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Painfully funny; Comedians making us uncomfortable with their books.

“Humour is a rubber sword, it allows you to make a point without drawing blood.”

-Mary Hirsch

A good stand-up comedian has the ability to draw out and emphasise humorous elements of everyday mundane occurrences and circumstances that most of us don’t even notice. But it is a brave comedian that takes us on a journey to the punch line while wandering through rather uncomfortable territory ridiculing the darker elements in society in order to help generate discussion.

Brave comics play an important function in society as they hold up a mirror and force us to confront realities that we would often prefer to ignore. Beneath their humour lies a rich layer of social commentary about race relations, stereotypes and our behaviour. It offers a unique lens through which we can see the world around us, changing our perspective and sharing a truth that you often don’t  find elsewhere, and it can be a very valuable thing.

The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is currently in full swing so we’d like to share our favourite comics from all over the world who help us confront our own social bias.

 

Friendly Fire by Wil Anderson

In this book, Australian comedian Wil Anderson explores a diverse range of topics- from childhood obesity to Valentine’s Day, trackie pants to terrorism, aging to four-wheel-drive etiquette, and exercise regimes to VB beer ads- putting his own unique spin on it all. Nothing is sacred as Anderson shifts from topic to topic, stating his views on each and raising some intriguing questions (for example, why is it that you can always come up with the perfect comeback for an insult about thirty seconds too late?). But he also looks at some more serious issues, like the pitiful amount of money that pensioners receive every fortnight and Australia’s binge drinking culture.

Many fascinating points are covered in this funny and often satirical novel. You can hear more of Wil Anderson in his Wilosophy podcasts, as he interviews such interesting characters as Tim Minchin, Jane Caro, Nazeem Hussain, Charlie Pickering and Dr Karl Kruszelnicki.

 

 

Storm by Tim Minchin

A storm is brewing in the confines of a London dinner party. Small talk quickly descends into a verbal and intellectual battle between science and belief, as comedian Tim goes head to head with the mysterious fifth guest at the table – a hippy named Storm. With stunning original artwork, Tim’s sublime ranty beat-poem weaves through the world we live in, where alternative medicine is given credence and public funding, psychics have primetime TV exposure and people are happy with mystery rather than answers. While Storm herself may not be converted, audiences from London to Sydney have been won over by Tim’s lyrical wonders and the timely message of the piece in a society where science is attacked as the enemy of belief. STORM is the illustrated book born from the acclaimed internet sensation – the animation that has become an anthem for critical thinking worldwide, attracting over three million views. Now fully reimagined, STORM is a masterpiece that sparkles with beauty, wit, reason and rationality.

 

 

The Happiest Refugee by Anh Do

The plight of refugees is in the spotlight once more, making this a great time to revisit this heart-warming book.  The Happiest Refugee is comedian Anh Do’s memoir, which begins with his family’s escape from war-torn Vietnam.  During their journey in a leaky fishing boat, Anh and his family nearly die from disease, starvation, dehydration and pirate attacks.   Even when they are rescued and resettled in Australia, there is no simple Happy Ever After: Anh and his family face many hardships while they rebuild their lives.  Fortunately, hard work, determination, a loving family and a sense of humour help them to overcome many difficulties and pave the way to success.

The Happiest Refugee has won many awards, and was so popular that it became a live show that toured Australia.  What makes it so special is Anh’s irrepressible optimism – he can find the silver lining in even the darkest cloud. Anh Do has written a children’s version of his book, named The Little Refugee, which tells the same story in a more age-appropriate manner.

 

Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse by David Mitchell

Why is every film or tv programme a sequel or a remake? Why are people so f***ing hung up about swearing? Why do the asterisks in that sentence make it ok? Why do so many people want to stop other people doing things, and how can they be stopped from stopping them? These and many other questions trouble David Mitchell. Join him on a tour of the absurdities of modern life – from Ryanair to Richard III, Downton Abbey to phone etiquette. Funny, provocative and shot through with refreshing amounts of common sense, Thinking About It Only Makes It Worse celebrates and commiserates on the state of things in our not entirely glorious modern world.

 

 

 

I Am America (and so can you!) by Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert was The Daily Show’s longest-running and most memorable correspondent. His right-wing, super-patriotic persona, his insight and general rightness led to The Colbert Report, a half-hour TV platform for his views on the issues of the day and, more importantly, why everyone else’s views are just plain wrong. I Am America (And So Can You!) features Stephen’s most deeply held knee-jerk beliefs on everything from The Family to Race and Immigration and provides the ultimate satirical guide to the glorious marvel that is American Life. He bravely takes on the forces aligned to destroy America – whether they be terrorists, environmentalists, or brand-name breakfast cereals – and tackles difficult issues like religion, sexuality, and nature (‘I’ve never trusted the sea. What’s it hiding under there?’) With hilarious illustrations and charts (‘Sports to Ignore’) and a complete transcript of Colbert’s infamous speech at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, this is a brilliantly funny book as well as a very clever commentary on America today.

