Library reopening 29 May 2020

Our libraries are closed. Find out how to borrow or return items.

In a new Boroondara Library Service initiative, Book Group Kits are now available to borrow, and we've chosen some exciting titles that will get your book group talking! 

Find out more about our Book Group Kits.

Each kit consists of 12 regular print copies, plus 2 large print and 2 talking book copies where possible.

Our list of Book Group Kit titles includes fiction from Margaret Atwood, Kevin Kwan, Ian McEwan and Heather Morris, as well as non-fiction from Susannah De Vries and Jeanette Walls.

To reserve a kit, please email our Adult Services Librarian, Kew Library, at [email protected].

Book Group Kit booklist

These titles can be borrowed as part of the Book Group Kit initiative.

Fiction

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.

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.

Man out of time by Stephanie Bishop  

When Stella's father, Leon, disappears, the police knock at her door. She balks at their questions, not sure how to answer. 'What if I just write it down for you.' One summer, a long time ago, Stella sat watching her father cry while the sky clouded over. He had tried to make amends: for his failures, for forgetting to buy the doll she once hoped for, for the terrible things he had done. 

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.

Fleishman is in trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Anker

Free from his nightmare of a marriage, Toby Fleishman is ready for a life of online dating and weekend-only parental duties. But as he looks to a future that is wildly different from the one he imagined, his life turns upside-down as his ex-wife, Rachel, disappears. If he ever wants to understand where Rachel went and what happened to his marriage, he has to consider that he might not have seen it clearly in the first place...

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.

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. 

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?

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.

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. 

To become a whale by Ben Hobson

Set around Moreton Island and Noosa in 1961, To become a whale tells the story of 13-year-old Sam Keogh, whose mother has died. Sam has to learn how to live with his silent, hitherto absent father, who decides to make a man out of his son by taking him to work at Tangalooma, then the largest whaling station in the southern hemisphere. 

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.

Golden child by Wendy James

Blogger Lizzy's life is shiny, happy, normal. Two gorgeous children, a handsome husband, destiny under control. For her real-life alter-ego Beth, things are unravelling. Tensions simmer with her husband, mother-in-law, her own mother. Then a fellow student is callously bullied and the finger of blame pointed at one of Beth's girls. 

Crazy rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home, long drives to explore the island, and quality time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace and that with one of Asia's most eligible bachelors on her arm, Rachel might as well have a target on her back. 

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. 

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.

My year of rest and relaxation by Otessa Moshfegh

Our narrator should be happy, shouldn't she? She's young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn't just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. 

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.

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.

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. 

Cloudstreet by Tim Winton

From separate catastrophes two rural families flee to the city and find themselves sharing a great, breathing, shuddering joint called Cloudstreet, where they begin their lives again from scratch. For twenty years they roister and rankle, laugh and curse until the roof over their heads becomes a home for their hearts. 

Non-fiction

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 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. 

Growing up queer in Australia ed. Benjamin Law

Compiled by celebrated author and journalist Benjamin Law, 'Growing Up Queer in Australia' assembles voices from across the spectrum of LGBTIQA+ identity. Spanning diverse places, eras, genders, ethnicities and experiences, these are the stories of growing up queer in Australia.

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?  

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.

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. 

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 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.

More recommended reading

To view booklists on a variety of subjects, visit Booklists from our librarians.

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