Tag Archives: #Fiction

Australia’s Top Books from the Past 5 Years

We love award seasons…especially when it’s celebrating Australian literature…and the 2018 season is about to start.

Each year the Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIAs) are held recognising excellence across the book industry, uniting authors, publishers and retailers in celebration of a collective passion for sharing stories and ideas. The awards showcase the extraordinary power of Australian stories to capture a worldwide audience and we thought we’d share the winners from the past five years.

Settle in and get ready to explore the amazing worlds of some great Australian authors…


2017 Winner

The Dry by Jane Harper

The Gold ABIA for Book of the Year and ABIA Fiction Book of the Year went to Jane Harper for her internationally acclaimed novel, The Dry and the film option rights have been snapped up by Reese Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard.

Amid the worst drought to ravage Australia in a century, it hasn’t rained in small country town Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are brutally murdered. Everyone thinks Luke Hadler, who committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son, is guilty. Policeman Aaron Falk returns to the town of his youth for the funeral of his childhood best friend, and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As questions mount and suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth. And as Falk probes deeper into the killings, secrets from his past and why he left home bubble to the surface as he questions the truth of his friend’s crime.

2016 Winners

Gold ABIA for Book of the Year

Reckoning: A Memoir by Magda Szubanski

Magda Szubanski’s childhood in a suburban migrant family was haunted by the demons of her father’s life in wartime Poland. At nineteen, fighting in the Warsaw resistance, he had been recruited to a secret counter-intelligence execution squad. His mission was to assassinate Polish traitors who were betraying Jewish citizens to the Nazis. The legacy of her father’s bravery left the young Magda with profound questions about her family story. As she grew up, the assassin’s daughter had to navigate her own frailties and fears, including a lifelong struggle with weight gain and an increasing awareness of her own sexuality. With courage and compassion Szubanski’s memoir asks the big questions about life, about the shadows we inherit and the gifts we pass on.


ABIA Fiction Book of the Year

The Patterson Girls by Rachael Johns

How can four sisters build the futures they so desperately want, when the past is reaching out to claim them? When the Patterson daughters return home to Meadow Brook to be with their father after their mothers death, they bring with them a world of complication and trouble.The eldest sister, obstetrician Madeleine, would rather be anywhere but her hometown, violinist Abigail has fled from her stellar career, while teacher Lucinda is struggling to have the children she and her husband so desperately want. The black sheep of the family, Charlie, feels her life as a barista and exercise instructor doesn’t measure up to that of her gifted and successful sisters.Dealing with their bereft father who is determined to sell the family motel, their loves old and new and a series of troublesome decisions don’t make life any easier, but when they go through their mother’s possessions and uncover the shocking secret of an old family curse, they begin to question everything they thought they knew. A warm and wise novel about secrets revealed, finding your soulmate and the unique bond between sisters.


2015 Winners

Gold ABIA for Book of the Year

52 Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton

Andy and Terry’s incredible, ever-expanding treehouse has 13 new storeys, including a watermelon-smashing level, a wave machine, a life-size snakes and ladders game (with real ladders and real snakes), a rocket-powered carrot-launcher, a Ninja Snail Training Academy and a high-tech detective agency with all the latest high-tech detective technology, which is lucky because they have a BIG mystery to solve – where is Mr Big Nose??? Well, what are you waiting for? Come on up.






ABIA Fiction Book of the Year

Lost & Found by Brooke Davis

At seven years old, Millie Bird realises that everything is dying around her. She wasn’t to know that after she had recorded twenty-seven assorted creatures in her Book of Dead Things her dad would be a Dead Thing, too. Agatha Pantha is eighty-two and has not left her house since her husband died. She sits behind her front window, hidden by the curtains and ivy, and shouts at passers-by, roaring her anger at complete strangers. Until the day Agatha spies a young girl across the street. Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven when his son kisses him on the cheek before leaving him at the nursing home. As he watches his son leave, Karl has a moment of clarity. He escapes the home and takes off in search of something different. Three lost people needing to be found. But they don’t know it yet. Millie, Agatha and Karl are about to break the rules and discover what living is all about.


