What we’re reading: Madeleine Thien, Liane Moriarty and Angela Pippos

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.


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Robbie Egan is reading Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey

I am reading Abaddon’s Gate, the third book in the Expanse series. This series is set in a future fraught with tensions about interplanetary war. Earth and Mars are on the brink of conflict, and the spanner in the works is the discovery of an unusual entity – a ‘protomolecule’, seemingly from another galaxy, that consumes energy and living matter and remodels it at a molecular level. Needless to say, governments and the military are interested, and the discovery of extra-terrestrial matter frays alliances to break point. The narrative is told from multiple perspectives, but our main focus is on disaffected ex-marine ‘Earther’ James Holden and his crew of three. The four of them happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now have to face the horrible truth of how far humans will go to further their own ends. I don’t want to give anything else away because these books are so worth seeking out for yourself.

I haven’t read science fiction for 20 years, and am glad to see that the characters in this series are extremely well drawn. The science of the ‘future’ is utterly believable too, and the violence, often sudden, is shockingly realistic. Even the political scenarios ring true. A SyFy Channel series that covers most of the first book, Leviathan Wakes, has been released and it was my favourite television show last year. The second season has just begun, and it is a superior example of the kind of complex, multi-layered storytelling that television excels at.

The Expanse series is seriously good. I’m telling you: read it, watch it, tell everyone about it. No regrets here.


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Leanne Hall is reading Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

I have been meaning to read the rave-reviewed Do Not Say We Have Nothing ever since it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year, but it has taken author Madeleine Thien’s imminent visit to Melbourne to get me to pick it up. I decided I loved it in the first few pages.

At 480 pages, Do Not Say We Have Nothing is an epic novel, traversing the early days of the Communist Revolution through to the fallout of Tiananmen Square. I’m only halfway through, and reading it slowly. The characters are so finely drawn, the cultural and historical detail so fascinating, and the writing so effortlessly funny, skilled and moving, that I don’t want to rush it.

The story opens in the 1990s with a young Chinese woman, Ai-Ming, seeking refuge in the house of a recently bereaved Canadian-Chinese family comprised of the 10-year-old Marie and her mother. The narrative jumps back and forth in time to explore the connections between Ai-Ming and Marie’s families, and the role that music has played across generations.

If you love music or musicians, history, Chinese poetry and literature, family sagas or vivid characters, you should read this book. I don’t know much about classical music, but I’m enjoying looking up and listening to every piece of music mentioned. Though, I’m still trying to figure out how pieces in minor keys could be considered anti-revolutionary.


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Nina Kenwood is reading Breaking the Mould by Angela Pippos

This weekend I’m planning to settle in and read Breaking the Mould by Angela Pippos. She wrote a fantastic piece for our blog this week called ‘My best advice for girls who like sport’, and I got a little teary-eyed reading it. I played sport as a child, but dropped off as a teenager, as so many girls do. I was lucky enough to rediscover my love for it – both playing (basketball) and watching (AFL) – as an adult, and it’s proven to be one of the great joys of my life. I went to the opening round of the women’s AFL season several weeks ago, and it was more energising, heart-warming and inspiring that I could have imagined. I am just so bloody happy to be watching women playing football. I recommend everyone watches or goes to a AFLW match, reads Angela’s book, and buys a copy of A Footy Girls Guide To The Stars of 2017 for a young person in their life.


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Stella Charls is reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

I usually never manage to read the book before the film, much as I mean too, but when I saw the trailer for the HBO adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies I remembered how many of my trusted colleagues had raved about Moriarty’s books. (Please see here, and here, and here…)

My colleagues had enthusiastically praised Moriarty’s immense skill for characterisation and dialogue, and Big Little Lies is a perfect example of why. This book works on two levels – it’s simultaneously a social satire of the Sydney upper-class, with lashing of lattes and primary school politics, and it is also a deeply moving account of different relationships. This book left me reeling. I cared deeply for the characters, because they truly leapt off the page. They made me laugh frequently, but they also got under my skin.

The first episode of the mini-series is released this Monday (via Foxtel in Australia) and there’s still time to read it before then. Believe me – you’ll want to read it all weekend!

I adored reading Big Little Lies, and I can’t wait to get stuck into Moriarty’s backlist starting with her newest novel Truly Madly Guilty. Sometimes, amidst the anxiety-provoking noise of global politics, it’s a relief to step away from my Twitter feed, pick up a smart, funny page-turner and settle in.


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Chris Gordon is reading Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

After reading non-fiction for the last few weeks, I needed a novel that would take me away from facts and figures, and into another world. I needed a story that would keep me interested when I was dog tired. I needed a book that could be read in precious stolen moments throughout my day – standing on the tram, waiting for the pasta water to boil, or sitting in the car while a child finishes sports training. And oh, what a treat I’ve picked up. Big Little Lies is exactly what I needed. Liane Moriarty’s novel is as good as everyone says. The writing is funny and fast-paced; the narrative is packed with plot twists and turns. I know every last word will be read before the weekend. I have a feeling that I may be at the beginning of a binge – I hear that The Hypnotist’s Love Story should be the next on my list.


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A brief note from the Sunday staff at Readings Carlton

We were saddened to recently learn of the passing of Herbert Tinning in The Age. He was a regular and beloved customer to the Carlton store. He would come in on Sundays looking for all the new map and navigation books and we were always delighted to see him – we would often put books aside we knew would pique his interest. He was a quiet but friendly man, and reading of his incredible past in the military, as a town planner, and as a father and grandfather was a heartwarming moment for the Sunday staff who knew only of his love for books and warm smile. We wish his family all the best, and we will miss his company very much.

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Do Not Say We Have Nothing

Madeleine Thien

$27.99Buy now

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