Category Archives: My Next Read

Soak up the Bestsellers List this Summer

What does “holiday reading” mean to you? Does the slower pace of summer make you reach for light, breezy reads; or is this the time when you can finally commit to that big, substantial book? I do a bit of both – my Holiday Brain craves cheerful reads, but I always pack a variety just in case. I hope you can find YOUR perfect holiday read from this selection of recent bestsellers:

The Grand Tour by Olivia Wearne

When longtime friendly-neighbours Ruby and Angela set off for Adelaide in their campervan, little did they know what’s in store. These Grey Nomads became unwitting kidnappers when they discovered a little stowaway, and they also crossed paths with Angela’s estranged brother Bernard, a C-list celeb with his own troubles. Not only is The Grand Tour a quirky and very Aussie adventure, it is also a story about families – the ones you have and the ones you make. The laughter and heart just draws you in. The Grand Tour is Olivia Wearne’s debut novel, but she has a background in screenwriting and it shows – her descriptions are cinematic, the characters are well-developed, and the dialogue zings.

Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory

If you like holiday reads that sweep you off to a different time and place, then Dark Tides is for you. This atmospheric tale, set in London in the 1670s, is the sequel to Tidelands. We meet again with Alinor, a poor, hardworking woman who now owns a warehouse on the Thames riverbank. On Midsummer Eve, she receives two unexpected visitors, who set off a chain of events amidst the poverty of early Restoration London, the splendour of Venice as well as the wild frontiers of colonial America. Philippa Gregory is best known for her novels about Tudor royalty; her assured writing has translated equally well to this immersive series about a commoner family in a later era. 

All Adults Here by Emma Straub

All Adults Here is the ironic title of this gentle black comedy about an extended family from upstate New York – think Something’s Gotta Give crossed with The Royal Tenanbaums. The most grownup member of the Strick clan is probably 13-year-old granddaughter Cecelia – her parents, aunts and uncles, and even her grandmother still struggle with insecurity and adulting from time to time. Emma Straub writes affectionately about her cast of flawed characters, creates much humour from their interactions, and grounds their personal challenges in current issues including abortion, bullying, IVF, gender identity and sexual predators.

Because of You by Dawn French

On New Year’s Eve, as a new millenium arrives, two women are in the same hospital, giving birth. Only one of them will bring a baby home. Seventeen years later, the consequences of what happened that night slowly unravel, with surprising and poignant results. Five long years after her last novel, Dawn French has given birth to her latest hit, Because of You. This is a story about mothers and daughters, nature and nurture, mistakes and regret. Dawn French’s wit adds richness and lightness to an emotional and thought-provoking story; the rich characterisation and multiple points-of-view will draw you in and keep you hooked till the last page.

Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos

Another strong literary debut rewarded by bestselling status. Lucky’s is a big, multigenerational family saga about the rise and fall of Lucky Mallios, a Greek-American who settled in postwar Australia, and his eponymous chain of cafes. Sharp, vivid vignettes tell a story that spans almost a century, across several continents; yet this vastness telescopes into a finely interwoven web, where each character’s actions affect others in unforeseen and pernicious ways. Informed by Andrew Pippos’ personal history, the post-war migrant experience, and the iconic Greek-Australian cafe scene, both play important roles in this immersive story.


The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Richard Osman joins a long list of successful comedians-turned-authors – but he stands out by debuting with a murder mystery. The Thursday Murder Club is a quartet of residents in an upmarket retirement village, who meet weekly to pore over unsolved crimes. This seems a fun but academic pastime – until the day a murder happens close to home. Richard Osman’s clever, deadpan personality, as seen in TV shows such as Taskmaster and QI, also shines through in his writing. He skilfully balances distinctive and recognisable characterisation with a pinch of Miss Marple, a smidge of the Ealing comedies, and balances everything with poignant asides on ageing and the end of life. No wonder that The Thursday Murder Club has become the fastest-selling adult crime debut ever in the UK.

Monday Inspo

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.