2014 Winner


Gold ABIA for Book of the Year and ABIA Fiction Book of the Year

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Don Tillman is getting married. He just doesn’t know who to yet. But he has designed the Wife Project, using a sixteen-page questionnaire to help him find the perfect partner. She will most definitely not be a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver. Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also fiery and intelligent and beautiful. And on a quest of her own to find her biological father—a search that Don, a professor of genetics, might just be able to help her with. The Wife Project teaches Don some unexpected things. Why earlobe length is an inadequate predictor of sexual attraction. Why quick-dry clothes aren’t appropriate attire in New York. Why he’s never been on a second date. And why, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love: love finds you.


2013 Winner

ABIA Fiction Book of the Year and ABIA Fiction Book of the Year

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

A boat washes up on the shore of a remote lighthouse keeper’s island. It holds a dead man – and a crying baby. The only two islanders, Tom and his wife Izzy, are about to make a devastating decision. They break the rules and follow their hearts. What happens next will break yours.









You can follow the 2018 award season here with all of the titles that are on the ABIA’s Longlist. 

Interested in seeing which books get the most popular vote on Booko each year?  Here are the most clicked books for 2017, 2016 and 2015. 


Hollywood calling: Australian fiction on the world stage

Australian fiction has always had a strong voice internationally. There was a heyday period in the 1970’s where powerful stories such as ‘The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith’, ‘My Brilliant Career’ and ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ were translated easily into films that gave International audiences a taste of complex character-driven plotlines, set amongst the raw Australian landscape.


More recently, ‘Oscar and Lucinda’, written by the wonderful Peter Carey and focusing on a storyline involving a wealthy Australian heiress, an English Minister’s son, and a love of risk, won the 1998 Booker Prize and the 1989 Miles Franklin award. As a film, it was a great vehicle for showcasing the talents of Cate Blanchett to the International stage.

Following on, ‘Cloudstreet‘ by the multi-award winning writer Tim Winton, written in 1991 and made into a TV mini series in 2011 tells the tale of two working class Australian families who come to live together over a period of 20 years.


The Slap‘, written in 2008 by Chrisos Tsiolkas, delves into the complexity of the working middle class in Australia. Its subject matter, interestingly, became a topic that people were discussing around water coolers in Australia and around the world. A child is acting out and is slapped at a birthday party by a man who isn’t his father. The book (and mini-series) focus on the repercussion of this event on the group of people that witnessed it. The Slap was developed into 2 x TV Miniseries, one for Australian and one for US audiences.


The success of Liane Moriarty’s book ‘Big Little Lies’ and subsequent TV miniseries starring Nicole Kidman, Reece Witherspoon and Laura Dern has resulted in a huge amount of interest in the writer. Film rights have also been sold on three of her other books, including ‘The Husband’s Secret’, ‘Truly Madly Guilty’ and ‘What Alice Forgot’.


Saroo Brierly’s book ‘A Long Way Home’ has been hugely successful and the film ‘Lion’ was met with a bounty of awards in the 2017 awards season (including Luke Davies for Best Adapted Screenplay).


So what’s next?

Graeme Simsion’s debut novel ‘The Rosie Project’ about a love-lorn professor who seeks to find his perfect match using a 16 page questionnaire has been optioned by Sony Pictures. The search is underway for the perfect cast.  We’re looking forward to seeing this film on the big screen.


Reece Witherspoon optioned ‘The Dry’, a rural-gothic novel, written by former Herald Sun journalist Jane Harper, before the book was published in June 2015.

Focusing on a murder-suicide in a country town, it has been sold to more than 20 countries.

Have you heard of any Australian novels being made into movies or TV Miniseries? Drop us a line at booko@booko.com.au.

The Books that are the Playlist of my Life

Sometimes, the books you read, and the authors you love, are like staging posts, reflecting particular stages and events in your life; you grow from the experience and move on.  Sometimes, what you crave is a life partner – someone whose books engage and resonate with you year after year, come what may.  While most authors excel at writing in a specific genre or for a particular age group, there are many who write more broadly and are potential “life partners”.  Here are three popular authors who write across genres and age groups… do you have more you can recommend?

Roald Dahl

Roald Dahl is best known for his children’s stories – including his acclaimed and very entertaining autobiography Boy – but his adult fiction is also incredible.  He is a master of the short story, able to evoke a vivid scenario, then throw in a gasp-inducing twist, all within a handful of pages.  Where Roald Dahl’s twisted humour makes his children’s stories fantastical, it turns his adult stories hyper-real, emphasising the sinister, nasty side of human nature.  A celebrated example is The Champion of the World, a short story about pheasant poaching contained in his compilation Kiss Kiss; its twistedness was then transformed into Danny the Champion of the World, an altogether more whimsical story about the father-son bond and beating the establishment (and pheasant poaching!).

