They say writing a diary is cathartic and not only serves as a method of practising your writing style but is also helpful to let go of thoughts that may be holding you back. But would you ever be brave enough to publish it for the world to read? That’s just what these six amazing authors have done.
Tales of people‘s lives, careers and families can be joyful, gut wrenching, horrifying and heartwarming. These Australian non-fiction titles encompass all of those. There’s something enticing about being invited to understand someone else’s life through their eyes, and once you have, you never quite think of them the same again.
Sometimes, rather than making you laugh or cry out in surprise, a story will instead leave you wondering about human fragility. In the telling of his own tale, children’s author and screenwriter Paul Jennings demonstrates how seemingly small events can combine into a compelling drama. As if assembling the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, he puts together fragments, memories and anecdotes to reveal the portrait of a complex and weathered soul. Untwisted is revealing, moving and very funny.
Fiona O’Loughlin was raised in the generation of children who were to be seen, but not heard, unless there were guests in the house. Then she’d watch everyone, telling stories, making each other laugh. This was where she discovered the rhythm of stories and the lubrication that alcohol lent the telling. Years later, as a mum of five, Fiona would become one of Australia’s most-loved comedians, performing gigs in New York, Montreal, Singapore, London, Toronto and Edinburgh. Fiona looked like she was living her dream but she was hiding a secret in open sight, using alcoholism as material for her comedy and using comedy as an excuse for her alcoholism.
Truths from an Unreliable Witness is a fiercely honest and wryly funny memoir of melancholy, love, marriage, the loss of love and marriage, homelessness, of hotel rooms strewn with empty mini-bar bottles of vodka, of waking from a two-week coma, of putrid drug dens and using a jungle to confront yourself. It is about hitting rock bottom and then realising you are only halfway down. Ultimately, it’s about hanging on to your last straw of sanity and finding laughter in the darkest of times. You may want to sit down for this.
Corey White was a golden child. He knew this because his father would hit his mother and his sisters but not him. And his mother adored him so much she let him drop out of primary school. After losing his father to jail and his mother to heroin, though, he became a target for cruelty and dysfunction in foster homes. A scholarship to a prestigious boarding school lifted him out of foster care and awakened a love of learning and reading for him, but this was soon overwhelmed by a crushing depression and drug addiction. Through it all, he kept thinking, sometimes hoping, sometimes fearing, that he was destined for something bigger. Would he find salvation in the halls of a university, or a poetically grimy crack den, or through love? Or would the golden glow that had been in him since childhood ultimately fade, leaving only darkness and ruin? The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory is a memoir of trauma and survival that will break your heart and then show you how to rebuild it. It is a powerful, lyrical and darkly funny debut from one of Australia’s brightest young comedians.
Paul Hogan first appeared on our screens in 1971 as a ‘tap dancing knife thrower’ on channel 9’s New Faces. The then father of four and Sydney Harbour Bridge rigger from Granville did it as a dare, but when the network’s switchboard lit up, he was invited back. So popular was he with viewers, Hogan became a regular on Mike Willesee’s A Current Affair. The rest, as they say, is history. In collaboration with his business partner and best friend John Cornell (who played his sidekick, Strop), he went on to become one of Australia’s favourite TV comedians. His hugely popular comedy shows and appearances in unforgettable and ground-breaking ads for cigarettes, beer and tourism, came to personify Australia and Australians here and overseas, helping to change the perception of who we are as people and as a nation. Then, in 1986, Crocodile Dundee, the movie he conceived, co-wrote and starred in, became an international smash, grossing more than a billion dollars in today’s money and earning its star an Oscar nomination. Despite the fact Hoges claimed to be ‘retired’, many more movies followed. But even as his star rose ever higher, he always expected someone to grab him by the arm and say, ‘What are you doing here? You’re just a bloody rigger!’ The Tap Dancing Knife Thrower is a funny and candid account of the astonishing life of ‘one lucky bastard’, as Hoges describes himself. Full of countless stories never previously shared and told in the comedian’s inimitable, funny and self-deprecating style, The Tap Dancing Knife Thrower is Paul Hogan’s story told his way – ‘without the boring bits’.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and society has existed on this continent for millennia. It is a culture that manifests as the ultimate example of resilience, strength and beauty. It is also a culture that has consistently been led by its women. My Tidda, My Sister shares the experiences of many Indigenous women and girls, brought together by author and host of the Tiddas 4 Tiddas podcast Marlee Silva. The voices of First Nation women that Marlee weaves through the book provide a rebuttal to the idea that ‘you cannot be what you cannot see’. For non-Indigenous women, it demonstrates the diversity of what success can look like and offers insight into the lives of their Indigenous sisters and peers. Featuring colourful artwork by Goreng Goreng artist Rachael Sarra, this book is a celebration of the Indigenous female experience through truth-telling. Some stories are heart-warming, others shine a light on the terrible realities for many Australian Indigenous women, both in the past and today. But what they all share is the ability to inspire and empower, creating a sisterhood that all Australian women can be part of.
