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Life got you down? Need to reflect and recharge? Sometimes all it takes is a good book to lift your spirits and restore your sanity. We’ve compiled a collection of warm, funny, and feel-better books to help ease your mind and escape life’s stresses.
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Articles in this issue

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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 >
  • 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 >
  • Stretching across generations and set on the Atherton Tablelands where she lives, the latest novel from prolific Australian author BARBARA HANNAY is a saga of loss, love, secrets and salvation. She tells MAUREEN EPPEN 
about her writing life, and how The Grazier's Wife evolved.   Read on >
  • 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 >
  • Paul Mitchell is a poet, short story writer, and now a novelist with the release of We. Are. Family. Read on to find out about Paul's poetry, writing, and the way he explores family trauma and masculinity in Australia.  Read on >
  • The jazz era of the 1920s in America was
 filled with exuberant music, fast cars and young men and women determined to have a good time. But at the same time in working-class Far North Queensland, life wasn’t lived at quite the same level of opulence.
In a new novel, Treading Air, Queensland author ARIELLA VAN LUYN uses fiction to investigate the life of a real young woman from Townsville named Lizzie O’Dea, who shot another woman in 1924. Read on >
  • Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre has inspired all kinds of fan fiction and adaptations, such as the 1966 prequel Wide Sargasso Sea. But in this new novel by Sydney resident JENNIFER LIVETT, the lives of Jane Eyre characters become entwined with those of real 19th-century Tasmanians, including doomed Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin. Here Jennifer tells us how she came up with the idea for Wild Island. Read on >
  • Teachers of writing classes often tell their students ‘show, don’t tell’. But showing – which means providing vivid description so that readers can clearly imagine what is being represented – depends to a large extent on memory and an alertness to the present moment. Writer and memoir instructor PATTI MILLER, author of Ransacking Paris, shows here how you can draw on sensory memory to enhance your writing. 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 >
  • 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 >
  • 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 >

Book Reviews in this issue

  • Bridge of Clay is a story about stories, about love and brothers and redemption, and how every little person in every suburban corner is living a life worthy of a Homeric retelling. Commit to this book and the Dunbar boys and the world they inhabit will stay with you forever. Read on >

  • Chris Womersley is wonderfully descriptive writer. I often found myself rereading some of his sentences simply for the pleasure of it. Some of the stories like ‘The Very Edge of Things’ have that underlying creepiness to them that is satisfying and compelling.  Read on >

  • Jaclyn has a cult following from her work as a children’s fantasy writer, and while Gravity is the Thing is set squarely in the adult world of reality, this book carries a dusting of magic. Read on >

  • The Things We Cannot Say is ultimately a novel about doing what you can with whatever life hands you, both today and in times of war. Disappointingly, both storylines had completely predictable endings.  Read on >

  • Rohan Wilson has conjured a completely believable dystopian society, one that could easily come to pass.  Read on >

  • Home Fires intertwines their stories both before and after the devastating event, which irrevocably changed their lives and intensifies the drama of the action. This well-written, emotionally evocative novel had such powerful scenes I could easily imagine this translated onto the big screen. Read on >

  • This is a difficult book to read. There are long sections where very little happens, and almost nothing in the narrative really delves into the psychology of the runaways.        Read on >

  • This is a well-researched and beautifully crafted novel in which Gillham has imagined Anne’s story as a way to tell the stories of the millions whose potential was lost when they perished. Highly recommended. Read on >

  • This is an adorable, fable-like story that carries an ecological message and provokes a rush of empathy in the reader for the creatures we Yumans displace on such a massive scale. This would be a great book to read with kids, who’d have a fun time trying to guess what Fox 8 is trying to say (both metaphorically and literally, as his spelling really is atrocious - ‘fast and nated’ translates to fascinated, for example). George Saunders’s writing can be dark, but there is always a warm and emphatic appeal in his stories for empathy and hope. Read on >

  • Her detailed descriptions of the ghostly underwater environment, the food gathered from the seabed, the equipment and clothes used for diving, and the rituals carried out before the haenyeo dive are fascinating. Read on >

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The Paris Collaborator