Kara Nicholson

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Kara works as bookseller at Readings Carlton and is currently completing a masters in environmental studies. She spends her time reading novels to avoid doing any of the actual study part.

Her favourite book of all time is George Eliot’s Middlemarch and she urges anyone who hasn’t to read it to do so immediately.

Reviews

The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Writer and lawyer Sarah Krasnostein first met Sandra Pankhurst at a conference for forensic support services. Sandra’s business card advertises ‘specialised trauma cleaning’: ‘hoarding and pet hoardi…

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Please Explain by Anna Broinowski

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Author and filmmaker Anna Broinowski first introduced herself to Pauline Hanson as a ‘pro-refugee, pro-environment, pro-reconciliation leftie’. She had approached the notorious politician in 2009 wit…

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A Führer for a Father by Jim Davidson

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

The life of Jim Davidson – prize-winning historian, academic and former editor of Meanjin – warrants a biography of its own. However, Davidson is clear from the first pages that this book is not an a…

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Not Just Lucky by Jamila Rizvi

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Jamila Rizvi is by no means ‘just lucky’. She has forged a stellar career in federal politics and the media by using her formidable intelligence and working ridiculously hard. Of course, luck has pla…

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Things That Helped by Jessica Friedmann

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Last year I was challenged by Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, a book its publisher categorised as ‘autotheory’, a kind of hybrid of autobiography and critical theory. Chris Kraus’s I Love Dick (which …

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No Way But This by Jeff Sparrow

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Jeff Sparrow writes that his journey in search of the athlete, singer, actor and activist Paul Robeson is not intended to produce a conventional biography but rather conjure up a ghost story about an…

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Testosterone Rex by Cordelia Fine

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

My favourite statistic from this book is that given ‘optimal breeding conditions’ in a typical hunter-gatherer society a woman has the potential to bear nine to twelve children across her lifetime, w…

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Frantumaglia by Elena Ferrante

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

The Frantumaglia project (as it is referred to by her publishers) has evolved over the many years of Elena Ferrante’s writing career. She defines the word ‘frantumaglia’ as a ‘jumble of fragments’ an…

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Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

The shocking nature of online abuse that Clementine Ford has received for her feminist writing is pretty widely known. In her first full-length book she fights back with a wholly justified vengeance.…

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The Great Multinational Tax Rort by Martin Feil

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Having spent decades working for the Australian Taxation Office, the Customs department and in private accounting firms, Martin Feil has a true insider’s insight into the murky world of multinational…

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Some Rain Must Fall by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

I’m a big fan of the first two volumes in the ‘My Struggle’ series; they presented a brilliantly observed life with a brutal honesty that I felt was unique. I was, however, fairly indifferent about …

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The Seed Collectors by Scarlett Thomas

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Scarlett Thomas is a very prolific young writer (The Seed Collectors is her ninth novel) and she’s also immensely talented. Her witty prose is captivating from the first page of this sprawling and hi…

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Mothers and Others

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

‘So here we are, another book about mothering.’ So begins Christie Nieman’s reflection (or perhaps rant would be more accurate) on the impossibility of being a woman over thirty and escaping the moth…

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Down To The River by S.J. Finn

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Small, independent publishers exist to push boundaries and bring to light books that mainstream companies might consider too risky to publish. Down To the River is the second novel by S.J. Finn from …

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The Last Pulse by Anson Cameron

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Just as the current Environment Minister consulted Wikipedia to dismiss links between climate change and bushfire intensity, I use it to check the status of Australia’s millennium drought and find th…

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The Wife Drought by Annabel Crabb

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Journalist and TV personality Annabel Crabb is interested in the domestic lives of the career-driven. Her television show, Kitchen Cabinet, takes us into the kitchens of some of our most powerful pol…

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Blood and Guts: Dispatches from the Whale Wars by Sam Vincent

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

With print journalism on the decline it’s heartening to discover there’s still very much a place for investigative journalism in book form. Australian writers in particular are producing some fantast…

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The Yellow Papers by Dominique Wilson

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Melbourne-based independent press Transit Lounge has a particular interest in works that explore the connections between East and West, and this latest release, with a narrative that moves between ch…

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The Road to Middlemarch: My Life with George Eliot by Rebecca Mead

