Category Archives: Recommended

Christmas Presents for the Hard-To-Buy-For (#htbf)

So, the big red man is on his way and you’re wondering what you’re meant to wrap and pop under the tree? There’s no need to worry, we have your back. In fact, we have found six great books for the Hard-To-Buy-For people in your life that they would happily unwrap no matter what they normally read. 

Pop on some festive music, grab yourself a Christmas tipple and get ready to cross those hard-to-buy-for gifts off your list. 

Books for the hard-to-buy-for Her

Mirka Mora: A Life Making Art by Sabine Cotte

This beautiful book provides a unique insight into one of Melbourne’s most beloved personalities. Revealing an unseen side of Mirka through both her materials and practice, this intimate portrait shares her complex and truly innovative techniques, which until now have not been studied. Detailing the artist’s breadth of practice, her idiosyncratic processes and blend of traditional methods and modern creativity, this book shows how Mirka’s various modes of making art connected deep emotions, stories of displacement and loss with major movements of the twentieth century. From Holocaust survivor to Melbourne cultural icon, Mirka expressed the intensity of her personal life through artworks that embodied feminism, the craft movement as well as community art policies of the 1980s. With privileged access to the artist and her studio, Sabine Cotte offers a new perspective on this extraordinary woman, illuminating Mirka’s significance as one of Australia’s most compelling, creative and prolific artists.

Olive Cotton by Helen Ennis

This is a landmark biography of a singular and important Australian photographer which is beautifully written and deeply moving. Olive Cotton was one of Australia’s pioneering modernist photographers, whose significant talent was recognised as equal to her first husband, the famous photographer Max Dupain. Together, Olive and Max were an Australian version of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera or Ray and Charles Eames, and the photographic work they produced in the 1930s and early 1940s was bold, distinctive and quintessentially Australian. But in the mid-1940s Olive divorced Max, leaving Sydney to live with her second husband, Ross McInerney, and raise their two children in a tent on a farm near Cowra – later moving to a cottage that had no running water, electricity or telephone for many years. Famously quiet, yet stubbornly determined, Olive continued her photography despite these challenges and the lack of a dark room. But away from the public eye, her work was almost forgotten until a landmark exhibition in Sydney in 1985 shot her back to fame, followed by a major retrospective at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2000, ensuring her reputation as one of the country’s greatest photographers. Intriguing, moving and powerful, this is Olive’s story, but it is also a compelling story of women and creativity – and about what it means for an artist to try to balance the competing demands of their art, work, marriage, children and family.

Books for the hard-to-buy-for Him

Unreliable Memoirs by Clive James

The first volume of Clive James’ autobiography begins “I was born in 1939. The other big event of that year was the outbreak of the Second World War, but for the moment, that did not affect me.” 

In the first installment of Clive James’s memoirs, we meet the young Clive, dressed in short trousers, and wrestling with the demands of school, various relatives and the occasional snake, in the suburbs of post-war Sydney. His adventures are hilarious, his recounting of them even more so, in this, the book that started it all. 

Word of the Dog by Megan Anderson

They say that a dog is a man’s best friend. So why not give him the gift of a little canine humour. 

What can we learn from the gentle art of listening? With affection and wit, artist and writer Megan Anderson has assembled characters from the dog world to put a canine face on human observations – those things that occupy our thoughts, and delight, move or perplex us. By imagining dogs as the bearers of candid human thoughts, Word of Dog offers a glimpse into the beauty of the everyday, a joy for readers of all breeds and temperaments.

Books for the hard-to-buy-for Teen

The Book Of Dust by Philip Pullman

Surely a hard-to-buy-for teen is a fan of His Dark Materials which has been taking over our TV screens. 

Malcolm Polstead’s Oxford life has been one of routine, ordinary even. He is happiest playing with his daemon, Asta, in their canoe, La Belle Sauvage. But now as the rain builds, the world around Malcolm and Asta is, it seems, set to become increasingly far from ordinary.Finding himself linked to a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua, Malcolm is forced to undertake the challenge of his life and to make a dangerous journey that will change him and Lyra forever . . .

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

This is the intoxicating and bloodthirsty finale to the New York Times bestselling The Folk of the Air series (depending on the teen, you may need to buy book one and two first, or get the whole trilogy). After being pronounced Queen of Faerie and then abruptly exiled by the Wicked King Cardan, Jude finds herself unmoored, the queen of nothing. She spends her time with Vivi and Oak, watching reality television, and doing odd jobs, including squaring up to a cannibalistic faerie. When her twin sister Taryn shows up asking a favour, Jude jumps at the chance to return to the Faerie world, even if it means facing Cardan, who she loves despite his betrayal. When a dark curse is unveiled, Jude must become the first mortal Queen of Faerie and break the curse, or risk upsetting the balance of the whole Faerie world. 

Enjoy!

The Best of the Black Friday Sales

The countdown to Christmas is definitely on with only a little over 4 weeks to go. Thankfully, Black Friday is tomorrow and stores have jumped on board early and have already started discounting their products. We have had a little poke around the internet and have found a bunch of great books and DVDs that we think offer a great saving. 

