The Best Kind of Beautiful, Frances Whiting, Australia, 2019

The Best Kind of Beautiful, Frances Whiting, Australia, 2019

The Saint Claires are well-known entertainers. The family – father, Lucas, mother, Amanda, and the three children, Florence, Isolde and Puck – comprise the Saint Claire Swingers, a name that Florence, the pivot of the story, hates. Although singing and performing is all that Florence has ever known she leaves the family business in her …

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Night Train to Lisbon, Pascal Mercier, Germany, 2004

Night Train to Lisbon, Pascal Mercier, Germany, 2004

Pascal Mercier is the pseudonym of Peter Bieri, who is a Swiss philosopher, and Night Train to Lisbon is an amazing investigation of life and love and what it is to be human. I came to Mercier’s book via the film of the same name, which was beautifully imagined and crafted and which motivated me …

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The Futurological Congress, Stanislaw Lem, Poland, 1971

The Futurological Congress, Stanislaw Lem, Poland, 1971

One of the world’s greatest science fiction writers, Stanislaw Lem has with The Futurological Congress produced a short (129 pages) satirical work that can be equated to a roller-coaster ride where, at times, the carriage in which one is riding swerves off the rails and heads for outer space only to suddenly do an about-turn …

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The Deals that Made the World, Jacques Peretti, UK, 2017

The Deals that Made the World, Jacques Peretti, UK, 2017

“A country run as a business does not have to concern itself with the tropes of post-war liberal inclusiveness (tolerance, open borders, a welfare state, even taxation) only with its shareholders: the voters” P.294 Although interesting, this is definitely not a light read, and most of the time it is downright depressing. Peretti puts forward …

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Pemulway: The Rainbow Warrior by Eric Willmot, Australia, 1987

Pemulway: The Rainbow Warrior by Eric Willmot, Australia, 1987

If anyone believes that the conquest of Australia was fair and just, this is the book to right such ignorance. After lamenting the fact that Australian schoolchildren know more about American Indians – names, places, battles – than they do about Australian Aboriginal history, Willmot gives a balanced, and detailed, account of the early years …

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The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion, Australia, 2013

The Rosie Project, Graeme Simsion, Australia, 2013

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, makes the observation that “… ‘somewhere in a medical archive is a twenty-year-old file with my name and the words ‘depression, bipolar disorder? OCD?’ and ‘schizophrenia?’”. He feels that the question marks are important, seeing as no definite diagnosis was ever made. Nevertheless, he is obviously on the autism spectrum, …

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The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, Maggie O’Farrell, UK, 2006

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, Maggie O’Farrell, UK, 2006

A book about the ease with which a woman could be committed to a psychiatric hospital in the early part of the twentieth century. If a father or husband was displeased with a daughter or a wife (for whatever reason), the female in question could find herself locked away for ever without any possibility of …

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Proof of Heaven, Eben Alexander M.D., USA, 2012

Proof of Heaven, Eben Alexander M.D., USA, 2012

In his book, neurosurgeon Alexander tells how, in November 2008, completely out of the blue, he contracted a type of meningitis that is related to E.coli bacteria. In spite of the best medical care available, he quickly slipped into a coma. The prognosis was that he would not survive and that if by some miracle …

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Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall, UK, 2015/2016

Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall, UK, 2015/2016

This is an amazing book; it takes everything we know – and everything we think we know – about the world, and the different countries that comprise it, and expands it in every conceivable direction. It is well written with clear, concise, objective and up-to-date information. As Nicholas Lezard writes: ‘One of the best books …

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Jag heter inte Miriam (My Name is not Miriam), Majgull Axelsson, Sweden, 2015

Jag heter inte Miriam (My Name is not Miriam), Majgull Axelsson, Sweden, 2015

On her 85th birthday, Miriam receives a beautiful bracelet from her family. It is handcrafted by gypsies and her name, Miriam, has been carefully engraved into the silver. However, she both amazes and disturbs her family when she announces that her name is not Miriam. Miriam’s thoughts revert to the 1940s, and we learn that …

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