All this rain is rather helpful to readers….or maybe we’re just trying to see the bright side of a very wet beginning to the Autumn. I’m on a great run of wonderful reads, having finished about 3 books in the last week. Marlborough Man by Alan Carter is a compulsively readable crime set in the Marlborough wine region of New Zealand and I think it took about 2 days to get through, keep an eye out for it. Due in over the next few months.
Another book I’ve raving about to Everyman and his dog is Wendell Berry’s collection of essays, titled “The World Ending Fire”. If you loved James Rebanks book, ‘The Shepherd’s Life”, you will absolutely adore Wendell Berry. He is such a graceful and elegant, commonsense kind of a man and writes about an abundant and well lived life.
I’ve also gone way back in time to read Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment”. What they say is really true, he is a master psychologist and captures such an enormous range of feeling in this tense, uncomfortable drama around the protagonist Raskolnovich, who has quite randomly murdered a pawnbroker and her daughter. Saint Petersberg is filthy and full of drunks and high faluting aristocrats. I’m only just realizing my love affair with Russian literature and I’d encourage anyone to look into Dostoevsky or Tolstoy of Chekov….they are absolute masters, and a real joy to read in certain translations.
In the pile by my reading couch, you’d currently find – After by Nikki Gemmell, Pussy (which looks just hilarious) by Howard Jacobson, No Place to lay one’s head, originally by Francoise Frenkel, and now available in English, thanks to Stephanie Smee, The Paris Review, The Horseman by Tim Pears, oh and plenty of gardening manuals.
Our March Book of the Month is the brilliant historical epic ‘ In the Name of the Family ‘ from Sarah Dunant. Well reviewed by the Guardian here.
Wow, what a hot summer!. In between our iced coffees and delicious pure pops, we’ve been melting over some great new releases from Paul Auster – which I’m loving right now, Michael Chabon – gorgeous, just finished; biting our nails thanks to Gerald Seymour, and worrying for humanity with TC Boyle. Speaking of worry…..Some worrying but enlightening non fiction from JD Vance and Daniel Levin sheds light on the state of global power and politics. Thankfully countered by the uplifting Riviera Set and Thanks for being Late by Thomas Friedman. The new Martin Sharp autobiography is a must for the Australian arts afficionado.
We are working on some exciting new authors visiting this year, and have the gorgeous David Handley visiting us Sunday afternoon of the 19th for a glass of bubbly in celebration of 20 years of Sculpture by the Sea. Founder and director of this iconic Sydney arts festival, David has just released a beautiful picture book chronicling 20 years of innovation in Internation sculpture. Call us to book.
We look forward to hearing what you’ve been reading this summer. Don’t forget about the iced coffee and icy poles, always cold at Bookoccino.
We are gearing up for a busy month ahead: Two thoroughly interesting authors are booked in for November events and the shelves are literally bursting with great new books.
Mark Colvin, voice of ABC’s PM program will be with us on the 10th of November for an evening chat about his life long involment in broadcasting and international politics. His memoir ‘Light and Shadow – memoirs of a spy’s son’ will be out soon, check out the following link for an interesting sneak peak: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYkJ8hlqxqk.
We also have the gorgeous Vic Cherikoff, a local writer, scientist and entrepreneur who has devoted his life to the cultivation and promotion of Australian wild foods. Vic’s book ‘Wild Foods – Looking back 60,000 years for clues to our future survival’ is a fascinating journey through little known but widely accessible native foods, including the Davidson plum, Mountain pepper, Quandong and Midyim. This is sure to be a great afternoon in our little courtyard so set aside the afternoon of November 24th to join us, at 3pm. Light refreshments and some interesting samples of Australian wild foods will be served.
There are also plenty of wonderful new releases pouring in. New fiction from Margaret Atwood, Lee Child, Michael Connolly, Jodi Picoult, Annie Proulx and Jeffrey Archer is looking wonderful, and some great sporting biographies, namely Cadel Evans, Michael Clarke and Jim Maxwell will make great summer reading. Architecture and Art is also looking hot for summer, with the beautiful new “Living in the Landscape” From Thames and Hudson and “Blood Mystic” from the colourful George Gittoes, a great choice for the politically motivated creative.
One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”
― Carl Sagan
Mike Carltons new book, ‘Flagships: The Cruiser HMAS Australia II and the Pacific War on Japan’ has just been released, and is the most beautiful looking hardcover of the month. Impeccably researched and told in Mike’s inimitable style, Flagships explores of the history, exploits and intrigues of the iconic WWII warship, which played such a crucial role in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, and endured more Kamikaze attacks during the war than any other Allied ship.
We are all looking forward to having Mike here on the 11th of August to share his passion and knowledge of Naval history. Please call us if you would like to book a seat, tickets are $10 and the event will kick off at 11am.
Just occasionally I read a book that is so good I cant believe it. This is one of those really special treasures. The author, Barney Norris, is young, English, and a very good playwright, so his use of language is wonderful. His book, Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, is his first novel and is set in Salisbury, the wooded plain where the five rivers meet. The story is about five people all involved in different ways in the one car accident, and Norris has been able to make each of the five voices completely individual. If you need something wonderful to read, something really exciting, read this!
We are excited to have Janet Hawley and Wendy Whiteley’s beautiful new book in store. Wendy Whiteley and the Secret Garden is a visually stunning journey through the creation of this very special garden, and an intimate portrait of a passionate and deeply creative woman. On October 23rd we will host Janet and Wendy in Avalon for a special event to celebrate the book and this wonderful story – see our event page for further details.
I’m delighted to let you all know that following the great success of our tea cosy competition last year, we will be running another one. Entries in by September 1, please, and this year we will have four different categories. There will be
1. Exhuberant whimsy, colour and form
2. Aquatic – life beneath the ocean
3. Avalon now – rejoicing in what is Avalon (stripes perhaps?)
4. Junior knitters, for young yarn lovers
Get knitting, and let’s see some tea cosies that would make Loani Prior proud!
Occasionally I read a book that I cant stop talking about. You know, one of those books whose images stay with you for weeks. That’s how I feel about The Wolf Border, a story set in modern England/Scotland, just after Scotland has gained independence, written by Sarah Hall. A very wealthy Earl has decided to reintroduce wild grey wolves back to the UK, and he entices a local Cumbrian woman to return from her job in Idaho to oversee his project. There are lots of turns in this story, but the sense of place, the language, the characters are all brilliant. Do read it – who would have thought a book about the reintroduction of wolves would be so engrossing. I’ve read one of her previous books, The Carhullan Army, which was amazing, and The Electric Michaelangelo was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. This woman knows how to write!
A couple of months ago I read a young adults book called These Broken Stars by two young authors, Amie Kaufmann and Meagan Spooner. No, I’m not a young adult, but at times you need fiction like this. And I loved the book. It’s sort of Cinderella in reverse, set in the future when space travel and exploration is the norm. Now there is the second book of the series coming, This Shattered World, due for publication December 1. These two books I can’t recommend highly enough – for either the teen in your family, or the adult who needs something a little less challenging.