All posts by Karen Seligman

About Karen Seligman

Karen Seligman is a newly-qualified librarian working in a public library. As a book- and library-lover from way back, she finds nothing better than being surrounded by books and other library-lovers! Karen’s past lives as a law graduate, corporate warrior and research scientist continue to inform her wide-ranging tastes in reading material, with her favourite genres including historical fiction, fantasy, food writing and popular science.

The Newest YA Books Hitting the Shelves

The secret is out – YA (Young Adult fiction) is one of the most exciting and popular book categories at the moment.  Gone is the stigma of grownups reading ‘kids books’ –  readers of all ages are attracted to YA for its strong narratives, awareness of social causes, and championing of diversity and the authenticity of #ownvoices experience. With strong new releases every season, we’ll take a look at some recent hits:

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Virtue and Vengenace is the highly-anticipated sequel to Children of Blood and Bone, one of the strongest YA debuts ever.  Having brought magic back to the kingdom of Orisha, the feisty heroine, Zelie Adebola, finds out that the unexpected consequences of her actions may derail her fight against oppression. This fantasy trilogy is set in West Africa, with inspiration from Harry Potter, West African mythology and the Black Lives Matter movement.  Tomi Adeyemi deftly uses her fictitious realm to explore issues of racism, oppression and slavery.  Children of Virtue and Vengeance is a solid second instalment, leading up to a huge finish in the third and final volume.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for one of the wealthiest families in Atlanta. By night, she moonlights as Miss Sweetie, the author of a newspaper advice column. When her column becomes popular, she uses it to challenge society’s ideas about race and gender, and must step up to overcome the backlash that follows.  Stacey Lee is a Chinese-American writer whose stories reinterpret historical events from a Chinese-American perspective.  Downstairs Girl is a powerful novel about identity, betrayal and the meaning of family.

Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto

If you love High Fantasy with mythical creatures then be sure to check out The Crown of Feathers saga.  Heart of Flames is the second instalment, continuing this story about siblings Val and Veronyka, who dream of joining the Phoenix Riders, a disbanded band of elite warriors who have empathic links to the phoenixes they ride.  Within the political machinations and tensions of an unstable world, Val, Veronyka and their friends discover their distinct identities, fall in love, and strive towards their goals.  Nicki Pau Preto does a great job of world-building, and of fleshing out her characters, by telling the story from multiple perspectives.

Watch Us Rise by Renee Watson and Ellen Hagan

Award-winning author Renee Watson teams up with poet Ellen Hagan to give us a stirring story about feminist activism and empowerment.  Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends attending a social justice-focussed high school in New York.  When they realise that sexism and racism are rife even in their progressive school, these strong-willed teens fight hard to make sure their voices – and those of other young women – can still be heard.  Watch Us Rise is a dynamic, complex story with a multidimensional, diverse cast.  The use of a dual narrative, and the inclusion of art, poetry and blogs to drive the story, add extra interest.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Hunt The Flame is a new quest adventure set in a realm inspired by ancient Arabia. Zafira is a strong, skilled hunter tasked to bring back a magical artefact in order to save her world.  Disguised as a man for self-protection, Zafira is pursued by, but eventually forms an uneasy alliance with, the King’s Assassin.  Will they succeed on their perilous journey? We Hunt the Flame is a story of conquering fear and creating your own destiny; of morality and understanding.  Hafsah Faizal is a debut author who has drawn upon her Arabic and Muslim heritage to craft a rich fantasy world.  We Hunt the Flame is a read-alike for books by Tamora Pierce, and perfect for fans of the game Assassin’s Creed.

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

Sandhya Menon balances classic tropes of YA romance (an exclusive boarding school, young royals, and uber-rich “beautiful people”) with a dash of fantasy, and an earnest exploration of the issues of loneliness and parental expectations, to give a fresh take on the Beauty and the Beast story.  Indian princesses Jaya Rao and Isha have been shipped off to the exclusive St Rosetta’s academy to ride out a scandal surrounding younger sister Isha.  Jaya vows to take revenge on fellow student Grey Emerson, whose family has been feuding with the Raos for generations, and whom Jaya believes caused Isha’s scandal.  Both Jaya and Grey grow in self-awareness and independence during their funny and romantic enemies-to-lovers journey.

Books to Help you Live Sustainably at Home

What does sustainability mean to you?  Most people are aware that sustainability is important, but may struggle to decide how to incorporate sustainable practices into their lives.  This week Team Booko has brought together lots of ideas on how to get started.  Many of these ideas only require small changes – such as ditching plastic straws, or walking instead of driving short distances.  Others are fun and creative, encouraging us to try making / cooking / upcycling.  These books also show that sustainability are interlinked with mindfulness and decluttering – meaning that it is not only good for our environment, but good for our health and our wallets too!

A Life Less Throwaway: the Lost Art of Buying for Life by Tara Button

Tara Button was a work-hard, spend-hard advertising executive when she realised that her shopping habits – meant to make her happy – was having the opposite effect.  So she started to fight back against the current culture of planned obsolescence – the idea that products should have a limited (ie short) lifespan – and instead, started a movement that celebrates products that are made to last.  A Life Less Throwaway explains the concept of “mindful curation”, with plenty of tips and strategies to help us only buy things that fit the purpose, that we love and that can last a lifetime.

