Top 10: Non-Fiction

  1. West With the Night, Beryl Markham
  2. One Life: My Mother’s Story, Kate Grenville
  3. Island Home, Tim Winton
  4. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  5. Flesh Wounds, Richard Glover
  6. This is Gail, Juliette O’Brien
  7. Not Just Black and White, Tammy and Lesley Williams
  8. Second Half First, Drusilla Modjeska
  9. The Book of Human Emotions, Tiffany Watt Smith
  10. All Fall Down, Matthew Condon

Staff Shelf-Talker: Did You Ever Have a Family


June Reid’s seemingly perfect life is thrown into disarray on the morning of her daughter’s wedding when her ex-husband, daughter and partner perish in a blaze that destroys her home. June flees the town in an attempt to outrun her grief, and the story that follows is told through the recounts of her friends, neighbours and acquaintances; those who knew the deceased closely and those only casually affected by the tragedy. It is only through the untangling of these interwoven perspectives and opinions that some sense can be brought to what happened, why, and most importantly, how one can possibly start over again.

Clegg does a brilliant job at depicting the classic small holiday town through the careful selection of his narrators. By writing from the perspective of ‘invisibles’ – cleaning ladies, shop owners, motel staff, and local stoners – he brings authenticity to the setting.

Ultimately, Clegg has crafted a wonderful story of loss, healing and, ultimately, family. Clegg’s beautifully lyrical writing style adds to the novel’s impact and shows the reader the restorative power of sympathy and love.


Top 10: Fiction

  1. My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante
  2. Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff
  3. Thirteen Ways of Looking, Colum McCann
  4. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
  5. The Golden Age, Joan London
  6. The Story of the Lost Child, Elena Ferrante
  7. The Whites, Richard Price
  8. A God in Ruins, Kate Atkinson
  9. Brother of the More Famous Jack, Barbara Trapido
  10. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins

Staff Shelf-Talker: The First Bad Man, Miranda July

first bad

Filmmaker Miranda July’s wonderfully weird first novel is a surprisingly earnest tale of motherhood wrapped up in pitch black humour. Following the middle-aged, eccentric Cheryl, it weaves together a cast of hypnotically repulsive characters to form a taboo busting pastiche of genres.

When Cheryl is prevailed upon by her employers to put up their twenty-year-old daughter – the attractive, unhygienic Clee – an intense bond forms between the two women that defies easy categorisation. The new cohabitants’ psychological war is punctuated by bizarre text messages from Cheryl’s obliviously lecherous colleague and questionable advice from her therapist, Ruth-Anne, who herself is engaged in the sort of ‘adult game’ that Cheryl finds herself drawn into.

The novel might not always be even – the precise observational humour that characterises the first two thirds of the book starts to wobble when July gets serious – but there’s no questioning July’s originality. Funny, unique and heartfelt, it’s a promising new direction for a prolific creative voice.

Top 10: Fiction

  1. A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
  2. My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante
  3. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
  4. Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff
  5. Hope Farm, Peggy Frew
  6. Thirteen Ways of Looking, Colum McCann
  7. Brother of the More Famous Jack, Barbara Trapido
  8. The Whites, Richard Price
  9. The Lake House, Kate Morton
  10. Carol, Patricia Highsmith

Christine Bongers’ Summer Reads

Every month we’ll be profiling a local author and their recommended reading list, and first up is acclaimed local Young Adult writer Christine Bongers. Read on to hear all about the books she’s been rushing home to read over Christmas.

christine bongers.jpg

My tottering to-read pile is structurally sounder after two sun-soaked weeks at the beach. For your reading pleasure, here are some of the favourites I’ve recommended lately.


Crime aficionados please embed the name Candice Fox into your memory banks. The Australian author’s debut novel Hades is a knockout from its dark atmospheric opening in a Sydney underworld dump to its shocking climax twenty years later. If you think crime fiction couldn’t get much better, read Fox’s follow-up Eden. Then treat yourself to Fall, her newly released third in the series. It’s top of my to-read pile for 2016.

god in ruins

For the literary lover, Kate Atkinson’s A God in Ruins is a tour-de-force companion piece to her previous novel Life After Life. It tells Teddy’s story – from favoured son and would-be poet, to RAF bomber pilot, husband, father and grandfather. Exquisitely written with a fine ironical eye and loads of heart, it repeatedly reduced me to tears with harrowing setups and deft pay-offs I never saw coming. Another masterful work from one of my favourite writers.


Cloudwish by Fiona Wood is a wonderful young adult novel that references Jane Eyre, a book that has stayed close to my heart for a lifetime. I first read it as a twelve-year-old growing up with six brothers in the bush, and was captivated by Jane’s struggle to survive and thrive in a time that treated girls without family, fortune or looks with great harshness. So of course I was drawn to Fiona Wood’s Vietnamese-Australian heroine Vân Uoc Phan, a scholarship girl at prestigious Crowthorn Grammar, who solves life’s problems by asking ‘What would Jane do?’ An inspirational story, with an ending that gave wings to my heart.

(Christine Bongers is the award winning author of Intruder, Dust and Henry Hoey Hobson).    

Our 2015 Bestsellers: Middle School

middle school

  1. Wonder, R. J. Palacio
  2. Counting by 7s, Holly Goldberg Sloan
  3. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain, John Boyne
  4. Freedom Ride, Sue Lawson,
  5. The Cut Out, Jack Heath
  6. The Beauty is in the Walking, James Moloney
  7. Two Wolves, Tristan Bancks
  8. Girl Online, Zoe Sugg
  9. The Apple Tart of Hope, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald
  10. Soon, Morris Gleitzman