Ask Agatha: Fun Fiction, Tear-Jerkers and Binge-Watching TV

Welcome to our new book advice column where you can ask our wise bookseller Agatha all your tricky (book-related) questions.

I’m looking for a really light, fun read, but something that’s still good quality. I don’t want to be embarrassed when I’m reading it on the tram, or if someone sees it in my bookcase. (I have a lot of book anxiety, okay?) Help me please! – Self-Conscious Reader

Anyone who manages to make death, divorce, amnesia and stalking both light and fun deserves respect, and that is why I highly recommend Australian author Liane Moriarty to you. Some dreadful people might call this ‘commercial women’s fiction’ but I generally prefer not to associate with them. All I care about is that Liane Moriarty’s books – despite their cover designs of balloons, cakes and pretty feet – are quirky, compassionate, clever and entertaining. Seriously, there is nothing I’d like to do more at this precise moment than settle back on a sunlounger with a Mojito and the latest Moriarty.

Start with What Alice Forgot and work your way through to the latest, The Husband’s Secret. If anyone questions your bookcase, tell them that the Moriarty sisters are Australia’s modern equivalent of the Brontës. Then politely show them the door.

I’m about to have my wisdom teeth about and I plan to spend a week on the couch, doing nothing. I know this is a book advice column, but I’m actually hoping you can recommend a good TV series to binge-watch (preferably one without dead girls, cops or politicians)? – Seeking Wisdom

I’m glad you asked this question, Seeking Wisdom, because when it comes to TV, I have almost as much to say as I do about books. I thought this question was going to be an easy one, but it proved surprisingly tough. Do you know how many TV shows have cops and politicians in them right now? (A LOT).

My first choice for you is Orange Is The New Black. Now technically while there are no cops, it does include law-enforcement types (prison guards). If you can look past that, I think you’ll be deeply rewarded. The show features a huge, diverse cast of women, a fantastic premise, lots of humour and a little bit of heartbreak. Also it was made for binge-watching, and its plotline isn’t too taxing for someone who might be on heavy pain-killers.


Some other good options include: Orphan Black, Downton Abbey, Masters of Sex and Game of Thrones.

Good luck with your teeth!

This might sound odd, but I love crying in books. What’s a read that’s guaranteed to make me cry? – Tears Are My Jam

That doesn’t sound odd to me at all as I most certainly am not averse to a good, long literary-inspired weepfest. Most recently I found myself shedding tears over Gabrielle Zevin’s The Collected Works Of A.J. Fikry and Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, which I highly, highly recommend.

If you’re partial to young adult fiction, John Green’s The Fault in our Stars is basically universally recognised as a guaranteed tear-jerker. (The film adaptation is due out in cinemas in June and the trailer alone might be enough to spark tears.) You might also enjoy R. J. Palacio’s Wonder which is simultaneously heart-warming and heart-breaking.

If you have a question for Agatha please email We’ll be publishing her next column on Monday 26 May. All questions answered on our blog will be kept anonymous and questions will be chosen at Agatha’s discretion.

The Husband's Secret

The Husband’s Secret

Liane Moriarty

$19.99Buy now

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