The book every Australian should read in 2016

Stan Grant

Stan Grant

In July 2015, as the debate over Adam Goodes being booed at AFL games raged and got ever more heated and ugly, Stan Grant wrote a short but powerful piece for The Guardian that went viral, not only in Australia but right around the world, shared over 100,000 times on social media.

His was a personal, passionate and powerful response to racism in Australian and the sorrow, shame, anger and hardship of being an indigenous man. ‘We are the detritus of the brutality of the Australian frontier’, he wrote, ‘We remained a reminder of what was lost, what was taken, what was destroyed to scaffold the building of this nation’s prosperity.’

Stan Grant is an Indigenous man who’s become one of our leading journalists. He spent many years outside Australia, working in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, a time that liberated him and gave him a unique perspective on Australia.

His upcoming book Talking To My Country is his very personal meditation on what it means to be Australian, what it means to be indigenous, and what racism really means in this country.

Grab your copy of Talking To My Country here!

Articles by Stan Grant

The Guardian Online, 30 July 2015:
I can tell you how Adam Goodes feels. Every Indigenous person has felt it.

The Guardian Online, 21 September 2015:
Adam Goodes showed us the festering sores of Australia’s history can rip open at any moment

Adam Goodes

Adam Goodes

Article about Stan Grant

The Sydney Morning Herald Online, 18 July 2015:
Two of Us: Tracey Holmes and Stan Grant (Interview by Stephen Lacey)

Stan and Tracey

Stan and his wife, Tracey Holmes

Talking To My Country

Stan Grant

stanTalking To My Country is that rare and special book that talks to every Australian about their country – what it is, and what it could be.

It is not just about race, or about indigenous people but all of us, our shared identity. Direct, honest and forthright, Stan is talking to us all.

He might not have all the answers but he wants us to keep on asking the question: how can we be better?

Grab your copy of Talking To My Country here!


Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser dies aged 84

9780522858099Former Prime Minister and champion of human rights Malcolm Fraser has passed away.

“It is with deep sadness that we inform you that after a brief illness John Malcolm Fraser died peacefully in the early hours of the morning of 20 March 2015,” a statement read.

“We appreciate that this will be a shock to all who knew and loved him, but ask that the family be left in peace at this difficult time.”

Mr Fraser was sworn in as caretaker prime minister in 1975 after the Whitlam government was dismissed. He led the Liberals to victory in the 1975 election before losing the 1983 election to Labor’s Bob Hawke.

Despite Fraser’s role in the 1975 “coup” against Gough Whitlam, the pair developed a close friendship post politics.

9780522867688In recent years, Mr Fraser had become an outspoken critic of the Liberal Party and quit the party in 2010 over the party’s view on issues such as immigration.

Recently Mr Fraser turned his attention to government criticisms of Australian Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs, writing that attacks on her had ‘diminished important work highlighting the worrying expansion of ministerial powers over asylum seekers’.

Labor senator Doug Cameron was shocked to hear of Mr Fraser’s death on Friday, having only recently met with the former prime minister and his wife Tamie.

“I am just devastated that Australia has lost a great voice for human rights,” Senator Cameron told reporters in Canberra.

The State of the Nation? Take Two Books and Call Me in the Morning

The Near Future?

The Near Future?

What the hell has happened to politics in Australia?

Never before have I felt so repulsed by the goings-on in our various parliaments. The last few years have left me feeling completely disenfranchised.

I am certain good work has been done in that time, but how would I know? The coverage of politics has been less about the ideas being debated and more about the personalities debating them. Corruption, lies, broken promises and slogans.

If you, like me, feel completely out of the loop, the only way left open to us is something called ‘the book’. A book is nothing like a tweet, does not resemble a headline on the SMH app, but is a bit like a long article in a magazine – the kind few people read to the very end – only more considered and thoughtful because they are often carefully researched and written and rewritten over a long period of time. Books also give those who have lived interesting, productive and public lives the opportunity to expand upon the subject of their life and to argue more fully the ideas which mean and meant most to them.

And this year is officially the year of the political bestseller. Don’t believe me? Take a look below. (Oh, and expect the unexpected, too. No one is talking about a Kevin Rudd memoir, which suggests there’ll be a Kevin Rudd memoir. Probably released the day before Julia Gillard’s much anticipated and publicised memoir. That would be the likely plan, wouldn’t it?)


