Crazy Like Us : The Globalisation of the American Psyche By Ethan Watters

In Crazy Like Us, Ethan Watters reveals that the most devastating consequence of the spread of American culture has not been its golden arches or bomb craters, but the bulldozing of the human psyche itself: it is in the process of homogenising the way the world goes mad.

For the past 30 years, America has been the world leader in mental-health research, and Western definitions of mental illness are prevailing over indigenous beliefs around the globe. In this book, journalist Ethan Watters travels from Hong Kong to Zanzibar to bring home an unsettling conclusion: as America introduces Westernised ways of treating mental illnesses, it is in fact spreading the diseases.

In post-tsunami Sri Lanka, Watters reports on the Western trauma counsellors who, in their rush to help, inadvertently trampled local expressions of grief, suffering, and healing; in Japan, Watters reveals the truth about a multi-million-dollar campaign by one of the world’s biggest drug companies to change the Japanese experience of depression — literally marketing the disease along with the drug; in Hong Kong he studies the rise and rise of anorexia; and in Zanzibar he investigates the cultural impact on schizophrenics.

By examining the Western impact on the psyches of people in other cultures, Watters forces us to take a fresh look at our own approaches to mental health and healing. It turns out that we may have as much to learn from other cultures’ beliefs about the mind as we have to teach them.


What the Press have to say about CRAZY LIKE US: Continue reading

All Great Libraries Must Start Somewhere

I have the greatest of luxuries – a personal library of over 5000 wonderful books. But I wouldn’t have been able to amass such a delicious collection if I had been forced to pay retail!

All of Booktopia’s fiction titles are reduced by at least 10% – everyday, all year round. But we also have thousands of titles reduced by up to 80%!

Here is a small selection of literary gems reduced to clear… (only while stocks last!)

The Old Man And The Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

Set in the Gulf Stream off the coast of Havana, Ernest Hemingway’s magnificent fable is the story of an old man, a young boy and a giant fish. It was THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA that won for Hemingway the Nobel Prize of Literature. Here, in a perfectly crafted story is a unique and timeless vision of the beauty and grief of a man’s challenge to the elements in which he lives.

‘The best story Hemingway has written – No page of this beautiful master-work could have been done better or differently’ Sunday Times.

RRP: $19.95

Booktopia Price: $12.95

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The Famished Road : A Man Booker Prize Winning Title

by Ben Okri

In the decade since it won the Booker Prize, Ben Okri’s Famished Road has become a classic. Like Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children or Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, it combines brilliant narrative technique with a fresh vision to create an essential work of world literature.

The narrator, Azaro, is an “abiku,” a spirit child, who in the Yoruba tradition of Nigeria exists between life and death. The life he foresees for himself and the tale he tells is full of sadness and tragedy, but inexplicably he is born with a smile on his face. Nearly called back to the land of the dead, he is resurrected. But in their efforts to save their child, Azaro’s loving parents are made destitute. The tension between the land of the living, with its violence and political struggles, and the temptations of the carefree kingdom of the spirits propels this latter-day Lazarus’s story.

Retail Price: $14.95

Booktopia Price: $9.95

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Gulliver’s Travels :
and Alexander Pope’s Verses on Gulliver’s Travels

by Jonathan Swift

‘Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own’ Jonathan Swift.

In the course of his famous travels, Gulliver is captured by miniature people who wage war on each other because of religious disagreement over how to crack eggs, is sexually assaulted by giants, visits a floating island, and decides that the society of horses is better than that of his fellow man.

Swift’s tough, filthy and incisive satire has much to say about the state of the world today and is presented here in its unexpurgated entirety.

Retail Price: $7.95

Booktopia Price: $6.49

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by Sebastian Faulks

Mike Engleby says things that others dare not even think.

When the novel opens in the 1970’s, he is a university student, having survived a ‘traditional’ school. A man of devoid of scruple or self-pity, Engleby provides a witheringly frank account of English education. In the course of his subsequent career, which brings us up to the present day, he and the reader encounter many famous people – actors, writers, politicians, household names – but the most memorable is Engleby himself.

For beneath the disturbing surface of his observations, lies an unfolding mystery of gripping power. When one of his contemporaries unaccountably disappears, the reader has to ask: is even the unembarrassable Engleby capable of telling the whole truth? Engleby can be read as a lament for a generation and the country it failed. It is also, in passing, a consideration of the limits of science, the curse of human consciousness and some of the odder lyrics of 1970s rock music.

Retail Price: $32.95

Booktopia Price: $15.95

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House Of Meetings

by Martin Amis

There were conjugal visits in the slave camps of the USSR. Valiant women would travel continental distances, over weeks and months, in the hope of spending a night, with their particular enemy of the people, in the House of Meetings.