Getting motivated in 2021; The best self-help books on the market

2021 is a year that comes with big expectations and even bigger dreams. After the whirlwind year that was 2020 everyone is banking on this year being so much brighter. While the start was a bit rocky here in Australia with new outbreaks of Covid we are still gearing up for a year where we get to take charge and dream big. The motivational and self-help genres are hugely popular and we have chosen a few of our favourites to help you get motivated to hit your 2021 goals. 

The Right-brain Workout 2 by Russel Howcroft and Alex Wadelton

Are you out of ideas? Feel your creativity drying up? Is brain fog taking over your life? Give your right brain a workout with the experts. In just ten weeks, you can reignite your imagination and tap into the creative potential inside you. Following on from the highly successful Right-brain Workout Vol 1, here are seventy more questions posed by some of Australia’s most innovative individuals – creatives from the world of comedy, film, literature, art, photography and advertising – designed to help you to think outside the box to unleash your inner genius. You wanted more, and Russel Howcroft and Alex Wadelton have delivered.

Get Your Sh*t Together by Sarah Knight 

From the author of the bestselling book everyone is talking about, The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F%*k. The no-fks-given, no-holds-barred guide to living your best life. Ever find yourself snowed under at the office, or even just glued to the sofa, when you really want to get out (for once), get to the gym (at last), and get started on that daunting dream project you’re always putting off? Then it’s time to get your sh*t together. In The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F%*k, ‘anti-guru’ Sarah Knight introduced the joys of mental decluttering. Get Your Sh*t Together takes you one stop further – organising the f*cks you want and need to give to help you quit your day job and move abroad, balance work and fun, and save money while you’re at it, or simply get out of the door for happy hour, every day.

The Now of Work by Lisa Messenger

For more than 19 years Lisa Messenger has had the absolute pleasure of inspiring game-changers, thought-leaders, stylemakers, entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs across the world. After the crisis of COVID-19 the world was suddenly faced with a new way of working, people felt, and are still feeling overwhelmed and lost. The Now of Work takes you through all the steps needed to be able to thrive in a work from home environment. It covers practical, actionable ways for creating location freedom, as a solopreneur, entrepreneur or intrapreneur. You can see Lisa’s other books here.

Speak Your Truth by Fearne Cotton

Fearne Cotton’s voice is familiar to millions, whether that’s through television, radio or on her hugely successful Happy Place podcast. Her voice is her career, her livelihood and the way she communicates with her audience and her loved ones. So, when Fearne’s doctor told her she was at risk of needing a throat operation followed by two weeks of being unable to speak, she found herself facing a period of unexpected contemplation. As she considered what silence would mean, Fearne began to think about other times her voice had gone unheard as a young woman, as ‘just the talent’, as the foil to louder, more dominant figures. She found herself wondering, at what point do we internalise this message, and start silencing ourselves? When do we swallow down our authentic words to become pleasers and compromisers at the cost of our own happiness or wellbeing? Speak Your Truth dives into all the ways we learn to stay quiet for the wrong reasons, and explores how to find your voice, assert yourself and speak out with confidence. Brave, vulnerable and deeply personal, Speak Your Truth shares Fearne’s compelling story and helps you to shape your own.

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

The routine traffic stop that ends in tragedy. The spy who spends years undetected at the highest levels of the Pentagon. The false conviction of Amanda Knox. Why do we so often get other people wrong? Why is it so hard to detect a lie, read a face or judge a stranger’s motives? Through a series of encounters and misunderstandings, from history, psychology and infamous legal cases, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual adventure into the darker side of human nature, where strangers are never simple and misreading them can have disastrous consequences. No one challenges our shared assumptions like Malcolm Gladwell. Here he uses stories of deceit and fatal errors to cast doubt on our strategies for dealing with the unknown, inviting us to rethink our thinking in these troubled times. You can see Malcolm’s other books here.

