ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Twin nine year old brothers Jon and Eden lose their parents in an appalling car accident. Jon who narrates this story, saw what happened to them, and it's the only secret he keeps from his beloved brother. Both boys were dreadfully injured, and as part of their rehabilitation take on swimming to gain back their strength. It becomes both solace and identity for them, as they negotiate life without their parents, and with their step-grandmother, Bobbie. She has never wanted or had children, is struggling with the earlier loss of her husband, and now landed with the twins, struggles to cope with the demands of bringing them up while running her vineyard. Already very close, the boys draw closer together, though they are rivals in swimming. By the time they are sixteen, they will be enemies because life is not smooth, and Carmelina happens to them both… Striking prose, pared back and poetic at times, which examines the bonds of brotherhood and family, the effects of grief and desperation, and what is truly important and vitally essential in reaching acceptance and maturity. I won't be surprised if this is on award lists next year... Lindy
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Cyril and Kay have spent their working lives in the NHS, as doctor and nurse, and have solid socialist principles. They also have three children, an increasingly valuable big house and a secret pact to end their lives when they reach 80. They made the agreement when they were 50, after Kay had watched her father struggle with dementia for a decade and vowed not to end up like him. Life goes on - and then they reach their self-agreed end date… Eleven different futures unfold. They range from heavily dystopian to thoroughly fairy-tale, and all the degrees in-between (including a cryogenic future). I will admit to finding the first chapter overly didactic and slightly tedious, but persevere! This has some very interesting things to say about ageing, the possible directions of society, and attitudes to the elderly, and is in turn entertaining, ironic, pointed, engrossing, tragic and playful. Lindy
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- So far, this is my book of the year! Life-affirming, heart-warming, full of joy and warmth and sweetness and poignancy with beautifully realised characters, glorious writing and spot-on observations, this is a book I read slowly to spin out the experience, and when I got to the end, had to go straight back to the beginning to devour all over again!
It starts with Ulysses Temper, born-and-bred working-class Londoner, driving his captain through Italy in 1944. They meet eccentric middle-aged art historian spinster Evelyn Skinner (who is not what she might appear) and together have a night that Ulysses never forgets. He is an optimistic man with a wife back home, and no big ambitions, though he is open to the world. Years later, when the life he thought he would have turns into something unexpected, he finds himself back in Florence, where he makes a new home with an assortment of characters (including a Shakespeare-quoting macaw, a tree-listening handyman and the precociously wise daughter of his wife). Stretching over 35 years, and alternating between Florence and London, with dashes of serendipity, a touch of nonchalant everyday magic, Luck that smiles and fortune that mocks (and an appearance from E M Forster) this is a story where art, music, love and beauty play out their grand themes in ordinary lives and extraordinary moments. Lindy
'Brilliantly recapturing the febrile atmosphere of Berlin in the first four years after the Second World War, Giles Milton reminds us what an excellent story-teller he is' - Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny
Berlin was in ruins when Soviet forces fought their way towards the Reichstag in the spring of 1945. Streets were choked with rubble, power supplies severed and the population close to starvation. The arrival of the Soviet army heralded yet greater terrors: the city's civilians were to suffer rape, looting and horrific violence. Worse still, they faced a future with neither certainty nor hope.
Berlin's fate had been sealed four months earlier at the Yalta Conference. The city, along with the rest of Germany, was to be carved up between the victorious powers - British, American, French and Soviet. On paper, it seemed a pragmatic solution; in reality, it fired the starting gun for the Cold War.
As soon as the four powers were no longer united by the common purpose of defeating Germany, they reverted to their pre-war hostility and suspicion. Rival systems, rival ideologies and rival personalities ensured that Berlin became an explosive battleground. The ruins of this once-great city were soon awash with spies, gangsters and black-marketeers, all of whom sought to profit from the disarray.
For the next four years, a handful of charismatic but flawed individuals - British, American and Soviet - fought an intensely personal battle over the future of Germany, Europe and the entire free world.