 

 

Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow

Before becoming one of the most successful filmmakers in Hollywood, Judd Apatow was the original comedy nerd. Thirty years later, Apatow is still that same comedy nerd—and he’s still interviewing funny people about why they do what they do.

Sick in the Head gathers Apatow’s most memorable and revealing conversations into one hilarious, wide-ranging, and incredibly candid collection that spans not only his career but his entire adult life. Here are the comedy legends who inspired and shaped him, from Mel Brooks to Steve Martin. Here are the contemporaries he grew up with in Hollywood, from Spike Jonze to Sarah Silverman. And here, finally, are the brightest stars in comedy today, many of whom Apatow has been fortunate to work with, from Seth Rogen to Amy Schumer. And along the way, something kind of magical happens: What started as a lifetime’s worth of conversations about comedy becomes something else entirely. It becomes an exploration of creativity, ambition, neediness, generosity, spirituality, and the joy that comes from making people laugh.

 

 

…and a little something extra…

Australian Comedians Boxset DVD

Three of Australia’s greatest and most beloved comedians performing at the peak of their powers.

Dave Hughes – Pointless
Hughesy’s first love and real passion is stand-up, so much that he threw in his breakfast radio show and gave up the host chair on The Project to set off on an epic stand-up tour. The shows sold out everywhere from Melbourne to Sydney, Darwin to Tamworth and Cairns to Kalgoorlie before heading off to London, Edinburgh and Los Angeles.  The result is Hughesy’s funnies show yet, captured here at a secret, exclusive show at Sydney’s iconic Comedy Store.

Wil Anderson – Wiluminati
Wiluminati was performed for 11 months in 4 different countries including a standing ovation at the prestigious Just For Laughs Festival in Montreal.  Almost twenty years of leaning on a mic stand has brought Wil to this point – a home town show on one of the world’s most prestigious stages.

Adam Hills – Happyism Live
Recorded at London’s famous Hammersmith Apollo, the host of ‘Spicks and Specks’ and ‘Adam Hills Tonight’ delivers a first class evening of comedy, anecdotes and audience participation all delivered in his refreshingly unique, laid back style. Accompanied by BSL Sign Interpreter Catherine King, Adam recounts jaw-dropping tales of meeting the Dalai Lama (and to his surprise making him laugh!) as well as his excitement at meeting The Muppets. Happyism is not only the title, but also his newly formed cult religion and is guaranteed to leave you with a more positive outlook on life.

Enjoy!

Books to read before they’re made into movies

There is something magical about creating your own version of stories before they have been adapted for screen and our imaginations become limited by someone else’s interpretation. Here are our picks of books for you to read before they are made into movies in 2017.

Wonder by R J Palacio

Auggie wants to be an ordinary ten-year-old. He does ordinary things – eating ice cream, playing on his Xbox. He feels ordinary – inside. But ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds. Ordinary kids aren’t stared at wherever they go. Born with a terrible facial abnormality, Auggie has been home-schooled by his parents his whole life. Now, for the first time, he’s being sent to a real school – and he’s dreading it. All he wants is to be accepted – but can he convince his new classmates that he’s just like them, underneath it all? WONDER is a funny, frank, astonishingly moving debut to read in one sitting, pass on to others, and remember long after the final page.

Due to be released in November, Julia Roberts will be playing Auggie’s mother, Owen Wilson stars as his father and Jacob Tremblay as Auggie.

 

The Circle by Dave Eggers

When Mae is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Run out of a sprawling California campus, the Circle links users’ personal emails, social media, and finances with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of transparency. Mae can’t believe her great fortune to work for them – even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public.

The film is released in April and stars Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Karen Gillan, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt, Glenne Headly and Bill Paxton.

 

The Mountain Between Us by Professor Charles Martin

This is a captivating story where two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport. Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her much anticipated wedding. Dr Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to return home to Jacksonville, Florida for a slate of surgeries he has scheduled for the following day. When the last outgoing flight is cancelled due to a broken de-icer and a forthcoming storm, Ben finds a charter plane that can take him around the weather front. And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more, Ben offers the seat to Ashley.

Then the unthinkable happens. The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness – one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States. Their survival becomes increasingly perilous as they must rely on each other to survive.

