Dear Reader, July 2021

Our Books of the Month for July have much in common. Both happen to be written by multi- talented women who are not only beautiful writers but are also artists and lawyers, and their books each explore the special connection between mothers and daughters, and the ways in which trauma and grief travel across and coalesce within that unique relationship. In fiction, Larissa Behrendt’s wonderful new novel, After Story, follows Della and Jasmine on their trip to the literary sites of England, where the past, both individual and familial, becomes present in ways that they didn’t anticipate. Our reviewer calls it ‘an extraordinary novel … sprawling, cerebral and compassionate’. In nonfiction, Amani Haydar’s literary memoir, The Mother Wound, shares the story of her mother’s brutal death at the hand of her father, offering readers an intimate portrait of the unthinkable extreme of domestic violence, and the difficult road that followed that heartbreaking event, as it made its way through the courts. It is a book that is filled with love and hope, and you can read my full review here.

This month our reviewers recommend two Australian debut works (Paige Clarke’s She Is Haunted and Sophie Overett’s The Rabbits); new novels from two of our favourite local writers, Mark Brandi and Laura Elizabeth Woollett; and Maria Takolander’s new collection of poetry. Crime offerings this month show the depth of Australian talent in the genre, and our reviewer particularly recommends Max Barry’s The 22 Murders of Madison May as Crime Book of the Month. We also review novels from international writers Kirstin Valdez Quade, Jason Mott, and Willy Vlautin (one of my favourite authors), and remind you of the brilliance of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. A couple of book titles seemed to speak directly to me this month, and will join my bedside pile to await further assessment: Rachel Yoder’s Nightbitch and Izumi Suzuki’s Terminal Boredom. The wonderful Chris Gordon gives you a detailed rundown of the finalists for this year’s Women’s Prize: read them all and see if you can pick this year’s winner before it is announced on 8 September.

Our reviewers have been reading loads of nonfiction this month, and recommend essay collections from Ingrid Horrocks (Where We Swim) and Lucy Ellmann (Things Are Against Us); Bridie Jabour’s generational manifesto, Trivial Grievances; chef and activist Matthew Evans’s perspective-shifting book, Soil; Catherine McCormack’s analysis of the female body in art, Women in the Picture; and Clem Bastow’s account of being diagnosed with autism in her thirties, Late Bloomer. Alison Bechdel’s long-awaited graphic memoir, The Secrets to Superhuman Strength, also comes highly recommended. Joining these reviewed titles are notable books from Mehreen Faruqi, Vanessa Berry, Bella Green, Sinéad O’Connor, Nic Low, Hanif Abdurraqib, Olivia Laing, and Michael Pollan, as well as the book from everyone’s favourite medical expert and broadcaster, Dr Norman Swan, who will answer all of your questions way better than Dr Google in, So You Think You Know What’s Good for You?

And finally, dear reader, when I wrote in my June column that one might need to stock up on good fiction in case of further extended time at home, I really didn’t expect that that moment would come so soon! With our shops closed during lockdown for half of June, it seemed fitting to extend our in-store exclusive 3-for-2 fiction offer into the month of July. We’ve added more titles, so do drop by your local shop to see the range; it’s great to have you back in store (again!).


Alison Huber is the head book buyer at Readings.

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After Story

After Story

Larissa Behrendt

$32.99Buy now

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