Simple Acts to Save our Planet: 500 Ways to Make a Difference by Michelle Neff

If you want to live in a more sustainable and environmentally responsible way, but don’t know where to start, then this book is for you.  Michelle Neff has created a bumper book of “Simple Acts of Kindess” for our planet. Many of the ideas look at how to reduce waste, bolster animal and insect populations and lower energy consumption.  These Simple Acts show us that even the tiniest change to our lifestyle – such as BYO coffee cups and shopping bags, and buying items with minimal packaging – can have a lasting positive impact on the environment. What’s more, many of these ideas – such as eating less processed food, and using meat and veg scraps to make stock – can also benefit our own health.

Upcycle: Turn Everyday Objects into Home Decor by Sonia Lucano

Upcycle is a fun, contemporary project book that shows you how to turn some everyday items into home furnishings.   Sonia Lucarno has chosen starting materials that are available cheaply or for free, such as old dishes, glass jars, bedsheets and wooden pallets.  Learn how to turn cotton sheets into a tote bag, wooden pallet into a coffee table, or glass jars into terrariums.  There are detailed instructions including lists of materials.  Start salvaging these bits and pieces from the waste stream and turn them into chic, functional pieces for your home.

Perfect Imperfect: the Beauty of Accident, Age & Patina by Karen McCartney, Sharyn Cairns and Glen Proebstel

Perfect Imperfect is a sumptuous coffee table book with a subtle environmental message – by celebrating the beauty of age and imperfection (some may call it “character”), it encourages us to purchase thoughtfully rather than frequently, to value curation rather than consumption.  Perfect Imperfect puts a modern spin on the age-old Japanese aesthetic of wabi-sabi, bringing together contemporary design with well-worn objects.  The stunning interiors feature a mix of comfort, design and thoughtful beauty, and are selected from homes, hotels, shops and studios around the world.

Low Tox Life: a Handbook for a Healthy You and a Happy Planet by Alexx Stuart

Alexx Stuart has distilled the learnings from her own quest for a Low Tox Life into a guide to help you live with better health and less stress.  Alexx Stuart was fighting chronic inflammation when she realised that our hyper-industrialised society was contributing to her ill-health.  She started to pay closer attention to product labels, and reducing the use of synthetic fragrances, disposable plastics and processed foods, and has seen a dramatic improvement in her physical and mental health.  Organised into four intuitive sections of Body, Home Food and Mind, Low Tox Life is a guide that encourages us to make more informed choices about the food we eat, and the things we surround ourselves with – and highlights that better choices can benefit both ourselves and our environment.

100 Things to Recycle and Make by Fiona Hayes

It’s never too young to help children understand the importance of sustainability, and what better way to do it than through a fun activity such as crafting.  Fiona Hayes, author of the popular Crafty Makes series, has chosen 100 of her favourite projects for crafting with recycled materials.  Ideas range from the decorative to the practical, including toys, stationery, decorations and storage.  The projects are helpfully arranged by the main starting material, eg cardboard tubes, egg cartons, paper plates and materials from nature, and include step-by-step instructions.  100 Things to Recycle and Make is a great sourcebook for anyone who spends time with children!

Summer Food Ideas

Are you trying to eat better / healthier / lighter?  Diet-related goals are popular New Year’s Resolutions, and we in Australia are lucky to have an abundance of summer produce to help us kickstart these goals.  If you’re after ideas for flavourful meals with minimal prep, that are satisfying without feeling heavy, then look no further – we’ve got just the right recipes for you!

Salad Feasts: How to Assemble the Perfect Meal by Jessica Elliott Dennison

Big, filling salads are my current summer favourites – they are easy to scale up to feed a crowd, and perfect for those too-hot-to-cook days.  Salad Feasts is a treasure-trove of ideas on how to layer flavours and textures, so that you achieve a balance of freshness, heartiness and nutrients.  Jessica Elliott Dennison also provides lots of suggestions on how to substitute and customise your salads.  Serve these beautiful salads as complete, plant-based meals in themselves, or as vibrant accompaniments to meat.

Well+Good Cookbook: 100 Healthy Recipes + Expert Advice for Better Living by Alexia Brue

The team at Well+Good represent some of the most trusted, influential and trend-setting experts in wellness.  In its first cookbook. Well+Good is showcasing how diverse healthy eating can be, just as “wellness” can mean different things to different people – nutrition, fitness, beauty, spirituality and more.  There are dishes that suit a range of eating styles including vegan, Paleo, Keto, low FODMAP and gluten-free.  With recipe contributions by celebrity wellness devotees including Venus Williams, Marie Kondo, Bobbi Brown and others, the Well+Good cookbook shows that, no matter how busy you are, there are healthy eating options that are achievable and can make you feel great.

Nothing Fancy: the Art of Having People Over by Alison Roman

Alison Roman prefers to talk about “having people over” rather than “ entertaining” – the idea of “entertaining” is more performative and about impressing people, which creates unnecessary expectations and stress for the host.  Instead, she reminds us to be kind to ourselves, and champions unfussy food with big flavours – low stress, high-impact dishes that are great even if they’re not perfectly made.   With recipes that have gone viral and been tried successfully by thousands of fans, Nothing Fancy is a delicious manifesto about cooking for people you love.

The Little Swedish Kitchen by Rachel Khoo

A few years ago, Rachel Khoo relocated her little kitchen from France to Sweden after marrying and starting a family. The Little Swedish Kitchen is a celebration of her new home, reflecting her understanding of Swedish cuisine.  The cool climate and short growing season means Swedish cooking focusses on a small range of core ingredients, livened up with seasonal treats.  Think potato salads tossed with foraged greens, wild mushrooms in a cheese tart, and cakes made with colourful summer fruit.