The movie is to be released later this year and will star Kate Winslett and Idris Elba.

 

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

This is a stunning and life-affirming memoir about surviving a wilfully impoverished, eccentric, and severely misguided family.

The tale of this young girl who comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who’s an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children’s imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty is beautiful written.

The movie has just been launched so read quickly! The film stars Brie Larson, Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson.

 

 

 

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. A passenger lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the prime suspects from a scornful and impatient array of foreign passengers before the murderer decides to strike again.

The long awaited movie will open in November 2017 and has a star studded cast comprising Kenneth Branagh, Tom Bateman, Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer.

 

Enjoy!

New authors to read in 2017

Did you know Spring (in the Northern hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern) is the season when major publishers unveil fiction debutantes to the world of book lovers?

From the gripping and hard hitting The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, to the lighthearted romantic story of The Hating Game by Sally Thorne we’ve read the reviews of books being released and here are our picks for what you’ll want to cozy up and read this year…

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

 

 

 

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey.

 

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

This is the first grown-up novel from TV presenter, and founder of Help Refugees, Dawn O’Porter. Following on from the success of her Young Adult novels, Paper Aeroplanes and Goose, The Cows is an equally smart and insightful read. It’s about three women, female friendship and feminism.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype. Tara, Cam and Stella are strangers living their own lives as best they can though when society’s screaming you should live life one way, it can be hard to like what you see in the mirror. When an extraordinary event ties invisible bonds of friendship between them, one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration, and a life lesson to all. Sometimes it’s ok not to follow the herd.

 

The Futures by Anna Pitoniak

In this fabulous debut novel about love and betrayal, a young couple moves to New York City in search of success only to learn that the lives they dream of may come with dangerous strings attached.

Julia and Evan fall in love as undergraduates at Yale. For Evan, a scholarship student from a rural Canadian town, Yale is a whole new world, and Julia, blonde, beautiful, and rich, fits perfectly into the future he’s envisioned for himself. After graduation, and on the eve of the great financial meltdown of 2008, they move together to New York City, where Evan lands a job at a hedge fund. But Julia, whose privileged upbringing grants her an easy but wholly unsatisfying job with a nonprofit, feels increasingly shut out of Evan’s secretive world.

 

 

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game has been described as ‘A brilliant, biting, hilarious new voice that will take the romcom world by storm’. Reviews like that from New York Times bestselling authors is pretty much a super shiny gold star in our books. Hats off to Sally Thorne for her debut novel.

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She prides herself on being loved by everyone at work – except for imposing, impeccably attired Joshua Templeman. Trapped in a shared office, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game, The Mirror Game, The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything – especially when a huge promotion is on offer. If Lucy wins, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign.

 

Happy Reading!

10 ways to foster a love of reading for your child

Learning to read, or rather teaching someone else to learn to read can be a daunting task – do you start with phonetics, rhyming, sounds or learn the name of letters? Whatever way you choose, sharing the love of reading needs to be fun, relaxed and exciting. Our favourite book on the topic is The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, it’s been a wonderful resource for several of the Booko children. Here are our top 10 tips from the book:

  1. Begin reading to your children as soon as possible. The younger you start them, the easier, and better it is.
  2. Set aside at least one specific time each day for a story and make it part of your daily routine.
  3. Start with picture books that have only a few sentences on the page, then gradually move to books with more text and fewer pictures before building to chapter books.
  4. As you read, keep listeners involved by occasionally asking ‘what do you think is going to happen next?’
  5. If the chapters are long, or you don’t have enough time to finish one each day, find a suspenseful spot at which to stop. Leave your little audience hanging and they will be counting the minutes until the next reading.
  6. Allow your listeners a few minutes to settle down and adjust their feet and minds to the story. Mood is an important factor in listening, make sure you foster a receptive one.
  7. Use expression when reading. Change your tone, adjusting pace and lowering your voice in suspenseful parts makes it all very exciting.
  8. Slow down. The most common mistake is reading too fast. Reading quickly allows no time for mental pictures to be made and more expression to be used.
  9. Bring the author to life. Google the author to find out more about them. This lets them know that books are written by people and not machines.
  10. When children wish to read to you, it is better for the book to be too easy than too hard, just as a beginner’s bicycle is better to be too small than too big.

The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Upon its first publication in 1982, millions of parents and educators have turned to Jim Trelease’s beloved classic for more than three decades to help countless children become avid readers through awakening their imaginations and improving their language skills. It has also been a staple in schools of education for new teachers. This updated edition of The Read-Aloud Handbook discusses the benefits, the rewards, and the importance of reading aloud to children of a new generation. Supported by delightful anecdotes as well as the latest research (including the good and bad news on digital learning). The Read-Aloud Handbook offers proven techniques and strategies for helping children discover the pleasures of reading and setting them on the road to becoming lifelong readers.

