Book Group Kits are now available to borrow and we've chosen some exciting titles that will get your book group talking!
Each kit has 10 regular print copies.
To reserve a kit, please email our Adult Services Librarian, Kew Library, at [email protected]. You can also schedule a number of kits ahead of time with your preferred collection dates.
Visit our Book Groups page for more information on Book Kits and to discover more book group events and resources.
Book Group Kit booklist
The following titles can be borrowed as part of the Book Group Kit initiative.
Explore fiction or non-fiction titles.
Leave the world behind by Rumaan Alam
Amanda and Clay head to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a holiday: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City. But, with a late-night knock on the door, the spell is broken. Ruth and G. H., an older couple who claim to own the home, have arrived there in a panic. These strangers say that a sudden power outage has swept the city, and - with nowhere else to turn - they have come to the country in search of shelter. But with the TV and internet down, and no phone service, the facts are unknowable. Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple - and vice versa?
The birdman’s wife by Melissa Ashley
Artist Elizabeth Gould spent her life capturing the sublime beauty of birds the world had never seen before. But her legacy was eclipsed by the fame of her husband, John Gould. The birdman's wife at last gives voice to a passionate and adventurous spirit who was so much more than the woman behind the man.
The heart goes last by Margaret Atwood
Stan and Charmaine are a married couple in the midst of economic and social collapse. Living in their car, surviving on tips from Charmaine's job at a dive bar, they're vulnerable to roving gangs, and in a rather desperate state. So when they see an advertisement for the Positron Project, a 'social experiment' offering stable jobs and a home, they sign up immediately.
Cold enough for snow by Jessica Au
A young woman has arranged a holiday with her mother in Japan. They travel by train, visit galleries and churches chosen for their art and architecture, on guard against the autumn rain and the prospect of snow. All the while, they talk, or seem to talk: about the weather, horoscopes, clothes and objects; about the mother's family in Hong Kong, and the daughter's own formative experiences. But uncertainties abound. How much is spoken between them, how much is thought but unspoken?
Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
Arthur and George grow up worlds apart in late nineteenth-century Britain - Arthur in shabby-genteel Edinburgh, George in the vicarage of a small Staffordshire village. Arthur is to become one of the most famous men of his age, while George remains in hardworking obscurity.
After story by Larissa Behrendt
When Indigenous lawyer Jasmine decides to take her mother Della on a tour of England's most revered literary sites, Jasmine hopes it will bring them closer together and help them reconcile the past. Twenty-five years earlier the disappearance of Jasmine's older sister devastated their tight-knit community. This tragedy returns to haunt when another child mysteriously goes missing. As Jasmine immerses herself in the world of her literary idols, Della is inspired to rediscover the wisdom of her own culture and storytelling.
The white girl by Tony Birch
Odette Brown has lived her whole life on the fringes of a small country town. After her daughter disappeared and left her with her granddaughter Sissy to raise on her own, Odette has managed to stay under the radar of the welfare authorities who are removing fair-skinned Aboriginal children. When a new policeman arrives in town, Odette must risk everything to save Sissy and protect everything she loves.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.
Gulliver's wife by Lauren Chater
London, 1702. When her husband is lost at sea, Mary Burton Gulliver, midwife and herbalist, is forced to rebuild her life without him. But three years later when Lemuel Gulliver is brought home, fevered and communicating only in riddles, her ordered world is turned upside down. Mary is caught in a crossfire of suspicion and fear driven by her husband's outlandish claims, and it is up to her to navigate a passage to safety for herself and her daughter, and the vulnerable women in her care. When a fellow sailor, appears to hold sway over her husband, Mary's world descends deeper into chaos, and she must set out on her own journey to discover the truth of Gulliver's travels.
American dirt by Jeanine Cummins
Yesterday, Lydia Quixano Perez had a bookshop in the Mexican city of Acapulco. Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist. Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved most in the world. Now, her eight-year-old son Luca is all she has left. For him, she will carry a machete strapped to her leg. For him, she will leap onto the roof of a high speed train. For him, she will find the strength to keep running.
All our shimmering skies by Trent Dalton
Darwin, 1942, and as Japanese bombs rain overhead, motherless Molly Hook, the gravedigger's daughter, turns to the sky for guidance. She carries a stone heart inside a duffel bag next to the map that leads to Longcoat Bob, the deep country sorcerer who put a curse on her family. 'Run, Molly, run,' says the daytime sky. Run to the vine forests. Run to northern Australia's wild and magical monsoon lands. Run to friendship. Run to love. Run. Because the grave robber is coming, Molly, and the night-time sky is coming with him.
The last thing he told me by Laura Dave
Before Owen Michaels disappears, he manages to smuggle a note to his new wife, Hannah: protect her. Hannah knows exactly who Owen needs her to protect - his sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. And who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother. As her increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered, his boss is arrested for fraud and the police start questioning her, Hannah realises that her husband isn't who he said he was. And that Bailey might hold the key to discovering Owen's true identity, and why he disappeared.
The life to come by Michelle De Kretser
Set in Sydney, Paris and Sri Lanka. Pippa is a writer who longs for success. Celeste tries to convince herself that her feelings for her married lover are reciprocated. Ash makes strategic use of his childhood but blots out the memory of a tragedy from that time.