Created in collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, I Know This to Be True is an uplifting new series inspired by his legacy. Extraordinary figures from diverse backgrounds answer the same questions, sharing their compelling stories, guiding ideals, and insightful wisdom. The result is a collection brimming with messages of leadership, courage, compassion, and hope. These books offer encouragement and guidance to future leaders, and anyone hoping to make a positive impact on the world.
Waleed Aly is an Australian broadcaster, journalist, academic and musician. As co-host of The Project, a daily primetime television news and current affairs programme, he is one Australia’s leading commentators on national and international issues. Reflecting on his childhood, career and values, he discusses the importance of taking risks, standing by your beliefs and above all, being honest. Self-deprecating and empathetic, his words offer hope and guidance to anyone struggling to find their way and all who champion equality.
Reading and writing can be acts of courage that bring us closer to others and ourselves. In this Ted Talk author Michelle Kuo shares how teaching reading skills to her students in the Mississippi Delta revealed the bridging power of the written word as well as the limitations of its power.
It’s the start of another week and the weather is meant to be glorious. To help you keep the holiday vibes going we are sharing the best summer reads on the blog later this week. Be sure to check it out.
Sir David Attenborough has been observing this world closely for over 60 years and has a few words of advice and caution for us. In his latest special on Netflix he shares how steeply the planet’s biodiversity has diminished over his lifetime. His work throughout his career has uncovered amazing species that we would never ordinarily be aware of or see and so today we are sharing a small fraction of his amazing work.
Find a spot to sit with a cup of tea, and clear the diary for the afternoon as we’re sure these books will inspire you to explore our wonderful world more…
Hands down this is one the best books of the year. See the world. Then make it better. David Attenborough is currently 93 years old and has had an extraordinary life. It’s now, on reflection of his life, that he can appreciate how extraordinary and fragile the world is. The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day; the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity. Attenborough has been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet contains his witness statement, and his vision for the future, the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake, and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right. We have the opportunity to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited. All we need is the will to do so.
In 1954, a young television presenter was offered the opportunity of a lifetime, to travel the world finding rare and elusive animals for London Zoo’s collection, and to film the expeditions for the BBC. His name was David Attenborough, and the programme, Zoo Quest, not only heralded the start of a remarkable career in broadcasting, but it changed the way we viewed the natural world forever. Written with his trademark wit and charm, Zoo Quest is not just the story of a remarkable adventure, but of the man who made us fall in love with the natural world, and who is still doing so today.
Following the success of the original Zoo Quest expeditions, in the late 1950s onwards the young David Attenborough embarked on further travels in a very different part of the world.
From Madagascar and New Guinea to the Pacific Islands and the Northern Territory of Australia, he and his cameraman companion were aiming to record not just the wildlife, but the way of life of some of the indigenous people of these regions, whose traditions had never been encountered by most of the British public before.
From the land divers of Pentecost Island and the sing-sings of New Guinea, to a Royal Kava ceremony on Tonga and the ancient art of the Northern Territory, it is a journey like no other. Alongside these remarkable cultures he encounters paradise birds, chameleons, sifakas and many more animals in some of the most unique environments on the planet. Journeys to the Other Side fo the World is an inimitable adventure among people, places and the wildest of wildlife.