Planted: a Chef’s Show-stopping Vegan Recipes by Chantelle Nicholson

Plant-based eating (as well as veganism) is a huge trend right now, appealing to people who want to develop more sustainable, ethical and healthy eating habits.  In Planted, Chantelle Nicholson brings a chef’s finesse to vegan recipes – something you don’t usually find in this category.  This New Zealand-born, London-based chef has created seasonal, flavourful recipes that are refined enough for special occasions, yet perfectly achievable for weeknight dinners.  Planted will open your mind to the possibilities of plant-based eating.

Healthier Together: Recipes for Two – Nourish your Body, Nourish your Relationships by Liz Moody

Have you ever given up on health goals because you struggled with motivation?  Try finding a partner – setting and sticking to goals can be much easier when paired with someone else. Healthier Together builds on this idea by offering you delicious, healthful recipes for two.  The act of cooking and eating together will help you strengthen your relationship, as well as get healthy together! These 100+ recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free and plant-centered, including sweet treats and healthier versions of takeaway dishes such as fried chicken, banana bread and brownies.

Back to Uni: Tips and Tricks for buying your books online

Mid-January is the beginning of the Back to School / Uni rush – which can be fun for stationery-addicts like me, but can also be a stressful time, with so many things to pay for all at the same time!  Luckily, Booko can help lighten this load, and today we’ll show you how to join other savvy students in using Booko to find the best prices for your textbooks.  What’s more, Booko has set-and-forget alerts and lists features that can help you organise future purchases!

Let’s start by checking the price of this Accounting textbook:

Booko’s standard search finds you the best prices for right now.  The first list of prices (with an orange heading) is for New copies; if you are interested in Used / second-hand copies, just scroll further down, and copies available will be listed in the second table (with a purple heading).  Don’t forget to check that you are searching for the correct edition!

Creating Alerts and Lists

For even better deals, Booko offers a set-and-forget Alerts and a Lists feature. Booko Alerts regularly checks the prices for your chosen items and will email you as soon as the price falls below the current (or a specified) level. It’s a great way to monitor for sales.  To set an Alert, first search for the book you want – if possible, use the ISBN to confirm the correct edition.

Using the accounting textbook again as an example, the top listing on the Right is the current best price. To create an Alert, click the Add an Alert button below the Cover Image on the left side of the page.  Set your preferred price – and you can set separate prices for new and used books. Then enter your email and click Add.  Now all you need to do is wait for the Good News email! 

If you are logged into your Booko account, you can set an Alert faster, because you won’t need to enter your email each time.  A Booko account allows you to modify your alerts (delete or change target prices) more easily, as a list. 

A Booko account also allows you to set up Lists.  These help you sort and group the books you are watching for.  To add a book to a list, click the Add to List button below the Cover Image (next to the Add an Alert button). This adds the book to your Wishlist (the default list for each Booko account).  To create more lists, click on the My Lists tab on the Top Right of the page, then click the Manage Lists button.

The Manage Lists option has several nifty features – here you create new personalised lists (A), View/Edit or Delete existing lists, or Export list data in a spreadsheet-friendly format (B).  Booko will also tell you whether you can buy all your list items from a single store (C) – and do a price comparison as well.

Booko Alerts and Booko Lists can help you minimise the time and money you need for your back-to-uni essentials – so that you’ll have more time to relax before Term / Semester starts!

Top Books for Summer Reading

Summer Holidays is my favourite time of the year, because it is when I can truly relax, sit down and catch up on reading!  In Australia, we are always spoilt for choice with our summer reading, because it coincides with the end-of-year publishing bonanza – when many great titles are launched in time for the festive gifting season. Here are some holiday-reading goodies to look forward to:

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas follows writer and comedian Adam Kay through six festive seasons on hospital wards, during his time as a junior doctor in the NHS.  Adam’s brilliant storytelling highlights the humour and heartbreak in the human dramas that occur daily in a busy city hospital – and his background as a doctor gives a particularly insightful perspective.  And it being the silly season, readers will learn more than they’ll ever need to know about the inappropriate uses of various orifices…. Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is a very impressive sequel to This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor,  which spent a whopping 52 weeks at No.1. 

Calypso by David Sedaris

Calypso is the latest of David Sedaris’ distinctive diary-essays – his tenth collection.  Need I say more? This time, the action revolves around Sea Section, David and his husband’s cottage on the North Carolina coast, where the Sedaris clan gathers for Thanksgivings and summer vacations.  Here, enforced communal living plus idiosyncratic relatives equals anecdotes that become family lore; but this time, the weird and funny stories are darker and bleaker, as they explore middle-age, mortality, and grief.  David Sedaris always impresses with how skilfully he evolves a story from seemingly meaningless minutiae into deeply personal and moving reflections. Read Calypso before he arrives in Australia for his speaking tour in early 2020.

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

Jia Tolentino is a staff writer for the New Yorker, who honed her craft on the internet; she often writes about how the rise of the internet has influenced and induced our collective anxieties.  For many readers, she is The Guide to how to live and survive in this hyper-connected, technology-facilitated culture.  Trick Mirror is her debut collection of nine interlinked essays, on identity, feminism, politics and the internet. Drawing on wide-ranging topics including her own coming of age, celebrity culture and the wedding industry, and armed with beautiful crystalline language, Jia Tolentino works her way towards explaining what she thinks and how she feels about life, the world, and herself.

