Being at home has not stopped us sharing the love of a good book with fellow readers. Every fortnight we are hosting Chatterbooks, our online book discussion, where we share our favourite reads and hear about the books you have enjoyed. Everyone is welcome and you can join in the chat or just listen in.
Chatterbooks recommended reads
The white girl* by Tony Birch
It’s the 1960’s in Deane, a country town in Australia. Odette Brown is caring for her granddaughter Sissy whose father was a white man. When Odette and Sissy come to the attention of the newly arrived police officer who takes his role very seriously Odette feels she has no option but to take extreme action to protect Sissy. The white girl is a beautiful and devastating story of colonial oppression, dispossession and stolen generations.
Mammoth* by Chris Flynn
Beginning in a New York natural history auction house and narrated by a 13,000-year-old extinct American mastodon, Mammoth is a wild and funny ride through history. Ranging from the Pleistocene Epoch to nineteenth-century America and beyond, including detours to Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany, Mammoth illuminates a period of history when ideas about science and religion underwent significant change.
Gathering dark* by Candice Fox
LAPD detective Jessica Sanchez joins forces with ex-cons Blair and Sneak, and gang leader Ada, as the women fight their way through police corruption and the LA underworld to find Sneak’s missing daughter. Throw in a large legacy from a grateful crime victim, a possible miscarriage of justice and a rogue pet gopher and you have another page turning gem of a book from Candice Fox.
Islands* by Peggy Frew
An intense and deeply moving novel about the breakdown of a marriage and the impact this has on two sisters. At the age of fifteen one of the sisters, Anna, leaves her mother’s house and after 3 days has not returned. A story about a family in crisis and how past damage informs the present Islands has a fractured narrative style which highlights how people remember and react in different ways.
Melting moments* by Anna Goldsworthy
A beautiful journey through the life of Ruby, starting as a young woman moving to Adelaide from the country and ending as an 82 year old living in a retirement community. As Ruby reflects on her life, she remembers ‘moments’ that had an impact on her, and how these events shaped her. This is a gentle yet insightful study into the female experience, suffused with wise insights into human nature and dotted with morsels of light relief.
We have always lived in the castle* by Shirley Jackson
A haunting tale about two sisters and their elderly uncle living an isolated life in their old family mansion on the edge of a small town. The rest of the family died from poisoning 6 years earlier and rumours abound as to which of the two sisters was responsible. As the outside world starts to encroach upon the house, we watch as Merricat, the younger sibling and unreliable narrator, takes matters into her own hands to try and keep things as they were. Shirley Jackson skilfully builds suspense and tension and leads us to an unsettling climax.
Death in the Ladies’ Goddess Club* by Julian Leatherdale
Aspiring crime fiction writer Joanie is thrown headlong into a real-life mystery when her downstairs neighbour is brutally murdered. Set in Sydney’s Kings Cross in 1931, Joanie is a long way from her suburban upbringing, and her amateur sleuthing leads her into the criminal underworld and brings her a lot more than she bargained for. Vibrant period detail, a myriad of memorable characters and an unexpected twist in the tale all combine to bring this historical mystery to life.
The peppermint tea chronicles by Alexander McCall Smith
This most recent installation of the 44 Scotland Street series is as delightful as ever. The usual suspects are back with their daily challenges to overcome and quandaries to solve. The gentle pace and bite-sized chapters are easy to digest in an increasingly chaotic world.
A murder at Malabar Hill* by Sujata Massey
Introducing Perveen Mistry, amateur sleuth and one of India’s first female lawyers, navigating her way through the social and political upheaval of 1920’s Bombay. With murder, kidnapping and other sinister goings-on, this book is a perfect read for lovers of history and mystery.
Kim Jiyoung, born 1982* by Nam-Joo, Cho
Kim Jiyoung has started acting strangely. Kim Jiyoung is depressed. Kim Jiyoung is mad. Kim Jiyoung is her own woman. Kim Jiyoung is every woman. The life story of one young woman born at the end of the twentieth century raises questions about endemic misogyny and institutional oppression that are relevant to us all.
The drover’s wife: the legend of Molly Johnson by Leah Purcell
This re-imagining of Henry Lawson’s short story shines a light on the experience of women in the late 1800’s as the British settlers moved through the bush. The violence and brutality of life at that time is wonderfully well-drawn, and is cleverly intertwined with the devastating indigenous experience at the hands of the settlers.
Today will be different by Maria Semple
Eleanor Flood is a mess, she is a flawed and funny woman who has decided that today will be different as she takes small steps to change her life. However her best laid plans go seriously awry. Her son fakes illness, her husband seems to be missing, her work is overwhelming and to top it off she sustains a head injury…. A great read from the author of the wonderful Where’d you go Bernadette?
Rules for perfect murders* by Peter Swanson
Malcolm Kershaw runs a bookstore in Boston specialising in crime. He is contacted by Gwen Mulvey an FBI agent who believes a serial killer is using the methods described in a list he posted online- 8 Perfect Murders in Fiction. A clever and unnerving mystery, it pays homage to the classics of crime fiction with a thoroughly modern edge.
The Nickel boys by Colson Whitehead
Elwood Curtis is a high school senior just about to start college. Unfortunately for him, he is also a black kid living in segregated Tallahassee in Florida in the early 1960’s so when he is innocently caught up in a minor crime, he is tried and sentenced to juvenile reformatory school The Nickel Academy. This is a heart-breaking story of human perseverance, dignity and redemption told in a restrained yet powerful way.
How to read
For more recommended reading, visit Booklists.