Best Sellers: Fiction

  1. My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante
  2. At the Edge of the Orchard, Tracy Chevalier
  3. Salt Creek, Lucy Treloar
  4. Hope Farm, Peggy Frew
  5. The Life of Elves, Muriel Barberry
  6. A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
  7. The Promise Seed, Cass Moriarty
  8. A Few Days in the Country and Other Stories, Elizabeth Harrower
  9. The High Places, Fiona McFarlane
  10. Brother of the More Famous Jack, Barbara Trapido
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Top 10: Fiction

  1. The High Places, Fiona McFarlane
  2. My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante
  3. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
  4. The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro
  5. The Promise Seed, Cass Moriarty
  6. Thirteen Ways of Looking, Colum McCann
  7. The Midnight Watch, David Dyer
  8. The Noise of Time, Julian Barnes
  9. Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff
  10. Salt Creek, Lucy Treloar

Our Stella Sparks!

Two more Stella Sparks from our wonderful staff members, both of whom are sharing novels that fueled their love of reading at university.

Leaning Towards Infinity, Sue Woolfe

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I was assigned Sue Woolfe’s Leaning Towards Infinity as a university student, and remember being less than enthused at the prospect of reading a book about mathematicians. Numbers have never been my friends. It was, then, a wonderful surprise to discover Wolfe’s ability to weave the language of mathematics into a thing beauty and mystery. I may never be able to solve an equation, but Sue Woolfe altered my view of mathematics from one of abject dread to one of awe. The fact that the book – which won a slew of awards when it was first released twenty years ago – is so difficult to come across now speaks volumes for the importance of programs like the Stella Sparks.

-Vicky

The Great Fire, Shirley Hazzard

great fire

Shirley Hazzard’s The Great Fire was introduced to me via an Australian Literature course at University. At first, I lamented – another book about the Second World War. The power of Hazzard’s prose, however, gripped me from the very start. It wasn’t the plot that hooked me, but the depth and creation of the characters. They move through a world rife with violence and despair, and yet find their humanity within each other, indulging in a love within which age has no bearing. Although the relationship between the thirty-two-year-old Aldred Leith and the teenage Helen Driscoll is a primary focus, The Great Fire is also a novel about civility, humanity, the world that we create for ourselves and the prisons within it that have no bars.

-Chloe

 

Our Stella Sparks!

Over the next few weeks our staff members will be posting their Stella Sparks, a fantastic initiative of the Stella Prize where readers recommend their favourite book by a female Australian author (our store owner Suzy Wilson is on the judging panel for this year’s award.) Here are a few of the very wonderful books that have been formative in our reading experience.

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, May Gibbs

snugglepot

As a small child growing up in North Wales my first contact with anything Australian was Snugglepot and CuddlepieWhile I found the book delightful it was not until I came here to live twenty years later that the images resonated and I realised I had a lot of Australian reading to catch up on.  Selecting one “Sparkling”  title out of over forty years of reading is surely an impossible task with such Stellar authors as Kate Grenville, Ruth Park, Joan London, Helen Garner, Mem Fox, Sonya Hartnett, Geraldine Brooks, Chloe Hooper and Madeleine St John to name a mere handful…and of course not forgetting Germaine…and Anne Summers.  So many wonderful authors over so many genres, heavens I cannot even choose a favourite genre!  Too many books, not enough time. My favourite book is usually the one I am currently reading and at the moment that is R A Spratt’s Friday Barnes – Oh it is such fun!

-Maz

The Man Who Loved Children, Christina Stead

man who

When I was eighteen I came across a discounted copy of The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead. I was intrigued by the foreword, a rapturous and lengthy essay by Jonathan Franzen, and that despite the eagerness of Australians to claim any remotely successful creative export as ‘Ours,’ I’d never heard of Stead. The monstrous novel is a confronting, uneasy read, with the outsized characters at its centre dancing a fine line between tragic and farcical. But it’s Stead’s ability to extract pathos from these loathsome individuals that prove her to be a writer in the league of Austen and Dickens: a powerfully imaginative masterclass in making the personal political.

-Myles

The Forests of Silence, Emily Rodda

forests

I read Emily Rodda’s The Forests of Silence from the Deltora Quest series for the first time when I was ten years old. I was required to read it for an English assignment at the time, and while I was initially reluctant – I’ve never been a fan of fantasy – I was instantly enthralled in the elaborate and spectacular world that Rodda had created. Nine years later, while tutoring a boy who was also tasked with writing an assignment on the novel, I discovered the universal love for the world of Deltora. Lief’s heroic race against the Shadow Lord to retrieve the gems from the belt of Deltora is enough to spark the imagination of any young child. While there are countless incredible books that have shaped my literary palate, the Deltora Quest books are the first I can recall that truly sparked my sense of wonder and my passion for reading.

-Alex

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.

natural

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.

Staff Shelf-Talker: “My Name is Lucy Barton,” Elizabeth Strout

lucy bartonThe much anticipated latest novel by Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive Kitteridge has finally arrived.

Having left behind a damaged and poverty stricken childhood in the Midwest Lucy Barton is living a comfortable and stable life with her family in New York.  During a prolonged hospital stay her estranged mother visits prompting Lucy to confront her past, reassess her future and take the first tentative steps to becoming a writer.  With clarity, honesty and compassion Lucy recalls the isolation, shame and fear of her childhood and the relationships and simple acts of kindness that have sustained her. Touching on the complexities of parental love, the indestructibility of family bonds and the ruthless and selfish nature of the creative drive, this concise and beautifully written book should be in every home library.

-Laura

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.

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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.

hades

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

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).