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Church attendance has been plummeting for decades, yet enrolments for church-based schools are soaring. Nearly all non-churchgoers say that they like having a church in their suburb – although they never go inside it. Leading social researcher HUGH MACKAY takes a look at our contradictory attitudes to religion in his new book, Beyond Belief. In this article, Hugh recounts a part of his own spiritual journey and how he came to write the book.
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Articles in this issue

Archive Discoveries

  • Heart surgeon PROFESSOR STEPHEN WESTABY has worked for 35 years to save ailing hearts and, in many cases, give his patients a second chance at life. In his new memoir, Fragile Lives, Westaby recounts remarkable and poignant cases, such as the baby who had suffered multiple heart attacks before reaching six months of age. We asked him to tell us a bit about his life as a surgeon. Read on >
  • From an investigation into the scandals of the Catholic Church by Tom Keneally to Jeffrey Archer’s thrilling last instalment in the ‘Clifton Chronicles’ series or a tale of a shrewd female locksmith in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, these books will delight you over the long, languid days of summer. Read on >
  • KIRI FALLS was introduced to the works of English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65) when she saw the 2004 BBC production of North & South. Last year, the 150th anniversary of Gaskell’s death, Kiri decided to make a pilgrimage to the newly renovated Manchester home of the great lady. Read on >
  • While researching for a non-fiction book about the botanical history of some of the world’s most popular alcoholic drinks, US author AMY STEWART stumbled across a gin smuggler’s altercation with an officious woman named Constance Kopp. This discovery catalysed her historical crime-fiction series, set in New Jersey in 1915, based on Constance and her two sisters. As the second instalment in the series, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, is released, ANGUS DALTON finds out more. Read on >
  • RITU MENON loves to travel and she loves to sample the local fare of the places her journeys take her to.Her new book, Loitering with Intent: Diary of a happy traveller, is derived from over a decade of travel journal writing. Here she recounts how she came to write the book and recalls a couple of fabulous Italian feasts. Read on >
  • The Sound, the second book from novelist SARAH DRUMMOND, is set around Western Australia’s King George
Sound. Based on a true story, the novel tells of Wiremu Heke, a Maori man from across the Tasman who sails from Tasmania to WA in 1825 on a mission of vengeance. We asked Sarah to tell us about Wiremu and about The Sound. 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 >
  • In the early 1900s, the luminescent properties of radium – a highly radioactive metal – had just been discovered, and entrepreneurs were quick to identify its marketing potential. They flooded supermarket shelves with radium-based products, and thousands of young women in North America were hired to paint clock dials with radium. The girls would go home with their hands aglow, oblivious to the bone-destroying radiation they had been exposed to. We spoke with London-based author KATE MOORE about these workers’ stories, which appear in her new book, The Radium Girls. Read on >
  • When she was 16, MADELAINE DICKIE went to Denpasar, the capital 
of Bali, on a language exchange program.
 Since then she has been fascinated with Indonesia; she has lived and studied in our northern neighbour for three years and
 she speaks Indonesian fluently. Her first novel, Troppo, tells the story of Penny, an Australian expat who flees from her career- minded boyfriend in Perth to a seemingly carefree 
life of surfing in Indonesia. Madelaine tells us how she came to write the novel. Read on >
  •  Looking for an engrossing historical fiction read? gr has rounded-up eight of the best for you to try.   The books in Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ series have undergone a renaissance recently after
being adapted into a BBC
TV series that has gained a cult following. When Claire Randall is thrown back in time from 1945 to 1743 she finds herself in a very different Scotland, where she is branded as an outlander or Sassenach (a derogatory word for an English person) in a country run by clans and invaded by Redcoats. Try this series if you like a well-researched historical sagas that have swashbuckling adventure and a bit of romantic romping. Read on >
  • This first foray into crime fiction by Australian author Melina Marchetta, best known for her award-winning fiction for young adults, is a cracking read.   Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

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