Life after truth by Ceridwen Dovey
Fifteen years after graduating from Harvard, five close friends are still pursuing an elusive happiness and wondering if they've wasted their youthful opportunities. Jules, already a famous actor when she arrived on campus, is changing in mysterious ways. Mariam and Rowan, who married young, are struggling with the demands of family life. Eloise, now a professor who studies the psychology of happiness, is troubled by her younger wife's radical politics. And Jomo, founder of a luxury jewellery company, has been carrying an engagement ring around for months.
The covered wife by Lisa Emanuel
Sarah is a smart, young lawyer working endless hours when she falls head over heels for Daniel. When Daniel introduces her to Rabbi Menachem Lev and his wife, Chani, despite herself, Sarah is drawn in by their progressive beachside synagogue and the song, feasting and friendship that come with it. By the time they move to the Jamison Valley with the other believers, Sarah can't imagine life without the joy, meaning and love they've discovered. Four years on, youthful fervour has given way to something darker. As the community celebrates the wedding of a beautiful young convert and a much older divorcee, a series of terrifying truths emerges that tear Sarah's world apart, and cause her to question everything her faith, her marriage and her future.
Girl, woman, other by Bernardine Evaristo
Welcome to Newcastle, 1905. Ten-year-old Grace is an orphan dreaming of the mysterious African father she will never meet. Cornwall, 1953. Winsome is a young bride, recently arrived from Barbados, realising the man she married might be a fool. London, 1980. Amma is the fierce queen of her squatters' palace, ready to Smash The Patriarchy. Oxford, 2008. Carole is rejecting her cultural background to blend in at her posh university. Northumberland, 2017. Morgan, who used to be Megan, is visiting Hattie who's in her nineties and who still misses Slim every day. Welcome to Britain and twelve very different people.
The living sea of waking dreams by Richard Flanagan
In a world of perennial fire and growing extinctions, Anna's aged mother is dying and she increasingly escapes through her hospital window into visions of horror and delight. When Anna's finger vanishes and later her knee disappears, Anna too feels the pull of the window. She begins to see that all around her others are similarly vanishing, but no one else notices. All Anna can do is keep her mother alive. But the window keeps opening wider, taking Anna and the reader ever deeper into a strangely beautiful story about hope and love and orange-bellied parrots.
Lessons in chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. But it's the 1960s and despite the fact that she is a scientist, her peers are very unscientific when it comes to equality. The only good thing to happen to her on the road to professional fulfilment is a run-in with her super-star colleague Calvin Evans. Calvin is already a legend and a Nobel nominee. Theirs is true chemistry. But as events are never as predictable as chemical reactions, three years later Elizabeth Zott is an unwed, single mother and the star of America's most beloved cooking show Supper at Six.
The woman in the library by Sulari Gentill
The tranquillity is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning - it just happens that one is a murderer.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Arthur Less is a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the post. It is from an ex-boyfriend who is engaged to someone else. Arthur can't say yes - it would be too awkward. He can't say no - it would look like defeat. From France to India, Germany to Japan, Arthur almost falls in love, almost falls to his death, and puts miles between him and the plight he refuses to face.
A room made of leaves by Kate Grenville
What if Elizabeth Macarthur had written a shockingly frank secret memoir? In her introduction Kate Grenville tells, tongue firmly in cheek, of discovering a long-hidden box containing that memoir. What follows is a playful dance of possibilities between the real and the invented. Grenville's Elizabeth Macarthur is a passionate woman managing her complicated life - marriage to a ruthless bully, the impulses of her own heart, the search for power in a society that gave her none. Her "memoir" reveals the dark underbelly of the polite world of Jane Austen. It explodes the stereotype of the women of the past - devoted and docile, accepting of their narrow choices. At the heart of this book is one of the most toxic issues of our times - the seductive appeal of false stories.
Good eggs by Rebecca Hardiman
Meet the Gogartys; cantankerous gran Millie; bitter downtrodden son Kevin; and habitually moody, disaffected teenage daughter Aideen. When Gran's arrested yet again for shoplifting, Aideen's rebelliousness has reached new heights and Kevin's still not found work, he realises he needs to take action. With the appointment of a home carer for his mother, his daughter sent away to boarding school and more time for him to reboot his job-hunt, surely everything will work out just fine. But as the story unfolds, nothing goes according to plan and as the calm starts to descend into chaos we're taken on a hilarious multiple-perspective roller-coaster ride.
The survivors by Jane Harper
Kieran Elliott's life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal town he once called home. Kieran's parents are struggling in a community which is bound, for better or worse, to the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn. When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge.
Golden boys by Sonia Hartnett
Colt Jenson and his younger brother Bastian have moved to a new, working class suburb. The Jensons are different. Their father, Rex, showers them with gifts - toys, bikes, all that glitters most - and makes them the envy of the neighbourhood. To Freya Kiley and the other local kids, the Jensons are a family from a magazine, and Rex a hero - successful, attentive, attractive, always there to lend a hand. But to Colt he's an impossible figure in a different way - unbearable, suffocating. Has Colt got Rex wrong, or has he seen something in his father that will destroy their fragile new lives?