The Menzies Era by John Howard

menzies eraAn assessment of Australia’s longest-serving Prime Minister by Australia’s second-longest serving Prime Minister – a significant, unique and fascinating history of the Menzies era. Fresh from the success of his phenomenal bestselling memoir, Lazarus Rising, which has sold over 100,000 copies, John Howard now turns his attention to one of the most extraordinary periods in Australian history, the Menzies era, canvassing the longest unbroken more…




hockeyHockey: Not your Average by Madonna King
While thousands of viewers watched Joe Hockey’s approachable persona each week on Channel 7’s Sunrise, there is a lot more to the Australian Treasurer than meets the eye. After embarking on his political career as a student, Hockey worked tirelessly to rise through the ranks of the Liberal Party – learning some pivotal lessons along the way and earning himself more…



gravityGravity by Mary Delahunty 

Julia Gillard, Australia’s 27th Prime Minister, defied political gravity. From the start she walked a political tightrope. As Australia’s first female Prime Minister, leading a minority government corroded by internal treachery, Julia Gillard juggled this trifecta defying political gravity for 3 years and 3 days. How did she do it? Why did she fascinate an international audience? Then Julia Gillard PM vanished, before we really knew her. Who is this woman more…


Tony Windsor by Ruth Rae


Tony Windsor’s childhood was disrupted by the tragic death of his father, but the fortitude of his widowed mother, Ruth, as she battled to maintain the family farm while bringing up three sons, was to remain an inspiration to him throughout his life.

As an adult, Windsor’s understanding of the issues facing his rural constituency motivated him to become a political voice for those who love the land, from farmers to environmentalists, from rich to poor.

After failing to gain pre-selection as a National Party candidate, Windsor decided to run as an independent, whereupon he won more…



the-fights-of-my-lifeThe Fights of my Life by Greg Combet and Mark Davis

A call to arms in the fight for fairness and justice

Greg Combet has been at the centre of some of the biggest battles of our time—the waterfront dispute, the collapse of an airline, compensation for asbestos victims, the campaign against unfair workplace laws and then climate change. From an isolated childhood on the Minchinbury estate west of Sydney, Combet’s world changed dramatically with the early death of his father, a wine-maker.

Facing many challenges, he rose to lead the Australian trade union movement and become a senior minister in the Rudd and Gillard Labor governments. Along the way he has struggled with more…

Optimism: Reflections on a life of action by Bob Brown


“It is a fortunate life if a person feels more optimistic than ever before. That’s me.” – Bob Brown.

Bob Brown, former Senator and Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens, is one of Australia’s most thoughtful and recognized public figures. Since his retirement from public life in 2012, Bob has had time to consider the things that are truly important. One is the power of human thought to influence change and this book, the first time that Bob has spoken about his life since retirement, illustrates through his stories why more…

my-storyMy Story by Julia Gillard

‘I was Prime Minister for three years and three days.Three years and three days of resilience.Three years and three days of changing the nation.Three years and three days for you to judge.’

On Wednesday 23rd June 2010, with the government in turmoil, Julia Gillard asked then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for a leadership ballot.

The next day, Julia Gillard became Australia’s 27th Prime Minister, and our first female leader. Australia was alive to the historic possibilities. Here was a new approach for a new time.

It was to last three extraordinary years.

This is Julia Gillard’s chronicle of that turbulent time more…

The Good Fight by Wayne Swan


A highly personal account of the Rudd and Gillard governments from the heart of the Cabinet and the real story of how Australia avoided the Great Recession from the man recognised as the best treasurer in the world

This is Wayne Swan’s very personal account of an extraordinary period in Australian politics.

Despite the divisions within the Labor Party as the Rudd government fell into disunity and as Julia Gillard was undermined by disloyalty from within, Wayne Swan steered the Australian economy through a time of unprecedented international economic challenges.

He tells how he nurtured an economy that more…

inside the hawke keatingInside the Hawke-Keating Government by Gareth Evans

As good as it gets in Australian politics.

As good as it gets in Australian politics. That’s how the Hawke-Keating Government is now widely regarded. But how did this highly able, ambitious, strong-willed group work through its crises and rivalries, and achieve what it did?

