Dear readers,

Welcome to Booklore, our weekly collection of books worth reading; films and television shows worth watching; art worth feasting your eyes on; and podcasts and albums worth your ear time.

Ben, bookseller at Harry Hartog Warringah, is reading Ghassan Hage’s “Is Racism an Environmental Threat?”; watching “The Alienist” (“an enthralling American period drama that follows the investigation of a serial killer”); and learning about anything and everything with Russel Brand’s podcast, “Under the Skin.”

After reading Hage's fantastic reasoning, I'm convinced that racism is, as his title questions, an environmental threat. Through critical analysis, this essay-style book exposes the seeming mutual exclusivity of racism and environmental overexploitation as a falsehood. Instead, he argues that they share a common cause in humanity's manner of inhabiting the world; an occupying force subordinating others for the extraction of value. This book tackles complex and intricate concepts in a clear and structured manner making it accessible for any interested reader. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Jim, assistant manager at Harry Hartog Bondi, is reading “One of Us Is Lying”; watching “Shitt’s Creek,” a masterful family comedy; and listening to “Serious Issues,” a podcast on all things comic books.

Reminiscent of the teen thrillers I read when I was growing up, this is a thoroughly entertaining read and one that I always recommend to any young reader who is looking for something exciting. The synopsis reads like a John Hughes 80s flick: in detention we meet the Princess, the Nerd, the Jock, the Outsider, the Good Girl. In a classic locked-room situation, suddenly the hated gossip columnist drops dead whilst a bizarre car accident occurs out the window, distracting the students. Suddenly, everyone is a suspect. Unlikely alliances and friendships are forged amongst the disparate group, each desperate to clear his or her own name. I appreciated the modern take on a genre that I love, whilst still treating teens as teens and not as mini adults or one-dimensional idiots.  The ending is unexpected and truly surprising. Several authors of current crime fiction could take a few lessons from McManus and her debut.

Rachel, bookseller at Harry Hartog Woden, is reading “The World’s Wife” by the great poet, Carol Ann Duffy; watching “A Series of Unfortunate Events” on Netflix; and listening to the “Guilty Feminist” podcast.

Beautifully written, clever, and fiercely witty, I found that Carol Ann Duffy’s “The World’s Wife” gets better with every poem. Finally giving a voice to the women of eons past, I began to realise just how biased our history has been. By intertwining mythology, satire, and modern women’s rights, Duffy creates an anthology that will undoubtedly stand the test of time. The World’s Wife is a favourite of mine, and is a book that can be both the topic of a dissertation or an amusing evening read.

Taylor, bookseller at Harry Hartog Miranda, is reading “Through the Woods” by Emily Carroll; “Witch” by Lisa Lister; and watching the second season of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

This is horror at its finest – not gory, not explicit, but subtly chilling. This graphic novel is a compilation of five short stories, accompanied by stunning and intense illustrations that focus on the haunting and mysterious element of the woods – what darkness may linger there? This is sure to send shivers down your spine and may tempt you to leave the light on just a little bit longer at night.

This book is an interesting insight into the feminist revival of witchcraft; it is particularly compelling as it navigates the history of the persecution of women as witches whilst also exploring how to utilise your divine feminine in your everyday life. It also delves into the traditional lore of witches (herbs/divination/spell craft). This book is extremely empowering and particularly poignant if you're new to the world of witchcraft.

Ally, bookseller at Harry Hartog Macquarie, is reading “A Skinful of Shadows” by Frances Hardinge; and this year’s Vogel winner, “The Yellow House” by Emily O’Grady.

In the dark of night, ghosts try to claw their way into the empty space inside Makepeace Lightfoot. Luckily, her mother taught her how to sharpen her mind and fight back. But you can't keep the beasts at bay forever. This expansive novel set in a 1600s full of ghosts is a fantastic story about a self-reliant young girl learning the balance of trust and friendship. One of my favourite teen fiction novels in years.

The only things ten-year-old Cub worries about are what her twin brother Wally has put in her shoes and whether she has enough change for ghost drops. That all changes when Helena and Tilly move into the yellow house next door. The house that Granddad Les lived in. The house that Wally says is haunted. The house that her parents try to pretend doesn't exist. Lyrical writing and bursting with originality, this heart-breaking novel about loyalty and betrayal will captivate you with every word. Winner of the 2018 Australian/Vogel's Literary Award for writers under 35.

Alannah, bookseller at Harry Hartog Macquarie, is reading “Blankets,” by Craig Thompson; and revisiting a timeless classic, “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley.  

This is a beautiful memoir and coming of age story, set in the cold, wintery atmosphere of Wisconsin. Thompson's art style is expressive and evocative, drawing the reader into the Thompson's thoughtful exploration of faith, first love and family. There was so much depth and creativity in each page that I often had to stop and stare for a while before progressing with the story. This is a fantastic read for both those new to graphic novels, as well as those who are well-versed in the form. As my co-worker Léa described the novel, 'it feels like a blanket when you read it', leaving you with a feeling of contentment and warmth.

Here’s what life is like in Brave New World. You’re designed in a lab and born into a particular class of society with particular characteristics; you do the job that you’ve been conditioned to do; you have hobbies you’ve been told to do; you take a drug called soma if you ever need cheering up; and you have short relationships that never go beyond a physical connection. And what if, despite all this, you were happy? Is this manipulation worse than overt control?

Aldous Huxley explores this world of oblivious pleasure and homogeneity through the lens of the meek but questioning Bernard Marx and an outsider called ‘John the Savage’ who grew up with the old ways of society. A truly fascinating and thought-provoking classic of science fiction.