Our souls at night by Kent Haruf
Addie Moore's husband died years ago, so did Louis Waters' wife, and, as neighbours in Holt, Colorado they have naturally long been aware of each other. With their children now far away both live alone in houses empty of family. The nights are terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk to. Then one evening Addie pays Louis an unexpected visit.
The mere wife by Maria Dahvana Headley
For those who live in Herot Hall, the suburb is a paradise. But for those who live along Herot Hall's periphery, the subdivision is a guarded fortress. For Willa, the wife of Roger Herot, life moves at a charmingly slow pace. Meanwhile, in a cave in the mountains just beyond the limits of Herot Hall lives Gren, and his mother, Dana, a former soldier who gave birth as if by chance. When Gren ventures into Herot Hall and runs off with Willa's son Dylan, Dana's and Willa's worlds collide.
The mother-in-law by Sally Hepworth
Yes, you may get to choose your partner, but you don't choose your mother-in-law. From the moment Lucy met Diana, she was kept at arm's length. Diana is exquisitely polite, but Lucy knows that they'll never have the closeness she'd been hoping for. But who could fault Diana? She was a pillar of the community, an advocate for social justice, the matriarch of a loving family. Now, Diana has been found dead, leaving a suicide note. But the autopsy reveals evidence of suffocation. And everyone in the family is hiding something...
Evvie Drake starts over by Linda Holmes
One morning, Eveleth 'Evvie' Drake got up, packed her suitcase, and got ready to leave her life - and her perfect husband - behind. But before she walked out of the door, she received a phone call asking her to come to the hospital. That day, Evvie's new life as a widow began. Now wrestling with her guilt and grief, Evvie has found her independence, but not the way she planned. Unable to leave the house she once dreamed of escaping, it's clear to her best friend Andy that Evvie needs a change. And Andy might just have the answer.
Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman
She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day, and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted - while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she's avoided all her life.
We were the lucky ones by Georgia Hunter
The Kurc family shouldn't have survived the Holocaust. In the spring of 1939 three generations are living relatively normal lives in Poland, despite the hardships Jews face. When war breaks out and the family is cast to the wind, the five Kurc siblings do everything they can to find their way through a devastated continent to freedom.
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Here is the story of Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, who, from her place in the store, watches carefully the behaviour of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her. Klara and the Sun is a thrilling book that offers a look at our changing world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator, and one that explores the fundamental question: what does it mean to love?
Live a little by Howard Jacobson
Live a Little is a wickedly observed story of old age which follows the lives of two nonagenarians. Beryl Dusinbery, like Scheherazade, is telling the stories of her many husbands and love affairs to her two carers, whilst Shimi Carmelli mourns the death of his estranged brother and avoids the amorous attentions of the Widow Wolfsheim, as his childhood shame comes back to haunt him. Redemption comes in the way of love.
The dressmakers of Yarrandarrah Prison by Meredith Jaffe
Derek's daughter Debbie is getting married. He's desperate to be there, but he's banged up in Yarrandarrah Correctional Centre for embezzling funds from the golf club, and he hasn't spoken to Debbie in years. He wants to make a grand gesture - to show her how much he loves her. But what? Inspiration strikes while he's embroidering a cushion at his weekly prison sewing circle - he'll make her a wedding dress. His fellow stitchers rally around and soon this motley gang of crims is immersed in a joyous whirl of silks, satins and covered buttons. But as time runs out and tensions rise both inside and outside the prison, the wedding dress project takes on greater significance.
Dinner with the Schnabels by Toni Jordan
Things haven't gone well for Simon Larsen lately. He adores his wife, Tansy, and his children, but since his business failed and he lost the family home, he can't seem to get off the couch. His larger-than-life in-laws, the Schnabels, won't get off his case. To keep everyone happy, Simon needs to do one little job: he has a week to landscape a friend's backyard for an important Schnabel family event. But as the week progresses, Simon is derailed by the arrival of an unexpected house guest. Then he discovers Tansy is harbouring a secret.
Grown ups by Marian Keyes
They're a glamorous family, the Caseys. Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together - birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. Everything stays under control until Ed's wife Cara, gets concussion and can't keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny's birthday party, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.
Infinite splendours by Sofie Laguna
Lawrence Loman is a bright, caring, curious boy with a gift for painting. He lives at home and the future is laid out before him, full of promise. But when he is ten, an experience of betrayal takes it all away and Lawrence is left to deal with the devastating aftermath. As he grows into a man, how will he make sense of what he has suffered? He cannot rewrite history, but must he be condemned to repeat it?
Good neighbours by Sarah Langan
From three-time Bram Stoker-Award-winning novelist Sarah Langan comes a propulsive literary suburban noir set in near-future America during the hottest summer on record. Maple Street has a neighborly cul-de-sac, where a terrible secret tears a rift between two misfit moms who were once best friends. When innocent Shelly Schroeder falls down a sinkhole, its one mother’s word against the others, in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.