Tall Tales and Wee Stories by Billy Connolly

Tall Tales and Wee Stories is a collection of Billy Connolly’s best and most popular work, including stories, comedy routines (such as Jojoba Shampoo and Incontinence Pants), and drawings.  In over 50 years of performing, he never prepared scripts, preferring to craft his tales live in front of an audience; now that he has retired from live standup comedy, Billy Connolly has finally written his stories down.  Whether he’s riffing on the mundanities of life, or talking about the bigger issues of sex, politics or religion, Billy Connolly always brings an endearing sense of the absurd to the most outrageous or profane topics – and thus gets away with saying anything he damn well pleases.

Dead at First Sight by Peter James

“You don’t know me, but I thought I knew you” – photos of a handsome motivational speaker have been used to scam unsuspecting women across multiple online dating sites.  The woman who discovered this con then apparently committed suicide.  Meanwhile, two retirees came away from the airport disappointed, after their online girlfriends failed to arrive from overseas.  Both men have sent their girlfriends large sums of money prior to the trip; neither women arrived because they did not exist.  These people are all victims of a global dating scam, whose masterminds won’t hesitate to murder anyone trying to expose them.  The race is on for Detective Superintendent Roy Grace to catch the scammers and stop the killings.  Inspired by recent news headlines, Dead at First Sight is both a fast-paced thriller and a cautionary tale.

Me by Elton John

Hot on the heels of the movie Rocketman comes Elton John’s first autobiography – the real stories in his own words. Elton’s life may have followed the classic rockstar trajectory – unhappy childhood, successes and excesses, culminating in redemption and inner peace – but its telling has been elevated by Elton’s exuberant, candid voice.  He’s not afraid to laugh at himself, and has fun admitting to his own bad behaviour, “I’m perfectly aware how ridiculous my life is, and perfectly aware what an arsehole I look like when I lose my temper over nothing”.  That Elton is his own best storyteller is the delightful surprise of this book.  Full of salacious, hilarious stories and crammed with famous names, Me by Elton John is the perfect holiday read.

The Creepiest and Spookiest Books on the Market

Do you like your Halloween cute and funny, or dark and scary? While I definitely prefer cute and funny – I’m such a scaredy cat that I cannot handle horror – I do have a weakness for fist-clenching, frantic-feeling crime thrillers. Whether it’s fast-paced and action-packed, or stealthy slow-burning, you won’t want to stop reading a well-written thriller. Here are some recently published thrillers that will give you a delicious chill this Halloween week.

It Should Have Been Me by Susan Wilkins

Fans of TV crime dramas will love Susan Wilkins’ writing style, developed over decades as a scriptwriter. Jo Biden was only a child when her older sister Sarah was brutally murdered at university. Sarah’s boyfriend, Nathan, was convicted of the killing.  Now, with his impending release, a documentary film-maker – and uni friend of both Sarah and Nathan – is ready to prove Nathan’s innocence.  Revisiting the case is pitting Jo’s professional life (as a rising police detective) against her personal life, where family loyalties and emotions encourage her to question the evidence.  It Should Have Been Me offers many flawed but believable characters – including the likeable protagonist Jo – and top-notch character development. It is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller, perfect for fans of Clare Mackintosh and Susie Steiner

The Secret by K L Slater

K L Slater has many bestsellers under her belt, and The Secret shows her in their prime.  The Secret revolves around two sisters, Alice and Louise.  Louise is elegant and successful, living a seemingly-perfect life; whereas Alice is a wreck, anxious and reclusive.   Louise and Alice were estranged until Louise started leaving her son, 8 year-old Archie, in Alice’s care while she works. What Louise doesn’t know – and what Alice is trying to discover – is that Archie has a secret.  One that he won’t tell because it could destroy his family… The Secret uses flashbacks and multiple narrators to give us rich characterisation, revealing why the two sisters have turned out so differently. K L Slater has also created a nice balance between the tension and the intrigue, and the growing connection between Alice and Archie.  The Secret promises to be a new favourite of fans of Girl on the Train and Gone Girl!

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Sloane, Ardie, Grace and Rosalita are four women who work for Truviv, an athleisure company.  They’re all struggling with work-life balance and with countering casual and institutional sexism in their workplace – something that even relative wealth and privilege doesn’t shield them from.  When their boss, the predatory Ames, looks likely to become the next CEO, these women decide that enough is enough.  They fight back by adding Ames’ name to a viral, online “BAD Men list”, and by filing a sexual harassment lawsuit against Ames and Truviv.  What happens next is tense, viciously funny… and will surprise you.  Whisper Network is a thriller of the #MeToo era, weaving themes of gender politics, power balances and office culture through its mystery / legal thriller plot. Chandler Baker, herself a lawyer with a young family, has recreated a setting that is highly recognisable.  Whisper Network is a highly addictive read endorsed by the Reese Witherspoon Book Club.