The consequences of these liaisons were almost invariably tragic. House of Meetings is about one such liaison. It is a triangular romance: two brothers fall in love with the same girl, a nineteen-year-old Jewess, in Moscow, which is poised for pogrom in the gap between the war and the death of Stalin.

Both brothers are arrested, and their rivalry slowly complicates itself over a decade in the slave camp above the Arctic Circle. As one brother, finally, writes to the other, ‘You know what happened to us? It wasn’t just a compendium of very bad experiences. That was general and standard-issue. That was off the rack. What I’m referring to is the destiny that is made to measure. Something was designed inside us, blending with what was already there. For each of us, in different ways and settings, the worst of all possible outcomes.’

A short novel of great depth and richness, House of Meetings finds Martin Amis at the height of his powers, in new and remarkably fertile fictional territory.

Retail Price: $27.95

Booktopia Price:  $12.95

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Alfred, Lord Tennyson : Selected Poems

by Alfred Tennyson

Treasury of verse by the great Victorian poet, including the long narrative poem, Enoch Arden plus The Lady of Shalott, The Charge of the Light Brigade, selections from The Princess, Maud and The Brook and  more.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson is among the most beloved English poets of all time. This edition of his selected poems includes classics like: The Lady of Shalott, Charge of the Light Brigade, Maud, Morte d’Arthur, Ulysses, The Lotus Eaters.

Elegantly packaged with a ribbon marker, this volume is the perfect addition to any poetry library.

Retail Price: $37.95

Booktopia Price $19.95

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The House of Spirits very limited stock!

by Isabel Allende

Here is the magnificent saga of proud and passionate men and women and the turbulent times through which they suffer and triumph. They are the Truebas. And theirs is a world you will not want to leave, and one you will not forget.

Esteban – The patriarch, a volatile and proud man whose lust for land is legendary and who is haunted by his tyrannical passion for the wife he can never completely possess.

Clara – The matriarch, elusive and mysterious, who foretells family tragedy and shapes the fortunes of the house of the Truebas.

Blanca – Their daughter, soft-spoken yet rebellious, whose shocking love for the son of her father’s foreman fuels Esteban’s everlasting contempt… even as it produces the grandchild he adores.

Alba – The fruit of Blanca’s forbidden love, a luminous beauty, a fiery and willful woman… the family’s break with the past and link to the future.

In a triumph of magic realism, Allende constructs a spirit-ridden world and fills it with colourful and all-too-human inhabitants – the Trueba family, whose passions, struggles and secrets span three generations and a century of violent social change. Against a backdrop of revolution and counter-revolution, Allende portrays a family whose private bonds of love and hatred are more complex and enduring that the political allegiances that set them at odds.

Retail Price: $28.95

Booktopia Price: $15.95

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by Daphne Du Maurier

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

Working as a lady’s companion, the heroine of Rebecca learns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. She accepts, but whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to the ominous and brooding Manderley, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . .

Not since Jane Eyre has a heroine faced such difficulty with the Other Woman.

An international best-seller that has never gone out of print, Rebecca is the haunting story of a young girl consumed by love and the struggle to find her identity.

Retail Price: $22.99

Booktopia Price $17.95

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The Orange Prize for Fiction 2010 Shortlist

The Very Thought of You

Rosie Alison

England, 31st August 1939: the world is on the brink of war. As Hitler prepares to invade Poland, thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz. Torn from her mother, eight-year-old Anna Sands is relocated with other children to a large Yorkshire estate which has been opened up to evacuees by Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton, an enigmatic childless couple.

Soon Anna gets drawn into their unravelling relationship, seeing things that are not meant for her eyes – and finding herself part-witness and part-accomplice to a love affair, with unforeseen consequences. A story of longing, loss and complicated loyalties, combining a sweeping narrative with subtle psychological observation, The Very Thought of You is not just a love story but a story about love.

The Lacuna

Barbara Kingsolver

‘You had better write all this in your notebook, she said, the story of what happened to us in Mexico. So when nothing is left of us but bones, someone will know where we went.’

The Lacuna is a gripping story of identity, connection with our past, and the power of words to create or devastate. Crossing two decades, from the vibrant revolutionary murals of Mexico City to the halls of a Congress bent on eradicating the colour red, The Lacuna is as deep and rich as the New World itself.

Black Water Rising

Attica Locke

“This is a stunning crime noir read from début author, and it has been getting a lot of attention overseas. Black Water Rising is laid out so clearly you can feel the sweat of the Bayou heat trickling down between your shoulder blades, you can see the marshes oozing, you can feel the pulse in the temple of its hero, journeyman Afro American lawyer Jay Porter.

