What we’re reading: Conte, Deer & Biss

Each week we bring you a sample of the books we’re reading, the films we’re watching, the television shows we’re hooked on, or the music we’re loving.


Elke Power is reading The Doctor Who Fooled the World by Brian Deer

I’ve been reading our September Nonfiction Book of the Month, The Doctor Who Fooled the World by British investigative journalist Brian Deer. Amanda’s review was so convincing that it made me determined to fit in this book somewhere among the October books I’m reading for the next Readings Monthly. I’ve had an interest in the damaging long-term effects of Andrew Wakefield’s medical misconduct and fraudulent, unethical, and hopelessly flawed ‘research’ into vaccines ever since I read Seth Mnookin’s The Panic Virus when that was published some years ago. It’s fascinating to now hear directly from the journalist who originally had a hunch that something didn’t add up and followed the story against all the odds. It’s compelling reading, the story is still far from over, and it couldn’t be more timely.


Chris Gordon is reading The Tolstoy Estate by Steven Conte

Set in Russia during the second World War, German military doctor Paul Bauer is assigned to establish a field hospital at the former grand estate of Count Leo Tolstoy – the author of War and Peace. There he meets Katerina Trusbetzkaya, a writer who has been left in charge of the estate. A friendship between them grows as the war rages on, and grows ever nearer.

Steven Conte is the kind of writer who takes his time. As a reader, you immediately feel you are in the hands of a gifted and original storyteller. The Tolstoy Estate is not something you read when you are tired, but rather, I recommend you take this book and treat it like a sacred item. Relish the words. The Tolstoy Estate is a love story, and it is also a reminder of the horror of war. It may be centred on historical times, but Conte’s skill is ensuring the relevance is about us, right now. Through his vision, this novel becomes an examination of our desperation, of our longing and of collective hope. Make space for this read. It will make our reality seem far away, and perhaps it will make us all a little kinder and a little more grateful.


Chris Somerville is reading The Memoirs of Moominpappa by Tove Jansson

We’re slowly reading through the Moomin books with our daughter in the last ten minutes or so before bed. At first The Memoirs of Moominpappa seemed a bit lacklustre compared to the others, it’s told in first person, from Moominpappa’s point of view, and so you’re forced to just accept the failures of his personality. But then the book’s events kick in, and the inventiveness and wit of Jansson really shines. There’s a giant creature who keeps killing people and then mournfully paying for their funerals, a sentient cloud, a king whose practical jokes are genuinely funny and a ghost who no one can understand what he’s talking about. My favourite part of the Moomin books are their strange logic, especially when it comes to the bizarre negotiations between characters, and the filling out of the world, two things that The Memoirs of Moominpappa has in spades.

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The Tolstoy Estate

The Tolstoy Estate

Steven Conte

$32.99Buy now

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