Looking for a book recommendation? Staff from Readings bookshop share what they’ve been reading this month.
Elke Power, Editor of Readings Monthly
Late last year I discovered that my colleague Nina and another always-ahead-of-things friend, Emma, were both reading Marie Kondo’s tidying manifesto, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. Recently, Emma came back from overseas and picked up where she had left off with KonMari-ing her home. I was swept up in the excitement again and suddenly found that I couldn’t wait a moment longer to read it myself.
I won’t go into the details of what you’ll find in the book because Nina has written about it so perfectly (and hilariously) here, but I will say that the most surprising part of the experience for me was that while I was fascinated by the idea of a book about tidying, and that the book is by someone who has dedicated her life to tidying, I never expected to find The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying enjoyable or uplifting. It is both, and a reassuring, practical (for the most part) guide as well.
Jan Lockwood, Human Resources Manager
I thoroughly enjoyed Life Moves Pretty Fast by Hadley Freeman. Somewhat older than the author, who was born in 1978, I was already on BFF terms with all but one of the movies covered in the essay-like chapters. I was moved to tears by the sweet nostalgia of reliving scenes and dialogue from mov ies such as When Harry Met Sally, Steel Magnolias, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Ghostbusters, as well as feeling enlightened by Freeman’s insight into the underlying themes of some, which had previously passed me by. It certainly resonated with me that if you want to see such quality nowadays, more often than not you have to commit yourself to 50 hours of TV watching rather than a night out at the movies. I’m telling all my friends who are fans of 80s Hollywood movies, which is everyone, about this book.
Amy Vuleta, Shop Manger at Readings St Kilda
There’s something deeply satisfying about spending an entire day in bed reading a fantasy novel. It’s an entirely irresponsible adult indulgence!
I picked up Ilka Tampke’s debut novel Skin last weekend with mild curiosity, but found myself glued to where I sat, pyjama-clad, up in bed from Sunday morning until well into the afternoon. Skin is set in Iron-Age Britain and depicts a fantastically mystical pagan culture. It follows the journey of its heroine, Ailia, as she seeks her place in the world and among her people.
As well as being transported to the rich world Tampke has created in the novel, I’m also being transported back to those glorious teenage years when I had nothing more to do on a weekend than finish devouring Victor Kelleher’s The Hunting of Shadroth before turning to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon. Because what better use of time could there possibly be?!
Fiona Hardy, Bookseller at Readings Carlton
A book so utterly current that I wasn’t sure if it had just jumped freshly-made directly from my Twitter feed into my lap, Dietland is intense and fun, rewarding and shocking.
I was prowling the shelves last week for something new. My quick read of Dietland’s opening pages made me clutch the book to my chest and rush over to the counter. This novel is well-written and never boring. I wish I could think of a different word than quirky – but you think of your favourite word close to that and you’re right on the money. Plum Kettle is a writer of fan mail replies to a fashion magazine, and she’s planning gastric bypass surgery after years of low self-esteem. She awaits the future ahead, the one she is buying smaller clothes for already, when she realises someone is following her. Could this person show her a different way out of her unhappiness?
Part satire, part truth-bomb, part actual bombs, Dietland is some kind of manifesto and I wish that it had been longer.
Alan Vaarwerk, Editorial Assistant for Readings Monthly
I’m trying to read more graphic novels at the moment, and I’m currently in the middle of Jesse Reklaw’s Couch Tag, a collection of memoir pieces about growing up in California in the 1980s. The first few pieces are told through motifs such as recounting all the cats his family has ever owned, or his favourite childhood toys, which lend themselves to darkly funny and affecting vignettes that explore Jesse’s complex relationship with his family, childhood friendships, his burgeoning knowledge of sex and the various neighbourhoods he lives in. The art style is simple and warm, although a later piece that explores Jesse’s experiences with acid is depicted in vivid, grotesque colour.
Emily Gale, Online Children’s and YA specialist
One of the things that has struck me while observing my children develop is how good they are at making, and keeping, friends. They did not get this from me. I always found friendship tricky to navigate, especially in my early-to-mid teens, and allowed several to slip through my fingers. Perhaps that’s why Melbourne writer Nova Weetman’s second novel, Frankie and Joely, resonated strongly with me.
This is the story of two friends who love each other dearly but wilfully misunderstand each other. They spend one school holiday on a farm owned by Joely’s aunt and uncle, and the experience of Frankie being out of her comfort zone and Joely sharing her comfort zone with someone she adores and envies, brings simmering issues to the boil. I identified with Joely the most, and as a result found her the most frustrating of the two, but took her back into my heart when she became horribly sunburnt and – bedridden, stiff with pain – had to watch her olive-skinned friend flounce about the place: the story of my Factor-50 life. Frankie, meanwhile, exerts her power over the opposite sex because she has no idea how to ask for love any other way.
Frankie and Joely is told from both perspectives and a couple more besides (this is slightly confusing at first but bear with it, it makes absolute sense after a while) which generates the feeling of a page-turner even though the plot itself is fairly simple. In fact, because I was on a deadline to review this book for the Readings Monthly, I had to read the entire manuscript on my phone – so when I tell you it’s a page-turner what I mean is that I was so keen for the story that I swiped the screen about a thousand times!
Chris Somerville, Online Team Member
Before you go see Jurassic World it’s worth revisiting all the previous movies. The first one is, we can all agree, a masterpiece. The film still looks incredible in this day and/or age, and makes you feel like an 11-year-old again. It’s worth checking in on The Lost World, which features Vince Vaughn as some kind of activist and Jeff Goldblum as an un-magnetic leading man. He doesn’t want to be there so much you can almost feel him vanishing off the screen, like a ghost.
Not to be deterred, the filmmakers also made Jurassic Park III, this time with Sam Neil reminding us why he’s such a great lead. Even when he 3D-prints the vocal chords of a velociraptor, and later blows on it like a trumpet to communicate with other velociraptors. William H Macy is also in the third film, as a man who owns a tile business but pretends to be a millionaire somehow.