Attica Locke weaves a tangled web of murder and intrigue, court room drama, set-up and counter set-up, unholy alliance of politics and business. Most of all, she tells a story of a man held ransom by his past. And Porter’s past plunges straight right back to the birth, and some might say abrupt strangling, of the civil rights movement in America.

Attica Locke has been getting a lot of attention for her début novel, and a lot of excellent reviews. With an action-oriented plot she has made a tight, tense thriller out of it, a story where the big picture is just as menacing as the personal drama. Talk about the sins of the father being visited on the son. I couldn’t put this one down.” Toni Whitmont, Booktopia BUZZ Editor-in Chief. Continue reading

Fiona McGregor Answers TenTerrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Fiona McGregor

author of

Indelible Ink

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

Sydney. Sydney. Schooled in a convent.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At 12 I wanted to be a performer and musician – at 18 I was exactly that. At 30 I was a writer, not entirely by choice: it had just gotten hold of me.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

I don’t know if I ever believed in anything intractably.

4. What were three works of art – book, painting, piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?

Voss by Patrick White.

Marina Abramovic retrospective at MCA (affected the performer in me more).

The Stooges eponymous first album. Iggy Pop said his rule was to never use more than 25 words in each song: I wish I could achieve such economy

5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?

I don’t know: Indelible Ink was supposed to be a novella!

But actually, it’s a terrific form, the novel. You can create a whole world, philosophise, dramatise, question, describe … it’s one of the most fulsome responses art can give to life.

6. Please tell us about your latest novel…

It’s set in contemporary Sydney, on the lower North Shore and the inner-city. It’s high life meets low life; it’s a family in crisis; it’s spirit of place and its skewed dark doppelgänger real estate. It’s nature and un-nature; the body and transfiguration and tattoos and death. At the centre is Marie King, a 59 year-old divorcée, and her three adult children Clark, Blanche and Leon. My novel is the story of how these people negotiate change and loss.

7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?

Questions about our times and how we live. Insights, laughter, recognition, challenges. A sense of having lived somewhere, with certain people, for a time, and of having been changed through that, even if only subtly.

8. Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?

Oh my god, the impossible question to which I always give a different answer because there are so many. Today I will say Edward St Aubyn, Judith Wright and David Milch.

9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

To take the next novel to the wall. To have my series of performances about water produced in Sydney.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Read, think, walk, write, watch, read, think, walk, write, watch, read …

A Review: Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James

Beautiful Malice is a novel by Australian author Rebecca James and what a brilliant novel it is.

My sister (who had a proof-reading copy) recommended this book to me and I was hooked from the very first page, the very first line even.

It is a suspenseful and often thrilling story that doesn’t reveal itself to the final chapter – it is well worth the read.

I was so enthralled with this novel that I had trouble going back to work after reading it in my lunch break.

A brilliant novel that I would whole-heartedly recommend for all to read.

The Booktopia Team.

About Beautiful Malice:

With a page-turning plot and characters that leap off the page, this is the story of an obsessive friendship and dark secrets that can no longer be hidden.

‘Truth or dare?’ she asks.

I hesitate. I have so many secrets, so many things I don’t want to reveal, but this is only a game, only a bit of fun. ‘Truth,’ I say finally. ‘I can imagine one of your dares, and I don’t fancy running down Oxford Street naked tonight.’

‘Truth,’ Alice says slowly, drawing out the vowel sound as if she’s savouring the word. ‘Are you sure? Are you sure you can be completely honest?’

‘I think so. Try me.’

‘Okay.’ And then she looks at me curiously. ‘So. Were you glad, deep down? Were you glad to be rid of her? Your perfect sister? Were you secretly glad when she was killed?’

Katherine has moved away from her shattered once-perfect family to start a new life in Sydney. There she keeps her head down until she is befriended by the charismatic Alice, and her life takes her in new directions. But there is a dark side to Alice, and as we learn the truth of Katherine’s sister’s death and Alice’s background their story spirals to an explosive finale.

A potent, intense and simply unputdownable psychological thriller from an exciting voice.

SUBMIT YOUR REVIEW HERE – add a comment below.

Booktopia Customer,  Mandee Clarke has sent in her review of Beautiful Malice :

I loved Beautiful Malice. I received it at work and started reading it in my lunch break and I had it finished by 11.00 pm that night. The story was captivating, the characters were likeable and the ending was sad. Teenage novel – nah. I’m in my thirties, an avid reader and thought it was great. I’ve passed it on to family members and friends who share my opinion.

