This reading list is a contribution to the sharing of books. All sorts of books make their way to my bedside table. Some are sent, some recommended, some given as gifts or lent by someone who has enjoyed reading them.
Others (let’s be frank – many) I see on a bookstore shelf, find irresistible and bring home. A few of these become family members who may not leave my bookshelf, but can be read by guests who stay. Some wander on to other homes and hearts.
If you have books you’d like to talk about contact me via the web contact form.
Rosalie Ham is the author four novels.
The Dressmaker is the first, a novel
that began its life as a 500 word concept for a novel writing course, intended
perhaps to be a short story, now with worldwide sales and made into a highly
successful movie in 2015.
Second edition published by For Pity Sake Publishing, 2019 First published by Oxford University Press 1965
This is the second in a series of picture books by the late Austrian artist Bettina Ehrlich to be re-published by For Pity Sake Publishing.
Working from the artist’s originals, the company has brought these books back to life for a new generation of children and their parents. The original books are much loved possessions of For Pity Sake founder Jennifer McDonald’s family, so much so that FPS obtained the rights to re-publish a series of them.
The Goat Boy is a tale within a tale. Miss Patricia Higgins who teaches German in an English girls. School goes to Austria for her holiday to practice the German language and enjoy the mountain scenery. Whist on her walk one day she encounters an elderly gentleman, who recounts the story of Toni, a goat boy who must take his family’s herd to the mountain pastures each day to graze.
He is a very good child but suffers
from a terrible fear of thunderstorms. And it is this that brings him undone
for he is caught in a storm one day and flees, losing three of the herd. However,
a touch of magic, in the form of a naiad, saves the day for Toni.
We are left to wonder if the story may
also bring something magic into the lives of Miss Higgins and the elderly
Bettina Ehrlich tells her stories with a delicate touch, with great empathy for her characters and with deceptively simple, graphic prose. These are stories to be read aloud to children and grandchildren many times, searching in the pictures for details and in the layers of the story for secrets and nuances.
Illustrated by Anita Mangan Spruce, an Hachette UK Company, 2017
I received this charming little bright pink book as a gift, possibly prompted by my recent habit of signing off my texts with three unicorn emojis (since visiting the Lady and the Unicorn exhibition at Art Gallery of NSW last year).
Fourth Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, Australia 2019
In his Notes for a Novel essay at the end of the year of the beast, written when he was halfway through writing this book, Steven Carroll explains that the Glenroy series was originally intended as a single book but that 20 years on the Glenroy novels now number six. They span 60 years of Australian history but have been produced in no particular order and do not rely on one another as a series from the reader’s point of view.
The (finally) current debate about the continuance or cancellation of NAPLAN testing in our schools makes it appropriate that I refer you to Lynne Edward’s excellent short book tackling the subject of testing and teaching, published four years ago.
This collection of tanka verse was
created by Hazel Hall in collaboration with other tanka poets. It is a
sensitive and moving collection which also features the artwork of the late
Robert Tingey, whose diagnosis with Parkinsons Disease inspired the work of his
wife, artist Nancy Tingey, in forming the Painting with Parkinsons
This, the latest of Karen Viggers’ novels, follows the well-deserved international success of The Lightkeeper’s Wife and retains one of its characters in Leon, the park ranger. The title alludes to the other central figure, Miki, home schooled and isolated child of religious parents and now an orphan kept under tight control by her brother Kurt.
This is the second of the Lachie Munro
crime fiction books. It is a ripping yarn with a larrikin voice and full of
larrikin characters. Whilst it would not do to trivialise the sorts of crimes
Andy Muir deals with – gang violence, drug and pharmaceutical trafficking and
general skullduggery, it is nevertheless true to say that this is a lightly
told story full of wry humour and astute commentary on modern society.
Sulari Gentill just gets better and
better. All the Tears in China is the
latest of the addictive and absorbing Rowland Sinclair mysteries. This is the
sort of book that makes it seem perfectly reasonable to read till 4am just to
finish it, just because you can’t bear not to know the denouement in full and
More years ago than I would have
liked, we visited King Island. As we arrived at the yurt where we were staying
for the week, with the sparkling silver sea as our backdrop and the sun
streaming through the picture windows, I remember thinking, ‘I wonder when I
can come back.’
Illustrated by Fiona Burrows Midnight Sun Publishing P/L 2019
This beautiful picture book tells the story of the building process of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, shining a light on the social conditions of the time from 1890 when a need became an idea in 1893 and then finally a reality in 1932.
This debut novel by Anstey Harris has won itself a Women’s Weekly Great Read sticker in Australia, not easily come by I gather. It charts the vicissitudes in the life of forty-ish Grace, a fine instrument maker and musician.
Holiday reading and book fairs take
one in all sorts of directions.
I am sorry I didn’t come across the
work of Robyn Sisman during her lifetime. Gosh, there is just so much to read
Robyn Sisman had a career on the other side of publishing before becoming a novelist. Three of her five novels: Special Relationship, Perfect Strangers and Just Friends were all Sunday Times best sellers.
Born in Los Angeles, Sisman moved to Somerset and had been married to biographer Adam Sisman. She died in 2016.
She had a career on the other side of publishing before becoming a novelist. Three of her five novels: Special Relationship, Perfect Strangers and Just Friends were all Sunday Times best sellers.
in Paris is another one of those journey of
self-discovery novels, rather satisfying however in its outcome and not too
maudlin as some of these are.
An obituary in The Guardian says of her books: they are funny, fluent descriptions of what it is to fall in love, of obstacles encountered and overcome. But Robyn was no romantic: she was clear-sighted and without sentimentality or illusions, and her fiction has a spiky quality, both inhabiting and unsettling the genre. She was her own most unsparing critic, and never appreciated how talented she was.