Mark Rubbo’s best of 2021
Below our managing director Mark Rubbo shares his favourite reads from 2021.
Wild Abandon by Emily Bitto
Will flees to the US to escape the misery of a breakup; a road trip across America will set him straight. Stuck in Littleproud, Ohio, he runs into an eccentric and charismatic private zoo owner and gets drawn into his bizarre world.
The Magician by Colm Toibin
This fictionalised account of the life of Nobel Prize-winning writer, Thomas Mann, is a fascinating and compelling read. Mann’s life spanned the first and second world wars and this historical background adds a richness to the book.
Small Joys of Real Life by Allee Richards
This debut novel chronicles the lives and loves of a group of young friends living in Melbourne’s inner north. It’s a remarkable first achievement and brings Melbourne to life.
Seven and a Half by Christos Tsiolkas
A writer escapes to the coast to work on a new book. He’s tired of the conformist pressures that his left milieu puts on his work. He doesn’t want to write about social issues, he wants to write about beauty, and so begins a book within a book.
The Orchard Murders by Robert Gott
If you haven’t discovered Robert Gott’s crime novels you are in for a treat; this one is set in Melbourne during the Second World War. A mass homicide in an orchard on the outskirts of Melbourne points to a bizarre religious sect, and Inspector Lambert calls in the help of private detectives Helen Lord and Joe Sable.
The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by David Graeber and David Wengrow
If you’ve been fascinated by writers such as Jared Diamond, Stephen Pinker, and Yuval Noah Harari and their take on human history then this radical new book is for you. The conventional view is that humankind’s transition from hunter-gatherers to farmers was the catalyst for the creation of organised societies as we know them. New research by anthropologist David Graeber and archaeologist David Wengrow challenges those assumptions in this magisterial work.
Devotion by Hannah Kent
This beautiful book about the love between two young women in early nineteenth-century South Australia is full of hope and beauty. It demonstrates Kent’s formidable strengths as a writer.
Love and Virtue by Diana Reid
I haven’t read a campus novel for a very long time and this debut is a beauty. During a drunken O Week, Michaela has sex with Nick. The memory for Michaela is hazy; she puts it down to “experience”; her friend, Eve, who lives in the college room next to her wants to appropriate Michaela’s experience for her own purposes. Diana Reid is an author to watch.
Crossroads by Jonathan Franzen
Set in Chicago in the late Sixties, this giant, absorbing story will briefly take over your life and then live with you long after you’ve finished it. It follows the travails of the Hildebrand family in the week leading up to Christmas and the deceptions and deceits that live within families. This is American fiction at its best.
Fulfillment: Winning and Losing in One-click America by Alec MacGillis
Using the growth and impact of Amazon as an example, Alec MacGillis chronicles the unravelling of middle America. He ranges across the country examining how individuals, businesses and communities are affected by the all-pervasive growth of Amazon in the US. Beautifully written, it’s a wake-up call. Especially for Australia, which still has a chance to stem Amazon’s growth and impact.
In Moonland by Miles Allinson
In Miles Allinson’s second novel, the narrator is a new father, and in the late nights awakened by his daughter’s crying he starts to wonder about his own father who died when he was in his early twenties. What was he like, what drove him, why did he die? The young man seeks out his father’s friends to find the answers. A powerful and moving book.