a bit like my attitude to Donna Tartt) but altogether it is an absorbing picture of Italian life in the 1950's. How far will it go?

Like all the reviewers quoted I can't wait for the next instalment. The next two books are The Story of a New Name followed by Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay. The fourth book The Forgotten Child is due out from Text Publishing in October. Translation from the Italian is by Ann Goldstein, who is also an editor at The New Yorker.

Abbey's Language Book Centre also has some of the Italian editions.

Entries for the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, run by Australian Book Review, close on 1st May. Is yours finished? Get it in. See australianbookreview.com.au for information.



Keep well,

Eve



Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers


Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Monday, 2 March 2015

Notes from Eve Abbey ~ March 2015

I recently read the very touching note that Oliver Sacks wrote in The New York Times, announcing that he has liver cancer.

Remember his famous books? The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and The Mind's Eye - about how we experience the visual world - or Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain and Awakenings which was adapted into the film starring the late Robin Williams. Sacks has possibly been the most prominent of doctor-authors in recent decades.

Following in the footsteps of Sacks is another doctor-author who writes like a dream - Atul Gawande. Gawande is a Harvard-educated surgeon, Rhodes Scholar, New Yorker staff writer and as a young man was part of Bill Clinton's Health Care Task Force. He is the son of Indian migrants to America, both of whom are doctors. I want to recommend his wonderful new book called Being Mortal. Bearing in mind the increasing percentage of the population which is over sixty (and I'm in that group) this book is all about end-of-life care and end-of-life living and mostly refers to practice in America.

We've put this in Biography as he contrasts the life of his grandfather in an Indian village and the life of his grandmother-in-law in America who moved into assisted living. There are revealing anecdotes and case histories which will raise lots of thoughts. I think the book will be especially useful to anyone working in any of the health-care professions.




I really enjoyed reading The Torch by Peter TwohigThis is the sequel to The Cartographer and is again set in 1960's Melbourne where the surviving twelve-year old twin, Super Hero Detective, is on the edge of momentous goings-on. He is such a wonderful character it took me a while to realise he doesn't have a name. He is known as "the Blayney Kid" or, if Grandpa wants to give him some advice (such as "keep it to yourself"), Grandpa calls him Nipper.

Grandpa seems to be a sort of Godfather for petty criminals in Richmond, while Mr and Mrs Sanderson are involved with ASIO, and everyone is after a briefcase with documents and also a kid who likes starting fires. It is a sort of softer grade Underbelly and I smiled all the way through. The laconic Blayney Kid has an inexhaustible supply of expressions such as "I was already in as much hot water as you'd need to boil a bucket of yabbies" or "where we stuck out like a banjo at a funeral". Lots of fun. You don't need to read The Cartographer first but I recommend it also.





Thinking about expressions reminds me of Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, one of my favourite books. It is neither a dictionary nor an encyclopaedia but is packed full of information about popular expressions which may have come from myth, legend, language or culture. We have several editions of this including the 19th edition (it was first published in 1870) and a special one which is Brewer's Dictionary of Irish Phrase and Fable.

Kel Richards, a local author and radio host, who has written both crime stories and children's stories has previously written a Dictionary of Australian Phrase and Fable and has now enlarged on this with The Story of Australian English which is a chatty, easily read sketch of the history and development of Aussie Lingo. He suggests a base of regional British dialects, Aboriginal words and convict words and develops this into an outline sketch of history and language. He quotes and recommends other Australian authors of books about language such as E. E. Morris' Austral English or Sydney Baker's Australian Language. Austral English was published even before the one and only Oxford English Dictionary was completed.

This is a very entertaining and useful book with numerous lists of interesting words, including the list of Flash Language compiled by James Hardy Vaux, an early convict (he arrived in 1801) who maintained his determination to lead a life of crime. I've always puzzled why the beautiful yellow-blossomed tree that I call a wattle is also called acacia. Kel proposes that this comes from the building technique known as wattle and daub (wattling is the verb to describe the action of threading the branches through the uprights which are then packed with mud).

