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It’s a city that is so well known that even people who have never visited it can name at least a few of its major attractions. But, as JANELLE MCCULLOCH shows in her new book, London Secrets, the British capital has plenty of intriguing and delightful surprises – even for those who think they know the city like the back of their hand. In this extract from the book, Janelle steps inside some of London’s bookshops.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • In her latest novel, Melbourne author JANE RAWSON adds an air of otherworldliness to the story of her ancestor who survived a 19th-century shipwreck. She talks to MAUREEN EPPEN about history, aliens and the benefits of having been a ‘hack writer’ for 25 years.  Read on >
  • Most of Lonely Planet’s publications can fit snugly at the bottom of a backpack, but The Travel Book is a volume best left at home on the coffee table to inspire adventures.  Read on >
  • Recent research has revealed the astonishing capabilities of dogs. We know that they can help vision- impaired people, but they can also sniff out cancer and even help to locate missing people. CAT WARREN in What the Dog Knows recounts how she adopted an unruly German shepherd puppy, Solo, who is eventually trained to locate human corpses. Read on >
  • For many of the families of servicemen killed in World War I, a terse telegram from the government was never going to be enough to assuage their grief. Families wrote back in their thousands, seeking more information about the fate of their loved ones. It was the task of James M Lean to reply to these families and, as author CAROL ROSENHAIN outlines in The Man Who Carried the Nation’s Grief, he did so with extraordinary empathy and sensitivity. Read on >
  • Ed Yong – science reporter for The Atlantic and blogger for National Geographic – has just published his first book, I Contain Multitudes: The microbes within us and a grander view of life. We asked him to tell us about his reading life.   What are you
reading now?
 Patient H.M. by 
Luke Dittrich, because 
my editor for my own 
book sent me a galley
 copy! I’m glad she
 did. Henry Molaison 
was arguably the most
influential patient in
all of neuroscience.
 After an operation to
cure his epilepsy, he lost the ability to form new memories – think Memento – and so taught us much about how our memories work. Dittrich is the grandson of the surgeon who operated on Molaison, and he brings a deeply personal flavor to the incisive reporting and colourful writing that characterise this book. What are your three favourite books?
 The Song of the Dodo: Island biogeography in the age of extinctions by David Quammen is natural history writing at its finest – a witty, insightful tour of the planet’s islands and what they tell us about our increasingly fragmented world. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell offers genre-hopping stories but delivers a deep fable about hope and nihilism; I stared silently out a window for the longest time when I finished 
it. Being Wrong: Adventures in the margin of error by Kathryn Schulz is a wondrous study of human error that blends literature, science and philosophy. Read on >
  • RICHARD ROXBURGH has been extraordinarily versatile over the
decades of his acting career. The Albury-born actor has played both Sherlock Holmes and his nemesis, Professor Moriarty, appeared as Count Dracula in the 2004 movie Van Helsing and played the lead role in Rake, a TV show he co-created. But he’s just as talented
on the page as he is on screen and stage; Roxburgh has written and illustrated a new kids’ book, Artie and the Grime Wave. We asked him about his influences and what lead him to this new project. Read on >
  • I switched on to watch ABC TV’s The Drum one evening and discovered Jodi Picoult sitting on the panel discussion.What a great performer she is – not only an impressive writer but also an impressive speaker.The discussion at the table was raging around whether a white author has the right, or could even have the understanding, to write about black characters. As a white woman, how could she really know what’s it’s like to be a black woman, let alone a black man? How could she write black characters and make them authentic without knowing how they feel? Read on >
  • After reading a few thrillers lately I got to thinking about writers in the crime and thriller genres and the research they need to do to make their books seem real. Research can be an exciting part of writing any book. Determining how a killer might think and how their victim could become entrapped is one thing, but I can’t imagine looking at dead people or reading detailed reports of the methods that serial killers use to stalk and murder their prey.That’s the sort of awful stuff police deal with and psychologically struggle with for the rest of their lives. But could even researching this sort of thing affect a writer?  Read on >
  • JOHN KINSELLA is the author of 30 books and is the three-time winner of the WA Premier's Book Award for Poetry. He's a fellow at Cambridge's Churchill college and the editor of international literary journal Salt. The self-described vegan/anarchist/pacifist tells Good Reading asked him about his new short story collection, Old Growth.   Read on >
  • The nose is a wonderful thing. A new study has found that the human nose can distinguish between at least one trillion different smells. I love nothing more than sticking my nose inside a blooming rose as I walk Baxter along the street. But I also have a passionate hatred of the choking diesel fumes disgorged from nearby cruise ships. So even though I may be able to detect over a trillion odours, there are many of them I don’t want to smell! Kate Grenville’s new book, The Case against Fragrance, has had me pondering the aromas, the scents and odours that enter my nose – whether I want them to or not. In 2015 Kate started to get frequent headaches and other signs of ill health and, strangely, they seemed to get worse when she was on tour to promote her latest book.After some effort to isolate the cause, she discovered that it was perfumes or other fragrances that were the culprits. She felt debilitated. She loved to meet her readers but was bombarded with fragrances in crowded rooms. She was compelled to find out what it was about perfumes that could be causing her these health problems. She opened a can of worms. Read on >
  • Sydney-based novelist LAUREN SAMS, author of She’s Having Her Baby, has worked for magazines such as Marie Claire, Elle and Cosmopolitan. Her new book, Crazy Busy Guilty, reprises the heroine Georgie Henderson, who tries frantically to juggle work and family. We spoke recently with Lauren, who talked about the US election, writer’s block and wacky parenting strategies.  Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • I was hooked from the arresting first page, swept along by the shimmering language and visceral images, and I found myself thinking anew about this ancient tragedy long after I finished the book. Bright Air Black is a powerful and rewarding read. Read on >

