Bestsellers: Non-Fiction!

  1. Albanese: Telling it Straight, Karen Middleton
  2. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
  3. Things I Carry Around, Troy Cassar-Daley
  4. The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District, James Rebanks
  5. Barbarian Days: a Surfing Life, William Finnegan
  6. Not Just Black and White, Lesley and Tammy Williams
  7. 1787: The Lost Chapters of Australia’s Ancient Beginnings, Nick Brodie
  8. Hack in a Flak Jacket, Peter Stefanovic
  9. Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe
  10. The Hate Race, Maxine Beneba Clarke

August Best Sellers: Non Fiction!

  1. The Shepherd’s Life: A Tale of the Lake District, James Rebanks
  2. Reckoning, Magda Szubansk
  3. Walking Towards Ourselves: Indian Women Tell Their Stories, Catriona Mitchell
  4. The Gene: An Intimate History, Siddhartha Mukhurjee
  5. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanthi
  6. The Hate Race, Maxine Beneba Clarke
  7. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
  8. Bomber: The Whole Story, Mark Thompson
  9. Kick: The True Story of JFK’s Forgotten Sister and the Heir to Chatsworth, Paula Byrne
  10. Farewell to the Father, Timothy Elliot

Riverbend Non-Fiction Recommendations: June

  1. Everywhere I Look, Helen Garner
  2. Farewell to the Father, Tim Elliot
  3. The Romanovs, Simon Sebag Montefiore
  4. Speaking Out, Tara Moss
  5. When Breath Becomes Air, Paul Kalanithi
  6. Talking to my Country, Stan Grant
  7. Beyond Belief, Hugh Mackay
  8. All My Januaries, Barbara Blackman
  9. Wasted, Elizabeth Muir
  10. Eat Local, Brenda Fawdon & Christine Sharp

Riverbend Fiction Recommendations: June

  1. The Last Painting of Sara De Vos, Dominic Smith
  2. My Name is Lucy Barton, Elizabeth Strout
  3. The Bricks that Built the Houses, Kate Tempest
  4. Everyone Brave is Forgiven, Chris Cleave
  5. Between a Wolf and a Dog, Georgia Blaine
  6. The Nest, Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney
  7. The Group, Mary McCarthy
  8. Our Tiny Useless Hearts, Toni Jordan
  9. The Dry, Jane Harper
  10. Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, Sunil Yapa

Patrick Holland’s Shelf Talkers


This month’s author recommendations is from local writer Patrick Holland, who’ll be joining us in-store on April 19th to discuss his upcoming novel One. Click on the image to book tickets to the event!


I read a lot of books at once, bits and pieces of them. Among the most interesting things I’ve read lately are The Collected Stories of Paul Bowles. The stories evoke an atmosphere of North Africa/Tangiers that you feel sure is authentic, even though you’ve never been – and never can go to Tangiers circa 1950. The best stories are a strange as Kipling, but, and this accusation was sometimes levelled at Kipling, the author seems to have no normal human sentiments at all. It’s said the Russian realists devoted themselves to objectivity, but we all know what kind of men Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky were i.e. good men. I have no idea how Bowles feels on any moral issue, at times he’s properly frightening in his coldness, and yet, the stories are incredibly compelling, and the strange distance he puts you at, no doubt contributes to this.

On the other hand, also on Africa (I’m planning to go soon), I’ve been reading Ryszard Kapuściński’s book of travel essays, In the Shadow of the Sun. It’s easily the best travel book I’ve ever read, and I wish I’d read it before I wrote Riding the Trains in Japan. I realise now, the aesthetic principles that govern Kapuściński’s book are the ones I was trying to follow. I love Hemingway and Okri on Africa, but Kapuściński makes you breathe the air and taste the water.

The other book I’ve been picking up when I can is Edward Seidensticker’s translation of Lady Murasaki’s The Tale of Genji. I’ve spent plenty of time in the places this – perhaps the first novel ever written – takes place in. But apart from that simple joy of reading about places you know, I enjoy Murasaki’s weaving of plotlines, concerning dozens of characters, and the minimalist poetry she retains throughout. The effect is completely immersive. Like cycling up a mounting, reading Genji you forgot your troubles for a bit.

Ah, and I’m also reading Robert Dessaix’s Night Letters. I’ve come really late to Dessaix – this is the first of his I’ve ever read, and though I’m only about thirty pages in, it’s already an enthralling meditation. It’s the sort of book that blows any preconceived ideas you have about the thematic and stylistic parameters of Australian Literature out the window.

Samantha Wheeler’s Shelf-Talkers

sam wheeler

An avid Tim Winton fan, I began my holiday reading with his passionate memoir, Island Home. His evocative prose, describing the beauty and power of Australian place, was a luxurious holiday treat. What stayed with me the most was Winton’s sadness over the exploitation of our land, his despair over its degradation. As a fellow lover of Australian landscape and wildlife, I admired his call to arms, encouraging us all to care for our country, as our country defines us. An unexpected gem was discovering Winton’s journey to publication, and the pitfalls his unique writing style created. Island Home is a must, and I will certainly be reading it again.

island home

The next book on my list also, in a strange way, involved nature. Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things was both thrilling and terrifying. Whereas I had difficulty picturing the women in The Handmaid’s Tale, I had no such trouble with Wood’s unflinching prose. Every breath, every drop of sweat is horribly plausible. Set in outback Australia, somewhere, a bunch of women with a thread of similarity are held captive for no clear reason. The interaction between them is fascinating, the plot compelling and the ending perfect. I would definitely recommend it.


Kate Morton is up high on my list of favourites, and I’m always thrilled when a new book of hers comes out. Each time, I tell myself I will savour it, but then I can’t stop reading, and I’m sad when I’m done.

The Lake House is no exception. Morton knows just how to set the mood, location, and characters surrounding grand English homes, and she takes you right to the heart of Cornwall with this one. There are lots of plot threads and several time jumps, but that didn’t spoil what was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

lake house

Sam Wheeler is the author of several children’s books, including Smooch and Rose, Spud and Charlie and Mister Cassowary. She lives in Brisbane with her husband, daughters and pets.

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