While you are browsing in Abbey's excellent Linguistics section you could also look at Pam Peters' Cambridge Guide to Australian English Usage or Susan Butler's recent The Aitch Factor: Adventures in Australian English. Some of Kel's contributions to Australian children's literature are Father Koala's Nursery Rhymes, Three Kangaroos Gruff and Big Book of Aussie Dinosaurs. Lindy will show you these in our children's book section.





Really nice is the news that Lily Brett has been awarded the Prix Medicis Etranger for her novel Lola Bensky. She is the first Australian and only the third woman to receive this famous prize. No money but lots of honour. Her latest book is a collection of anecdotes about the city she loves and now calls home. It is called Only In New York and is a delightful record of some of her walks and shopping around town. I am a big fan of all of Lily's books. She does show how very effective the light touch can be.

Lola Bensky is closest to her own life, as a rock journalist in the sixties. Her father is a large character in all her stories, including when she returned to Auschwitz with him. This story is called Too Many Men and appears to be out of print at the moment. Nonetheless my niece in New Zealand, who rescued a copy from the basement of Auckland Library, is reading this and says it is delightful despite the subject. She has been through all of Lily's books now. Another title used to be called You Gotta Have Balls but now it is called Uncomfortably Close. Lily is also a well-regarded poet and short story writer. Look for her books.







Keep well,

Eve



Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers


Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Friday, 6 February 2015

Notes from Eve Abbey - February 2015

People Passing... January marked the passing of two famous book people, loyal customers of Abbeys.

I am sure many of our readers will have memories of Jim Thorburn who began Pocket Bookshop in 1958, first in Angel Place, Penfold Place, Hosking Place but most importantly at 137a King Street. And Thorburn's Technical Bookshop in Castlereagh Street was the first technical shop in Sydney. Jim's shop was a meeting place for many thinkers, he was Ron Abbey's first friend in Sydney, and when he retired in 1979 he became a customer here whenever he came to town. Jim's contribution to W.E.A., University of the Third Age and the State Library was only part of the role he played in the intellectual life of our city. Glasgow-born Jim was almost 91.

Painter Tom Carment and author of our Christmas bestseller, Seven Walks, tells me he remembers buying a book by Krishnamurti from Jim who allowed himself to indulge in a Marxist rave on how books like that were not going to change the world! Famous Australian poet Robert Gray says Jim told him Bertrand Russell was a gadfly! Others will remember Jim with his head on one side so as to read the titles on all the spine-out books on the shelves. Or speaking in the Domain for the Socialist Party of Australia. Have you read Robert's autobiography? It is called The Land I Came Through Last.

Jim's Pocket Bookshop played an important role in the increasing acceptance of paperbacks. At first they were regarded as cheap and nasty, (like pulp fiction, which has, ironically, now become a fashionable word). Gradually the big publishers began issuing fiction and non-fiction in the good paperbacks which we now take as usual. When we first opened Abbey's in Pitt Street in 1968 we sold only paperbacks except for hardback remainders, i.e. those books left over after sales of the first printings taper off. This was regarded as rather bad form, as authors do not receive royalties on remainder sales but remainder sales brought people into the shop and we all love a bargain don't we?




And also in January marvellous Colleen McCullough died peacefully at her home in Norfolk Island. We all remember the excitement when her second novel, The Thorn Birds, became such an international best-seller. It was the first Australian work to achieve such sales, seemingly now over thirty million, and which still continues to sell. She wrote many novels including her seven-novel Masters of Rome series. Before her literary fame she was a neurophysiological researcher and worked at Yale University, where the success that a colleague achieved with his book tempted her to begin writing. Who was it? Erich Segal, author of Love Story!

Even when Colleen was in her wheelchair she always came into Abbey's on her trips to Sydney to check out the books. Many of the books in her famous private library on Ancient Rome came from here. We send Ric Robinson our consolations. And Norfolk Island Library is a good customer too.