Gareth Evans’ diary, written in the mid-1980s and published now for the first time, is the consummate insider’s account. It not only adds much new material to the historical record, but is perceptive, sharp and unvarnished in its judgments, lucidly written, and often highly entertaining.


the-independent-member-for-lyneThe Independent Member for Lyne by Rob Oakeshhot

From his apprenticeship in the NSW Parliament to the last days of the Gillard government, this is the honest and real story of life in Australian politics. Passionate, vivid and immediate, full of insights and anecdotes, Rob Oakeshott tells it as it was.

When the results of the 2010 federal elections became known, no party had a majority in the House of Representatives – it was the first hung parliament for 40 years. So both the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, set about wooing the independents – Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott, Bob Katter, Andrew Wilkie, and Adam Bandt of the Greens. In the end more…

Diary of a Foreign Minister by Bob Carr


Six years after vacating his position as the longest-serving Premier of New South Wales, Bob Carr returned to politics in his dream job: as Foreign Minister of Australia and a senior federal cabinet minister.

For 18 months he kept a diary documenting a whirl of high-stakes events on the world stage – the election of Australia to the UN Security Council, the war in Syria and meetings with the most powerful people on the planet. And they all unfold against the gripping, uncertain domestic backdrop of more…



9780522862102Triumph and Demise: The Broken Promise of a Labour Generation by Paul Kelly

Triumph and Demise is the inside account of the hopes, achievements and bitter failures of the Labor Government from 2007 to 2013. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard came together, defeated John Howard, formed a brilliant partnership and raised the hopes of a nation, yet fell into disagreements, tensions and then hostilities under the pressures of politics and policy.

Veteran journalist Paul Kelly probes the dynamics of the Rudd-Gillard alliance and dissects what tore them apart. He shows that the tragedy of Rudd and Gillard is that both should have been better Prime Ministers, yet more…


the-political-bubbleThe Political Bubble: Why Australians don’t trust politics by Mark Latham

Australians once trusted the democratic process. While we got on with our lives, we assumed our politicians had our best interests at heart. Not anymore. That trust has collapsed. Mark Latham joined the Labor Party in the late 1970s hoping to improve people’s lives through parliamentary service. Twenty-five years later, the Opposition Leader ended up as disillusioned as the rest of us. The scorching honesty of The Latham Diaries ensured he’d burned his political bridges, but ostracism from the Canberra Club has more…

the-rise-and-fall-of-australiaThe Rise and Fall of Australia by Nick Bryant

A forensic look at the Lucky Country, from the inside and outside.

Never before has Australia enjoyed such economic, commercial, diplomatic and cultural clout. Its recession-proof economy is the envy of the world. It’s the planet’s great lifestyle superpower. Its artistic exports win unprecedented acclaim. But never before has its politics been so brutal, narrow and facile, as well as being such a global laughing stock. A positive national story is at odds with a deeply unattractive Canberra story.

The country should be enjoying The Australian Moment, so vividly described by more…



the-mandarin-code-pre-order-now-for-a-signed-copy-The Mandarin Code by Steve Lewis, Chris Uhlmann

*For a limited time only, Pre-order The Mandarin Code and you will receive a signed copy. Hurry, stocks won’t last!

Politics peeled bare. The second darkly satirical thriller from the authors of The Marmalade Files.

POLITICS JUST GOT DEADLY. A body pulled from the murky waters of Lake Burley Griffin links Canberra, Beijing and Washington in a titanic struggle where war is just a mouse click away. Veteran reporter Harry Dunkley is chasing the scoop of his career, hunting for his best friend’s killer. Navigating treacherous political waters where a desperate minority government edges ever closer to more…

James Button, author of Speechless : A Year In My Father’s Business, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

James Button

author of Speechless :
A Year In My Father’s Business

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 was born, raised and schooled in Melbourne. I have lived in the city for 45 of my 51 years. The writer David Malouf said that Brisbane, where he grew up, was the city he felt from the body outwards. Melbourne is like that for me. I would like to write about it one day.

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

A writer, a writer, a writer. I’ve dabbled with the idea of doing a few other things (politics, teaching…) but writing is the only job I think about doing every day. I’ve been a particular kind of writer — a journalist — for 23 years, but I would like to try other forms, too. It’s also the only skill I have. If reading is banned tomorrow, I’ll be sweeping the streets.

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

A belief that I could do anything. At 18 I thought I would write Ulysses. Now I reckon I’ll be lucky if I get to read Ulysses.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

In Grade Three a teacher read my creative writing essay to the class, and I thought: I can do this.