A town called Solace by Mary Lawson
Clara's sister is missing. Angry, rebellious Rose, had a row with their mother, stormed out of the house and simply disappeared. Eight-year-old Clara, isolated by her distraught parents' efforts to protect her from the truth, is grief-stricken and bewildered. Liam Kane, newly divorced, newly unemployed, newly arrived, moves into the house next door, and within hours gets a visit from the police. It seems he's suspected of a crime. At the end of her life Elizabeth Orchard is thinking about a crime too, one committed thirty years ago that had tragic consequences for two families and in particular for one small child. She desperately wants to make amends before she dies.
Let the great world spin by Colum McCann
A rich vision of the pain, loveliness, mystery, and promise of New York City in the 1970s. A radical young Irish monk struggles with his own demons as he lives among the prostitutes in the burning Bronx. A group of mothers gathers to mourn their sons who died in Vietnam. A young artist is at the scene of a hit-and-run that sends her own life careening sideways. A 38-year-old grandmother turns tricks alongside her teenage daughter. Weaving together these lives, McCann's allegory comes alive in the voices of the city's people, unexpectedly drawn together by hope, beauty, and the "artistic crime of the century" - a mysterious tightrope walker dancing between the Twin Towers.
The rich man's house by Andrew McGahan
Billionaire Walter Richman has built himself his dream home - the Observatory, at the foot of the world's highest mountain in the waters south of Tasmania. Living a far humbler life is Rita Gausse, estranged daughter of the architect who designed the Observatory. Rita is surprised, to be invited to the Observatory to meet the famous Richman in person. From the beginning, something doesn't feel right. When cataclysmic circumstances intervene to trap Rita and the others in the Observatory, she slowly begins to learn the unsettling - and ultimately horrifying - answers.
The children act by Ian McEwan
Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge, renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and her marriage of thirty-five years is in crisis. Now she is called on to try an urgent case: for religious reasons, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, is refusing the medical treatment and his devout parents share his wishes.
Love objects by Emily Maguire
Nic is a forty-five-year-old trivia buff, amateur nail artist and fairy godmother to the neighbourhood's stray cats. She's also the owner of a decade's worth of daily newspapers, enough clothes and shoes to fill Big W three times over and a pen collection. The person she's closest to in the world is her beloved niece Lena, who she meets for lunch every Sunday. One day Nic fails to show up. When Lena travels to her house to see if Nic's all right, she gets the shock of her life, and sets in train a series of events that will prove cataclysmic for them both.
The truth about her by Jaqueline Maley
Journalist and single mother Suzy Hamilton gets a phone call one summer morning and finds out that the subject of one of her investigative exposes, 25-year-old wellness blogger Tracey Doran, has killed herself overnight. Suzy is horrified by this news but copes in the only way she knows how - through work, mothering, and carrying on with her ill-advised, tandem affairs. The consequences of her actions catch up with Suzy over the course of a sticky Sydney summer. She starts receiving anonymous vindictive letters and is pursued by Tracey's mother wanting her, as a kind of rough justice, to tell Tracey's story, but this time, the right way.
Nine perfect strangers by Liane Moriarty
Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can't even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be. Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She's immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don't look to be in need of a health resort at all.
The tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies' man. He is also a Jew. On the first transport of men from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tatowierer the tattooist to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita who steals his heart at first glance.
Sixteen trees of the Somme by Lars Mytting
Edvard grows up on a remote mountain farmstead in Norway with his taciturn grandfather, Sverre. The death of his parents, when he was three years old, has always been shrouded in mystery - he has never been told how or where it took place and has only a distant memory of his mother. One day a coffin is delivered for his grandfather long before his death, and Edvard's desperate quest to unlock the family's tragic secrets takes him on a long journey.
Everything I never told you by Celeste Ng
Lydia is the favourite child of Marilyn and James Lee. Her father is an American born of first-generation Chinese immigrants, and his ethnicity, and hers, make them conspicuous in any setting. When Lydia's body is found in the local lake, James is consumed by guilt and sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage.
Little fires everywhere by Celeste Ng
In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned and no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson. Enter Mia Warren who arrives with her daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. All four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia has a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
The forgotten letters of Esther Durrant by Kayte Nunn
Free-spirited marine scientist Rachel Parker embarks on a research posting off the Cornish coast where she discovers a collection of hidden love letters. Rachel determines to track down the intended recipient. Meanwhile, in London, Eve is helping her grandmother write her memoirs. When she is contacted by Rachel, it sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to reveal secrets kept buried for more than sixty years.
Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell
Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley Street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet. Drawing on her long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare's most enigmatic play, Maggie O'Farrell writes Hamnet as a luminous portrait of a marriage and at its heart the loss of a beloved child.
The marriage portrait by Maggie O'Farrell
Florence, 1561. Lucrezia, third daughter of Cosimo de' Medici, is free to wander the palazzo at will, wondering at its treasures and observing its clandestine workings. But when her older sister dies on the eve of marriage to Alfonso d'Este, ruler of Ferrara, Modena and Reggio, Lucrezia is thrust unwittingly into the limelight: the duke is quick to request her hand in marriage and her father to accept on her behalf. Having barely left girlhood, Lucrezia must now make her way in a troubled court whose customs are opaque and where her arrival is not universally welcomed.
