Avid Staff Top 10 Series: Helen


Welcome to the next installment of our staff top 10 series. 

This week we are featuring the top picks of Helen Bernhagen. Helen has been working in the Brisbane indie book trade since 1989 and manages all of our special orders here at Avid Reader. She has a keen interest in animal rights and is currently working towards a degree in sociology. For our series, Helen has chosen a mix of cult classics, philosophy, and memoir. 


Thomas Jerome Newton is an extraterrestrial from the planet Anthea, which has been devastated by a series of nuclear wars, and whose inhabitants are twice as intelligent as human beings. When he lands on Earth - in Kentucky, disguised as a human - it's with the intention of saving his own people from extinction. [Classic/ Sci-Fi]


Tita, the youngest daughter of the all-female De La Garza family, has been forbidden to marry and is condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. [Fiction]

AFFECTION by Krissy Kneen

Krissy Kneen was raised by a very protective, quite eccentric family who avoided any mention of sexuality: perhaps it was no coincidence that she became obsessed by the very idea of sex. After leaving home she plunged into a world of voracious exploration, revelling in any variation of sex play she could find. But despite the fun, despite the essentially innocent pursuit of pleasure without harm, she found that many of her lovers were not so generous. Affection is the story of a life shaped by overwhelming appetite, and of a woman coming to know how it works. [Memoir]

PERFUME by Patrick Suskind

In the slums of eighteenth-century France, the infant Jean-Baptiste is born with one sublime gift - an absolute sense of smell. As a boy, he apprentices himself to a prominent perfumer who teaches him the ancient art of mixing precious oils and herbs. But his genius is such that he is not satisfied to stop there. One day he catches a hint of a scent that will drive him on an ever-more terrifying quest to create the 'ultimate perfume' - the scent of a beautiful young virgin. [Classic/ Fiction]

SHOPGIRL by Steve Martin

Mirabelle Buttersfield is a lonely and depressed Vermont transplant who sells expensive evening gloves that nobody ever buys at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills and spends her evenings watching television with her two cats. She attempts to forge a relationship with middle-aged, womanizing, Seattle millionaire Ray Porter while being pursued by socially inept and unambitious slacker Jeremy. [Fiction]


Set in a small, affluent liberal-arts college in New England in the eighties, The Rules of Attraction is a startlingly funny, kaleidoscopic novel about three students with no plans for the future - or even the present - who become entangled in a curious romantic triangle. [Fiction]

HEAD TO TOE by Joe Orton

Head to Toe is the saga of Gombold, who strays onto the head of a creature some hundred miles high and begins making his way through the giant's nether regions and on towards his toes. En Route, he falls into the clutches of a dominating and gender-bending policewoman, finds himself in an assassination squad whose target is the prime minister, and finally enlists in an apocalyptic war between the Left and Right Buttocks. [Fiction]


Most people have an uneasy feeling that they may be missing out on something basic that would give their lives a significance that is currently lacks. But how should we live? What is there to stop us behaving selfishly? In this account, which makes reference to a wide variety of sources and everyday issues, Peter Singer suggests that the conventional pursuit of self-interest is individually and collectively self-defeating. [Philosophy]


Bob Slocum was living the American dream. He had a beautiful wife, three lovely children, a nice house, and all the mistresses he desired. He had it all - all that is, but happiness. Slocum was discontent. Inevitably, inexorably, his discontent deteriorated into desolation until... something happened. Something Happened is Joseph Heller's wonderfully inventive and controversial second novel satirizing business life and American culture. [Fiction]


Fred 'Bogus' Trumper is a wayward knight-errant in the battle of the sexes and the pursuit of happiness. He also happens to have a complaint more serious than Portnoy's. Yet he stubbornly clings to the notion that he'll make something of his life and is about to commit himself to a second marriage that bears remarkable resemblance to his first. [Fiction]