What Library Staff are Reading – October 2016



Oh my, we’ve been having a busier time that we thought. We haven’t posted a What Library Staff are Reading since February!!!

Anyway, here’s some reading staff have been doing that might provide some inspiration to you as we head towards the warmer weather.  It’s almost jacaranda time – my favourite.


Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Brackman – I wasn’t sure I was going to like this novel, written with a distinct Swedish flavour, but the character Britt-Marie and the author’s sparse writing style somehow drew me in to this strange, funny, sometimes confronting story about a rather difficult character. Almost against my will I came to barrack for Britt-Marie. An uplifting tale of the value of belonging and community, and that it is never too late. Scored 4 stars.

Tulip Fever by Deborah Moggach – the film is due to be released soon so I thought I’d give this another read.  Set in Amsterdam in the 16oos there are plenty of references to Dutch art of the period – the story revolves around the parallel romances of wealthy young woman, Sophia, married to a much older and that of her maid, Maria.  Atmospheric and evocative of both time and place – 3 ½ stars

 Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta who usually writes YA fiction. This thriller is about the suspected terrorist attack on a bus of school children on tour in France. Suspended policeman Bish ends up investigating the bombing when he goes to fetch his daughter who has survived. Questions start to be asked when it is revealed that one of the other students is the granddaughter of a man that set a bomb of in a supermarket whose mother is currently in jail as an accessory. A page turner – 4 stars

The Yalda Crossing by Noel Beddoe – a book group read. This is the story of white settlers to the Murrumbidgee River in the 1830s/1840s and their interactions with the aboriginal peoples.  It has parallels with the much more famous The Secret River by Kate Grenville which is also the better book. It took two goes to read this.  I tried it several months ago and, despite it ticking a number of my appeal boxes – history, Australia – I couldn’t get into it. With a deadline I did a bit better – 4.5 stars

His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet – about a murder set in the remote north west of Scotland in the late 1800s and told in the form of a confession by the perpetrator, court documents and newspaper articles. The authentic-seeming presentation of this is apparently confusing some who are reading it as true crime.  This is another book that seems familiar – this time it reminds me of Burial Rites by Hannah Kent – perhaps because of the similar time setting and the similarities between the lives of Icelandic peasants and Scottish crofters of the same time?  Scored 4 stars

Unsuitable Men by Pippa Wright.  Fun chick-lit book – great concept – what to do when you get out of a long term relationship?  Date the unsuitable men. 3 stars

Unbearable Lightness by Portia di Rossi.  Do you want to know more about anorexia?  The intricate, nitty gritty thoughts and day to day gruel?  This was an eye-opener for me.  Not recommended for teenage girls with low self-esteem as Portia goes into way too much detail on how she learnt to survive on eating very, very little.  3 stars

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty. Fantastic characters – could not put this down. 4 stars

Stories I only tell my friends by Rob Lowe – like I was sitting with Rob with a wine (except he no longer drinks) and he was telling all his funny stories from the movie industry. 4 stars

Everywhere I look, by Helen Garner. This is a set of essays and observations. What IS the magic of Helen Garner? I’ll try to describe it: she is devastatingly honest, she is a central pole of quiet wisdom in a noisy world, she approaches difficult subjects in a spirit of curiosity and without moral judgement. Compassion, and a desire to understand, drive all of what she writes. She pares her writing back until it says just what she means it to, no more, no less. She is a literary hero for me.

The Mud House, by Richard Glover. If you’re a sucker for Kevin McLeod’s Grand Designs, if you just get off on the building process, you will bathe luxuriously in this memoir of Glover’s, in which he details how he and his wife join with two friends, to build a house of mud brick on a remote and difficult block somewhere in the general area of Wombeyan Caves, central NSW. Glover is habitually entertaining, but he is also on a voyage of discovery. He has never built anything in his life. He learns as he goes. So, eventually, do his children. The house isn’t perfect, says Richard, but we built it ourselves!

Truly Madly Guilty, by Liane Moriarty. Three couples meet in a backyard for a barbeque. Their three kids and a dog are there too. Nothing very startling about that? But start reading the book and I guarantee you won’t want to do anything else until you get to the last page. Riveting. Moriarty sustains tension to the last.

If you’re eternally curious about Aboriginal culture and are looking for a wise, unsentimental understanding of it, read Kim Mahood’s Position Doubtful. She was raised on a cattle station in the Tanami desert country, and returns to it on and off, because this is her blood’s country, as Judith Wright puts it in South of my Days. As aboriginal paintings look down on country from above, Mahood seeks to do something similar, engaging in a mapping exercise of sorts: mapping country, mapping relationships, mapping the black/white nexus. An extraordinary book, from an artist working across several disciplines.

The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlist for 2016

prime-ministers-literary-awardsThe Prime Minister’s Literary Awards began in 2008 and aim to recognise individual excellence and the contribution Australian authors make to the nation’s cultural and intellectual life.  The panel of judges make recommendations to the Prime Minister for the shortlists and winners across each of the six categories but it is the Prime Minister who makes the final decision (and in 2014 Tony Abbott famously overruled the judges and made his own choice, The Narrow Road to the Deep North  by Richard Flanagan).

