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.

Peter Rodgers – Beethoven’s Tenth (and the Journey which saved the World)

Green Hill Publishing, Australia, 2021

This is a wonderfully funny, wonderfully clever social-political satire that takes a swipe, albeit not a vicious one, at almost every aspect of contemporary life.

Former diplomat Peter Rodgers aimed to write a book with a laugh on every page, and he has succeeded. There is a serious intent and much research in this work, but the humour is what the reader carries away, demonstrating that a skilled hand has directed it.

Peter Rodgers visited Living Arts Canberra to talk about Beethoven’s Tenth
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Joanna Beresford – Every Year I am Here

Atlas Productions, Australia, 2020

This debut novel set in Brisbane in the 1890s provides the perfect vehicle for an author with the twin passions of history and social justice.

Joanna Beresford chooses for her heroine Lilian, a young working class woman from an immigrant background, who is forced to fend for herself in the quest for education and improved social standing – and often merely to survive.

Barbie speaks to Joanna Beresford about Every year I am Here
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Pamela Hart – The Charleston Scandal

Hachette, Australia, 2020

The Charleston Scandal is Pamela Hart’s 37th book, an absorbing and highly readable historical fiction that dives into the issue of class and privilege in British society in the 1920s, particularly in the royal and sub-royal echelons. It is also a delightful glimpse into the life of the theatre at that time.

Barbie talks to Pamela Hart about The Charleston Scandal
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Rocio Bonilla – Siblings

Quirky Kid, Australia, 2020

Siblings is a story told from two points of view and the book itself reflects this. Read from one end, the book is in the voice of the sister, while from the other end it is in the voice of the brother. The stories meet in the middle with the same dilemma.

Barbie speaks with Dr Kimberley O’Brien, Principal Child Psychologist at Quirky Kid Clinic.
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Dominic Knight – The 2020 Dictionary

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020

Known to television audiences as one of the founders of The Chaser, Dominic Knight is also the author of The Strayan Dictionary, Strayapedia and Trumpedia.

The 2020 Dictionary continues his satirical analysis of Australian culture, this time through a set of wry definitions of and observations upon aspects of this extraordinary year.

Dominic Knight talks about The 2020 Dictionary
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Pina Di Donato – Who Switched the Lights On?

The Kind Press, Australia, 2020

Pina Di Donato brings a lifetime of business and life learnings to her first book, a work that could loosely be described as a guide to living a satisfying, worthy and productive life.

Coming from an Italian background meant that Pina was framed by cultural traditions and expectations – ones that didn’t necessarily fit well with the person she was and is.

Pina Di Donato talks about Who Switched the Lights On?
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Tim Olsen – Son of the Brush – A Memoir

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020

Described as a memoir, Son of the Brush does indeed introduce us to some of the key figures of the art world in Australia in the 20th and 21st century,  in the context of the life of the author, son of painter John Olsen.

Tim Olsen grew up surrounded by people we now consider luminaries, but it is the personal, the candid appraisal of self and family that touched me most deeply in this book.

Barbie speaks with Tim Olsen
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Belinda Alexandra – The Divine Feline

(A Chic Lady’s Guide to Woman’s Best Friend)
Murdoch Books, Australia, 2020

This is a book that has enjoyed sumptuous production treatment with its striking fashion illustration style hard cover and velvety velour spine with cursive gold font. It is indeed an object of desire and worthy of its subject, the mystique of the cat.

Belinda Alexander talks about The Devine Feline
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Blanche d’Alpuget – The Cubs Roar

Ventura Press, Australia,  2020

This is the fifth of Blanche d’Alpuget’s Birth of the Plantagenets series and I confess that I come to it as a stand alone novel, not having yet read the four previous books. However, while reading the entire series is ideal and recommended, it is perfectly possible to enjoy this one alone.

Barbie talks to Blanche d”Alpuget about The Cubs Roar
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Joanna Nell – The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home

Hachette, Australia, 2020

This is the third of Joanna Nell’s novels, each of which explores aspects of ageing and particularly ageing for women. Jo writes with gentle humour, with compassion and respect, but never shirks from addressing the tough matter of this subject.

Barbie taoks to Joanna Nell about The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home
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Marilyn Chalkley – Swifty the Greyhound (Where is my Pie?)

Illustrated by Jane Ostler
Brogo Books Australia, 2020
https://www.brogobooks.com/

This charming tale of a recue greyhound recounts the (mostly) true story of the author’s adoption of her dog Swifty through Greyhound Connections, a voluntary Canberra based organisation that rehomes former racing greyhounds.

Barbie speaks with Marilyn Chalkley about Swifty the Greyhound
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Fleur McDonald – The Shearer’s Wife

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020

The Shearer’s Wife is the 16th and latest of Fleur McDonald’s best-selling rural suspense novels. It is set in small town regional South Australia and with a rich cast of characters, some of whom carry over from previous books. For new readers, no previous reading is required to immediately feel familiarity with the Barker community.

Fleur McDonald talks to Barbie about The Shearer’s Wife
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Garth Nix – The Left-handed Booksellers of London

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020

This thrilling fantasy romp by the prolific Garth Nix draws on his experiences in various aspects of the book trade, his travels in England and particularly his 1983 sojourn there, but it also pays homage to his childhood reading of authors like Alan Garner and Susan Cooper.

It has the same mystic, mythic quality as the works of these English writers, and is steeped in the mystery of a natural world where stones and trees have animate qualities and immense powers.

Garth Nix talks about The Left-handed Booksellers of London
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Roland Perry – Red Lead

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020

Roland Perry is the author of 36 books, the latest of which is Red Lead, a dramatised history of the events surrounding the sinking of HMAS Perth by the Japanese in the Sunda Strait in WW11, the capture of some of its survivors on Java and their experiences as prisoners of war in the direst of conditions, including at Changi and on the Thai-Burma Railway.

It is a highly accessible style of history telling, which focusses on the experiences, relationships and feelings of the individuals in the thick of it, rather than on military commanders and campaigns run from remote offices.

Barbie speaks with Roland Perry about Red Lead
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