CategoryThe Reading List

This reading list is a contribution to the sharing of books. All sorts of books make their way to my bedside table. Some are sent, some recommended, some given as gifts or lent by someone who has enjoyed reading them.

Others (let’s be frank – many) I see on a bookstore shelf, find irresistible and bring home. A few of these become family members who may not leave my bookshelf, but can be read by guests who stay. Some wander on to other homes and hearts.

If you have books you’d like to talk about contact me via the web contact form.

Kelly Cameron – Dancing with Dandelions

Independently published, Australia, 2022
Cover design SGB Book Cover Designs
Images from Istock

It is cause for great celebration, I think, that the Canberra region is not only become home to a growing number of fine writers but also that the region itself has finally been accepted as a suitable place in which to set stories. The lamentable cultural cringe our writers have had to contend with for decades has, at last, abated.

Kelly Cameron talks to Barbie about Dancing with Dandelions
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Karen Waldman: Sidnie meets Uncle Sam – Travels with my mum

Independently published through Broadcast Books, Australia, 2022
Cover design Matthew Oswald, Like Design
Cover photo by the author

It is by no means a new thing to write a book from an animal’s point of view. Such works often have an agenda and others tend to the twee. Neither is the case with Karen Waldman’s smart, funny and insightful work with Sidnie the English Cocker Spaniel in the driving seat.

Barbie talks to Karn Waldman about Sidnie meets Uncle Sam – Travels with my mum
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Nigel Featherstone – My Heart is a Little Wild Thing

Ultimo Press, Australia, 2022
Cover design by Ella Egidy

There is much to say about this piece of fine literary fiction by Nigel Featherstone. Let me start, however, with place.

Barbie spoke to Nigel Featherstone about My Heart is a Little Wild Thing
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Carol Cooke – Improv Embroidery / Mindfulness, Creativity, Exploration

Independently published, Australia, 2022
Designed by Praxis Creative Art, Canberra
Photographs by the author

This book is subtitled Mindfulness, Creativity, Exploration and is at once an instruction manual, an invitation to make time for play and a marketing tool for its author.

With clear and concise chapters, the book takes the novice or would be embroiderer through all the basics from overcoming insecurity to using embroidery in marketing materials like business cards.

Barbie talks to Carol Cooke about Improv Embroidery / Mindfulness, Creativity, Exploration
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Tabitha Carvan – This is not a book about Benedict Cumberbatch

Fourth Estate, an imprint of Harper Collins, Australia, 2022
Cover design by Alissa Dinallo
Cover images floral collage ANA & YVY; face and neck by shutterstock

You could read this book as an invitation to young women and girls to find and pursue their joy, free of societal judgment and condemnation and wherever it may lie. Or you could read it as a well-researched, serious thesis on gender and society – citing both empirical and anecdotal evidence. Or, thankfully, you could do both.

Barbie speaks with Tabitha Carvan about This is not a book about Benedict Cumberbatch
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Megan Albany – The Very Last List of Vivian Walker

Cover design by Christabella Design
Cover illustration (sneakers) by Ben Sanders; images Stocksy and Shutterstock

Megan Albany’s first novel is funny and heart-breaking in equal measure, a skilfully wrought study of the difficult art of dying in our society, told in the voice of a relatively young woman dying of cancer.

Megan Albany talks to Barbie about The Very Last List of Vivian Walker
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Antony Jeffrey – The Poinciana Tree

Connor Court Publishing, Australia, 2022
Cover Antony Jeffrey’s daughter Ann
Design Guy Jeffrey

The Poinciana Tree is an homage to the author’s mother, but it is also a portrait of the author, his family and their lives. It is as well a social history of the first part of the 20th century in Australia, especially the years before, during and immediately after the second World War.

Barbie spoke to Antony Jeffrey about The Poinciana Tree
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Tania McCartney – Plume global nibbler

Hardie Grant, Australia, 2022
Design Jo Hunt, Tania McCartney

The second in the Plume series is an exploration of the joys of foods and food culture around the world. As with her other work, Tania McCartney has demonstrated an understanding of how young children think and behave, whilst creating a book which adults will also enjoy.

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Majura Café Poets – Poetry Patisserie 2021

Self published, Australia, 2022
Cover design Karen May
Internal design Clint Wright

Cover photo depicts Le Bon Mélange Café Patisserie Gungahlin

The Majura Café Poets have been meeting since 2009 under the leadership of Canberra poet Fiona McIlroy. Despite the limitations of COVID lockdowns and uncertainty, the group has continued to gather and enjoy collegial support for their writing over the last two years and has produced this excellent slim volume of selected works.

Fiona McIlroy talks to Barbie about Poetry Patisserie 2021, and several of the poets read their poems
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Casey Bruning – When I Grow up, I will Shine

Self published, through Tell Well, Canada, 2021

Casey Bruning’s first children’s picture book is as cheering as the little girl who is its main character. It’s a work that focuses on many things positive, starting with human kindness.

Barbie talks to Casey Bruning about When I Grow up, I will Shine
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Mike Lucas and Daron Parton – Let’s Build a Backyard

Lothian Children’s Books, Hachette, Australia, 2022
Designed by Ingrid Kwong

The second in the ‘Let’s Build a’ series, this is a bright, colourful book extolling the virtues of working outdoors together as parent and child and of the joys of nature.

Barbie spoke to Mike Lucas about Let’s Build a Backyard
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Susannah Crispe – Under the Moonlight

Lothian Books, Hachette, Australia, 2022
Text and illustrations by Susannah Crispe
Design: Kirby Armstrong

Under the Moonlight is the first of Susannah Crispe’s books as both writer and illustrator, though she has been illustrator for a number before. It is a gentle story, aimed at putting fear of the dark unknown in its rightful place.

Susannah Crispe talks to Barbie about Under the Moonlight
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Hilde Hinton – A Solitary Walk on the Moon

Hachette, Australia, 2022
Cover design by Christabella Design
Cover artwork Elizabeth Mayville

A Solitary Walk on the Moon is a compassionate, funny and astutely observed piece of writing; its ­rather like its female lead, Evelyn, in fact.

Barbie spoke to Hilde Hinton about A Solitary Walk on the Moon
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