And more exciting news! Sydney writer Elizabeth Harrower has really been taken up by The New YorkerIt is very hard to get a short story into that famous magazine but the February 2nd edition contains one of Elizabeth's short stories (rescued from the National Library by Text Publishing) It is called Alice. A sad and memorable story. If you get the New Yorker on-line you can hear Elizabeth reading it herself! I hear Text plan to publish a collection of her short stories. That will be a treat! I remember when Amy Witting had a short story in the New Yorker... how long ago was that? Maybe 1990? Soon after Penguin published I for Isobel but now Text publish this Australian classic and soon it will be followed by Isobel on the Way to the Corner Shop. Amy Witting died in 2001.

Even more exciting news just to hand via Sian McNabney, one of Abbey's appreciated booksellers. There is to be a sequel to Harper Lee's amazingly famous To Kill a Mockingbird. It will be issued in July 2015 and is called Go Set a Watchman. In it Scout is a grown woman, returning to her home town to visit her father, Atticus Finch. It all seems genuine. It is claimed this was written before To Kill a Mockingbird and not accepted for publication so Lee began again with Scout as a child.





Talking of remainders... in our Bargains section we have an excellent paperback called 1215: The Year of Magna Carta for only $10. This is by Danny Danziger and John Gillingham and is a treasure house of detail about medieval domestic life which also puts the Charter beside other events happening at that time, such as Genghis Khan entering Beijing. It was published in 2003 so they were a bit ahead of the due date! It is this year, 2015, which is the 800 year anniversary of Magna Carta. It is interesting that the Americans revere the Charter so much. There is a special rotunda at Runnymede erected by the American Bar Association as a "tribute to Magna Carta, a symbol of Freedom Under Law".


I've been re-reading Andrew McGahan's The White Earth, which won the Miles Franklin in 2005, the first year I was on the judging panel. It is the story of a boy living on a far-from successful farm on the Darling Downs who goes to live with his great-uncle on a large station nearby. It is the 1990s when Native Title Act was coming in and rumblings of One Nation began. I was inspired to re-read this because those grand Bunya Bunya trees and their role in Aboriginal corroborees are important characters in the story and I have found four Bunya Bunya trees in a small back street in Manly! These ancient trees are way south of their usual habitat - they must have been there before the street was there! Fortunately they are protected now and the council today was busy gathering the big nuts before they fall on the parked cars!







Keep well,

Eve



Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers


Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Monday, 12 January 2015

Notes from Eve Abbey ~ January 2015

I have had great pleasure reading Robert Dessaix’s latest book.

It is a memoir called What Days Are For and is a delightful blend of erudition and plain forthright opinions on love, infatuation, travel, religion, spirituality, friendship and literature. Of course. On a visit to Sydney, to watch the preparations for his new play, Robert suffered a heart attack in Oxford Street. Fortunately he was rescued but then became “an interesting patient” as he defeated death, despite being allergic to his medication.

I’m hoping you have already read his much earlier memoir A Mother’s Disgrace about his childhood as a much-loved adopted child of older parents who encouraged his unusual obsessions, such as inventing his own country and language and learning the Russian language. If not, do read it as it will add to your enjoyment. It is totally enjoyable to hear Robert’s voice again.

You might also like to read the little travel book, a biography of Hobart, in the series issued by NewSouth Books. This is written by Robert’s indispensable partner Peter Timms and is a mix of history and description about the city where they live.




I read a most interesting book called The Map Thief which is about a rather ambitious American with the grand name of E. Forbes Smiley III who became rich and famous as a dealer in antique maps. Antique maps are valued not only for their beauty and their history and even for their practical uses but also for their rarity. Their value can be enormous and they can be irreplaceable so of course there is a special sub-culture of collectors. A very special coterie I think. Unfortunately E. Forbes Smiley III succumbed to the thrill of stealing maps from libraries and universities.

The book includes fascinating historical details about maps and a fascinating account of his fall from grace. He did eventually spend time in prison but many librarians felt it was not enough punishment for the heinous crime of stealing cultural heritage. If you do happen to be a map connoisseur there is great information in here as well as extensive historical detail about early maps from Ptolemy through Mercator to modern times. Remember a similar story about an obsessive collector in Susan Orlean’s The Orchid Thief which was on the bestseller list a few years ago?

