What we're reading: Heather Morris, Dervla McTiernan & Yumi Stynes

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.

Ellen Cregan is reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Over the weekend I read Heather Morris’s debut novel, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

This book tells the story of Lale Sokolov, the real-life tattooist who worked in the infamous concentration camp. Sokolov, a Slovakian Jewish man, volunteered to leave his family to work for the Nazi machine in order to spare other members of his family. While Lale’s sacrifice was sadly in vain, he spent his three years as ‘tatowierer’ attempting to make the lives of those within the camp slightly more bearable, smuggling food and other items in from outside contacts. While this book is fascinating as a historical artifact, at its core it is a love story. While confined to the camp, Lale met Gita, a fellow prisoner, and the two fell in love.

While this book is a novel, Gita and Lale were real people. They both survived the Holocaust and after the end of the war lived out the rest of their lives together in Australia. Knowing from the beginning that this is for the most part a true story makes this an extremely impactful novel. This is an inspiring and eye-opening read – Lale and Gita’s is a story of remarkable love and resilience in the worst possible circumstances.

Jan Lockwood is reading The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan

Being on the judging panel for this year’s Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction, I am fortunate to be reading heaps of exciting work by emerging Australian talent. There’s so much to love – most recently there was The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan, which is due for release in a couple of weeks (19 February). This is a superior and somewhat non-traditional crime fiction story that put me in mind of The Dry by Jane Harper. There’s plenty of depth to the central character, Detective Cormac Reilly, who is forced to reopen his first case from 20 years ago, following a new tragic event. Delving into dark social and political issues of contemporary Ireland, the plot is complex and interesting.

Chris Gordon is reading The Zero Fucks Cookbook by Yumi Stynes

One of favourite activities in the whole wide world is to curl up on the couch with a brand-new cookbook and dream about my next creation. I’m very particular about which ones I choose to spend my time with, and will avoid any with the following words in the title: blender, quick, diet, results, etc. There’s nothing wrong with these cookbooks but they are not for dreaming. Rather, I’m looking for recipes and stories that will transport me to exotic places, or help me understand the trajectory of senses in a well-crafted meal. I also enjoy cookbooks that are realistic for my lifestyle and the different ways that I prepare food – sometimes I entertain and sometimes I just need to feed the family.

Earlier this week I spent a pleasant hour getting stuck into a real treat of of a cookbook. Keep in mind – it’s February, everyone is back at school or work, and outdoor music experiences are so last month. Now it’s all about keeping spirits high as the year kicks into action. It’s with this context that I picked up Yumi Stynes’s most perfect cookbook, aptly titled The Zero Fucks Cookbook. I like this author’s style. She is funny, practical and completely not up her own brand.

The Zero Fucks Cookbook will arrive in store next month (1 March) but for a taste of what’s on offer, you can read her top 10 cooking commandments here.

Cover image for The Ruin

The Ruin

Dervla McTiernan

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