Kaz Cooke

Kaz Cooke is a fearless, frank and funny feminist – the sort of person you wish were your cool best friend, or fun auntie. Kaz works as a cartoonist, journalist, and agony aunt – and she has used these skills to create a range of advice books for women and children. From pregnancy (Up the Duff) to puberty (Girl Stuff) and women’s health (Women’s Stuff), Kaz has pretty much every life stage covered. What I love about these books is their excellent balance between irreverence and information – they are funny and easy to read, yet meticulously researched. Kaz also champions a body-positive message that helps readers block out the BS and learn to love and trust themselves and be more confident.

Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot is best known for The Princess Diaries, which amply showcases her chatty style and deft balancing of comedy, romance and sweet earnestness. Through a series of fifteen books, we see Mia come of age, from a gawky teenager to a confident princess, developing her own personality while honouring duty, and juggling the demands of family, friendship and romance.  Meg Cabot has extended this series up into Chick Lit territory with Royal Wedding, where an adult Mia prepares to get married (but not before lots of drama!); and also down into junior fiction, with the spin-off Notebooks of a Middle School Princess.  Not content with one hugely successful series, Meg Cabot has also written in other genres, including series of paranormal romance, and murder mysteries.

New authors to read in 2017

Did you know Spring (in the Northern hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern) is the season when major publishers unveil fiction debutantes to the world of book lovers?

From the gripping and hard hitting The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, to the lighthearted romantic story of The Hating Game by Sally Thorne we’ve read the reviews of books being released and here are our picks for what you’ll want to cozy up and read this year…


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.





Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey.


The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

This is the first grown-up novel from TV presenter, and founder of Help Refugees, Dawn O’Porter. Following on from the success of her Young Adult novels, Paper Aeroplanes and Goose, The Cows is an equally smart and insightful read. It’s about three women, female friendship and feminism.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype. Tara, Cam and Stella are strangers living their own lives as best they can though when society’s screaming you should live life one way, it can be hard to like what you see in the mirror. When an extraordinary event ties invisible bonds of friendship between them, one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration, and a life lesson to all. Sometimes it’s ok not to follow the herd.


The Futures by Anna Pitoniak

In this fabulous debut novel about love and betrayal, a young couple moves to New York City in search of success only to learn that the lives they dream of may come with dangerous strings attached.

Julia and Evan fall in love as undergraduates at Yale. For Evan, a scholarship student from a rural Canadian town, Yale is a whole new world, and Julia, blonde, beautiful, and rich, fits perfectly into the future he’s envisioned for himself. After graduation, and on the eve of the great financial meltdown of 2008, they move together to New York City, where Evan lands a job at a hedge fund. But Julia, whose privileged upbringing grants her an easy but wholly unsatisfying job with a nonprofit, feels increasingly shut out of Evan’s secretive world.



The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

The Hating Game has been described as ‘A brilliant, biting, hilarious new voice that will take the romcom world by storm’. Reviews like that from New York Times bestselling authors is pretty much a super shiny gold star in our books. Hats off to Sally Thorne for her debut novel.

Lucy Hutton has always been certain that the nice girl can get the corner office. She prides herself on being loved by everyone at work – except for imposing, impeccably attired Joshua Templeman. Trapped in a shared office, they’ve become entrenched in an addictive game of one-upmanship. There’s the Staring Game, The Mirror Game, The HR Game. Lucy can’t let Joshua beat her at anything – especially when a huge promotion is on offer. If Lucy wins, she’ll be Joshua’s boss. If she loses, she’ll resign.


Happy Reading!

Great start to literacy – 1000 Books Before School

Most people are aware that reading to children is beneficial; in fact, it is one of the best preparations for school.  When we read to children, we are exposing them to a rich vocabulary, helping them develop listening skills and attention spans, conveying information and fostering a love of reading.  These skills create a solid foundation for developing literacy.

Many libraries are now running “1000 Books Before School” programs (sometimes called “1000 Books Before Kindergarten”) to help encourage caregivers and children to keep reading and reap those literacy benefits.  The 1000 books goal is based on research – it is big enough to allow children to experience a variety of language, but still achievable – for children who start school at 5, it translates to about one book every 2 days. And for children who prefer to have the same book read over and over, each time counts as one book!

