Obviously this title is a joke because my bookshelves will never be fully read, but there are a few books which have been on there for way too long. I’m talking five years or more. Which is plainly ridiculous and this is the year to put an end to that. Already this year I’ve read One Day by David Nicholls, which was on my shelf for SEVEN YEARS. In a bid to hold myself somewhat accountable to this plan, I’m sharing my list of top books I want to finally read. Read More
Over the space of about a year when I was 10, I read (and endlessly re-read) as many Jacqueline Wilson books as I could get my hands on. I’ve no idea how many times I read Lola Rose, Secrets or Double Act. These books were my comfort blanket, their words wrapping around me in warmth and security. Before Wilson, it was Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism I read until I had every plot twist memorised. Even earlier still it was my small collection of Enid Blyton books I’d revisit again and again, taking endless journeys in magic wishing chairs and to faraway lands. But somewhere along the way, I stopped returning to my favourite stories. Read More
It’s 1965 in a tight-knit working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and Ruth Malone–a single mother who works long hours as a cocktail waitress–wakes to discover her two small children, Frankie Jr. and Cindy, have gone missing. Later that day, Cindy’s body is found in a derelict lot a half mile from her home, strangled. Ten days later, Frankie Jr.’s decomposing body is found. Immediately, all fingers point to Ruth.
Little Deaths was one of the random library picks which have become a rare occurrence since I started blogging. The cover caught my eye and the 1960s setting for a strange murder mystery had me itching to know more. Ruth’s story hooked me in, but it wasn’t until I finished and learned it was based on a real case that it really started to play on my mind. Read More
If you’re thinking, ‘Jess, who?’ then I’m glad that there was something about ‘Everywoman’ and ‘truth’ that caught your eye. Or you might already know me as that gobby MP who has a tendency to shout about the stuff I care about. Because I’m a woman with a cause, I have been called a feminazi witch, a murderer and threatened with rape. The internet attracts a classy crowd. So, speaking the truth isn’t always easy but I believe it’s worth it. And I want you to believe it too. The truth can be empowering, the truth can lead to greater equality, and the world would be incredibly boring if we let all of those people who allegedly know everything, say everything. By demanding to be heard, by dealing with our imposter syndrome, by being cheerleaders, doers not sayers, creating our own networks and by daring to believe that we can make a difference, we can. We’re women and we’re kick-ass. And that’s the truth.
Being Australian, I’m not overly familiar with British politicians, except for a few who make international headlines. So I hadn’t even heard Jess Phillips’ name until I listened to her speak with Emma Gannon on one of my favourite podcasts Ctrl Alt Delete. I felt inspired, empowered and ready for action. Of course, Everywoman was then something I had to read. It took me a good six or seven months to even find a copy, but once I did I devoured it. Read More
Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret. He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him. The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love. How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.
I believe books come along at just the right time. I bought How to Stop Time from the gorgeous Blackwell’s Books in Oxford and read it as I journeyed around the UK on my very first trip overseas. I think most Australians can relate to the overwhelming history which hits you in even the most mundane settings across the Britain and Europe. It was only as I was wandering the streets of Oxford, Edinburgh, London and York that I realised Australia’s colonised past really is but a drop in the ocean of history. This awe and wonder at my own tiny space in the world was the perfect compliment to How to Stop Time’s poignant exploration of the human condition. Read More
On a global scale, it feels like the world is sliding into despair. But personally, 2017 has been a year of incredible opportunity for me, of love, adventure and ultimately joy. This year I’ve really come to believe that certain things are meant to be. There have been too many wonderful things happen for me not to believe that. Read More
Seventeen-year-old Adelaide is sick of being expected to succeed on other people’s terms. She knows she just has to stick it out at school for one more year and then she’ll be free. Instead, she runs away from her fancy boarding school back to her sleepy hometown to read and dream. But there are no free rides. When Addie’s grandad gets her a job at the local historical society, she soon finds out that it’s dusty and dull, just like her new life. Things change when she starts hanging out with Jarrod, a boy who seems full of possibilities. But it turns out he’s as stuck as she is. And Addie realises that when you want something in life, you’ve actually got to do something about it. A heartfelt tale about love, friendship and finding your own way.
Sweet and hopeful, Untidy Towns is an unassuming little novel which snuck onto my shelves and into my heart. It arrived in the cutest little package from the publisher, but I knew nothing about it and hadn’t seen it anywhere so I put it aside. I was snowed under with university, then overseas, and moving house as soon as I was back in the country. It wasn’t until speaking to Margot McGovern for Better Words that I decided to pick it up after her raving review. I wish I’d opened this gorgeous little package earlier because Untidy Towns was a book I wholly underestimated. Read More
From breakout stand-up comedian Iliza Shlesinger comes a subversively funny collection of essays and observations on a confident woman’s approach to friendship, singlehood, and relationships. ‘Girl Logic’ is Iliza’s term for the way women obsess over details and situations that men don’t necessarily even notice. She describes is as a characteristically female way of thinking that appears to be contradictory and circuitous but is actually a complicated and highly evolved way of looking at the world. When confronted with critical decisions about dating, sex, work, even getting dressed in the morning, Iliza argues that women will by nature consider every repercussion of every option before making a move toward what they really want. And that kind of holistic thinking can actually give women an advantage in what is still a male world. In Iliza’s own words: “Understanding Girl Logic is a way of embracing both our aspirations and our contradictions. GL is the desire to be strong and vulnerable. It’s wanting to be curvy, but rail thin at the same time. It’s striving to kick ass in a man’s world while still being loved by the women around you. This book is also for me, because apparently expounding on a stage for two hours a night wasn’t enough. (Trust me, if I could start a cult I would, but I hate the idea of deliberately dying in a group.)”
My first introduction to Iliza was her comedy special Confirmed Kills. I’d not long been dating my partner and he suggested I watched this comedian he loved. To be honest, I think I was too focused on gauging his reactions to her jokes, especially the ones with a feminist bent, to really take the show in. Basically all I remember was party goblins and designated search claw. But I was intrigued (by both the boy and Iliza). We’ve now watched it and Freezing Hot countless times and I knew he was a keeper when he pre-ordered Iliza’s debut book as a surprise. (Okay, I’d already decided he was pretty darn good before that, but you get my drift). He was delighted when I finished Girl Logic and declared it one of my all-time favourite books. Big statement, I know. It’s pretty special though. Read More
Tiny is homeless. Nola has everything she could ask for. They meet when Nola is forced into volunteer work for the writers’ group at the homeless shelter where Tiny is staying, and at first it seems impossible that two people who are so different could ever be friends. But despite her initial prejudice, Nola quickly learns that there isn’t much separating her from the people who live on the streets. And Tiny begins to see that falling down doesn’t mean you never get back up. Because of You is a story about homelessness, prejudice and the power of words to provide a little hope.
Most of us like to think we’re kind, caring people who want to help others out. But I’m sure most of us have also looked away from the person sleeping rough in the doorway of a business or selling The Big Issue from a milk crate on the corner of a busy city. I might be wrong, but I know I certainly have. It’s uncomfortable, unsettling. But the people we’re so busy avoiding are just that: people. People who had lives before finding shelter became their day-to-day, who have emotions and dreams. Because of You is a beautiful reminder that everyone has a story to tell and taking the time to listen, to ask how someone is coping, can make the world of difference. Read More
I’ve never been one for romantic reads, but even the grumpiest of us need a lift and sometimes a sweet comtemporary is the best way for me to boost my mood. For the most part, I tend to stick to the same authors when I’m in a funk or in need of emotional bookish support. So here’s a selection of my favourites guaranteed to make you smile. Read More