Category Archives: Funny

The Newest Arts and Entertainment Biographies

Inspiring people come into our lives at all different times, some are there from the beginning guiding us with their values, others are friends during our schooling years holding our hands through challenging times, and some are fleeting interactions where someone offers us words of wisdom when we needed it most.

It it with the memory of these amazing people that we are looking into the world of biographies this month. There are so many people who we can learn from, be inspired by and propelled forward by. This week we are exploring art and entertainment biographies. We have found six of our favourite stories but hold on tight because they are a mixture of amusement, heartache and devastatingly honest views of the world and each offers us a little nugget of inspiration to take away.

Only Wanna Be with You: The Inside Story of Hootie & the Blowfish by Tim Sommer

In 1985, Mark Bryan heard Darius Rucker singing in a dorm shower at the University of South Carolina and asked him to form a band. For the next eight years, Hootie & the Blowfish, completed by bassist Dean Felber and drummer Soni Sonefeld, played every frat house, roadhouse, and rock club in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast, becoming one of the biggest independent acts in the region. In Only Wanna Be with You, Tim Sommer, the ultimate insider who signed Hootie to Atlantic Records, pulls back the curtain on a band that defied record-industry odds to break into the mainstream by playing hacky sack music in the age of grunge. He chronicles the band’s indie days, their chart-topping success and near-cancelation of their major-label debut along with when the band inspired a plotline on the TV show Friends, also the lean years from the late 1990s through the early 2000s and one of the most remarkable comeback stories of the century. Featuring extensive new interviews with the band members, some of their most famous fans, and stories from the recording studio, tour bus, and golf course, this book is essential reading for Hootie lovers and music buffs.

Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis

In this book, you will meet a little girl named Viola who ran from her past until she made a life changing decision to stop running forever. This is Viola’s story, from a crumbling apartment in Central Falls, Rhode Island, to the stage in New York City, and beyond. This is the path she took to finding her purpose and her strength, but also to finding her voice in a world that didn’t always see her. 

In her words: As I wrote Finding Me, my eyes were open to the truth of how our stories are often not given close examination. They are bogarted, reinvented to fit into a crazy, competitive, judgmental world. So I wrote this for anyone who is searching for a way to understand and overcome a complicated past, let go of shame, and find acceptance. For anyone who needs reminding that a life worth living can only be born from radical honesty and the courage to shed facades and be…you. Finding Me is a deep reflection on my past and a promise for my future. My hope is that my story will inspire you to light up your own life with creative expression and rediscover who you were before the world put a label on you.

A Funny Life by Michael McIntyre

Laugh along with Michael McIntyre as he lifts the curtain on his life in his long-awaited new autobiography. Michael’s first book ended with his big break at the 2006 Royal Variety Performance. Waking up the next morning in the tiny rented flat he shared with his wife Kitty and their one-year-old son, he was beyond excited about the new glamorous world of show business. Unfortunately, he was also clueless . . . In A Funny Life, Michael honestly and hilariously shares the highs and the lows of his rise to the top and desperate attempts to stay there. It’s all here, from his disastrous panel show appearances to his hit TV shows, from mistakenly thinking he’d be a good chat show host and talent judge, to finding fame and fortune beyond his wildest dreams and becoming the biggest-selling comedian in the world. Along the way he opens his man drawer, narrowly avoids disaster when his trousers fall down in front of three policemen and learns the hard way why he should always listen to his wife. Michael has had a silly life, a stressful life, sometimes a moving and touching life, but always A Funny Life.

Spinning Plates by Sophie Ellis-Bextor

Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s kitchen discos became a source of much needed escapism, catharsis and sequinned joy for a swathe of the population during lockdown. From knackered mothers and fed up fathers, to cooped up partiers with nowhere to go, Sophie’s gloriously chaotic Friday kitchen performances have cheered and revived us. Now Sophie is bringing that same mixture of down to earth candour and optimistic sparkle to her first book. Part memoir, part musings, Sophie writes about the conjuring act of adulthood and motherhood and how her experience of working while raising her five sons has given her the inescapable lesson of how to navigate life in the face of failure and imperfection. 

Covering relationships, good enough parenting, the importance of delusion and dancing, Sophie writes about the things that take on greater importance as life becomes more complicated. From the non negotiables (solitude, music, glitter) to the unimportant (clean hair, deadlines, appropriate behaviour), this is a book about learning from our experiences and not being afraid to smash a few plates for the sake of what we actually need want and value. 

The Hockneys: Never Worry What the Neighbours Think by John Hockney

Technically this book isn’t a new release, but it’s a goodie. The Hockneys is a never before seen insight into the lives of one of the world’s most famous artists and his family by youngest brother John, from growing up in the Second World War in Bradford through to their diverse lives across three continents. Hardship, successes as well as close and complex relationships are poignantly illustrated by both famous and private pictures and paintings from David Hockney. With a rare and spirited look into the lives of an ordinary family with extraordinary stories, we begin to understand the creative freedom that led to their successful careers and the launchpad for an artist’s work that has inspired and continues to inspire generations across the world.