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to be Calm in a Busy World by Haemin Sunim

The world moves fast, but that doesn’t mean we have to. In this timely guide to mindfulness, Haemin Sunim, a Buddhist monk born in Korea and educated in the United States, offers advice on everything from handling setbacks to dealing with rest and relationships, in a beautiful book combining his teachings with calming full-colour illustrations. Haemin Sunim’s simple messages, which he first wrote when he responded to requests for advice on social media, speak directly to the anxieties that have become part of modern life and remind us of the strength and joy that come from slowing down. Hugely popular in Korea, Haemin Sunim is a Zen meditation teacher whose teachings transcend religion, borders and ages. With insight and compassion drawn from a life full of change, the bestselling monk succeeds at encouraging all of us to notice that when you slow down, the world slows down with you.

Enjoy. 

Loading your e-reader for Summer holiday reading: the best summer books

The sun is shining and the beach is beckoning us to enjoy the warm Australian summer. While 2020 was a year like no other, some of us are now able to head out (safely) and enjoy the outdoors. Summer has always been the perfect time to catch up on some reading, whether it’s book recommendations we have received from friends throughout the year, the lure of a new release in a bookstore or a bookclub read we are behind on. If you’re anything like us, Summer sees us fly through books at a record pace so instead of carrying around a pile of physical books this summer how about you load up an e-reader with your entire reading list? We’re heading off on a road trip and with the dog in the back so space will be limited making it an e-reader library for us this summer. 

Here are our top picks: 

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Vivid, visceral, utterly compelling, American Dirt is the first novel to explore the experience of attempting to illegally cross the US-Mexico border. Described as ‘A Grapes of Wrath for our times’ it is a story that will leave you utterly changed. Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop. Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist. Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved most in the world. Today, her eight-year-old son Luca is all she has left. For him, she will carry a machete strapped to her leg. For him, she will leap onto the roof of a high speed train. For him, she will find the strength to keep running.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Who said old age has to be dull? In a peaceful retirement village off the A21 in Kent, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved killings. But when a local property developer shows up dead, ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ find themselves in the middle of their first live case. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be octogenarians, but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late? A page-turning murder mystery in the tradition of Christie, and a joyful, laugh-out-loud celebration of modern Britishness and the power of friendship, The Thursday Murder Club is a true classic in the making.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be … dangerous. When Rose discovers that she cannot fall pregnant, Fern sees her chance to pay her sister back for everything Rose has done for her. Fern can have a baby for Rose. She just needs to find a father. Simple. Fern’s mission will shake the foundations of the life she has carefully built for herself and stir up dark secrets from the past, in this quirky, rich and shocking story of unexpected love.

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Amanda and Clay head to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a holiday, a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But with a late-night knock on the door, the spell is broken. Ruth and G. H., an older couple who claim to own the home, have arrived there in a panic. These strangers say that a sudden power outage has swept the city, and with nowhere else to turn they have come to the country in search of shelter. But with the TV and internet down, and no phone service, the facts are unknowable. Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple and vice versa? What has happened back in New York? Is the holiday home, isolated from civilisation, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one another? An impossibly compelling literary thriller about the world we live in now, Rumaan Alam’s novel is keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped in moments of crisis  and how the most terrifying situations are never far from reality.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

This is a whopper of a book and you’ll be happy to buy it as an ebook rather than a hardback! This is a riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy. Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency. Obama takes us on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation’s highest office. Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings us inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorises Operation Neptune’s Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden. A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective, the story of one man’s bet with history, the faith of a community organiser tested on the world stage.

The Handbag of Happiness by Alannah Hill

The Handbag of Happiness (and other misunderstandings, misdemeanours and misadventures) is a collection of rollicking, defiant, punked-up real-life stories where life-changing moments are found in the absurd, and self-improvement is inconvenient and unpleasant. From The Bathing Costume of Calamity to The Apron Strings of Lament and The Brassiere of Lovelessness, Alannah Hill shares hard-won wisdom from a career in the fashion world, and tells us, in her own imperfect way, how she overcame adversity and sometimes didn’t, despite her best intentions. A breath of fresh air in a world full of self-improvement courses, wellness retreats and oppressive rules, Alannah flouts convention. She’s irreverent, ironic and self-deprecating. She’s upbeat and fearlessly frank. She says out loud what other women are thinking. She flirts with trouble and finds the black humour in modern-day chaos and, in doing so, lets readers see that being a bit wrong can sometimes be right.

Enjoy!