 

Here’s a few of our favourites to help you share the joy of reading aloud:

 

Creature abc by Andrew Zuckerman.

Alphabet books can be valuable for teaching kids the sounds that letters make — but only if they are fun to read! Creature abc is fun; it features amazing animal photographs and an entertaining format. On one page is a letter (e.g. “Aa”) and a photograph of an animal’s body part (e.g. an alligator’s hand). When I read this book, I make the letter’s sound, and my kids guess what animal they will see on the following page.

 

 

Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox

There are red sheep and blue sheep, wind sheep and wave sheep, scared sheep and brave sheep, but where is the green sheep? The search is on in this cozy, sheep-filled story from beloved author Mem Fox and popular Australian cartoonist Judy Horacek. Complete with sleepy rhymes and bright illustrations, this book is sure to delight children of all ages, from the very young to those just beginning to read. Mem has never owned a sheep, let alone a green one, but she does admit to having woolly thoughts from time to time. Judy loves drawing things, especially sheep. This is her first flock.

 

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

This gentle bedtime story, which has lulled generations of children to sleep, is the perfect first book to share at bedtime. In a great green room a little bunny is tucked up snugly and safely in bed and is getting ready to say goodnight to all the familiar things in his room, one by one. Margaret Wise Brown’s comforting, rhythmical text accompanied by the warmth of Clement Hurd’s classic mid-century illustrations make Goodnight Moon a timeless picture book, which is known and loved around the world.

 

I Am So Strong by Mario Ramos

This is a terrific read aloud – it’s a book with some yelling in it, with a handful of  familiar characters like a wolf and Red Riding Hood and three pigs, joined by a couple of dwarfs, and a baby dinosaur and his HUGE mother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of all, have fun together!

Books to help you win the Board Games This Christmas

Okay, we all know that the festive season is looming and with that comes the inevitable obligatory “Family Board Game Fun Time”…except this year we have a doozie for you*… a list of books that will help you beat Great Aunty Myrtle.

*actually these make great gifts for any board game fanatic but in the spirit of competition, don’t gift the books of the games you are likely to play…or at least read them first!

Monopoly

The Monopoly Book: Strategy and Tactics of the World’s Most Popular Game by Maxine Brady

Let’s get something straight, Monopoly is not a game of chance. There are ways to actually get Mayfair and Parklane first rather than end up with Stand and Whitehall…every single time!

One of the principal functions of this book is to explain and clarify the rules of Monopoly, and show how to avoid some of the obstacles that get in the way of just playing the game. It also catalogs some of the many strategies that operate during a good game, but which most players seem unconscious of, even when they themselves are using the strategies to excellent advantage. There are definite techniques by which you can improve your chances of winning.

 

Trivial Pursuit

The Ultimate Trivial Pursuit Question & Answer Book by Puzzle Wright Press

We all know a cousin who thinks they know everything and seem to be able to fill that little round disc with every piece of pie before you have even managed to get the pink entertainment one! So this book is definitely for you.
Trivial Pursuit is a game unlike any other because it tests your knowledge of events that have all happened outside the realm of the game so you have to actually study to win this one. Luckily, this book is a collection of over twenty-five years of trivia questions featured providing questions and answers in the fields of geography, entertainment, history, arts & literature, science & nature, and sports & leisure.

 

Risk

Total Diplomacy: The Art of Winning RISK by Ehsan Honary

Risk is a complex board game involving both luck and skill. The goal is simple: take over the world. Despite this simple goal, the game is very complicated and dynamic. Players attempt to take over the world by eliminating all other players who are eliminated when they lose all of their troops on the game board. Players must be skilled in troop deployment and must be aware of the underlying probabilities present in the game.

This book aims to teach you how to beat all relatives this Christmas in your own way. But the book’s lessons evolve outside of the game, learn how to use diplomacy effectively to get what you want in life and apply this knowledge to negotiate more successfully and be in control.

 

Scrabble 

Collins Little Book of Scrabble Secrets by Collins Dictionaries

Inside the covers of this little book lie the secrets of Britain’s only ever Scrabble World Champion. Scrabble is played by millions but mastered by very few and unless you’re a Scrabble player who likes to lose, this book is a must. In it Mark Nyman spells out the most useful two letter words, what to do when you have a case of irritable vowel syndrome, strategies for how to get off to a flying start and lists our language’s strangest and most unbelievably useful words. Between these golden tips come anecdotes and words of wisdom from a lifetime at the top. Be careful who you give it to though.

