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Adelaide-based author of One Boy Missing and Datsunland, STEPHEN ORR, on finding the literary corners of Paris and evaluating the décor of Victor Hugo's bedroom.
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Articles in this issue

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Archive Discoveries

  • 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 >
  • 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 >
  • 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 >
  • SABRINA HAHN has been WA’s go-to dispenser of green-thumb advice to radio listeners for more than 20 years. Now, in Sabrina’s Dirty Deeds, she shows you what to do in your garden and when to do it. In this extract she outlines how to encourage good predatory insects. Read on >
  • Who would have thought that in the largely homogeneous country of China that there could be a group of people who could trace their lineage back to invading Romans? TONY GREY uncovered this intriguing bit of information while travelling in China, and here he tells how he came to write his historical novel, The Tortoise in Asia, which tells the story of Romans travelling along the Silk Road in ancient times. 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 >
  • 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 >
  • The author of The Woman Who Changed Her Brain: And other inspiring stories of pioneering brain transformation, busts long-held conceptions about how our minds function. 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 a officious woman named Constance Kopp. This discovery catalysed her historical crime-fiction series based around Constance and her two sisters, set in New Jersey in 1915. As the second instalment in the series, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, is released, Angus Dalton finds out more. 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 >
  • 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 >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • This is a stunning novel. The Victorian world is alive on every page, from the treasures displayed at the Great Exhibition to the squalor and misery on dark streets. The writing is as beautiful and evocative as the art it describes. Despite The Doll Factory’s historical setting, its themes of love, obsession and the power balance between men and women remain relevant in the modern world. The characters are sympathetically drawn, even when they display the worst of human nature, and Iris is a captivating heroine. Read on >

  • I was really surprised at the direction this story took. The plot was interesting, allowing characters to show a genuine human fragility and compassion for the life circumstances in which they found themselves. While the two women were the primary focus, each reflected on the relationship they had with their former husbands, albeit created through different circumstances. A lovely Australian novel from an accomplished writer. Read on >

  • The mystery is well devised and central to this novel, and the book gives us a lovely, often witty and quite reverential homage to an Australian suburban childhood in the 1990s. You can go back in time with the turn of a charmingly written page. Read on >

  • This is a wonderfully rich thriller. Bartz drags the reader onto the meandering paths memories take as we shape and reshape our sense of loss after the death of a loved one. She leaves us to walk beside Lindsay as she digs out the truth hidden inside the walls of her own grief, hoping that we all make it to the other side in one piece. Read on >

  • The Wall allows us to recognise both the potential and the danger in what our modern world is tipping towards. This story will entice readers who enjoy diving into issue-focused dystopic speculative fiction and challenges us to think about what it means to exclude others, and what may be gained from welcoming outsiders and working together. Read on >

  • There is passion and an abiding affection for all libraries in this new work by the author of the bestselling book about orchid obsession, The Orchid Thief. The LA Central Library opens its doors freely to homeless people and provides services for them. This is challenging sometimes for staff but is part of the commitment by libraries around the world to be open to all people. Read on >

  • This book had me captivated and brought home to me the wonder of symbiosis. It is a must for all libraries so as the children can understand how these incredible relationships have evolved. Read on >

  • There’s plenty of political analysis in Blackout but it comes without a hint of spin. He strives to make the story of electricity and energy policy accessible and engaging in a way that cuts through the jargon and ideological bias that so often mars discussion of these issues. Warren admits that even he isn’t ‘fluent in Electricity’ – because it is indeed a language, and a technical and unromantic one. But the production of electricity has a fascinating story. Read on >

  • This novella is about a lifelong friendship between a girl called Mary and a golden snake called Lanmo − a friendship which teaches them how ‘wonderful and terrible and strange’ love is. Read on >

  • Belinda’s absent father refuses to pay for her schooling so she leaves her village in Ghana to become a housegirl in Aunty and Uncle’s house in Kumasi. She represses painful memories of her village, and is a compliant and meticulous housegirl. Read on >

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