Top Picks - Non-Fiction

Agent Sonya: Lover, Mother, Soldier, Spy

$35.00

The incredible story behind the greatest female spy in history from one of Britain’s most acclaimed historians

In a quiet English village in 1942, an elegant housewife emerged from her cottage to go on her usual bike ride. A devoted wife and mother-of-three, the woman known to her neighbours as Mrs Burton seemed to epitomise rural British domesticity.

However, rather than pedalling towards the shops with her ration book, she was racing through the Oxfordshire countryside to gather scientific intelligence from one of the country’s most brilliant nuclear physicists. Secrets that she would transmit to Soviet intelligence headquarters via the radio transmitter she was hiding in her outdoor privy.

Far from a British housewife, ‘Mrs Burton’ – born Ursula Kuczynski, and codenamed ‘Sonya’ – was a German Jew, a dedicated communist, a colonel in Russia’s Red Army, and a highly-trained spy. From planning an assassination attempt on Hitler in Switzerland, to spying on the Japanese in Manchuria, and helping the Soviet Union build the atom bomb, Sonya conducted some of the most dangerous espionage operations of the twentieth century. Her story has never been told – until now.

Agent Sonya is the exhilarating account of one woman’s life; a life that encompasses the rise and fall of communism itself, and altered the course of history.

Banks

$39.99

Sir Joseph Banks was a man of passion whose influence spanned the globe. A fearless adventurer, his fascination with beautiful women was only trumped by his obsession with the natural world and his lust for scientific knowledge.

Fabulously wealthy, Banks was the driving force behind monumental voyages and scientific discoveries in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, Europe, North America, South America, Asia, Africa and the Arctic. In 1768, as a galivanting young playboy, he joined Captain James Cook’s Endeavour expedition to the South Pacific. Financing his own team of scientists and artists, Banks battled high seas, hailstorms, treacherous coral reefs and hostile locals to expand the world’s knowledge of life on distant shores. He returned with thousands of specimens of plants and animals, generating enormous interest in Europe, while the racy accounts of his amorous adventures in Tahiti made him one of the most famous and notorious men in England.

As the longest-serving president of Britain’s Royal Society, Banks was perhaps the most important man in the scientific world for more than half a century. It was Banks, one of the first Europeans to set foot on Australia’s east coast, who advised Britain to establish a remote penal settlement and strategic base at Botany Bay, and he eventually became the foremost expert on everything Australian. Early governors in the colony answered to him as he set about unleashing Australia’s vast potential in agriculture and minerals. For decades, major British voyages of exploration around the globe only sailed with his backing.

By award-winning bestselling writer Grantlee Kieza, Banks is a rich and rollicking biography of one of the most colourful and intriguing characters in the history of exploration.

Chasing the Light

$35.00

A rare, controversial, and totally no holds barred memoir from one of Hollywood’s greats.

In this powerful and evocative memoir, Oscar-winning director and screenwriter, Oliver Stone, takes us right to the heart of what it’s like to make movies on the edge.

In Chasing The Light he writes about his rarefied New York childhood, volunteering for combat, and his struggles and triumphs making such films as Platoon, Midnight Express, and Scarface.

Before the international success of Platoon in 1986, Oliver Stone had been wounded as an infantryman in Vietnam, and spent years writing unproduced scripts while taking miscellaneous jobs and driving taxis in New York, finally venturing westward to Los Angeles and a new life.

Stone, now 73, recounts those formative years with vivid details of the high and low moments: we sit at the table in meetings with Al Pacino over Stone’s scripts for Scarface, Platoon, and Born on the Fourth of July; relive the harrowing demon of cocaine addiction following the failure of his first feature, The Hand (starring Michael Caine); experience his risky on-the-ground research of Miami drug cartels for Scarface; and see his stormy relationship with The Deer Hunter director Michael Cimino. We also learn of the breathless hustles to finance the acclaimed and divisive Salvador; and witness tensions behind the scenes of his first Academy Award-winning film, Midnight Express.

PRAISE FOR CHASING THE LIGHT

“Riveting.” – The New York Times

“Raw, savagely honest, as dramatic as any of his movies.” – Mail on Sunday

“A tremendous book – readable, funny and harrowing.” – The Sunday Times

“He provokes outrage. He stirs up controversy. He has no respect for safe places. Oliver Stone is larger than life. Chasing the Light says it all.” – Sir Anthony Hopkins

Culture is Life

$39.99

Culture is Life is a modern, photographic celebration of the diversity of Indigenous Australians. Pre-eminent Aboriginal photographer Wayne Quilliam has an archive of thousands of images and interviews with Indigenous people across the country.Through the images in this stunning collection, Wayne’s work explores the nuances of Indigenous thinking and identity, and focuses on how the First peoples view their place within the contemporary culture of Australia.

The people featured in Culture is Life include many high-profile Indigenous Australians, as well as community members of different ages from Tasmania to the Torres Strait, offering insights into the dreams of youth and the reflections of Elders. With various feature sections on significant events such as Sorry Day and the All Stars game, this book is an accessible gateway to better understand and appreciate the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, presented as a stunning and contemporary photo book.