BTW – loving Booktopia’s recent sales. I have more books than I can keep up with. I’m in heaven!!!

Thank You, Mandee!

Emma, our Customer Service Supervisor says…

I absolutely loved it, I haven’t read anything like it in ages – if ever, really. Her style of writing has a freshness to it – I’m not sure how to explain what I mean –  it just feels different. I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see ‘who, how and when‘ and couldn’t finish it fast enough. It was a simple and complex story all at once, filled with love laughter and sadness. You genuinely feel for the characters throughout the unfolding of the story. I hope it isn’t too long before Rebecca James releases another book.

Thank You, Emma!

Booktopia Customer,  Jenny Mounfield, has sent in her review of Beautiful Malice :

Like many, I eagerly awaited the release of Rebecca James’, Beautiful Malice after reading her inspiring story of discovery. (As an author, I am a sucker for such success stories.)

When the book arrived I dropped everything and curled up on the couch with it, only moving for coffee fixes and loo breaks. Naturally my expectations were high, which is rarely a good thing because what can ever live up to that?

The story — or rather two stories — concerns the murder of main character Katherine’s sister, Rachel, told through flashbacks, and Katherine’s efforts to make a new, anonymous life for herself in Sydney after these life-shattering events. Once in Sydney, Katherine is befriended by the popular, effervescent Alice, and for the first time since Rachel’s death, feels there is actually some hope of life beyond tragedy. Alice, however, has other ideas.

As the story progresses it becomes more and more evident that Alice is mentally unhinged. It is Alice’s state of mind as well as her actions that drive this story to its climax — a climax which, I have to say, I found unsatisfying and as unlikely as it was dramatic. One major mistake I feel James made was to foreshadow the demise of two major players early in the novel. As a result I found it difficult to emotionally bond with one of these characters in particular knowing that he would soon be gone. (And it wasn’t rocket science figuring out who would perpetrate this.)

To sum up: Beautiful Malice is at its heart a great story, but it feels a little too cobbled together and therefore doesn’t live up to the back cover promise of being ‘an addictive, psychological thriller’. With some fine-tuning it could have been. Also, I found the story of Rachel’s murder far more thrilling and well-written than the main, which tended to merely drift along at times. Still, for the most part I enjoyed reading this and would recommend it to teens, which, of course, it is intended.

Thank You, Jenny!

Booktopia Customer, Suzan Fayle, has sent in her review of Beautiful Malice :

I saw Rebecca James interviewed at the 2010 Sydney Writer’s Festival, along with Kristin Tranter. They were two young, newly published Australian writers who had both sold their manuscripts for large sums of money. I’d read Tranter’s book (and enjoyed it), and had bought Beautiful Malice but hadn’t read it. I wondered whether the book had been over hyped, but for once the hype was justified; from the opening paragraph I was hooked by the simple yet evocative writing, and the casual yet determined tone.

The protagonist (and narrator), Katherine, although aged between 15 and 22 during the course of the story, has a maturity developed by the tragedies in her young life. Cleverly managed by the author, the reader can see that Alice isn’t all that Katherine thinks she is, and this forms much of the tension throughout the book. The dialogue is punchy and rings true, and the plot, despite jumping back and forth in time, allows the story to flow at a satisfying pace.

Despite the reader insight, Beautiful Malice leads us through a range of emotions, as Katherine’s grief rings true to those of us who have suffered bereavement. And although the story starts at the end (almost), there are plenty of plot twists to allow the tension to last to the final page, making this book indeed a ‘page-turner’.

I thoroughly enjoyed Beautiful Malice and highly recommend it to readers of all age groups.

Thank you, Suzan!

Read an Extract of Beautiful Malice click here…

This Barren Rock : A True Tale Of One Woman And Forty-Seven Men, Shipwrecked In The Southern Seas by Sylvie Haisman

One woman, forty-seven men and a three-year-old boy, shipwrecked on a tiny sub-Antarctic island. For seven months they eat albatross and burn penguin skins for fuel, before a passing whaler picks them up.

The woman was my great-great-great-grandmother Fanny Wordsworth. She and her son Charlie, my grandfather’s grandfather, were migrating from Scotland to New Zealand. Two months out, their ship struck a rock in the Roaring 40s, halfway between Antarctica and Madagascar…

The year was 1875. Fanny Wordsworth was an independent-minded Edinburgh widow and Catholic convert. Twenty-three year old Charlie was her devoted only son–a footloose amateur artist and lover of adventure. Together they set sail for New Zealand, embarking on the maiden voyage of the Strathmore, a clipper from Dundee.

