Voracious reader and office loudmouth Andrew Cattanach lifts the lid on his favourite books of the year, so far!
Quicksand by Steve Toltz
I had my doubts about Steve Toltz even attempting to write a follow up to A Fraction of the Whole. Not only did he write it, he might have a Miles Franklin winner on his hands. Savagely witty and chaotically brilliant.
Aldo has been so relentlessly unlucky – in business, in love, in life – that the universe seems to have taken against him personally. Even Liam, his best friend, describes him as ‘a well-known parasite and failure’. Aldo has always faced the future with optimism and despair in equal measure, but this last twist of fate may finally have brought him undone…more
The First Bad Man by Miranda July
Sad, funny, gorgeously self deprecating in a kind of ‘this character isn’t me but she kind of is’ way. I loved The First Bad Man from the very first line.
Here is Cheryl, a tightly wound, vulnerable woman who lives alone, with a perpetual lump in her throat. She is haunted by a baby boy she met when she was six, who sometimes recurs as other peoples’ babies.
Cheryl is also obsessed with Phillip, a philandering board member at the women’s self-defense nonprofit organisation where she works. She believes they’ve been making love for many lifetimes, though they have yet to consummate it in this one…more
The Other Side of the World by Stephanie Bishop
The arrival of a confident, assured and frighteningly talented new voice in Australian Fiction. The Other Side of the World consumed me, it was all I could think about from start to finish. To be quite honest, I’m still reeling from it. Remarkable.
Charlotte is struggling. With motherhood, with the changes marriage and parenthood bring, with losing the time and the energy to paint. Her husband, Henry, wants things to be as they were and can’t face the thought of another English winter.
A brochure slipped through the letterbox slot brings him the answer: ‘Australia brings out the best in you’…more
When There’s Nowhere Else to Run by Murray Middleton
One gets the feeling that Murray Middleton is a real student of the craft of writing. When There’s Nowhere Else to Run is tight, confident, brave and precise. Another very worthy recipient of The Vogel’s Literary Award.
A survivor of Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires takes asylum with old friends in the Dandenong Ranges. An editor-in-chief drives his sister halfway around the country to an east-coast rehabilitation clinic. A single mother flies to Perth with her autistic son for one last holiday. A father at the end of his tether tries to survive the chaos of the Sydney Royal Easter Show. A group of young friends hire a luxury beach house in the final weeks of one of their lives. A postman hits a pedestrian and drives off into the night…more
Finders Keepers by Stephen King
I was never a huge King fan growing up, but I can’t get enough of this new series. King writes with so much energy, combining hard-boiled crime with bookish obsession. I couldn’t put it down.
John Rothstein, a Salinger-like icon who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel. Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime…more
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
Kate Atkinson could write a pamphlet about soil and I would be enthralled. A God in Ruins is a wonderful accompaniment to her breathtaking 2013 novel Life After Life. A brilliant, effortless storyteller at the top of her game.
Kate Atkinson’s dazzling Life After Life, the bestselling adult book this year to date in the UK, explored the possibility of infinite chances, as Ursula Todd lived through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. In A God in Ruins, Atkinson turns her focus on Ursula’s beloved younger brother Teddy – would-be poet, RAF bomber pilot, husband and father – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have…more
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
A mesmerising journey down the rabbit hole and into the world of public shaming with Jon Ronson. Touching in parts, hilarious in others, another thought provoking effort from the acclaimed writer.
How big a transgression really justifies someone losing their job? What about the people who become global targets for doing nothing more than making a bad joke on Twitter, do they deserve to have their lives ruined? How is this renaissance of shaming changing the world and what is the true reason behind it? Simultaneously powerful and hilarious in the way only Jon Ronson can be, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is a deeply honest book about modern life, full of eye-opening truths about the escalating war on human flaws – and our very scary part in it…more
Hot Little Hands by Abigail Ulman
One of the best collections of short stories of the year, Ulman has announced herself as one of Australia’s bravest and most inquisitive writers of fiction.
This exceptional collection of stories is about young women of different ages, from their early teens to their late twenties, coming to terms with what it means to desire, and be desired, with funny, surprising and sometimes confronting results. Ulman first made her mark with the story Chagall’s Wife in Meanjin; this collection shows that she’s a young Australian writer to put alongside Ceridwen Dovey, Nam Le and Fiona McFarlane…more
The Most Good You Can Do by Peter Singer
It’s always nice to read a book that you know will change your life forever. Peter Singer does it again.
Peter Singer, often described as the world’s most influential living philosopher, presents a challenging new movement in the search for an ethical life, one that has emerged from his own work on some of the world’s most pressing problems. Effective altruism involves doing the most good possible. It requires a rigorously unsentimental view of charitable giving, urging that a substantial proportion of our money or time, should be donated to the organisations that will do the most good with those resources, rather than to those that tug the heartstrings…more
Mr. Huff by Anna Walker
I nearly cried reading this picture book. A gorgeous story that will hopefully find its way into the hands of every child in this strange, and often overwhelming, world.
Award-winning and much-loved author and illustrator Anna Walker gives us a gentle, poignant, affirming and wise picture book sure to delight all ages. Mr. Huff is a story about the clouds and the sunshine in each of our lives.
Bill is having a bad day. Mr Huff is following him around and making everything seem difficult. Bill tries to get rid of him, but Mr Huff just gets bigger and bigger! Then they both stop, and a surprising thing happens…more
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
You can follow his ramblings on twitter at @andrew__cat
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