Category Archives: Australian Stories

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!

The hottest pre-orders to look forward to this year.

Here in Melbourne, we are all currently staying safe at home and our bookshelves are definitely getting a workout. So if you are nearing the end of your reading list, fear not, there are some amazing books on the horizon that we are so excited to read and you can pre-order now. 

Make yourself a cuppa and get ready to add these titles to your reading list. If you’re looking for even more titles check out our pre-order section here.

Flavour by Yotam Ottolenghi

Flavour-forward, vegetable-based recipes are at the heart of Yotam Ottolenghi’s food. In this stunning new cookbook Yotam and co-writer Ixta Belfrage break down the three factors that create flavour and offer innovative vegetable dishes that deliver brand-new ingredient combinations to excite and inspire. Ottolenghi Flavour combines simple recipes for weeknights, low-effort high-impact dishes, and standout meals for the relaxed cook. Packed with signature colourful photography, Flavour not only inspires us with what to cook, but how flavour is dialled up and why it works. With sure-fire hits, such as Aubergine Dumplings alla Parmigiana, Hasselback Beetroot with Lime Leaf Butter, Miso Butter Onions, Spicy Mushroom Lasagne and Romano Pepper Schnitzels, plus mouthwatering photographs of nearly every one of the more than 100 recipes, Ottolenghi Flavour is the impactful, next-level approach to vegetable cooking that Ottolenghi fans and vegetable lovers everywhere have been craving.

You can find Yotam Ottolenhi’s other books here.

Is This Anything by Jerry Sienfeld

The first book in twenty five years from Jerry Seinfeld features his best work across five decades in comedy. Since his first performance at the legendary New York nightclub “Catch a Rising Star” as a twenty-one-year-old student in autumn of 1975, Jerry Seinfeld has written his own material and saved everything. “Whenever I came up with a funny bit, whether it happened on a stage, in a conversation, or working it out on my preferred canvas, the big yellow legal pad, I kept it in one of those old-school accordion folders,” Seinfeld writes. “So I have everything I thought was worth saving from forty-five years of hacking away at this for all I was worth.” For this book, Jerry Seinfeld has selected his favourite material, organised decade by decade. In page after hilarious page, one brilliantly crafted observation after another, readers will witness the evolution of one of the great comedians of our time and gain new insights into the thrilling but unforgiving art of writing stand-up comedy.

Just like You by Nick Hornby

This warm, wise, highly entertaining twenty-first century love story is about what happens when the person who makes you happiest is someone you never expected.

Lucy used to handle her adult romantic life according to the script she’d been handed. She met a guy just like herself: same age, same background, same hopes and dreams; they got married and started a family. Too bad he made her miserable. Now, two decades later, she’s a nearly-divorced, forty-one-year-old schoolteacher with two school-aged sons, and there is no script anymore. So when she meets Joseph, she isn’t exactly looking for love-, she’s more in the market for a babysitter. Joseph is twenty-two, living at home with his mother, and working several jobs, including the butcher counter where he and Lucy meet. It’s not a match anyone one could have predicted. He’s of a different class, a different culture, and a different generation. But sometimes it turns out that the person who can make you happiest is the one you least expect, though it can take some manoeuvring to see it through.

Just Like You is a brilliantly observed, tender, but also brutally funny new novel that gets to the heart of what it means to fall surprisingly and headlong in love with the best possible person-, someone you didn’t see coming.

You can find Nick Hornby’s other books here.

All Our Shimmering Skies by Trent Dalton

The bestselling author of Boy Swallows Universe, Trent Dalton, returns with All Our Shimmering Skies which is 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. ‘Run, Molly, run,’ says the daytime sky. Run to the vine forests. Run to northern Australia’s wild and magical monsoon lands. Run to friendship. Run to love. Run. Because the graverobber’s coming, Molly, and the night-time sky is coming with him. So run, Molly, run. 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.

A Song for Dark Times by Ian Rankin

When his daughter Samantha calls in the dead of night, John Rebus knows it’s not good news. Her husband has been missing for two days. Rebus fears the worst, and knows, from his lifetime in the police that his daughter will be the prime suspect. He wasn’t the best father, the job always came first, but now his daughter needs him more than ever. But is he going as a father or a detective? As he leaves at dawn to drive to the windswept coast, and a small town with big secrets, he wonders whether this might be the first time in his life where the truth is the one thing he doesn’t want to find…

You can find Ian Rankin’s other books here and the whole Inspector Rebus series here.