To make the process more fun, libraries and some websites offer record sheets to help families keep track of their reading.  Regular milestones (with small rewards) help build a sense of achievement until the big, final graduation.

Families living in Victoria can enrol in the program through the State Library of Victoria website or at your local library.

To get you started, here are some new and older favourites, perfect for sharing with your children.  6 down, 994 to go…

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Sturdy board books are great for the youngest readers, who might show their enjoyment of books by chewing and throwing! In Dear Zoo, a child writes to the zoo to send them a pet.  It takes a bit of trial and error to find a pet that is just right!  Dear Zoo has been a favourite with both little and big kids for over 30 years.  Its combination of a funny story, cute animals, lift-the-flaps and call-and-response makes it an excellent choice for both reading aloud and reading on your own.

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson

Tap the Magic Tree is as much a toy as it is a picture book.  Each page invites the reader to tap, shake, jiggle, or pat the book, even to blow it a kiss!  Starting with a bare brown tree, we gradually see leaves sprout, buds blossom, apples grow, the leaves yellow and finally blow away with the changing of the seasons.  The simple drawings and sparse text combine into an absorbing story that is elegant and sweetly magical.

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child

Charlie and Lola stories are laugh-out-loud funny, with vivid characters and situations that perfectly captures life with young children.  I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato is the story that started it all, and is still one of the best.  Big brother Charlie – the sensible, long-suffering one – needs to give dinner to his funny little sister Lola.  But she is really fussy about her food! So Charlie plays a trick on Lola – what if he is not giving her mashed potato, but cloud fluff from the peak of Mount Fuji?

Mr Huff by Anna Walker

Bill woke up with a bad feeling about his day.  As more things go wrong, his huffy feelings coalesce into a big grey thing, who sighs and keeps following Bill around.  How can Bill make Mr Huff go away?  Mr Huff is a cute and poignant story, and perfect conversation-starter about how to deal with sad, gloomy feelings.  Anna Walker’s understated illustrations add surprising amounts of drama and emotion.  Well-deserved winner of last year’s CBCA Early Childhood Book of the Year Award.

The Usborne Big Book of the Body

Non-fiction (information) books can often engage children who don’t seem interested in stories.  Usborne is known as a publisher of beautifully-produced, interesting information books for children, and The Big Book of the Body is no exception.  The pages fold out into giant posters showing our main bodily functions, including bones and muscles, heart and blood, lungs, brain and our senses. A mix of short explanations and quirky facts make The Big Book of the Body entertaining as well as educational.

Billie’s Underwater Adventure by Sally Rippin and Alisa Coburn

As your child gets older, why not introduce them to great characters whose stories will keep them company through their school years? Billie’s Underwater Adventure is a picture book where Billie and her friend Jack use their imaginations to have marvellous adventures at Kinder.  Then there’s the Billie B Brown and Hey Jack series, which are slice-of-life stories aimed at beginner readers; and the Billie B Brown Mysteries is a collection of short chapter books that is perfect for those mystery- and excitement-loving middle graders.

Be savvy – purchase your children’s school books through Booko

The end of one year and the start of another are expensive times: there’s Christmas at one end and back to school at the other, with sometimes just weeks in between.  With the cost of uniforms, school fees and school books to consider, it’s handy to know that with a bit of planning, you can make some great savings on your children’s schoolbooks and not have to leave the comfort of home!

We’ve selected a few titles from the recommended reading lists for a few different VCE subjects to give you a guide of just how varied some of our books are.  Whether they are E-Books, Reference books, Fiction or Non-Fiction, you should be able to pick up the majority of your children’ book list through Booko. Make sure you search using the book’s ISBN (if you know it) to ensure you’re looking at the edition specified on your list.

To get the best price on a title, set up a Booko alert so that you’ll be notified when the book falls under a certain price range.  Setting up Booko alerts is easy – just follow our simple guide and get started.  If you are concerned about the books arriving in time, it makes sense to pay attention to the delivery timeframes provided by each book store on the Booko website.  Happy shopping!


Cloud street by Tim Winton

“Cloudstreet” is the undisputed classic from one of Australia’s best loved storytellers and national treasures.

From separate catastrophes, two families flee to the city and find themselves sharing this great sighing structure called Cloudstreet and beginning their lives again from scratch.