Weather* by Jenny Offill
Lizzie Benson slid into her job as a librarian without a traditional degree. But this gives her a vantage point from which to practise her other calling: as an unofficial shrink. For years, she has supported her God-haunted mother and her recovering addict brother. Then her old mentor, Sylvia Liller, makes a proposal. Sylvia has become famous for her prescient podcast, and wants to hire Lizzie to answer the mail she receives: from left-wingers worried about climate change and right wingers worried about the decline of western civilization. As she dives into this polarized world, she begins to wonder what it means to keep tending your own garden once you've seen the flames beyond its walls.
Where the crawdads sing by Delia Owens
For years, rumours of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She's barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark. But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved.
There was still love* by Favel Parrett
Prague, 1938: Eva flies down the street from her sister. Suddenly a man steps out, a man wearing a hat. Eva runs into him, hits the pavement hard. His hat is in the gutter. His anger slaps Eva, but his hate will change everything, as war forces so many lives into small, brown suitcases. Prague, 1980: No one sees Ludek. A young boy can slip under the heavy blanket that covers this city - the fear cannot touch him. Ludek is free. And he sees everything. The world can go to hell for all he cares because Babi is waiting for him. Melbourne, 1980: Malá Liška's grandma holds her hand as they climb the stairs to their third floor flat. Inside, the smell of warm pipe tobacco and homemade cakes.
Bel canto by Ann Patchett
In an unnamed Latin American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a party in honour of a visiting Japanese industrialist. In the opening sequence a ragtag band of terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed at home. Among the hostages are not only the industrialist the soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian and French diplomats. Swiss Red Cross negotiator Joachim Messner soon finds himself bartering between the terrorists and the authorities as the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.
The Dutch house by Ann Patchett
Danny Conroy grows up in the Dutch House, a lavish folly in small-town Pennsylvania taken on by his property developer father. Though his father is distant and his mother is absent, Danny has his beloved sister Maeve. Then one day their father brings Andrea home. Though they cannot know it, Andrea’s advent to the Dutch House sows the seed of the defining loss of Danny and Maeve’s lives.
The authenticity project by Claire Pooley
One green notebook. Six strangers. The chance to start being honest... Six strangers with one universal thing in common: their lives aren't always what they make them out to be. But what would happen if they told the truth instead? Desperate to confess the deep loneliness he feels, Julian begins The Authenticity Project - a small green notebook containing the truth about his life - to pass on and encourage others to share their own. Leaving it on a table in Monica's cafe, he never expects Monica to find it and track him down. Or that his small act of honesty will impact all those who come into contact with the book.
One hundred days by Alice Pung
In a heady whirlwind of independence, lust and defiance, sixteen-year-old Karuna falls pregnant. Not on purpose, but not entirely by accident, either. Incensed, Karuna's mother, confines her to their fourteenth-storey housing-commission flat, to keep her safe from the outside world - and make sure she can't get into any more trouble. Stuck inside for endless hours, Karuna battles her mother and herself for a sense of power in her own life, as a new life forms and grows within her. As the due date draws ever closer, the question of who will get to raise the baby - who it will call Mum - festers between them.
Such a fun age by Kiley Reid
When Emira is apprehended at a supermarket for 'kidnapping' the white child she's actually babysitting, it sets off an explosive chain of events. Her employer Alix resolves to make things right. But Emira herself is aimless, broke and wary of Alix's desire to help. When a surprising connection emerges between the two women, it sends them on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know - about themselves, each other, and the messy dynamics of privilege.
The lost flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
After her family suffers a tragedy, nine-year-old Alice Hart is forced to leave her home. She is taken in by her grandmother, June, a flower farmer who raises Alice on the language of Australian native flowers. Alice settles, but grows up increasingly frustrated by how little she knows of her family's story. In her early twenties, Alice's life is thrown into upheaval again when she suffers devastating betrayal and loss. Desperate to outrun grief, Alice flees to the central Australian desert. In this otherworldly landscape Alice thinks she has found solace, until she meets a charismatic and ultimately dangerous man.
The Moroccan daughter by Deborah Rodriguez
Amina Bennis has come back to her childhood home in Morocco to attend her sister's wedding. The time has come for her to confront her strict, traditionalist father with the secret she has kept for more than a year - her American husband Max. Amina's best friend Charlie, and Charlie's feisty grandmother Bea, have come along for moral support, staying with Amina and her family. But Charlie is also hiding someone from her past - a mystery man from Casablanca. And then there's Samira, the Bennis's devoted housekeeper for many decades. Hers is the biggest secret of all - and the one that strikes at the very heart of the family. As things begin to unravel behind the ancient walls of the medina, the four women are soon caught in a web of lies, clandestine deals and shocking confessions.
Normal people by Sally Rooney
Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years. This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person's life - a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel.
Bruny by Heather Rose
How far would your government go? A right-wing US president has withdrawn America from the Middle East and the UN. Daesh has a thoroughfare to the sea and China is Australia's newest ally. When a bomb goes off in remote Tasmania, Astrid Coleman agrees to return home to help her brother before an upcoming election. But this is no simple task. Her brother and sister are on either side of politics, the community is full of conspiracy theories, and her father is quoting Shakespeare. Only on Bruny does the world seem sane. Until Astrid discovers how far the government is willing to go.
