Book Group Kits are now available to borrow, and we've chosen some exciting titles that will get your book group talking! 

Each kit consists of 10 regular print copies, plus 2 large print and 2 talking book copies where possible.

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

Visit our Book Groups page for more information on Book Kits, and to discover more book group events and resources.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

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...

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. 

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.

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. 

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 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. 

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.

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.

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.

Where the crawdads sing by Delia White
For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town. 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. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world--until the unthinkable happens.


There was still love by Favel Parret
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 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.


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.

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.

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.

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. 

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 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. Four older women have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three. 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.

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

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.

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.

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'

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.

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?  

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.

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.

Three women by Lisa Taddeo
All Lina wanted was to be desired. How did she end up in a marriage with two children and a husband who wouldn't touch her? All Maggie wanted was to be understood. How did she end up in a relationship with her teacher and then in court, a hated pariah in her small town? All Sloane wanted was to be admired. How did she end up a sexual object of men, including her husband, who liked to watch her have sex with other men and women? Three Women is a record of unmet needs, unspoken thoughts, disappointments, hopes and unrelenting obsessions.

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.

Libraries