Honeybee by Craig Silver

‘Find out who you are, and live that life.’ Late in the night, fourteen-year-old Sam Watson steps onto a quiet overpass, climbs over the rail and looks down at the road far below. At the other end of the same bridge, an old man, Vic, smokes his last cigarette. The two see each other across the void. A fateful connection is made, and an unlikely friendship blooms. Slowly, we learn what led Sam and Vic to the bridge that night. Bonded by their suffering, each privately commits to the impossible task of saving the other. Honeybee is a heartbreaking, life-affirming novel that throws us headlong into a world of petty thefts, extortion plots, botched bank robberies, daring dog rescues and one spectacular drag show. At the heart of Honeybee is Sam: a solitary, resilient young person battling to navigate the world as their true self; ensnared by loyalty to a troubled mother, scarred by the volatility of a domineering stepfather, and confounded by the kindness of new alliances. Honeybee is a tender, profoundly moving novel, brimming with vivid characters and luminous words. It’s about two lives forever changed by a chance encounter — one offering hope, the other redemption. It’s about when to persevere, and when to be merciful, as Sam learns when to let go, and when to hold on.

Enjoy!

Exploring Young Adult books of the Inky Awards.

Founded in 2007, the Inky Awards celebrate the increasingly popular Young Adult (YA) genre. Each year, Australia’s young adults are given the opportunity to vote for their favourite YA release of the year. The awards are divided into two categories: the Gold Inky is for Australian fiction and the Silver Inky is for International fiction. Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic the awards will not run this year so we are going to dive a little deeper into the 2019 Gold Award shortlist and its winner. 

After the Lights Go Out by Lili Wilkinson

This is a gripping tale that was super popular. Seventeen-year-old Pru Palmer lives with her twin sisters, Grace and Blythe, and their father, Rick, on the outskirts of an isolated mining community. The Palmers are doomsday preppers. They have a bunker filled with non-perishable food and a year’s worth of water. One day while Rick is at the mine, the power goes out. At the Palmer’s house, and in the town. All communication is cut. No one knows why. It doesn’t take long for everything to unravel. In town, supplies run out and people get desperate. The sisters decide to keep their bunker a secret. The world is different; the rules are different. Survival is everything, and family comes first.

Hive by A.J. Betts

This one is for all of the science fiction lovers. Hayley tends to her bees and follows the rules in the only world she has ever known. Until she witnesses the impossible: a drip from the ceiling. A drip? It doesn’t make sense. Yet she hears it, catches it. Tastes it. Curiosity is a hook. What starts as a drip leads to a lie, a death, a boy, a beast, and too many awful questions.

You can find Rogue, the sequel to Hive, here.

Ice Wolves by Amie Kaufman

This story is a heart-pounding adventure with magical inventions about finding one’s place in a sharply divided world. 

Everyone in Vallen knows that ice wolves and scorch dragons are sworn enemies who live deeply separate lives.

So when twelve-year-old orphan Anders takes one elemental form and his twin sister, Rayna, takes another, he has to question whether they are even related. Still, whether or not they’re family, Anders knows that Rayna is his best and only true friend. She’s nothing like the brutal, cruel dragons who claimed her as one of their own and stole her away.

In order to rescue her, Anders will have to enlist at the foreboding Ulfar Academy, a school for young wolves that values loyalty to the pack above all else. But for Anders, loyalty is more complicated than blind obedience, and friendship is the most powerful shape-shifting force of all.

You can find the whole Elementals series on Booko.

The Art of Taxidermy by Sharon Kernot

Lottie collects dead creatures and lovingly cares for them, hoping to preserve them, to save them from disintegration. Her father understands; Lottie has a scientific mind, he thinks. Her aunt wants it to stop, and she goes to cruel lengths to make sure it does. And her mother? Lottie’s mother died long ago. And Lottie is searching for a way to be close to her. The Art of Taxidermy is a heartbreaking verse novel exploring love and death, grief and beauty, and the ways we try to make sense of it all.

Whisper by Lynette Noni

Whisper won the Gold Inky Award in 2019. 

Lengard is a secret government facility for extraordinary people, they told me. It’s for people just like you. I believed them. That was my mistake. There isn’t anyone else in the world like me. I’m different. I’m an anomaly. I’m a monster. For two years, six months, fourteen days, eleven hours and sixteen minutes, Subject Six-Eight-Four, Jane Doe, has been locked away and experimented on, without uttering a single word. Life at Lengard follows a strict, torturous routine that has never changed. Until now. When Jane is assigned a new and unexpectedly kind evaluator, her resolve begins to crack, despite her best efforts. As she uncovers the truth about Lengard’s mysterious program, Jane discovers that her own secret is at the heart of a sinister plot and one wrong move, one wrong word, could change the world.

Jane Doe’s story finishes in the sequel, Weapon.

White Night by Ellie Marney

In Bo Mitchell’s country town, a ‘White Night’ light-show event has the potential to raise vital funds to save the skate park. And out of town, a girl from a secretive off-the-grid community called Garden of Eden has the potential to change the way Bo sees the world. But are there too many secrets in Eden? As Bo is drawn away from his friends and towards Rory, he gradually comes to believe that Eden may not be utopia after all, and that their group leader’s goal to go off the grid may be more permanent – and more dangerous – than anyone could have predicted.

Enjoy!

Looking at the Miles Franklin Literary Shortlist for 2020

With a new wave of restrictions in place to keep us all safe, it looks like we have a little more reading time on our hands so we have decided to dive into the world of literary awards and explore books we may have missed off our reading list. 