After reading The Map Thief I was attracted to a new series for middle readers called The Mapmaker Chronicles by A. L. Tait. The first book in the series is called Race to the End of the World wherein a farm boy is included in the crew of a vessel seeking to find the edge of the world. Why? Because he has a fantastic memory. I’m starting granddaughter Elise on this.




Historian Clare Wright’s book The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka has won several prizes and been short-listed for more. And rightly so. It is a terrific book which tells a great deal more about society in 1850’s Australia than just the Eureka Stockade story which is, nonetheless, described with great verve. It is such a pleasure to read history when the author’s voice comes through so strongly. Fascinating to read the population of Ballarat was more than 30,000 and forty five percent was women and children.

Adventurous young females migrating to Australia, tired of leading submissive lives in England suddenly found themselves much in demand as partners for hardworking men digging for gold. A big improvement on being a scullery maid, despite having to live in tents in the rain! Even better educated women were happy to brave the hardships rather than conform to society’s rules.

The community of Ballarat was well served with women taking leading roles such as theatre manager, poet or editor of the local paper. It’s a dramatic story often told with humour and because diaries, letters and petitions are quoted there is a good sense of the temper of the times. I really enjoyed it. Also recommended is a new edition of a Melbourne University Press publication of Claire Wright’s Ph.D. thesis called Beyond the Ladies Lounge: Australia’s Female Publicans. Now published in paperback by Text Publishing it is a fascinating story of one of the few avenues for women to succeed in business. It’s on my list.




I’ve just read a review of Colonial Duchesses: The Migration of Irish Women to New South Wales Before the Great Famine by Elizabeth Rushen. It is a study of the schemes that brought free, single women to the colony during the 1830’s. How were they chosen, how were they treated, how did they find work? The Government would support them for three months. No more. Lots of fascinating stories about these adventurous, young women who were, of course, both industrious and virtuous! Later on the schemes catered for families but right then brave young women were better value! I’m sure I’ll enjoy this. It will add to the stories in The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka.


There has been a lot of talk about the fall of the Berlin Wall twenty five years ago. Have you read Anna Funder’s brilliant book Stasiland? If not, put it on your list. She was researching this in Berlin and because she was young, and beautiful, and from Australia many of the men she interviewed assumed her book would never be published. So... they told her the most amazing, confidential things about the East German Secret Police. Naturally, her book was published and won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-fiction that year. Not to be missed.




The great P D James, grande dame of crime, died in November, aged 94. She brought a great deal of pleasure to many readers, all of whom loved her. Peter Milne rang to remind me that when P D James visited Abbey’s years ago so many people turned up we had to decide to invest in a sound system for future author visits and when P D came again a few years later we booked out the Bowler's Club down the road. It was the biggest roll up for any author.

The nearest was Janet Evanovich whose books feature the feisty female bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum. Evanovich had, unbeknown to us, mentioned on radio that she would be at Abbey’s on Saturday and had been featured in a women’s magazine. More than 300 people turned up. We had expected about 100! So checkout the P D James titles and make sure you have read them all. The ones featuring Adam Dalgleish are the most popular.



Do you have bushwalking friends? If so, there is a wonderful present for them. This is Seven Walks: Cape Leeuwin to Bundeena by Tom Carment and with photographs by Michael Wee. Artist Tom Carment’s delightful drawings are very much in vogue these days and his writing is fresh and perceptive. It is a beautiful book that has been racing out of the shop.



Really exciting news is that New Yorker Magazine not only ran a long essay in October 'Rediscovering Elizabeth Harrower' but in the December edition James Wood put her fifth novel In Certain Circles at the top of his list of favourite books of 2014. He still thinks The Watch Tower is her finest and describes her as a brilliant, austere writer. Text Publishing have done a great job of promoting this great Australian writer.




Keep well,

Eve



Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers


Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Friday, 5 December 2014

Lindy Jones picks her Top Fives for 2014

Lindy Jones ~ Australian Bookseller's Association Inaugural Bookseller of the Year 2011

Before we get to Lindy's picks we thought you might like to know that Lindy Jones has been invited to join the Miles Franklin Award panel of judges. This will be a big task for Lindy, one of our Senior Booksellers, but it will be one she will relish. Lindy will join Richard Neville (State Librarian), Craig Munro, Murray Waldren and Susan Sheridan on the Judge Panel.



