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.

Josephine Townsend – Colours of the Forest

Humble House Gallery
93 Wollongong St Fyshwick ACT

Open Wednesday to Sunday 10am to 4pm
Until 24 December 2023

Josephine Townsend’s lustrous vessels and sculpted pieces are her invitation to take time to enjoy the peace of Nature, its infinite variety of colours and its capacity to calm the spirit.

Josephine Townsend talks to Barbie about Colours of the Forest
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Karina May – Never ever forever

Published by Macmillan by Pan Macmillan Australia P/L Australia, 2023
Cover design Debra Billson
Cover images Shutterstock

Karina May’s second romance novel (following her debut Duck a l’Orange for Breakfast) ticks all the boxes for rusted on fans of the genre – a youthful heroine in search of herself and love, an old flame, a new flame, exotic places, a grand mansion, female friends, a touch of fashion, chiselled jaws and bare chests, sexual tension and a little bit of actual sex, conflicts, conflicts resolved and a happy ending.

Karina May talks to Barbie about Never ever forever
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Bronwyn Saunders and Andrew Plant – Diprotodon – A Megafauna Journey

CSIRO Publishing, Australia, 2023
Cover and text design and layout by MDCN Creative

This book will be welcomed by the many school librarians who are constantly trying to meet requests from young students for information books.

Bronwyn Saunders spoke to Barbie about Diprotodon – A Megafauna Journey
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Steve Matthews – Ted Watts’ Diary

Big Sky Publishing, Australia, 2023
Cover design Think Productions

Steve Matthews’ Hitler trilogy was inspired by a personal connection that led him to visit Auschwitz. This latest stand alone, still a war story but in a different theatre, is also born of personal connection.

Steve Matthews talks to Barbie about Ted Watts’ Diary
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Milena Cifali – One Foot Forward

Echo Books, Australia, 2023
Design by Peter Gamble

Milena’s second contemplative work (following Mallacoota Time, Echo Books, 2020) continues the author’s process of ‘writing out’ the intensity of her experiences, joyous or traumatic.

Barbie spoke to Milena Cifali about One Foot Forward
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Tania Blanchard – A Woman of Courage

HarperCollinsPublishers,  Australia, 2023

I think the thing about historical fiction that appeals to so many readers is the way it ties the present to the past. In writing a story about the growth of the suffragette movement in late 19th century and early 20th century Britain, Tania Blanchard has cogently placed the advancement of women’s rights on a continuum which includes the modern reader’s world.

Tania Blanchard talks to Barbie about A Woman of Courage
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Favel Parrett – Kimmi/ Queen of the Dingoes

Published by Lothian Children’s Books, an imprint of Hachette Australia, 2023
Cover design and illustration and internal illustrations by Astred Hicks, Design Cherry

Kimmi is written from the author’s passion for dingoes. It is a fictionalised account of the life of a tropical dingo from her infancy to her successful placement in the Dingo Discovery Sanctuary.

Favel Parrett talks to Barbie about Kimmi/ Queen of the Dingoes
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Carol Cooke and Sharon Peoples – Exuberance/ An Embroiderer’s Perspective

Published by Carol Cooke and Sharon Peoples
Canberra, Australia, 2023
Design Praxis Creative Art Canberra
Cover image The Watering Hole by Sharon People, embroidery and plastic waste

This is indeed an exuberant book, created as a by-product of an exhibition of fibre and fabric art by 20 artists, including the two book creators.

Carol Cooke and Sharon Peoples talk to Barbie about Exuberance/ An Embroiderer’s Perspective
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Sarah Firth – Eventually Everything Connects

Published by Joan, an imprint of Allen & Unwin
Australia, 2023
Text hand lettered by Sarah Firth
Cover and text designed by Sarah Firth and Joanna Hunt

The publication of this book by a mainstream Australian publishing house is significant. It is recognition of something teachers and parents have always known – that people learn, see things and process information and ideas in different ways.

Barbie speaks to Sarah Firth about Eventually Everything Connects
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Sam Vincent – My Father and Other Animals

Black Inc, an imprint of Schwartz Books Pty Ltd, Australia, 2022; second edition 2023
Cover design Akiko Chan
Cover image Getty/221A

Sam Vincent’s memoir/philosophy about country, community and heritage is a highly readable work which has us both laughing at the author’s self-deprecatory accounts of his introduction to sustainable farming and deeply considering matters of succession, inheritance and First Nations connection with the land.

Barbie spoke to Sam Vincent about My Father and Other Animals
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Samantha Tidy & Aśka – When Grandma Burnt her Bra

EK Books, an imprint of Exisle Publishing Pty Ltd, Australia, 2023
Design by Aśka (

Samantha Tidy, both as a writer and publisher, has long interested herself in matters of social and environmental import. This picture book takes us back to the days of the women activists through the eyes of a child, Maggie, who is trying to make sense of her grandmother’s world. Amongst other things, they share a name.

Samantha Tidy talks to Barbie about When Grandma Burnt Her Bra
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BAD Sydney Crime Writers Festival

State Library of NSW
1-5 November 2023 and live streamed nationally 

 BAD Sydney celebrates Australian crime writing with a program of author panels, entertaining social events, writing workshops, guided walks and the opportunity to pitch to a publisher.

Barbie spoke to BAD Sydney’s Catherine de Peloux Menage
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