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My roll with non-fiction books continues this month. I have been reading Milk: A 10,000-year food fracas by Mark Kurlansky. You may have read books by this author before. He has a fascination for writing about just one thing. In this instance it’s milk, but previously it has been paper, cod and salt.

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Archive Discoveries

  • Australian historical novelist Pamela Hart tells us about her latest novel, A Letter From Italy, and Australia's first female war correspondent.  Read on >
  • Biographies have long fascinated readers, serving as guides for how to live our own lives or often just giving us an intriguing peek into the world of extraordinary people. In this round-up we look at a comedian with a disability, a magician with a learning disorder, the real man behind Walter White of Breaking Bad and more. But we’re bending the biography rules a bit by also including a book by a philosopher that will prompt you to think about living a better life, a book about Aussies at war and an account of Queensland police leading lives of corruption. Read on >
  • The BBC released a survey earlier this year in which they asked readers to name the books they had lied about having read. You can see the list below. I think I have read around half, as some I may have read in my youth that I’ve forgotten about (more about that later). How many of them have you read? The truth, please! 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 >
  • AOIFE CLIFFORD is the winner of the Scarlet Stiletto Award for one of her crime stories, but All These Perfect Strangers is her first novel. The Melbourne-based crime novelist talks with us about New Year’s resolutions, her Irish poet grandfather and the similarities between writing a novel and creating a papier-mâché puppet.  Read on >
  • Alison Evans is a genderqueer writer, lover of bad movies, and co-founder of the zine Concrete Queers. Here Alison tells us about her new spec-fic novel, Ida, and non-binary identities in YA fiction. Read on >
 BURKE is an
art historian,
photographer and
award-winning novelist.
Her latest book, Kiffy Rubbo,
which she has co-edited with Helen Hughes, collects contributions 
from leading figures in the artistic community that all focus on the dynamic figure of Kiffy Rubbo (1944-80), a pioneering curator
in Melbourne in the 1970s. We asked Janine to tell us about this new book and the books that have shaped her life. Read on >
  • PEPPER HARDING is the pen name of a writer from San Francisco. The Heart of Henry Quantum, Pepper’s new novel, follows a scatterbrained husband’s erratic journey through the streets of San Francisco as he hunts down his wife’s Christmas present – a bottle of Chanel No. 5. Along the way he runs into his former lover, Daisy. We asked the author about his new novel and the eccentric thought journeys that appears throughout its pages. Read on >
  • Communicating the most exciting new developments in science to non-scientific readers can be a challenge. But Know This: Today’s most interesting and important scientific ideas, discoveries, and developments, takes up the challenge and lets dozens of eminent scientists tell us what they think are the most interesting recent developments in science. Here are two extracts from the book. 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 >
  • UK journalist and editor MARINA BENJAMIN looks at the joys, losses and opportunities of middle age in her new book, The Middlepause. In this extract she writes about the secret misogynistic history of HRT.   Read on >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • I found this book mesmerising. I was absolutely appalled by the main character’s thoughts and behaviour, yet blown away by John Boyne’s literary skills. To me it is an unforgettable read. Read on >

  • Transcription tells the story of Juliet Atkinson, a resourceful girl who is whisked away from the dull hours at her typewriter transcribing for MI5 to become an active participant in the investigation of Nazi sympathisers in 1940s London. Transcription is definitely worth a look for the prose alone, although it’s not as good as Life After Life. I’m yet to pick up A God in Ruins, but this read makes me more likely to do so. Read on >

  • Paris Echo centres around the lives of Hannah and Tariq, who are living in Paris. Hannah is an American academic on a fellowship to research women’s lives during the German occupation in the 1940s. Tariq is a 19 year old from Morocco who illegally stows away on a quest for adventure and to learn about his dead French mother. Hannah and Tariq’s lives soon become intertwined and Hannah begrudgingly allows Tariq to lodge in her apartment. The novel charts their personal journeys as they navigate the city and learn the nuances of its history. Read on >

  • The Apology is an unsettling read. Watkins deals sensitively and deeply with sexuality, sexual misconduct, and the guilt that follows. Read on >

  • My Purple Scented Novel is bright and light – some of his earlier works earned him the name ‘Ian Macabre’. But it still bears his careful characterisation and restrained yet lively prose. It’s easily devoured on a short bus ride or over morning coffee. Read on >

  • In The Mere Wife, Headley finds a whole ecosystem under the formative tale of Beowulf by re-centring the narrative on just about everything other than Beowulf himself. Headley is a seasoned fantasy writer and we get to hear from the mountains, the lakes, the animals, the children, the women, and the monsters, as perspective shifts each chapter. Read on >

  • The Wounded Sinner is the name of an old, decaying house which has been in the Andrews family for generations. Henderson personifies it as a dying being with hard, dry skin of paint peeling away, and loose window panes rattling in shrunken gums. The first inhabitant, Nathaniel Andrews, was an unrepentant rake, so Reverend Stone called him a ‘wounded sinner’ in need of God’s redemption. Read on >

  • Briseis is an interesting narrator, cool, calm and very matter of fact. She breathes life into the women who are at the edges of the Trojan Wars – women who are barely mentioned in history’s recounting of events, yet it was the women who loved, hated, fed, tended to and buried these famous men. An interesting new take on a very old tale. Read on >

  • French Exit is a satire with touches of light humour and fans of the author will be delighted that he has again put pen to paper. I, however, did not enjoy reading the book. I thought the peripheral characters were far more intriguing than Frances or Malcolm … and the cat should’ve been euthanised by page three. It’s a slim novel with short chapters and just 244 pages. Read on >

  • This is a charming novel that deftly portrays the relationship between the women with skill and care. It is, however, entirely predictable; nothing happened that I could not see coming. Having said that, I found it a pleasant read, and an enjoyable way to while away an afternoon. Read on >

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