It’s a tough call as there are so many great books out there, but we really liked Where the Crawdads Sing, Educated and The Testaments…what about you? What is your #1 book of the year?
Everyone needs a little reminder now and again to take care of themselves. The end of the year is closing in and while festive seasons can be fun, they can also take a lot out of us. Make sure you take some time to do something that recharges you, chatting with a friend, sitting with a good book, enjoying a cup of tea, or taking a quick stroll. It doesn’t need to take long, but the impact will last a while.Later this week we will be looking back on the best books of 2019.
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.
Have you watched this Ted Talk on dead shopping malls? It’s a surprisingly funny and lyrical commentary on consumerism, youth culture and the inspiration we can find in decay. Filmmaker Dan Bell guides us through abandoned monoliths of merchandise in America.
And…relax. The weekend is finally here and we’re hoping to get a few hours with our nose in a book before heading out to the amazing Christmas markets that are on. Happy weekend everyone.
Looking to give the gift of inspiration this year?
Make sure you shop our ‘recommended‘ section where we have handily popped all of the best books to make your Christmas shopping that little bit easier. You’re welcome.
China is a huge laboratory of innovation, says retail expert Angela Wang, and in this lab, everything takes place on people’s phones. Five hundred million Chinese consumers regularly make purchases via mobile platforms, even in brick-and-mortar stores. What will this transformation mean for the future of shopping? Learn more about the new business-as-usual, where everything is ultra-convenient, ultra-flexible and ultra-social.
With Summer so close, now is the time to start gathering titles to read whilst holidaying in the sunshine. Which book is at the top of your ‘to read’ list?
The sun is starting to shine a little brighter and with a little more heat in Melbourne (today is expected to be 32 degrees) which signals that the festive season is looming and diaries may be starting to fill with weddings, parties and family bbqs. For those of you living in the Northern Hemisphere where Winter is starting to knock on the door, a getaway may be in order. We’ve scoured the ever growing travel genre of books and have found some of the most enticing books covering the wonderful world of travel.
So get your suitcase and passport at the ready because we think these titles may just convince your inner traveller to head away for a well deserved break.
Epic Hikes of the World by Lonely Planet
With stories of 50 incredible hiking routes in 30 countries, from New Zealand to Peru, plus a further 150 suggestions, Lonely Planet’s Epic Hikes of the World will inspire a lifetime of adventure on foot. From one-day jaunts and urban trails to month-long thru-hikes, cultural rambles and mountain expeditions, each journey shares one defining feature: being truly epic. In this follow-up to Epic Bike Rides and Epic Drives, the Lonely Planet Team share our adventures on the world’s best treks and trails. Epic Hikes is organised by continent, with each route brought to life by a first-person account, beautiful photographs and charming illustrated maps. Additionally, each hike includes trip planning advice on how to get there, where to stay, what to pack and where to eat, as well as recommendations for three similar hikes in other regions of the world.
Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom
The average adult spends about a third of his or her waking time alone. Yet research suggests we aren’t very good at using, never mind enjoying, alone time. Rising to the challenge, travel writer Stephanie Rosenbloom explores the joys and benefits of being alone in four mouth-watering journeys to the cities of Paris, Istanbul, Florence and New York, in four seasons. This is a book about the pleasures and benefits of savouring the moment, examining things closely, using all your senses to take in your surroundings, whether travelling to faraway places or walking the streets of your own city. Through on-the-ground observations and anecdotes, and drawing on the thinking of artists, writers and innovators who have cherished solitude, Alone Time illuminates the psychological arguments for alone time and lays bare the magic of going solo.
Literary Places by Sarah Baxter
Bringing together engaging text and stunning hand-drawn illustrations, Literary Places (Inspired Traveller’s Guide) takes readers on an enlightening journey through the key locations of literature’s best and brightest authors, movements and moments. Explore the plains of La Mancha with Don Quixote, take a Holden Caulfield tour of Central Park, or roam the Yorkshire moors with Cathy and Heathcliff. Author Sarah Baxter explores literary locations from around the globe, including vibrant urban centres, tranquil creative sanctuaries and places that inspired classic stories. The evocative text outlines each location’s history and culture, combined with biographies of the authors or stories from the literary works that make the place significant.
Hungry by Jeff Gordinier
Feeling stuck in his life, New York Times food writer Jeff Gordinier met Rene Redzepi, the Danish chef whose restaurant, Noma, has been repeatedly voted the best in the world. A restless perfectionist, Redzepi was at the top of his game but looking to shutter his restaurant and set out for new places, flavours and recipes. This is the story of their four-year culinary adventure. In the Yucatan jungle, Redzepi and Gordinier seek the perfect taco and the secrets of mole. On idyllic Sydney beaches, they forage for sea rocket and wild celery. On a boat in the Arctic Circle, a lone fisherman guides them to, perhaps, the world’s finest sea urchins. Back in Copenhagen, Redzepi plans the resurrection of his restaurant on the unlikely site of a garbage-filled empty lot. Hungry is a memoir, a travelogue, a portrait of a chef, and a chronicle of the moment when daredevil cooking became the most exciting and groundbreaking form of artistry.
Around the World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh
Captured with wit and warmth, energy and zest, one woman ‘s attempt to circumnavigate the globe in eighty eventful train journeys. When Monisha Rajesh announced plans to circumnavigate the globe in eighty train journeys, she was met with wide-eyed disbelief. But it wasn’t long before she was carefully plotting a route that would cover 45,000 miles almost twice the circumference of the earth coasting along the world’s most remarkable railways; from the cloud-skimming heights of Tibet’s Qinghai railway to silk-sheeted splendour on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Packing up her rucksack and her fiancé, Jem, Monisha embarks on an unforgettable adventure that will take her from London’s St Pancras station to the vast expanses of Russia and Mongolia, North Korea, Canada, Kazakhstan, and beyond. The ensuing journey is one of constant movement and mayhem, as the pair strike up friendships and swap stories with the hilarious, irksome and ultimately endearing travellers they meet on board, all while taking in some of the earth’s most breathtaking views. From the author of Around India in 80 Trains comes another witty and irreverent look at the world and a celebration of the glory of train travel. Monisha offers a wonderfully vivid account of life, history and culture in a book that will make you laugh out loud and reflect on what it means to be a global citizen as you whirl around the world in its pages.
My Tiny Atlas by Emily Nathan
As much an armchair travel companion as a guide to planning your next trip, My Tiny Atlas contains 300 lush, surprising, and stunning photos, along with stories about far-flung locales and tips for experiencing a new location like a local. From Tiny Atlas Quarterly, one of the most trusted sources for authentic, unusual, and inspiring travel photography, this book takes you to every continent and all corners of the world, from Paris, San Francisco, London, and Buenos Aires to the Arctic Circle, Tanzania, Tahiti, and Mongolia. My Tiny Atlas visually explores new destinations with an intimate, insider’s view, not of the usual monuments and tourist attractions, but of the real people, mouth-watering food, verdant flora, bustling streets, wild animals, epic views, lazy rivers, architectural gems, and other details that make you feel what it’s like to truly be in another place, whether or not you ever leave home.
The place that travel writer Pico Iyer would most like to go? Nowhere. In a counterintuitive and lyrical meditation, Pico Iyer takes a look at the incredible insight that comes with taking time for stillness.
In our world of constant movement and distraction, he teases out strategies we all can use to take back a few minutes out of every day, or a few days out of every season.
It’s the talk for anyone who feels overwhelmed by the demands for our world.