A Nearly Normal Family by M T Edvardsson

How far would you go to protect your child? This is the question Adam (a pastor) and Ulrika (a criminal lawyer) must face when their 17 year-old daughter is charged with a brutal murder. While they instinctively stand by Stella, this crime and its aftermath batter them with parental guilt, protectiveness, moral dilemmas, and doubt. A Nearly Normal Family is told in three parts, narrated in turn by Adam, Stella and Ulrika.  These three strands – which don’t always match up – challenge us to question their reliability and biases.  This is both a domestic drama and a courtroom thriller, particularly affecting because Stella’s family seems so ordinary.  A Nearly Normal Family is the first of M. T. Edvardsson’s works to be translated into English, and it definitely upholds the excellent reputation of Scandinavian crime fiction.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Jess is a young makeup artist struggling to make ends meet in New York City.  When she learns of a lucrative research study being done by a respected psychiatrist, she tricks her way into participating (the irony being that the study is about ethics and morality). As the study progresses, the supportive mentor/protege relationship between Jess and Dr Lydia Shields turns increasingly sinister, with directions to attempt increasingly personal, uncomfortable roleplaying tasks.  An Anonymous Girl is a novel of chilling suspense and obsession.  Readers quickly start sharing Jess’ sense of dread and desperation as she realises she is up against a master manipulator.  An Anonymous Girl is a worthy sophomore effort from the team behind the bestselling The Wife Between Us.

The Neighbour by Fiona Cummins

The Neighbour is a psychological thriller about a neighbourhood devastated by a serial killer.  The neighbourhood seems quiet and ordinary – but its inhabitants all have secrets to hide… and one of them is the killer.  For newcomers the Lockwood family, and for investigating detective Wildeve Stanton, the race is on to reveal the psychopath from behind his/her harmless mask.  The Neighbour has taken this classic premise and spun it into story full of horror, menace and trepidation. Fiona Cummins has created a memorable killer, who narrates part of the story in a highly unsettling way.  She also induces a creeping sense of claustrophobia by confining most of the action to one single street.  The Neighbour is a dark story, full of twists and turns, that will keep you guessing right to the end.

Five Things Librarian School Taught Me About Raising Young Readers

I have been a bookworm since childhood, and when I started my own family, I really wanted my kids to develop the same love of reading as I did.  But I knew there’s no guarantee it would happen (kids really do have their own minds!), and I wasn’t always sure how to achieve this goal.  One unexpected source of inspiration came from my librarianship studies, which I undertook when my children were still quite young.  What I was learning about literacy, and library trends, really opened my mind about why and how we read. So here are some of the most important things that Librarian School taught me about how to encourage and support children to become happy, confident readers:

  • There are different types of literacies.  


Picture books, chapter books, graphic novels, non-fiction… they all challenge our comprehension in different ways.  Literacy is not just about being able to read big words and long books. Don’t despair if your child prefers pictures to words – they are still gaining useful interpretation skills.  Try reading a wordless picture book (such as Shaun Tan’s The Arrival), and you’ll see what I mean!

  • Every person their book.


In the library world, this is about offering a variety of materials to suit the diverse needs of library users.  I also like to think of it as an encouragement to the parents of reluctant readers – that one day, the Right Book will come along, grab their child’s interest and kickstart that lifelong love of reading.

  • Make reading fun.  


It’s all about fostering a lifelong love of reading – which supports all types of learning, helps to develop intellectual curiosity, as well as entertain and offer comfort throughout life.  It doesn’t have to be about reading stories from a page – chat about your favourite characters, make up alternative endings for stories, do quizzes and puzzles, or make yummy treats by following a recipe.

  • Use your child’s interests as the starting point.  


This ties in with the previous points – get your child’s attention by offering materials that match their interests.  This could be the novels of their favourite movies, comic books, car magazines, newspapers or even recipe books.  Just keep them reading! And if they won’t take on your book suggestions, or if they just want to read the same thing over and over – have a variety of reading materials on hand, and one day they might just discover it all by themselves.     

  • Embrace social media.  


Besides talking to your friendly librarians and booksellers, you can find many reading-related resources on social media.  Facebook, Goodreads, blogs and websites (including Booko’s own blog and Facebook feed!) offer everything from book suggestions and literacy activities, to moral support from like-minded parents, to opportunities to interact with your favourite authors.

Here’s a handy little booklist to help you foster the love of reading in your home.


Raising Readers: How to Nurture a Child’s Love of Books by Megan Daley

Some kids refuse to read, others won’t stop, not even at the dinner table! Either way, many parents question the best way to support their child’s literacy journey. When can you start reading to your child? How do you find that special book to inspire a reluctant reader? How can you tell if a book is age appropriate? What can you do to keep your tween reading into their adolescent years? Award-winning teacher librarian Megan Daley has the answers to all these questions and more. She unpacks her fifteen years of experience into this personable and accessible guide, enhanced with up-to-date research and first-hand accounts from well-known Australian children’s authors. It also contains practical tips, such as suggested reading lists and instructions on how to run book-themed activities. Raising Readers is a must have guide for parents and educators to help the children in their lives fall in love with books.

The Read-Aloud Family by Sarah Mackenzie

Connecting deeply with our kids can be difficult in our busy, technology-driven lives. Reading aloud offers us a chance to be fully present with our children. It also increases our kids’ academic success, inspires compassion, and fortifies them with the inner strength they need to face life’s challenges. As Sarah Mackenzie has found with her own six children, reading aloud long after kids are able to read to themselves can deepen relationships in a powerful way. Founder of the immensely popular Read-Aloud Revival podcast, Sarah knows first-hand how reading can change a child’s life. In The Read-Aloud Family, she offers the inspiration and age-appropriate book lists you need to start a read-aloud movement in your own home. From a toddler’s wonder to a teenager’s resistance, Sarah details practical strategies to make reading aloud a meaningful family ritual. Reading aloud not only has the power to change a family, it has the power to change the world.