One store that is going over and above is Amazon Australia, they are now offering free shipping on over 300 books from their range, you can check out the titles included here

So get your Christmas lists at the ready and prepare to bag a bargain. 

Some People Think I am a Shoe by Stan Smith

An internationally celebrated and highly coveted icon in the world of sneaker design, the Stan Smith tennis sneaker has achieved cult status since its debut in the early 1970s. This is the first book to celebrate the global cultural impact of the ubiquitous sneaker named after former world No. 1 tennis player Stan Smith. Over the last five decades, the Stan Smith has remained the perennial icon of minimalist cool sneaker design and Smith has collaborated with ground-breaking artists, designers, and fashion brands including Colette, Yohji Yamamoto, Raf Simons, and Pharrell. This all-access volume demonstrates that the personality of the shoe has everything to do with Stan the Man. Chapters are enhanced by recollections from Stan Smith along with anecdotes from style influencers, designers, sports legends, and fervent sneaker fans. Showcasing street-style photography of Stan Smith sworn globally, to pop-culture references of the sneaker in rap lyrics to Bollywood movies this book is an absolute collector’s item for readers interested in sneaker culture, sports, street style, design, and pop culture.

Harry Potter The Illustrated Collection (Books 1-3 Boxed Set) by J. K. Rowling

This beautifully produced boxed set is the perfect introduction to the Harry Potter series, and an impressive gift for new readers and lifelong fans alike. It contains the first three books in the series (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) in large-scale editions, gorgeously illustrated in full color by award-winning artist Jim Kay. These editions are a pleasure to read, with generously sized pages, color on every page, and a ribbon bookmark in each volume. A full-color slipcase featuring red foiled lettering and Kay’s brilliant depiction of Diagon Alley completes the package, making this collection a luxurious gift for readers and Harry Potter fans of all ages.

Lagom: The Swedish Art of Balanced Living by Linnea Dunne

Saving up to a whopping 72% this is a bargain and a great gift for the interiors lover. 

Lagom (pronounced ‘lar-gom’) has no equivalent in the English language but is loosely translated as ‘not too little, not too much, just right’. It is widely believed that the word comes from the Viking term ‘laget om’, for when a mug of mead was passed around a circle and there was just enough for everyone to get a sip. But while the anecdote may hit the nail on the head, the true etymology of the word points to an old form of the word ‘lag’, which means ‘law’. Far from restrictive, lagom is a liberating concept, praising the idea that anything more that ‘just enough’ is a waste of time. Crucially it also comes with a selflessness and core belief of responsibility and common good. By living lagom you can live a happier and more balanced life, reduce your environmental impact, improve your work-life balance, free your home from clutter, enjoy good food the Swedish way, grow your own and learn to forage, and cherish the relationships with those you love.

Bluey: Volume 1 – Magic Xylophone and Other Stories

WIth a saving of nearly 30% this is one of the most in-demand Christmas gifts this year. Bluey has taken over our screens with children acting out the little blue dog’s wild imaginative games and parents taking a leaf out of her parents’ laid-back book. In a funny and honest look at modern family life, Bluey, her sister Bingo and her friends use gameplay to integrate the adult world into their own. It helps them to learn important lessons and deal with the emotional ups and downs of growing up.

In this collection Bluey and family play their favourite games including operating on Dad in Hospital, a high-stakes game of Keepy Uppy with Bluey’s last balloon, a magic xylophone that can freeze Dad in space and time and avoiding the crocodile infested grass in Shadowlands.

The Maths Book by DK

This little gem has a saving of over 88%! Take a journey through the fascinating story of fractions, numbers, patterns, and shapes in order to better understand the complex world we live in. Continuing the “Big Ideas” series’ trademark combination of authoritative, clear text and bold graphics to chart the development of maths through history, the book explores and explains some of the most complex and fascinating mathematical subjects. Delve into everything from the mathematical ideas and inventions of the ancient world such as the first number systems, magic squares, and the Chinese abacus, through to the developments in mathematics during medieval and Renaissance Europe, to the rise of group theory and cryptography more recently. This diverse and inclusive account of mathematics will have something for everybody- for those interested in the maths behind world economies, secret spies, modern technology and plenty more, taking readers around the world from Babylon to Bletchley Park. Tracing maths through the Scientific Revolution to its 21st-century use in computers, the internet, and AI, The Maths Book uses an innovative visual approach to make the subject accessible to everyone, casual readers and students alike.

