26 NEW POPULAR PENGUINS (and one lucky customer will receive them all, gratis)

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Penguin Books has released 26 new Popular Penguins, taking the total number of books in this much-loved series to 200. I am slowly collecting them all. I’ve read about forty but I am sure there are plenty of people who have read more than me. (How many have you read?)

Today I am personally recommending five of the twenty-six new titles (see below) but of the others, well, you and I will just have to trust in Penguin’s good taste. And really, when have they ever been wide of the mark?

Every house needs a bookcase full of the iconic orange and white covers.

Whoah! I almost forgot…. Continue reading

Women of Letters: Reviving the Lost Art of Correspondence. Edited by Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire

Available 31 October 2011

In a world of the short and swift, of texts and Twitter, there’s something of special value about a carefully composed letter.

In homage to this most civilised of activities, Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire created the literary afternoons of Women of Letters. Some of Australia’s finest dames of stage, screen and page have delivered missives on a series of themes, collected here for the first time.

Claudia Karvan sends ‘A love letter’ to love itself, Helen Garner contacts ghosts of her past in ‘The letter I wish I’d written’, Noni Hazlehurst dispatches a stinging rebuke ‘To my first boss’, and Megan Washington pays tribute to her city and community as she writes ‘To the best present I ever received’.

And some gentlemen correspondents – including Paul Kelly, Eddie Perfect and Bob Ellis – have been invited to put pen to paper in a letter ‘To the woman who changed my life’.

By turns hilarious, moving and outrageous, this is a diverse and captivating tribute to the art of letter writing.

Click here to read an extract – Judith Lucy’s letter

All royalties for this book will go to Edgar’s Mission animal rescue shelter.

About the Editors

Marieke Hardy is a screenwriter, blogger and radio broadcaster. After many years writing a humorous television column in The Age, she moved on to regular political columns for ABC’s The Drum and senior contributing work for Frankie magazine. She has been screenwriting Australian television drama for over fifteen years. Her six-part black comedy series, Laid, premiered in Australia in 2011. In the guise of literary reviewer she makes Jennifer Byrne’s life an unbridled misery once a month on ABC TV’s First Tuesday Book Club. She lives in Melbourne with a dog named Bob Ellis. Her memoir You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead is available now.

Michaela McGuire co-curates and hosts Women of Letters. Her first book, Apply Within: Stories of career sabotage, was published in 2009.

I put this clip here – the editors had no say in the matter:

Andy Griffiths, author of 13 Storey Treehouse, answers Six Sharp Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Andy Griffiths

author of 13 Storey Treehouse, The Bad Book, The Day My Bum Went Psycho and many many more

Six Sharp Questions


1. Congratulations, you have a new book. What is it about and what does it mean to you?

13 Storey Treehouse is about a writer called Andy and an illustrator called Terry living in a 13 storey treehouse with a bowling alley, a tank full of man-eating sharks, a see-through swimming pool, lemonade fountain and a marshmallow machine that follows them around and automatically fires marshmallows into their mouths whenever their hungry. In this incredibly distracting environment they are trying desperately to meet the deadline for their new book. We just wanted to tell a wild rollicking funny fully illustrated narrative about the creative process. It mirrors our own process pretty closely!

2. Times pass. Things change. What are the best and worst moments that you have experienced in the past year or so?

As always, trips to remote indigenous communities around Australia—as part of my work as ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation—have been a highlight. Warburton WA and Wyndham both highlights. And we are now publishing a book of the stories that kids from these communities have produced in the various writing workshops I’ve conducted with them on these trips. It’s called ‘The Naked Boy and the Crocodile’ and all proceeds from the book go back to the ILF to assist in the provision of books and literacy resources to these isolated communities.

3. Do you have a favourite quote or passage you would be happy to share with us? It doesn’t need to be deep but it would be great if it meant something to you.

“A man’s got to know his limitations” – Dirty Harry.

(I take this in a positive way … It’s important to know both your strengths and your weaknesses and to live accordingly.)

4. Writers have often been described as being difficult to live with. Do you conform to the stereotype or defy it? Please tell us a little about the day to day of your writing life.