Honeybee by Craig Silvey
Late in the night, fourteen-year-old Sam Watson steps onto a quiet overpass, climbs over the rail and looks down at the road far below. At the other end of the same bridge, an old man, Vic, smokes his last cigarette. The two see each other across the void. A fateful connection is made, and an unlikely friendship blooms. Slowly, we learn what led Sam and Vic to the bridge that night. Bonded by their suffering, each privately commits to the impossible task of saving the other.
The Paris library by Janet Skeslin Charles
Paris, 1939: Young and ambitious Odile Souchet has it all: her handsome police officer beau and a dream job at the American Library in Paris. When the Nazis march into Paris, Odile stands to lose everything she holds dear, including her beloved library. Montana, 1983: Lily is a lonely teenager looking for adventure in small-town Montana. As Lily uncovers more about her neighbor's mysterious past, she finds that they share a love of language, the same longings, and the same intense jealousy, never suspecting that a dark secret from the past connects them.
Oh William by Elizabeth Strout
Lucy Barton is a writer, but her ex-husband, William, remains a hard man to read. William, she confesses, has always been a mystery to me. Another mystery is why the two have remained connected after all these years. So Lucy is both surprised and not surprised when William asks her to join him on a trip to investigate a recently uncovered family secret -- one of those secrets that rearrange everything we think we know about the people closest to us.
Olive again by Elizabeth Strout
Olive, Again follows the blunt, contradictory yet deeply loveable Olive Kitteridge as she grows older, navigating the second half of her life as she comes to terms with the changes in her own existence and in those around her. Olive adjusts to her new life with her second husband, challenges her estranged son and his family to accept him, experiences loss and loneliness, witnesses the triumphs and heartbreaks of her friends and neighbours in the small coastal town of Crosby, Maine - and, finally, opens herself to new lessons about life.
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
Jean-Baptist Grenouille, is a "gifted abomination" whose highly developed sense of smell could make him the greatest perfumer of all time. However, Grenouille the misfit, scorned by society throughout his life, hasn't the heart to create pretty perfumes for society's elite. When he does earn the adoration of the masses through his twisted genius, he decides that he would prefer to "exterminate all these stupid, stinking people from the earth.”
The secret history by Donna Tartt
A misfit at an exclusive New England college, Richard finds kindred spirits in the five eccentric students of his ancient Greek class. But his new friends have a horrific secret. When blackmail and violence threaten to blow their privileged lives apart, they drag Richard into the nightmare that engulfs them.
A gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel. When, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, he is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel's doors.
Damascus by Christos Tsiolkas
Based around the gospels and letters of St Paul, and focusing on characters one and two generations on from the death of Christ, as well as Paul (Saul) himself, Damascus nevertheless explores the themes that have always obsessed Tsiolkas as a writer: class, religion, masculinity, patriarchy, colonisation, refugees; the ways in which nations, societies, communities, families and individuals are united and divided - it's all here, the contemporary and urgent questions, perennial concerns made vivid and visceral.
Redhead by the side of the road by Anne Tyler
Micah Mortimer isn't the most polished person you'll ever meet. His numerous sisters and in-laws regard him oddly but very fondly, but he has his ways and means of navigating the world. He measures out his days running errands for work, maintaining an impeccable cleaning regime and going for runs. He is content with the steady balance of his life. But then the order of things starts to tilt. His woman friend Cassia tells him she's facing eviction because of a cat. And when a teenager shows up at Micah's door claiming to be his son, Micah is confronted with another surprise he seems poorly equipped to handle.
The wife and the widow by Christian White
Set against the backdrop of an eerie island town in the dead of winter, The Wife and The Widow is an unsettling thriller told from two perspectives: Kate, a widow whose grief is compounded by what she learns about her dead husband's secret life; and Abby, an island local whose world is turned upside when she's forced to confront the evidence of her husband's guilt. But nothing on this island is quite as it seems, and only when these women come together can they discover the whole story about the men in their lives.
The dictionary of lost words by Pip Williams
In 1901, the word bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it. Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the first Oxford English Dictionary. Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word bondmaid flutter to the floor unclaimed. Esme begins to collect other words from the Scriptorium that are misplaced, discarded or have been neglected by the dictionary men. She begins to collect words for another dictionary...
The yield by Tara June Winch
Knowing that he will soon die, Albert 'Poppy' Gondiwindi takes pen to paper. His life has been spent on the banks of the Murrumby River at Prosperous House, on Massacre Plains. Albert is determined to pass on the language of his people and everything that was ever remembered. August Gondiwindi has been living on the other side of the world for ten years when she learns of her grandfather's death. Her homecoming is bittersweet as she confronts the love of her kin and news that Prosperous is to be repossessed by a mining company. Determined to make amends she endeavours to save their land -- a quest that leads her to the voice of her grandfather and into the past, the stories of her people, the secrets of the river.
The weekend by Charlotte Wood
People went on about death bringing friends together, but it wasn't true. The graveyard, the stony dirt - that's what it was like now . . . Despite the three women knowing each other better than their own siblings, Sylvie's death had opened up strange caverns of distance between them. Can they survive together without her? They are Jude, a once-famous restaurateur, Wendy, an acclaimed public intellectual, and Adele, a renowned actress now mostly out of work.