CHECKMATE IN BERLIN tells this exhilarating, high-stakes tale of grit, skullduggery, and raw power. From the high politics of Yalta to the desperate scramble to break the Soviet stranglehold of Berlin with the greatest aerial operation in history, this is the epic story of the first battle of the Cold War and how it shaped the modern world.
'Newsrooms were these crazy universities, full of experts on the strangest things, people with real understanding and experience of things that mattered, places where you could ask anybody anything, though you might get your head bitten off if you interrupted someone on deadline. You've also got company, noise, yahooing and jokes. I discovered I'm made for that kind of place.' - David Marr
Newsrooms, the engine rooms of reporting, have shrunk. A generation of journalists has borne witness to seismic changes in the media. Sharing stories from more than 50 Australian journalists - including Amanda Meade, David Marr and Flip Prior - Upheaval reveals the highs and the lows of those who were there to see it all.
They show us life inside frenetic and vibrant newsrooms at the peak of their influence, and the difficulties of adapting to ever-accelerating news cycles with fewer resources. Some left journalism altogether while others stayed in the media - or sought to reinvent it. Normally the ones telling other people's stories, in Upheaval journalists share the rawness of losing their own job or watching others lose theirs. They reveal their anxieties and hopes for the industry's future and their commitment to reporting news that matters.
'In Upheaval journalists do something they normally avoid. They turn the spotlight on themselves and their industry. They narrate a brutal transition at a critical moment in the media. This oral history documents the culture of Australian journalism before the internet - extemporising, sexist, booze-fuelled and brash - and reveals the private pain of the digital dislocation for many journalism lifers who had to reshape their professional identities. Upheaval puts readers in the newsroom as the rivers of gold dried up.' - Katharine Murphy
'Essential reading for those who care about journalism and its struggle to survive. This book captures the essence of what it is to be a reporter amid tectonic shifts in the media and in the world that we strive to make sense of for our audiences. Anyone who follows the news and politics will be absorbed by Upheaval.' - Nick McKenzie
Invaluable wisdom on living a good life from one of the Enlightenment's greatest philosophers
David Hume (1711-1776) is perhaps best known for his ideas about cause and effect and his criticisms of religion, but he is rarely thought of as a philosopher with practical wisdom to offer. Yet Hume's philosophy is grounded in an honest assessment of nature-human nature in particular.
The Great Guide is an engaging and eye-opening account of how Hume's thought should serve as the basis for a complete approach to life.
In this enthralling book, Julian Baggini masterfully interweaves biography with intellectual history and philosophy to give us a complete vision of Hume's guide to life. He follows Hume on his life's journey, literally walking in the great philosopher's footsteps as Baggini takes readers to the places that inspired Hume the most, from his family estate near the Scottish border to Paris, where, as an older man, he was warmly embraced by French society. Baggini shows how Hume put his philosophy into practice in a life that blended reason and passion, study and leisure, and relaxation and enjoyment.
The Great Guide includes 145 Humean maxims for living well, on topics ranging from the meaning of success and the value of travel, to friendship, facing death, identity, and the importance of leisure. This book shows how life is far richer with Hume as your guide.
ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- One of the most marvellous things about children's publishing of the past few years, is the growing collection of books written by Indigenous writers for young readers, and this new book is a welcome and worthy addition to the oeuvre! Kunyi (born in 1950) and three of her siblings were taken from their Yankunytjatjara family and sent to the Oodnadatta Children's Home when she was four. This book is a testimony of her life at the Home, of the daily routines and special times, anecdotes of the nuns and other children, illustrated with Kunyi's boldly naïve and colourful paintings. A section of old photographs at the back of the book adds to the poignancy of her lifestory, which doesn't dwell on the wrongdoings of a system that tore her from her mother, but doesn't hide them away either… Instead it celebrates the vivacity of young children and their capacity to find friendship and joy in each other's company, despite the harshness of their surroundings. A lot of text, so it's suitable for primary aged readers. Lindy