The winner of each category — Fiction, Non-fiction, Australian History, Poetry, Young Adult Fiction and Children’s Fiction — is awarded $80,000, with shortlisted entries each awarded $5,000.

The twelve judges over three judging panels for the 2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards include:

  • Fiction and Poetry panel – Louise Adler AM (Chair), Jamie Grant, Dr Robert Gray and Des Cowley
  • Non-fiction and History panel – Gerard Henderson (Chair), Dr Ida Lichter, Peter Coleman and Professor Ross Fitzgerald
  • Children’s and Young Adult fiction panel – Mike Shuttleworth (Chair), Dr Irini Savvides, Ms Kate Colley and Dr Mark MacLeod

And the shortlisted titles for the The Prime Minister’s Literary Awards shortlist for 2016 are:







Australian History


Young Adult fiction


Children’s fiction


The winners will be announced later this year. In the meantime keep up-to-date via the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards  website or Facebook page or

Alison’s Picks – October 2016

Somehow we’ve managed to miss a few months . . . Here’s some spring reading to try.


Liane Moriarty : Truly Madly Guilty

Richard Glover : The Mud House

Kim Mahood : Position Doubtful

Rosalie Ham : The Dressmaker


Don’t forget – Books to Die For, bookings going fast!


Carolyn’s Books of the Month – October 2016

carolyns-books-of-the-monthBest Read : Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben

Crime : Leona : the Die is Cast by Jenny Rogneby

Australian Author : Daughter of Australia by Harmony Verna

General : The Silk Merchants Daughter by Dinah Jefferies

Thrillers :  Predator by Wilbur Smith and Redemption Road by Lisa Ballantyne

Saga/Romance : The Secrets of Happiness by Lucy Diamond


#bookbitesread, the Read Watch Play theme for October 2016

#bookbitesread is the mouth-watering topic for discussion in October.

The first thing which springs to mind is the vast array of cook books that pervade most bookshelves. Take a look at the non-fiction shelves at your local library around the 641s. The earliest version dates back to the 1st century and written in Latin. These are also matched by a multitude of books about diets and dieting, either for specific health conditions or because of our hunt for the perfect figure.


Vegetables by Martin Abegglen

The number of cookery books on the shelves is also matched with our enthusiasm for cookery programmes, from theGreat British Bake-offto a number of travel cookery programmes such as the Rick Steinand the Hairy Bikers.

Knowing where our food come from and sustainability has become an increasingly hot topic with many towns now boasting Farmers markets, promotions such as Good Food Month in Australia and The Food and Farming Award in the UK and many, many other regional food awards promoting where their produce comes from. You can also buy food directly from some farms, and market gardens.

Recently the publishing industry has seen a surge of books about all things that bite – whether you are fans of Stephanie Mayer’s Twilight saga, or prefer the slightly less glamourous Darren Shan vampire books, there are many to choose from, as well as some with werewolves, such as Harry Potter and the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. (Or maybe you are a fan of Murnau’s classic Nosferatu film!)

You might also want to discuss real-life biters from very small bugs like mosquitos and fleas, to larger sets of teeth like snakes and sharks, which I suppose, might lead to a discussion about travel fiction such as Paul Theroux’s writings, as well as classics like The Jungle Book and The Life of Pi.

From steamy jungles where the bugs bite to the frozen wastes where the frost bites; there’s may cold adventures to be had from the very real biographical work of Sir Ranulph Fiennes to the fictional but still chilling A Christmas Carol, Call of the Wild, Frankenstein, and Marcus Sedgwick’s Revolver which also features the law being taken into the character’s own hands (so some biting revenge!).

From cold places to comfort eating, there are also many fiction books that delight in describing the food in the story, such as Donna Leon’s Guido Brunetti stories to Joanne Harris’ series Chocolat, Blackberry Wine and Five quarters of the Orange, and Mouse-Proof Kitchen by Saira Shah, where food is definitely used as therapy.

Short stories and Biographies are a good way of getting a quick bite of story or someone’s life. If you’re looking for a quick bite, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories were published as a serial in the newspaper as was Helen Fielding’s eponymous heroine Bridget Jones.

For a more literal reference to book bites you can follow the adventures of Tony Chu, a graphic novel series about an America Food and Drug Administration Agent solves crimes by receiving psychic impressions from comestibles, including people.

So there is plenty out there to satisfy everyone’s taste and we’d love to discuss your favourite bites.

While you are reading, playing or watching your #bookbitesread this month, you might like to tweet about it using hashtags #bookbitesread #rwpchat so that other people can have a conversation with you about it. You can add to the discussion on Pinterest too. You might like to post your photographs to Instagram or Flickr and use #bookbitesread #rwpchat so others can share in your reading, watching and playing.

A date for your diary :
The Twitter discussion takes place on 29 October, starting at 8.00pm Australian Eastern Standard Time. 9.00pm New Zealand Time, 6.00pm Singapore Standard Time, 12.00 noon Central European Summer Time, 8am – 10.30am, 2pm – 4pm GMT. Note this is a staggered discussion.

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