Well it must be that time of the year again: busy, busy, busy! Another couple of hundred books read, another request for best-ofs, so here's a handful of recommendations of books I particularly enjoyed throughout 2014.

Five Books by One Author I Hadn't Read Before.

Ben Aaronovitch

Great fun! I gave these to a friend's mother who gave them to her teenage grandson, and we all thoroughly enjoyed them. A bit of the supernatural, an engaging cast of characters, police and murders in London, and the odd Dr Who reference…


River of London series at Abbey's Bookshop, 131 York Street, Sydney



Five Novels (of the Serious sort).

Favel Parrett
Elegant, deceptively simple novel of family and friendships.

Anthony Doerr
Poetic and moving: war’s effect on innocents.

Christine Piper
Worthy winner of this year's Vogel Award. Japanese experience of being interned in WWII Australia.

Sebastian Barry
Glorious prose and a poignant story of love lost and promise unfulfilled.

Inga Simpson
An artist's attempt to reconcile her present with mysteries from her past. Beautifully crafted.






Four Novels (of a Lighter nature) and One Non-fiction of a guilty pleasure kind.

Jonas Jonasson
Witty and entertaining, a delight of improbable unbelievability!

Alan Bradley
The conclusion to the Flavia de Luce mysteries; our young chemically talented sleuth faces more mayhem.

Brooke Davis
Charmingly off-centre novel about not waiting for stuff to happen, but making it happen.

Nick Earls
Sharply observant but humorous novel about navigating middle age (and technology)!

Ian 'Molly' Meldrum
Pure entertainment, literally! Go on, you know the chorus: do yourself a favour!






Five YA Novels (or Why should teens have all the fun?).

John Corey Whaley
A quirky premise but a serious topic: maturity for adolescents.

Rupert Wallis
A werewolf novel that doesn't even mention werewolves.

E Lockhart
Spiky and energetic writing carries along a clever, gripping and twisty story.

Justine Larbalestier
1930s Sydney - hard men, fast women, ghosts and strays. A clever mix.

Amy Ewing
Dystopia, repression, forbidden love and resistance. Because there has to be one on the list! And my niece loved it.






Five Novels for Other Young Readers.

J A White
Atmospheric imaginative fantasy - probably one of my favourite favourites!

Robin Stevens
Enid Blyton meets Agatha Christie: most enjoyable!

A F Harrold
Illustrated story about what happens when imaginary friends disappear, or their friends do.

Jen Storer
The secret spy returns! More mysterious happening, more strange things to investigate!

Zana Fraillon
Thoughtful rather than entertaining, strong characters and tragedies overcome.






Five Picture Books (or Why should the pre-schoolers have all the fun?).

Bob Graham
Because I love Bob Graham's books. And this one has a sparrow, a dog and Elsie.

Jory John & Benji Davies
An exhausted bear, a bouncy duck and a lot of fun!

Anna Kang
Read this out to your little boy. Lots of repetition, opposition and attitude!

Oliver Jeffers
A new Oliver Jeffers: say no more!

Libby Gleeson & Freya Blackwood
Beautifully rendered picture book about the power of sisters (for bad and good).






Five Non-fiction (because sometimes I enjoy Real Stuff) Or maybe Six. Or Seven.

Helen MacDonald
Poetic, powerful and moving meditation on grief, falconry and the sorrowful writer T H White.

Dr Munjed Al Muderis
A once-demonised refugee’s story: harrowing and uplifting.

John Pickrell
Popular science at its clearest – and truly fascinating! Who'd've thought T-Rex wore feathers?

Helen Garner
Only Garner could make me read about such tragic awfulness and feel I've learnt more about the human condition.

Elizabeth Kolbert
Absorbing and terrifying examination of man's impact on the other inhabitants of this earth.

Tess Lea

David Whish-Wilson
Illuminating and idiosyncratic depictions of two of our lesser known capitals.







Buy these books at Abbey's (131 York Street Sydney) ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers

Abbey's ~ An Aladdin's cave for readers