What we’re reading: Clare Atkins, Michelle McNamara & Bri Lee

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films and TV shows we’re watching, and the music we’re listening to.


Chris Gordon is reading Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee

I have been putting off reading Bri Lee’s memoir because I felt like I already knew the story. I worked in the field of women’s health before I was involved in the book trade and I already knew that the legal system was not usually favourable to women’s voices. I had worked firsthand with women who had experienced sexual assault including survivors and those supporting them. Some were at the end of long legal battles; some were homeless because of a man’s behaviour and because of our rotting system. I imagined Eggshell Skull would be another story of women being done over, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to feel that upset again.

Still, I’ve now met Lee a couple of times and she is quite incredible. I read her book because of how she spoke and it is terrific. Lee takes readers through a journey of the legal system and how people operate within it. She allows her story to show the rigours of it all. As I suspected, it is hard reading, and it is also a story that needs to be told. Lee provides insight into where we are at, and where we should be. It is another necessary woman’s voice – important, convincing and powerful.

Eggshell Skull is a foundational story for living a feminist life. I strongly recommend it.


Bronte Coates is reading Between Us by Clare Atkins

I picked up this novel from Clare Atkins after seeing it listed on this year’s Readings Young Adult Book Prize shortlist. It’s a beautifully written and heartbreaking story about two teenagers who form a connection, despite radically different life experiences. Jono is reeling from some traumatic upheaval in his life and feeling disconnected from his friends and family. Ana is an asylum seeker from Iran and has only just been cleared to attend school. When the two teenagers meet, they feel a pull towards one another, but their growing closeness is marred by the interference of Jono’s father, Kenny, who works at the detention centre where Ana and her family are imprisoned.

The judges described Between Us as an ‘an extraordinary feat of storytelling’ and I absolutely agree. Atkins skilfully brings together the perspectives of all three characters to create something that is incredibly moving. It’s so important not to become accustomed to the grossly corrupt and inhumane immigration practices of our current government. Between Us has the potential to awaken (or reawaken) you to the horrors of asylum seekers being illegally detained by Australia.


Ellen Cregan is reading I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

I foolishly read this nail-biting true crime book in one sitting, finding myself physically unable to stop despite how creeped-out I was. Author Michelle McNamara details the spree of horrible rapes, murders and home invasions committed by the Golden State Killer from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s in and around Sacramento, California.

During the writing of this book, the killer remained unapprehended, but recently police have arrested a suspect in the case. This resolution is somewhat bittersweet though, as McNamara sadly passed away before the book’s publication. One of the most fascinating parts of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is the final section in which McNamara’s editors include a list that she had put together of potential ways the police might be able to solve the mystery of who the Golden State Killer was. In the end, one of these methods was how they apprehended their suspect in real life.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is equal parts thrilling and terrifying, and I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down.


Fiona Hardy is reading Bob by Wendy Mass & Rebecca Stead (with illustrations by Nicholas Gannon)

I read Rebecca Stead’s When You Reach Me some years ago and really loved it. Stead has an amazing skill for setting up a story that pays off in all the little moments. Bob is her new book and it’s co-written with Wendy Mass and illustrated by Nicholas Gannon.

Ten-year-old Livy is on holiday with her mother and baby brother in rural Australia where they’re staying with her grandmother for the first time in five years. At first, nothing is familiar, but she remembers something about a wrong chicken, and that she needs urgently to check the bedroom cupboard. Inside she discovers Bob: small, green, wearing a chicken suit, and unhappy that five-year-old Livy told him to stay put one day and then never came back until now. But why hasn’t Livy remembered him? And who is Bob, and how did he get here?

This is a beautiful, small tale of discovery and determination and this sappy reader may have even shed a tear at the end. But don’t tell anyone.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark

Michelle McNamara

$29.99Buy now

Finding stock availability...