 

 

 

Twister

Element: Yoga for Beginners DVD

Okay so this isn’t technically about Twister…nor is it a book… but it will certainly help you put left foot blue and right hand yellow without spilling any of your Christmas Mince pie or falling over Uncle Jo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bring on Family Board Game Fun Time!

Great Books of 2016 to Gift This Christmas

The season of gifts, tinsel and joy is looming. Every year people promise themselves not to leave it all to the last minute, so with that in mind we have come up with a list of the best books to give as gifts to all the different people in your life.

Make sure you follow us on Facebook where we will be revealing more top picks of great books, board games and DVDs each day in December leading up till Christmas.

For the Postman…

Every Song Ever by Ben Ratliff

What does it mean to listen in the digital era? Today, new technologies make it possible to roam instantly and experimentally across musical languages and generations, from Detroit techno to jam bands to baroque opera—or to dive deeper into the set of tastes that we already have. Either way, we can listen to nearly anything, at any time. The possibilities in this new age of listening overturn old assumptions about what it means to properly appreciate music—to be an “educated” listener. In Every Song Ever, the veteran New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff reimagines the very idea of music appreciation for our times.

 

 

Party of One by Dave Holmes

Dave Holmes has spent his life on the periphery, nose pressed hopefully against the glass, wanting just one thing: to get inside. Growing up, he was the artsy kid in the sporty family. And in his twenties, in the middle of a disastrous career in advertising, he accidentally became an MTV VJ overnight when he finished second, naturally, in the Wanna Be a VJ contest, opening the door to fame, fortune, and celebrity — well almost. But despite all the close calls, or possibly because of them, he just kept trying, and if (spoiler alert) he never quite succeeded, at least he got some good stories out of it. In Party of One, Dave tells the hilariously painful and painfully hilarious tales of an outsider desperate to get in, of a misfit constantly changing shape, of a guy who finally learns to accept himself.

 

 

For the Teacher…

 

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond

Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighbourhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America’s vast inequality–and to people’s determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.

 

 

 

Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner? by Katrine Marcal

Adam Smith, the founder of modern economics, believed that our actions stem from self-interest and the world turns because of financial gain. But every night Adam Smith’s mother served him his dinner, not out of self-interest but out of love. Today, economics focuses on self-interest and excludes our other motivations. It disregards the unpaid work of mothering, caring, cleaning and cooking and its influence has spread from the market to how we shop, think and date. In this engaging takedown of the economics that has failed us, Katrine Marcal journeys from Adam Smith’s dinner table to the recent financial crisis and shows us how different, how much better, things could be.

 

For the Hairdresser…

 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

I know we wrote about this one last week…but it is sooo good!  When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity, the brain, and finally into a patient and a new father. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away? Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

 

Try Hard: Tales from the Life of a Needy Overachiever by Em Rusciano

A hilarious, heartfelt memoir from one of Australia’s most adored performers. Funny, feisty and fabulous, Em Rusciano’s insights into her world of mayhem, stardom and motherhood is a laugh-out-loud, cry-out-loud balm for the soul. From her exploits at Miss Sheila’s Fancy-pants School of Dance and her efforts to secure a solo at the end-of-year performance, to embracing the spotlight as an Australian Idol contestant and her deep and abiding love for John Farnham, Em Rusciano is a self-confessed hobbit with a taste for glitter. And behind the stage makeup Em is an overachiever of epic proportions – an elite athlete, the hardest working mum you’ll ever meet, and the best friend The Gays could ever have. She also has a heart bigger than Phar Lap’s, tells the best dirty jokes, and loves those closest to her ferociously. When the chips are down, you definitely want her on your side.

 

For the work Kris Kringle…

Seinfeldia by Jennifer Kieshin Armstrong

The hilarious behind-the-scenes story of two guys who went out for coffee and dreamed up Seinfeld—the cultural sensation that changed television and bled into the real world, altering the lives of everyone it touched. Comedians Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld never thought anyone would watch their silly little sitcom about a New York comedian sitting around talking to his friends. NBC executives didn’t think anyone would watch either, but they bought it anyway, hiding it away in the TV dead zone of summer. But against all odds, viewers began to watch, first a few and then many, until nine years later nearly forty million Americans were tuning in weekly. In Seinfeldia, acclaimed TV historian and entertainment writer Jennifer Keishin Armstrong celebrates the creators and fans of this American television phenomenon, bringing readers behind-the-scenes of the show while it was on the air and into the world of devotees for whom it never stopped being relevant.

