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Have you ever wished you could tell your favourite books just what they mean to you? Well, that’s exactly what ANNIE SPENCE has done in her new book Dear Fahrenheit 451. In this extract, Annie shares with us her love affair with Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.
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Archive Discoveries

  • 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 >
  • Serious social issues, including the plight of unwed mothers, domestic violence and the place of women in Australia's history are wrapped up in poignant romace in VICTORIA PURMAN's new novel, The Three Miss Allens. She spekas with MAUREEN EPPEN about the inspiration behind the family saga set on the South Australian coast. Read on >
  • Australian novelist NICOLA MORIARTY is the youngest of six siblings, two of whom – Jacyln and Liane – are also accomplished novelists. Her latest novel, The Fifth Letter, examines the relationships of a group of friends after a letter-writing dare uncovers a festering cache of secrets andr esentment. ANGUS DALTON reports. 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 >
  • As a teenager, GAYLE FORMAN was so obsessed with ‘80s movie star Molly Ringwald that she started to imitate the actress’s trademark nervous lip bite – and now she has a permanent scar. After seven bestselling YA novels and a successful movie adaption of one of her books, she talks with ANGUS DALTON about her first book for adults, Leave Me. 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 >
  • GEORGIA BLAIN is a novelist and journalist who lives in Sydney. Her first novel, Closed for Winter, was adapted into movie in 2009. LEONIE DYER asked Georgia about her latest novel, Between a Wolf and a Dog. Read on >
  • When she’s not training her inquisitorial blowtorch on politicians and other people who have questions to answer, ABC reporter and presenter SARAH FERGUSON loves to delve into a book. Her new book, The Killing Season Uncut, recounts the behind-the-scenes tales of the television program about the tumultuous Rudd–Gillard years. We asked the multi-award winning Four Corners reporter to tell us about the books that have influenced her. Read on >
  • 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. Read on >
  • Best known to TV audiences as Goliath fromthequiz show The Chase, MATT PARKINSON was also one half of the Empty Pockets comedy duo. He cleaned up as a champion on Sale of the Century in the 1990s and since then he has served as the brains trust on ABC TV’s The Einstein Factor. We asked this big man (he’s nearly two metres tall) with a big brain about the books that have made him the brainiac that he is.  Read on >
  • LUCY DURNEEN lectures in creative writing in Plymouth, England, and is the assistant editor of the literary journal Short Fiction. We asked her about the apparent resurgence of interest in short stories, her beginnings as a writer, and the blending of realism and fantasy in the stories in her new collection, Wild Gestures. Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • This story is dedicated to the Syrian people and to all refugees. Meeting the characters has increased my awareness of, and empathy for, the violence and injustice refugees face in their search for safety. Sensual descriptions of exotic foods and different landscapes, and thought-provoking philosophy increase the pleasure of this tale of courage and hope. Read on >

  • The tragic collapse of the West Gate Bridge during its construction in the 1970s killed 35 workers, many of whom were migrants. It was a tragedy that could have been avoided if the engineers and bosses of the construction team had had a greater focus on safety. Read on >

  • In a leafy and affluent area of Sheffield, two sets of neighbours meet over a back garden fence while one party is hosting a family barbeque. They are unalike in many ways - the Spinster family is white and English, and the Sharifullahs are from Bangladesh – but both have sprawling families, domestic worries and professional concerns. And both families are haunted by their histories – the Spinsters by decades of marital disharmony, and the Sharifullahs by the atrocities they encountered during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation in the 1970s. Read on >

  • Swan Song is based on 10 years’ research and it is brilliantly executed, with its multiple narrative threads and parallel time frames. It reads like a grand tragedy or, more precisely, a series of grand tragedies. However, the self-indulgent Capote soon becomes tiresome, as do the tales of gossip and pretence, and Swan Song becomes a chorus of denial and woe, its technical brilliance overshadowed by its subjects. Read on >

  • Cormac McCarthy springs to mind as an influence on this debut novel; his spare, harsh and uncompromising style is evident in every word. It is set in outback Queensland, and the atrocities detailed within strike right at the heart of Australia’s uneasy relationship with its own colonial history. Read on >

  • Flames is a slim book but it is an extremely evocative and imaginative work that builds the natural landscape into its narrative as a character in its own right. If there is a weakness, it may be that there is too much happening, too many details mutating inexplicably into others. That said, the richness of the imagery and the strange winding narrative that intertwines flight and flame, is undeniably powerful and it is refreshing to see the Australian landscape written about so vividly. Read on >

  • Take a couple of feisty young women born a century apart, add a dedicated naturalist, mix in a mysterious antipodean creature hailed as a hoax by the learned men of English science, and you have an historical romance set in Australia and England. Read on >

  • This is a well-written and considered novel, and enjoyable, however, there is so much going on that I felt that there were opportunities lost to know more about the major characters, to explore the potential of their relationship, and to explore in more depth their professions. Read on >

  • The Neighborhood is being marketed as a detective thriller, but this is a misleading description and perhaps creates a false impression about the novel. Read on >

  • It's 1942 and Eleanor Roy works for the Ministry of Food, arranging paintings and murals for the walls of Britain’s restaurants, bolstering hope during WWII. She lives with her sister, Cecily, a nurse recovering from losing her boyfriend in combat. On an expedition to convince artists to sign up to the program, she meets Jack Valante who, unlike the others clamouring to be paid for their passion at such a bleak time, refuses to enter into a contract. Read on >

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