Lifespan: The Revolutionary Science of Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To by David Sinclair

In this paradigm-shifting book from acclaimed Harvard Medical School doctor and one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people on earth, Dr. David Sinclair reveals that everything we think we know about ageing is wrong, and shares the surprising, scientifically-proven methods that can help readers live younger, longer. For decades, the medical community has looked to a variety of reasons for why we age, and the consensus is that no one dies of old age; they die of age-related diseases. That’s because ageing is not a disease – it is inevitable. But what if everything you think you know about ageing is wrong? What if ageing is a disease? And that disease is curable. Dr. David Sinclair, one of the world’s foremost authorities on genetics and ageing, argues just that. He has dedicated his life’s work to chasing more than a longer lifespan – he wants to enable people to live longer, healthier, and disease-free well into our hundreds. In this book, he reveals a bold new theory of ageing, one that pinpoints a root cause of ageing that lies in an ancient genetic survival circuit. This genetic trick – a circuit designed to halt reproduction in order to repair damage to the genome – has enabled earth’s early microcosms to survive and evolve into more advanced organisms. But this same survival circuit is the reason we age: as genetic damage accumulates over our lifespans from UV rays, environmental toxins, and unhealthy diets, our genome is overwhelmed, causing gray hair, wrinkles, achy joints, heart issues, dementia, and, ultimately, death. But genes aren’t our destiny; we have more control over them than we’ve been taught to believe. We can’t change our DNA, but we can harness the power of the epigenome to realise the true potential of our genes. This is destined to be the biggest book on genes, biology, and longevity of this decade.

Enjoy!

Top Books for Summer Reading

Summer Holidays is my favourite time of the year, because it is when I can truly relax, sit down and catch up on reading!  In Australia, we are always spoilt for choice with our summer reading, because it coincides with the end-of-year publishing bonanza – when many great titles are launched in time for the festive gifting season. Here are some holiday-reading goodies to look forward to:

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas follows writer and comedian Adam Kay through six festive seasons on hospital wards, during his time as a junior doctor in the NHS.  Adam’s brilliant storytelling highlights the humour and heartbreak in the human dramas that occur daily in a busy city hospital – and his background as a doctor gives a particularly insightful perspective.  And it being the silly season, readers will learn more than they’ll ever need to know about the inappropriate uses of various orifices…. Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas is a very impressive sequel to This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor,  which spent a whopping 52 weeks at No.1. 

Calypso by David Sedaris

Calypso is the latest of David Sedaris’ distinctive diary-essays – his tenth collection.  Need I say more? This time, the action revolves around Sea Section, David and his husband’s cottage on the North Carolina coast, where the Sedaris clan gathers for Thanksgivings and summer vacations.  Here, enforced communal living plus idiosyncratic relatives equals anecdotes that become family lore; but this time, the weird and funny stories are darker and bleaker, as they explore middle-age, mortality, and grief.  David Sedaris always impresses with how skilfully he evolves a story from seemingly meaningless minutiae into deeply personal and moving reflections. Read Calypso before he arrives in Australia for his speaking tour in early 2020.

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino

Jia Tolentino is a staff writer for the New Yorker, who honed her craft on the internet; she often writes about how the rise of the internet has influenced and induced our collective anxieties.  For many readers, she is The Guide to how to live and survive in this hyper-connected, technology-facilitated culture.  Trick Mirror is her debut collection of nine interlinked essays, on identity, feminism, politics and the internet. Drawing on wide-ranging topics including her own coming of age, celebrity culture and the wedding industry, and armed with beautiful crystalline language, Jia Tolentino works her way towards explaining what she thinks and how she feels about life, the world, and herself.

Tall Tales and Wee Stories by Billy Connolly

Tall Tales and Wee Stories is a collection of Billy Connolly’s best and most popular work, including stories, comedy routines (such as Jojoba Shampoo and Incontinence Pants), and drawings.  In over 50 years of performing, he never prepared scripts, preferring to craft his tales live in front of an audience; now that he has retired from live standup comedy, Billy Connolly has finally written his stories down.  Whether he’s riffing on the mundanities of life, or talking about the bigger issues of sex, politics or religion, Billy Connolly always brings an endearing sense of the absurd to the most outrageous or profane topics – and thus gets away with saying anything he damn well pleases.

Dead at First Sight by Peter James

“You don’t know me, but I thought I knew you” – photos of a handsome motivational speaker have been used to scam unsuspecting women across multiple online dating sites.  The woman who discovered this con then apparently committed suicide.  Meanwhile, two retirees came away from the airport disappointed, after their online girlfriends failed to arrive from overseas.  Both men have sent their girlfriends large sums of money prior to the trip; neither women arrived because they did not exist.  These people are all victims of a global dating scam, whose masterminds won’t hesitate to murder anyone trying to expose them.  The race is on for Detective Superintendent Roy Grace to catch the scammers and stop the killings.  Inspired by recent news headlines, Dead at First Sight is both a fast-paced thriller and a cautionary tale.

Me by Elton John

Hot on the heels of the movie Rocketman comes Elton John’s first autobiography – the real stories in his own words. Elton’s life may have followed the classic rockstar trajectory – unhappy childhood, successes and excesses, culminating in redemption and inner peace – but its telling has been elevated by Elton’s exuberant, candid voice.  He’s not afraid to laugh at himself, and has fun admitting to his own bad behaviour, “I’m perfectly aware how ridiculous my life is, and perfectly aware what an arsehole I look like when I lose my temper over nothing”.  That Elton is his own best storyteller is the delightful surprise of this book.  Full of salacious, hilarious stories and crammed with famous names, Me by Elton John is the perfect holiday read.