 

Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook by Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook will be packed with all the classics you need for the big day and beyond, as well as loads of delicious recipes for edible gifts, party food and new ways to love those leftovers. It’s everything you need for the best Christmas ever. Chapters: Introduction, Smart Starters, The Main Event, Veggie and Vegan Plates, The Wonderful World of Potatoes, Scrumptious Vegetables, Gravy, Sauces and all the Trimmings, Incredible Leftovers, Spectacular Festive Puddings, Afternoon Tea and Sweet Treats, Cute Edible Gifts, Super-Fantastic Salads, Dips, Bites and Handheld Nibbles, Perfect Christmas Drinks, Guide To Roasting Meat.

 

For the local donation…

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later. It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby Red Shoes Goes To London by Kate Knapp

The third book in the best-selling Ruby Red Shoes series. Ruby and her grandmother love to travel and now they are in London, the home of red buses, red telephone boxes and red letter boxes. No wonder Ruby’s red shoes feel especially at home in this wonderful city!

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and a little something for you

 

The Art of Dinosaur Designs by Louise Olsen

As young art students Louise Olsen and Stephen Ormandy began selling resin jewellery with a stall at Sydney’s Paddington markets. Today they have a business that employs 85 people and nine stores around the world including New York and London. Dinosaur Designs is the name of their jewellery and homewares company, admired around the world for its bold, colourful designs and unique fusion of art and design. Almost every Dinosaur Designs piece is still handmade by artisans in its Sydney studio, because creativity remains at the core of what they do.  With this book Olsen and Ormandy open their hearts, minds and studio doors, to share their inspirations, ideas and process.

Enjoy!

Great books that help you to reflect on life

Connecting with a book is up there with some of the greatest feelings you can have. When it happens it’s hard not to want to recommend it to everyone you see. It’s my goal to have at least a handful of books that I can pop in my ‘toolbelt’ to help me navigate through life. So far I have three (follow us on Facebook to find out what they are). I love a book that stops me in my tracks and forces me to assess my life. Finding a book that helps to shape you, helps to cement your values and offer a little perspective when you need it most is a bit of a gem and needs to be held onto.

Here are a few of our team’s favourites that may just become a gem to you.

The Richest Man In Babylon by George S. Clason

Hailed as the greatest of all inspirational works on the subject of thrift and financial planning Clason delivers classic insights into wealth accumulation through a series of parables set in ancient Babylon. The Richest Man in Babylon is a book you will want to read yourself, recommend to friends, and give to young people just starting out in life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Brief History Of Time: From Big Bang To Black Holes by Stephen Hawking

Was there a beginning of time? Could time run backwards? Is the universe infinite or does it have boundaries? These are just some of the questions considered in an internationally acclaimed masterpiece by one of the world’s greatest thinkers. It begins by reviewing the great theories of the cosmos from Newton to Einstein, before delving into the secrets which still lie at the heart of space and time, from the Big Bang to black holes, via spiral galaxies and strong theory. To this day A Brief History of Time remains a staple of the scientific canon, and its succinct and clear language continues to introduce millions to the universe and its wonders.

 

 

 

A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

The riveting memoirs of the outstanding moral and political leader of our time, A Long Walk To Freedom brilliantly re-creates the drama of the experiences that helped shape Nelson Mandela’s destiny. Emotive, compelling and uplifting, it is the exhilarating story of an epic life; a story of hardship, resilience and ultimate triumph told with the clarity and eloquence of a born leader.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity, the brain, and finally into a patient and a new father. What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away? Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

 

…and because it’s nearly Christmas…

 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

A cruel and bitter old miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, has no time for festivities or goodwill toward his fellow men and is only interested in money. Then, on the night of Christmas Eve, his life is changed by a series of ghostly visitations that show him some bitter truths about his choices and help him reflect on his past, present, and future in one of the most widely read and frequently adapted holiday classics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Reading.

Books that guide us through young adulthood

It’s no secret that the books we read can help to shape our lives. As we move through different stages there are often a handful of key books and characters that we relate to and help us make sense of the people and world around us.

One particularly ‘testing’ time is between the ages of 8 and 12. These young adults face a variety of hurdles and curveballs as they grow up and learn to find their place in the world. Sometimes listening to yet another tale from mum and dad is just too much to handle and so they turn (hopefully) to books.

Filled with characters working through life defining experiences such as gaining independence, forming friendship, going on adventures and growing curiosity the genre of Young Adult is fast becoming literature which is adored by readers of every generation.