Reading Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip, at the age of 20, thrilled me, because it was about the inner suburbs I lived in, and it showed me that you could write about the places and lives you knew, however ordinary they might seem on the surface.

At the age of 24 I became a journalist for a city newspaper and for my first job was sent to a faraway northern suburb to interview a 14-year old pool playing prodigy. I was astounded by the roaming freedom journalism gave you, the discovery that everyone had a story to tell, and would tell, if you opened your notebook and said you were from the daily newspaper.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

Not at all. For the amount of work and thought that goes into it, for its potential impact, and for its simple usefulness and beauty, there is still nothing like a book.

6. Please tell us about your new book, Speechless : A Year In My Father’s Business…

It is an account of a year I spent in Canberra, writing speeches for a Prime Minister, failing for complex reasons largely out of my control, learning a little of how government works, and reflecting through this experience on the life of my father, a former Federal Government minister, and how his life shaped mine. It is a memoir of how life often doesn’t quite turn out the way you think but is fascinating all the same.

(BBGuru: here is the publisher’s blurb – An absorbing story of what happens behind Canberra’s closed doors by leading speechwriter James Button.

James Button spent a year writing speeches for Kevin Rudd. Before that, he reported on politics as a highly regarded journalist for Fairfax. But James also has politics in the blood: his father was the diminutive but larger-than-life Senator John Button, who was a minister in the Hawke and Keating governments.

Growing up, James watched a roll-call of political luminaries debating the fate of the Labor Party. He saw great victories and defeats at close hand. He believes both his father and his family paid a heavy price for politics.

Speechless is James’ highly personal account of a year working in Canberra, seen from both the inside and the outside. It’s told through his experience of Kevin Rudd’s failure to tell his story, and how this helped destroy his prime ministership. It also reflects on how far the Labor Party has moved from the idealism and pragmatism of his father’s generation. He ends on a note of hope for the Party’s revival.)

Click here to buy Speechless – A Year In My Father’s Business from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

The best books make us feel less alone, more aware of how the world is, more deeply alive. I would like to write a book that did all that.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

People who move from hardline positions to the middle, who come to understand complexity while not losing sight of their goal. Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela come to mind.

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

I still hope to write a novel, even if it’s not Ulysses.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Follow good people. Keep a notebook. Remember that stories are everywhere — if you go deep enough, nothing is boring. Write and read all the time.

James, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy Speechless – A Year In My Father’s Business from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

Major General John Cantwell, author of Exit Wounds: One Australian’s War of Terror, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Major General

John Cantwell

author of Exit Wounds : One Australian’s War of Terror

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 was born and raised in Southeast Queensland, living for a time on a farm. I was the oldest of eight kids, but I failed to set the standard in schooling where I was always too easily distracted by girls, music and almost anything else you care to mention. The best thing one of my teachers could say as I left school was, “Should do alright in the Army.”

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

I always had an interest in the Defence Forces and joined the Army as a private at the age of 17; little did I dream I would serve for 38 years and end up as a major-general. When I joined I was attracted to the idea of adventure and mateship. Years later, the friendships I formed in the Army remain very important to me, especially among those I formed in difficult situations such as combat or emergencies.

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

I was incredibly naive at the age of 18. I’m not sure I had any strong beliefs, except for the value of family life. When I completed a Masters degree many years later I had a chance to think deeply about profound issues like life and death, the importance of big ideas, and the mess human beings have got themselves into on so many occasions. Wisdom comes late to some people.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

No.1. My marriage to Jane was far-and-away the best thing to ever happen in my life; she has been at my side through so many adventures and a few dark days for the last 35 years.

No.2. Going to war (first Gulf War n 1990-91) was a life-changing event; it was the start of 20 years of struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

No.3. Seeing my book in printed form, on a shelf in a bookstore, was pretty cool; I hung around hoping to see someone buy a copy but I was out of luck!

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

There’s nothing quite like the feel of a book in your hands, the anticipation of opening it for the first time, and the satisfaction of closing it when it’s been read. Books may one day disappear but I’m glad mine saw the light of day in physical form. E-books are, for the moment at least, a powerful adjunct to traditional books; we need to embrace them. Electronic media (blogs, etc) is instant but ephemeral.