To the End of the World by Rupert Everett

Okay, so this isn’t totally new…but it is a new paperback version, and also a great read. Rupert Everett tells the story of how he set out to make a film of Oscar Wilde’s last days, and how that ten-year quest almost destroyed him. (And everyone else). Travelling across Europe for the film, he weaves in extraordinary tales from his past, remembering wild times, freak encounters and lost friends. 

There are celebrities, of course. But we also meet glamorous but doomed Aunt Peta, who introduces Rupert (aged three) to the joys of make-up. In ’90s Paris, his great friend Lychee burns bright, and is gone. While in ’70s London, a ‘weirdly tall, beyond size zero’ teenage Rupert is expelled from the Central School of Speech and Drama. Unflinchingly honest and hugely entertaining, To the End of the World offers a unique insight into the ‘snakes and ladders’ of filmmaking. It is also a soulful and thought-provoking autobiography from one of our best-loved and most talented actors and writers. 

Enjoy!

Great children’s book series

Series fiction is great for, and popular with children – not only do young readers get to meet their favourite characters again and again, it also makes lighter work for adults who are keen to nurture good reading habits! School, animals, fantasy, adventure, humour…. there are excellent book series that suit all interests and tastes. Here are six of the hottest series available now:

The Princess in Black and the Mermaid Princess by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

On most days, Princess Magnolia is a prim and proper princess… but when monsters stray onto her kingdom, she secretly transforms into The Princess in Black to fight them! Let Princess Magnolia show you how to be a pink princess, a fearless superhero – as well as someone with strong values. Princess in Black is a beginners’ chapter book series with cute, colourful illustrations. The stories are exciting and enormously fun. Shannon Hale, Dean Hale and LeUyen Pham are talented and award-winning creators who are also behind the popular Real Friends graphic novel series.

Find the full Princess in Black series here.

The Bad Guys Episode 14: They’re Bee-Hind You! by Aaron Blabey

The Bad Guys is like Reservoir Dogs – except funnier, kinder, and for kids! Mr Wolf, Mr Piranha, Mr Snake and Mr Shark feel dragged down by the bad reputations of their species, and are determined to show that they are good at Doing Good! Each episode (book) features a different mission that doesn’t always go to plan. The Bad Guys has a graphics-rich format, and plenty of silliness, ridiculous action, and toilet humour – all the things that engage even the most reluctant of readers! Get ready to hear a lot more about The Bad Guys in the lead up to its highly-anticipated movie adaptation. For ages 6 and up.

Find the whole series here.

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche by Nancy Springer

Enola Holmes is back! After an 11-year hiatus, the success of the Enola Holmes movie adaptation has inspired author Nancy Springer to release further adventures about the witty, smart girl detective. In Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche, Enola teams up with her older and more famous brother (The Sherlock Holmes) to investigate the supposed death of an Earl’s wife. The Earl claims that she died suddenly of a fever, and was quickly cremated without a funeral – and Enola and Sherlock are determined to find out the truth. This engaging mystery has rich period detail about Victorian London, as well as some thought-provoking reflections about the constraints of class and gender in that era. Popular with ages 10+.

Read the full series here.

Dog Man 10: Mothering Heights by Dav Pilkey

Dog Man graphic novels are a spin-off of the (also super-popular) Captain Underpants novels that has found its own large and loyal fanbase. Beneath the riotiously funny adventures of Dog Man and his crime-fighting cop buddies, lie messages about friendship and celebrating differences. While enjoyed by a wide range of readers – including reluctant readers – Dav Pilkey’s books do have a special resonance with neurodiverse children – Dav himself was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia as a child, and his work normalises and respects different behaviours. For ages 7+

The whole Dog Man series can be found here.

Wolf Girl 6: Animal Train by Anh Do

The multi-talented Anh Do has written a slew of bestselling series (including WeirDo, Ninja Kid , E-Boy and Mythix) to suit children of different ages and tastes! Wolf Girl is an adventure-packed series with a feisty, resourceful young hero. Whilst fleeing from the family home away from imminent danger, Gwen becomes separated from her family. Alone in the dark unfamiliar woods, Gwen needs to trust her instincts to survive. Soon she meets and forms a pack / family with a wolf cub, some stray dogs and a hawk. They learn from and look out for each other as Gwen tries to reunite with her family. Wolf Girl has fast-paced, thrilling action and is loved by both boys and girls aged 9+.

Find the whole adventure here.

