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.
Welbeck Fiction Limited, Great Britain, 2023 An imprint of Welbeck Publishing Group Cover design Simon Michele Cover images Irene Gittarelli/Trevillion Images, Shutterstock
This is the third of Wendy Helden’s historical fictions focussed on women considered to be disrupters in the glittering sphere of the British Royal family. The Princess is a fictionalised version of the early life of Diana Spencer, the first wife of (now) King Charles.
Hardie Grant Explore, Australia, 2023 Design Tania McCartney
This is the fourth Plume book and, I believe, the most visually beautiful of the little penguin stories created by author-illustrator Tania McCartney. Clearly Tania is a fan of Christmas and all its celebratory fun and colour, trees, lights and tinsel.
Coronet, Great Britain, 2023 An imprint of Hodder & Stoughton, an Hachette UK company
This is a book of the utmost charm. It is written with gentle humour and compassion, at the same time as sharp insight. It’s an astute observation of society and how important relationships are within communities and families, how they can be our salvation.
We move into this book in the same way we might make our way into a new community; there is a gradual uncovering of place, of personalities and the way things are done. While this is a crime fiction story with a non-police investigator in the persona of an ex-journalist, it is the picture of personal lives and the connecting embrace of community that first commands our attention.
Sophie Green effortlessly draws us into the communities she creates with bold, believable characters and well-drawn settings. Typically, this author brings together a group of (usually all) women with a common interest and we follow avidly the vicissitudes of their lives and the ways they support one another to a happier place.
Penguin, Australia, 2023 2023 Winner CBCA Book of the Year for Older Readers
It is indeed cause for celebration that a graphic novel has for the first time been awarded this prestigious Book of the Year award. It is acknowledgement of the importance of visual literacy in a world where we are constantly bombarded with images.
I cannot claim to be impartial when writing about this work. I was a teacher for 34 years before moving into careers in the arts and so when I read this book I know its content and its people from a place of long and deep experience.
Ventura Press, Australia, 2023 Cover design Deborah Parry Graphics Front cover image Alamy; back cover images Keith Salter/iStock
Jane Crowley’s recounting of her dad’s tales from a lifetime working in the antiques, second hand and collectables industry is both a slice of Australian history and a deeply affecting memoir. It pays homage to her father, clearly to the reader a kind and charming man with a good dose of humour, self-deprecation and good old-fashioned gentlemanliness.
Hachette, Australia, 2023 Cover design Alex Ross Creative Cover images Getty Images, Shutterstock, DanielLerman/Unsplash and Annie Spratt/Unsplash
Dyed in the wool crime readers will recognise in Shelley Burr’s second novel Ripper classic Christie. Here we have the small rural community of Rainier still affected by an historic crime, a triple murder by a serial killer now in gaol.
Bitter & Sweet is a delicate study of grief, the ‘small’ personal griefs we all come to know of the death of loved ones, the breakdown of relationships, divorce, separation, abandonment and absence, the dissolution of dreams.