6. Please tell us about your latest book…

“Exit Wounds” is the story of my experiences in three wars, all different but brutal. It is not a war story, however, although it uses modern war as its framework. The book describes my struggle with the emotional damage that comes from terrible experiences. I have laid myself bare in the hope of exposing this often hidden aspect of what we ask of our military personnel, and encouraging others to seek help. I have battled PTSD for 20 years; this book is an account of that fight, the ugliness of combat, the sorrow of loss, and the first of many steps along my pathway to recovery and redemption.

(BBGuru: Publisher’s blurb – ‘This is my story, but it is also the story of thousands of Australian veterans from Iraq, East Timor, Afghanistan and other conflicts who bare similar emotional scars. This is what becomes of those men and women we send off to war, pay little attention to, then forget once they are home.’

As a country boy from Queensland, John Cantwell signed up to the army as a private and rose to the rank of major general. He was on the front line in 1991 as Coalition forces fitted bulldozer blades to tanks and buried alive Iraqi troops in their trenches. He fought in Baghdad in 2006 and saw what a car bomb does to a marketplace crowded with women and children. In 2010 he commanded the Australian forces in Afghanistan when ten of his soldiers were killed. He returned to Australia in 2011 to be considered for the job of chief of the Australian Army. Instead, he ended up in a psychiatric hospital.

Exit Wounds is the compassionate and deeply human account of one man’s tour of the War on Terror, the moving story of life on a modern battlefield: from the nightmare of cheating death in a minefield, to the poignancy of calling home while under rocket fire in Baghdad, to the utter despair of looking into the face of a dead soldier before sending him home to his mother. He has hidden his post traumatic stress disorder for decades, fearing it will affect his career.

Australia has been at war for the past twenty years and yet there has been no stand-out account from these conflicts—Exit Wounds is it. Raw, candid and eye-opening, no one who reads this book will be unmoved, nor forget its imagery or words.)

Click here to buy Exit Wounds from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

I want this book to show others that the emotional damage that often accompanies warfare and other traumatic experiences is a normal reaction to abnormal events, that is anything but a sign or weakness or failure, and that there is a way to recover through admitting that the problem exists then getting help.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

My wife Jane is my hero. She, like so many wives and partners of soldiers, has served her country in ways that never get recognised but which support and heal our fighting troops. She is the love of my life.

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

I want to beat my PTSD; I’m well on the way. I want to help others recognise and heal their own emotional wounds; this book is a start. I’d like to write some more; it is hard work but intensely satisfying.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write from the heart, be disciplined, strive for brevity, and ignore advice from newly published first-time authors. (BBGuru: Great answer!)

John, thank you for playing.

Chris Hammer, author of The Coast and The River, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Chris Hammer

author of The Coast and The River

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 was born in Tasmania, grew up and schooled in Canberra. I went to uni in Bathurst and, later did a second degree at the ANU in Canberra.

I’ve been a journalist for the past 25 years or so, mostly covering federal politics and international affairs.

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

At twelve I wanted to be a test cricketer. At eighteen I wanted to be a film director. At 30 I wanted to be a foreign correspondent. Strangely enough, I was a pretty good cricketer and loved playing it, but it didn’t tick all the boxes. As I grew older, I became more and more interested in marrying together creativity with intellectual challenges. That’s why I became a journalist. I did become a foreign correspondent, travelling the world for SBS, but daily journalism, even long-form journalism, doesn’t give you the freedom or the canvas of writing a book: that’s something special.

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

That I had all the answers – or at least had a fair chance of finding them. As if.

4.  What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

Nothing. I grew up in a loving and secure family in Canberra in the sixties and seventies, so nothing ever happened. Ask anyone who was there. The world washed over me. Man landed on the moon when I was nine, but I didn’t think it was such a big deal.  I was  incensed at the injustice of the Vietnam War and apartheid in South Africa, but that was a long way away from my own experience. I was simultaneously precocious and phlegmatic. Then  puberty hit and the decline set in. I’ll never again be as smart as I was at age twelve.

But I was an early and avid reader. The books that caught my imagination at a very early age were the legends of King Arthur. I’m not sure the subject matter is as important as the fact that these were the books that hooked me. If I were a kid today, it would probably be Harry Potter.

My daydreams of retirement centre around writing and reading, that magical swirl of words.

5.  Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? aren’t they obsolete?

