Dear Reader, May 2019

One of the perennial delights of working with new books is that there are always more new books (though it’s also a constant anxiety, since there are far too many to read, even in a thousand lifetimes), and we’re always furnished with advance copies well ahead of their release to the general public. As a consequence, I’m often reading something that won’t be available for several months when I write this column; by the time I sit down to round up the current month’s releases, they already feel historical. I’m in the middle of a truly excellent book at the moment, one that’s distracting me from all but the most urgent tasks, and I can’t help but mention it here because I feel like it’s going to be an important book this year, and for years to come: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. It will all make sense in July, when it’s out and you can read it too. It’s a showstopper.

But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves: May’s releases are too good to ignore. There could be no more appropriate Nonfiction Book of the Month in the Mother’s Day issue than Megan K. Stack’s Women’s Work, which our reviewer basically hasn’t stopped talking about. Also out this month is Tom Doig’s important investigation into the environmental disaster at the Hazelwood brown coal mine in 2014, Hazelwood; a vital collection of essays, #MeToo, documenting perspectives from Australia; Stan Grant’s polemic, Australia Day; plus major new works from Jared Diamond, Joseph Stiglitz, Bill McKibben, Paul Mason, and the final collection of writing from the late Oliver Sacks. Heida is a book for readers who love the idea of foregoing a modelling career in New York to raise sheep and learn life lessons in the wilds of Iceland (a surprisingly large cohort, I would hazard). Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights fame turned 100 in March; Little Boy is his ‘literary last will and testament’. I was struck by Irish critic Kevin Breathnach’s genuinely innovative essay collection, Tunnel Vision. Feminism for the 99% is the political manifesto today’s feminist discourse desperately needs, reminding all that it needs to speak outside privilege and capitalism, and to race and class.

Our Fiction Book of the Month is Melanie Cheng’s anticipated first novel, Room for a Stranger. Pursuing a touching story about an unlikely intergenerational and intercultural friendship, this is a gentle but moving book that our reviewer praises for its empathy and rich characterisations. Our reviewers also recommend to you the new Australian novels from Nigel Featherstone and Rohan Wilson, and Chris Womersley’s short story collection, A Lovely and Terrible Thing, plus international novels from Elizabeth Macneal, Chip Cheek, Joanne Ramos, Ruby Porter, and Ian McEwan. The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann (trans. Jen Calleja) is a shortlistee for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize. Outside Looking In is the incomparable T.C. Boyle’s seventeenth novel, set during the height of Timothy Leary’s LSD trials.

And finally, dear reader, please peruse our annual Mother’s Day Gift Guide included in this issue; it’s full of book ideas for the maternal figure in your life. To my first and most loyal reader, Mum: Happy Mother’s Day!


Alison Huber is the head book buyer at Readings.

You can pick up a free copy of the May edition of the Readings Monthly from any of our shops, or download a PDF here

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Women's Work: A Personal Reckoning with Labour, Motherhood, and Privilege

Women’s Work: A Personal Reckoning with Labour, Motherhood, and Privilege

Megan K. Stack

$32.99Buy now

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