Also on the ship were three-year-old saloon passenger Wattie Walker, and able-seaman Black Jack Warren. A partially literate Irishman, Black Jack was charismatic, a natural leader–generous, sunny-tempered, hard-drinking and free with his fists. Three-year-old Wattie, a lively little boy, would be the only child to survive the wreck–though hardly unscathed.

In the middle of a bitterly cold night, the Strathmore ploughed into the jagged rocks of the remote Crozet Islands, drowning half her passengers and crew.

The forty-nine survivors landed on Grande Île, a treeless rock inhabited only by seabirds. For the next seven months, battered by gale-force winds, rain, sleet and snow, they struggled against starvation, disease, freezing temperatures and waning hopes. They built shanties from mud and stones, hunted and ate albatross and other seabirds, and made bird-skin shoes and clothes. They formed alliances and enmities, cared for their sick and buried their dead. To keep up their spirits they told yarns, watched the antics of penguins, and dreamt unusually vivid dreams:

often about something to eat, often about being at home and the ship that was to take us off the island–always pleasant. Dreaming, in fact, was by far the pleasantest part of our existence on that miserable island.

– Charlie Wordsworth

In this account of her ancestors’ shipwreck, Sylvie Haisman draws on letters, diaries and historical records to look into the lives and dreams of the migrants and crew on a nineteenth century sailing ship. Filtering the story through eyes of Fanny and Charlie Wordsworth, Black Jack the sailor and three-year-old Wattie Walker, Haisman follows the journey of these human beings pushed to the limits of their physical and mental endurance, and explores the effects of the ordeal on the survivors’ later lives.

With the exception of two rings and… [my] rosary, I have not a relic of my past life.

Even when I thought I was going to the bottom, I regretted our lovely picture of my dear father (a life-size painting of my father when a boy, with his favourite pony–the figure by Sir Henry Raeburn, and the animal by Howe).

However, we have ourselves, and it has been Almighty God’s will that we should lose the rest.

– Fanny Wordsworth, writing to her daughter after being rescued

Sylvie Haisman is a writer and performer who lives in a one-room hut at Paekakariki Beach in New Zealand. When she’s not writing or performing, Sylvie enjoys many things including: contact improvisation dance, jewellery-making, reading and ginger crunch.

Ginger crunch
240g butter
240g sugar
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream butter and sugar, add sifted dry ingredients. Knead well and press into greased shallow tin. Bake 20-25 minutes at 190°C, then let cool.
Put in saucepan 120g butter, 240g icing sugar, 2 tablespoons golden syrup and 4 teaspoons of ground ginger. Melt and pour over crunch.

The Fast Life and Sudden Death of Michael McGurk

UPDATE: THE former wife of the Sultan of Brunei has obtained a court injunction stopping distribution of a best-selling book on the murder of Michael McGurk, the Sydney developer, conman and extortionist. SMH.

Finally, the true story of that very public murder whose investigation uncovered dark and crooked business dealings reaching into the upper echelons of the Labor Party.

In September 2009 Sydney business man Michael McGurk was executed in a professional hit on the driveway of his North Shore house. With a single shot to the head the property developer, doting father and generous Catholic parishioner was revealed as a violent loan shark, stand over merchant and extortionist who didn’t care who he cheated.

His murder may have gone unnoticed had it not lifted the lid on some of the darker ways of doing business Sydney-style. And those caught up in his web included high profile Labor identities, hell-bent property developers, a merchant bank and even the Sultan of Brunei. Fuelled by drugs and alcohol, McGurk tried to scam them all.

As compelling and fast-paced as any thriller, this is the true story of a man who thought he could do anything and get away with it. It is also the story of a very public murder. Sometimes life really is stranger than fiction…

Richard Vereker knew Michael McGurk as well as anybody could, although not as well as he thought. Mark Abernethy is best known as a thriller writer whose books include Golden Serpent, Second Strike and Double Back. He has also been a journalist writing for a number of newspapers including the Australian Financial Review.

Isn’t it time you found out what was behind a professional hit which took place in a suburban street not unlike your own?

Click Here to Buy
The Fast Life and Sudden Death of Michael McGurk
Avail. 1 July 2010
$19.95 SAVE 20%

24.08.2010Booktopia Comment: Due to legal proceedings the sale of The Fast Life And Sudden Death Of Michael McGurk has been halted by the publisher. The publisher is still accepting backorders, however, and should the book become available those orders will be filled. Should the book be cancelled, customers who have placed backorders will have their money refunded. Thank you.

Full SMH article: here…

Daily Telegraph: here…


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