Our top picks of the month for book clubs


For book clubs who want a novel of recovery…

The Labyrinth by Amanda Lohrey

Erica Marsden’s son, an artist, has been imprisoned for homicidal negligence. In a state of grief, Erica cuts off all ties to family and friends, and retreats to a quiet hamlet on the south-east coast near the prison where he is serving his sentence. There, in a rundown shack, she obsesses over creating a labyrinth by the ocean. Erica will need the help of strangers to build it. And that will require her to trust, and to reckon with her past. What to do with a mother’s guilt? Where does a mother’s shame lead? What does love make us do? Lohrey asks these questions of her readers in her latest breathtaking novel.


For book clubs who get a kick from cringe-inducing humour…

Jillian by Halle Butler

Twenty-four-year-old receptionist Megan may have her whole life ahead of her, but it already feels like a dead end, thanks to her resentment of the success and happiness of everyone around her. But no one stokes Megan’s bitterness quite like her coworker, Jillian, a thirty-five-year-old single mother whose chirpy positivity obscures her mounting struggles. Megan and Jillian’s lives become increasingly precarious as their faulty coping mechanisms send them spiralling toward their downfalls. This is a brutally funny portrait of two women each more like the other than they would care to admit.


For book clubs who adore award-winning short stories…

No Presents Please by Jayant Kaikini

Jayant Kaikini’s gaze takes in the people in the corners of Mumbai: a bus driver who, denied vacation time, steals the bus to travel home; a slum dweller who catches cats and sells them for pharmaceutical testing; a father at his wits end who takes his mischievous son to a reform institution. In this metropolis, those who seek find epiphanies in dark movie theaters, the jostle of local trains, and even in roadside keychains and lost thermos flasks. These resonant stories, recently awarded the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, reveal the pathos and comedy of small-town migrants struggling to build a life in the big city, with the dream world of Bollywood never far away.


For book clubs who love music too…

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

Utopia Avenue might be the most improbable British band you’ve never heard of. Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967, the band produced only two albums in two years. This is the story of Utopia Avenue’s brief, blazing journey from Soho clubs and draughty ballrooms to the promised land of America, just when the Summer of Love was receding into something much darker and more jaded. This immersive love letter to the Sixties celebrates the power of music to connect across divides, define an era and thrill the soul.


For book clubs who love stories of searching for home…

Into the Suburbs by Christopher Raja

Christopher Raja was eleven-years-old when his father, David, decided to move the family to Australia in pursuit of the idyllic lifestyle. They brought their hopes and aspirations to a bungalow in Melbourne’s outer suburbs. On the surface, the Rajas appeared to be living a ‘normal’ Australian life. Throughout his teenage years, Christopher embraces the freedoms of his adopted country, while his father becomes more and more disenchanted. Just as Christopher is settling into university, the family is rocked by a tragic and unexpected loss. Into the Suburbs is an affecting memoir that explores race, class and migration.


For book clubs who need to feel optimistic about the future…

Glimpses of Utopia by Jess Scully

It’s hard to be excited about the future right now. Climate change is accelerating; inequality is growing; politics is polarised; institutions designed to protect us are strained; technology is disrupting the world of work. Jess Scully asks, What can we do? The answer: plenty! All over the world, people are putting humans back into the civic equation, reimagining work and care, finance and government, urban planning and communication, to make them better and fairer for all. Glimpses of Utopia is a call for optimism, using fascinating examples drawn from around the world.


For book clubs who are interested in a breadth of Australian voices…

Guwayu, For All Times edited by Jeanine Leane

Guwayu, For All Times is a collection of First Nations poems commissioned by Red Room Poetry over the past 16 years, and is a radical literary intervention for its breadth of representation, temporal depth and diversity of language. This fiercely uncensored collection features 61 poems from First Nations poets in 12 First Nations languages, and together they are an exquisite expression of living First Nations culture. Journey through a range of poetic forms from lyric, confessional, protest, narrative and song, showcasing new voices and established poets.


For book clubs with a passion for nature…

Wild Nature

John Blay goes bush to explore Australia’s rugged southeast forests - stretching from Canberra to the coast and on to Wilsons Promontory. In this compelling book, he charts the forests' natural history, their Indigenous history and the first European incursions, the forest wars, the establishment of the South East Forests National Park, and the threats that continue to face their existence, including devastating bushfires. Along the way Blay asks the big questions. What do we really know about these wild forests? How did the forests come to be the way they are? What is the importance of wild nature to our civilisation?

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Halle Butler

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