Life in Cold Blood offers a rare glimpse into the peculiar world of amphibians and reptiles, the first vertebrate creatures to venture forth from the primeval waters millions of years ago, yet which today include species that are the most at risk of extinction. Join acclaimed naturalist Sir David Attenborough as he travels to the far corners of the Earth to tell the epic story of these animals in this companion to the television series. Discover the secrets of their astounding success and the profound implications of their uncertain future. Amphibians and reptiles once ruled the planet, and their descendants exhibit some of the most colourful variety and astounding behaviour known to the animal kingdom. What are the origins of these creatures? How have they transformed themselves into the beautiful and bizarre forms found today? In this gorgeously illustrated book, Attenborough gets up close and personal with the living descendants of the first vertebrates ever to colonise the land, and through them traces the fascinating history of their pioneering ancestors. He explains the ways amphibians and reptiles have changed little from their prehistoric forebears while also demonstrating how they have adapted and evolved into diverse new forms, some of them beyond our wildest imaginings. And Attenborough raises awareness of the threats global warming and other man-made environmental changes pose to many of these creatures.
Originally published in 1979, this is a new, fully updated edition of David Attenborough’s groundbreaking Life on Earth. David Attenborough’s unforgettable meeting with gorillas became an iconic moment for millions of television viewers. Life on Earth, the series and accompanying book, fundamentally changed the way we view and interact with the natural world setting a new benchmark of quality, influencing a generation of nature lovers.
Told through an examination of animal and plant life, this is an astonishing celebration of the evolution of life on earth, with a cast of characters drawn from the whole range of organisms that have ever lived on this planet. Attenborough’s perceptive, dynamic approach to the evolution of millions of species of living organisms takes the reader on an unforgettable journey of discovery from the very first spark of life to the blue and green wonder we know today.
Now, to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the book’s first publication, David Attenborough has revisited Life on Earth, completely updating and adding to the original text, taking account of modern scientific discoveries from around the globe. He has chosen beautiful, completely new photography, helping to illustrate the book in a much greater way than was possible forty years ago.
This special anniversary edition provides a fitting tribute to an enduring wildlife classic, destined to enthral the generation who saw it when first published and bring it alive for a whole new generation.
There are very few places on the globe that David Attenborough has not visited. In this volume of memoirs David tells stories of the people and animals he has met and the places that he has visited. Sir David’s first job after Cambridge University and two years in the Royal Navy was at the London publishing house Hodder & Stoughton. Then in 1952 he joined the BBC as a trainee producer and it was while working on the Zoo Quest series from 1954-64 that he had his first opportunity to undertake expeditions to remote parts of the globe to capture intimate footage of rare wildlife in its natural habitat. He was Controller of BBC2 from 1965-68 during which time he introduced colour television to Britain, then Director of Programmes for the BBC from 1969-1972. However in 1973 he abandoned administration altogether to return to documentary-making and writing. Over the next 25 years he established himself as the world’s leading natural history programme maker with several landmark BBC series, including Life on Earth (1979), The Living Planet (1984), The Trials of Life (1990), The Private Life of Plants (1995) and Life of Birds (1998). Sir David Attenborough is a Trustee of the British Museum and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew: an Honorary Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge: a Fellow of the Royal Society and was knighted in 1985.
To see more of David Attenborough’s books please click here and for his DVDs click here.
2020 has been a year like no other. Not only is the world suffering a deadly pandemic, racial tensions have been heightened, the environment continues to suffer and political leaders are vying for votes. Yikes. On reflection, it certainly has been a huge year.
Looking forward, we can take the lessons learned from 2020 and apply them into the future. It’s this thought that prompted us to look at lessons that have been learned from events that have happened in the past. We’ve found six great books that do just that. Sit back and get ready to be taken on a wild history ride.
‘In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down.’ – Hillary Rodham Clinton.
For the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what she was thinking and feeling during one of the most controversial and unpredictable presidential elections in history. Now free from the constraints of running, Hillary takes you inside the intense personal experience of becoming the first woman nominated for president by a major party in an election marked by rage, sexism, exhilarating highs and infuriating lows, stranger-than-fiction twists, Russian interference and an opponent who broke all the rules. This is her most personal memoir yet. In these pages, she describes what it was like to run against Donald Trump, the mistakes she made, how she has coped with a shocking and devastating loss, and how she found the strength to pick herself back up afterwards. With humour and candour, she tells readers what it took to get back on her feet – the rituals, relationships and reading that got her through, and what the experience has taught her about life. She speaks about the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, the criticism over her voice, age and appearance, and the double standard confronting women in politics. She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on democracy by a foreign adversary. By analysing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces are that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect their values and democracy in the future. The election of 2016 was unprecedented and historic. What Happened is the story of that campaign and its aftermath – both a deeply intimate account and a cautionary tale.