  • A quiet afternoon and a box of tissues are essential for this read. Read on >

  • From the late 1930s to the 1950s, an adoption organisation in Memphis, Tennessee, coerced parents into giving up their children. If that strategy failed, they kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country, often to order. This crime was ignored and even supported by the local authorities, all in the interests of providing these children with a better future. Read on >

  • This quick read touches on many key issues in the news – racism, the PTSD suffered by our returning soldiers, and our political masters’ endless desire to terrorise their own population in order to get votes and accrue even more powers that circumvent basic freedoms. Read on >

  • To call In the Name of the Family a superior bodice ripper would be somewhat facetious because this is a very literary and brilliantly realised work of historical fiction. But Sarah Dunant does have a background in crime novels and a keen interest in fashion, and in this novel some very superior bodices do in fact get ripped – mainly in a metaphorical sense. Read on >

  • This story takes place in the recently invaded Ukraine in 1941. The stories of Yankel, Otto and Yasia at first seem very different from each other, but they gradually intersect in a powerful and moving tale of anticipation, heartache and survival. Read on >

  • This gentle story blends the lives of two families with that of a house in a Brisbane suburb, peeling back layers to reveal the characters’ thoughts and hopes. Read on >

  • This haunting yet ultimately hopeful tale of one family’s attempts to rise from the ashes of tragedy will resonate with anyone familiar with the destructive power of fire and all who are inspired by the spirit of those able to regenerate after desolation. Read on >

  • Down’s prose is sharp and intimate, the characters flawed and achingly familiar. For a book about mourning, it’s not overly sentimental or indulgent. Instead, the characters’ grief is ugly and bewildering. Our Magic Hour is a compelling, authentic portrayal of loss, dislocation and the unsteadiness of young adult life. Read on >

  • Down the Hume is a noir thriller, but the increasing suspense and the plot twist isn’t what kept the pages turning. It’s the thrill of reading something so charged and fast that interrogates our national identity through a character with such a distinctive voice. This contemporary story is far more relevant and noteworthy than the nostalgic bush narratives that are considered the epitome of Australian storytelling. Read on >

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