It’s Not All Roses

$35.00

Jenny Ferguson’s memoir, It’s Not All Roses takes us on her journey from being born in the NSW countryside in the 1940s through to professional life as a teacher, asserting her independence as a feminist, wife and mother, travelling the world in search of inspiration in both restaurants and gardens.

Jenny faces chauvinism at many points in her life but firmly follows her own path and ignores the doubts and judgement of many. Her passion for cooking develops and with her customary determination, she launches her own restaurant in Sydney, as a self-taught chef. She achieves hard-won success, but after seven years, is disillusioned and weary and closes the restaurant. She moves to a large horse farm and starts an ambitious cottage garden, which eventually attracts thousands of admirers.

Her creativity and individuality shine through as she shares her varied life and reflects back on the people whose understanding and kindness helped her achieve her dreams.

Libertie: A Novel

$39.99

From the critically acclaimed and Whiting Award-winning author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman comes a book about what freedom actually means – and where to find it.

Coming of age as a free-born Black girl in Brooklyn after the Civil War, Libertie Sampson was all too aware that her purposeful mother, a practicing physician, had a vision for their future together: Libertie would go to medical school and practice alongside her. But Libertie, drawn more to music than science, feels stifled by her mother’s choices and is hungry for something else – is there really only one way to have an autonomous life? And she is constantly reminded that, unlike her mother who can pass, Libertie has skin that is too dark.

When a young man from Haiti proposes to Libertie and promises she will be his equal on the island, she accepts, only to discover that she is still subordinate to him and all men. As she tries to parse what freedom actually means for a Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it – for herself and for generations to come.

Nine Nasty Words

$39.99

One of the preeminent linguists of our time examines the realms of language that are considered shocking and taboo in order to understand what imbues curse words with such power–and why we love them so much.

Profanity has always been a deliciously vibrant part of our lexicon, an integral part of being human. In fact, our ability to curse comes from a different part of the brain than other parts of speech–the urgency with which we say “f&*k!” is instead related to the instinct that tells us to flee from danger.

Language evolves with time, and so does what we consider profane or unspeakable. Nine Nasty Words is a rollicking examination of profanity, explored from every angle: historical, sociological, political, linguistic. In a particularly coarse moment, when the public discourse is shaped in part by once-shocking words, nothing could be timelier.

Ombra

$39.99

In Venice you’ll often hear the phrase Andiamo per un ombra? (‘Shall we go for a drink?’). And it’s this ‘ombra’, the Venetian name for a small tumbler of wine, that inspired Carlo Grossi’s restaurant – a modern take on an authentic Italian salumi bar right in the bustling heart of Melbourne.

Any time is a good time for a drink at Ombra, and when you step in the door at 76 Bourke Street you’ll always find a warm and hospitable welcome (and something delicious to eat). It’s an intimate, energetic place where all walks of life can drop by and come together over plates of finely cured meats and cheese, bringing with them a great sense of community – a community that thrives at the bar; that argues, loves and lives between slurps of white wine and Aperol.

The Ombra cookbook brings together the very best of Carlo’s food and hospitality, from lovingly aged meats and homemade sausages to mouth-watering pizzas, all sorts of irresistible bar snacks (cicchetti), hearty evening meals, fermented and pickled vegetables and fruits, and delectable desserts to finish off the evening. With family heirloom recipes and dishes inspired by Carlo’s travels all over Italy, the Italian ideals of preservation and quality produce are on proud display in this collection of familiar and tasty food that’s made for sharing over a lively conversation.

So pull up a seat – it’s time for un ombra!

Paul Kelly

$35.00

Renowned music journalist Stuart Coupe examines the life of an Australian music icon – honest, revealing and a must-read for Paul Kelly fans and music lovers alike.

He’s been called Australia’s Bob Dylan and likened to Springsteen and Neil Young, but Paul Kelly stands alone as a chronicler of his and our times. He is Australia’s best-loved singer, songwriter, author and poetic observer and though he has written his own stories, no one has captured the broader life and times of Paul Kelly – until now.

Renowned music journalist, author and for many years Kelly’s manager, Stuart Coupe takes us from Kelly’s family life as the sixth of nine children in Adelaide to his life today. With Paul’s blessing and access to friends, family, band mates and musical collaborators, Coupe shows Paul’s evolution from a young man who only really picked up a guitar in his late teens, to an Australian music icon.

Through hundreds of interviews, Coupe details the way Paul juggled the demands, temptations and excesses of rock’n’roll with real life. Revealing Paul Kelly’s personal relationships, his friendships, his generosity and support of other artists, such as Archie Roach, Kasey Chambers, Kev Carmody, Vika and Linda Bull and Courtney Barnett, the force of Kelly’s powerful storytelling, his musical creativity, his activism and his work ethic also shines through.

Paul Kelly: The man, the music and the life in between is honest, revealing and a must-read for anyone interested in one of Australia’s greatest artists.

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