Dear Reader, September 2021
In the best of times, it takes a mighty collective effort to put together the Readings Monthly. Each issue is literally months in the preparation, and many of our staff members contribute to the final product. As is true for any kind of work during this time, the pressures of lockdown make this task exponentially more difficult, and so I’d just like to acknowledge the hard work of everyone involved, and single out in particular our tireless editor, Jackie Tang, and designer, Cat Matteson, for whom nothing is a problem that cannot be solved. I always love your work, and appreciate it more than ever right now. Thanks to you too, dear Reader, for reading our publication. When we can’t converse with you in person in store, we are privileged to be able to continue to communicate with you from here.
Our Fiction Book of the Month (and Melbourne City Reads pick for September) is Miles Allinson’s brilliant second novel, In Moonland. I loved this book. It explores fatherhood in so many interesting ways, and is both expansive and very intimate. It’s a wonderful achievement, so please don’t miss it. We also review in these pages two exciting Australian debuts by Lucy Neave and Max Easton; Antoni Jach’s new novel and perfect armchair travel opportunity, Travelling Companions; and the new blockbuster from Liane Moriarty, Apples Never Fall. One of our resident graphic novel specialists recommends Mirranda Burton’s Underground very highly, suggesting it as a great place to start if you’re curious about the form. Jazz Money’s David Unaipon Award-winning poetry collection, How to Make a Basket, is hugely admired by our reviewer who calls it ‘absolutely stunning’.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (I mean, I guess we all have been doing that, but still…) you’ll have heard that Sally Rooney has a new book out this month called Beautiful World, Where Are You. Rooney’s cool style has struck a chord with so many readers, and many writers have attempted to emulate it, but here, Rooney reclaims and advances that style into new territories. There is no ‘new Sally Rooney’; or rather, Sally Rooney is the new Sally Rooney, if you get what I mean. We have a lovely special edition hardcover on offer for release, which includes a short story. If Rooney’s not your bag, or even if she is, you’ll want to catch up on the new releases from [Pat Barker], [Colm Tóibín], and [Colson Whitehead]. Simone de Beauvoir’s previously unpublished novel, The Inseparables, finds its way into print this month, and our reviewer calls its publication ‘a genuinely momentous event’. I’ll also point out the perfection of a Japanese novel in translation that is about both cats and books, Sosuke Natsukawa’s The Cat Who Saved Books. Brandon Taylor, Leïla Slimani, Claire-Louise Bennett, Sebastian Faulks, David Grossman, Gayl Jones … the great new releases don’t stop! We also have a terrific selection of crime novels, including our Book of the Month, I Shot the Devil by Ruth McIver; books from Sarah Bailey, Catherine Jinks and Paula Hawkins; and the much-anticipated second novel from Richard Osman (author of the 2020 hit The Thursday Murder Club), The Man Who Died Twice.
Our Nonfiction Book of the Month is Gabrielle Chan’s Why You Should Give a F*ck About Farming, an important wake-up call to all of us about Australia’s food security. Our reviewer thinks it so important that she asks, ‘if you were to read one nonfiction book this year, please make it this one’. We also review nonfiction from the very talented Claire G. Coleman, Lies, Damned Lies; memoirs from Heidi Everett and Akwaeke Emezi; and feminist writing from Lucia Osborne-Crowley and Amia Srinivasan. I’d also draw your attention to the new book from Maggie Nelson, On Freedom; John Safran’s book about Big Tobacco and the vaping industry, Puff Piece; Yves Rees’ memoir of transition, All About Yves; Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks, which aims to help us rethink our time on earth; the new biography of iconic musician Nico, You Are Beautiful and You Are Alone; and the gorgeous pictorial record of one of Victoria’s most important natural assets, The Great Forest. You can find an extract from Dear Son here, a collection of letters by First Nations men that share perspectives on masculinity and culture.
And finally, dear Reader, please join me in congratulating the authors shortlisted for 2021’s Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction. It’s an absolute cracker of a shortlist this year, and we thank the judges who worked so conscientiously and read so closely to assemble such a brilliant group of books. The report by Kate McIntosh, chair of judges, can be found here.