The Pickles and the Lambs share their home for 20 years and over time observe, overhear and submerge themselves in each other’s joys, fears and secrets.

‘A generous watery epic…Winton is just one of the best.” -Independent.

The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville 

A stunning follow-up to her Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-winning book, “The Secret River,” Grenville’s “The Lieutenant” is a gripping story about friendship, self-discovery, and the power of language set along the unspoiled shores of 1788 New South Wales.

As a boy, Daniel Rooke was an outsider. Ridiculed in school and misunderstood by his parents, Daniel could only hope that he would one day find his place in life.

‘It glows with life: imaginative in its recreations, respectful of what cannot be imagined, and thoughtful in its interrogation of the past…Grenville’s most intellectually sophisticated novel to date.’ – The Age (Australia)


No Sugar by Jack Davis

This play, commissioned for the 1985 Perth Festival, is the spirited story of the Millimurra family’s stand against racist government ‘protection’ policies in 1930’s Australia.

In depression era Australia, up to 30% of the Labour Force were unemployed with Aboriginal workers worst hit.  The Nyungar family were sent to the Moore River Native Settlement from Northam in 1931 as part of a ‘forced evacuation’.

“No Sugar” portrays Davis’ political awareness, citing the reasons for the evacuation and also the characterisation of key political figures such as Mr Neville, Chief Protector of Aboriginies in Western Australia involved in the resettlement.


Maths Quest VCE Foundation Maths 

This pack is specifically designed for the VCE Foundation Mathematics course, which is a one year course. Generally undertaken in Year 11 but some schools do complete it in Year 10. The workbooks also cover the required content for VCAL schools. Instead of a textbook, Maths Quest Foundation Mathematics comprises eight individual booklets, covering a range of content areas and aspects of the syllabus: Maths Skills, Finance, Sport, The house and land package, Travelling, Car Safety, Water wise and A Musical Production.

Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary (H/B) (7th Edition) 

First published in 1976, the “Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary” has remained Australia’s best-selling dictionary. The seventh edition retains the popular features of previous editions and adds many new Australian and international words and meanings. All Australian words and meanings are labelled with an Aust. regional marker. The seventh edition of the “Australian Pocket Oxford Dictionary” is an indispensable guide to English as it is written and spoken in Australia.

The most popular audiobooks on the market

According to the Wall Street Journal, audiobooks are the fastest growing format in publishing.  We are all now conditioned to seek out entertainment when completing tasks that would normally be seen as downtime: waiting for an appointment or stuck in traffic are now opportunities to engage in the act of being read to, and and to be entertained along the way.  With each of us carrying round a pocket-sized piece of technology on which to store multiple books, this genre has really increased in popularity over the last few years.  Here are some of the most popular audiobooks on the market:

https-::covers.booko.info:300:gutGut: The Inside Story of our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders

One of the most important organs we have, our stomach, are still largely understood by much of society.  A perfect book for audio purposes, ‘Gut’ is written with the average person in mind, it’s both informative and funny.  Viewed as a ‘health handbook’, Enders covers concepts such as nutrient absorption to recent ground-breaking research linking bowel bacteria to depression.  A scientist, Enders states that if we treat our gut well, it will treat us well in return.  She shows us how to do this in a way that’s easy to incorporate into our everyday lives.



https-::covers.booko.info:300:buryThe Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

Considered by some to be a literary thriller, this is the story of a student who begins the modest task of completing an English assignment.  His job is to interview a person and complete a brief biography.  Heading to the local nursing home, he meets Carl Iverson, a dying Vietnam veteran and convicted murderer.  Unable to reconcile the acts of heroism with his crimes, he decides to uncover the truth.  Delving into the fragments of the crime, will he discover the truth before it’s too late?   Similar in some parts to ‘Making a Murderer’, this book is rich in its portrayals of the characters and the events leading up to the crime.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:oveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Ove is possibly the grumpiest man you might ever meet. Surrounded by ‘idiots’ as he calls them, he is the neighbour from hell who keeps a tight rein on the street, its inhabitants and their comings and goings.  When new ‘foreign’ neighbours move into the street and accidentally flatten his letterbox, this sets off an chain of events that result in unexpected friendships being made.  Quirky, full of comedy and incredibly heartwarming, ‘Ove’ has been a runaway hit and life-affirming modern fable.


https-::covers.booko.info:300:amyThe Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer

