What we’re reading: Nolan, Mason & Saramago

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.


Tye Cattanach is reading Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan

It may surprise some of you to learn I am one of those shocking people who believes books want to be interacted with in a physical manner. Spines cracked, pages dog-eared, sentences underlined, pages marked so I can return to a paragraph or sentence that I particularly loved. It is because of this behaviour, I can never loan my copy of Acts of Desperation by Megan Nolan to any of you. Sorry.

SO many moments in this book demand rereading, an endless parade of sentences that felt so intimately familiar I found myself wondering if Nolan had found a way to read my mind. Which is essentially why I loved it so much. Even when I hated it just a little for being too close to the bone. There is both a comfort and a discomfort to be found when you see your own thoughts and feelings reflected back at you as words on a page and Nolan displays a singular skill in eloquently expressing pure, uncensored, raw emotion. For me, it is this mashup of feelings evoked that as a reader, I search for and do not often find. I found it in Acts of Desperation. Bucketloads of it. As a result my copy of Acts of Desperation is battered and unloanable to anyone, but that’s okay, because trust me when I tell you, you are going to want your very own copy of this remarkable book.


Gabrielle Williams is reading Sorrow and Bliss by Meg Mason

Of COURSE It’s going to be made into a movie.
Of COURSE It’s running off the shelves.
Of COURSE I can’t recommend it highly enough.

You want an easy read - this is your jam. You want wit and pathos - open your hands and let me drop this baby into them. You want romance - done. But don’t be misled by the fact that this is an easy read with a romantic bent - it’s skilful writing that’s threaded throughout with Martha’s mental health issues, leavened with a black humour that makes everything bearable (for us, the reader, at least).

Following Martha’s disastrous marriage (two of them actually), and flashing back to her life growing up, every single person in her orbit is laid bare for all of us with varying degrees of love, hate and disdain. I dare anyone to not want the very best for Martha (and Meg Mason) by the end of this book. Really fun, really angry, really real.


Clare Millar is reading The Tale of the Unknown Island by Jose Saramago and illustrated by Peter Sis

I’m quite the fan of Saramago - even though I’ve only read a few of the handful of his books I’ve bought. His style is usually dense and elusive, almost stream of consciousness and with very little punctuation. So when I heard that he wrote a children’s fable, I was quite intrigued. This short story is about a man who wishes to find an unknown island - he is sure that we couldn’t possibly have found them all - and therefore asks the King for a boat for his journey.

I loved the philosophical dialogue about whether or not such as island could exist, and how it might be found. I was enchanted at the message of dreams challenging the absurdity of bureaucracy, although this may have had more colonial themes than I realised on a first read. Saramago’s murky style probably wouldn’t suit children, if anything this would be a great read aloud tale for the whole family. Peter Sis, known for his own picture books, provides beautiful little interludes with his illustrations.

Acts of Desperation

Acts of Desperation

Megan Nolan

$29.99Buy now

Finding stock availability...