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.

Josh, manager of Harry Hartog Green Hills, is infatuated with Shaun Tan’s new picture book, “Cicada”; and listening to “Alice Isn’t Dead,” a fiction serial that will have you hooked from the get go.

Shaun Tan has produced some truly gorgeous works over the years. “The Arrival,” “The Red Tree,” “Rules of Summer” and many other titles have graced the shelves of art-lovers and bibliophiles for many years, not only for their beautiful illustrations but also for the wonderfully inventive stories they tell. Tan’s latest work, Cicada, is yet another instalment in a wonderful catalogue of picture books.

Cicada works in an office surrounded by people who don’t appreciate him. But still he toils every day, dutifully working despite bullying co-workers, never taking sick days, never making mistakes. And then one day, he heads to the roof of the building where something extraordinary happens.

While this is a picture book that can be appreciated at all ages, it is more for those that have ever felt overlooked, under-appreciated or overworked. Its message is one that resonates with those feelings, giving light to the emotions that sometimes form the undercurrent of our day-to-day lives.

Emily, assistant manager at Harry Hartog Green Hills, is reading “Queer There & Everywhere” by Sarah Prager.

Following the footsteps of “Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls,” “Queer There & Everywhere,celebrates the Gay, Lesbian, Transgendered and otherwise Queer people who have left their mark on world history with 23 stories of 23 people. While you may have heard of some (Frida Kahlo, Eleanor Roosevelt, George Takei), you may not have known that they are part of the LGBTQI+ community. This book focuses on their achievements, while also openly and frankly discussing their relationships, making this an interesting read and a necessity for the teen market it is written for.

Laura, bookseller at Harry Hartog Miranda, is surprisingly enjoying “Spinning Silver,” by Naomi Novik.

I’m not usually one for different points of view in a story, so when I heard that this book was made up of no less than SIX different narrators, I was dubious, and tempted to skip it altogether. I am so glad that I didn’t…this book is just so well written that I actually loved the different perspectives that the various characters lent, and promptly devoured this book in less than two days. Novik seamlessly weaves a story that flows smoothly between the distinct voices of each character, sweeping you along an enchanting plot and drawing you in to fall in love with each and every strong female character. This is a story about disappointing fathers, loving mothers, and the daughters rising up in defiance to protect the ones they love. The main character, Miryem, is a resilient girl who sets out in her father’s stead to collect the money that her poverty-stricken family is rightfully owed. However, her reputation for turning silver into gold eventually reaches the feared ice-cold creatures of the wood, The Staryk, and Miryem finds herself facing an impossible challenge with a terrifying reward. It’s a new spin on an old classic - inspired by Rumpelstiltskin, this fairy-tale masterpiece is sure to keep you hooked until the last page with its achingly beautiful tale of sacrifice, perseverance, defiance and love.

Simone, bookseller at Harry Hartog Miranda, is reading “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman.

Sometimes you hear so much about a book before you read it, you wonder if it can possibly live up to expectations. Eleanor Oliphant is one of those books – it has sold incredibly well for so many months in our store I have heard nothing but praise from customers who have read it. I can happily say that the book is as good as they say – funny, moving and thought provoking on the topic of loneliness.

Eleanor’s entire existence is completely orderly. She works all week in accounts where she is the ‘office oddball’ – snickered at by her colleagues for her quirks and inflexibility. She has few social skills, no friends and no filters. She goes home on a Friday night, heats up a Tesco pizza, drinks two bottles of vodka and speaks to nobody until Monday rolls around again. There are many reasons for Eleanor’s loneliness and isolation. These are gradually exposed as the novel unfolds – an abusive childhood, we learn of the scars on her face and her imprisoned mother. Raised in a series of foster and group homes, given an apartment by social services who still check on her, Eleanor insists she is completely fine, until a crush on a musician and an IT guy named Ray derail her schedule and her life.

Through Raymond’s kindness, Eleanor’s emotions and feelings start to emerge. In a rare moment of self-awareness, she says: “These days, loneliness is the new cancer – a shameful, embarrassing thing, bought upon yourself in some obscure way. A fearful, incurable thing, so horrifying that you dare not mention it.” Gail Honeyman has tapped into a far too common human experience, those perfectly filtered photos on Instagram hide the fact that today we are lonelier than ever before. This book has touched me more than anything else I have read this year and I was inspired by Eleanor’s resilience and courage as she journeys from her traumatised path towards a life of meaning. Ultimately, Eleanor’s happy ending arrives, as does the book’s joyous message:  “it is never too late, for any of us.”

Ben, bookseller at Harry Hartog Warringah, is reading “Loaded” by Christos Tsiolkas.

This is my first Tsiolkas and it's hands down the most honest, raw and unfiltered account of a day in the life I have ever read. Completely and utterly unromanticised, our narrative voice is an unemployed, testosterone-fuelled 19-year-old gay man who loves music, drugs, alcohol and sex. Though it would be hard for most, including me, to see oneself fully in Ari as a character, the blunt and unapologetic prose creates such a strong sense of reality that I found so engaging and impressive. Undoubtedly confronting, at times you may wish to turn away, this tale is packed with much social commentary on Australian culture and I particularly enjoyed Tsiolkas' depictions of Melbourne's streetscapes. 

Rosie, bookseller at Harry Hartog Warringah, is learning about the gut with Emeran Mayer’s “The Mind-Gut Connection.”

If you or someone you know has ever suffered from seemingly unexplained gut issues, you need to read this book. Mayer delves into emerging information about how our gut microbiome influences everything from our mental health to our physical state. Mayer also reveals how our early environments affect the development of our microbiome in infancy and offers new insights into the gut as our 'second brain'. Fascinating stuff; I wish everyone would read this book in order to understand those of us with sensitive stomachs a little better!

Tegan, bookseller at Harry Hartog Macquarie, is reading “The Perfect Mother,” by Aimee Molloy.

The Perfect Mother” is an addictive, page-turning psychological thriller. The May mothers - a collection of mothers who gave birth in the same month - become connected when single mother Winnie learns that her six month old son Midas has been kidnapped. It’s a perfect blend of chilling subject matter and breezy plotting that makes for an addictive read. Fans of “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty and “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn will feel right at home with the main focus on the pressures of motherhood and secrets between friends.

Georgina, manager of Harry Hartog Macquarie, is cooking up a storm with “Winter,” by Louise Franc.

What could be better in winter than a cookbook entitled Winter?  Well, I'm glad you asked because cooking and eating everything from Winter would be so much better. This is a superb collection of recipes, designed to generously see you through winter. There are delicious roasted meats of all varieties, hearty vegie creations and a gorgeous dessert section, which will have you stuffed to gills should you choose to partake. It's unusual to find a cookbook from which you'd cook everything but Winter is that excellent, rare exception. And as much as the cover of this book is lovely, I think you have to leaf through it to truly appreciate its worth, so come on in to a Harry Hartog store on a freezing cold day and warm up a little with a looksee through Winter!