Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart, UK, 2020

Shuggie Bain, Douglas Stuart, UK, 2020

Raw, real, depressing and beautifully written, Shuggie Bain, centres on a working-class family in Glasgow between the early 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. It is an unedited picture of poverty and alcohol abuse, showing how the two things fuse together to eventually both direct and change people’s lives. Many of the people filling …

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Analfabeten som kunde räkna (The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden), Jonas Jonasson, Sweden, 2013

Analfabeten som kunde räkna (The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden), Jonas Jonasson, Sweden, 2013

Like Jonas Jonasson’s Hundråringen som klev ut genom fönstret och försvann (The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared) this is a delightful, totally impossible, story that manages to tie together South Africa, China, Israel and Sweden around the main character, Nombeko Mayeki. Nombeko begins life in one of the slums of Soweto …

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The Wife and the Widow, Christian White, Australia, 2020

The Wife and the Widow, Christian White, Australia, 2020

This tale of intrigue, lies and murder is a good lightweight read, a book to pick up in between more serious books, or a book to read when entertainment is looked for more than reality. Reality is definitely not one of the book’s main priorities. Not wanting to ruin the story, I will skip the …

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The Humans, Matt Haig, UK, 2013

The Humans, Matt Haig, UK, 2013

‘… it takes time to understand humans because they don’t understand themselves. They have been wearing clothes for so long. Metaphorical clothes. (…) That was the price of human civilisation – to create it they had to close the door on their true selves.’ (Page 130). The ‘I’ of the book is an alien. He …

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The Martian by Andy Weir, USA, 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir, USA, 2014

This is a fictional account of an astronaut’s fight for survival after being caught up in a powerful dust storm on Mars. The crew of the Ares 3 mission, believing him to be dead and having no other option, is forced to leave Mars without him. Of course he does not die (otherwise there would …

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Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks, UK, 2001

Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks, UK, 2001

I was given this book to read by a friend, and I opened it not having the slightest idea what it was about. I was pleasantly surprised. They say that there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ times to do certain things; I also feel that there are probably ‘right’ and ‘less right’ times to read certain …

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Phosphorescence, Julia Baird, Australia, 2020

Phosphorescence, Julia Baird, Australia, 2020

This is a beautiful book that should make any reader stop for a moment and think about what life really is: a collection of wonder. At the beginning of the book, Julia asks the question: ‘… how do we survive, stay alive or even bloom when the world goes dark, when we are, for instance, …

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A Room Made of Leaves, Kate Grenville, Australia, 2020

A Room Made of Leaves, Kate Grenville, Australia, 2020

Kate Grenville’s latest book can best be described as fictional history. It follows the life of Elizabeth (Veale) Macarthur from her life as a more-or-less orphaned child in Devon to her life in Sydney and Parramatta as the wife of the insensitive, brutish and unpredictable John Macarthur. Macarthur’s name is now firmly connected to the …

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Be Happy, Always, Xandria Ooi, USA, 2019

Be Happy, Always, Xandria Ooi, USA, 2019

This is a delightful book about living life in ways that will engender, not destroy, happiness. Some of it is obvious, but much of it presents things we thought we knew but from other perspectives. It is a book that can be read cover-to-cover or that can be delved into in small bits. I read …

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