An uproarious collection of no-holds-barred personal essays by the Emmy Award-winning comedian reflects on her raucous childhood antics, her hard-won rise in the entertainment industry and her struggles to maintain the courage to approach the world in the refreshingly honest way that she does.  The beauty about listening to the book in audiobook format is having Schumer deliver her personal stories in her trademark funny and fantastically rude manner like no one else does.

https-covers-booko-info300teethBorn with Teeth: A Memoir by Kate Mulgrew

Known  for her mesmerising work in film, TV and the theatre, Kate Mulgrew turns her hand to writing in this unflinching memoir.  From her childhood, raised by unconventional Irish Catholics who knew “how to drink, how to dance, how to talk, and how to stir up the devil,” to studying with the legendary Stella Adler and the pain of giving up her daughter, ‘Born with Teeth’ is an exceptionally well-written autobiography from a master storyteller.


https-::covers.booko.info:300:stingSting (Unabridged) by Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown is a Number 1 bestselling New York Times and USA Today best-selling author.  Narrated by the Author, Brown jolts the listener from the start in this story of treachery, deception, secrets and lies.

Brown is a master of writing gripping, page-turning suspense novels and ‘Sting’ contains plot twists that will keep listeners on the edge of their seats.  Tantalisingly great listening.


For more of our audiobook picks, head to our Pinterest board!

The favourite books of famous authors

Ever wondered what popular authors consider their favourite reads?  Most authors read extensively: for inspiration as well as a simple love of prose.  We’ve collected the favourite books of some of our most popular authors and the results might surprise:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, a favourite of J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:littlewomenThe story of the four March girls has thrilled readers for generations.  The struggle for girls and women to be true to themselves while following convention is a universal theme.    Set during the American Civil War, the novel features a loving family on the brink of poverty.

Part of the beauty of re-reading Little Women is its simplicity: there is no violence but there is a focus on simple living and the values of hard work and forgiveness.  This novel is said to have been a comfort to people post 9/11.   The strong character of Jo is said to be Alcott herself, and could also possibly have similar characteristics to Jo Rowling, herself in a dire financial situation when writing Harry Potter.  J.K. Rowling is the British author of the Harry Potter fantasy series of books, that have sold more than 400 million copies.


Flowers in the Attic
by Virginia Andrews, a favourite of Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl.

Flowers in the Attic is the first book in the Dollanganger Family series that captured the imagination of a generation of teenagers.  4 blonde children are locked in an attic and struggling to stay alive.  After the death of their father, their mother focuses solely on an inheritance to secure their future.   To appease their grandfather, the children must pretend to not exist.  These novels contained a range of disturbing themes that had them banned in some countries.  They were incredibly popular, nonetheless.

Gillian Flynn is an American Author, screenwriter and comic book writer.  Her three published books are thrillers: Sharp Objects, Dark Places and Gone Girl.


https-::covers.booko.info:300:sulaSula by Toni Morrison, a favourite of Lena Dunham, author of Not that Kind of Girl.

Sula and Nel are two young black girls: clever and poor. They grow up together, sharing their secrets, dreams and happiness. Then Sula breaks free from their small-town community in the uplands of Ohio to roam the cities of America. When she returns ten years later much has changed, including Nel, who now has a husband and three children. Another stunning novel from Toni Morrison, Sula is about the ‘cost’ of being a black woman in America.

Lena Dunham is an American Actress, Producer, Writer and Director.  Her essay collection ‘Not that Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells you What she has Learned’ was published in 2014.


https-::covers.booko.info:300:MiddlemarchMiddlemarch by George Eliot, a favourite of Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth

Middlemarch is one of those novels that turns up on the top 10 lists of many authors.  It’s a moving story of men and women longing to do the right thing, but making bad decisions. Among them is Dorothea Brooke, who wants to improve the world but finds her idealism crushed by her unhappy marriage to the aged scholar Casaubon.  Essentially a study of the upper and middle classes of 1830s England, Middlemarch features beautiful and dense prose and a plot that seems to advance on every page.

Zadie Smith is an English novelist, essayist and short story writer.  She is arguably best known for White Teeth, which was completed during her final year at Cambridge University.


https-::covers.booko.info:300:continentalContinental Drift by Russell Banks, a favourite of Jonathan Franzen, author of The Corrections

Continental Drift has been lauded as a modern classic by many.  Covering the Recession of the 1980’s, its about the human need to want more, whether that be by leaving small-town comfort and relative obscurity or by escaping from poverty.  Covering these two storylines, Banks’ ability to understand the raw human desire for ambition and recognition, that might potentially lead to tragedy.  Seduced by the American dream, two different characters uproot their lives to transform them forever.