You should really be asking my wife, Jill who is also one of my editors. But I think if you did she would tell you that I’m fairly easy to live with and to edit … I welcome suggestions – they always make the work stronger. I can get a bit busy and revved up at times when deadlines are close but Jill is always a calming presence. (BBGuru:  You don’t mind if I give her a call to confirm the truth of this statement, do you?)

5. Some writers claim not to be influenced by the needs of the marketplace, while others seem obsessed by it. Would you please describe how the marketplace affects your writing (come on, tell the truth!).

I love entertaining children with outlandish stories – I’ve done this ever since I was a child. So for me, I always imagine what it would be like to read whatever I’m writing to a child or a group of children. Of course, in the first instance, I write what I consider to be funny but I find I often need to tweak and correct it after testing it out on kids. But in the end this collaboration with the audience leads to a stronger, more robust story so it’s all part of the process for me.

6. Unlikely Scenario: You’ve been charged with civilising twenty ill-educated adolescents but you may take only five books with you. What do you take and why?

Me? The author of The Day My Bum Went Psycho and The Bad Book put in charge of ‘civilising students’? I’m flattered by your faith in me but I utterly reject the premiss of your scenario. I have a reputation to uphold!

Andy, thank you for playing.

Emily Rodda, author of The Deltora Quest series and now The Golden Door, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

 The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Emily Rodda

author of The Deltora Quest series and now The Golden Door and more

Ten Terrifying Questions


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

I grew up with my two younger brothers on Sydney’s North Shore; I went to Abbotsleigh Ladies College and later graduated from the University of Sydney in 1973 with an MA (Hons) in English Literature.

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

Women on Twitter: A cyber-room of one’s own, says Grace Dent

I have just read English journalist, author, and broadcaster, Grace Dent’s amusing, insightful and ultimately helpful book on the Twitter phenomenon, entitled How to Leave Twitter.

In the middle of the book, under the heading Justifying your Twitter addiction, is the eighth justification: Women on Twitter: A cyber-room of one’s own. The first sentence of which is: ‘On Twitter I feel something that I feel very rarely in the rest of the world: that my sex is 100% equally represented.’

A surprising claim but one which anyone who has spent time on Twitter would find hard to argue with. On Twitter you will hear opinions voiced by women you will not hear anywhere else in the media – strong, clever, honest, silly, disinterested, brave, iconoclastic, surprising opinions.

I spoke to Grace Dent via Twitter and asked her: In your Continue reading

John Long, author of Hung Like an Argentine Duck, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

John Long

Ten Terrifying Questions


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

I’m a Melbourne boy, raised in Balwyn area, went to All Hallows Primary, then Xavier College, then attended both Melbourne and Monash Universities for my degrees.

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

From the age of 7 when I collected my first fossils from near Continue reading

Get Reading: James Bradley on Ten Short Stories You Must Read In 2011

Today marks the launch of Get Reading 2011, an Australia-wide program designed to promote books and writing. As part of the campaign anybody who buys a book in a participating bookshop will receive a free book, Ten Short Stories You Must Read in 2011, featuring contributions from John Birmingham, Charlotte Wood, Caroline Overington, Cate Kennedy, Larissa Behrendt, Jessica Rudd and myself (amongst others).

I haven’t seen an actual copy of the book yet, so I can’t wax lyrical about the contributions of my fellow authors, but I can say I’m pretty pleased with my story, ‘The Flats’, which is set in Adelaide, near where I grew up, and is about three boys who accidentally see something terrible.

As I say, the collection is being given away for free with any purchase at all participating bookshops. My understanding is bookshops will also have copies of this year’s 50 Books You Can’t Put Down guide, but if you’re in a hurry you can also download it from Booktopia. The Get Reading website also has information on the various events taking place as part of the program and links to download the Get Reading 2011 app. You can also find Get Reading on Twitter and Facebook.

Get Reading 2011 runs until 30 September.

This post was originally published by author James Bradley on his site cityoftongues.com  (August 29, 2011) Thank you, James for allowing us to share your thoughts with our customers.


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