The storied life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A.J. Fikry owns a failing bookshop. His wife has just died, in tragic circumstances. His rare and valuable first edition has been stolen. His life is a wreck. Amelia is a book rep, with a big heart, and a lonely life Maya is the baby who ends up on A.J.'s bookshop floor with a note. What happens in the bookshop that changes the lives of these seemingly normal but extraordinary characters? This is the story of how unexpected love can rescue you and bring you back to real life.
Phosphorescence: on awe, wonder & things that sustain you when the world goes dark by Julia Baird
How we can find and nurture within ourselves that essential quality of internal happiness, which will sustain us even through the darkest times. Over the last decade, we have become better at knowing what brings us contentment, well-being and joy. We know that being kind and altruistic makes us happy, that turning off devices, talking to people, forging relationships, living with meaning and delving into the concerns of others offer our best chance at achieving happiness. But how do we retain happiness? It often slips out of our hands as quickly as we find it. And more than that, when our world goes dark, how do we survive, stay alive or even bloom?
No friend but the mountains : writing from Manus prison by Behrouz Boochani
In 2013, Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani was illegally detained on Manus Island. He has been there ever since. People would run to the mountains to escape the warplanes and found asylum within their chestnut forests. This book is the result. Laboriously tapped out on a mobile phone and translated from the Farsi. It is a voice of witness, an act of survival.
Furious hours : murder, fraud and the last trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep
Willie Maxwell was a Baptist reverend in Alabama; he also happened to be a serial killer. Between 1970 and 1977, his two wives and brother all died under suspicious circumstances but, Maxwell escaped justice for years. Then, the daughter of his third wife perished. At the funeral, the victim's uncle shot the Reverend dead in a church full of witnesses - and was subsequently acquitted of the murder.
Holding the man by Tim Conigrave
The mid-seventies: at an all-boys Catholic school in Melbourne, Timothy Conigrave falls wildly and sweetly in love with the captain of the football team. So begins a relationship that weathers disapproval, separation and, ultimately death. With honesty and insight Holding the Man explores the highs and lows of any partnership, and the strength of heart both men have to find when they test positive to HIV.
Blue ribbons, bitter bread by Susannah De Vries
Jocie Loch was an extraordinary Australian. She had the inspired courage that saved many hundreds of Jews and Poles in World War II, the compassion that made her a self-trained doctor to tens of thousands of refugees, the incredible gift that took her close to death in several theatres of war, and the dedication to truth and justice that shone forth in her own books.
The land before avocado by Richard Glover
A funny and frank look at the way Australia used to be - and just how far we have come. 'It was simpler time'. We had more fun back then'. 'Everyone could afford a house'. There's plenty of nostalgia right now for the Australia of the past, but what was it really like? In The Land Before Avocado, Richard Glover takes a journey to an almost unrecognisable Australia. It's a vivid portrait of a quite peculiar land: a place that is scary and weird, dangerous and incomprehensible, and, now and then, surprisingly appealing. It's the Australia of his childhood. The Australia of the late '60s and early '70s.
Talking to my country by 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 piece for The Guardian that went viral, 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.'
Sapiens: a brief history of humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
100,000 years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations and human rights; to trust money, books and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come? Sapiens spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions.
See what you made me do: power, control and domestic abuse by Jess Hill
Domestic abuse is a national emergency- one in four Australian women has experienced violence from a man she was intimate with. But too often we ask the wrong question- why didn't she leave? We should be asking- why did he do it? Investigative journalist Jess Hill puts perpetrators - and the systems that enable them - in the spotlight. See What You Made Me Do is a deep dive into the abuse so many women and children experience - abuse that is often reinforced by the justice system they trust to protect them. Critically, it shows that we can drastically reduce domestic violence. Combining forensic research with riveting storytelling, See What You Made Me Do radically rethinks how to confront the national crisis of fear and abuse in our homes.
Raised by wolves: a memoir with bite by Jess Ho
Growing up Cantonese in the racist outer suburbs was hard enough for Jess Ho but add in a dysfunctional family who only made peace over food, and it was clear that a normal life was never on the menu. Jess emerged from childhood with a major psychological complex and a kick-arse palate, traits that would help them fit right into the messy world of Melbourne's food scene. In hospitality, Jess found a new family of outsiders who shared their lust for life and appetite for destruction.
The arsonist : a mind on fire by Chloe Hooper
On the scorching February day in 2009 that became known as Black Saturday, a man lit two fires in Victoria's Latrobe Valley, then sat on the roof of his house to watch the inferno. The Arsonist takes readers on the hunt for this man, and inside the strange puzzle of his mind. It is also the story of fire in this country, and of a community that owed its existence to that very element.
The happiest man on earth by Eddie Jaku
Eddie Jaku always considered himself a German first, a Jew second. He was proud of his country. But all of that changed on 9 November 1938, when he was beaten, arrested and taken to a concentration camp. Over the next seven years, Eddie faced unimaginable horrors every day, first in Buchenwald, then in Auschwitz, then on the Nazi death march. He lost family, friends, his country. Because he survived, Eddie made the vow to smile every day. He pays tribute to those who were lost by telling his story, sharing his wisdom and living his best possible life. He now believes he is the 'happiest man on earth'.
