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The book launches we are excited about

The months leading up to Christmas are, traditionally, the busiest time for book releases. This season, booklovers are more spoiled for choice than ever – many releases had been rescheduled from earlier this year to now.   With new books ranging from important to high-impact to crowd-pleasers to cult-classics, here are some book launches we are excited about:

Boy on Fire : The Young Nick Cave by Mark Mordue

Boy on Fire is the first instalment of the long-awaited, near-mythical biography of Nick Cave, written by author, poet and veteran rock journalist Mark Mordue.  Focussing on his earliest years, Boy on Fire is Nick Cave’s creation story – how his friends, family, the Victorian countryside (in particular the town of Wangaratta) and subsequent schooling in Melbourne, had influenced and shaped Nick Cave into the artist he would become.  Not only is Boy on Fire a biography about a fascinating person, it is also a lyrical and evocative history of a  bygone time and place.

Fight for Planet A by Craig Reucassel

Following the huge success of War on Waste, Craig Reucassel turns his comedy / satire talents to  the issue of carbon emissions, Fight for Planet A.  Fight for Planet A not only explores how we can reduce carbon emissions on an individual level, it is also a call to arms, encouraging Australians to initiate conversations about climate change, that can drive systemic change within our local and wider communities.  There’s no Planet B, so we’d better fight for Planet A! This book version provides a handy reference to ideas and strategies mentioned in the original TV series. 

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

A Promised Land – the first volume of Barack Obama’s two-part memoir about his presidency –  is probably the most significant new book of 2020.  Expectations are high – this long-awaited memoir follows the astonishing success of Michelle Obama’s Becoming, which has sold over 60 million copies to date.  Available in 25 languages,  A Promised Land starts with Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008, ending upon the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011, and is an account of both public progress and personal growth.  Expect additional interest in this account, following the results of the recent US elections.

The Dressmaker’s Secret by Rosalie Ham

She’s back!  The Dressmaker’s Secret continues the story of Tilly Dunnage and the rest of the beloved cast of Rosalie Ham’s acclaimed The Dressmaker.
It is 1953 and Melbourne society is looking forward to a full social season celebrating the coronation.  Tilly Dunnage is toiling away in a second-rate Collins Street salon, lying low after exacting her revenge on her hometown of Dungatar. Her plan to evade the furious townsfolk of Dungatar was working well, until Tilly’s talents – and her name – started to feature in the fashion pages…  Reprising the mix of drama, high fashion and dark humour found in the original novel, The Dressmaker’s Secret looks to be another terrific holiday read.

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Ernest Cline was so energised by the process of adapting his beloved novel, Ready Player One, into a movie, that he created a surprise sequel. Ready Player Two starts only days after the end of the original novel.  Our hero, Wade Watts, stumbles across a new and unexpected quest – a last Easter Egg from James, Halliday for his heir.  Not only will it make the OASIS more wondrous and addictive, but
Wade has to beat a dangerous new rival, who has murder on his mind.  Ready Player Two offers the same winning combination of fun action-packed adventure and pop-culture nostalgia that has delighted millions of fans.

The Office: the Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s by Andy Greene

The Office was not just Ricky Gervais’ first step towards superstardom, it is also (in its American incarnation) an influential piece of pop culture. This award-winning show ran for nine seasons until 2013, and is still regularly screened. Its alumni, including Steve Carrell, Mindy Kaling and John Krasinski, have gone on to successful and varied careers as writers and performers. Andy Greene’s book is perfectly timed to celebrate the 15th anniversary of The Office’s premiere. This is an oral history based on a whopping 86 interviews with cast and crew, as well as archival material. The result takes fans behind-the-scenes, with celebrations of favourite episodes, as well as plenty of previously-unpublished anecdotes.

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.