Bookworm: a Memoir of Childhood Reading by Lucy Mangan

The Cat in the Hat? Barbar? The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Whoever it was for you, it’s very hard to forget the intensity of your first encounter with a book. As a bespectacled child, Lucy Mangan devoured stories: from early picture books to Swallows and Amazons, Enid Blyton to Little Women, trashy teen romances to those first ‘grown-up’ novels. In Bookworm, she revisits this early enthusiasm; celebrating the enduring classics, and disinterring some forgotten treasures. A love letter to the joys of childhood reading, full of enthusiasm and wit, Bookworm tells the stories of our best-loved books, their extraordinary creators, and the thousand subtle ways they shape our lives. It also comes packed with brilliant recommendations to inspire the next generation of bookworms and set them on their way. This impassioned book will bring the unforgettable characters of our collective childhoods back to life – prompting endless re-readings, rediscoveries, and, inevitably, fierce debate. It will also act as an invaluable guide to anyone looking to build a children’s library and wondering where to start, or where to go next.

Just Jaime by Terri Libenson

Another spot-on story of middle school drama and friendship from Terri Libenson, national bestselling author of Invisible Emmie and Positively Izzy.

Friends. Frenemies. Middle school…

The last day of seventh grade has Jaime and Maya wondering who their real friends are. Jaime knows something is off with her friend group. They’ve started to exclude her and make fun of the way she dresses and the things she likes. At least she can count on her BFF, Maya, to have her back . . . right? Maya feels more and more annoyed with Jaime, who seems babyish compared to the other girls in their popular group. It’s like she has nothing in common with Jai anymore. Are their days as BFFs numbered . . . ?

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Haunting, original and told entirely through exquisitely imagined black, white and sepia pictures, The Arrival is the story of one man’s encounter with life in a strange new world. It’s a timeless, universal story that will resonate with anyone, anywhere who has struggled to start again in a place that is different to the one they have always known. Much loved around the world. The Arrival has also won numerous awards including the CBCA Book of the Year and ‘Best Album’ at the Augouleme Festival in France.

Science You Can Eat: Putting What We Eat Under the Microscope by Stefan Gates

Discover the seriously impressive science that goes on every time you cook or eat. This children’s book explores the science of food by asking questions you’re hungry to know the answers to, and putting them to the test through fun experiments. Science You Can Eat will transform your kitchen into a lab through fun food experiments. Cooking is chemistry, and the fun science experiments – such as tricking your taste buds, making slime taste delicious, and investigating some of the strangest flavours around will prove it. This exciting kid’s book tackles all the tasty science questions you have about food, plus plenty more that you hadn’t thought of! Once you understand science, you understand food, so find out why popcorn go “pop” as you test it out for yourself, explore how taste is affected by smell, then discover whether eating insects is the future of food. Examining interesting ingredients and exciting eating, as well as peeking into the future of food, Science You Can Eat helps you understand what’s happening with our food and why. Each page is guaranteed to leave you hungry for more.

First-hand Tips from Top Leaders We Want to Learn From

Why do we love to read the memoirs of business leaders? The best ones are often a mix of relatable life stories, of the drama of persistent struggles, and of the excitement of eventual success.  This month we have been offering ideas around starting your own business – so for those of you on that career / business journey, here are some great stories about business leaders that offer a great balance of entertainment, education and inspiration.

Herding Tigers: Be the Leader that Creative People Need by Todd Henry


Todd Henry compares managing creatives to herding tigers – these brilliant, driven people are powerful beings who cannot be corralled but must be carefully, individually, and strategically led.  Creatives are usually valued for their individuality, originality, unconventional thinking – traits that may seem ‘difficult’ in more conventional teams.Herding Tigers shows that, by carefully balancing three key conditions – stability, challenge and freedom – managers can create a work environment that allows creatives to flourish, both individually and as a team.  While Herding Tigers is aimed at managers of creative teams – and is particularly useful for creatives-turned-managers – it offers thoughtful advice for anyone needing to manage a variety of personalities and working styles.

#Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso 


Sophia Amoruso’s journey, from school dropout and shoplifter to successful entrepreneur, is so resonant that it has inspired a cultural movement and a Netflix show.  Being a #girlboss is about being in charge of your own life, and this memoir / business guide offers ideas on how to achieve this regardless of your talents and interests.  Luck and timing does play a part in Sophia’s success, but kudos to her for not shying away from the hard stuff – she clearly emphasises the importance of personal responsibility, vision, grit and patience.  #Girlboss is a fun, sassy read, with pithy advice grounded in good sense.  Great for young women looking for moral support as they enter the grownup world of work and business.  And if you are ready to put Sophia’s ideas into practice, there’s The Girlboss Workbook, packed with exercises, lists, ideas, and scribble room, to help you turn dreams into goals and plans.

Everything I Know about Love by Dolly Alderton

 
Once you’ve read this, you will want to share it with all your girlfriends and all the younger women you know.  Everything I Know About Love is the story of Dolly Alderton’s life as a twenty-something – hilarious, moving, and  unapologetically messy; and not just about romantic love, but about grief and the life-saving power of friendship too.  Dolly writes with an honesty that makes it super-relatable, yet better – because the clarity of her prose expresses everything better than you or I ever could. This new edition of Everything I Know About Love, published this year, contains a new chapter capturing Dolly’s thoughts on turning 30.

The Big Life: Embrace the Mess, Work your Side Hustle, Find a Monumental Relationship, and Become the Badass Babe You Were Meant to Be by Ann Shoket


Who wouldn’t want to be a Badass Babe?  Ann Shoket has written The Big Life for millenial women, but her book offers value to smart and ambitious women of any age.  Being the former editor-in-chief of Seventeen magazine, Ann Shoket has spent years understanding what matters to Millenials; she understands that the definition of success is changing, and is more likely to be about having passion for your work, and control over your career direction, rather than about high status or income.  Ann also offers valuable insights into the thoughts and attitudes of Gen X / Baby Boomer bosses, helping Millenials manage upwards, and dispel negative assumptions about their working style.  Packed with actionable, personal advice from Ann and her group of Badass Babes – a networking community of high-profile, successful young women, The Big Life is like having your own big sister cheer squad.

The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture for $200 and Turned it into a Global Brand by Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor


The Glitter Plan shares some similarities with #Girlboss – both offer a mix of memoir and business advice, sharing the stories of resourceful and determined women who grew small ideas into successful fashion brands.  Being the origin story of Juicy Couture, The Glitter Plan is also full of fun and glamour, celebrating its status as a celebrity favourite. Pamela and Gela’s friendship adds an interesting dimension to their success story – they work closely, as true equals, and their respect and regard for each other underpins their business decisions.  A good balance of entertaining biography and practical business tips, The Glitter Plan is a must-read for anyone dreaming of starting their own fashion label.

Radical Candor: How to Get What you Want by Saying What you Mean by Kim Scott


Criticism is hard to both give and take – culturally we associate it with aggression and humiliation, even if it’s well-meaning.  However, this is something a good leader and boss must learn to do – appropriate criticism can be essential  to achieving good results and maintaining a cohesive team.  Radical Candour is a framework for creating a safe and respectful environment to encourage constructive criticism.  Kim Scott, a former executive at Google and at Apple, first experienced Radical Candour when she was given some harsh-but-enlightening feedback by her then-boss, Sheryl Sandberg.  The key is for leaders to “Care Personally” – show that the criticism is to help the other person grow and improve – and “Challenge Directly” – be specific, focussing on behaviours rather than personality traits. More than just a guide on how to critique, Radical Candour helps to create a frank and positive culture that allows entire teams to thrive.

The Best Books on Philanthropy

Philanthropy may be as small as giving away used toys, or as big as a multi-billion dollar donation. It’s about looking out for each other and supporting those in need. Perhaps you are looking for ways to give back to your community – because that’s the type of community you want to live in – but you’re not sure where to start. This week we’ve selected books that cover different aspects of philanthropy, from how-to guides, to inspirational manifestos to sociopolitical analyses – offering lots of ideas and food for thought.

Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference by William MacAskill

Think of Doing Good Better as a guide on how to turbocharge philanthropy – it is an (entertaining and highly readable) primer on effective altruism, a philosophy focussed on maximising the good you can achieve.  Effective altruism uses a mix of ethics, logic, economics and data analysis to question the normally sentimental basis for doing good.  Using many surprising examples (eg de-worming can have a bigger impact on educational outcomes than donating books and stationery), William MacAskill argues that there can be more than 100-fold difference between doing good, and doing the most good possible.  Doing Good Better challenges our thinking, and suggests a new framework for making the biggest difference we can.

The Ask: for Business, for Philanthropy, for Everyday Living by Laura Fredericks JD

The Ask is, very simply, a guide on how to ask for that donation / promotion / anything you really want.  It is a tool that helps us develop the confidence and skills to overcome our fear of asking for things, particularly money. The Ask contains a simple framework backed by detailed instructions – how to plan, what to say, what not to say – that Laura Fredericks developed through years of experience as a lawyer and professional fundraiser – asking the right questions to get what she wanted.  So whether you are a parent fundraising for your school; or you work in the non-profit sector; or perhaps you want a promotion, or another personal goal – The Ask is the self-help book that will help you get what you want. 

Generation Impact: how Next Gen Donors are Revolutionizing Giving by Sharna Goldseker and Michael Moody

We are at the cusp of a new “golden age of giving”, where entrepreneurship has enabled massive wealth creation, much of which will be donated to charitable causes.  However, the philanthropy landscape is changing – not only are philanthropists getting younger – with entrepreneurs actively donating in their 30s and even 20s – they are also taking a more hands-on approach, donating their skills, time and influence, actively tracking the impact of their donations.  Generation Impact is a detailed survey of the state of this next-gen philanthropy and the opportunities it offers. A must-read for anyone interested in philanthropy, nonprofits, impact investing, and social change.

Giving: Purpose is the New Currency by Alexandre Mars

Alexandre Mars is a tech entrepreneur turned (nearly) full-time philanthropist.  In fact, he has taken it one step further, working to help normalise giving for both individuals and organisations. His challenge?  There are three main barriers to overcome – people don’t know where to give, don’t have time to research charities, and don’t trust their money is being spent well. His solution? He created the Epic Foundation, which emphasises transparency and performance analysis when choosing the causes it supports; it also offers an app for donors to track their impact in real time. Giving: Purpose is the New Currency is Alexandre Mars’s journey from venture capitalist to activist; it is his mission statement, and a call to arms for everyone to view giving as an encouraging and joyful practice.