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

I’ve read Middlemarch twice, once as a teenager and once as an adult. Although I loved it the first time, it was the second reading that convinced me this was to be my favourite novel. Rebecca Mead r…

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Boom by Malcolm Knox

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Just as I finished reading Malcolm Knox’s comprehensive history of mining in Australia, the High Court dismissed a challenge by Fortescue Metals Group to the validity of the mining tax. Despite the f…

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Profits of Doom by Antony Loewenstein

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Australian journalist Antony Loewenstein has travelled to Papua New Guinea, Afghanistan, Haiti and around Australia to report on a growing trend of ‘vulture capitalism’ where the political and econom…

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The Misogyny Factor by Anne Summers

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

In August 2012, Anne Summers delivered a speech at the University of Newcastle titled ‘Her Rights at Work: The Political Persecution of Australia’s First Female Prime Minister’. The speech detailed t…

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Political Animal by David Marr

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

This updated and expanded edition of David Marr’s 2012 Quarterly Essay of the same name includes a more in-depth account of Tony Abbott’s time at Oxford University, as well as an analysis of the publ…

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Heretics by Will Storr

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

The subtitle of this book is ‘adventures with the enemies of science’, which is perhaps slightly misleading because not only does Will Storr interview a creationist, a UFO expert and a homeopath (the…

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Return of a King by William Dalrymple

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

William Dalrymple’s talents as an academic historian and travel writer come together in this captivating narration of the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-1842). Inspired by the failings of the ‘latest w…

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konkretion by Marion May Campbell

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

This is Marion May Campbell’s fifth work of fiction and, although she may not be a household name, her writing has won several awards and received much critical acclaim. konkretion is a challenging r…

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Futurevision by Richard Watson & Oliver Freeman

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Futurevision describes four alternative scenarios for how the world might look in 2040 and provides a methodology for dealing with change.

The first future envisages a society transformed by science…

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Fallout From Fukushima by Richard Broinowski

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

I was part-way through reading Fallout from Fukushima when BHP Billiton announced it was going to scrap plans to expand uranium mining operations at Olympic Dam. CEO Marius Kloppers identified weak u…

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Money Shot: A Journey Into Porn And Censorship by Jeff Sparrow

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Money Shot is one of the most thought-provoking, intelligent and entertaining non-fiction books I’ve read in a long time.

Jeff Sparrow, editor of Overland and co-author of Radical Melbourne, has qui…

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Antarctica: A Biography by David Day

Reviewed by Kara Nicholson

Chapter 11 of this epic biography of the frozen continent is titled ‘This bloody flag-raising business’ and this sentiment just about sums up the content of David Day’s latest work of historical inve…

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News

10 gift ideas for ethical and socially responsible shoppers

by Kara Nicholson

Heartland: Celebrating 50 Years of the Australian Conservation Foundation by Australian Conservation Foundation

This lovely celebration of the fifty year history of the Australian Conservation Foundation is fantastic value. The photography is all the original work of MAPgroup documentary photographers, a non profit organisation with a mission to create a visual archive of Australian life for f…

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Ten gift ideas for ethical and socially responsible shoppers

by Kara Nicholson

Bookseller Kara Nicholson has compiled a list of ten gift ideas for shoppers aspiring to be ethical and socially responsible consumers this Christmas.

1. Jukurrpa 2015 Diary ($22.95)

Designed and published in the heart of Australia, Alice Springs by IAD Press – the publishing unit of the Institute for Aboriginal Development – this gorgeous diary showcases images created by contemporary Aust…

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10 Gift Ideas for Ethical and Socially Responsible Shoppers

by Kara Nicholson

Bookseller Kara Nicholson has compiled a list of ten gift ideas for shoppers aspiring to be ethical and socially responsible consumers this Christmas.

1. People & Planet Calendar 2014 ($24.95)

This is a great gift for lovers of beautiful photography, and for those who want their purchases to contribute to a more just and environmentally sustainable world. People & Planet are a Melbourne bas…

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What I loved: It’s Raining in Mango by Thea Astley

by Kara Nicholson

As 2013 will see the introduction of the inaugural Stella Prize, the first literary prize for Australian women writers, I feel compelled to revisit one of my favourite Australian authors.

Despite winning four Miles Franklin Awards – as many as Tim Winton and more than any other writer, male or female – Thea Astley’s novels have never reached an audience as widespread as the likes of Winton or Pe…

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