This week we are diving into the Miles Franklin Literary Shortlist for 2020 and wow, what a great list it is!

Just for a bit of context, the Miles Franklin Literary Award was established by author and feminist Stella Maria Sarah Miles Franklin, who is best known for her first novel My Brilliant Career. The Miles Franklin Awards were first presented in 1957, where the Award celebrates novels of the highest literary merit that tell stories about Australian life.

Let’s take a closer look…

The White Girl by Tony Birch

Odette Brown has lived her whole life on the fringes of a small country town. Raising her granddaughter Sissy on her own, Odette has managed to stay under the radar of the welfare authorities who are removing Aboriginal children from their communities. When the menacing Sergeant Lowe arrives in town, determined to fully enforce the law, any freedom that Odette and Sissy enjoy comes under grave threat. Odette must make an impossible choice to protect her family. 

In The White Girl, Tony Birch has created memorable characters whose capacity for love and courage are a timely reminder of the endurance of the human spirit. 

Islands by Peggy Frew

This is a spellbinding novel with a riveting and brilliant portrait of a family in crisis by the breathtakingly talented author of House of Sticks and Hope Farm.

There was a house on a hill in the city and it was full of us, our family, but then it began to empty. We fell out. We made a mess. We draped ourselves in blame and disappointment and lurched around, bumping into each other. Some of us wailed and shouted; some of us barely made a sound. None of us was listening, or paying attention. And in the middle of it all you, very quietly, were gone.

Helen and John are too preoccupied with making a mess of their marriage to notice the quiet ways in which their daughters are suffering. Junie grows up brittle and defensive, Anna difficult and rebellious.

When fifteen year old Anna fails to come home one night, her mother’s not too worried; Anna’s taken off before but always returned. Helen waits three days to report her disappearance.

But this time Anna doesn’t come back …

No One by John Hughes

In the ghost hours of a Monday morning a man feels a dull thud against the side of his car near the entrance to Redfern Station. He doesn’t stop immediately. By the time he returns to the scene, the road is empty, but there is a dent in the car, high up on the passenger door, and what looks like blood. Only a man could have made such a dent, he thinks. For some reason he looks up, though he knows no one is there. Has he hit someone, and if so, where is the victim? So begins a story that takes us to the heart of contemporary Australia’s festering relationship to its indigenous past. A story about guilt for acts which precede us, crimes we are not sure we have committed, crimes gone on so long they now seem criminal-less. Part crime novel, part road movie, part love story, No One takes its protagonist to the very heart of a nation where non-existence is the true existence, where crimes cannot be resolved and guilt cannot be redeemed, and no one knows what to do with ghosts that are real.

The Returns by Philip Salom

The Returns is a story about the eccentricities, failings and small triumphs that humans are capable of, a novel that pokes fun at literary and artistic pretensions, while celebrating the expansiveness of art, kindness and friendship. 

Elizabeth posts a ‘room for rent’ notice in Trevor’s bookshop and is caught off-guard when Trevor answers the ad himself. She expected a young student not a middle-aged bookseller whose marriage has fallen apart. But Trevor is attracted to Elizabeth’s house because of the empty shed in her backyard, the perfect space for him to revive the artistic career he abandoned years earlier. The face-blind, EH Holden-driving Elizabeth is a solitary and feisty book editor, and she accepts him, on probation…

In this poignant yet upbeat novel the past keeps returning in the most unexpected ways. Elizabeth is at the beck and call of her ageing mother, and the associated memories of her childhood in a Rajneesh community. Trevor’s Polish father disappeared when Trevor was fifteen, and his mother died not knowing whether he was dead or alive. The authorities have declared him dead, but is he?

Exploded View by Carrie Tiffany

Spare, poetic and intensely visual, Exploded View is the powerful new novel from the author of Everyman’s Rules for Scientific Living and Mateship with Birds. Carry Tiffany is one of Australia’s most celebrated writers and winner of the inaugural Stella Prize. 

Must a girl always be a part?

How can she become a whole?

In the late 1970s, in the forgotten outer suburbs, a girl has her hands in the engine of a Holden. A sinister new man has joined the family. He works as a mechanic and operates an unlicensed repair shop at the back of their block.

The family is under threat. The girl reads the Holden workshop manual for guidance. She resists the man with silence, then with sabotage. She fights him at the place where she believes his heart lives; in the engine of the car.

The Yield by Tara June Winch

The yield in English is the reaping, the things that man can take from the land. In the language of the Wiradjuri yield is the things you give to, the movement, the space between things: baayanha. Knowing that he will soon die, Albert ‘Poppy’ Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. He finds the words on the wind. August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather’s death. She returns home for his burial, wracked with grief and burdened with all she tried to leave behind. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends she endeavours to save their land, a quest that leads her to the voice of her grandfather and into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river. Profoundly moving and exquisitely written, Tara June Winch’s The Yield is the story of a people and a culture dispossessed. But it is as much a celebration of what was and what endures, and a powerful reclaiming of Indigenous language, storytelling and identity.

Enjoy!