Welcome back to our monthly feature - The Booksellers' Book Club. Here you will find out what Avid staff members are currently reading, have just read, and plan on reading next.
October by China Mieville
"I’m reading October by China Mieville - it’s a great capsule history of the beginnings of the Russian Revolution. It’s the sort of thing you could easily sell to fans of China’s fiction, it has that same sort of style - a bit wordy, a bit breathless, but quite captivating and super smart." - History
Bad Blood by Gary Kemble
"I've nearly finished Gary Kemble’s Bad Blood for the SF Bookclub. Gary gets journalists (he is one), and he writes them authentically, and when you add horror, and some decidedly kinky sex it’s a compelling read." - SF/ Crime
One Pan Roasts by Molly Shuster
"Being a person of limited culinary ability, when I saw the title One Pan Roasts it ticked a lot of boxes for me. With 80 recipes for meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetarian meals, I have now cooked four dishes in the last week and each one is a winner. Simple, quick recipes, easy techniques, great results and very little cleaning up. Also, I have found that the leftovers are even better for lunch the next day. One Pan Roasts is the antithesis of Masterchef menus but I'm sure I'll make it through to the next round with this book." - Cooking
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer
"At the time of writing this, I have about 60 pages left and I want to read them right now. This book is fantastic. It's an accessible sci-fi/ fantasy with true depth of character and beautifully constructed world-building. Plus it has a giant flying bear as an antagonist and a cephalopod type mutant that can change shape, colour, etc. I won't ruin it for you, but trust me, it is great." - Sci-Fi/ Fantasy
Insomniac City by Bill Hayes
"This book has been on the staff recommendation shelves at Avid Reader since it was released early this year, and I can see why. It is accessible, easy to read, and encaptures some wonderfully touching moments. But I have mixed feelings about it. The snippets into life with Oliver Sacks were truly wonderful, but that was the problem - they were just tiny little teasers. It needed way more Oliver Sacks. The book blurb makes it very clear that this book will give you an insight into Oliver's final years, so I felt a little cheated. And the rest of the book felt like filler. The stories about Bill chatting to people on the street felt, to me, a little condescending. Overall, a nice little read, but it lacks true depth in my opinion (please don't hate me everyone else)." - Memoir
Pilfer Academy by Lauren Magaziner
"Many books claim to be the Harry Potter of such and such, but rarely do they live up to it. This book actually does (in terms of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, that is). Except that it is Howarts for thieves! In this book, George is kidnapped to join Pilfer Academy – a school for the criminally gifted. There he learns the sneaky arts and becomes the star pupil. But George starts to doubt whether he really wants to be a criminal after all. This book is kooky, crazy, weird, and wonderful. It reminds me of the oddness and twistiness of Roald Dahl in all the right ways." - Childrens
The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
"The first adult novel from YA writer Amy Engel deals with disturbing family secrets. Perhaps it's a little too VC Andrews for my liking as I found much of the plot a little cliché. Having said that it's a thoughtful easy afternoon read and sometimes that's okay." - Thriller
About to Read:
Beyond Veiled Cliches: The Real Lives of Arab Women by Amal Awad
In a time of racial tension and rising global fear around terrorism, there is a renewed fear of ‘the other’. At its heart, this fascinating book normalises people and their experiences. The breadth, variety and beauty of what Amal has discovered will enthral and surprise you. - Culture
A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashley Hay
"I am re-reading this book because with Ashley Hay's work, once is never enough. This is a gentle thoughtful book which looks at the life of Lucy Kiss who is moving into a house in Brisbane, and Elsie Gormley who has had to move out of the house suddenly and into a nursing home. We pop back and forward between the lives of these two mothers, glancing at their similarities, their differences and the way a sense of place effects a life. This is a side of Brisbane that will be achingly familiar to us and in the telling, it becomes even more beautiful. Hay's work has been likened to Michael Ondaatje, and yes, if Ondaatje had lived in Brisbane and had been a woman I can image he would have written a book just as delicate and lovely as this one." - Fiction
Some Tests by Wayne Macauley
"Macauley writes odd but wonderful books. He is the Kafka of the Australian literary world. His books are always unsettling and a little surreal. This is no exception. The story of a woman who feels just a little off colour one day and takes the day off work. She is sent to get some tests and then more tests and more tests. I have no idea where this book will take me but I am enjoying the feeling that the story is taking me on a wild and odd ride." - Fiction
The End We Start From by Megan Hunter
"This is a very short book which packs a powerful punch in a short space. Fans of Grief is a Thing With Feathers will love this book which is almost a prose poem in its brevity. It is the story of a woman who gives birth to a child just as the seas rise as a result of climate change. The world begins to fall into famine and violence as a result but we see it all through the clouded view of a new mother whose view of the world is narrowed to focus almost exclusively on her new child and the changes that are happening within her whole body. It is a beautiful book, insightful and true." - Fiction
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Ellix Katz
"I am doing some research into gut bacteria for a new book and this book was ahead of its time. First published in 2003, this book already knew the importance of gut bacteria before the rest of the world caught up. Most of this book is a useful guide to fermenting food - presenting ferments from around the world, a broader sweep than most cookbooks about fermentation, but it also discusses the reason why fermenting is good for you and the cultural theory behind the processes. If you have been tempted by Michael Mosely's newly released Clever Guts Diet (which I am also reading at the moment) then this book goes into more detail and discusses the ancient cultural practices of fermenting food and how you can replicate them in your own kitchen. I am looking forward to making sourdough hotcakes and amazake, a sweet Japanese fermented pudding." - Cooking
"I'm in a funny situation where I'm waiting for two books I have read and loved to be released in a new format."
The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare by Giles Milton
"The first book, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare by Giles Milton, is the fascinating true story of a secret British organisation created at the outbreak of WWII with the express intention of disrupting Hitler's war machine through acts of sabotage and guerilla warfare. Although backed by Winston Churchill, the proposed activities of the group (whose nickname gives this book its name) were seen as very much against the "values" of the British army and had to prove their worth through staggering acts of invention and courage.
What Giles Milton does brilliantly in this book is focus on a set of (very individual) real characters as a way into the story, allowing a compelling (and dare I say, novelistic) perspective to this already over-analysed segment of history. History buffs will appreciate the fresh research and insight, and those only lightly-versed in WWII literature will be riveted to the page by these tales of derring-do and invention.
It's down into a very affordable paperback on June 25!" - History
The Mirror Thief by Martin Seay
"The second book I can't wait to start handselling is Martin Seay's stunningly ambitious uber-novel The Mirror Thief, released very briefly in hardback last year and thankfully now in a much less backbreaking (and bank-breaking) paperback on July 3. Fans of David Mitchell, Haruki Murakami and Umberto Eco are going to want to put aside a good week to get thoroughly absorbed in this masterpiece. It's a hard novel to describe (mainly because it's hard to believe one writer could pull it off), but is set in 16th-Century Venice, 1950s Venice Beach and the Venice Casino of present-day Las Vegas, spanning style, genre and tone, but concerning three character with a similar implication in a conspiracy with secrets even deeper than they can possibly comprehend. My advice is to just read it and enjoy becoming lost in Seay's narrative hall of mirrors." - Fiction