Jonathan Franzen is an American novelist and essayist.  His 2001 novel ‘The Corrections’ was a 2001 Pulitzer Prize finalist.


https-::covers.booko.info:300:dallowayMrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, a favourite of Vendela  Vida, author of The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty

Mrs Dalloway routinely features in  ‘Top novels of all time’ lists.  It follows a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a fictional lady of high society.  The novel is set in Post WW1 in England and Clarissa is preparing for a party. The novel travels backwards and forwards in time, as well as featuring the thoughts in the characters’  minds.  For these reasons, it was quite innovative at the time, as it disrupted the traditional narrative structure.  Some think this novel dull; others mesmerising.  I hate to think of what a novel would look like that was made up of my innermost thoughts….

Vida, an American author and journalist, has written 5 books.  ‘The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty is her most recent novel.

Not your Average Father’s Day Book Suggestions

August usually brings new releases in thrillers, sports biographies and political/military history – typical “Father’s Day Gift” books.  But what if your dad is not a typical Dad?  This year, Team Booko has looked further, to see what other interesting titles we can find.  So here’s our pick of quirky, challenging and absorbing reads for the thoughtful, intellectual and playful Not-Average-Dads out there.

Dads are the Original Hipsters by Brad Getty

Help your dad relive his youth with this collection of photos from the 60s, 70s and 80s, which comprehensively show that dads are the original hipsters.  See these vintage dads grow big beards, ride fixies, listen to vinyl, wear tight jeans, thick-rimmed glasses, and drink home brew (craft beer!).  The snarky captions lovingly make fun of modern hipsters (and dads).  Dads are the Original Hipsters started life as a blog (a modern badge of quality – only the most successful blogs get book deals) and it screams “Father’s Day novelty gift” – in an ironic way, of course.   Lots of fun for dads and kids of a certain age, and for new hipster dads too!

Reservoir Dad by Clint Greagan

Reservoir Dad is another successful blog-turned-book.  Clint Greagan is a stay-at-home dad who has spent the last ten years tending to four young sons and a prize-winning blog.  Reservoir Dad is a record of those ten years – the funny bits, the sentimental bits, the gross bits and the frustrating bits.  Clint Greagan is funny, bawdy and candid as he writes about juggling parenting and relationship maintenance (with the lovely Reservoir Mum).  He is insightful about his non-traditional role, and his masculine perspective on parenting is refreshing. Reservoir Dad won’t just resonate with stay-at-home-dads, but with anyone who has ever wrangled young kids; it offers comfort and solidarity to shell-shocked young parents too.

Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear 1715 – 2015 by Sharon Sadako Takeda, Kaye Durland Spilker and M. Esguerra Clarissa

Blame Queen Victoria for making men’s fashion so bleak and boring – prior to her era, elegance in menswear often meant vibrant colours and intricate decorations.  Luckily for men who love to express themselves through clothes, history is coming full circle, with colour and flair returning to men’s fashion.  Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear is the stunning coffee-table book accompanying its namesake exhibition at LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art).  Tracing 300 years of history, it celebrates works by iconic designers including Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, Vivienne Westwood and Saville Row tailors.  Designs are analysed to show how historic dress continues to influence current fashions, and how menswear, like womenswear also use padding and shaping to express body ideals.  Reigning Men offers fascinating history, splendid imagery as well as design inspiration.

Who Stole My Spear by Tim Samuels

What does being a man mean, in the age of man-buns and paleo diets?  Societal expectations about “good masculinity” is changing rapidly, with efforts to destroy long-standing blokey attitudes that favour sexism and violence.  Men as a gender is still advantaged, but on an individual level, many are struggling against expectations to be everything to everyone: career high-achiever, committed spouse, hands-on parent.  Who Stole My Spear is Tim Samuels’ survey of what men and masculinity is all about in modern society, with discussions on corporate culture, monogamy, relationships and parenthood, religion, pornography and mental health.  Its lightheartedness makes for easy reading yet does not detract from the confronting questions it poses.

Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food by Jeff Potter

Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Cooks, and Good Food is not the usual grilling/barbecuing-themed cookbooks normally pitched at men; instead it aims to explain the science behind cooking and tasting.  Understanding why particular techniques are used will turn cooking from black art to logical process – which helps beginner cooks achieve better and more consistent results.  It also helps more experienced cooks learn how to cook beyond following recipes.  And not only the explanations are good, the recipes sound delicious too – from simple dishes like pancakes to fancy ones such as duck confit.  Written by a software engineer and published by O’Reilly Media (better known for computer-related texts), its geek pedigree is never in doubt, but Cooking for Geeks will also appeal to anyone who loves to understand the “why” of everything.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Recently I saw Outlander referred to as “a good starting point for men to get into romance novels” and can’t resist sharing this suggestion.
It works because Outlander is not just a love story; as we follow the adventures of Claire Randall, a 20th-century nurse who unintentionally time-travels to 18th-century Scotland, her story encompasses fantasy, history, action (and war), political intrigue, and sex as well as burgeoning romance.  Fans love it for its clever mix of genres, historical detail, excellent character development as well as Diana Gabaldon’s emotionally-affective writing.  An acclaimed TV adaptation offers another way to engage with this beloved book series.


For more Father’s Day ideas (even the more traditional kind), check out our Pinterest board.

Lessons learned from your favourite childhood books

Growing up, books were how you made sense of the world.  Some books stood the test of time and made a lasting impression, along with the ‘life lessons’ they conveyed.  Here is a retro list of some of the books you enjoyed as a child and the lessons they taught us:

https-::covers.booko.info:300:MadMadeleine by Ludwig Bemelmans

“In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines
Lived twelve little girls in two straight lines….”

The first few lines of Madeleine always seem to spring from your memory easily.  The series of Madeleine books contain rich, intricate artwork and beautiful rhyming prose.  In a world where precision and order was admired and encouraged, Madeleine was feisty, brave and always up for an adventure.

Life lesson: Be courageous

https-::covers.booko.info:300:givingThe Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

“Once there was a tree . . . and she loved a little boy.” The Giving Tree has been a popular childhood book for the last 50 years.  50 years!   The boy and the giving tree have a relationship where they can communicate.  At various stages throughout the boy’s life, they boy comes to the tree asking for something to solve a problem, which the tree gives, selflessly, until there is nothing left to give.  The relationship between the tree and the boy has been described as modelling the parent-child relationship.

Life lesson: Give without keeping score

https-::covers.booko.info:300:1terabithiaBridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

This was our class novel in Grade 7 with one of my favourite teachers.  It’s a firm favourite and had the class in floods of tears.  Written in 1978 and now made into a film, it’s the story of 2 lonely children who are able to see the magic in each other that many cannot.  5th graders Jesse Aarons befriends a newcomer to the town, Leslie Burke.  Both social outcasts, they create the mythical kingdom of Terabithia where they both can truly be themselves.  When tragedy strikes, Jesse learns to overcome it.

Life lesson: Friendship conquers all

https-::covers.booko.info:300:loraxThe Lorax by Dr Seuss

The Lorax was Dr Seuss’ personal favourite among all his books.  It’s most commonly thought of as a modern fable: the threat of greed to nature.   The idea for the Lorax came from the anger of the author (Ted Geisel).  “In The Lorax I was out to attack what I think are evil things and let the chips fall where they might.”  The Lorax has been lauded as a brilliant teaching aid when discussing environmental issues with children.

Life lesson: We must speak for the trees (and all other living things).


https-::covers.booko.info:300:secretThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Secret Garden celebrated it’s 100th birthday in 2011.  A beloved classic, The Secret Garden  is about a young girl called Mary who loses her parents and is sent to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion in England.  Lonely and with no-one to play with, she learns of a secret garden on the grounds.  A chance meeting introduces her to her cousin Colin who has an unidentified illness which prevents him from walking.  Both the garden and Colin thrive from the new friendship.

Life lesson: The only way to have experiences is to leave your comfort zone.

https-::covers.booko.info:300:poohWinnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne

Winnie the Pooh is yet another cult classic and essential part of any child’s library.  The tales of Pooh and his friends are gently told and illustrated beautifully (I love this one due to the simple and elegant drawings by E.H. Shepherd).  Each Pooh tale expresses a range of life lessons, most due, in part, to the bear’s positivity.  The values of empathy, gratitude and creative problem-solving are featured in just about every tale, making these books easily digestible values-based stories for children.

Life lesson: Cherish your friends