Emotional female by Yumiko Kadota
Yumiko Kadota was every Asian parent's dream- model student, top of her class in medical school and on track to becoming a surgeon. A self-confessed workaholic, she regularly put 'knife before life'. But if the punishing hours in surgery weren't hard enough, she also faced challenges as a young female surgeon navigating a male-dominated specialty. She was regularly left to carry out complex procedures without senior surgeons' oversight; she was called all sorts of things, from 'emotional' to 'too confident'; and she was expected to work a relentless, on-call roster. Emotional Female is her account of what it was like to train in the Australian public hospital system, and what made her walk away.
When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi
A memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question. What makes a life worth living? At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live.
Funkytown by Paul Kennedy
It is 1993: a serial killer is loose on the streets of Frankston, Victoria. The community is paralysed by fear and a state's police force and national media come to find a killer. Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Paul Kennedy is searching for something else entirely. He is focused on finishing school, getting drafted into the AFL and falling in love. So much can change in a year.
The trauma cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein
Before she was a trauma cleaner, Sandra Pankhurst was many things: husband and father, drag queen, gender reassignment patient, sex worker, small businesswoman, trophy wife... But as a little boy, raised in violence and excluded from the family home, she just wanted to belong. Now she believes her clients deserve no less.
The erratics by Vickie Laveau-Harvey
When her elderly mother is hospitalised unexpectedly, Vicki travels to her parents' isolated ranch home in Alberta, Canada, to help her father. Her mother has always been mentally unstable, but for years camouflaged her delusions and unpredictability. Vicki's father, who has been systematically starved and kept virtually a prisoner in his own home, begins to realise what has happened to him and embarks upon plans of his own to combat his wife.
Eggshell skull by Bri Lee
A well-established legal doctrine that a defendant must 'take their victim as they find them'. If a single punch kills someone because of their thin skull, that victim's weakness cannot mitigate the seriousness of the crime. But what if it also works the other way? What if a defendant on trial for sexual crimes has to accept his 'victim' as she comes: a strong, determined accuser who knows the legal system, who will not back down until justice is done?
One hundred years of dirt by Rick Morton
Social mobility is not a train you get to board after you've scraped together enough for the ticket. You have to build the whole bloody engine, with nothing but a spoon and hand-me-down psychological distress. Violence, treachery and cruelty run through the generational veins of Rick Morton's family. A horrific accident thrusts his mother and siblings into a world impossible for them to navigate, a life of poverty and drug addiction One Hundred Years of Dirt is an unflinching memoir in which the mother is a hero who is never rewarded. It is a meditation on the anger, fear of others and an obsession with real and imagined borders. Y
Becoming by Michelle Obama
In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America, she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private. A deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations.
A question of age: women, aging and the forever self by Jacinta Parsons
Grappling with ageing is one of the most confronting elements of being a woman. When we become invisible, when we lose our sexual currency, when we lose that elasticity in our skin, when our bodies soften and change, when our perceived 'value' to society dramatically falls, when our notion of self-worth takes a radical shift. What do we do when our outside self doesn't match our inside self? So how do we adjust our perceptions of getting older? What does it mean to age as a woman? How do we adjust our thinking about being in the world? What is our currency now?
Dark emu: Aboriginal Australia and the birth of agriculture by Bruce Pascoe
Dark Emu argues for a reconsideration of the 'hunter-gatherer' tag for pre-colonial Aboriginal Australians and attempts to rebut the colonial myths that have worked to justify dispossession. Bruce Pascoe provides compelling evidence from the diaries of early explorers suggesting that systems of food production and land management have been blatantly understated in modern retellings of early Aboriginal history, and that a new look at Australia’s past is required.
Any ordinary day by Leigh Sales
As a journalist, Leigh Sales often encounters people experiencing the worst moments of their lives in the full glare of the media. But one particular string of bad news stories - and a terrifying brush with her own mortality - sent her looking for answers about how vulnerable each of us is to a life-changing event.
High sobriety; my year without booze by Jill Stark
This lively memoir charts Jill's tumultuous year on the wagon, as she copes with the stress of the newsroom sober, tackles the dating scene on soda water, learns to watch the footy minus beer, and deals with censure from friends and colleagues. In re-examining her habits, Jill also explores Australia's love affair with alcohol. And she tracks the history of this national obsession: from the idea that Australia's new colonies were drowning in drink to the Anzac ethos that a beer builds mateship, and from the six o'clock swill that encouraged bingeing to the tangled weave of advertising, social pressure, and tradition that confronts drinkers today.
The glass castle by Jeanette Walls
This is a startling memoir of a successful journalist's journey from the deserted and dusty mining towns of the American Southwest, to an antique-filled apartment on Park Avenue. Jeanette Walls narrates her nomadic and adventurous childhood with her dreaming, 'brilliant' but alcoholic parents. At the age of seventeen she escapes to New York with her older sister; her younger siblings follow later.
Educated by Tara Westover
Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected. She hadn't been registered for a birth certificate; had no school records and no medical records as her father didn't believe in doctors or hospitals. At sixteen, Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents.