Category Archives: Australian Stories

Summer reading with Booko: Australian Food

Australian food is all about fresh flavours and local produce, healthy but never preachy, and whose main ingredient seems to be sunshine itself. We’re loving Bill Granger’s new book aptly named Australian Food.


Building a better world with Booko: Low Tox Life

Ever stopped to read the list of ingredients in the products you use every day? In Low Tox Life, activist and educator Alexx Stuart gently clears a path through the maze of mass-market ingredient cocktails, focusing on four key areas: Body, Home, Food and Mind. 

The book launches we are excited about

The months leading up to Christmas are, traditionally, the busiest time for book releases. This season, booklovers are more spoiled for choice than ever – many releases had been rescheduled from earlier this year to now.   With new books ranging from important to high-impact to crowd-pleasers to cult-classics, here are some book launches we are excited about:

Boy on Fire : The Young Nick Cave by Mark Mordue

Boy on Fire is the first instalment of the long-awaited, near-mythical biography of Nick Cave, written by author, poet and veteran rock journalist Mark Mordue.  Focussing on his earliest years, Boy on Fire is Nick Cave’s creation story – how his friends, family, the Victorian countryside (in particular the town of Wangaratta) and subsequent schooling in Melbourne, had influenced and shaped Nick Cave into the artist he would become.  Not only is Boy on Fire a biography about a fascinating person, it is also a lyrical and evocative history of a  bygone time and place.

Fight for Planet A by Craig Reucassel

Following the huge success of War on Waste, Craig Reucassel turns his comedy / satire talents to  the issue of carbon emissions, Fight for Planet A.  Fight for Planet A not only explores how we can reduce carbon emissions on an individual level, it is also a call to arms, encouraging Australians to initiate conversations about climate change, that can drive systemic change within our local and wider communities.  There’s no Planet B, so we’d better fight for Planet A! This book version provides a handy reference to ideas and strategies mentioned in the original TV series. 

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

A Promised Land – the first volume of Barack Obama’s two-part memoir about his presidency –  is probably the most significant new book of 2020.  Expectations are high – this long-awaited memoir follows the astonishing success of Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which has sold over 60 million copies to date.  Available in 25 languages,  A Promised Land starts with Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, ending upon the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, and is an account of both public progress and personal growth.  Expect additional interest in this account, following the results of the recent US elections.

The Dressmaker’s Secret by Rosalie Ham

She’s back!  The Dressmaker’s Secret continues the story of Tilly Dunnage and the rest of the beloved cast of Rosalie Ham’s acclaimed The Dressmaker.
It is 1953 and Melbourne society is looking forward to a full social season celebrating the coronation.  Tilly Dunnage is toiling away in a second-rate Collins Street salon, lying low after exacting her revenge on her hometown of Dungatar. Her plan to evade the furious townsfolk of Dungatar was working well, until Tilly’s talents – and her name – started to feature in the fashion pages…  Reprising the mix of drama, high fashion and dark humour found in the original novel, The Dressmaker’s Secret looks to be another terrific holiday read.

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Ernest Cline was so energised by the process of adapting his beloved novel, Ready Player One, into a movie, that he created a surprise sequel. Ready Player Two starts only days after the end of the original novel.  Our hero, Wade Watts, stumbles across a new and unexpected quest – a last Easter Egg from James, Halliday for his heir.  Not only will it make the OASIS more wondrous and addictive, but
Wade has to beat a dangerous new rival, who has murder on his mind.  Ready Player Two offers the same winning combination of fun action-packed adventure and pop-culture nostalgia that has delighted millions of fans.

The Office: the Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s by Andy Greene

The Office was not just Ricky Gervais’ first step towards superstardom, it is also (in its American incarnation) an influential piece of pop culture. This award-winning show ran for nine seasons until 2013, and is still regularly screened. Its alumni, including Steve Carrell, Mindy Kaling and John Krasinski, have gone on to successful and varied careers as writers and performers. Andy Greene’s book is perfectly timed to celebrate the 15th anniversary of The Office’s premiere. This is an oral history based on a whopping 86 interviews with cast and crew, as well as archival material. The result takes fans behind-the-scenes, with celebrations of favourite episodes, as well as plenty of previously-unpublished anecdotes.

Top picks from the global best seller lists

Christmas is inching closer and we’ve begun to think about presents for friends and family so we thought we would explore the best seller lists that are making waves around the world. Books are a great present, not only are they super easy to wrap but they also give the receiver a reason to step away from the, sometimes bonkers, festive celebrations to loose themselves in a new novel. 

Over the next few weeks we will be sharing the Christmas postage times (in case you are sending parcels overseas), books that we are eagerly awaiting the launch of and then we’ll share an even bigger raft of present ideas to satisfy the whole family. We will also be sending out our Christmas email with a ton of tips and tricks for having a smooth festive shopping season. Make sure you have subscribed here to receive the email. 

Here are our favourites from the best seller lists around the world.

My Life in Red and White by Arsene Wenger

For the very first time, world-renowned and revolutionary football manager Arsene Wenger tells his own story. He opens up about his life, sharing principles for success on and off the field with lessons on leadership, and vivid tales of his 22 years managing Arsenal to unprecedented success. There, Wenger won multiple Premier League championships and a record number of FA Cups, and his teams included the Invincibles of 2003-2004 and a record-breaking undefeated 49-match run. He popularised an attacking approach and belief that the game should be entertaining but he also changed the attitudes of British football fans towards players’ diet, fitness and coaching methods and towards foreign managers too. In My Life in Red and White, Wenger charts his extraordinary career, including his rise in France and Japan where he managed Nancy, Monaco and Nagoya Grampus Eight (clubs that also play in red-and-white, like Arsenal!) to his 22 years at the helm of an internationally renowned club from 1996 onwards. He describes the unrest that led to his resignation in 2018, and his current role as Chief of Global Football Development for FIFA. He offers studious reflections on the game and his groundbreaking approach to motivation, mindset, fitness and football that was often beautiful to watch. This book is a must-read for not only Arsenal fans but football fans everywhere, for management and business leaders, and anyone seeking the tools for success in work and life. It will illuminate the mystique surrounding one of the most revered and successful manager’s life story, strategy and vision in the world’s most popular sport.

Life’s What you Make It by Phillip Schofield

We love the blurb for this book so much that we are just going to let Phillip Schofield’s tell you about his book himself

For a long time, I felt that I couldn’t write this book. At first, I didn’t think I’d lived enough, then life got busy and filled with distractions. In more recent years, there was always a very painful consideration – I knew where it would eventually have to go. I have recently decided that the truth is the only thing that can set me free. The truth has taken a long time to make itself clear to me, but now is the right time to share it, all of it. Television and broadcasting has been a part of my DNA for as long as I can remember. As a young boy I would make model TV sets out of cardboard boxes, while spending long summers at home, barefoot on Cornwall’s golden beaches. Landing a job at the ice-cream kiosk, I would enviously look on as my presenting heroes took to the stage of Radio 1’s Roadshow, an unforgettable event when it came to town. In Life’s What You Make It I look back with nostalgic delight on my life, from being a young boy endlessly writing letters to the BBC in pursuit of a job in broadcasting, to making it on to the Broom Cupboard, with my infamous sidekick Gordon the Gopher, to being on Going Live and starring as the lead in Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. It has taken four decades to get here but I feel lucky to have called the sets of Talking Telephone Numbers, The Cube, Dancing on Ice and of course, This Morning, home. I’m going to take you behind the scenes of my television home at ITV, into my career and my dangerously funny relationship with Holly Willoughby. I’m going to introduce you to my loving and remarkable family, and I hope most of all to tell you that life, it seems, is what you make it. Take it from someone who has sat on the very edge and looked over, it’s all about the people that love you, and after that anything is possible. So, finally, here we go, this is the real me.

War Lord by Bernard Cornwell

This is the epic conclusion to the globally bestselling historical series; The Last Kingdom. In the middle years of the ninth century, the fierce Danes stormed onto British soil, hungry for spoils and conquest. Kingdom after kingdom fell to the ruthless invaders until but one realm remained. And suddenly the fate of all England, and the course of history, depended upon one man, one king. Bernard Cornwell writes a rousing epic adventure of courage, treachery, duty, devotion, majesty, love, and battle as seen through the eyes of a young warrior who straddled two worlds.

England is under attack. Chaos reigns. Northumbria, the last kingdom, is threatened by armies from all sides, by land and sea and only one man stands in their way. Torn between loyalty and sworn oaths, the warrior king Lord Uhtred of Bebbanburg faces his greatest ever battle and prepares for his ultimate fate. You can view the 12 other books in the series here

Violet Bent Backward Over The Grass by Lana Del Rey

”Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass is the title poem of the book and the first poem I wrote of many. Some of which came to me in their entirety, which I dictated and then typed out, and some that I worked laboriously picking apart each word to make the perfect poem. They are eclectic and honest and not trying to be anything other than what they are and for that reason I’m proud of them, especially because the spirit in which they were written was very authentic.” – Lana Del Rey 

Lana Del Ray’s breathtaking first book solidifies her further as the essential writer of her times. This is a collection of more than thirty poems, many exclusive to the book: Never to Heaven, The Land of 1,000 Fires, Past the Bushes Cypress Thriving, LA Who Am I to Love You?, Tessa DiPietro, Happy, Paradise Is Very Fragile, Bare Feet on Linoleum and many more. This beautiful hardcover edition showcases Lana’s typewritten manuscript pages alongside her original photography. The result is an extraordinary poetic landscape that reflects the unguarded spirit of its creator.

All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton

The bestselling author of Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton, returns with All Our Shimmering Skies; a glorious novel destined to become another Australian classic. Darwin, 1942, and as Japanese bombs rain overhead, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger’s daughter, turns once again to the sky for guidance. She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag next to the map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. By her side are the most unlikely travelling companions: a razor-tongued actress named Greta and a fallen Japanese fighter pilot named Yukio. All Our Shimmering Skies is a story about gifts that fall from the sky, curses we dig from the earth and the secrets we bury inside ourselves. It is an odyssey of true love and grave danger; of the darkness and the light; of bones and blue skies. A buoyant, beautiful and magical novel abrim with warmth, wit and wonder, a love letter to Australia and the art of looking up.

The Survivors by Jane Harper

This is the compelling new novel from Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry. Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home. Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn. When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away.

Enjoy!

Building a better world with Booko: Every Women’s Guide to Saving the Planet

Every Woman’s Guide to Saving the Planet is Natalie Isaacs’ inspiring story combined with a practical tool kit for reducing your carbon footprint. 🍃

Grow your general knowledge with Booko: Gemstones and Minerals of Australia

Think you know a rock from a stone? Today’s book choice is an accessible reference and identification guide to all gemstones and minerals found in Australia. It’s Gemstones and Minerals of Australia.

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Dad

Hold onto your hats, can you believe it is now September? That means it’s Father’s Day on Sunday which makes it that time of year when we all celebrate the father figures in our lives and take time to see, chat, or simply remember them. It’s also traditionally the highest selling month for socks (no idea if that’s actually true but based on my Dad’s sock drawer when we were growing up, it’s probably about 90% true). 

If you’re looking to give Dad something a little different this year, we have some great suggestions for you. If you are worried about a gift arriving in time, you could always buy an ebook version for his e-reader, an audio book, send a voucher or simply make sure you’re shopping locally (here’s a reminder of how to shop for books locally here).

Finally, if your family is based in Melbourne, which is currently under Stage 4 restrictions, do take a look at Click for Vic where there are a ton of great local stores that can deliver a gift, food hamper or tasty beverage straight to Dad’s front door. 

Here are our picks for the Top Reads for Dad this Father’s Day:

The Happiest Man on Earth by Eddie Jaku

Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It is up to you. Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, a Jew second. He was proud of his country. But all of that changed on 9 November 1938, when he was beaten, arrested and taken to a concentration camp. Over the next seven years, Eddie faced unimaginable horrors every day, first in Buchenwald, then in Auschwitz, then on the Nazi death march. He lost family, friends, his country. Because he survived, Eddie made the vow to smile every day. He pays tribute to those who were lost by telling his story, sharing his wisdom and living his best possible life. He now believes he is the ‘happiest man on earth’. Published as Eddie turns 100, this is a powerful, heartbreaking and ultimately hopeful memoir of how happiness can be found even in the darkest of times.

