Our August Book Picks: Non-Fiction

Chloe

Watching Out by Julian Burnside

In Watching Out, a successor volume to his best-selling Watching Brief, noted barrister and human-rights advocate Julian Burnside explains the origins of our legal system, looks at the way it operates in practice, and points out ways in which does and doesn’t run true to its ultimate purposes. He examines fundamental legal principles, such as the presumption of innocence, explains why good barristers defend bad people, and sets out legal remedies for wrongs done to individuals and groups.

Every Lie I've Ever Told by Rosie Waterland

Rosie returns with another irresistibly funny, sharply observed and deeply moving book of autobiographical essays about the lies she's told, the truths she's avoided and that funny grey area in-between. 

Balcony over Jerusalem by John Lyons 

Leading Australian journalist John Lyons will take readers on a fascinating personal journey through the wonders and dangers of the Middle East. From the sheer excitement of arriving in Jerusalem with his wife and eight-year-old son, to the fall of dictators and his gripping account of what it feels like to be taken by Egyptian soldiers, blindfolded and interrogated, this is a memoir of the Middle East like no other.

Taming Toxic People by David Gillespie 

Bestselling author David Gillespie turns his attention to a phenomenon that damages businesses, seeds mental disease and discomfort and can bring civilisations to the brink of implosion - the psychopath.  Psychopaths have always been around, Gillespie argues, but were traditionally constrained by social disapproval. But as community-building institutions dissolve, so does our ability to use social tools to constrain the psychopaths among us. 

Taming Toxic People is a practical guide to restraining the difficult person in your life, be it your boss, your spouse or a parent. It is also a serious and meticulously researched warning if we value a free and well-functioning society: if we don't understand and act to manage psychopathic behaviour, Trump is only the beginning.

Vandemonian War by Nick Brodie 

Britain formally colonised Van Diemen’s Land in the early years of the nineteenth century. Small convict stations grew into towns. Pastoralists moved in to the aboriginal hunting grounds. There was conflict, there was violence. But, governments and gentlemen succeeded in burying the real story of the Vandemonian War for nearly two centuries.

Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

On May 27th, 1784, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met a flirtatious little starling who sang (an improved version of!) the theme from his Piano Concerto Number 17 in G to him. Knowing a kindred spirit when he met one, Mozart wrote “That was wonderful” in his journal and took the bird home to be his pet. For three years Mozart and his family enjoyed the uniquely delightful company of the starling until one April morning when the bird passed away.

In 2013, Lyanda Lynn Haupt, author of Crow Planet, rescued her own starling, Carmen, who has become a part of her family. In Mozart’s Starling, Haupt explores the unlikely bond between one of history’s most controversial characters and one of history’s most notoriously disliked birds. Part natural history, part story, Mozart’s Starling will delight readers as they learn about language, music, and the secret world of starlings.

One Halal of a Story by Sam Dastyari

As in life, Sam Dastyari’s memoir is unexpected and unorthodox. This is the man who introduced Pauline Hanson to the halal snack pack and accountability to big banks.

Named Sahand by his hippy Iranian parents, he changed his name to Sam to fit in with his schoolmates. But Sam was always going to stand out.

He joined the Labor Party when he was 16 and was elected as a senator only 13 years later. Sam brings his super-charged approach to life to his writing and the result is hilarious: part-memoir, part-political treatise and part-reflection on hard times.

We learn about his cats, Lenin and Trotsky; how to deal with neighbours when their front lawns are under siege from the media thanks to your misdemeanour; and how the most dangerous mosh pits are to be found among parents at the school nativity play.

One Halal of a Story is a no-holds-barred look at the good and bad of family, politics, and being Sam.

What She Ate by Laura Shapiro

A beloved culinary historian’s short takes on six famous women through the lens of food and cooking–what they ate and how their attitudes toward food offer surprising new insights into their lives. -Establishes Laura Shapiro as the founder of a delectable new literary genre: the culinary biography.—Megan Marshall, Pulitzer-prize winning biographer Everyone eats, and food touches on every aspect of our lives–social and cultural, personal and political. Yet most biographers pay little attention to people’s attitudes toward food, as if the great and notable never bothered to think about what was on the plate in front of them. Once we ask how somebody relates to food, we find a whole world of different and provocative ways to understand her. Food stories can be as intimate and revealing as stories of love, work, or coming-of-age. Each of the six women in this entertaining group portrait was famous in her time, and most are still famous in ours; but until now, nobody has told their lives from the point of view of the kitchen and the table. It’s a lively and unpredictable array of women; what they have in common with one another (and us) is a powerful relationship with food. They include Dorothy Wordsworth, whose food story transforms our picture of the life she shared with her famous poet brother; Rosa Lewis, the Edwardian-era Cockney caterer who cooked her way up the social ladder; Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady and rigorous protector of the worst cook in White House history; Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress, who challenges our warm associations of food, family, and table; Barbara Pym, whose witty books upend a host of stereotypes about postwar British cuisine; and Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan, whose commitment to -having it all- meant having almost nothing on the plate except a supersized portion of diet gelatin.