The Chronicles of Narnia, the 13th Story Treehouse series, the Harry Potter books, and just about anything by Roald Dahl are just a few examples of titles that aid a 8 -12 year old through this exciting period of their life.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

Journeying into magical realms, battles between good and evil and talking creatures await and delight every reader who settles in to enjoy these books.

The Narnia Chronicles, first published in 1950, have been and remain some of the most enduringly popular children’s books ever published. The best known, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, has been translated into 29 languages and hit the big screen in a film edition.

 

 

 

The 13 Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths

Andy and Terry live in a treehouse. But it’s not just any old treehouse, it’s the most amazing treehouse in the world! This treehouse has thirteen stories, a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a secret underground laboratory, and a marshmallow machine that follows you around and automatically shoots marshmallows into your mouth whenever you are hungry.

This is the start of a series of treehouse stories with Terry and Andy who enjoy completely nutty adventures because ANYTHING can happen in a 13-storey treehouse.

 

 

 

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling

We very much doubt any of these series need an introduction, especially Harry Potter…but here goes.

Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels chronicling the life of a young wizard, and his friends, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The main story arc concerns Harry’s struggle against Lord Voldemort, a dark wizard who intends to become immortal, overthrowing the Ministry of Magic, and gain control of all wizards and Muggles (non wizards). There are many themes within this series including fantasy, drama, prejudice, madness, coming of age and elements of mystery, thriller, adventure, horror and romance. According to Rowling,however, the main theme is death.

 

Come and join us on Facebook to share what your favourite books were for getting through this phase of your life.

Top books released this month: June 2016

We’ve hunted high and low to find you a collection of the coolest, most ‘anticipated’ and highly regarded new releases for June.  This month our collection features vastly different tales but all of the stories are intricately set and beautifully told.  Here are our recommendations for new releases for June 2016:

https-::covers.booko.info:300:girlsThe Girls by Emma Cline

Cline’s novel is set in California and is loosely based on the Manson “family” and their crimes.  The protagonist in ‘The Girls’, Evie, just wants to be noticed: by her family, her friends.  anybody.  Then along comes Suzanne who is older and welcomes Evie into the fold.  The reviews of this book have been overwhelmingly positive.  Despite the topic being a challenging one to read, it’s beautifully written.  The overarching themes of wanting to belong to a group are universal.  The film rights were snapped up before ‘The Girls’ was released.  A hit.

 


Barkskins
 by Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx is universally acknowledged as ‘One of the greatest American writers’.  The 80 year old Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain, spent ten years writing ‘Barkskins’, an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about taming the wilderness and destroying the forest, set over three centuries and covering 700 pages. Barkskins is a masterpiece of intricately cut characters and dazzling settings.  We are with these characters over their life’s journey.  An amazing read.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:homegoingHomegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Gyasi’s debut novel traces the journeys of two branches of the same family tree. Two half sisters, Effia and Esi, unknown to each other, are born into two different tribal villages in 18th century Ghana. Effia will be married off to an English colonial, and will live in comfort from the proceeds of slavery.  Her sister, Esi, will be imprisoned in the Castle’s women’s dungeon, herself a slave.  Touted as one of the most highly anticipated debuts this year, Homegoing has been garnering rave reviews due to Gyasi’s ability to weave two very different stories together.  Sentimental as it is intellectual, this is another novel not to be missed.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:vinegarVinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Tyler’s Vinegar Girl is a modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of the Shrew.‘  In what appears to be a current trend to re-tell Shakespeare’s works by acclaimed modern authors, this book has been released to mixed reviews.  

While it is easy reading, funny, quirky and well told, it lacks the depth of Tyler’s prior works.  The question could also be asked: why modernise a classic?


https-::covers.booko.info:300:meanThey May Not Mean to But They Do by Cathleen Schine

Joy Bergman is not slipping into old age with the quiet grace her children, Molly and Daniel, would prefer. She won’t take their advice, and she won’t take an antidepressant. Schine’s latest novel combines dark humour with incredibly insightful observations about life, love, death and relationships.  Clever, witty with deeply moving undertones, this is an easy read on the complexities of inter-generational relationships.

 

https-::covers.booko.info:300:vagabondEach Vagabond by Name by Margo Orlando Little

“It was an ordinary Fall until the gypsies came.”

Fast-paced, mysterious and heartfelt, Each Vagabond by Name takes place in a small, South-Western Pennsylvanian town.   Zachariah Ramsay, owner of the local bar finds himself drawn into the world of a group of travelling people after a hungry man turns up one day at his door.  When the group begin to rob townspeople’s homes, Ramsay is drawn into their world.