As a journalist/video producer I have worked for newspapers, television, magazines and on line. So I haven’t lacked opportunity. But none of them provide the freedom, the length or the purity of writing a book. The pleasure found in writing a book is similar in some ways to the pleasure derived from reading one: being able to engage your imagination and immerse yourself totally. I think that’s why books aren’t obsolete and aren’t likely to become obsolete: they provide an unrivalled immersive experience. Film and video can be powerful, but by their nature most of the  imagining is done by the producers, not the viewers. With books, the imaginative process is more equally shared between writer and reader.

6.  Please tell us about your latest book…

It’s called The Coast: a Journey Along Australia’s Eastern Shores. It’s travel writing, but travel writing with a purpose. I travel down the east coast of Australia, from the Torres Strait to Tasmania, exploring environmental issues. It’s not an essay. It’s more of a celebration of the coast and the people who live along it, how fortunate we are and why we should cherish it.

(BBGuru: publisher’s blurb –

The Coast and its people help define our identity. Most Australians live in suburbia, but our hearts are elsewhere.

From the winner of the ACT Book of the year Award for his first book, The River, comes this celebration of the Australian seascape, from its natural grandeur to the quirky individualism of those who live beside it. It is also the heartfelt and pertinent story of the issues facing our coast today and the resilience of communities at a turning point.

Chris Hammer travels the length of the east coast of Australia on a journey of discovery and reflection, from the Torres Strait to Tasmania; from an island whose beach has been lost forever to the humbling optimism of the survivors of Cyclone yasi; from the showy beaches of Sydney to a beautiful village that endures despite the loss of its fishing fleet.

This is a relevant, satisfying and highly readable book, imbued with a sense of optimism and humour. Even as new economic imperatives emerge and the shift in our climate becomes apparent, we can revel in the heritage and character of our shores, reminding us why The Coast is so important to all of us.)

Click here to buy The Coast from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

7.  If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

I don’t set such lofty ambitions for my books.  If they provide readers with some pleasure, some food for thought, and some temporary relief from the mad vortex of daily life, then they may have assisted in some incremental way in our ongoing struggle against the banal, the vapid and the incessant noise of consumerism.

8.  Whom do you most admire and why?

I’m not much impressed by celebrity, material success or high office.

I’m more impressed by those selfless people who freely give of their time to care for others – I’m far more selfish.

But I guess I’m most impressed with people who are comfortable in their own skins, who don’t care what others might think of them, and who set their own priorities. There’s a certain grace in that, I think.

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

To write books full time. In Australia, that’s pretty ambitious.

I’m not much taken by ambition as defined by the traditional notions of getting ahead. I work in parliament house in Canberra, which is chock-a-block with politicians (and journalists) who are more interested in personal advancement than in producing anything worthwhile. I’d much prefer to produce work that I’m proud of than getting ahead.

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

Write what you’d like to read, with honesty and authenticity, rather than try to write what you think will appeal to publishers or readers.

Having a book published is a wonderful experience, but don’t let it be an aim in itself; what’s the point if it’s not written from the heart?

Chris, thank you for playing.

Click here to buy The Coast from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

COMING SOON: Moranthology by Caitlin Moran, author of How To be a Woman


‘In How To be a Woman , I was limited to a single topic: women. Their hair, their shoes and their crushes on Aslan from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (which I KNOW to be universal).

‘However! In Moranthology – as the title suggests – I am set free to tackle THE REST OF THE WORLD: Ghostbusters, Twitter, caffeine, panic attacks, Michael Jackson’s memorial service, being a middle-class marijuana addict, Doctor Who, binge-drinking, Downton Abbey, pandas, my own tragically early death, and my repeated failure to get anyone to adopt the nickname I have chosen for myself: ‘Puffin’.

‘I go to a sex club with Lady Gaga, cry on Paul McCartney’s guitar, get drunk with Kylie, appear on Richard & Judy as a gnome, climb into the TARDIS, sniff Sherlock Holmes’s pillow at 221b Baker Street, write Amy Winehouse’s obituary, turn up late to Downing Street for Gordon Brown, and am rudely snubbed at a garden party by David Cameron – although that’s probably because I called him ‘a C-3PO made of ham’. Fair enough.

‘And, in my spare time – between hangovers – I rant about the welfare state, library closures and poverty; like a shit Dickens or Orwell, but with tits.’

Click here to order Moranthology from Booktopia,
Australia’s No.1 Online Book Shop

Read Caitlin’s awesome answers to our Ten Terrifying Questions


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