Middle School: Field Trip Fiasco by James Patterson and Martin Chatterton

James Patterson is better known as a master of crime/political thrillers, but do you know he also writes hilarious school stories aimed at children? His Middle School series follows Rafe, a new student at Hills Village Middle School. Rafe feels alone, different, and a bit lost at his new school, and decides to use rule-breaking as his way of dealing with troubles at home and at school. The trouble-making is funny but he also (subtly) learns that misbehaviour doesn’t pay, as he gradually discovers his interests and strengths. The wacky, over-the-top adventures and heavily-illustrated style is perfect for fans of Wimpy Kid and Tom Gates. For ages 9+.

Read the whole Middle School series here.

The Booko Father’s Day Gift Guide

Father’s Day is fast approaching – and, for those of us who cannot celebrate with our father-figures in person, what better way to show our appreciation than through a well-chosen book? Easy to buy and send for the giver, and hours of enjoyment for the receiver! Here are some Booko favourites for Father’s Day gifting:

Blessed: The Breakout Year of Rampaging Roy Slaven by John Doyle

It seems entirely appropriate that the launch of Rampaging Roy Slaven’s memoirs coincides with this year’s Olympic Games – after all, Roy and his partner HG Nelson are two of Australia’s best Olympics commentators. Blessed is the coming-of-age story of this Australian icon, raconteur, and athlete of “unsurpassable sporting feats” – a record of Roy’s “breakout” year as a 15 year-old in Lithgow, rural NSW in 1967. Blessed is a tender and insightful depiction of a community on the cusp of great change -it handles some difficult issues with a light but respectful touch. With additional tantalising hints of the life of John Doyle, the fictional Roy’s creator, this intriguing fictional memoir is a must-read.

We Were Not Men by Campbell Mattinson

Looking for a big, emotional story after finishing Boy Swallows Universe or Bridge of Clay? We Were Not Men may just do the trick (praised by Trent Dalton himself as “gut-punching” and “soul-restoring” ). We Were Not Men is a powerful, moving and ultimately uplifting story of twin brothers, Jon and Eden, and their grandmother Bobbie. Thrown together as the remnants of a family fractured by a shocking accident, we see the effort and bravery it takes to heal from unspeakable tragedy, and we also see the ebb and flow of the twins’ bond as they grow up, compete against each other, leave each other behind and catch up with each other again. Campbell Mattinson’s debut novel has been 30 years in the making – and is absolutely worth the wait.

Take One Fish: the New School of Scale-to-Tail Cooking and Eating by Josh Niland

Josh Niland is so respected that his masterclasses pack out concert halls. He is particularly known for “Scale-to-Tail” eating and cooking, adapting this sustainable and respectful approach from meat cookery. Take One Fish offers recipes for 15 global species of fish – from cheap and accessible sardines and herrings, to luxe coral trout and groper. These recipes utilise as much as 90% of each fish (nearly double of regular recipes) through innovative cutting and cooking techniques. Look out for his surprising and perfect recipes of fish versions of classic dishes, including Peking coral trout, swordfish schnitzel and John Dory liver terrine – terrific inspiration, especially for Foodies and pescatarians!

Halliday Wine Companion 2022 by James Halliday

Every year, the wine industry awaits the latest edition of the Halliday Wine Companion as eagerly as wine lovers. This bestseller is widely recognised as the go-to guide to Australian wine, with comprehensive reviews by a trusted team of critics. There’s information on wine ratings, alcohol content, best by drinking, regions, winery reviews and varietals, and it also highlights the best of the year’s output with its prestigious awards for wines, winemakers as well as for wineries. Halliday Wine Companion has all you need to know about wine buying and collecting, plus it makes a great guidebook for wine tourism!

Tales From The Perilous Realm by J. R. R. Tolkien

For father-figures who love fantasy, here is a beautifully-illustrated volume that collects Tolkien’s five novellas for the first time. Tales From the Perilous Realm contains Farmer Giles of Ham, Roverandom, The Tale of Tom Bombadil, Leaf by Niggle, and Smith of Wootton Major – these are Tolkien’s take on fairy tales, and they are as full of magic, adventure and charm as his longer works. Their shorter lengths also make them great read-alouds! The delicate and detailed illustrations are by Alan Lee, who has a deep connection to Tolkien’s worlds through previously illustrating editions of The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit, as well as working on concept art for both film series.

How We Became Human: and Why We Need to Change by Tim Dean

Philosopher and journalist Tim Dean tries to make sense of our current social flashpoints – including racism, sexism, religious conflict and partisan politics – in his first book, How We Became Human. Tim suggests that, over thousands of years, humans have developed morality, and associated “moral emotions” (such as empathy, guilt and outrage), to differentiate between friend and foe. These are powerful tools that have helped humans co-exist in ever-larger, more productive societies. However, our morals have fallen out of step with our increasingly diverse world; so we will need to separate what’s natural from what’s right, in order to reframe morality for the modern world. How to Be Human is a compelling read for those who love to ponder life’s big questions.