So, the big red man is on his way and you’re wondering what you’re meant to wrap and pop under the tree? There’s no need to worry, we have your back. In fact, we have found six great books for the Hard-To-Buy-For people in your life that they would happily unwrap no matter what they normally read.
Pop on some festive music, grab yourself a Christmas tipple and get ready to cross those hard-to-buy-for gifts off your list.
Books for the hard-to-buy-for Her
Mirka Mora: A Life Making Art by Sabine Cotte
This beautiful book provides a unique insight into one of Melbourne’s most beloved personalities. Revealing an unseen side of Mirka through both her materials and practice, this intimate portrait shares her complex and truly innovative techniques, which until now have not been studied. Detailing the artist’s breadth of practice, her idiosyncratic processes and blend of traditional methods and modern creativity, this book shows how Mirka’s various modes of making art connected deep emotions, stories of displacement and loss with major movements of the twentieth century. From Holocaust survivor to Melbourne cultural icon, Mirka expressed the intensity of her personal life through artworks that embodied feminism, the craft movement as well as community art policies of the 1980s. With privileged access to the artist and her studio, Sabine Cotte offers a new perspective on this extraordinary woman, illuminating Mirka’s significance as one of Australia’s most compelling, creative and prolific artists.
Olive Cotton by Helen Ennis
This is a landmark biography of a singular and important Australian photographer which is beautifully written and deeply moving. Olive Cotton was one of Australia’s pioneering modernist photographers, whose significant talent was recognised as equal to her first husband, the famous photographer Max Dupain. Together, Olive and Max were an Australian version of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera or Ray and Charles Eames, and the photographic work they produced in the 1930s and early 1940s was bold, distinctive and quintessentially Australian. But in the mid-1940s Olive divorced Max, leaving Sydney to live with her second husband, Ross McInerney, and raise their two children in a tent on a farm near Cowra – later moving to a cottage that had no running water, electricity or telephone for many years. Famously quiet, yet stubbornly determined, Olive continued her photography despite these challenges and the lack of a dark room. But away from the public eye, her work was almost forgotten until a landmark exhibition in Sydney in 1985 shot her back to fame, followed by a major retrospective at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2000, ensuring her reputation as one of the country’s greatest photographers. Intriguing, moving and powerful, this is Olive’s story, but it is also a compelling story of women and creativity – and about what it means for an artist to try to balance the competing demands of their art, work, marriage, children and family.
Books for the hard-to-buy-for Him
Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James
The first volume of Clive James’ autobiography begins “I was born in 1939. The other big event of that year was the outbreak of the Second World War, but for the moment, that did not affect me.”
In the first installment of Clive James’s memoirs, we meet the young Clive, dressed in short trousers, and wrestling with the demands of school, various relatives and the occasional snake, in the suburbs of post-war Sydney. His adventures are hilarious, his recounting of them even more so, in this, the book that started it all.
Word of the Dog by Megan Anderson
They say that a dog is a man’s best friend. So why not give him the gift of a little canine humour.
What can we learn from the gentle art of listening? With affection and wit, artist and writer Megan Anderson has assembled characters from the dog world to put a canine face on human observations – those things that occupy our thoughts, and delight, move or perplex us. By imagining dogs as the bearers of candid human thoughts, Word of Dog offers a glimpse into the beauty of the everyday, a joy for readers of all breeds and temperaments.
Books for the hard-to-buy-for Teen
The Book Of Dust by Philip Pullman
Surely a hard-to-buy-for teen is a fan of His Dark Materials which has been taking over our TV screens.
Malcolm Polstead’s Oxford life has been one of routine, ordinary even. He is happiest playing with his daemon, Asta, in their canoe, La Belle Sauvage. But now as the rain builds, the world around Malcolm and Asta is, it seems, set to become increasingly far from ordinary.Finding himself linked to a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua, Malcolm is forced to undertake the challenge of his life and to make a dangerous journey that will change him and Lyra forever . . .
The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black
This is the intoxicating and bloodthirsty finale to the New York Times bestselling The Folk of the Air series (depending on the teen, you may need to buy book one and two first, or get the whole trilogy). After being pronounced Queen of Faerie and then abruptly exiled by the Wicked King Cardan, Jude finds herself unmoored, the queen of nothing. She spends her time with Vivi and Oak, watching reality television, and doing odd jobs, including squaring up to a cannibalistic faerie. When her twin sister Taryn shows up asking a favour, Jude jumps at the chance to return to the Faerie world, even if it means facing Cardan, who she loves despite his betrayal. When a dark curse is unveiled, Jude must become the first mortal Queen of Faerie and break the curse, or risk upsetting the balance of the whole Faerie world.