Just Giving: why Philanthropy is Failing Democracy and how it can Do Better by Rob Reich

Rob Reich is a political scientist asking a thought-provoking question: is philanthropy a threat to democracy?  In Just Giving, Rob Reich investigates the ethical and political dimensions of philanthropy, and calls for reform to how it’s structured and incentivised.  Read it and see if you agree with his argument that philanthropy, especially by wealthy individuals or big organisations, is an exercise of power that can influence policy without accountability; or that in some (many?) cases, philanthropy actually worsens inequality.

The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age by David Callahan

The Givers shares some of the concerns raised in the previous book, Just Giving – that a growing group of ultra-rich philanthropists, fully confident in their (and their vast wealth’s) ability to solve problems, is effectively directing public policy by pouring millions into their pet causes.  What’s more, this is often done without the type of scrutiny or public consultations required of public officials.  David Callahan gives us an insider’s view of elite philanthropy – by people like Bill and Melinda Gates and Mark Zuckerberg – and how their more hands-on approach, coupled with clear social and political viewpoints, is changing the way philanthropy interacts with politics and public policy.  

Opening our eyes and hearts to refugees

Do you know that Refugee Week has been observed in Australia for over 30 years?

Refugee Week is celebrated annually in mid June, incorporating World Refugee Day on June 20.  This is a time when Australians can acknowledge the contributions that refugees and asylum seekers have made to our country, and also for us to learn about the challenges many refugees face as they re-establish themselves and their communities in a new land.

The theme for this year’s Refugee Week is “A World of Stories” – reminding us that each refugee seeking safety has their own story of why they left home, and what they had to do to find safety. Readers who want to learn, and understand, the current conflicts and refugee situations will find these stories powerful and enlightening:

First Generation: 36 Trailblazing Immigrant and Refugees Who Make America Great by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace

In the tradition of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls comes this collection of mini biographies celebrating the achievements of some very special first-generation immigrants and former refugees.  From musician Yo-yo Ma to scientist Albert Einstein, from former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to tennis champion Martina Navratilova, this collection of high achievers span different ethnicities, religions, and professions.  And despite the America-centric title, many of their contributions have impacted / benefitted the entire world.  First Generation also offers a powerful reminder on how a safe environment, personal freedoms and educational opportunities help people realise their potential.

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen

In Viet Thanh Nguyen’s mind, the experience of becoming a refugee – unwanted where they come from, unwanted where they go to – brands you forever.  He explores this idea in the eight short stories that comprise The Refugees.  These are not stories about escaping war, nor even about adapting to new cultures; they are simply stories of love, loss, memory and family – melancholy stories seen through the prism of the refugee experience.  Viet Thanh Nguyen is a respected academic who has become a literary star since winning the Pulitzer Prize (and several other awards) with his first novel, The Sympathizer.  The Refugees is his first collection of short stories. 

Stepping Stones: a Refugee Family’s Journey by Margriet Ruurs and Nizar Ali Badr

Canadian writer Margriet Ruurs was inspired by the art of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr to create this book – they didn’t know each other and had never met, but managed to collaborate despite the distance between their two countries, and the political turmoil in Syria.  Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who live a happy, peaceful life in Syria until war comes.  As bombs fall ever closer to their village, Rama’s family flees with only a few belongings, travelling overland and across the seas until they find a safe, new home. Nizar Ali Badr’s distinctive illustrations are made by arranging multicoloured stones – into characters and scenes with surprising levels of emotion and humour.  Stepping Stones is an excellent way to introduce the topic of war and refugees to young readers.

Homes by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung

Abu Bakr al Rabeeah was a young teen when he confided his dream to his English teacher: he wanted to tell his story of growing up in Iraq and Syria, and of his family’s journey to safety in Canada.  He noticed that his fellow Canadians knew little about the situation in the Middle East, and wanted to challenge those who wanted to define his family only by their experience as refugees.  Eight months later, Abu achieved his dream with the help of his teacher, Winnie Yeung.  Homes is a gripping first-person account of growing up in a war zone.  The horrors of war are interwoven with ordinary childhood pursuits in a way that shocks the reader – flying kites with cousins among bombed-out buildings; playing with shell casings in the street – yet Abu’s childhood is not without love, or fun.  

I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See by Giles Duley

Giles Duley is a photojournalist who is best known for documenting the long-term impact of war.  Despite losing both legs and an arm during an explosion whilst on assignment, he has continued his work as a photographer, reporting the stories of refugees not to evoke pity, but to encourage empathy and to inspire change.  I Can Only Tell You What My Eyes See is a record of the refugee crisis in Europe during 2015/6.  Giles Duley travelled through Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, through the Balkans and to Greece and Germany, to retrace the journeys of people forced to flee their homes in the Middle East to seek safety in Europe.  Profits from the sale of this book will be donated to the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR).

We are Displaced: My Journey and Stories from Refugee Girls Around the World by Malala Yousafzai

In We Are Displaced, Malala Yousafzai uses her considerable public profile to highlight the issue of displacement – people forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution or natural disaster.  This is a much more widespread problem than most people realise – happening all around the world, affecting more than 68 million people, mostly women and girls. Starting with Malala’s own experience of internal displacement within Pakistan while escaping from Taliban rule, we are introduced to eight other girls, from countries as diverse as Yemen, Syria, Guatemala and the Congo, and their stories of displacement and disruption (and often discrimination as well).  These accounts are powerfully personal, confronting, and ultimately hopeful, as these resilient girls rebuild their lives in new communities.