The Mamba Mentality by Kobe Bryant

Basketball superstar Kobe Bryant gives us a lavish, deep dive inside the mind of one of the most revered athletes of all time. In the wake of his retirement from professional basketball, Kobe “The Black Mamba” Bryant shared his vast knowledge and understanding of the game and took readers on an unprecedented journey to the core of the legendary “Mamba mentality.” Citing an obligation and an opportunity to teach young players, hardcore fans, and devoted students of the game how to play it “the right way,” The Mamba Mentality takes us inside the mind of one of the most intelligent, analytical, and creative basketball players ever.

Bryant reveals his famously detailed approach and the steps he took to prepare mentally and physically to not just succeed at the game, but to excel. Readers will learn how Bryant studied an opponent, how he channeled his passion for the game, how he played through injuries. They’ll also get fascinating granular detail as he breaks down specific plays and match-ups from throughout his career.

Bryant’s detailed accounts are paired with stunning photographs by the Hall of Fame photographer Andrew D. Bernstein. The combination of Bryant’s narrative and Bernstein’s photos make The Mamba Mentality an unprecedented look behind the curtain at the career of one of the world’s most celebrated and fascinating athletes.

Pops by Michael Chabon

For the September 2016 issue of GQ, Michael Chabon wrote a piece about accompanying his son Abraham Chabon, then thirteen, to Paris Men’s Fashion Week. Possessed with a precocious sense of style, Abe was in his element chatting with designers he idolised and turning a critical eye to the freshest runway looks of the season; Chabon Sr., whose interest in clothing stops at thrift-shopping for vintage western shirts or Hermès neckties,” sat idly by, staving off yawns and fighting the impulse that the whole thing was a massive waste of time. Despite his own indifference, however, what gradually emerged as Chabon ferried his son to and from fashion shows was a deep respect for his son’s passion. The piece quickly became a viral sensation. With the GQ story as its centerpiece, and featuring six additional essays plus an introduction, Pops illuminates the meaning, magic, and mysteries of fatherhood as only Michael Chabon can.

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

Utopia Avenue might be the most improbable British band you’ve never heard of. Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967, folksinger Elf Holloway, blues bassist Dean Moss, guitar virtuoso Jasper de Zoet and jazz drummer Griff Griffin together created a unique sound, with lyrics that captured their turbulent times. The band produced only two albums in two years, yet their legacy lives on. This is the story of Utopia Avenue’s brief, blazing journey from Soho clubs and draughty ballrooms to the promised land of America, just when the Summer of Love was receding into something much darker – a kaleidoscopic tale of dreams, drugs, love, madness and grief; of stardom’s wobbly ladder and fame’s Faustian pact; and of the collision between idealism and reality as the Sixties drew to a close. Above all, this captivating novel celebrates the power of music to connect across divides, define an era and thrill the soul.

Tea and Scotch with Bradman by Roland Perry

In 1995, journalist and author Roland Perry wrote to Sir Donald Bradman requesting an interview for a biography he was planning of the great cricketer. Surprisingly, the Don agreed. It was the start of a conversation that continued for years, during which the real Bradman shone, not only as a great sportsman but musician, brilliant thinker and humourist with a fondness for tea and a Scotch or two. In Tea and Scotch with Bradman, Perry paints an intimate and revealing portrait of the man many regard as the greatest Australian cricketer of all time.

Catapults and Key Hooks by Geoffrey Fisher 


Whether building a bee hotel or an insect house to help your garden’s ecosystem thrive, crafting a catapult, whistle, skipping rope or cup and ball game to give away, or making a key hook or table brush to organise your home, the result of each will be entirely unique while also effortlessly stylish. All basic woodworking techniques are covered, plus Geoffrey Fisher also shows how best to prepare materials, including checking for disease, drying and stripping bark, and gives a detailed guide on your essential tool kit – what to have, how to handle your tools safely and how to maintain everything to the highest standard meaning anyone can pick up Catapults & Key Hooks and dive straight into the world of Geoffrey’s designs.

Enjoy!