We’ve highlighted this book on the blog before and believe it is important to include again. The Guardian newspaper credits Yuval Noah Harari with making serious non-fiction cool again. In his earlier books, the surprise bestsellers Sapiens and Homo Deus, he explained the history of humanity and the rise of civilisation in terms of evolutionary psychology. Now Yuval Noah Harari looks at the present. 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a collection of essays about the big issues – AI and automation, Fake News and populism, religion, climate change – and how we can manage their impact on our lives. His talent at combining unexpected ideas into dazzling observations makes this a thought-provoking yet accessible read that helps us make sense of these uncertain times.
In August 1765 the East India Company defeated and captured the young Mughal emperor and forced him to set up in his richest provinces a new government run by English traders who collected taxes through means of a vast and ruthless private army.
The creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional international trading corporation, dealing in silks and spices, and became something much more unusual: an aggressive colonial power in the guise of a multinational business. In less than half a century it had trained up a private security force of around 260,000 men, twice the size of the British army, and had subdued an entire subcontinent, conquering first Bengal and finally, in 1803, the Mughal capital of Delhi itself. The Company’s reach stretched relentlessly until almost all of India south of the Himalayas was effectively ruled from a boardroom in London.
The Anarchy tells the remarkable story of how one of the world’s most magnificent empires disintegrated and came to be replaced by a dangerously unregulated private company, based thousands of miles overseas and answerable only to its shareholders. In his most ambitious and riveting book to date, William Dalrymple tells the story of the East India Company as it has never been told before, unfolding a timely cautionary tale of the first global corporate power.
Three hundred and fifteen years after its founding, with a corporate Mogul now sitting in the White House, the story of the East India Company has never been more current.
Democracies can die with a coup d’etat or they can die slowly. This happens most deceptively when in piecemeal fashion, with the election of an authoritarian leader, the abuse of governmental power and the complete repression of opposition. All three steps are being taken around the world and we must all understand how we can stop them. From the rule of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile to the quiet undermining of Turkey’s constitutional system by President Recip Erdogan, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt draw insightful lessons from history to shine a light on regime breakdown across the 20th and 21st centuries. Based on years of research, they present a deep understanding of how and why democracies die; an alarming analysis of how democracy is being subverted today; and a guide for maintaining and repairing a threatened democracy, for governments, political parties and individuals. History doesn’t repeat itself. But we can protect our democracy by learning its lessons, before it’s too late.
Cunning, instructive, and amoral, this controversial bestseller distills 3,000 years of the history of power into 48 well-explicated laws. Law 1: Never Outshine the Master. Law 3: Conceal Your Intentions. Law 7: Get Others to Do the Work for You, but Always Take the Credit. Law 15: Crush Your Enemy Totally. Law 33: Discover Each Man’s Thumbscrew.
These are the laws of power in their unvarnished essence; the philosophies of Machiavelli (The Prince), Sun-tzu (The Art of War), Carl von Clausewitz, Talleyrand, the great seducer Casanova, con man Yellow Kid Weil, and other legendary thinkers and schemers. They teach prudence, stealth, mastery of one’s emotions, the art of deception, and the total absence of mercy. Like it or not, all have practical applications in real life.
Each law is illustrated with examples of observance or transgression drawn from history and featuring such famous figures as Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Kissinger, Mao, Alfred Hitchcock, P.T. Barnum, Haile Selassie, Catherine the Great, and Socrates. Convincing, practical, sometimes shocking, this book will fascinate anyone interested in gaining, observing, or defending against ultimate control.
The relationship between Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Republican and Democrat, Christian and Jew, western rancher’s daughter and Brooklyn girl, transcends party, religion, region, and culture. Strengthened by each other’s presence, these groundbreaking judges, the first and second to serve on the highest court in the land, have transformed the Constitution and America itself, making it a more equal place for all women. Linda Hirshman’s dual biography includes revealing stories of how these trailblazers fought for their own recognition in a male-dominated profession; battles that would ultimately benefit every American woman. She also makes clear how these two justices have shaped the legal framework of modern feminism, including employment discrimination, abortion, affirmative action, sexual harassment, and many other issues crucial to women’s lives. Sisters-in-Law combines legal detail with warm personal anecdotes that bring these very different women into focus as never before. Meticulously researched and compellingly told, it is an authoritative account of changing law and culture, and a moving story of a remarkable friendship.