Another debut novel, Each Vagabond by Name features beautifully developed characters and a compelling plot.  Hard to put down!

 

For more 2016 releases, check out our Pinterest board 2016 New Releases.

 

 

Celebrating the world of coffee table books

There’s something about having book candy sitting on your coffee table…or lining up in a stylish manner on a bookshelf.  I must admit, I am a bit of an interiors addict, and nothing pleases me more than merging my love of books and love of interiors. The children’s rooms have front facing shelves so we can enjoy the delightful (and have you noticed increasingly stylish?) book covers. Our lounge room is also home to books that are often rotated between the bookshelf and then curated subtly on the coffee table.

Real Living Magazine has recently been adding a selection of coffee table books to the pages of their magazine, and boy this month they are beautiful. So I thought as we are celebrating readers of all genres this month, I’d share their beautiful coffee table candy.

 

Book Cases: From Salvage to Storage by Aurelie Drouet

Bookshelves showcase our favourite books and most treasured objects. They are useful and practical but, far from reducing them to their simplest function, we love that they reflect our style and individuality, becoming design features in their own right and harmoniously fitting into our living spaces. They are also relatively easy to make and accessible to everyone. No need to be an experienced handyman to realise these original designs. This book presents 14 creations with step-by-step photos, plans, and technical tips. There’s also an injection of inspiration with the more ambitious bookcase projects by leading designers and architects.

 

Florentine: The True Cuisine of Florence by Emiko Davies

Florentine is a collection of delicious recipes and stunning photographs from Tuscany’s capital. Emiko Davies draws on her personal experience of traditional Florentine cuisine to share recipes that transport readers to the piazzas of Florence. From the morning ritual of la pasticceria (the pastry shop) and il forno (the bakery), the tantalizing fresh produce of il mercato (the market) and il macellaio (the butcher) through to the evening romance of la trattoria, it will take you on a unique stroll through the city’s streets to the heart of its culture.

 

Best Kitchen Basics by Mark Best

Best Kitchen Basics beats the revolutionary drum in the domestic kitchen – no longer are high-end techniques or recipes the sole domain of multi-award-winning restaurants like Best’s Sydney fine diner Marque and his bistros Pei Modern in Melbourne and Sydney. Here, Mark Best breaks it down, putting the individual elements of each recipe into the home cook’s hands and empowering them to think differently. It includes 100 original recipes built around 30 accessible ingredients – from eggplant to pumpkin to chocolate and eggs. Best Kitchen Basics ups the ante on the familiar. Best insists that it is not a question of luxurious ingredients, simply the knowledge and wherewithal to unlock the beauty of some of the most basic elements of cooking.

 

Supernormal by Andrew McConnell

This cookbook is based on the restaurant of the same name where Andrew, owner and head chef, takes home cooks into the kitchen of his hugely popular pan-Asian eatery. Across eight chapters, he shares something of the McConnell magic, as well as menus for fans who aspire to a Supernormal-worthy spread at home. The book is filled with photographs from Earl Carter, who offers a behind-the-scenes take on the restaurant and its characters, as well as scenes from Tokyo, a long-time source of inspiration for McConnell, and his Flinders Lane eating house.

 

Life Hacks by Annabel Staff

Have you ever burnt your fingers trying to light a hard to reach candle wick? Try lighting it with spaghetti. Just how do you separate the yolk from the white of an egg? You use a plastic bottle, of course. When your ice-lolly starts melting, how do you stop your hands getting sticky? By using a cupcake wrapper, naturally…This book contains over thirty solutions to everyday problems encountered in the home or out and about, with each life hack demonstrated in a full colour photograph for easy reference.

 

 

Hello Tokyo by Ebony Bizys

This book by Japanese-based Australian blogger/crafter/designer/zine publisher Ebony Bizys is a cute and quirky guide to living a handmade lifestyle, filled with projects and ideas inspired by Ebony’s life in Tokyo. Capturing the charm, humour and originality of her eclectic and highly successful blog, Hello Sandwich, this book features craft projects and inspirational styling ideas, and gives the reader a glimpse of Japanese culture. Hello Tokyo is the quintessential Hello Sandwich publication. It captures Ebony’s fascination with the myriad treasures of everyday existence, ranging from personalised crafts such as handmade stationery and clothing accessories, as well as decorative items and storage solutions for the home; to recording your daily life and travels with a camera, journal or even a blog; to hosting, theming and styling a fun party or picnic.

 

A huge thanks to Real Living Magazine for inspiring us with such a terrific selection of titles.

If you are looking for more brilliant coffee table books, we have a Pinterest board full of them too. Hop on over and follow us.