Over summer I read many books that were not due to be released until later in the year (one of the great privileges of being a bookseller). Several of those are out this month and I can’t wait to sell them to you (see New Animal and A Town Called Solace for other great new reads).
The Performance is best Australian novel I have read in a long time. Claire Thomas was nominated for the Miles Franklin Award with her previous novel, Fugitive Blue and I fully expect this latest novel to be on a slew of awards lists too. It all takes place on a single evening in late 2019, as the bushfires rage across the Eastern states and three women attend the same performance of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days. Their inner monologues blend together as we discover what preoccupies each and how they are known to each other. Real literary page turners don’t come along like this every day.
My other recent read is You’re Not Listening by journalist Kate Murphy, which looks at the crisis of listening in our society and the things that we lose from our unwillingness or inability to listen properly to each other. She interviews professional listeners, from CIA negotiators to hairdressers, in an effort to understand what it is that we stand to gain by investing time and effort in listening to one another. Overwhelmingly, her findings are that people who listen fully and actively are more connected and happier with their lives, jobs and relationships. She also analyses the mechanics of listening and gives suggestions about how to sincerely improve your listening skills. I think this book is something we can all learn from and I found it a fascinating read.
I recently read Milk Fed over a weekend. It was one of those books I just couldn’t put down! Rachel is our narrator, a cynical and lost twenty-four year old lapsed Jew. She’s obsessed with calorie counting and has her routine finely tuned to the numbers she abides by. She’s just been told by her therapist to have some distance from her mother, who has encouraged her weight control over her life. It is around this time that Rachel meets Miriam, who works at her favourite frozen yoghurt shop.
Miriam is the opposite of Rachel, living her life and loving her food. Rachel is both afraid and drawn in to Miriam’s world and slowly becomes totally entranced by her. Miriam is set on feeding Rachel and Rachel is set on Miriam. It is a sexy and hilarious coming of age story, full of absurdity and tenderness.
“A storybook! What good is that? Find something else, something useful that will help our expedition.”
The March of the Ants feels like an ode to the artist and those who know the transformative magic of a good book. A nod to the late Leo Lionni’s masterpiece, Frederick, Ursula Dubosarky has captured what many of us are feeling in this world of busy productivity & Covid; the arts, a humble book can sustain us and energise us to set out each day with hope in our hearts.
Beautifully illustrated, bringing a deep sense of validation for artists big and small but most importantly bringing hope to us all.
What prompted me to start reading this book was meeting Jonica at Mostly Books whilst she was signing copies of her book after speaking at Writers’ Week.
Her enthusiasm, warmth and openness inspired me to read her memoir. Although Jonica is an award-winning scientist she stressed to me that the book was a personal memoir and not a science book.
Jonica shares how she and others manage their lives whilst grappling with the fears, despondency and hopelessness we all experience at times when facing the reality of climate change. She provides hope and support in how to manage and navigate these emotions which connect us all and bonds us with a firm glue that gives us strength to be positive and live well for our future.