Kid Gloves

Lucy Knisley     Recommended by Kristy    

graphic memoir 

An autobiography from a cartoonist at the top of her game, Kid Gloves is Lucy Knisley’s latest work. It explores her struggles with fertility and conception as well as dealing with the history of women’s reproductive and sexual health. Knisley specializes in the kind of non-fiction storytelling which is a compelling and honest account but also, thanks to the format and pacing, is hugely enjoyable to read. Her previous works like Relish and Something New cover big life moments in the same fresh and frank way, while grappling with the stuff of life – age and illness, uncertainty and attachment. Kid Gloves details her decision to become a parent and the difficulties and emotions of that journey. Its a fascinating, moving personal story and informative too.

First Second 2019


Mrs. Bridge

Evan S. Connell     Recommended by Anne    


This is one of the best of the ‘best books you’ve never read’. The superlative Mrs. Bridge was first published in 1959, and in a series of vignettes, describes the placid life of a respectable Kansas City housewife. India Bridge, never able to ‘get used’ to her exotic first name, passes her days shopping, managing her staff and raising her family. As time passes she has occasional chilly glimpses into what can only be a sense of mortality. Her children grow older and more bewildering, her husband habitually distant, her friends sometimes surprise her – it could be a howlingly sad book like Revolutionary Road, if it weren’t so funny. Skillful, subtle and skewers middle-class values like a cocktail sausage.

Penguin Books 1959 / reissued 2012



Peggy Frew     Recommended by Anne    


A novel about a family and a place, Islands is told through many voices, a series of overlapping points of view which gather together to form an intricate whole. Helen and Paul’s marriage ends and their daughters struggle with the aftermath. Junie becomes the tight-lipped observer, and Anna veers into self-destructive secrecy. When she disappears completely the family members each drift further apart, unable to understand each other’s pain. It is compared to both Georgia Blain and Helen Garner, and I think that’s right – the vivid setting, the agonies of adolescents, the essential unknowability of another person’s inner life.  Islands should be a depressing book but the skill in the way each character is fleshed out with their their motivations and resentments, graciousness and yearning, is nothing short of magnificent.

Allen & Unwin 2019


The Library Book

Susan Orlean     Recommended by Anne    

true crime / literaria

This is one of those hard-to-classify non-fiction books, a satisfying mix of history, reportage and true crime which made me feel proud to have a library card. Book people recognize one another, whether they’re librarians, booksellers or readers. Susan Orlean describes her own childhood experiences at her local library and later, the enormous Los Angeles Public Library in central L.A., which in April 1986 was almost completely lost to a spectacular conflagration. Orlean describes the fire and talks with librarians past and present, as well as historical (and sometimes controversial) figures involved in the library’s history. The man accused of starting the fire was a slippery confabulist who may or may not have been involved, and his character is fascinating. Well researched, well written non-fiction.

Atlantic 2018



Timefulness: How Thinking Like a Geologist Can Help Save the World

Marcia Bjornerud     Recommended by Alan    


An elegant book about earth’s geology, and through the prism of this time-scale, points to the changes humans have wrought since the Industrial Revolution. Apart from geologists, few people can conceive of the enormous amount of time there was before humans came onto the scene, and how long-lasting are the changes we are making now will be. Bjornerud argues that having an understanding of the vast amount of geological history is essential to knowing more about our environmental situation in the present. Its a fascinating look at some of the patterns and processes around us, from the raising of mountains over millions of years to the tidal ebb and flow over a single day.

Princeton University Press 2018

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